His Love for You is Constant.

His Love for You is Constant.

The last couple weeks have been a struggle.

There’s a lot of things in my life that don’t make sense right now… things I need to give up, things I’m stressing out over (may have gone on 3 or more runs yesterday, hahaha hi, ‘sup anxiety), things that are keeping me from peace and happiness and contentment. But there’s also so much GOOD in my life right now that I can’t complain.

Recently I’ve been struggling to find peace even though it’s been spoken over my life repeatedly over the past few weeks, and I think this is going to be a year of peace, for me. I’m beginning to see it’s because I’m looking for peace in the wrong places.

Yesterday I had a revelation. Well, really, a reminder. Because I ALREADY KNOW THIS. Somehow I let myself forget, but I already know this.

I don’t have to search for peace.

I don’t have to worry about making the “right decision.”

Because no matter what, no matter if I’m heartbroken or on cloud 9 tomorrow, HE WILL STILL BE THE SAME GOD. He will still be constant. Consistent. No matter what happens today, I’ll still be able to have the same mini worship sets in my car, United Pursuit pouring from my speakers, my steering wheel a mini drum kit. No matter what happens tomorrow, His words will still ring true. His promises to me will. Still. Ring. True!

It’s an amazing feeling to have that realization hit you again. It’s an amazing thing to lean on. The God I love today will still be there tomorrow, will still be so deserving of every ounce of love I can muster.

Walking in a lack of peace and an overabundance of fear and uncertainty is like a slap in the face to the God who knows my steps and who I say I allow to lead those steps. If I’m truly walking hand in hand with Him, every step I take should be in total faith. Every step I take should be without trepidation or fear of the future. I mean, the Bible says He won’t even let my foot slip. He’s watching over me and protecting me that closely.

In the last couple days, a shift has occurred in my thinking. It’s been the most beautiful shift, and one I hope continues. I’ve been leaning on his faithfulness and consistency, and it’s the most beautiful and soothing place to rest.

When I rest in the fact that He loves me and wants good things – the best things – for me, it’s not so hard to let go of the things I want for myself.

 

Thanks for reading,

Carrie

My Identity

(Note: Most of this was written in early summer, back around the time of my graduation, but I never published it.)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my identity. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a true identity crisis. Because I’m  rooted in my faith, “follower of Jesus” is my biggest identifier and something I can cling to even when I have no idea what or who else I am. I hope that’s the way other people see me, too.

For most of my life, I’ve been an adventurer-an explorer. I have always been a reader. I’ve been a cook and a baker. I’ve been an ice cream scooper and a barista. A student. A daughter. A friend. A nerd. An artist. A wanderer. I was a film buff. A coffee drinker. I tried my hand at being a hipster. Then I was hip for awhile. I even took a brief foray into being a hippy. Sometimes I think I’m becoming more of a hippy every day without even trying.

These are all identifiers. Jobs I’ve had, ways I see myself, ways other people see me…

I’ve been a student since I was 5 years old, when I entered 1st grade. Over the past 16-17 years, I’ve gone back to school every single autumn, and rejoiced every May.

For the past 4 years, I’ve had another identifier: English Major.

Since May 7, I’m no longer an English Major.

THAT IS CRAZY.

And it scares me.

For a long time, that’s been my go-to identifier. I use “I’m an English major” as an excuse, at times.

As an English major, people assume I will correct their grammar errors. (I won’t. On the inside? Yes. On the outside, no. Rest easy.) Another fun part of being an English major is everyone automatically assuming I’m going to be a teacher.

I tell them, no, I want to write. I want to publish novels. And they give me what I call the “English-major-pity-smile.” Most of you have probably given me that smile at one time or another, but that’s okay. To me, it became a joke. Every time I explained my desire to be a writer, I was being serious. I know it’s a big dream, but after four years, I’m still serious. After four years, I still believe we’re called to big dreams!

In Mere Christianity, my man C.S. Lewis wrote one of my all time favorite passages. It begins,

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”

When I give up all the terms and identifiers to Him, I have the freedom to pursue Him fully. When I stop pursuing other things and focus on Him, the rest of my life seems to fall into place. If I stop worrying about how other people see me, or whether I am successful in the world’s eyes, I can shift my focus to Him.

A few months ago, I was meeting with a couple friends at Panera Bread, and someone asked the question, “How do you think God sees you?” That’s a hard question to answer at a moment’s notice, but it is also the identifier I care about most.

He loves me. He loved me before I loved Him.

He sees the good things about me. He sees that I am merciful. He sees that I am discerning. He sees that I am good at teaching and leading. He sees that I am a communicator. He sees that I work hard to maintain my relationships.

He loves me, not because of what I’m becoming, but because of who I am.

Even if you try to hide things from God, He knows. To me, that gives me license to be completely open and authentic with Him! He sees that I sometimes don’t allow myself to be real because I am afraid of being hurt. He sees that sometimes I tell people I’m so busy, but I’m really wasting valuable time. He sees that I sometimes go past boundaries I’ve set for myself.

And He loves me.

Because I know I’m loved by Him, I don’t have to become depressed over not being a student anymore. Because I have a beautiful community surrounding me, where I am given opportunities to use the gifts God’s given me… losing a part of my identity isn’t so bad. I don’t have to be afraid about the future, about stepping out into the real world, like so many of my classmates are.

I may not be a student or an English Major anymore, but I am still loved by God. That’s a constant, no matter what else I choose to be… no matter what other labels people give to me. Moving on from college after just four years is a reason to be joyful, because I’m moving toward something.

C.S. Lewis goes on to say,

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day, and death of your whole body. In the end, submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

I admit that passage is confusing. It’s paradoxical. It doesn’t make sense. Looking for someone else shouldn’t bring you to the center of yourself.

But hey, Jesus doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t make sense that we have more freedom when we submit to Him. It doesn’t make sense that I find myself when I seek Him with everything in me. Grace doesn’t make sense. Self-sacrifice doesn’t make sense.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ, for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10

There is no place I want to find my identity other than the heart of Jesus.

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Thanks for reading,

Carrie

More Peace

More Peace

Last year was a lesson in grace for me.

So many times my patience was tested in ways it rarely had been before. Honestly, I think I actually learned how to show grace in a way I’d never had to push myself to do. In that way, I became more like Jesus. I learned that even if I am right, I don’t always have to make sure other people know that. I learned that I am called to treat people with kindness even when they don’t deserve it, and I learned that often the people I’m meant to show grace to are the people I’d most like to push off a cliff.

Yes, I’m sure the next time I need to be the bigger person, it’ll still be hard. I might need to learn about grace all over again. But, I am proud of the way I acted in 2016. I am proud of the way I was able to learn to love others in the same way Jesus loves them-an unearned, undeserved love.

What has God been showing me this year?

Well, we’re one month in, so of course He’s been teaching me something new.

One: peace.

Peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. I’m learning to trust in Him and find Peace, even when I don’t feel it. Even when I’d never feel it on my own.

The other day, during a time of worship, (the Holy Spirit nudged) a friend, and he spoke the words “peace and trust” over me. It was very much one of those words that could relate to many situations or anyone, but I had to laugh because peace was exactly what I was crying out to the Lord for in that moment. Tears streamed down my face (and I felt ridiculous, but I let them fall).

As we finished the song, I felt the Lord speaking to me: As your TRUST grows, peace will come. In that moment, I realized I hadn’t been asking for enough. I was asking for peace, but peace and trust go hand in hand.

The more I trust Him, the more I am filled with His peace. The more I trust Him, the more I refuse to give up.

Two: more.

This word has been floating around in my head the past few days. The other night I was free-writing in my journal and it seemed like it was all I could think of. More. More peace more trust more peace more trust more grace more love more understanding more wisdom more forgiveness more of You, God. That’s what I want this year to hold.

That’s what I know this year will hold.

No matter where I am by January 1, 2018, even if it’s somewhere I never thought I’d be (and it usually is), I want to look back and say that I gained more of Him. I want to look back and say my trust has grown in leaps and bounds. I want to be walking in a deeper and more perfect peace than I thought possible.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Colossians 3:15)

 

xoxo,

Carrie

Life Weekend

This weekend was The Living Room’s Life Weekend (or spring “retreat,” if you know your Christianese). I was looking forward to it for a long time, and got even more excited when I heard the topic was going to be the Holy Spirit!

A few days before the retreat, when we got the schedule, I began to feel overwhelmed. I felt like it was too packed, like I was going to come away from the retreat exhausted and drained, rather than relaxed and renewed. I kept telling myself, this is what you signed up for. You chose to be a leader here, so lead. If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking this is going to be another retreat story where I start out with a bad attitude and then leave the retreat like, “YES. JESUS. WOOOOOHHH!!!” you’re pretty much right. Ha. Keep reading anyway?

This song from Hillsong Worship came on shuffle on my iPhone Friday morning before leaving for the retreat, and the words really spoke to me. “Overwhelmed but I won’t break. Through the battle I will say, ‘Your grace will be enough.'”

Of course it ended up being one of the songs the band played multiple times throughout the weekend. Of course. A sweet little reminder from my Father to just trust Him: You may feel overwhelmed, but you can lean on Me. I will not break. I will not even shake. You can rest and just let Me work through you. I am enough. I’ve already won.

God ended up extending so much grace to me throughout the weekend. All I had to do was receive it. I got to know people who come to The Living Room every Tuesday, but who I’d somehow never seen before. I connected more deeply with some of my closest friends (who I’ve really only known for 6-9 months, which is freaky and weird because how do I love and trust them so much already?!)

I love all these people. I love this community. I love that there are 300+ young adults who are busy, but still come out every Tuesday night to learn about Jesus. I love that over 100 of those young adults are willing to take a weekend away and go even deeper into the Word. It doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t be happening. People my age should be “sewing their wild oats,” or what have you. But it is happening. God is doing something special right here in little ole Lanc.

I love serving at The Living Room. I love learning there. I love that more and more of my friends are going out and spreading the Word to all nations. It’s exciting to see people taking what they’ve learned and applying it and letting Him change their lives, not just coming every Tuesday night and hoping for God high after God high to get them through the week.

Anyway. Back to Life Weekend. I’ll try not to get too long-winded with this post, but here are 4 things that stood out to me!

  1. Sin is strong. I am also strong. I can beat sin alone for a long time. But always, always, always, I will wear out. The Spirit never wears out. When I’m fighting sin WITH the Spirit in me, I won’t wear out. I am not Superman to my sin, but when the Holy Spirit comes alongside me, great things happen.
  2. If we don’t know our identity… if we don’t believe we are God’s sons and daughters, and as such have the same beautiful inheritance as Jesus… we can only imitate results. Oh man. This struck me more than anything else all weekend. Am I imitating the results I see other “great Christians” producing, or am I allowing the Spirit to work through me and use my very personal and unique gifts?
  3. Until His baptism, Jesus had been doing… nothing. He was a 30 year old carpenter. He had not preached. He had not performed miracles. He was waiting (which is a hard thing for most of us to do). Still, after His baptism, God’s voice came down, claiming Him. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” God loved Him, and claimed Him, not for what He’d done or would do, but for who He was.
  4. Finally, 1 Corinthians 13 spoke to me in a new way this weekend. I’ve always thought of it as the “Love Chapter.” Apparently I even compartmentalize scriptures into little boxes, like that’s the “Love Chapter” and that’s all I’ll ever get out of it. Not sure how I missed it, but it’s about the Holy Spirit, too.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Oh man. When prophesy and tongues and knowledge and everything else passes away, love will still be there. It is endless. It is perfect. It is free. It is the most beautiful expression of the Holy Spirit.

So much love,

Carrie