Rest. Wait. Gaze. Hope.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
— Psalm 37:3-6

I haven't been able to write for a little while now. Not about the things I am most passionate about at least. I've written creative briefs, marketing plans, business articles, Spanish essays and everything in between, but those things have deadlines and due dates. They take work. Lots of work and research and studying. They push me (sometimes past my limits). They aren't the restful kind of work, though. And, I think that's the kind of work that the world demands from us all too often. Work that is taxing and drives us to dig deeper and try harder. 

I can't help but think that the success driven culture all around me has been slowly slipping into my relationship with Jesus, too. It pops up in those unexpectedly defeating moments where no matter how much I do, there's an uneasy feeling that I'm not doing quite enough. 

I should know this is not part of my purpose. I should know that if I lose sight of the Gospel and the reality that the standard of holiness has already been met at the cross, I'll naturally start trying to meet that standard myself.  And, it never really goes according to plan.

Most of the time, it sneaks in as the tiniest questions. They're subtle, passing through my mind in the busiest moments where it's much easier to brush them aside than to confront them head on with the truth. Questions about pure motives, direction, dependence and whether or not I could truly be living a life worthy of the call that Jesus has placed on it.

I know the Gospel. It's knit into my core, and imprinted on my life. The same parts of me that held so much deadness, sin, damage, and deep brokenness, now hold a whole goodness and the beauty of a God-loved soul.  And, it's not because I worked to get there either. You can't work off something like that, so really I shouldn't be able to forget. But sometimes, the allure of self-made success tugs at me with its insincere promises and its empty demands. For just a moment, when those questions sneak in, I forget who I am, and I think that working to please God is actually an option.

On the outside, it kind of seems like this might be a possibility or even a noble course of action. Adding a little of our own determination, will power, and focus should make us into "better" followers of Jesus, right?  But, we aren't wired that way - to bear the weight of perfection on our own. Our attempts at pleasing God are less about serving Him and more about building a spiritual resume, and this will destroy our joy. We miss all the purpose, passion, pure living, freedom, and restfulness that God has set us apart to enjoy when we are abiding in Him.

Jesus does not need anything added to His death on the cross to create forgiveness, faith, and unbridled love for Him in our hearts. He knows how to create beauty out of the brokeness of our lives, and He just calls us to abide. We keep our eyes forward and fixed on Him - that's it. A restful gaze on our King. Because He created us for more than the messy web that a works-based faith gets us tangled in, and that's why I love this verse in Psalm 37. I can't stop thinking about it. It's mesmerizing to think that  "He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." Reliance on Him only bring out the good that He has placed in our souls through His spirit. And really, that's how it all began.

When darkness was ingrained into our souls and our hearts were heavy with the suffocating lies and shattered promises of the world, Jesus saw us. Not for a beauty within us or will power or determination or perseverance. He saw us because He is love, and He wanted our souls to be restored to their true purpose and passion and intention, so that His glory would be greater. So, it's okay to rest, wait, gaze, hope, be still, abide. Because when we do, He will bring out the blazing beauty of His glory and an unmatched love from within. The fullness and hope of this truth swells through the core of who and I am and who I've always wanted to be. And for me, words spilled across the page and a filled heart are just the tiniest reminders that the work of Jesus is a restful kind. One that brings a shimmering life to everything it touches. That's something I never want to forget.

Salty Eyelashes & the Endless Ocean

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I kind of love the ocean. The stillness of the shore, the breathless salt air whipping along the coast. It's almost as if that little strip of land knows the relentless ferocity of the waves pounding  just feet from its unbrushed sand, and its only response is to create a whole world of serene beauty to fill the gap. That's where I like to be. Somewhere between land and sea. Because it feels safe, and I feel small. A captivating beauty and an untamed power restrained by laws I have no words to explain. There's a goodness to it all, the not knowing, the stillness, a soul overwhelmed with awe. It's in this place, the in between, that I sit and do the very thing I was created to do. Worship. Draw Near.

In my restless working and carrying on and moving up and doing more and trying harder and becoming something wholly new, I forget that I am known by God. I am known by God. And shouldn't that change everything? Arresting my heart and soul and life to follow a rhythm that is altogether closer, slower, and more love filled than the one my schedule demands. Because when I look at the ocean, I see something that is unpredictable and untamed, but it is also restrained. It has limits and boundaries and borders, and even though it has a weight that my mind can't contain, it is controlled. It knows its place. The ocean itself stands in awe of the One who holds it together, and His beauty commands our attention and obedience on a deeper level than the seas. 

I forget that. I forget that those stinging, salty winds tearing through towns and creating waves that swell and roar with intensity know the voice of God. They exist to worship Him, and bring all of creation to do the same. The God who carved the mountains and painted the majesty of the sea, who brings redeeming light to the darkest and most broken places in the world.  This is their King. More often than not, I find myself working and trying and existing to prove my worth and my value and my identity while shoving the whole idea of God's greatness into a box of to-dos on a long list of other things that I desperately want to give more attention.

See, this is not what I was made to be. I wasn't made to find hope in a career path, or a test, or any relationship, or praise, or all the things I stack higher and higher on the crumbling pile of my own accomplishments. Because, if we miss God, if we don't live for the purpose that He gives, if we miss the awe and the intensity of His love for us, then we miss everything. Because He's everything. 
 

All the trying and working and doing, is worthless and unnecessary because if we have God we have proven worth in Him, and we can rest in a steady awe that we are doing what we were  created to do. God doesn't call us to throw away the talents and beauty and individuality and passion He has given us, but His beauty demands an attentive focus to His heart for our lives and for the world. So, here's my prayer. Let me remember the heaviness of my sin, how I have wronged God in soul and heart, how I deserve to look at God and see danger and judgement, but instead I see something different. Because He sent His son to die and pay for the weight of all the times I fought with every part of my being against a God who only desired to bring me near.  His death for my life. Let my heart feel that kind of relentless love. Let me remember that His death was the sacrifice that paved the way for my forgiveness, and His resurrection gives me an unshaken promise of the love of God. Because this is the way that God looks at me. Not with cold expectations, but with an incomparable love-filled nearness. 

And then that safe, small place on the shore becomes all the more safe and all the more comfortable and all the more beautiful. But, our souls ache deeply to be swept up in the beauty of the ocean and feel the salty water on our skin. Sitting on the shores of something overwhelmingly beautiful fills our hearts to the brim, but we can't stay on the shore when we long to be immersed in a purpose that is greater than I. Because there in the stillness and worship of the shore, we feel the call of the ocean. There is danger and power and uncertainty, but when were made for the water, nothing will keep us from it. The purest worship of God pulls us into step with His heart for transforming a broken world into something beautiful and bringing a glimmering hope to people living in deep darkness. This is the ocean of purpose placed in our shaky hands. But we are not alone. The God of the ocean knows us. He knows us. And even more, He loves us. I think that's why I love the ocean. 

He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” -Luke 8:25

The Most Perfect 24 Hours at Walt Disney World

Living in Florida has some perks, like the ocean and warm weather, and oh yeah, the short little drive over to Walt Disney World. Since I grew up an hour away from the happiness that is the Magic Kingdom,  I have a few thoughts on making the most out of a day at this absolutely perfect theme park. Also, I think that it's such a fun thing to do when you're in college. There's just something about going to a place that reminds you so much of childhood that's refreshing, plus I can't resist all the sparkly cuteness of the castle and fairytale princesses. It's just so great, and that's why I wanted to share my little guide for a perfect day at the Magic Kingdom.

8:00 a.m. Get Dressed + Pack a Backpack: You should wear something light, especially in the summer. A flowy tank top and high-rise jean shorts are perfect, but make sure to wear some comfy shoes because you'll walk a lot. I checked the health app on my phone the last weekend I went, and I walked 12+ miles. Honestly, wow!  Definitely bring a backpack, too! Fill it with your wallet, sunscreen (remember it's Florida), some water bottles, and a little makeup bag for touchups in case it's real warm out. Also, a change of clothes will be helpful if you want to ride Splash Mountain. It is one of the most fun rides in the park, but you'll get soaked.

9:00 a.m. Start Your Day at the Magic Kingdom: Disney tickets are so expensive, so I'd definitely suggest getting your money's worth and arriving on-time. Plus, the ticket and transportation lines get so long throughout the day as the park fills up. P.S. taking the Ferry Boat is actually a little faster than the monorail, and the views are gorgeous. It's one of my favorite ways to start the morning. It doubles as a great backdrop for photos, too!

10:00 a.m. Main Street Coffee + Castle Photos: You'll need extra energy for the long day, so take a little stroll down Main Street USA (haha I've always wanted to say that), and grab a cup o'joe at the cutest little Starbucks on planet earth. It's one of the only coffee shops at the front of the park, and it looks like the tiniest, prettiest bakery. Also, it's a pretty good time to take pictures with your friends or family in front of the Castle before you're too exhausted. My favorite spots are in the middle of Main Street and on the side walkways leading up to the castle, but everywhere is adorable. Afterwards, you should hop on the railroad and take a ride around the park. No one ever rides the train. Oh my goodness it's so relaxing and it takes you to every section of the park. Remember that for when you're feet are tired.

11:00 a.m. Tomorrowland: I always go around the Magic Kingdom from right to left. I don't know if there's a reason for that or if it's just habit, but I really like it that way. In Tomorrowland, you'll find Space Mountain, Stitch's Great Escape, and Buzz Lightyear's Star Command. These are  major attractions, so carve out some time for the lines. When I went with Kellie & Julie, we played Heads Up in the line during the wait  and it passed the time so much faster. You can check out the app on your phone. I'm pretty sure we were just shouting and everyone around us thought we were crazy, but hey theme park lines could make anyone delusional. Also, my favorite ride in Tomorrowland is the Carousel of Progress. There is no logical explanation for that one, but I LOVE it.

2:30 p.m. Lunch + FantasyLand: All of the food at Magic Kingdom is definitely theme park food unless you make reservations at a restaurant. One place that has Italian options is the Pinocchio Village Haus. I had a Caprese Flatbread, and it was so yummy. Fantasyland has so many happy things with Belle's Castle, Ariel's Grotto, the Seven Dwarf Mine Train, Peter Pan's Flight, Winnie the Pooh, and It's A Small World. Take time, soak it in and walk around. Also, the ride in Ariel's Grotto never has a line, even if it says 20 minutes, there's no wait, I promise.  My favorite is Peter Pan's Flight because it's so old and they haven't changed anything since I was little. You hop on a little boat and it flies over Neverland. It's so perfect.

6:30 p.m. Liberty Square, FrontierLand, & AdventureLand: This is where all the other thrill rides are like Splash Mountain & Thunder Mountain. If you brought a change of clothes, Splash Mountain is so much fun at night, and the later you go, the shorter the line. I've been able to ride it three times in a row without getting off because it was late, so being prepared will really pay off in the long run. Thunder Mountain is the longest roller coaster, but never wait in line unless it's 40 minutes or less. It'll get there, you just have to be patient. Also, on this side of the Park are the Haunted Mansion, Tom Sawyer's Island, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House (please go to this - it's so magical), and Aladdin's Flying Carpet. I love them all. I like being over on this side at night because of all the twinkle lights and naturey beauty. 

9:00 p.m. Fireworks & Ice Cream : Okay, so now you've made your way all around the park and need a little rest. The fireworks are classic and pretty. Find your own little piece of sidewalk and watch the most wonderful firework show on the planet. You'll love it, and if you think about it, grab an ice-cream cone from Main Street while you watch. That ice cream is the best ice cream.

10:00 p.m. Ride Your Favorites: Most families leave after the fireworks, but if you have energy and the park is open until midnight, go ride all your very favorite rides from the day. The lines are so so short and you can move more freely because the crowds will be gone. Yay for happy things like that! 

12:00 a.m. Sleepy Time: Make sure to head on out a little before the actual closing time if you want to beat the crowds. Once you get to your comfy hotel room for a good night's rest, you can think about the best day full of laughs, happiness, and pretty things at the Magic Kingdom.

I hope you all enjoyed this little itinerary to the fullest, most perfect day at Magic Kingdom. Comment your favorite spots and tips for a great day at the park. I can't wait to see all the happiest adventures you have. As always, XOXO.