Laci Reads: September

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Welcome to Lace Reads: the monthly (hopefully) book club and book review segment on Composing Lace.

Let’s just get it out there, I am an absolute book worm.  Since I was little and my mom worked in the library of my elementary school I have been surrounded by books– I like to think I practically grew up in between the shelves. At some point I traded in the book covered shelves of an elementary school library, for books in every corner of my own life.  It is a rare occasion you will find a book absent from my purse or minus my iPad (yes I have given in to eBooks), or my night stand clear of a minimum number of five books stacked and waiting for late nights and early mornings.

I love everything there is about books: the pages, the smell, the way they can capture you and hold you, but most of all I love the words, and I mean I love the words. Among my many interests, chief among those is the way words manage to change the world.  To me one of the most intriguing thoughts is that of the cliché, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

With this being a fact of my life it is only natural that I would like to share this love with you.  The topics of the books I choose will vary, but most will focus on faith, life, and growth.  Some of the largest influences on my walk with Jesus have been books such as The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson, Not a Fan by Kyle Idlemen, and Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan (the women who actually introduced me to this month’s selection). Since words do mean so much to me, when I find books that are filled with truth and lead me to the truth of the Gospel, I grab on to them with all my might and heart.

Let’s also not forget the author of the best selling book of all time just happens to be the Creator of the Universe and the owner of my life. Therefore I can only believe that He has placed this love on my heart, calling me to dig deeper into His word and be lead to Truth through other’s words.

Now for this month’s selection, Uninvited: Living Loved when You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst.

When I first heard about this book, it was the day before it came out on Jess Connolly’s Instagram (one of the authors of my favorite book about faith mentioned above, Wild and Free).  Much like the first time I read the cover of Wild and Free I was immediately moved by the subtitle of Uninvited, “Living Loved when you feel less than, left out, and lonely”.  Those words ordered side-by-side rang a bell deep inside me, that beckoned me to get my hands on this book. Those adjectives “less than, left out, and lonely,” have been hallmarks of my life for as long as I can remember, and I was intrigued by the prospect of someone tackling them in a book, maybe I would finally have an answer for the hurt I have known for so long.  Uninvited did just that, but rather than containing the answer, it pointed me to the answer I have always known– true acceptance is found through Jesus.

Uninvited, tackles the topic of rejection and the way it can effect one’s personal image and expectations of others. Let me tell you, TerKeurst does a phenomenal job approaching such a difficult subject.  Her writing is filled with so many truths, so many women need to hear.  It is so easy, especially as a young woman to let the words “left out”, “less than”, and “lonely” define your life and the way you feel about yourself, as they have done to me for so long. TerKeurst approaches this subject with such ease, love, and truth that it is almost inevitable your thoughts will be redirected to the knowledge that she wants to share: that you are called to live loved, you are told you are enough, and you are not lonely if Jesus is the love and guide of your life.

One of the main points that TerKeurst stresses that I think defines this book, is the fact of not allowing ourselves to expect other people to heal us.  As I wrote in my post Caregiver that tendency has been something I have struggled with my entire life.  I want nothing more than for another human to care for me the way that I care for them, and when they don’t and life seems questionable, I question God’s goodness. However, TerKeurst provides an entire book about the way that human expectations and expectations of other humans, will always let us down. Unless we turn to God and His truth with all of our lives, we can never accurately assess God’s goodness and know true acceptance. The fact is, when we give him all of our lives, it is clear to see that He is always good and always faithful, even in rejection and hurt. That is what Jesus died for on the cross–that we may know God’s infinite love and acceptance.

“I couldn’t keep my old broken beliefs, nail a little Jesus truth to the side and expect stability. I knew I had to stop assessing God’s goodness by how my life felt at any given time.  Feelings are broken boards.  Only truth is solid, unchanging, and stable through and through.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited 

Uninvited points us to respond to God’s call for us to turn all of our past rejections over to Him, and acknowledge that He is at work and will be faithful to us through eternity.  He calls us to live loved, because we are, and to turn to Him in all moments of our lives, even the painful ones.  I pray for you dear reader, that this will not only be your truth, but mine–that we can live loved and comforted, knowing because of Jesus, in God we will always find acceptance

For more on this subject, I highly suggest picking up Uninvited for yourself, and be blessed by the truth it points to.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16

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The Journey of Composing Lace

Hi there, and welcome to the new and improved Composing Lace! I have been working on (thinking about over and over, and finally doing so in the last week) transferring to WordPress for about a month now. While I am so thankful that my posts transferred from my previous site and there are some introductions to me that can be found in those, I would like to introduce myself on this platform officially.

I am Laci, a young woman, who loves coffee and sometimes unhealthy quantities of PG Tips Black Tea (it’s the best, and I am so wanna-be English at heart), the mountains, trees (particularly of the evergreen variety), writing, reading, and music. However, most importantly in this short description, I am a receiver of undeserved grace, who was bought by the blood of a man named Jesus who triumphed over death, and because of this have been adopted into the Kingdom of God as His daughter.

Now that we are friends, I would like to direct your attention to the resources of this new blog. Not only is it simpler to find—it is just ComposingLace.com now—but it is also more user friendly than my former platform. The blog is now easier to read and follow. All you have to do in order to keep up with this blog is hit the follow button to the right of or at the bottom of this post. You will then choose to either create a WordPress account or just opt for email notifications. Either way you choose, you will be immediately notified when I publish!

Another thing that I would like to address while welcoming you to this new blog, are my goals for it as well as some background.

I started this blog over a year and a half a go, which I did thinking I wanted to be a fashion and lifestyle blogger. I created the name Composing Lace, and wrote a post that explained what this name meant. In that post I wrote,

“I have found that each and every day, I am composing myself, morphing myself into something different than what I was yesterday, designing myself.”

Since this blog’s beginning, between sporadic posts and a whole lot of life, the title “Composing Lace” has taken on a new meaning. The base idea of the title has changed from being a completely self-serving concept to something much larger. It is no longer a declaration that I would use this blog to design myself, to publish what I wanted the world to see, who I wanted myself to be. The title, “Composing Lace,” now has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. This title now declares the truth of my life—that I have died to my former self and will allow God to “compose” Lace. He has always been the author of this story, my story, but I now give it over to Him to express the full reign He has always possessed. I no longer think I am placing the words of this story.

This means that the content of this blog will forever be different than its original purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to include the things I love to read on blogs myself like lifestyle, books, writing, storytelling, etc; however, now it will always be for His glory, and if it isn’t for His glory, it will not be posted. My life is His and I will allow Him to work through these things He has placed on my heart to love, the things I mentioned above, to serve Him. This also means that the writing and content style won’t be that of my original intent: the pristine, look at me, look at my perfect life that isn’t so perfect I just want people to think it is. No, the writing and content will be raw and real. It will be the hurts and the happiness, the pain and the triumphs, the thoughts and the musings, all in hopes of remaining true to God’s desire for me to glorify Him in all I do.

So, I desperately hope you will come along side me in this, to enjoy it and be blessed by it.

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The Greatest Gardener

 

Consider the wildflowers, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

Luke 12: 27-28 

A few days ago, I was outside talking to my grandma on the phone.  I like to make my phone calls outside, one because when there is a chance someone will see me whilst driving by, I stop my relentless pacing that takes place when I am indoors (gee, thanks social anxiety) and two because I like to be out in the fresh air, and have company whilst doing so.  Often times, however, I find myself doing things while I am talking.  Either I am going through Instagram, forsaking the beauty before me in conversation and in the outdoors, or I am staring at the lawn sitting in front of me and the dandelions creep into my head and are relentless in their calling me to remove them from the green grass.  The other day the latter transpired.
My grandma and I were talking about some pretty heavy things, she was giving me encouragement regarding some major life decisions I have made in the last week, extending her willing hand to help me however I needed, reminding me of God’s sovereignty through it all.  Though the conversation was compelling, I still felt the urge to pull all of the weeds which resided in every crack and crevice of the driveway and on every square inch of the yard.  I saw them all and saw how even in the midst of this conversation they took away from the beauty of the front of our cute little house and distracted me from the things at hand.
I worked tirelessly then, even after I hung up from my grandma, to make sure all the weeds I could find were pulled up from the roots and thrown in the garbage that was to be taken the next day, never to be seen again.
Let me tell you, it looked great when I was finished.  Weeds that had been growing in the cracks of the cement in our drive were now lying as waste and it looked smooth and clean just as something that a car drives over daily should look.  I was so proud, that everyone who drove by could see that our driveway was clear and clean—someone obviously cares at that house, right?
While I was clearing these weeds though, I had a thought about the way I was pulling these weeds with my two pronged weeding tool that digs deep, sitting on both sides of the root to pull the weed completely out, in hopes of making the lawn and driveway look clear and pristine. The thought was of how this process is so akin to the way Jesus works in our hearts.
Jesus works tirelessly to remove weeds from our heart to make us clean and pristine— the weeds of unbelief, distrust, unforgiving ways, unkindness, anxieties, burdens—the list goes on and on.  When we trust in him as our Lord and Savior, we allow him to come into our hearts to weed.  His tool however, is not like the two pronged one I used to pull the weeds in the front of my house, but his love, the freedom we gain from the blood he shed on the cross, the price he paid to the Father in our place so that we could come to Him and be clean and pristine as Jesus was.
Later that day after weeding, I came upon a quote that read, “The prettier the garden, the dirtier the hands of the gardener.”
My breath was taken after reading this, after contemplating the way Jesus weeds our hearts like a gardener earlier in the day.
Jesus has the dirtiest hands—they have worked the hardest, paid the ultimate price.  The cleanest gardener went from white as snow, to covered in blood, with a crown of thorns on his head and nails in his palms, all so he could have the prettiest garden in us.  We just have to give him the opportunity to do his work in the garden, because it has already been done, he has already made us clear and pristine.  He has already determined it is our place to have the passerby admire the way our soul is clear and pristine, so they can see his glory, and because of that, we don’t worry about the weeds. All we have to do is let the truth that he has and is taking care of the weeds, reside in our hearts.

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Caregiver: Having a Soft Heart in a Hard World

My entire life, I have been the “mom” friend. You know, the one friend in the group who is the voice of caution, the advice giver, the “wise” one. This has always meant I am placed in the position of caregiver, whether I like it or not.  I am relied upon to be there when friends and others fall, and to be the one who they can come to when times are rough. These are duties I have always been happy to attend to. However, this title has also often meant lots of hurt in relationships, acting as what I felt was a weakness in my personality. I have found myself in relationships where I am considered the “mom” reach a point it becomes a one way relationship—me taking care of them, constantly, with hardly anything in return.
When my relationships seem to morph into these sorts, is when I always disdain being a caregiver by nature. I begin to resent these relationships because I feel like I am giving so much care, pouring my entire heart into this human connection, and receiving little to nothing in return. I ache because I want so badly for these people I love, to love me the way I love them in return. I love so deeply and completely I want to feel the same from them. I can’t even count the number of sleepless nights crying, feeling weak for loving like I do, sobbing to my mom, asking underneath tears why I love too much.
As a disclaimer, I said before I have always loved these duties I am given in these relationships, so some of this is brought on by myself. But there has always been a part of me that questions myself, asking why, just why do I have to care so much, pour so much in, love so much when I am not guaranteed that these people I am giving my heart to will love or care for me the same way in return, and in reality often don’t.
These questions have often been the reason I have known ended friendships. I start to hurt so bad that these people aren’t loving me like I expect them to or care for me like I expect them to, so I push them away and claim I can’t do it anymore.
However, I have been lead to the realization that this is not my duty. It is not my duty to determine how others are supposed to care for me or how they are supposed to love me. We are sinful beings incapable of delivering to one another the type of love and care we need. In fact, my desire to make these people “love the way I love” is a kind of greediness.
As I contemplated this topic this week, I began reading Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst.  It was here where it was reveled to me the true nature of these desires of wanting people to love me the way I “needed” in return. TerKeurst tackles the topic with these self-examining words,

“We must respect ourselves enough to break the pattern of placing unrealistic expectations on others.  After all, people will not respect us more than we respect ourselves,” and continues, “No, it’s not wrong to need people.  But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have of others that they can’t ever possibly meet.  That’s when the desire to connect becomes an unrealistic need.  Unrealistic neediness is actually greediness in disguise.” (page 45 of Uninvited)

I love to paraphrase that, but I don’t think it could possibly fit the topic at hand better. I have come to the following realization: It is merely my duty to care and love to the best of my ability all those around me. To remember that I sin and they sin, and that breeds hurt no matter how complete your human love or care might be it is not enough. But this heart that I possess is not a weakness, it was created by God and given to me to be a caregiver and a deep, deep lover. So that is what I will do.
But then, I am still left with the inherent desire for human love and care.
Don’t get me wrong. I have several relationships where I am cared for and loved beyond measure. But regarding those relationships where I would question if that is the case or not—I can release my unrealistic expectations of others and rest soundly. I can be contented with a peace in my heart that can only be known by understanding that I am loved for and cared for by the ultimate caregiver, by the ultimate lover, Jesus.
So as I sit here and contemplate my heart’s varying feelings and desires I can find a comfort in knowing that the God of the Universe, who is love, sent His son, to show His love for me, to show His care for me, to make me clean. All in a fashion that I could never even attempt to wrap my mind around, because the nature of Jesus’ care and love is beyond human comprehension. All I can do is accept this gift of grace humbly and learn from it how to love others.
His love and care reaches so far beyond that of human beings’ capability, including mercy and grace that no human can deliver, that only his love and care can present.
With this I challenge you to examine your life and find the areas where you feel that you are being let down and recognize that God is using that in your life to help you realize something bigger in His plan and recognize His deep, deep care, love, and provision for you, that will never fall short, that will never fail. 
 
The LORD your God is in your midst, 
  a mighty one who will save; 
he will rejoice over you with gladness; 
  he will quiet you by his love; 
he will exult over you with loud singing. 
                                                      Zephaniah 3:17
                                                     (emphasis added)

We are Called to be Wild and Free

Recently I was browsing the tumblr of one of my favorite people on social media, Hanna Olivia Way, and I came across a post from her Instagram with this quote attached to it,

“And the truth dear friends, is this: our standing has never wavered with our Father. Though the world has twisted what it means to be a daughter, His stance and His position toward us has absolutely stayed resolute. The world cannot dictate what it means to be treasured by our Father, but the love and relationship of our Heavenly Father can heal and transcend the damage done here on earth. The Creator of the universe didn’t just love and speak us into being, he also called us good – the same word He called the massive majestic oceans and the sun that lights our solar system and keeps us all sustained. He sent His son to make a way for us while we were still broken and sinful and sitting with our fingers in our ears, unwilling to hear truth. His Holy Spirit runs wild in our lives, guiding us, leading us, growing us, and groaning for us so we can genuinely be in community with Him. We mean the world to Him – not because we’re good or we’ve earned it, but because we are His treasure, the apple of His eye, the daughters He is coming back for.” 
Jess Connolly, Wild and Free
 
Incredibly moved by that beautiful passage, I immediately went to Google, and searched what this Wild and Free thing was.  When I found the book on Amazon, I was instantaneously inclined to hit the “purchase now” button when I read this sentence on the front cover, “A hope-filled anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough.” When I read that, all I could think was UHHH Hello, that’s me. I was so excited to have this book in my hands.
Let me tell you dear friends, it has been a game changer since the moment I opened the next-day shipped envelope. 
       If you are new here (which you probably are, I am not consistent enough to have a true following) I would first like to introduce myself. My name is Laci, I am a nineteen year old college student, studying Secondary English Education, who lives in the most beautiful state of the fifty—Colorado, who loves to read, drink coffee (sometimes absurd amounts of tea), be in the mountains amongst pine trees, and to watch the rain.  But most importantly, I am a daughter of The Most High.  
          My spiritual journey has not been an easy one, but sanctification is not easy for anyone. In fact, up until six weeks ago, I had not picked up my bible in over three months. Each day, I am still growing in my relationship with Jesus and learning what it truly means to follow Him. Each day I am met with things that call me to examine and question myself, if I am truly living as Jesus has called me to.
          Though, I have been a Christian since the age of seven, when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I did not really understand what that meant until a year ago.  After going through the most difficult season of my life in my senior year of high school, I started college and I was diagnosed with anxiety and severe clinical depression that dated back to my sophomore year of high school.  It was a few months after that diagnosis when another book The Lipstick Gospel (my post about it is here) opened my eyes to how badly I needed Jesus.  After reading that book, I wept and sought Jesus with what I thought was all of my heart for about two months, but then my fire kind of dwindled.
          This has been a pattern in my life since my junior year of high school, when I first decided that I really wanted to start taking my faith seriously.  I get this fire in my heart to follow Jesus, and I do great for a few months, then I just stop.  I stop praying.  I stop doing my devotionals. I just stop.  I determine I will be fine going it alone, it will all be okay, but let me tell you—that NEVER happens. It is NEVER okay.  I ALWAYS come crawling back, sobbing to God on my bed at night begging He forgive me and take me back.
          However, it was not until I began reading Wild and Free, that I was prompted to truly examine these facts about myself and how I approached the title “follower of Jesus” that resides in my Instagram bio. It was then when I was truly called by the Holy Spirit to examine myself, that I realized, that was where my problem laid; before—my entire faith was based on “I” statements.  “I was going to make myself feel better by doing this.” “I was determined to follow Jesus.” And that is not what this faith is about. 
          The most beautiful element of this faith is that it means there is no longer an “I”, there is only Jesus.  There is no longer a struggle of having to make myself  determined to stay, there is only Jesus.
           Recently, my stepmother sent me the link to a sermon preached by an intern at her church.  His sermon was titled, “The Simplicity of Faith.”  While I listened, I was moved toward the end of the sermon, when he spoke the phrase, “This is a gospel of simple grace and simple faith.” 
          That is the point my friends, a truth that has been spoken to my heart so many times over the last two months or so, I cannot even count.  This is a simple gospel of simple faith.  This is a faith that the God of the Universe has handpicked you, loved you, called you good and at ease, sent His Son, who shed his blood for you all so you can stop saying “I” and be free of your worldly, sinful self.  You are washed clean, and you have been made a wild woman in God, who can call herself free not because of “I”, but because of him, Jesus. 
            If you are a woman who calls Jesus your savior, whether you are 19 or 95, I suggest you pick up Wild and Free.  I can hardly put into words this book’s ability to change lives.  You will be challenged, you will ache, you will have joy from its words, and I strongly encourage you to embrace that.  Embrace this truth that we receive from God’s word, embrace this message that echoes the truth of the gospel that authors Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have been called by the Father to share with women of all ages.  We are not called to be quiet, to be perfect, to have perfect bodies, or perfect houses, or perfect lives. 
We are called to live not by the rules of this world, but wild in the woman that God created us, by hand, to be and free in being the daughters who Jesus came to save.  

The Anthem of Wild and Free, Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

Reach Out

   Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31

The last few months, a lot has happened in my life.  I moved away from home and my mom, for the first time ever.  I started college at a school that was not even in the top five on my list of colleges I wanted to go to.  All of this was a lot and as it turns out almost too much for me to handle.  It was this September, that I also found myself sitting in a therapist’s office, crying five minutes in, not even understanding why tears were flowing from my eyes.  

This was the first time I told someone that the last year had been too much.  That the death, the illness, the work, the school, the college, the change, it had all been too much.  I told her how the last three years, I have felt a hole inside of me that would come and go, and when it came it was hard to wake up in the morning and when it went, I did nothing but dread its return.  

What I didn’t tell her was, through it all, there had been a bright side. In my junior year of high school, I had finally accepted Jesus’s undying love for me whole heartedly, I had dove in deep, head first.  I was happier, I could breathe again… but then November of my senior year hit and the news came, that not only one, but both of the most important women in my life were being affected by a disease that didn’t seem like it was ever going to leave our family alone.  

One night, I sat down, destroyed. The hole back, enveloping me in its darkness, cascading over me, and that was it.  I sat there on my bed, and screamed.  I screamed at God for letting this happen to these people I held so dear, I screamed at him for delivering to us what seemed like blow after blow.  I screamed at him for ruining my senior year, a year that was finally supposed to get easier.  I screamed at him, and I told him I was done, that I hated him and that I was moving on.  

My  life, well it continued to get worse.  I was sad, in pain, I secluded myself from almost everyone in my life, I scrapped by for the last semester of my senior year, I did nothing but go to school and work.   I was miserable.  There was no joy, no beauty, I felt numb.  The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I was finally going to get out of high school, this place where I had experienced so much pain, thinking that would be the cure.  

It was a nice bandage for a while, graduating high school, having a few months to relax.  That was until August came, and it was time to leave my mom and my house, and move to Boulder. That was when the weak bandages were ravaged.  It was fine the first few weeks, but I had this gnawing feeling in my stomach, something I had known all too well, the hole, growing inside of me.  It was terrible.  I felt like I couldn’t function.  Every time I talked to anyone in my family on the phone I cried to them about how miserable I was, how I didn’t feel good. And that is how I ended up in the therapists office.  

I continue to receive treatment, now for two months, and I have been feeling good.  However, there was something more heavy weighing on my heart.  

When the weight of it finally became too much, on a morning a few weeks ago, I finally opened up to someone about it.  Someone who I knew was a Christian, but didn’t know me well enough to know that I had been too, or that I had been faking it with my mom going to church every Sunday and rejoicing at the fact that I had to work on the Sundays that I didn’t go, because that meant I didn’t have to face what I had said, what I had told God back in November.  I opened up to this person and explained how this had been weighing on my heart.  We had a long conversation, which ended with her suggesting to me a book by a CU grad, Stephanie May Wilson, The Lipstick Gospel.  

That night I went back to my dorm and started The Lipstick Gospel. I read this story about a girl who went to my school, who was at the lowest point in her life, when she began to discover Jesus.  I read almost the entire thing that night, it was a beautifully written recollection of Wilson’s times in college and studying abroad in Spain.  It was enough to make me want to get up off of my bed and head to the study abroad office to figure out the soonest I could get to Spain myself.  The story was good, and I was admiring the way she slowly walked into her faith in Jesus, she wanted it so badly, but it wasn’t coming, she was learning about him through amazing friendships and amazing experiences.  


One experience in particular that she recalls in the book is of a week long trip, during her study abroad in Spain, when her and her friends chose to go to Italy. While in Italy they visited the Sistine Chapel, where they saw the beautiful paintings of Michelangelo that cover the ceilings and the beautiful history that surrounded such a place.  It was in this recollection of the Sistine Chapel wherein my own heart changed.  

In this part, Wilson recalls seeing Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam above her, a painting I myself have loved since the day I saw it, but never as much as I do now. 


She recalls her tour guide explaining the painting like this, “I want you to look up and notice something on the ceiling. Look in the very center at Adam and at God. God is reaching out to Adam, His arm fully extended, His muscles straining. Adam, on the other hand, looks like he’s relaxing after a big meal. His arm is limp, and his finger is barely trying. If Adam just reached, he could touch God. But whether he does or not, God is still reaching for him. God will always be reaching for him.”

When I read that last line, I burst into tears, “God will always be reaching for him.” 

I cried.  I cried an incredible amount.  I cried so much I had to leave my dorm room, praying that my roommate wouldn’t see me sob (I am sure she did, it was unmistakable, s/o to Cassi).  I ran outside in the cold weather and called my mom, pouring all of my thoughts from the past year out to her on the phone.  We cried together and she encouraged me to go to God. 

But for some reason, I wasn’t ready at that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, to go to Him. Even after I had read those words that moved me to tears, I couldn’t do it.  I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready.  So that night I went to bed quietly sobbing to myself about all of the things that had just come to a head in my mind.  

I woke up the next day, went to class as usual, nothing special.  I went back to my dorm room, which was empty due to my roommate being in class, I sat down at my desk and my copy of Jesus Calling sat in front of me.  I pulled it from the shelf, made myself some coffee, and poured myself out to Jesus.  I prayed for so long I couldn’t even tell you how long, I sat there begging for forgiveness, giving thanks to God for keeping me going over the last year, when so many times I thought I couldn’t do it.  He was always there and allowed me to keep moving. I ended my prayer feeling a weight lifted from my shoulders and the world around me seemed brighter.      

The past few weeks I have spent more time with Jesus than I think I have in my entire life.  I have made a point of everyday, sitting down in the morning and in the evening and just laying it all out— in thankfulness and confession.

I still have a long way to go in my faith, but I know that no matter the circumstances, good or bad, it is all for His glory, and his overwhelming grace surrounds me and allows me the chance to be a part of His plan, and for that I am so incredibly thankful.

So many times in the last few weeks, in scripture or my devotionals, the words “reach out” have come across my path, and I can only settle on the fact that it is God, reminding me that he is always reaching and will always be reaching for me, I just have to reach back.

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Big Magic and Saying Yes

Crisis.  That is the only way to describe what I have been feeling lately.  I have been desperately confused about my place in this world.  This is nothing new to me– I tend to have these at least once a year, but this one is coming at a time that is very difficult to see the outcome.  In the past when I have experienced these crises I have been sheltered, at home, under age, and reliant upon my mother to pick up my pieces and tell me everything is going to be okay.  Now as I am experiencing this, while my mom is a phone call away, I am legally a goddamn adult who has to make decisions on my own and she and the world are making sure I am aware of that.

Everyday has brought a new thing to worry about.  Am I at the right college? Am I pursuing the correct major? Am I so messed up I should just give up now? Am I ever going to be successful? Am I happy? These questions haunt my every waking hour anymore.  So, I finally realized that it was time to confront this crisis head on for the first time in my life, on my own.

I picked up the book, Big Magic, by the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert and my life has been forever changed.  Big Magic, is a self help guide, and I am not even going to hide that fact, despite my tendency to judge every person I see who reads a Chicken Soup for the Soul willingly. Big Magic, is a guide to embracing creative living and having the courage to accept inspiration as it comes.

I knew this book was going to change my life within the first five pages. Gilbert tells a story in the first chapter about poet Jack Gilbert (a man who would become a recluse and come out every ten years to slay the world with his poetry) who was a guest professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, when he spoke to a young woman who wanted to pursue her dream of being a writer.  He asked the woman this question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.” That last line, “The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes,” is one of the most meaningful lines I have ever encountered in all of my days.  I realized that all of these things that I worry about, could be solved if I just had the courage to dig within myself to uncover these treasures that can change my life.  Everything that I could need: my creativity, my hard work, the Holy Spirit, all dwell within me and are there for me to tap into at any given moment, to pursue all that I could ever need and want, to give me comfort in times of need and to make sense of this wild world.

The book goes on to speak on the power of creativity and inspiration, as Gilbert treats them as almost individual entities that are outside of your person, as things you must accept consciously or they will in fact pass you by.  Her candidness about life and inspiration is refreshing as she debunks the idea of having to be a sufferer in order to make beautiful art.

“My suffering takes this whole thrilling and gigantic universe and shrinks it down to the size of my own unhappy head.”

Big Magic, has inspired me to purse those things that I have always desired, it has inspired me to pursue them fearlessly, as I know there is a possibility, no, a likelihood that I will in fact fail, probably epically, but who the hell cares? If I am doing it because I love it and for no one else, then why not do it for the hell of it? Why not stick my neck out there and start writing fiction like I have always wanted, or pursuing photography more seriously, or blogging for heaven’s sake.  I am in this for me, for the possibility that those hidden treasures inside of me that have been hoping all my life that I would say yes, do hear me– I am saying yes.