America, How Do We Respond?

Dear America,

Wow. We have a lot of emotions today, can we agree on that? Yeah? Okay, great.

I don’t believe I have ever posted anything political, or even close to the topic before on a blog, but that changes today. I know I am not the only person doing this, but I don’t want that to hinder me sharing my thoughts with you. I want us to have a conversation, take a deep breath, and open our ears to our brothers and sisters.

Many people in America (and probably the world) are filled with a lot of fear right now. I think it is safe to say that for most of us, a level of uncertainty exists, and that would probably have been true with either candidate.

There are a few ways we can respond today:

  • hatred & harsh words about our new president
  • fear, because, hey it’s valid for many people in our country
  • Jesus is King, so it’s going to be okay, this was His plan
  • a riot
  • hiding from the world, because we are scared to share our thoughts and feelings

The list could go on. What I would like to say today is that I believe there is something we aren’t really talking about.

We need to stop trying to make the people scared right now stop being scared. 

Yes, Jesus is still sovereign and faithful. He is good all of the time, and He has a plan. But I refuse to speak for Him and say that He CHOSE Trump. WE chose Trump. Not all of us, but I guess most of us. God gave us free will, and that is the beauty/harsh reality of life. We reap the consequences of our decisions, and I truly believe that this is the case right now.

BUT.

There is still hope.

Hope in Jesus, yet a hope that is choosing to hold on while fear still exists. It’s okay not to be super optimistic right now. Why? Because many of our LGBTQ, refugee, immigrant, female, and colored brothers and sisters face the reality that a man that has spoke very harsh things over them is now the leader of our country. Despite who we voted for, can we just hold their hand and say that we are with them? Can we hug them, say “I love you,” and acknowledge their pain and fear? Can we choose each other over politics and opinions?

God didn’t choose Trump to make this country great, He chose US. We are the change. We are the leaders and influencers of our communities. He has called us to love, speak up for the oppressed, and care for those in any form of need. I am all for posting Bible verses and declaring God is in control, but I am not for this if the purpose behind it is to disregard my brothers and sisters feelings right now. The Bible is meant to encourage and uplift, not dismiss and ignore. Let’s look at some good verses to reference in the midst of this uncertainty:

“learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:8-10

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Yeah, we can argue, and pick and choose Bible verses to throw at each other, but these words are TRUTH. These words were never meant to be used to attack each other, but act as reminders on how to love well.

Can I be honest? I am sick to my stomach. I don’t understand why Trump is the president. I’m confused, and truly nervous for what this could mean. I feel empathetic towards my friends and family who are in the minority groups that face oppression. I fully trust in God’s plan, but that doesn’t mean I should act like I know the purpose behind Him allowing this man into office. I don’t, and that’s okay.

I believe God is asking us to be the ones to choose to love and accept the people around us, even when a leader of influence refuses to make that choice himself.  We are not called to protect only ourselves, we are called to protect others and speak truth over them. We are called to love fiercely. We are called to stand for God’s people. He created ALL of us. He loves ALL of us. He wants ALL of our hearts.

We have seen it in the Bible; God allows someone into authority who does not represent love or protect His people. Why? Because in each of those situations, He called His people to rise up and choose to live in His promises. He called them to fight for justice, to seek freedom for His people, and to mourn with those in pain. He didn’t ask His people to just go with whatever was easier. If we just sit on the side lines, we are going to eventually realize that life isn’t “easier.” It will get hard. Why? Because watching people we have grown to love get deported, their rights revoked, objectified, mocked, and experience racism is going to tear us apart. I can’t just sit on the sidelines. I am going to be running to the people in need of love, who are broken, who are experiencing the lies of the Enemy.

Will you join me?

Because many of us are not okay right now, but if we can love each other well, we will be. It’s up to us, America.

I posted this verse yesterday,

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

Proverbs 19:21

YOU are His purpose. We are full of purpose. You, my friend, are the change. No matter who you voted for, I love you, I am for you, and I need you. I need you to choose to protect our brothers and sisters. I need you to rise up, and find the words to defend those in need.

I do believe God changes hearts, and through prayer and setting an example, this can happen.

If you see someone being told racial slurs or comments, the LGBTQ community experience any form of rejection, women being degraded, or a special needs person be talked down to: SPEAK UP. You have a voice. You have a heart. USE IT. We can’t afford for you not to.

 

Sincerely,

A Mourning Heart

Embrace People, Not Labels

We live in a world that is often drawn to the more tragic/exciting/dramatic stories that exist. Many people receive their “5 minutes of fame,” and that often leads to one chapter labeling their life story. As I have been listening to the stories of the families we have been visiting, my heart has been flying all over the place with thoughts and feelings that evoke new emotions everyday.
I am beginning to wonder if any of these parents, kids, or nurses have a fear that they will only be known or remembered for the season of tragedy, uncertainty, or ongoing struggle they experience. Will they ever be seen for their dreams, passions, or the chapters that truly bind their entire story together? Will they ever truly be heard beyond a 6 minute video? Is their identity only found in the attention they receive from their situation?
Maybe this is why people fear becoming projects, so they shy away from admitting when they need help or support. We live in a world full of labels. People who made one mistake that maybe led them to jail receive “ex-convicts” as a label for the rest of their lives. Many who come out as depressed, alcoholic, or may have a condition, are often treated differently by their communities, feeling lost in just one aspect of themselves that seems to dictate who they are.
After interviewing the families with children awaiting a transplant, in recovery, or who even lost their baby, I have been feeling this aching that more of their stories need to be told. I don’t want these 6 minute videos to be the only time people hear their voices, I long to lock arms with them and say, “I am with you. I want to know you.”
I view people as letters from God to the world. Whether or not they believe in God, have made mistakes, or have done horrific things, God made them and put them here for a reason. Some people may lose sight of their true purpose, but we have the ability to remind each other of who we are. Everyone has a story, and that may sound cliche, but it is a deep truth we often forget as we share random gossip on the internet or between friends. We judge, label, and yell at each other, often with passive aggressive tendencies.
I once met a drunk, high homeless women on the corner of a street in Seattle. She was yelling in different voices, calling herself names and reliving what seemed to nightmares over and over and over again. Many people were avoiding her and laughing at how crazy she appeared. To be honest, she kind of scared me as I was standing at that crosswalk, but God grabbed me and turned me around asking me to touch her shoulder and look her in the eyes.
“Hi, what is your name?”
With an almost empty beer can and the smell of it escaping her breath, she slurred, “My name is Anne.”
I pressed into the Holy Spirit in this moment, wondering how I could get past the drunkenness and how high she appeared to be. I heard, Ask her about her favorite birthday.
“Anne, do you remember your favorite birthday?”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke, her voice growing soft as she leaned into the memory, “Oh yes, my Papa woke me up early on birthday when I was little, before anyone else got up, and we ate breakfast together. I sat on his lap. I felt special.”
For a moment I saw a little girl trapped in a body of scars, bruises, and alcohol, riddled with replaying memories of abuse. Within seconds though, her eyes grew dark and her voice got deep as she yelled the words her father yelled at her once she got older. Anne replayed in such vivid emotion the moment a man she thought loved her held a gun to her head. Tears began to run as she went deeper into the memory. I laid my hand on her shoulder once again and prayed aloud.
We repeated this routine for at least 20 minutes: I would ask her a question about the joys she seemed to have tucked away in a box, she would remember them and smile, quickly she would relapse into one of her real-life nightmares, and I would pray out loud for her as people avoided us on the street corner.
Finally, she calmed down enough to pull pieces of tattered paper out of her backpack that had scribbled Psalms written on them. Anne explained that she wrote down parts of the Bible to remind her of God. We read them out loud together, my friend Jessika now joining me. The alcohol, drugs, and homeless labels fell as this woman was seen as a person who craved to be loved, not someone avoided, abused, and abandoned. I wanted to help her, find a way for her to get off the streets. I desperately craved for her to experience the love of Jesus in a life-changing way. Anne didn’t want to fully accept Jesus and find a way off the streets though, but that did not stop me from holding on to the promise that God saw her. She was not fully abandoned.
You see, not everyone wants to be healed or get off the streets. Maybe it is the belief that they don’t deserve it that holds them back, or maybe they are simply scared of the risk of failing or having to be vulnerable. I hate that we live in a world that has been scarred by the fear that our stories have purpose and potential. The Enemy has led many to see their lives as worthless and damaged, but we can be the open door to healing that people need. Some may reject your love, but I desire for everyone to see the value of looking someone in the eye, asking them an uprooting, life-giving question.
My pastor recently said, the first step to discipling is asking this question: “How are you doing?”
It is so easy to get wrapped up in labels, media, and the damaged parts of people, but what if we chose to go deeper? One of the beauties of life is this: loving people in simple, tangible ways leads to a more than simple life. While our fear of being seen may exist within us, a deeper need to be seen for who we are aches in our inmost being. My hope is that I can become someone who loves in a way that makes people feel safe, loved, and protected.
I believe that loving in simple yet extravagant ways leads to a story filled with chapters of adventure, joy, and grace. The stories and blogs that we read centered around trending topics changing by the hour are not a legacy, but you can be. Become a listener, a voice for the hurting, and someone who engages with a crisis in your every day life. You have the ability to speak life-giving words to a hurting world. Embrace people, not labels.

Stories that Create Heart-Shifts

“Writer’s block” has to be one of the most dreaded realities I face ever so often, and it feels as though it has been the ball and chain on my mind as I have traveling America with an amazing group of women. We have been meeting families with children awaiting a transplant of any kind, are in recovery, or have had a fully successful transplant. These families are knit together with a special kind of strength that wakes you up to a new reality. With all of these heart-shifting stories, I have been beating myself up for not being able to find the words to express what has been going on the past couple weeks. The inside of me is feeling so much, it feels as though no words can truly articulate the heart-shift I am experiencing.

I thought that my heart was awake to the need for organ donation before I left on this trip, but I was wrong. Only part of me was awake, and the realities seem to flood my heart so quickly that the verbal processor in me hasn’t been functioning properly. Here I am, right now, and I am going to try my best to find the words. Bear with me.

This trip began with some solid team-training, and after only two days we met our first little friend. Meet Eddie, a little two-year old with a big heart and great need for a new kidney.IMG_2303.jpg

Eddie has a laugh that will make anyone’s heart swell up with pure joy. These little fighters are shifting people’s worlds with each smile and invitation to play. You would never think that this two-year old had three tubes coming out of him and his trendy little back pack was a way of survival. He throws balls, makes truck sounds, and sings without hesitation. Eddie doesn’t dwell in the idea he can’t live a life full of excitement and adventure. He craves it, and his story serves as  a reminder that we can still live in pure joy every day despite or situation. He has a special love for Finding Nemo, and his parents join him in the regular showing of this movie in their home. His parents shared with us how Nemo has inspired them as they began to relate Nemo’s story to their little boy. Just like Eddie, Nemo has a little fin that makes it little harder to swim but he “just keeps swimming.” While his parents may get nervous about Eddie acting on his two-year-old curiosity just like Marlin the fish, Nemo and Eddie don’t let the fear of being different hold them back from a life filled with fun and play.

Their story has welcomed us into the reality that you don’t have to experience tragedy to find a donor. If you are healthy and meet the requirements, you can potentially donate part of your liver, a kidney, and much more! Eddie is in need of a live donor due to the national wait list being so long, watch this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x8yK-dQWGQ.

After a couple days of driving, we made our way to Omaha, NE, and honestly none of the families we had contacted had responded. We didn’t quite know what we were doing, but we decided to reach out to more families, and Kourtney got a little crazy and may have told a family from Virginia that “we were in the area.” Within a couple hours, we got a response from a single mom in, yes, VIRGINIA. It was a 20 hour drive, not including stops. We hopped in our car early the next morning and drove for the next 30 hours and arrived at a sweet home in Virginia where we met Tymiere, a boy who inspires us all to defy the odds and pursue your dreams.tymiere.jpg

Tymiere is 11 years-old and was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at 5 months old, and discovered he was in need of a bone marrow transplant. He is still in need a of a bone marrow donor, and does not have any family that qualifies as a donor. It didn’t take long after we got there for Tymiere to team up with me and create an outline for how we were going to tell his story. His main goal was to inspire other kids with sickle cell or other diseases to not give up or give into the negative thoughts or things they hear. Tymiere’s dream is to be a singer and song writer, and it just so happened that he had a song written and we had a couple team members (Kendra and Chelsea) who knew how to create music to the lyrics and maybe even serve as back up singers. You could feel the excitement and energy fill the room as dreams seemed closer than ever to coming true. We all have the song memorized now, are dedicated to walking life with this rockstar, and are confident that Tymiere is a world changer. You can listen to his story and even his song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oZYyhW2xac.

This all leads us to this week where we met one-year-old Ma-Leiah who lights up a whole building when she waddles into it.allthejoyyyy.jpgMa’Leiah just received her heart 5 weeks ago and is recovering so quickly that even the doctors are astonished. Andrea is her mom and she has been by her little girl’s side since day one, and we all became friends before we even walked into the Ronald McDonald House. We were blessed to be able to spend two days with these two beautiful ladies. Dancing to Sesame Street, getting excited about food, and finding book after book became the routine and we could have done it for days. We are still in the process of posting the video, but stay tuned so you can hear all of the details!

God is working behind the scenes and the dream for Ember’s Spark is expanding day-after-day. With all of this driving that we do, conversations continue to knit our team together in a special way as we discover each other’s differences, passions, and dreams. Yesterday, I spent time with God while I plugged some head phones in my ear and listened to some Jesus tunes. God revealed a truth to me that I believe has changed me forever: Life is all about the pursuit. The pursuit of people, God, and relationships.

God pursues us even when we are trying to run, we are scared, or we want to hide. Throughout the Bible, each page reveals a pattern of the Maker of this world: He is in pursuit of our hearts, our dreams, and our love. I think often times we get so focused on finding our own healing from our pasts, mistakes, or fears that we often isolate ourselves and even neglect the relationships we have with the people around us. There is this saying God gave me several years ago and it goes like this, “When you go out to change other people’s lives, they end of changing you the most.” Isn’t that crazy? You see the focus isn’t to change yourself through loving people and God, but it just kind of happens. When we surrender ourselves selflessly to loving people with God, He allows us all to shift each other’s hearts in a special, beautiful way. It is just a thought, but what if we focused more on building each other up rather than ourselves? Do you think maybe we would all begin to find healing, restoration, and grace?

Our focus shouldn’t be the reward, but where we are stepping next. I think our world is craves solutions that are designed for our specific story, but I am beginning to shift my thinking to the truth that the Bible holds all the wisdom/”solutions” we need. I encourage you to read John 4 when Jesus is talking to the woman at the well. He gives us all a picture of how to love people where they are at and gently tells them to get rid of the stuff that keeps making them thirsty, because He has a “water” that will never make you thirsty again.

Maybe this all sounds  a bit off topic from this trip, but I don’t really think it is. It is all about loving people where they are at, not trying to find the solutions, but simply saying, “I am with you, I want to hear your story, and let’s walk life together.” God just loves to open up doors when we lock hands with the people He puts next to us and commit to doing this love and grace thing together. These kids and their parents are locking hands with us 20-somethings who don’t really know what their doing, but we are just resting in the reality that God does, and that the love that He showers us with is a love that moves mountains.

When Your Greatest Fear is Being Misunderstood

You know those questions you always have back-up answers for? For instance, “What is your greatest fear?”

“Ha. Well… the dark, spiders, cottage cheese?”

What we really want to say is more on the lines of: I fear death, the thought that no one really loves me, my life has no purpose, and the list goes on…

About two years ago, an article came out in the newspaper announcing that myself and three other 19 year-old girls were preparing to embark on a 2-month mission trip across America. We had it all mapped out, but our main goal was to love outrageously and give freely. There wasn’t much more to that plan, because God had laid it on my heart to just go where He led us, loving the people in front of us with our actions, instead of loud words.

The day this article came out, I was ecstatic! People who saw me even driving were laughing because I was waving at everyone singing, “GOD IS GOOD!!” It wasn’t until I got on Facebook later that day when I saw people commenting on the article calling us “idiots,” “stupid girls,” and “why don’t they just sign up for that thing called YWAM?” My heart sank a little when I read these comments, but my faith was strong enough at the time to press on and not let that waiver me.

It’s funny (in a not so funny way) how those words can come back to haunt you in your down moments, where you begin to believe those words.

I grew up with some people very close to me who accused me of being self-righteous and prideful because I brought Jesus up too much – “there was no way I was that nice” – and I was too confident in my faith. Those words cut deep because people didn’t know about my mostly-secret battle with depression and suicide where I actually believed I deserved to die and that the world would be better without me. If I raised my hands in church, I would sometimes hear, “There she goes again.” Talk about phrases that sting a little too close to the heart.

It is by the grace of God that these seemingly validations of my fears didn’t turn me from the church. God spoke truth over me every time I felt the sting of my critics, and gave me unexplainable hope to press on. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have my moments of complete despair. I promise, I did.

Over the past couple years, while there have been moments of finding my voice, I would say, overall, I became scared of it. There has been a lack of confidence in the value of my voice which has taken root in my heart, and I will never truly know how many opportunities I missed as a result of it all. When I have tried to speak about my heart and passions, it seems to be coated with fear causing me to fumble over my words, making me feel more embarrassed than my attempts at playing football. These conversations where I walk up to the line and stare at it while speaking, send me in replay mode once I walk away. Anxiety takes over. It consumes me. I will get dreams about it, and hide these fears in a little box where no one will discover my brokenness.

Oh, and did I mention I also fear rejection?

Rejection and feeling misunderstood often come hand-in-hand for most of us with these fears. We try to people-please, begging (often times subconsciously) for people to validate and affirm us. We want people to believe us when we say we truly want to make the world a better place, and it isn’t about us being the hero. There is the harsh reality to face: when we take strides towards our callings, we are often forced to face rejection and being misunderstood. This is where God comes in and wraps us in His grace, and asks us to believe Him when He tells us that our dreams are His dreams for us, and to not give up. The hardest part for me is receiving this kind of love, because the fear and rejection begs me to believe that I am not worth getting back up and trying again.

Guess what? Not only are you worth it, but so are the people you are trying to help and love.

A few days ago, I attended an event that began to uproot this lack of confidence that had grown deeper than I would like to admit. They told us to write down the word on our hand that we felt God speaking to us. I wrote, “SPEAK.” This word seemed to hold so much weight as I stared at the messy Sharpie on my hand. God was asking me to speak up again, and ask for help for the trip I am about to embark on once again. He was asking me to speak, not for myself, but for my team and for the families we will be meeting this summer.

You see, this July, myself and four other women are setting out to meet families with children in the hospital who are waiting for organ donations in hopes of sharing their story and providing them with a community who will join them on their journey. We are hoping to record videos and take photos, documenting their story and inviting people online to “adopt” one of the families we meet so that they may provide financial, spiritual, and encouraging support whether it be from the other side of the world. We want to say, “WE SEE YOU. WE LOVE YOU. WE WANT TO DO LIFE WITH YOU.”

If you know Ember’s story, you know just how much this trip means to our team, and to her family. We want to leave Ember’s legacy, as she is the inspiration for this trip and the new program that will be emerging called, “Ember’s Spark.”

I have been scared to ask for help, especially people with resources that can get us funding and other great connections for this trip. So here I am, asking you if you can help in any way. We need to raise $9,000 by July 1st, and we need people who are willing to follow our journey and help us spread these stories as they come in along the way.

Please, please help us, because we cannot do this alone. We need a tribe, a community who will support us, speak truth over us, and will say, “Hey, that is worth my time.”

Fear of rejection and being misunderstood can’t hold me or you back anymore. Our life and the lives around us need people who are willing to speak up. Speaking up can be done with shaky hands, a trembling heart, and a quivering voice. We don’t need to feel like heroes to make a difference, we just need to be willing to take it all one minute at a time and keep saying, “Yes.”

If you would like to join us on this journey, go to withoutbordersministries.org.

Connect with us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Without-Borders-Ministries-773442312680072/

Donate: gofund.me/25mudny4

Your voice has value, and it could be the voice that inspires other voices to emerge. Let’s love together, outrageously of course.

 

 

 

Love More, Have Less

Marketing has a powerful way of influencing society and propelling it in a direction that craves more, buys more, and lives with less contentment. We are drawn to the clearance/sale plastered signs and ads because it often means we can get more for less. I would call myself a pretty big bargain shopper, and have found a hobby in thrift shopping and deal hunting. Though, I admit, something in me has changed recently.

I keep thinking, “I get it. I understand what it means to be others focused and live generously.” Yet I seem to always find myself humbled by the reality: I don’t get it. Maybe I never want to, because I never want to live life without a wake-up call to love more, have less. 

There is this book I have been reading called Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, and it has wrecked my world in a new, profound way. Her story of adopting 14 girls in Africa starting at the age of only 19 has evoked emotions in me leading to sleepless nights the past few weeks. She writes with such raw emotion and true conviction. I close this book feeling inspired, convicted, and motivated to live life through a selfless lens every single time.

Love more, have less.

Katie’s story has opened my eyes even more to the narcissistic, entitled, opinionated culture of the U.S. and it is sending my head spinning. There are so many needs that are just waiting to be met for poverty stricken people all over the world, even in the U.S., but many of us are distracted by the signs, media, and voices everywhere that are reminding us, “What do you want? What do you needHow can you love yourself today?”

I am beginning to think less possessions could create more room for love in my life.

“‘Mediocrity and abundance’ aren’t there. However, mediocrity and abundance, comfort and ease, do seem to be safe choices for many people, myself included. In stark contrast, leaving our possessions, following Jesus when we don’t have a well-defined plan, and entertaining strangers — well, that does sound a little scary. But what if, just beyond that risk, just beyond that fear is a life better than anything we have ever imagined: life to the fullest.” – Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie

The comfort of possessions and a mediocre life is so tempting, especially when it is masked with the idea that “we are getting more.” The possessions pile up, crowding our lives and often filling us with more anxiety all while emptying us of purpose.  I have bought the lie that money can buy happiness, especially when I tell myself that those things will give me the ability to be at a place someday where I can love bigger and give more.

Love more, have less.

Katie continues her thoughts with:

“I certainly don’t believe everyone should sell all of their belongings and pack a suitcase and move to Africa. I don’t think people all over the planet should drop everything and go somewhere far from everything familiar and be missionaries. In fact, I believe anyone can be a missionary right where they are.

Every day, we have a choice. We can stay nestled in our safe comfortable places, as I did when the rat was in my room. We can let fear of something that really is small compared to the greatness of God cripple us. Or we can take a risk, do something to help someone else, make a person smile, change someone’s world. Life to the fullest exists. It’s available. All we have to do is decide to get up and embrace it.”

I read this and something took me over. I wanted to sell everything I didn’t absolutely need, and use the money for the trip I am going on this summer to love on people in America. I felt like someone was sitting on me, or maybe something… this deep longing to want more out of this life, and not the stuff money could buy. I texted my husband this:

IMG_5872 (1).jpg                            IMG_5873

 

I am so thankful for a husband who is so laid back when I suggest we sell most of our belongings! Who do you know who would be that chill with giving up their stuff when their spouse sends a text like that?! His response even humbled me, because I think I would have a lot more questions if someone wanted to get rid of my clothes.

I don’t say any of this to seem “cool,” but to be honest that I am continually understanding more and more what it truly means to love deeper. I believe we could all make room for more love if we had less, and felt sacrifice in our daily lives that created moments of freedom through the art of giving. It is not just about giving up physical possessions, but the things that make us feel secure through our own power.

Love more, have less opinions.

Love more, have less pride.

Love more, have less criticism.

Love more, have less worry.

Love more, have less money.

Love more, have less hate.

Love more, my friend, and have less.

What can you get rid of in your life that will make more room for you to love more? Are you willing to shed some possessions, pride, and self-built security with me?

May we simplify our possessions in pursuit of a not-so-simple life.

 

 

Our Dreams in the Midst of Working A Minimum Wage Job

I think I am on my third week of working at Starbucks, if I am counting correctly. The fast-paced environment infused with the smell of fresh coffee has sent my head spinning in moments. Time seems to slow whenever a customer smiles, a child bubbles with giddiness at the sight of a cake pop, or the energetic high schoolers and their orders of caramel frappuccinos with extra extra caramel.

I told a little girl that she was a princess today, and she denied such a thing, telling me that she was a cute little baby. I liked her honesty.

The world, this life, these customer service jobs, can lead many people to lose hope in the anticipation of finding their purpose. Our lives are often filled with many seemingly unending tasks, and we are chugging along wondering, When will I get to enjoy this life? When do I get to do what I long to do? What is the point of all this waiting, working hard, and running into walls?

Pause. 

Do you ever pause, taking a moment in between the movement of the world and the buzzing of your thoughts?

Many times I have been discouraged at the reality of having to work so many minimum wage jobs that force me to clean the bathrooms and be the brunt of people’s life problems. I get stuck in my own little world, thinking, “I deserve better.” I have been thinking a lot lately (as usual) and just recently came to the conclusion that I do deserve better.

Pause.

I deserve to have a better mindset on life. Life is not about me. Life is not about my dreams. Life is not about sacrificing years of my gifts in hopes of gaining fame or wealth. Life is about the pauses, the ability to pause. Life is about connecting, feeling, and living.

Many of us (including myself) get so consumed with gaining importance and purpose in this world. We miss opportunities to learn, love deeper, and grow in integrity. Yes, I could work minimum wage jobs for the next few years and tell myself it will be worth it because of glory days ahead. But what if these pursuits don’t work out like the fantasies that seem to get more detailed as I sweep floors? Fame, wealth, and success is empty without a zeal for life in it’s most raw form.

We were not created to be known for fame, followers, or our belongings. We were created to serve and love. You were designed to love and serve God and people. Yes, we can serve with our gifts and talents, but where is the depth if our minds are set on our ever-changing definition of success?

It is in the pauses that I am learning the life-giving truth: I am living the dream. I am loving and serving people. I can find comfort in the reality that these pauses offer me the opportunity to share my gifts with people in the midst of the daily habits of their lives. Making coffee, sweeping floors, and making sure I am counting change correctly is bestowing me with the opportunity to practice my gifts.

I want to give all of myself to all areas of my life, not just the ones I think deserve it. Every person should experience my love and service at its best, who am I to determine who is worthy of who I am at my best? Starbucks is the place for me in this season of life. Is it where I thought I would be at 21? No, but it is proudly where I am.

I am not sitting in this season of life telling myself I’ll be making coffee forever, but I will move forward in each day with peace that this is all part of the beautiful dream. If death were to meet me tomorrow, I would not view life as a failure just because I never published a book or was known by a certain number of people. Life can’t be about those things, because we aren’t in control.

Pause.

Tomorrow, you could lose what seems like everything, or maybe you already have. You have not lost everything though, my friend. You will always have the ability to love and serve others. You were made for such beautiful things. You were made to live your dreams, everyday.

Embrace the pauses. I dare you to even initiate them.

Tell a little girl she is a princess, celebrate the extra caramel, or tell someone you like their name. But promise me something? When you do, watch their reaction.

PAUSE. You were made for this.

This, my friend, is the dream.

 

When Your Dreams Are Not “that” Unique

Most of us have been told at least once in our lives, “You can be whatever you want to be.” Sweet little six-year-old me believed it with all her heart, but times seem to change in your twenties. The day dreams haven’t stopped, but the interruptions of “reality” seem to occur more often now.

How will I ever get published by my dream publisher (Thomas Nelson)? When will I ever get paid to speak at an event? How will I adopt 20 children? Will people actually read my blog? 

How do you stand out in a sea of dreamers? I have no clue. I am not really a blogger who offers many solutions, because I seem to be on a journey of just figuring things out. I guess I feel as though I drown in the overly confident voices and opinions that fill media, books, and face-to-face reality. There are days I wonder if it is required to have one of those bold voices to stand out, but I don’t think I would be very honest if I did. I get the feeling that many of us crave to have one of those voices, so we cling to people who appear to have it “together.” (What does even mean?) We crave confidence, full assurance in a solution, and an answer to life’s never-ending problems.

I believe this is why our world is addicted to discovering the solution to being skinny, being the best at something, looking better, etc… Think about it, how many ads, blogs, Pinterest posts, and commercials constantly try to offer us the solution to our every day insecurities and issues?

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of clicking on the ads, investing my money and time into them, and spending sleepless nights researching ways to make myself stand out.

In November, I went to a conference hosted by Donald Miller called “Storyline Conference.” It was amazing, offering wisdom and direction to my wandering, dreaming heart. There was this moment when I was sitting in a sea of a few thousand people in the same room, where I was awakened to the reality: I am not the only one with these dreams. There are thousands, if not millions, of people just like me who have the same dreams I listed above.

In a moment, I felt as though a fly swatter could rob me of my existence. Dramatic, maybe. But let’s be honest with ourselves, do you ever feel like you are the only one with a great idea, dream, or talent?

I sure do. I can’t tell you how many times I get discouraged when I realize that my idea was not as unique as I saw it, or there was someone who came up with something better. Dreamers can connect in ways that can’t fully be expressed, but can often get tainted with a competitive-comparison driven spirit. Part of us gets excited when we meet someone who understands our aspirations and visions for the future; the other part of us cowers away, scared that we will discover there is more “competition” out there.

A new epiphany was birthed in my quickly expanding world as I drove down to San Diego this past January for the “big move.” God revealed to me that I need to stop being creative in the way I love people, try to inspire people, or try to help people see God’s love. My only focus needs to be pursuing Christ, loving people passionately, and living my life intentionally. Creativity will naturally flow from the core of my heart, my dreams will come in a way that doesn’t feel forced, and if I truly learn to love people, each relationship will be unique. There is no formula to accomplishing your dreams, capturing people’s attention, or loving people.

There may be wisdom and advice that we stumble upon along the way, giving us clear direction or inspiration. We just can’t allow man-made formulas trump our desire to passionately seek Christ. My message will be simple, “God loves you. I love you.”

We are scared of those words. They are more difficult to let sink into our hearts, making it easier to find blogs on social media that seem to offer easier ideas to digest. We were made to love, be loved, and proclaim love. Love is patient, kind, relentless, full of grace, outrageous, illogical, and life-giving.

I don’t need to try to muster up ways to make myself stand out. I just need to be myself, and I think that is harder. I think that transparency and authenticity is more uncomfortable, harder to attain consistently, and pretty darn scary. Stop running. I have ran around for the past few years trying to find my “shining moment” that would lead to all of my dreams coming true, but I didn’t find it. You could only see the true me in moments, not in every breath I breathed. Yes, I truly wanted all of the things I said, but I desperately wanted people to understand just how passionate I was about those dreams. I didn’t think that allowing people to see me just as I was, with no “creativity” or “agenda,” was going to get me anywhere.

I was wrong.

We crave connection. We crave to be known. We crave to be wanted.

How will you find those things if you never give people the opportunity to see you?

I am talking about the you that your scared of, because I believe that is the person I want to be friends with, and the voice I want to hear.

God loves you. I love you. And I mean it.