live: life is made of moments

A post about the events of my daily life.

The summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, I attended Camp Electric. For those of you who listen to Christian radio, you might recognize this as the camp that TobyMac puts on every year for teenage wanna-be-musicians. During this week of camp, I had the opportunity to learn from the renowned Tom Jackson, a live music producer who has worked with Jars of Clay, The Band Perry, Taylor Swift, and hundreds of other artists. One of the things he said has stayed with me all these years: “People do not remember songs. They remember moments.”

Over the last few years, I have realized that the same is true of life. People do not remember years, or months, or days, or even hours. They remember moments.

When I look back to my sophomore year of college, I couldn’t tell you my class schedule, or who I sat with at lunch, or what I did with my evenings. But I can describe to you in perfect detail what it felt like when Zach first held my hand that winter, or what was running through my mind when I watched a meteor shower with some of my best friends that fall. We remember moments. And more importantly, life happens in moments.

These past few weeks of my senior year have been no exception. When I think about everything I’ve done so far, I don’t think about my classes, or my meetings, or even my awesome new job. I think about the moment when my two favorite songs were played back-to-back at the CSF rave. I think about sitting outside with Janah on the porch swing, drinking our soy milk and talking about life. I think about spending hours at Orange Leaf with two people I just met at an Asbury soccer game. I think about running through Wilmore at night with my beautiful roommates. I think about how wonderful my devotions were last Sunday when I had the apartment to myself for three hours. I think about nights when I can’t fall asleep because I miss Zach so much.

We remember moments, because life is made of moments. And I’ve learned that the most meaningful ones aren’t planned, but rather surprise you with their unexpectedness. So maybe we should stop trying so hard to create the perfect moments, and instead just let them happen. To quote one of my favorite movies: “Instead of asking our young people, ‘What are your plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’, maybe we should tell them this: Plan… to be surprised.”

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love: my family

A post about the people, places, and inspiration I love.

Have I ever mentioned that I love my family? Seriously, they’re the best. Being away at college has reminded me how much I love them and miss them. So, to honor the fact that I have too much homework tonight to write a long post, and the fact that I am missing my family immensely, here’s a little slideshow of the members of my family. Maybe you’ll see why I miss them so much!

My beautiful sister Whitney and her boyfriend Tyler.

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Oh, and their dog Duke.

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My artistic sister, Jordan.

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My athletic sister Landry.

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My sweet sister Brooklyn (this is actually an older picture, but I couldn’t find one from recently).

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My daredevil brother Shane.

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My fabulous parents who raised us all…

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And then there’s me.

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And my devilishly handsome boyfriend…

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Isn’t my family wonderful??? I can’t get enough of them!

PS: I also just upgraded to Lion on my MacBook Pro, which allows me to post pictures now. Prepare yourselves for many many more!

walk: prayers from a life group leader

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

This is an entry from my prayer journal this morning that I wrote after discovering that I will be leading 5-10 middle school girls in a small group this coming school year. I was planning on just writing a post about it, but after some much needed time with God, I realized that this sums up my thoughts pretty well.

Lord,

I’m tired of running away from you. I’m tired of trying to handle things on my own. I’m tired of feeling so alone. You are perfect, you are wise, and you are loving. You know that I am nowhere near ready to lead these middle school girls. I’ve fallen from you in a way that makes me ashamed to even ask for forgiveness. But the time for pride has come and gone.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ignoring you. I’m sorry for treating your Word like an insignificant story book. I’m sorry for giving my life to the things of this world instead of you. I’m so so sorry.

I believe that this year is going to be a good one for us. And by “good,” I mean really really rough and difficult, but worth it. Teach me your ways, God. Give me wisdom. In James, you said that if anybody asks for wisdom, it will be given to him. Well, I’m asking, Lord. It scares me to death that these middle school girls will be looking to me for advice and direction. Give me wisdom, but also give me peace.

I get so easily anxious about little things. Teach me to rest fully in you, to confide in you. I try to lean on myself and others instead of you, but I’m left disappointed every time. I know that you want my faith to “not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (I Corinthians 2:5).

God, let me live like you’re real. Let my life reflect that you’re alive. How can I read the Bible, say that I believe it, and then continue to live the way I do as if that doesn’t change everything? “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (I Corinthians 4:20). Let me feel that power. Let my life exude that power.

But most importantly, God, draw me close to you. I know John said to draw near to you, and you will draw near to me, but I am a fallible human being. There will be times that I do not draw near to you. So this is me, asking you–no, begging you–to draw me close to you no matter what that has to look like. I trust you. But I also know that our relationship is so much more important than my happiness. So if you must first break me, then break me. I’ve gone too long without the reality of your presence in my life.

Of these things that I ask from you–your wisdom, your peace, your power, and your presence–do not let me try to achieve them on my own. Let your love and discipline change me from the inside out.

I love you. I need you. Please stay here with me.

walk: hope in the helpless

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

I plan on one day becoming a physical therapist. To become a physical therapist, however, you must first spend at least 150 hours of your life observing other physical therapists at work. So instead of working at the movie theater, traveling abroad, or sunbathing beside the pool everyday, I spent my summer waking up at the crack of dawn to go to a “work” where I didn’t get paid, and nobody cared whether I came or not. Talk about delayed gratification. While I at first resented this and dreaded going every morning, I came to realize that even in this, God was at work. Looking back at the last few months now, I can’t imagine spending my summer any other way.

Because of all the confidentiality papers I signed, I unfortunately cannot go into detail about the amazing people I’ve met, or tell you the inspiring stories I’ve heard from nearly every patient who walked in the door. If you’ll allow me though, I’d like to give you an idea of what my days were like:

I’ve watched technicians turn all of the wall art upside down in the rehab center to keep the elderly patients in a lighthearted mood. I’ve witnessed physical therapists getting on the mat alongside their patients, matching all of their exercises move for move. I’ve seen a frail old woman who could barely lift her own head cling to the words of her therapist: “You did good today.” I’ve watched a gentle giant of a man become frustrated with himself, not realizing that the stumble in his step and the tremor in his hands were sure signs of Parkinson’s. I’ve joined in on group singalongs with elderly patients who insist on remembering the good ole days. I’ve talked politics, Olympics, and statistics with patients who desperately need someone to listen to them. I’ve watched people lie about the amount of exercise they’ve done, and I’ve seen people fake an injury to get special treatment. I’ve comforted a grandmother who wasn’t released from the hospital in time to attend what could very well be her last family reunion during her lifetime.

These last few months have simultaneously disheartened me and encouraged me. They have filled me with despair about the frailty of life, but also filled me with hope for the human race. More than ever, God has made me realize how much I want to do this for the rest of my life. There are so many hurting people in this world, people who crave not only physical healing, but the abundant life that only God can give.

The pastor of the church I attend while I’m at school has a favorite verse that he cites almost every Sunday: “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). Observing physical therapists at work these past few months has awakened my God-given desire to live out these words, one patient at a time.

love: the lumineers

A post about the people, places, and inspiration I love.

I’ve always lived in southeastern Kentucky, where the creeks are cool, the woods are plentiful, the hollers are deep, and the people are family. Now, I split my time between there and a small little town in central Kentucky with only two traffic lights within the city limits. In both of these places, everyone knows everybody, and not a day goes by where you don’t find a basket of vegetables on your porch, or enjoy a campfire with friends, or go creeking in the heat of the afternoon. It’s common knowledge that the Root Beer Stand is the only place that will satisfy after-dinner cravings, and every Friday night belongs to high school football games.

I love big cities, and I love the possibilities that technology opens up for the future. But I will never stop believing in small towns. It is only here–where kids grow up making forts in the woods, and old men sit on back porch rockers smoking their pipes and talking politics–where people are more important than holding grudges, and integrity is valued over personal gain.

One part of living in the hills that I could never fully appreciate, however, was country music. In fact, I refuse to listen to the stuff unless it’s summer, and only then because it makes me feel closer to my Kentucky roots. Well this summer, as I listened to one of my town’s 15 country music radio stations, I discovered a new band that instantly stole my heart. They are Kentucky’s Mumford & Sons, with honest lyrics and melodies that come straight from gravel roads and the boondocks. This band is called The Lumineers.

With as little as I know about them, I shouldn’t be suggesting them to others yet. After all, they could be immoral city-born wanna-be bluegrass singers. I love them so much that I can’t hold it in any longer though! So with that in mind, I strongly urge you to listen to their music. Go pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, sit on the porch swing, and let them remind you why you love a little bit of country music in the summer.

walk: wanna-be-hipster

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

I have a secret desire to be a hipster. Okay, well maybe it’s not so secret. If my no-makeup summer, cross country road trip attire, and Yeah I Know I’m Not Hipster pinterest board don’t make that obvious, this post will.

But, I’ve learned that there are two tell-tale signs that someone will never be a hipster:

1. If they want to be a hipster.

2. If they use the word “hipster.”

Clearly, I am guilty of both. This of course does not deter me from trying to act like a hipster whenever the opportunity presents itself. This especially comes into play when combined with my deep love of music.

I have a dear friend named Caleb who is uncannily good at predicting which artist is next to make it to the Top 40. Many many years ago, he introduced me to Owl City, Mumford & Sons, and NEEDTOBREATHE. At the time, no one else I knew had heard of any of them.

The next year, Owl City became an instant hit after their song, Hot Air Balloon, was an iTunes free song of the week. The year after that, Mumford & Sons songs started playing on the radio. And the year after that, NEEDTOBREATHE toured with Taylor Swift and gained millions of new fans.

Through it all, I knew that as a wanna-be-hipster, I should loathe the fact that the public discovered my favorite bands, and should therefore refuse to listen to any of my beloved artists ever again. But I am, after all, a selfish creature, and could not bear the thought of never again letting the words of Washed by the Water or the haunting melody of White Blank Page lull me to sleep, so I chose a new tactic. As everyone reveled in these seemingly “new” tunes, I made sure that all of my friends knew that I had heard of them LONG before they were popular. I made it clear that I was definitely NOT following the trends of society, but rather was amused that it had taken so long for the public to catch up with my musical taste.

Months later, I visited with Caleb and asked him what he thought of these artists becoming mainstream. Expecting him to boast about his predictions coming true, I was surprised to see him smile and say, “Oh, I couldn’t be happier for them! They’ve been trying so hard to get their music out and make ends meet… I’m just glad they finally went big so they can keep doing what they love!”

At that moment, nothing could have humbled me more. Here I was, holding onto my pride, and Caleb, who had more reason than anyone to be arrogant about his musical discoveries, was only happy for the success of these artists that he had never met, artists who would never even know his name. In that moment, God used Caleb to reveal my self-centered heart, and gave me a tiny glimpse of what true selflessness looks like.

So the next time that I feel embarrassed to be caught listening to Mumford & Sons, NEEDTOBREATHE, or Fun. (who–gasp!–I actually discovered along with everyone else, despite the fact that The Format was around for so long), I’ll remember Caleb and his humility. Maybe I’ll even start a new hipster trend, where it’s cool to like SOME mainstream music. Because, let’s be honest, I can’t give up my attempt to be a hipster altogether. I like hummus too much.

PS: My own prediction on who’s next to make it big? Abe Parker. You should totally check his stuff out.

walk: a new perspective

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

Sometimes, when I drive down my street, or spend time with my family, or sit in class, I play this game with myself. I try to imagine that I’m doing these things for the first time. I try to imagine what my first reaction would be to these people and places that are so familiar to me now.

I’m not sure why I started playing this game, but I’ve come to find that I like it. Encountering daily activities as completely novel experiences has caused clarity, appreciation, and a childlike wonder to quickly replace my otherwise apathetic and complacent attitude. How have I never noticed how many trees are in my neighborhood? When did the members of my family become so distinctly unique and funny? At what point did I begin taking my education for granted?

Just today I watched as a talk-show host interviewed Johnny Depp about playing the part of Edward Scissorhands in one of his first films. She asked him what he did to get in character, to which he replied, “I had to look at the world as if I had never seen it before… and I loved it!” He went on to say that he was constantly in awe of the most mundane things, and was surprised with how freeing and safe it made him feel.

In John 3, Jesus speaks to a very confused Nicodemus, trying to make him understand “heavenly things.” All of the concepts that Jesus mentions–being born again, the Son of Man, eternal life–are so familiar to me, that it almost seems laughable that Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant. But then I thought of Edward Scissorhands, who found pleasure in activities and sights that everyone else found boring. The joy that Nicodemus would feel as he first began to understand these concepts far outweighs the joy that I feel having “understood” them for years.

There is a joy and a comfort that come only through a deep familiarity with the Word of God and the saving grace that lies within. But I believe that it is also beneficial to approach the Bible as if you’ve never read it before. This new perspective provides clarity of Jesus’ character, appreciation for his overwhelming sacrifice, and a childlike wonder over why he chose you.

Perhaps you can only truly see something during that fleeting moment after you didn’t see it at all.

walk: Isaiah 53:6

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

I’ve read that verse dozens of times. I memorized it in the fourth grade, I’ve heard it recited during numerous sermons. I’ve read it in my own personal devotions.

But for some reason, today it took on a new meaning for me.

Notice that the Bible does not say “We all, like murderers, have killed many people,” or “We all, like cheaters, have lied and stolen,” and THAT’S the type of sin that the Lord laid on Jesus to bear for us. No, the Bible clearly states that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.”

Jesus endured anguish and pain on the cross because everyday I choose to “do my own thing.” At this point in my walk with Christ, it’s not that I’m constantly committing what we like to call the Big Sins: cheating, stealing, lying, killing, having sex, doing drugs, etc. I’ve simply started going my own way. I’ve begun to ignore the presence of God in my life. Slowly but surely the voice of God has been replaced with a much louder voice: me. I still read my Bible, attend church, and go through all of the motions just like I always have. My own path looks surprisingly godly, but it is full of pride and selfish ambition. Jesus knows that I’m going my own way, and it is for this that he died.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

My selfish ambition pierced and crushed my Savior, who loved me enough to endure it. How can I walk on any other path but his?

walk: all at once

A post about God’s love and continual grace throughout my walk with him.

I watched The Descendants the other day. And although I cannot exactly condone the film due to its constant brash language, I did procure an interesting thought from the movie. As my beautiful roommate once told me, “Life happens all at once.” So it’s not just that your wife is dying, or that your family is feuding, or that your daughter is rebelling, or that a huge decision is placed on your shoulders. It’s all of these things at once. Or, in my case, I’m finishing a cross country road trip, singing in my cousin’s wedding, saying goodbye to my boyfriend while he studies at Oxford all semester, applying to graduate schools, and taking a summer class. It’s not just one of these things, but all of them.

My roommate and I wondered why life couldn’t happen one thing at a time, so that each event and decision could be given full attention and enjoyment. I would love to simply be singing at my cousin’s wedding without trying to sniffle down tears shed for my traveling boyfriend, and enjoy a road trip with my family without having to stress over future decisions. Why everything at once?

I’m still not completely sure why, but there’s something very beautiful about that. Maybe there are too many experiences that God has in store for me to limit me to only one at a time. Or maybe, if life were to happen one thing at a time, I would harbor a disillusion about being in control. I’ve found that it’s at the times when I am most overwhelmed that I seek the Lord most fervently. No matter how many times I pray for peace and rest from the busyness of life, I’ve never felt farther from God than when my life is relatively “peaceful.”

So maybe it’s not the craziness of life. Maybe it’s the love of God.