Thursday, December 17, 2015

Journal | woodland wandering

Gray, pleasant December weather shrouds my homeland... no snow, no bitter cold, no icy roads. Not yet.

The world looks more like a subdued, colorless October-- quiet and cool--with rainy days and some gusty winds.

I did not mean to be absent from my blog this month; I actually had about four posts under construction... yet they remain drafts. Life has been a bit busy, what with finals and Christmas preparations... and other things. I just felt no push to get anything posted, and decided that maybe I was meant to take December as a blogging break.

(Besides, I'm not really good and themeing things to fit the holiday season... and I'd feel kind of obliged to post Christmas-y things for you guys if I posted this month, ya know? ;) )

But I am writing this journal ~ as the rain patters on the roof above my head.

I went for a walk this morning, up to the woods.

(This is after I slept in. The day after my very last finals. No school, no chores, free!)

In all honesty, because I want to remain honest here, I've been having some difficult times.
And I want change.

Because this is not where I am meant to be. This is not wear Jesus died to put me. He has lifted me up, set my feet upon a rock, and has not given me a Spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind.

A sound mind. 

Most of my internal struggling has been in the mind, and any outward conflict has been because I allowed what was wrong in my mind to take actual form in my life. We really do create the majority of our circumstances. (I say majority, because I know there certainly are things beyond our control.) But also, most of the time that a struggle arises is because we have allowed ourselves to view it from a position of vulnerability, defensiveness, or defeat.

(I should be using the pronoun I instead of we because I don't wish to point fingers at other people. I'm just speaking of my own experiences.)

Do you ever have the opportunity to walk through the woods?

It's very calming. And the best part is that you're all alone.

 I can talk to Him out loud.

Have you ever declared God's word out loud? Repeating what you know He has said... instead of what you currently see or feel? 

His Words do not return to Him void.  There is enormous power in the Word of God (learning so much about this lately...), and in knowing it in your heart. 

Believing what He has said. Declaring it in defiance to whatever junk may be coming your way in thought or action.

I always treasured the angel's words to Mary, because I believe they apply to the lot of us:

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!" {Luke 1:45}

(LOL-- Christmas reference! I did it!)

Simply: speaking out what is True, what is promised, and what is pure & good over your life will knock out those wrong thoughts, corrupt feelings, and frivolous notions. The confusion dissipates in light of all that God has said to make your path straight.

I have so many topics I want to cover over the next few months on this blog. The New Year is going to bring a bountiful slew of new posts-- I look forward to writing and sharing, and I appreciate from the bottom of my heart those of your who take the time to read, share, & comment. ^_^

I still have things in front of me to work through, to put in their proper place.

But I have the armor, I have the equipment, and it's time to put it into practice.

I'm so grateful for a God who gives me grace and Loves me unconditionally. Thankful for His words that restore and encourage-- for all the blessings He has bestowed-- and for this season of celebrating my Savior's birth.

Merry Christmas

            Happy New Year

                      ...and looking forward to some fresh perspective. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Journal | thankful, grateful, blessed

I don't think I've ever been at a point in life before where my blessings were as obvious as they are to me now.

I've always been able to look around and count them off:

--roof over my head
--food to eat
--family to love
--friends who care

Going through the motions, taking that one day a year to pause and dwell briefly on the "little things" I guiltily was aware that I took for granted... but didn't everybody? And we did our part to stop and allow ourselves guilt about it for that one designated moment on that one designated day. Then we had been humbled adequately, and life went on.

But when your whole life gets turned up-side-down and shaken... things do change.
There came an actual point in time where I very well was not guaranteed the "little things" (that are actually huge things). There was a point where everything got questioned.

--family to love me
--friends who cared

And all that was certain was God.
I am so grateful for His help, for protecting me-- and my family-- through so many circumstances. From age 0 to age 18, He's never failed. And I'm still here! Praise God.

In addition to the little-huge things, there are blessings beyond the necessities-- He got me my GED and guided me through the SATs... He's provided me with the ability to go to college-- at no cost to me. He gave me the most amazing job this past summer where I met people and did things that I know have impacted my life forever, (and things just fell directly into place for all of that, when the process of meeting requirements looked so complicated!) He helped me pass the road test, gave me my license-- He even gave me a car! Family closer than ever, friends that I can trust with my life, a blessed relationship, my HOME, and always His peace, His guidance, and His protection.

I could go on forever.

But Lord?

You also give me the sunrise. You give me the full moon in October.
The birds that sing in the morning, the woods to walk through, the stream that babbles.
The leaves that turn colors, the frost that beautifies the window glass, the fog that blankets the morning air.

The work to do that keeps the home cozy and clean, the wood that heats our water, the cows to milk that sustain us. The young chickens that lay eggs in abundance, the kittens to snuggle.

The dishes because it means we have food, the laundry because it means we have clothes to wear, the clutter because it means we have even more than we need.

I'm grateful for the hard lessons.
The difficult times because they make me appreciate the good ones.
The truths that I might not want to hear sometimes, but definitely need to. I'm thankful for those who have the courage to speak them, who care enough to put my spiritual well-being above my comfort.

I'm thankful for being able to see when I mess up, to be able to identify when I'm doing something wrong or even thinking with a wrong perspective-- and also for those who help me see when I just don't. I'm so thankful for new mercies each day, and for the constant offer of grace, the opportunity at any given moment to change for the better and to grow.

I'm thankful for hindsight. Being able to look back and be in awe of all that's come to pass, and all I've miraculously been carried through. Seeing how much I've changed, and those around me have changed. And it reinforces my trust in God, knowing that there is more to come, that it is worth it, and that it will be more than alright with Him leading.

Change hurts sometimes. But strangely, I love changing.
Because I Love Him, and His ways are higher than mine.

Lord, the two little words sound so inadequate... but Thank You.
Help me to live a life of thankfulness, help me to keep the right perspective, to breathe gratitude, and to give away what You have given me. How amazing that this is one of the only things You have asked of me!

Help me to be appreciative-- I know I fail.
But I know how BEAUTIFUL life suddenly becomes when someone is living with a heart that is simply in awe of Your wonders and overwhelmed with gratitude. I want to live like that.

You are Awesome. So Awesome.

(And also... thank you for coffee. )

Friday, November 20, 2015

Journal | peace, be still

The infant cries and whimpers in my arms as I rock her back and forth.

Her sobs are loud and violent, she will not be comforted.

I sing to her...

You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown, where feet may fail...

I murmur words of comfort to soothe her, but she cannot hear me above her own voice.

and there I find You in the mystery,
In oceans deep, my faith will stand...

Back and forth in the rocking chair, surrounded by the cool darkness of the nursery. Her sobs turn to hiccups; her hiccups to sniffles.

And I will call upon Your name,
Keep my eyes above the waves.

When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace.
For I am Yours...
and You are mine.

And now she is still.

Lord, as I rocked the little child to sleep tonight, I recognized something.
I recognized that in those times I despair, and cannot be comforted, there is not one moment that You are not holding me in Your arms, whispering Your words to me, and trying to give me rest.

Blinded by my tears, I cannot look about the proverbial nursery, at the many framed memories on the walls, and see the proof of all You've brought me through. I forget the victories, forget the joys. Yet they are there, if I would only see.

You do not forsake me. I cry for answers, for affirmation-- but I cannot hear You above the roar of my sobs. My tears are an ocean. I stare at the crashing waves.

But You? You speak in a still small voice. You walk above the waves.

And I? I must be still so that I may listen.

For You walk upon the water, and You call me out to join You.

Song lyrics from..
Hillsong United. "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" Zion.  Hillsong, Sparrow, 2013. CD. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Love Song | a ballad of November

For my two Dearest Loves...

This month we'll look back on three crazy years and give praise again for everything He's brought us through. Our lives changed forever that late November night. We knew we had stumbled into deep waters... we knew Jesus was the only way to survive... but it's amazing to me now, looking back, the exact depth and width and enormity of all that was really going to happen.

I've done a lot of walking and praying-- through muddy corn fields, knee-high snow, pastures with birdsong and new growth all around-- over and over, throughout the changing seasons. Looking to God... being taken apart and rebuilt again, surrendering to Him all over, so many times.

Not my plan, not my will, Lord... but yours be done. I trust You.

So much letting go.
Letting go of Me.
Letting go of my life.
My fears.
Believing He was holding me.
And letting go of you, Zachary. And any control I might reserve for myself over what was going to happen.

The commitment to wait was graced and gifted with God's peace-- it is the only way we ever could have done anything. To chase after You, Lord, is not a quest You let us undertake unequipped. You provide generously-- all the strength and joy and patience we need to endure.

Zachary, I cannot thank you enough for being the man you were, willing to let go and become the man He wanted you to be. The man you are today is amazing to me, and you're still changing.

Thank you for putting your hope in Him.

And most of all, thank you for stepping aside and pointing me to Jesus. Thank you for that selfless act that made Love true.

Lord, You overwhelm me with all You've designed, how I see it now falling into place. Your ways are unsearchable, and Your promises true. You are so wise and so good, and your plans so much greater than I could ever conjure up for myself. Without You, I'd have missed one of my life's greatest blessings... Thank You for Zachary Scott.

I knew true Love was not easy, and that it would hurt. I was so afraid of failing. And falling.

But I have come to know two Great Loves, one the sun, the other the moon: one shining glorious warmth and joy into my heart and life, redeeming me; the other a precious reflection of that light, and earthly example to me of the heavenly realms.

I have learned a lot in this journey to True Love... and I look forward to the enormous amount I have yet to attain.

Father, I had to learn of Your Love first.

I discovered Your wondrous Love for me, amidst chaos and uproar. You were my only option for peace and guidance. As soon as I took hold of You, I was shown the truth: that Your were all I really needed. I'm glad for the struggles, I'm grateful for the hardships-- I never would have appreciated You fully without them. I just Love the thought of You ruining Satan's plans, of the way You were able to use His darts for my good, once I surrendered to You.

You caught me up in Your arms. You taught me Love. You took away my fear, and You led me into Love with You. I was a cup overflowing, and I was learning to share what You had given me. To spread it.

There was a revolution in my Heart. A paradigm shift in my mind of how I saw You. When I found out who You really were, and how You cared for me, it changed the course of my life forever.

I always knew that marriage on this earth was created to be a reflection of the Believers' unity with You, that marriage was a sort of trinity, Man and Woman bound with God, just as You are a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before I entered any sort of earthly relationship, I truly wanted to have the right focus and the right direction. Thank You so much for giving me the opportunity to prepare, and for sweeping me away in a fashion I never could have imagined You would.

The greatest epiphany a person can reach is recognizing that HE Loves us. First. His Love is an unconditional choice. He doesn't Love us only once we choose Him. He Loves us first.

Often, people run from Love, from commitment.
Because of Fear-- fear springing from past experience.
Fear of being let down again. Used again. Hurt again. Rejected and discarded.
Because they dared to reach out and Love first once before, and they were betrayed.

But you see, God doesn't fear to Love us. Even though He knows that so many of us will turn away. He still dares to Love... to reach out, to even die for us. Despite the fact that He'll be ignored, despised, and betrayed. Even, on occasion, by those who do in fact love Him back.

When a person realizes that You, Father, Love them first, and that You always will... they can't help but fall in Love with You. Because there is nothing to fear. Not anymore. Your perfect Love casts out fear.

We Love Him, because He first Loved us.

God, the same went for me.
I'd been raised a Christian... but it wasn't until I was 14 that my understanding of Who You really were exploded. That's when my relationship with You became my own... and it's been quite the journey ever since. (Another story for another time. :) )

And down here on this earth? Amidst all this beautiful chaos?

A reflection was stirring.

When did I finally choose to Love you, Zachary?

When I couldn't help it anymore. When I knew beyond a doubt that you Loved me. And you had dared to Love me first.

You had proven too many times that your Love was real. You didn't pack up and leave when it was clear that your affections could not be reciprocated. You waited for me, when I told you not to. You Loved me even in my fickleness, my doubt, and my {unintentional} hurt of you.

I remember my heart crashing into a wall when I realized what I was doing. What I was rejecting. What I was letting fear barricade from my life.

Zachary, you were no where near being Jesus. ;) But God used you as a prominent vessel for His voice into my life in those days. You actively encouraged me and pushed me to build my life more closely upon God's promises. I saw so many traits of Christ embodied in your actions... And gradually, as I had thrown aside fear for Him and accepted His Love... I knew I could do the same with you.

And honestly I don't remember when I crossed that line in my heart and finally Loved you. But sometimes, Love just comes softly. And Love, in our human capacity for it, is built. Love is a choice, it is action, it is sacrifice, it requires change and growth because it cannot just sit comfortably still and expect to flourish... Love is hard. And Love is so worth it.

Lord God, I cannot thank You enough for the life You have given me. I know much will be asked, and I pray for Your guidance and strength to answer the call and follow wholeheartedly after You. No matter what the obstacles and trials in life. I praise You for the wondrous work You have going in me, and for the fact that You will see it through to completion.

And tonight I praise You for the work You have done in the man I have the privilege to call my Best Friend. Thank You, praise You, bless You! --for Your mighty Love which flows over and sweeps us away. May we only grow closer to You Lord, and in so doing, grow closer to one another.

You are the Song that we sing, and may it be a Love Song to You.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to Blog (the right way)

Spoiler alert! -- there is no right way.

And I'll let you in on a small secret: (I have no idea what I'm doing.) 

It's really hard for me, because I've have all of these plans, all of these ideas in my head of how things should go, what I want to make happen, and when I want it done.

I've written before about how God gave me this inspiration, and I've also written about letting Him lead. Every time I sit down and open up Blogger, I make myself surrender it.

Because I want everything I say to be led by Him. I want everything I write to be approved by Him. I don't want to post anything that is solely my own... because it's junk.

Goodness! I have so many topics I've wanted to cover. Even the fact that this is a Relationship blog bugs me, because more than anything else so far, I haven't been writing much at all about relationships, but about self and the personal commitment of following after God. Because that's what's been put on my heart. It's taking a lot of trust and a lot of patience for me to do this and not forge ahead with my own ideas. But I know it's going to be worth it... because it already has been!

What I've seen happening through my blog reminds me of that Emily Dickinson poem, If I can stop one heart from breaking... though at a slightly less drastic level. Every single time I get feedback from anyone in a comment, or see activity on one of my posts through sharing on social media, I'm flooded with gratitude. Thank You, God!  Because if what He allows me to write can help even one person, none of this is in vain.

It just makes me SO GLAD to see people being able to relate, gleaning encouragement, or giving me a kind word of reassurance, too. You're all proof to me that I'm supposed to be doing this, and I can't say thank you enough.

In regards to blogging and the various technicalities, I'm learning how to improve and personalize everything, little by little. There is a lot to learn!

(Notice the new blog look? :D Let me know what you think, honestly.)



How to blog-- the right way?

Well, for me, that means giving it to God. Then blindly letting things unfold. *gulp*

At any rate, I'm going to write to you all about 4 key points of my blogging life. Everyone has their own unique quirks and strategies.

As I said, there really is no right or wrong way, there is simply what has been proven effective to draw audiences across cyberspace, for those who make a living through their website. As for me, my path has proven to be most unconventional. But it shows promise, and I'll see where it goes.  :)


Anywhere and everywhere. I'm a weird person: my most whirlwind inspiration moments come to me while milking the cows. I'll blog in my bedroom, at the kitchen table, in the barn, in the college library, or up in the woods. Internet connection or no internet connection. (I'll tell you how I do that, below.) Really, it's anywhere that I'm inspired or an idea hits me.


Most people will say set goals and be consistent, and yeah, I really wanted to be able to do that. In the beginning. But I've come to know I need to wait for the leading. If the trend so far is any sort of indicator, I post once a week (or 3/4 times a month). But that's subject to change, either by increase or by decrease. Usually I'll have a post in the works for quite a while. I write a little, leave it. Come back and edit, write more, leave it again. Sometimes I get on a role and finish it up. Then it gets published. I'm working on my blog behind the scenes most every day, it's just that things take time. And that's more than okay!


Either I'm using my father's laptop (because I'm in the process of replacing my Dell that's giving up on life), or I'm "blogging" in a notebook. Yep, I've got a leather journal dedicated to Project Patience. I can write my rough drafts, brainstorms and notes, or even just pour out some journal entries, and sometimes those evolve into posts, or spur the topics for them. While spending time in the Word, themes will stick out at me, and even some schoolwork assignments have been the inspiration for posts. As a general rule, live life, and life will present you with tons of writing material. :P


Because you've got an awful lot to offer.
I blog because I'm being led to. Because I have a story to tell, and to each chapter there is an appointed time in which to tell it. The same goes for you. You have a story to tell, so why not blog?
Above all, remember: the point of telling your story is to Glorify God. To show how He's fulfilling His promises, to rejoice in all the amazing and often unexpected ways He reveals His plan. He is doing great things, every moment. In all of our individual lives, at our own rates, we are living and learning. There's so much to grasp in this walk with our Love, so much to obtain in knowledge and depth of insight. It's such a blessing to have the opportunity to also learn from each other! To spread the news of what He is doing, to share, encourage, and uplift one another in Jesus' name.

The question isn't why share?, it's why not?. ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Skipping Breakfast | feeding the spirit

Too often, I skip breakfast.

I'm rushing to get out the door and make it to my 8 o'clock class on time. 

I'm throwing on clothes, cleaning up if I happened to have barn chores earlier, getting my hair out of my face, sometimes applying make up, making sure my bag is packed, and (usually) putting a lunch together if I even have time for that. 

Coffee! -- I just need coffee!

And as I'm driving up the road, I turn on my Christian music and try to talk to God before I get to the busy village and my attention is torn away from Him. 

This is my typical morning. 

Rushed, crazy, jumbled. For what? I realize that, ultimately, the majority of my time is dedicated to my outward appearance, isn't it.

I don't eat breakfast.

I don't feed on the Word.

I go through my day super hungry.

And yes, the physical part is taken care of at lunch time.

But my Spirit starves. Honestly, I think I feel those hunger pangs more sharply than I feel the other. 

Just this past week on a Monday morning, I got to class and took my place. There were a handful of us there, waiting on the professor. The click of heals came echoing down the hall and a woman appeared in the doorway to inform us that he was out today. 

Well-- an unexpected gift of 75 minutes was mine to do with as I pleased. And driven by hunger, I found myself seeking out a secluded window seat at a desk behind the library shelves...

Prayer, and His word, and journaling, and music flowed freely. I had time to myself with my Father. And oh what an impact it had on the rest of my day!

I sat there and did not want to leave. 

When I finally did, I just wanted to go and smile at people, and to serve them with a Heart of Love in any way the Lord instructed.

My focus had been realigned. 

This was how I wished it could be every day. (And why isn't it?)

I love when "making time for God" goes from being a challenge to being an addiction. At first it is hard to get to that place-- but once you do, you can't drag yourself away! You just want more. And it becomes your priority. 

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your Spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11 NIV)

We are not striving to remain zealous or to be passionate for passion's own sake.  Our passion and zeal comes from a  deep understanding of the AMAZING things Jesus has done, and for the great calling He has for us!

Passion? We shouldn't be able to help ourselves. 

Sometimes, I'm really not that excited. I lose the joy of my spiritual fervor, because I stop feeding it. 

And I'm not talking about feelings-- the floaty, excited feeling similar to falling in love that you probably experienced when you first came to know Christ-- that initial euphoria will fade, because it is only a chemical reaction in the brain. 

No, I'm talking about something far more real. I mean that knowing of God's unshakable peace, His inherent joy that cannot be suppressed. Because the deeper you delve, and the more you steep yourself in Him with a heart hungry to know and willing to receive, your Spirit will ignite. 

You're a candle. Without oxygen you cannot help but burn out. Your Spirit needs the Word, or it is going to be suffocated. Your mind will run rampant with the fleshly nature if it is not filled with His Truth.

Battling our sinful selves is hard enough without neglecting our daily meals and completely discarding the armor with which we were supplied. When I deny myself the very balm my Spirit knows I need, yet my mind doesn't feel like putting effort toward... I've signed my own death sentence. 

NEVER underestimate the vitality of the Word. 
Put your Spirit first.

I've been trying so hard lately to put those two selves into correct perspective-- My spirit and my soul, the supernatural versus the natural. I know that I am supposed to shed the old self and put on the new self. I keep asking God to help me walk in the Spirit instead of falling to the flesh. And I've been so discouraged because I've felt like it just isn't happening. 

But honestly, which self have I been feeding?

How can I expect to live and thrive by the Spirit, if I consistently put the flesh first?
Of course the flesh is going to be healthier, stronger, and dominant! 

I'm finally realizing the source of my daily problems. 

But praise be to God for revelation, for restoration, and for everlasting Grace-- He always lifts me up, sets my feet upon a rock, and leads me forward again. 

Jesus, I Love You.

Hannah Scarlett Smith, it's time to put things in their correct place. I'm tired of returning to the Spiritual milk. It's time to mature in my faith, and to move on to meat. Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Harvest Moon

The moon was humongous last night, golden and buttery... melting over the horizon to pool there in the darkness.

I stopped and stared at it for a few minutes, because I love when you can actually watch the moon rising, and imagine the earth turning beneath you. Tilting, tilting, toward the east...

Isn't it interesting that the moon gives off no light of her own?
Isn't it interesting that the moon's majestic glow is only a reflection of the sun?

There's a profound illustration to be found right here, about Jesus Christ and Christians.

In the very first chapter of Genesis, as God breathes out the galaxies, He says, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night." (verse 14) And again in verse 16, "God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night."

While Jesus walked the earth, Earth didn't even know that day had broken.

Well, creation cried out and exalted... but so many people despised and rejected Him. Because He wasn't what they had expected. And their hearts were cold.

Earth, you had about 33 years of day!!

And after Jesus conquered death and ascended, he gave Believers a great responsibility.

Night was falling. And it was time for the moon to shine.

Not with a light of her own, but as a reflection, an absorption of the light from the Son.

I look up at the night sky when the moon is full, and this is what nails me in the heart. Because the reminder is RIGHT there. How do I forget this?

--God, I'm supposed to reflect You! And as Christians, surrounded on all sides by this darkness, we need to be looking to You. Spending time in Your word, absorbing Your Love, so that we can shine it outward toward the world. So that by Your light through us, those worn and weary travelers who seek may find, and make their way Home. 

In this vibrant Autumn season, I think also of the Harvest Moon. And how Jesus said...

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37&38 NIV)

We need to be a bright moon, we need to be a full moon. Also, we must remember that we are a harvest moon. And we were hung in the sky to serve as a sign, to mark the seasons and days.

It's time to stop letting the clouds cover us up. It's time to stop being pale and cold. It's time to take this role seriously.

Let us pray for the church, for our fellow believers. Let's not only go about "being a light to the world" but being a light to each other. Let us uplift one another, let us oil each other's lamps.

And let us pray for the leading of our hearts by the Spirit, and an awakening of believers to go out as workers into the harvest field.

To quote Miss Clara from War Room, "Raise 'em up, Lord! Raise 'em up!"

Friday, October 16, 2015

3 Questions to ask your Sweetheart

As we grow and go through seasons of life, we change.

We gain new perspectives on life matters, new perspectives on ourselves, and develop new goals and ideas. Relationships are mainly hard for this reason.

You're two different people, both changing and growing at your own rates, living inside different heads.

Prayer is so important in our daily lives, because it keeps us connected to The Head, Christ. And when a couple prays regularly together they can stay in tune with each other through Him.

I have listed a few thought-provoking questions below. These aren't light survey questions.

These are meant to help start meaningful discussion. And as we go through life, they should be asked over again. Because we are constant works-in-progress, and we're changing. Your boyfriend's answer to one of these questions could be vastly different over the course of a year.

Not all of these need to be asked at once, and some don't need to be brought up as often as others.

Use your discretion, and hopefully you'll find one or two of these helpful for initiating good, vital conversations.

What do you think I could work on? 

This is one you could utilize often. Just check in with him. When you feel like you could improve on something, but you're not sure what, and could use a point in the right direction. Open your heart and prepare yourself humbly for a truthful, lovingly constructive answer. Remember, you're in this together. Pray about it.

What is a goal/dream that's really important to you?

Goals and dreams change. Just as he changes and matures. You want to know his heart, and to stay in tune with him. The things that are important to him should be important to you, because they are a huge portion of who he is. When it comes to goals, meeting them is a big deal. It takes a lot of commitment and energy, and there is nothing more invigorating than sound support and a hand to hold. Strive to understand, to listen, and always remember that without fail, the correct direction to point him in is ever towards Jesus.

What makes you feel loved/appreciated?

Zachary asked one night, while we were watching the blood moon eclipse, "If you could ask me one thing and I had to answer, what would it be?" I don't think he expected me to ask this! XD But truly, I wanted to know what made him feel loved, and what I could do to let him know I Love him. This struck up a conversation about the Five Love Languages, and was a topic we actually went back and forth on for a couple of days. People are so different! What makes me feel Loved by him is not necessarily the same as what makes him feel Loved by me, and so it is important to strive for understanding of each other. Don't just assume. This is fun to figure out! ♥

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Craving Fearless Authenticity | a blogging foundation

Project patience is a blog I really felt God inspiring me to pursue some three or four weeks ago. I was pumped, excited, and ready to write about all sorts of things- relationships, singleness, lessons learned, and even parts from my own personal story- but right from the beginning, I felt a check.

Instructions to use caution as I write this blog. 

Don't run away with this, Hannah, this is Mine.

You see, this is meant to be a God-lead and God-centered project. From that very beginning, I sat back from the laptop on my bed and said,

"Okay, God. This is for You. Before I write anything, I will spend time in the Word, and in prayer with You. Lead me..."

Well, I began writing on dozens of topics, all of which remain half-finished thoughts, saved as drafts because of the constant wall I kept hitting. I would just come to a place where I couldn't write anymore: inspiration left. And I knew I was being told to leave that particular topic alone, to come back to at the proper time. If at all. 

For some reason, things weren't flowing smoothly and that was frustrating...
So far, there have only been three posts published on here, the only ones I've felt peace about, and heard the gentle, "Go ahead and click publish, Hannah." And they have all been very introductory posts, just explaining what this blog is about, the motives behind it, and the goals set before it.

And I struggled, because I wanted to see this get moving! 

Project Patience is a two-edged sword for me, because in my eagerness to see it move along, I was forgetting that I needed to have patience. It became quite evident that I needed to slow down and take my time (or God's time!) with this. 

Ironically, you can't rush a patience project. 

I addressed in my most recent post my dealings with something I'm going to call Writer's Anxiety Syndrome- let's abbreviate that to W.A.S.- because I proclaim that it shall no longer exist!

I'm booting fear out the door. Because, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 NIV)!!!

And what have I always been afraid of? Displaying my flaws. 

Here's the problem with trying to portray a perfect, neat life: IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ATTRACTIVE CHRISTIAN TO A LOST WORLD.

If anything, doesn't it frustrate people? Make them envious?
And doesn't it cage you in a corner, suddenly balancing your secret life while keeping up the veil of falsehood for everyone else to see? Doesn't it make you... a liar?

That sounds pretty bad.

Here's the liberating truth:

The point of being a Christian is so not to look perfect! It is to glorify God for His mercy, which is available to everyone! It is to show the World what a work He is doing in you! To say- Look! I am so imperfect! And yet Jesus Loves me, just as He Loves you.

My weaknesses and my flaws are such an opportunity. Because once I acknowledge them, I am able to welcome God in to do something about them. He has an amazing project to do in me. And I don't think He wants me to keep His awesomeness a secret.

We're called to shine the light, not suppress it. And sometimes we get it into our heads that our flaws, somehow, have the power to dim His light. As if!

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 11:9-10 NIV)

This isn't made up! This is true!!
And isn't it awesome?

I want to be real. Recklessly.
Who I am with my friends is who I am with my professors, is who I am with my grandparents, is who I am with strangers, is who I am with my siblings, is who I am at home, is who I am in prayer- it's all the same person. There are no masks. No impression management.

This is where I want to get to.

I crave a fearless authenticity. 
And I crave to walk closer with my God. Because I can't do this if I'm doing my own thing. I will become my only focus again, and then I will focus on what people see of me.

When I began this blog, I was using a pen name.

But then I felt Him, I heard the calling. I wanted in my heart to be authentic, did I not? Well, first step: don't hide. I had a mental war about this. But the answer was always be still... and God won. :P
None of my worries matter, because everything is going to be exposed in the Light for what it is.

This is not about me. This is about HIM.

I may feel like this blog is taking a while, but I'm beginning to see that this is because I am taking a while to get to where God wants me. I need to completely surrender to Him. Again and again. Morning by morning.

All of these preliminary posts have a purpose. They are laying a foundation for this blog. And I am being prepared for what is to come.

I'm getting heart-ready first. Waiting, praying, and being still.

Friday, October 9, 2015

"Writer's Anxiety Syndrome"

I have written blog posts so many times in the past where I would whip out everything I was thinking and feeling- good and bad- and flood my words out through a keyboard.

They were let loose, only to be accompanied by second guessing myself, the feeling of nervousness, hasty editing, and anxiety clenching my insides...

"What if someone finds a flaw with what I wrote? What if I said something wrong?

It sounds ridiculous, I know. But I struggle with intense anxiety about pleasing people.
I should write that in past tense, because I'm on my way to kicking this thing right our the door of my brain! And I want to view it as an issue already discarded.

I say this a lot: but it is hard to share your writing. Because it makes you vulnerable. You're handing over a piece of your soul when you hand someone your notebook. Your writing is a reflection of you, and is just as subject to flaws. You don't want people to catch them.

When it comes to blogging for me, there are two probable causes for my past anxiety:

  • What I was writing was totally of myself. It was not God-led, and therefore not God-centered, and therefore ultimately not of His will... and my Spirit was trying to tell me that.
  • I was allowing myself to worry about what people would think of me for it, rather than caring about what God thought of me for it, letting the enemy whisper Fear into my mind.
I am so done with that crummy way of existing!

People pleasing. We all do it to some extent, but to those of us with a high tendency for it, we need to step back and ask ourselves, "Are we serving God, or man? Is the purpose of our actions to make us look good to everyone, or to glorify our Heavenly Father?"

If you choose God, then follow Him with reckless abandon. That's it. Even (and especially!) when it conflicts with man's approval.

And it's a process. A tough one: undoing all your tangled past ways of thinking... this will take a while. But it is worth it.

To know rest.

If I am allowing myself to heed that still small voice, and am being led in my writing by the Lord, then I am going to know His unshakable state of peace. I rest here in His arms, content with His will, His plan, and His perfect timing. 

This is something I know God wants to instill in me. And I want it so badly, too. Peace! The skill to stop worrying. And more specifically, the ability to cease worrying about how others perceive me. 

My focus must be Jesus's gracious acceptance, not man's temporary and fickle acceptance.

That said, I want to be real.

And that's the topic of my next post. :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Patience Project

So... what started this?

I am excited about my life.
The things that God has brought me through so far, the blessings He's poured out... the here and now and everything that's happening and all He's showing me... and of course, I'm excited about the future.

Ah, the Future.
Yep, tend to get stuck there sometimes...

I have a tendency to read posts and articles about marriage. There are some blogs I like to follow, and a couple of Facebook pages in my newsfeed. Some of the things I read are so encouraging. I love to see healthy, godly marriages and families, and hear their stories.
It gives me hope.

Yes, there are is an abundance out there... a huge resource of Christian material for married women, young and old alike. Sharing stories, spreading encouragement, passing along life lessons...

But... where are the resources for young women who are going through just as beautiful and complicated a season? The season of a relationship before marriage?

There are some pretty big differences. The two seasons are separate.
For instance...

--We can't read The Love Dare with our boyfriends.
--We can find all about God's design for being a Wife... but what about when you're still a girlfriend? What is your role now?
--Are there any Bible studies for couples who aren't married? Because we can't do the marriage ones, due to the topics they get into...
--Ten Ways to Love Your Husband... how about Ten Ways to Love Your Boyfriend?
--How to Pray For Your Husband... how to Pray For Your Boyfriend?

Well, you get the idea.

The fact is, there is a lot of help out there for women who are married. And praise God, because Heaven knows they need it. And hopefully someday you and I will need it too.

But right now, is it appropriate for me to be reading the marriage blogs? Is it wise for me to be staring toward the future, or shouldn't I be living in the here and now God has blessed me with? Treasuring it for what it is. Making every moment count. 

I should be focusing on my present life, and the current stage of my relationship with this wonderful man God has stitched to my heart.

My energy needs to be put in the right place: On The Lord and my walk with Him, the person I am striving to become, and the relationship and friendships I'm blessed with.

And sometimes I need advice, or I need the perspective of someone else in the same stage of life as me. Somebody who can relate. Somebody who just went though this too, and can share what helped them.

And I can't be the only one. That is why I notice the lack of resources for these kinds of relationships.

So, here is Project Patience.

I am excited about this! This is an area of my life I'm passionate about, and to be able share and learn and grow... I'm grateful for this opportunity, and I cannot wait to see where it goes.

First things first: Right here, right now: this project is dedicated to God. To the King of my Heart and the Lord of my Life. To the One who makes all things possible, gives us unending, amazing grace, and the creator of Love Himself. All things are possible through Him. He gave me this life and the capability to Love, and I want to Live it for all it's worth...! 

In Jesus'  Name, Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Sacred Season

You need to know something.

You, daughter of the King, in a godly and committed relationship.

These are the days you'll miss.  

And you may look forward with longing to your wedding day, you may dream of that sacred life together, you may spend some moments just wishing the time would hurry up and so you can be his wife, and raise a family, and life can be beautiful.

And yes, you know there will be hardships. You aren't that naive. You know it won't be easy.

But you just can't wait. You can't wait to get married and have a beautiful, strong, God-honoring marriage with the man you love. You can't wait to have your own home, to welcome him home from work, to pray with him each morning as his wife, to experience the mysteries of intimacy you two cannot share just yet...

You've got it all kept in your heart, just bursting.

You're waiting. And sometimes it hurts.

But you need to know something. 

This period of your life is short and fleeting. It is a treasure and it is sacred.

And it is the most important. 

You are building a foundation. Right now, this instant. Every little thing you say, every little thing you do. It's what you are doing now, what you did yesterday, and what you will do tomorrow.

Be realistic. Right now.

The habits you have. The attitudes you exude. The thoughts you think. The characteristics you cultivate.

Are you who you are supposed to be?

I know I'm not... and I've been aware of what I need to change for 3 years. And I've been trying to work on myself... for 3 years. And more stuff just pops up.

Will I ever be perfect? Will I ever be ready? No.
Not in my own right.

But I have a Savior who died to make me whole. The broken bits I feel, they don't exist anymore.
So why am I not perfect?

I still live as if I am bound to sin. I still mess up. Everyday!
I can toil and strain, but it won't mean a thing if I don't come to the throne of Grace.

Why am I not perfect, if He died and cleansed my Spirit? And also gave me is Holy Spirit to live in me?

Ah, I Spirit is saved... but my body and mind are still of this world.

And instead of fruitlessly trying to change them to be perfect, which they can never be, I need to cast off these things. I need to be dying to the body, to the mind. I need to be learning to live, think, walk, be in my Spirit. That is who I AM. Or who I could be, if I realized it.

This body, this mind, it will pass away. My Spirit will not, praise be to God.

We have such a huge opportunity, such potential to become, and yet we don't even know it. We don't know how, or why things just aren't working like they should. We miss the solution.

The answer is surrender. The answer is not relying on your own understanding. The answer is walking in the Spirit, with the Lover of your soul.

The joining of two into one is a Holy and momentous thing. I think the best way to begin to understand just how sacred it is... is first to understand just how sacred you are.

Walk with Him first. Be whole in Him first. Build the foundation of your identity, your life, upon Him, the Rock. Who you were designed to be, who He says you are. You are complete in Him. And only in Him. 

Do not think that you will find your purpose or worth through getting married, that a man just as human as you can do for you what God has already done, and is just waiting for you to reach out and accept.

Ready yourself. Find the truth, the whole truth, and stand firm upon it.

Do not rush. Do not wish away your life or pine for a day that is in God's capable, loving hands. There is no harm in waiting. There are only blessings to be had! Use this time wisely to grow more than you have ever grown, to strengthen yourself in Christ. Be who you were created to be, and watch His amazing plan for your life unfold.

Women, lay your foundation wisely. What you do now, and who you allow yourself to be now is what you will bring to a marriage in the future. You're deciding that for yourself today, this instant: what your marriage will be.

 Marriage is an empty box at the beginning- you don't get anything out of it. You put treasure into it. Make your treasures Spiritual, and build them up for yourselves in Heaven.

This is my advice to you, and to myself.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

An Open Letter

First of all, a disclaimer:

I am by no means an authority on the matters of Love, Relationships, and Marriage.

I'm just a girl, trying to find my way throughout this amazing journey like all the rest.

But I want to share what I have learned thus far, and create a place where we can all share thoughts, advice, and experiences.

Each of us walks a different path, and we are all wise in our own right. The Lord has revealed different pieces of wisdom to each of us, and I believe that we can help each other put the pieces together through fellowship.

The last four years of my life have been a roller-coaster-crash-course in learning Patience, Discernment, Maturity, and a whole plethora of other traits, none of which I have come close to mastering.

At eighteen years of age, I can stand here and tell you that I have met the man I will one day marry. (Lord, may Your will be done.) And God placed him in my life when I was merely fifteen.

I love our Love Story... and I want it to reflect the Ultimate Love Story, the truth of God's Love for mankind.

We are on a journey to learn God's purpose for our lives as individuals, our life as a couple, and our relationship as a whole, as we grow in depth of understanding and knowledge, serving Him and relying on His ways and His timing.

I want to be a good and godly Wife to him someday. I want to be a good uplifting girlfriend now.

I have so very much to learn and cultivate as this journey continues and the pages of this book are written. Father, write Your story on my heart, on his...

May our life to be a Love song to Him!

As life goes on, I hope to share and encourage through this blog, and in turn hear what some of you ladies have to say.