Redeeming Beauty

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It was one of those all too typical central Florida afternoons. The kind where the humidity combined with the beating summer sun and my broken A/C breathed a sauna-like steam into my car rather than creating a cool refuge from the heat.  I didn’t have many concrete plans other than making this short; it was just a quick hop over to the beach and back. Something about the cool kiss of ocean water and crashing waves is always so refreshing – healing, too.

I only drove for a few miles before I caved and made a quick stop at my favorite coffee shop where I grabbed an iced vanilla latte – pretty much my go-to ever since I traveled to the Panhandle last fall. I was in and out of the air conditioning before I had a chance to cool off, and I climbed back into my 15-year-old SUV, rolled the windows down, and turned the music up for a little extra relief.

When I squeezed into the tiny parking space, I could already feel the ocean breeze and the wildness of the wind as it picked up the loose pieces of salt and mesmerized the sand pipers tip-toeing through the surf. The glare from the sun was bearable, but shuffling through the sand in worn-out converse made my legs ache slightly and kept me questioning what I was doing out there anyways. On this day, something kept me feeling like it would be worth the frustration and the sticky feeling that clung to my skin. I just wanted to be near the ocean – to see something altogether beautiful and powerful. Something to make me forget the heat and the frustration and the sometimes overwhelming tides of life that can knock us down faster than we can catch our breath.

I sat right on the edge of the water, somewhere quiet, some place where I felt small. The crashing power of the waves and deep water just far enough away for me to feel safe but close enough for the coolness of the sea spray to touch my skin and leave a few traces of salt in my loosely braided hair.

I think it’s in those moments that I see it most. Where I need something to lift my eyes out of my own circumstances, plans, and ideas or expectations for life. It’s often when things break down or my best intentions fall short that I’m reminded that if I’m a child of God, I’m not living for myself. There’s this redeeming beauty that takes everything broken and restores it to something good, pure, whole.  It’s so much greater than my weakness, the brokenness of the world, or the chaos and pressure of ordinary, everyday living and loving. As children of God, we are redeemed and restored people, but we're also in progress. We are so easily overwhelmed and pulled in a million different directions, unsure how to combine everything we love into intentional kingdom living. We struggle to see past our immediate circumstances to the broader strokes that God is painting with His glory, and His intention for the world.

Listen to this sweet and powerful calling in Isaiah 61:1-4,

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations."

See, if you are living a surrendered life of faith in Jesus as your sweetest Savior, Redeemer, and King, then you have a purpose. It’s overarching, and it fits every single relationship and area of your life. Nothing is left out, nothing can be hidden away, every moment, every detail.  One that runs as deep as the ocean and is fueled by the very passion and heart of God for the world. That’s what I want to create with this blog, a place where brokenness, rough edges, and all are welcome. Because Jesus uses weakness to display glimmers of His strength and ashes to create breathtaking wonder. Living intentionally is a battle that was won by our Savior. He has already paved the way of victory for His kingdom and given each of us a piece of this beautiful light and purpose to share right here, right now.

The truest and purest form of His goodness shines through our lives when we stop asking WHY we were given this life circumstance, and instead, we start asking WHAT we are called to do with our lives in the here and now. That’s surrender. Walking in the path laid before us. Because Jesus has created each of us with a unique and valuable platform to reach the world with Gospel love and healing.

And that’s my goal. To create a community committed to restoration and redeeming and painting the world with the golden beauty of God’s glory. Bringing light to dark places, healing to the hurting, and wonder to the ordinary or overlooked. Sometimes the world and the problems we face cling to us like the inescapable weight of summer heat, yet we press on because our purpose is as refreshing and vast as the sea. And, as we sit at the edge of that purpose and soak in the very thing we were created for – knowing and loving our God, and carrying the goodness of His mercy to the world – all the rest, the oppressive weight of sin and death is washed away. Because we are finally doing the very thing which we were always created to do.

Frederick Buechner said:

“Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If the holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too.
And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and re-create the human heart, because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully.”

So, if you’re in for this kind of community building, down deep surrendering, and Gospel loving, then sign up for the newsletter, and  let’s get started creating something beautiful.

 

 

I'm in California!

Hey friends, so I have a little life update for you. I'm in CALIFORNIA! Wow, right?!? If ya'll know me very well, then you know that I'm from Florida, and I've definitely never been to the west coast. I honestly can't believe I'm writing this, and I really feel like I could spend half of the day filling up this page with all the goodness that has already come from this trip. I'll be here for a whole month, so hopefully I'll be able to keep you more updated than I have these past few weeks.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you had absolutely no idea how anything was going to work out at all and then God provided all at once? This was one of those times for me. Y'all have no idea how long I spent praying, applying for internships, and waiting for responses that didn't come. Basically, this process was happening since last November if you can believe that. I applied to places all over the country because I've spent all my summers in Florida, and I LOVE going on adventures! After months of waiting, I still wasn't getting answers, so when April and the end of my spring semester rolled around, I was pretty much ready to give up. I think that was one of the most frustrating times because when you actually put all your energy into something and it's still not enough, it's so easy to get discouraged.

I started praying very specifically that God would make a way for me to go. I took a break from the applications and the resume building and took a few weeks to rest and to see the beauty in the things Jesus was putting right in front of me like my family, photography, the sweetest friends, the ocean, and the ministry that he already called me to do. And somewhere in the middle of that resting, I decided that I had to be sure that staying was what God wanted for me , so I started the whole process again, and guess what happened? Nope this is not the point where I got the internship or booked a flight or any of that. It still seemed like nothing was happening. 

I was praying and walking and living in the hope that Jesus would make a way, though. Half of the time I was so energetic and excited about the possibilities and the other half I felt like I was wasting my whole summer with all this extra work. I would get one interview or one job and then it would fall through at the last minute. Long story short, God completely overcame all my expectations and provided so completely the last week in June.

I didn't apply for the internship that I got, and Jesus just brought the right people into my life in the middle of this season of waiting to get me to the place I am. I wasn't trying to be in the Bay Area or even working in the industry that my internship is in, but here I am. And you know what, I feel so loved. But waiting and hoping and faith don't end when we get the answer we were looking for. That's what I'm learning right now. When everything came together, I had exactly one day to pack, and I moved out here without knowing exactly where I would live or when I could start working.

When I write it down, it all sounds so unplanned and unpredictable and full of risk, but I think that's partly what faith is. We lean everything into God and he provides. Maybe not where or when we expect, but he will provide. He does provide, and now I'm here in California with the most perfect place to live, a job, and time to be still with my savior and watch him provide when I can't see far enough into the future to plan anything. Sorry this post was less about where I've been so far, but I couldn't write something down and not explain what a beautiful thing it is that I'm here in the first place. P.S. If you're wondering, I really like it here! SO PRETTY! 

Such a Time as This

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.
— Hosea 6:3

Okay, let’s have some real talk. Let’s take a moment to pause, breathe in some pure summer air, and be present in this moment, wherever you are, wherever you’re reading this. The pace of life always seems so busy, doesn’t it? Or at least it looks like everyone else is busy doing, achieving, and creating, and we have to run against the current of our own inabilities to keep up. It’s exhausting. The comparison game. Competing for success, recognition, beauty. The question of who’s the prettiest, fastest, strongest, will always linger unanswered. But, nonetheless the invisible standard slips into the air we breathe, and it can be suffocating.

There’s nothing that crushes joy quite like running in a race and towards a purpose that you weren’t intended to pursue. But, I think we are all guilty at some level of measuring ourselves against the people to our right and to our left, questioning whether our own talents or position in life are level with the people standing around us. I think we like to blame social media or good genes or Hollywood for this uphill battle. While the glossiest versions of our friend’s lives can strike a nerve, they are far from the root of the problem.

See, we were created for purpose, for beauty, for love, and purity, and an awful lot of joy. We crave the kind of life without bumps, bruises, and times where our hearts are raw with grief. Although this type of deep down desire points our hearts to the healing peace and love of Jesus, we still struggle to see past the imperfections of our lives. We are a near sighted kind of people. Instead of looking past the brokenness of this world to the joy that lies ahead, instead of resting in the promised hope of Jesus and finding our identity in Him, instead of expecting goodness to emerge out of his providence, we question. We worry, we compare, and wish, and hurt for different circumstances.

Sweet friends, my heart is breaking as I write this because we miss so much joy in the direction and purpose that God has created us individually to fulfill if we are constantly longing for a different life. You were created by God for His glory. Really think about that, though. No matter your status in this world, no matter your success or failure, your exact story is creating radiance and worship for Jesus. How beautiful is this type of purpose?

Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling—all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace. Words used to describe us being with Him.
— Lysa TerKeurst

Jesus not only sacrificed His life to free us from slavery to sin while we were His enemies, He not only promises to walk with us, to draw near, to empathize and forgive and carry us in our weakness, to protect our fragile hearts and to provide an unshakable hope for future glory that anchors our heart in every moment. No. He also gives us a purpose as beautiful as the first rays of the sun peaking over the wild ocean. Creating beauty out of the dullness and deadness, God did something wholly breathtaking when He formed His children. Our passions, gifts, and talents, no matter how influential or ordinary they may appear are the specific tools he has given us to breathe life and light into a world so heavy with pain.

Let’s not forget that the way you look, the amount of money you make, the family you have, or the career you pursue, are truly essential to the way you influence the kingdom.  Because He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. Every imperfection, every hurt, and rough edge, and beautifully adventurous part of your soul.  When we compare and question and wish for a better life or better circumstances, we miss the beauty and the purpose of God moving in our lives right here and right now. Let’s find life in the words of Jesus today because no matter how perfect or adventurous or successful or free someone’s life looks, the effects of sin still cause tension, even if it’s unseen. In this tension, we have the opportunity to draw near and see the beauty that Jesus is creating in pain and in joy. Please, sweet friends, let’s strive together to live fully in the moments and the experiences that God brings into our lives.

Let’s wake up seeking God with our whole hearts and pursuing the adventure that he creates out of the mundane moments. It’s here that we are making an impact, one that God chose for us specifically. It’s at these times that I’m reminded of the words of Mordecai in Esther 4:14, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” God has created opportunities for you to redeem and restore this world through the power of the Gospel in your life. Let’s find hope here today to move forward, working together towards the calling of our God, joining hands and hearts in pursuit of the King and letting the walls of comparison crumble before the passionate purpose we have been created to pursue together.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns.
— Psalm 46:1-5