Have you seen the movie, “The Greatest Showman” yet? If not, you must see it! It quickly became one of my top favorite movies and here is why – music and vocals are amazing, cinematography is stunning, acting phenomenal, and the message… the message was relevant, challenging, and beautiful. The song “This is Me” was an immediate favorite! It was powerful and moving and made you want to get up and dance alongside everyone. This song will every so often pop into my head and remind me to be authentically ‘me’. To be true to who I am and what I stand for… the only problem is – who am I? and what do I stand for? These are two questions that have been with me and haunted me for the past seven years.
I grew up in a Bible believing family who practically lived at church because my dad was the worship pastor. All of my childhood I was surrounded by family and friends who were constantly pointing me back to Jesus. I moved from Washington to California when I was 10 and from California to Georgia when I was 12. Even through all of the physical change, my parents made sure to keep Christ the center of all we did. The first few years of college are when I began to seek a relationship with Jesus of my very own. I began to ask questions and break down theology that had been taught to me my whole life. But, even in all of this searching, I still knew exactly who I was and what I stood for … or so I thought.
In spring of 2011, I had just finished my third year of college and my mother had a minor stroke that put her in the hospital on Mother’s Day. It was the first time something of this gravity had happened in my family and it hit hard. Around this same time, my sister, who the whole family calls my ‘twin’ because we literally did everything together, began to seriously date her now husband. All of this ushered me into a season of life that felt very lonely and full of hardship. I would travel overseas alone for the first time only weeks after my mother’s stroke and I would work out of state that summer for the first time in my life. I would also meet someone that summer who would turn my entire world upside down. Up until this point, my life seemed predictable. My life seemed smooth sailing. Life gave me cards I not only wanted to play, but knew how to play. Now all of a sudden, life was dealing me cards I didn’t know what to do with and I wouldn’t know how to play until seven years later.
Over the last seven years, I have seen my parents’ marriage drastically change from the marriage I witnessed when I was little. I learned what co-dependency looks like through an extremely damaging relationship. I became addicted and learned that “just stopping” isn’t that easy. I looked for love and acceptance in jobs, relationships, accolades, and social media. I learned that I am really good at dealing with and serving people. I held down incredible jobs. I had opportunities I could only have dreamed of. I cried. I screamed. I loved. I laughed. I drew closer to Jesus, but I also turned my back on Him. I wanted to die. I wanted to live. I wanted to disappear, but I also so desperately wanted to be seen. In all of this, I have learned one thing - this life, it’s the only you get. Everything that happened over the last seven years could either be looked at as a waste of time and I could feel behind at life, or, I could view them as the most pivotal years in my spiritual growth. I could view them as one major test that somehow, by God’s grace alone, I was able to pass. This gets me so emotional. I shouldn’t be here today. No, I wasn’t in some terrible car wreck or have a terminal illness. I shouldn’t be here today because I am a sinner. I don’t deserve to have the opportunity to love others or to be loved by others. I am alive today, both physically and spiritually, because of Christ alone. I am able to share His great and amazing grace with everyone because He saved me. I nailed Him to a cross over 2,000 years ago and my sins caused God to look away from His Son while He died a criminal’s death. But, Jesus’ blood ran red so that my sins could be washed white. Jesus rose from the dead so that I could live free in Him alone. What an awesome God we serve!
As I look to the future now, I see Jesus and Him alone. When I look at those He has placed in my life, I see Him and all He is doing in their lives. And now, when I ask myself, “who am I?” I can honestly and whole-heartedly say, I am a sinner saved by grace that has the incredible opportunity to serve Him every single day! And when I ask myself, “what do I stand for?” it’s this – I stand for love so much greater than anything we can comprehend. I stand for becoming the least of these in order to serve them with all I have. I stand for Christ and becoming more like Him every day! I have a long way to go in this life, but for today I will say, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’. I cannot wait to see all He has for me in this coming year and with this world adventure. There are so many unknowns, but even on my darkest days, God has NEVER left my side and He won’t start now. Here is to truly living fearlessly in the arms of the only One who can save me. May I daily live in this truth and love others just as Jesus has so fiercely loved me.
Hello, Self. You are on the coast for the next few days. Soak it in. Take deep breaths. Relish in every moment. Take this time to listen and just be with your Heavenly Father. You have such an amazing journey ahead of you and it’s only achievable with God’s guidance. Don’t take His guiding hand and ever-present help for granted, instead, cling to it as your anchor. Document every emotion, every moment, and every revelation. God is up to something and you don’t want to miss it!
Today, I drove down to Brunswick, Georgia. The drive was perfection. The weather was blue skies and fluffy clouds and there were hardly any cars on the road. I arrived at my Airbnb around 3:30pm and met the owner’s friend Nikki who is staying with her from India. We sat and chatted for about an hour before I packed up my things and headed to the beach. I went to Jekyll Island first and about cried when I saw the ocean. There is something so powerful and yet so calming about the ocean. I sat for a moment on the first beach access point I came to, but then decided to drive further down the island to see what else I could find. I came across the drift wood beach and sat there for some time. I am much more of a rocky coast kind of girl and all of the drift wood and rocks were making my heart so happy. While I was walking, I passed this couple and the gentleman asked me if the beach was beautiful from the direction I had come. This question began a 15 minute conversation with this sweet couple and ended with the wife giving me a hug and them telling me they would be praying for me. As I walked away, I began to think about how much that little encounter made my day. I realized that people are the reason for everything I do. People are what give me fuel. People are my mission in life. I can’t wait to see what other encounters God has for me the rest of this week.
I am currently sitting in this quant little market on Jekyll Island. Last night….
OH! Side note- yesterday, when I was sitting on drift wood beach, I saw DOLPHINS!!!! They were playing in the waves right by the shore. It was magical! Ok, back to my story…
Last night as I was trying to dose off – and I say ‘trying’ because it wasn’t going so well – I was thinking through the events of the day and thinking about what I would do today and a thought struck me. I was created to create! I couldn’t fall asleep because I was so excited about getting up in the morning and shooting a time-lapse of the sunrise. There is so much beauty here and I kept thinking of ways I could capture it. In this mornings devotionals, the section for today was titled “Made to Create” – WHAT?! I love when God times things like that! God didn’t make all of His children creative, but if He did make you creative, you must do it! We will not feel fully whole in this life until we discipline ourselves to create. My creative skills are not in music like my father, or in art like my sister, but I do believe my creative skills are in photography and writing. Both bring me so much joy and I feel accomplished and successful when I am working on either skill. The devotional talked about how discipline is vital to creativity and that we need to work hard at making time to do what God created us to do.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
Ok, here is the next verse! I decided to read further and was amazed at what I found –
“Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but healed instead.” – Hebrews 12:12-13
Wow! In the context of creativity, don’t let your talents and skills be dislocated from your body because you didn’t strengthen them or make a plan to cultivate them. God gave us gifts and talents to be USED. Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same old, same old because not only will it crush your spirit, but it also may very well cause your skills and creativity to be dislocated from your body.
It’s now lunchtime! I’m at a restaurant on the island so that I can still soak in the salty ocean air while eating and getting out of the sun for a bit. It has been an absolutely beautiful day, but I have found that I do not sit still well at all! Oh, lunch is here!!
Well, lunch was yummy! Once I was done, I went back to drift wood beach for a bit. I love that beach! But if you know me at all, you know that I love things that have been dried and called beautiful – i.e. the many vases of dried roses I have! After the beach, I decided I had had enough sun for the day and headed back to my Airbnb. I took a quick shower, charged my phone (my camera for this trip), and then headed to St. Simons Island for some homemade ice cream. I have since eaten my chocolate oreo and mint chocolate chip ice cream and am now siting under a gigantic oak tree looking out over the ocean.
My mind is in a million places right now. This world adventure is going to be hard. It’s going to stretch my emotional limits, my physical limits, and my spiritual limits. I took this trip to see how I would do alone because it’s been some time since I traveled alone. I don’t find myself missing home, but I do find myself searching for a purpose. I’m listing to Bob Goff’s newest book entitled “Everybody Always” and this idea struck a major chord with me –
“Instead of saying you’re a missionary, why not just go somewhere to learn about your faith from the people there and be as helpful as you can be.”
I’ve been struggling with what to call this world adventure because I’m not going with a church group or a mission’s board. It’s just me… but isn’t that what Jesus disciples did? Didn’t they go out individually and spread the good news of Jesus love and sacrifice? I don’t want this trip to be used to share about me, but about all of the incredible people and places all over the world and create beautiful content that displays all God is doing in each of the countries I visit.
Good-morning from St. Simons Island! It is an incredibly beautiful day. The breeze is low and I can wear my fancy, floppy hat without it blowing away. I do have three layers of sunscreen on though because the sun is quite warm today. After breakfast this morning, I stopped by Morningstar Marina to admire the beautiful boats docked there. I walked slowly up and down each dock as the sail boats bobbed with the current of the water. I’ve always wanted to learn to sail. I talked with a gentleman who worked there, who is actually from Sydney, Australia! Anyway, he told me that that particular marina has one of the top rated sailing schools in the nation. You better believe that, before I left, I grabbed all the information I needed because one day I will actually learn to sail. Well, I’m going to go walk the coast for a bit and listen to ‘Everybody Always’.
“You may want ten green lights before you do the risky thing God has for you to do, but you only have eight. I once heard a friend say all opportunities come with expiration dates. If you don’t grasp the opportunity in front of you, it’s likely going to go away at some point. Here’s the deal: All those deep urgings you feel to step toward the beautiful, courageous thing you’re afraid to do – you probably won’t always have the chance. Now is the time. Your life, your experiences, and your faith are your green lights. Make your move.” – Bob Goff, “Everybody Always”
Yes. Thank You, Jesus! I don’t need all the green lights, I just need the calling you’ve put in my heart and the faith to continue taking the next step.
It’s always this point in my day, between 4-5pm, that I feel the least productive. I’m tired, zoned out, and sluggish. When I find myself in this state of mind, I also find myself scrolling aimlessly on social media. I used to be really bad about comparing myself with those I was following. One day I decided, I don’t have to follow people that don’t inspire me, so I didn’t. I went through the list of people I followed and only followed those who were doing good in the world, made me happy, or inspired me in some way. In doing this, I now have a feed full of encouraging posts which inspire me to live a more fulfilling life. I never want my life to be centered around how many followers I have or how many ‘likes’ I get. I want my life to be focused on the people God has placed in my life – those I’ve known 27 years and those I’ve only just met. If people choose to follow me, I pray that my posts will be an encouragement to them and inspire them to live a life more full of love and adventure.
It’s my last morning of my coastal escape. It’s weird, but I’ve been more anxious this morning than I have this whole trip. I got up to do another time lapse of the sunrise and it didn’t go quite as planned. The stress of the morning made me anxious about the video, which then made it hard for me to relax and enjoy the stunning sunrise. I felt like it was the last time I’d ever get to do a time lapse and it had to be perfect. But, you know what, there will be plenty of other sunrises. Even though none of us know when our last day on earth will be, we must live like it’s our last, but don’t live it stressing that it has to be perfect. Live present in the moment. Soak it all in. Most often our most perfect days are the ones we weren’t trying to make perfect. They were the ones where we were totally and completely present.
Today I leave the islands to head down to Florida to visit my childhood best friend and her precious family. My stay here has been wonderful and much needed, but for now, I must leave this beautiful sunrise and go check out of my Airbnb.
This trip was incredible, challenging, and enlightening. My biggest take away from the week came to a head when I went to a women’s conference in Florida with my dear friend, Emily. The conference spoke about how do we actually find our identity and confidence in the Lord alone. After the conference, Emily and I were chatting about it and everything from the week came together in one beautiful picture. I left for this coastal escape to find a purpose for my world adventure, but Jesus gave me something so much bigger. He reminded my heart for it’s purpose for life, not just this world adventure. He reminded me that I am a child of His and I was created to serve Him alone and love others like Jesus did. Every job I have ever had and this coming world adventure are not my purpose for being born; they are all amazing opportunities to live out the greater purpose God has given me. This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but this was life changing for me. God doesn’t want us to define our purpose in life by a job title or relationship status or financial accomplishment. He longs for each of us to receive Him into our lives, consider who He is and all He has done for us, draw near to Him through prayer and The Word, obey His every command, and then reflect His perfect glory and goodness in all we do on this earth. This truth and revelation gets me so excited about moving forward in life because it’s not about me, it’s all about HIM!