Cover to Cover of You

*This was originally a little paper I wrote for class, but I put a little twist on it. Hope you enjoy!

After hearing Sandra Kroupa’s talk with my class, where she said she “never defines the word ‘book,’ I am beginning to rethink how I myself define a book. Kroupa further opened the possibilities by introducing artist books, which completely reshaped the way a “book” is thought of and used. Artist books go beyond the paper and ink of our standard books and re-purpose them to be just as much a part of the story as the text itself. The physical object, then, has just as much to say in the story and actually adds to it. Artist books incorporate the reader, involving them in the unfolding and telling of the tale. I wanted to take this idea even further and create my own definition of what a book is: A book is a vessel for a story.

A book is something that carries the story. Most of us would think of bound paper as the vessel and a collection of words, usually unified and ordered somehow, as the story. But to think this way is very limiting. Vessels are all around us and can be anything. In the same way, stories make up everything and have many forms beyond just writing. Spoken stories flutter from the mouth of someone, unbound, and if impactful enough will make their home in the hearts of whoever listened; a story without a vessel. This approach to defining a book asks you to open your mind to finding tales in odd places, to creatively thinking about the world, and experiencing the power and beauty of stories in a new light. Once you embrace this you will begin to see “books” and “stories” all around you. 

Furthermore, this drastically broadens what can be considered a book. The artist books make things like a pack of cigarettes, a blouse, a board game and so on, all vessels that add to, and play a role in sharing the story. It is imperative that whatever the vessel is, it accepts that it contains a story and becomes part of it or else it does not work as a book. Even the books made of paper and ink do this. The cover usually has a picture, a title, excerpts, and quotes all of which point to the book embracing that it contains a story. 

You might be saying well then, by your definition everything is a book. In some ways I am. However, I am not saying that all these things that can be defined as a book, a vessel for a story, should be read as a book. My definition defines it as a vessel for a story, not a vessel with a story. You see, there needs to be some intentionality behind the vessel, a main purpose to serve the story. I believe that every vessel can have a story, for example a coffee mug with some writing on the front and a chip out of the top lip… is it a book? Well if the definition was a vessel with a story then yes. That chip, the writing across the front, the coloring and stains all point towards a story if you’re willing to let yourself be creative. However, is it a vessel for a story? Well, no. The primary purpose of a coffee mug is for drinking coffee and not telling stories. 

This definition of a book is quite radical. It is asking a lot of a person to think of books in this way. But I truly believe that wrestling with this idea will be interesting and expose you to a much more vivid and interesting world. Stories make up so much of what it means to be human. That’s why my favorite books are people, and the stories of their lives. We are all, as human beings, a vessel with a story. Things like fear and control keep us stuck trying to cross out old parts of our story, or trying to write ahead, go our own way and deny who we’re meant to be. Deep in our souls we feel our identity that has been divinely placed there, giving us purpose. We feel the burning of our story etched in our heart giving us passion for what we were created to do. The people who choose to serve their story, to embrace it, and be a vessel for their story begin to relinquish control of the pen and live in the current unfolding of their beautiful and intriguing life. Truly leaning into our stories has the power to inspire, connecting us to others while highlighting how unique we are. The true gift of embracing our story, however, is the freedom that comes from giving up the burden of control, and the love that is revealed for us in each and every moment from the Writer who is so, so good.

PACE

New Depths & Final Thoughts

I have learned a lot about what it means and looks like to approach PACE like Jesus, and I am thankful for each of you who have tagged along. Hopefully, there was value in this for you as well. Being present is so important. It helps you connect with life, with Jesus, in the people and things around you. You get the most out of each moment and begin to realize all the opportunities that God has placed all around you. In this final post about PACE I want to share a few final thoughts I have discovered through addressing hurry in my life.

•      •      •

When I started this series, I thought it would be really cool to make PACE an acronym and I have come up with two that I like.

Patient
Atmosphere for
Christ to
Endeavor

I like this one because I think that when you slow down and become present, you really are creating the space needed for Christ to do really big things in your life.

People,
Atmosphere, &
Christ
Engaged

This one sums up what it means to be present. It means allowing your pace to encompass people, your surroundings, and Christ and then taking that final step to engage in them. That’s being present.

•      •      •

I am not the first to address hurry in life, or to look at it from a Christian perspective. This last summer, before I really started to look at the pace of my life, I got a tattoo. It is of the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs, Not in a Hurry by Will Reagan and United Pursuit. In musical notes it says some of the lyrics, “I’m not in a hurry.” The tattoo is on my forearm, in a place where I see it all the time and it is a great reminder to be present. I notice it often, and I saw it while I was working on the previous post. I smiled and realized that God has been putting this topic on my heart for awhile now. I looked back over the chorus of the song, and it is all about being in the moment with God.

I’m not in a hurry
When it comes to your spirit
When it comes to your presence
When it comes to your voice
I’m learning to listen
Just to rest in your nearness
I’m starting to notice
You are speaking

These lyrics are beautiful, and I think they hit it right on the nose: When you slow down, become present, and rest in His nearness, you begin to hear Him more in your life. I believe that you begin to start seeing the world and experiencing the world the way Jesus intended it to be; beautiful, rich, and deep. There is a depth that comes from being present. It deepens your calmness turning it to peace, your compassion turning it to love, and your happiness turning it to joy. When you lean into the life that God has for you by being present, your life becomes deeper giving you a new capacity to be full. Life becomes more meaningful.

My prayer for you is that you begin to really address hurry in your life. I pray that you lean into God and rest in His nearness, that you give Him all your thoughts and moments, and let a new depth be created in you so that you can have your heart filled like never before. I pray that you slow down your life and walk with Jesus so life doesn’t pass you by. I pray that you are able to get the most out of every encounter and that everything you experience will remind you of your potential, your purpose, and how loved you are. Thank you so much everyone. As always, much love.

PACE

Accessing the Kingdom

In this post I want to continue the conversation of what it looks like to live a life at the pace of Jesus. Last time, I left you with the verse Matthew 6:25-34, the section titled in scripture Do Not Worry, and today I would like to dive more into what this verse has to say about hurry. 

Here is that piece of scripture again,

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.                                                                                                                               

In verses 25-27, Jesus tells us not to worry. Worry causes us to hurry because it gives us a feeling that something is wrong, and that we must fix it. We start to dread the future when we worry and because of that we have no peace in our present. Jesus tells us not to worry about our life and not to worry about our body. Throughout the Gospel, there are many instances where Jesus tells us not to be so concerned with food and drink because He can feed us in ways that satisfy us on a spiritual level. He provides when He feeds the five thousand and He provides when He rains down bread for the people because He knows what we need. But beyond that, our Lord feeds us on a spiritual level.

John 4:14 (NIV)

14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

So, do not worry about what you will eat or drink because God will provide. Instead, focus on drinking from the eternal well, nourish your spirit by drawing close to the Lord, and He will fill you in deep ways.

Next, Jesus draws a parallel to nature. This is important because not only does it serve to show us how God provides for nature, so He will of course provide for us, but it also shows how in-tune Jesus is with nature. He often retreats into the mountains to be alone with the Lord. Jesus is consistently looking at the beauty that God has placed Him in, looking to nature to draw wisdom and life. Jesus lives and teaches at a pace that is slow enough to appreciate these things, to reflect on them, and see God in them. Lastly, in verse 27, Jesus points out how worrying only takes away from our time. It wastes our time just like hurry, and just like sin, that wants to see our time here on earth squandered. 

In verses 28-32, Jesus focuses on clothing, and again looks to nature to inspire and teach us. He says the flowers do not “labor or spin” which is exactly what we do when we worry, when we get into a hurry; We work harder and move less, spinning out and tiring ourselves. The flowers are a creation of God, but with no free will to choose and no consciousness, so they have no choice but to be what God intended them to be. Can you imagine if we lived our life like that? Finding our beauty simply in what God intended us to be, in the identity He has written on our hearts. But because our God does not create robots and has given us free will, and because sin has entered the world, we clothe ourselves. Clothing in the scriptural sense is not jackets, pants, and shirts but are all the ways we try and hide our insecurities, all the ways we try and fit in. Clothing here means how we present ourselves to the world, and this often reflects how we view ourselves. We feel ashamed about things so we cover up our identity. We want to be who the world says we should be instead of who the Lord wants us to be so we mask ourselves. We can never fully feel accomplished in all this so we are constantly in a hurry, stressed that someone might see our true selves. 

But if we can slow down enough to draw close to our Savior, to come back to who He says we are and who He wants us to be, our life would not be misspent trying to be someone we’re not. Our life would become deeper, richer, slower. We will find that the only clothing we need is the armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.                                                                                                                                                        

When we deny clothing ourselves to please the world around us and hide things, and instead dress in this way, in the armor of God, we will remember all that God calls us to, all the ways He protects us, and ultimately, how much He loves us. 

In verses 33-34, we get the answer to how to end worry, and ultimately hurry, in life. To address hurry in our life we must “seek first his kingdom and righteousness.” But what exactly is His kingdom and His righteousness? Jesus answers this for us.

Luke 17:20-21 (NIV)

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”                                                                                                                                                      

The coming of the kingdom of God is not an event, the kingdom itself is not a location, the kingdom of God is in our midst. I truly believe that this means that we are in the kingdom right here, right now. The kingdom is the people around us and our environment. The kingdom is community. And how do we seek first this kingdom? Well, by being present. By engaging with Jesus in ourselves and finding Jesus in the people and things that make up our atmosphere.  By being present with the kingdom, embracing it, we begin to discover God’s righteousness. 

Romans 14:17 (NIV)

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit                                                                                                                                                     

Righteousness looks like being right with the Lord, with the people around us, and with our atmosphere. Doing that will bring peace to our lives, and that peace will bring deeply rooted joy. So, looking back to Matthew 6, when we seek first His kingdom, when we are present, “all of these things will be given to [us].” Jesus concludes in Matthew 6:34 by again telling us to not live worrying about the future, when we have enough in today to address. 

My prayer for you is that you focus on Jesus in your present and that you begin to access the kingdom of God. You are already in it, you just need to embrace it. Living in the kingdom is a beautiful thing. It is extremely challenging, but it is something that I am working towards, and it looks a lot like trying to slow down and walk with Jesus in every moment, letting Him be at the forefront of my thoughts and actions. In Acts 4 there is a beautiful example of what living in the kingdom looks like. When we access the kingdom by being present we begin to live in the kind of community that our Savior has called us to; a community where the Gospel is not about a building, or about singing certain songs. It is not merely something you experience in your head, no, it is about Jesus and people. Living in the kingdom affects your heart, your actions, and your thoughts. Wealth is redefined. Being present with Jesus releases us from the control of our possessions because it reminds us that the love of God, the freedom and forgiveness from sin, is worth more than all that. So I pray, lean into the present, into the kingdom and let God not just be in your heart, but the king and ruler of it so that you may be right with Him and others, so that you may live in peace, and so that you may experience joy. 

 

PACE

Addressing Hurry 

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted on my blog in awhile, about a month. My usual goal is a post every Friday, but I’ve just been really busy. This last month has made me start thinking about hurry in my life. So, I am starting this series called PACE, which is going to be entirely spirit led, meaning it may get messy and unorganized, however, I want to extend an invitation to you to join me on this adventure as I continue to lean into what exactly hurry is, how to address it, and how removing it from my life will affect me. 

The talk all started in Vancouver B.C with my small group where we talked about John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, and listened to the first episode of a podcast, Fight Hustle, End Hurry, where him and Jefferson Bethke talk more on the subject. I haven’t gotten into them yet beyond what we listened to and talked about yet, because I wanted to explore this topic for myself first. I can honestly say that I am beginning to really realizing the truth about hurry; It deprives us of life. Think about how we treat people when we are in a hurry; rude, closed off, and selfish. It’s not necessarily our fault either. Society demands us to hustle, rewards us for not resting, and encourages us to hurry hurry hurry! But that’s not the life God intended us to live. Even if you don’t have a relationship with Christ, taking time to rest and slow down will help you get the most out of this beautiful life and fill you in new ways. But for the purpose of this post I want to look at how Jesus lived. What was Jesus’ pace?  

I believe that there are three ways in which a person can hurry; Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually. Physically hurry looks like actually moving your body, fatiguing your muscles, an action that will eventually lead to exhaustion. Mentally hurry is when your mind is too focused on the past or present, your thoughts are unclear and scattered, you aren’t giving attention to what you are doing in the moment. Spiritual hurry looks like focusing on your own wants, being caught up in the daily routine, not prioritizing the Lord. I would like to disclose with you some of the factors that contribute to a quickened pace in any, or all, of these. 

  • Selfishness
    • Prioritizing our own agenda makes anything that presents itself a nuisance to us. It’s okay to have our plans but if we let them lead our life, with no room for interruption, then we will constantly be in a hurry.
  • Conforming
    • Rushing to be who others want us to be. Feeling like if we don’t have that job, look a certain way, have certain possessions, know specific things, that we are inadequate. Feeling like we have to get to a certain place before we can really start enjoying life. We are in a hurry to fit in. 
  • Procrastination
    • Not dealing with things that are important. When we put off the things that really do need our attention it can lead to anxiety. It can become taxing mentally, mulling over these things, and cause us to feel rushed. 
  • Over stretching 
    • On the surface level, this can be just trying to do too much. However, on a deeper level I think that this can look like living in the future, or trying to reach far beyond the community and atmosphere that you are presently in. Your mind and spirit are thinking about things beyond your control, beyond your environment. 
  • Worry
    • We don’t have peace about the future. We feel like something is wrong, so we extrapolate what might happen, what might be done or said, and we hustle through the moment so that we can get to and over whatever has us worried. I think procrastination can lead to this very easily. 
  • Technology 
    • I listed technology here because I think that it has the ability to contribute to all of these other factors. It’s very easy with social media to fall into conformity and procrastination. Through technology we can live in the future, over stretching ourselves and taking away from the present. 

Looking to Jesus’ life you can begin to find the remedy to all these factors that cause hurry. One thing that I find through scripture is that Jesus embraces interruptions. When people and opportunities present themselves, Christ uses them to build people up, speak truth, and spread love. I think a really good example of this is right before Jesus feeds the five thousand. Things are getting crazy; Jesus and the twelve disciples have been going from village to village teaching, Jesus has been performing miracles, and John the Baptist has just been beheaded. Things are chaotic! But look how Jesus responds. 

Mark 6:31-34 (NIV)

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.                                                                                                            

The first big takeaway from this verse is that in the middle of all this chaos, Jesus recognizes that rest is needed, and addresses it. In fact, Jesus can be seen at multiple points in the bible taking time away in nature, to rest, which looks like drawing near to God (Luke 6:12). The Lord takes time to seek out solitude and repose, yet we often say that we don’t have time to do the same. We postpone it, say we will rest later, and keep pushing ourselves. What would our lives look like if we approached rest the same way that Jesus did?

Through this verse we also see the ultimate answer to ending hurry in our life: Be present. Jesus is always in the moment, aware of the beautiful environment and people that God has surrounded Him with. I believe that Jesus has addressed hurry very well in the sermon on the mount, specifically in the section Do Not Worry (Matthew 6:25-34). I highly recommend reading the entirety of this section, as it addresses hurry on many levels and is at its core, a call to be more present. There is a lot to unpack in these verses, and I want to leave them for the next part of this series, but put them here so you can reflect over them. 

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.                                                                    

The enemy wants us to run through life, to sprint to the finish line. I have often heard Christians say that life is like a race, that you are running to get to Jesus as fast as possible. But, sprinting to Jesus is like sprinting to the present; You’re already here so stop running, stop hurrying! Instead, enjoy His company, in His beautiful creation, unwrapping His beautiful gift called life, every… single… day. When we live each moment walking and holding hands with Jesus, days are long and full. I want to savor every single second while the Lord has me here on Earth. I am in no rush to get to the finish line because Jesus has already made it to me.              

I pray that you embrace the interruptions that come your way, seeing them as an opportunity to spread joy and bring peace. I pray that you take the time to rest, to draw near to God. I pray that you leave here aware of the dangers of hurry, and what might be causing them. Most importantly, I pray that you leave knowing that the key is Jesus… it is always Jesus. By giving our attention to Him we begin to become present. I believe that being present looks like first turning inward to Jesus in you, to the name He has called you, to the life He has placed in your heart, to the characteristics that He fills you with, and letting that become your identity, your mindset, and your viewpoint. Then,(This is the really cool part!) take that and spread it to everyone and everything that is in your surroundings. Pour it out into the strangers you pass, the friends and family that walk with you. See it in the gorgeous gift of nature, in the trees, the sky, in the fields. But first, see it in yourself. Through being present in this way, each day, each moment, will be deeply filling, and you will begin to tap into the rich depth of life that God has intended for you.

I look forward to exploring PACE more in the next post with you all. I am learning a lot and hope that you can find something of value here as well. I want to leave you with a few questions that are on my heart, ones hopefully I will be able to address in the next post, along with the verse Matthew 6: 25-34. 

Questions

  1. How would Jesus handle technology? Is using technology ever living in the present? For example, when I call someone is that being present?
  2. Is presence a scale? Are there things that would be considered more present than others? For instance, is a letter to someone more present than a phone call, but less present than a conversation in person? Or, is presence dictated by your hearts intentions? As long as you are connected to God, is anything considered being in the present?
  3. Lastly, what is the relationship between spontaneity and living in the present?

Thank you so much for your time. Please, let’s continue this conversation! If you have any questions please send them my way. If you are really looking forward to more on this topic let me know, it means a lot. If you feel like this post has impacted you then I encourage you to share it. Once again, I am really excited to lean more into this conversation with you guys! As always, much love!

John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: https://www.amazon.com/Ruthless-Elimination-Hurry-Emotionally-Spiritually/dp/0525653090

The Podcast, Fight Hustle, End Hurry: https://open.spotify.com/show/4RVAv8IK4vWARCmRP18f8D

Here’s a link to my Small Group Retreat Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6IGQ9Tdkrw&t=1s

My Name in Christ

What does God call you?

I was recently asked this question, and my immediate answer was obviously my name. But then I thought more about it, and I wondered does God really call me just by the name I was given on earth? Is there something He calls me, that is beyond my body, beyond earth, beyond all that I know? Is there something He calls me that He has etched into my heart, a name that He has placed there to inspire me, reminded me who I am in His eyes, and to help guide me through life? I believe the answer is yes.

Upon further reflection, I drew up things like; son, family member, beloved, delight, and servant, however, these are things that He calls everyone who accepts the invitation into his family. To everyone, He calls us cherished, beloved, delight of His, servant to others, sons and daughters. These things are the Truths of who we are in the mind of the creator. But there’s something more. I think that sifting through those things, digging further into the love that God has for us, there is a name that is specific to you, hidden in your heart by God, that is your unique identity in the Lord.

Then it hit me. I found it at the core of my heart, the name that God had given me when He was thoughtfully building me up, a name that was a powerful ember that had been dormant until by the Grace of God I set fire to it, sparking passions, enlightening identity, and melting away through glorious light all the darkness that clouded my identity which society and insecurities had shrouded my heart in.

Storyteller

I had declared a while ago that I wanted to be a storyteller, but it wasn’t until this moment that I connected it with God. It was a word that encapsulated everything I wanted to do with my life and rang true when I said it. I want to be a storyteller. As I venture further into what that means and looks like, the word gets redefined and new meaning is revealed. Is it an adjective, a noun, is there more to it? My mentor who originally asked me the question has told me how his name Champion has changed from a noun to verb and I think that is amazing and shows how deep and intricate the name God gives us is. Now, just because I have uncovered a part of what I believe God calls me doesn’t mean that things have become easier, or my path has become clearer. Like I said, I am constantly learning more about what this means and looks like in my life. What it does mean though, is that I have a God who not only loves me unconditionally and has a plan for my life, but a God who has engraved into my heart an identity to embrace, one to help me share and look like His love, and to hold dear while I continue the journey He has set me on.

Taking the time to think about what God calls me has been a very rewarding and enlightening experience, one that has helped me understand God and myself in new ways. If you want to look more into what being a storyteller means to me, read one of my previous blog posts, What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.

So now I want to ask you…

What does God Call you?

 

 

 

Three Things that Will Bring Joy to Your Life

Lately, with all the rainy weather and gray skies of Seattle, I have been feeling down. The last six months I have been on many adventures, all over Europe, in California, and have been living the wild life that Jesus calls us to. My faith and relationship with Jesus was at an all time high, but now, being back in school doing basic and routine tasks I feel like I don’t have that fire I used to. However, I am getting back to that place and feeling better. There are three things that I have found are usually lacking in my day or week that when addressed, make me feel so much joy and peace.

    •     •     •

Community

The first thing that might be missing in your life that is causing you to be down is community. It is so vital to the well being of your soul that you spend time with friends. I think it’s easy to think that developing, and getting in touch with your soul, is something that you must do alone. Having fun with each other, having quality conversations, encouraging one another, or even talking about life, the time you spend with others in a healthy environment and mindset is so beneficial. Maybe you need to talk about life, or maybe you just need to let go and have a good time, either way this is something that is important in life. There are plenty of ways to find community; church, clubs, school, work, small groups, or even with family and friends at home. The main thing is that you are not alone, that you are with good company that motivates you.

Prayer

Sometimes you just need to talk to God. Keep Him updated and be real with him about what you are feeling and what’s on your heart. Sometimes you may just need to vent, maybe you just need to listen, but regardless you need to have that conversation. In this, I also include time for relaxation. This is kind of the opposite of community in the sense that it is a time for yourself to rest with the Lord, to recuperate, and realign with Him and His plan.

Scripture

You may need to get into the word! It is so full of truths and I can’t help but feel uplifted after I read some verses. Through the Word, my day is changed and usually the questions that I have are answered. Scripture helps me get to know my best friend and Lord better. It speaks life into my day, in a way that is so powerful and amazes me every time. It reminds me who I am, how I am cherished and loved, and that I can always abide in the Lord and have a place at his table.

                                •     •     •

I pray that if you are feeling down, sad, alone, that you take a look at your day, your week, your life even, and ask yourself which one of these may be missing. When you identify which one it is, address it, and I can guarantee you that your mindset will improve. Lean into the Truths of God, rest and prayer, and your friends, and life will get better. Praying for you! As always, much love!

Catching Up with God

Today I will leave you with a short message, but I think that it is worth sharing. I have recently arrived in London for a study abroad program, and it has been amazing! I will definitely talk more about London and my experiences here as my adventure in the city continues to unfold. But first I want to talk about something else that happened this morning. I have been here for about 5 days and things have been extremely busy. Even a few days before I left for London things were hectic. Between the planning, the packing, the checking, and the rechecking there has been A LOT of things going on! This morning was the first time I didn’t have to be anywhere or worry about anything and so I decided to go workout at a park. Early in the morning on my walk there, it crossed my mind that I hadn’t said a word to God in a long time. Immediately I started talking to God, catching him up on things, and then listening to what he had to say. It is very hard to describe the joy, peace, and assurance that floods you when you engage in conversation with God. It’s like I had all these things I was trying to keep organized, worries cluttering my brain, and thoughts clouded with concern, and it all got wiped clean and I remembered how good life is when God is involved. The main thing I felt like God was reminding me in that moment, is that sometimes all we need to do is catch up with Him to be reminded how amazing the life He’s got planned for us is, and to remember how blessed we are. So once I got to the park I sat on a bench and just reflected on the amazing experience I just had. I realized that one of the best things you can do with your time, is give it to God. We all get busy and it is so easy to shrink into a tiny, compressed ball of stress and anxiety worrying about things with our minds racing and before you know it, you are sucked into this tiny little orbit called your world. Where it is impossible to think more than a few hours ahead and everything else around you becomes a cloudy blur. It is in those moments that reaching out to God is so crucial. Sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation. But when you do that, I can guarantee that it will set you up for an amazing day. You will begin to see outside your little bubble. If you do it consistently, I can also assure you that He will fill your life with so many real experiences. He will place people in your life, and take you places, and give you the most fulfilling life you could ever imagine. He is a God that wants us to be with others. In the times you’re by yourself and you feel lonely, or even small, He can make those moments where you feel rested and recover instead. Once you commit your life to Him, He will never lead you away from these things. However, it gets hard to see His work and appreciate it if you don’t check in occasionally. So my prayer for you, even if you’ve never tried talking to Him before, is that you just start talking. Whenever you are ready just catch up with Him, because He is ready for a conversation with you, ready to love you, and if you let Him, ready to lead you through an unbelievably fulfilling life.

***

Side Note: In my pursuit for a good photo for this post I find a website to an amazing post, with the perfect picture, by C D Swanson. He talks about things similar to what I shared in this post and he poses through his writing the idea of meeting God on a bench and the theoretical conversation that you would have with Him. It is definitely worth it to check it out and give it a read. Here is the link: https://www.cdswanson.com/?p=973

 

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

~

Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.

The Truth about Affirmation

Affirmation is a powerful thing. However, I think our mindsets are a little off on what true affirmation looks like in life, and I think that it is very important to understand what it really is. Through this post I want to share with you three stories of recent affirmation in my own life and then explain the truth about affirmation.

1

I work at a restaurant as an assistant server, more or less a busboy, and I love my job. I get to serve people and most of the time that is behind the scenes, doing things that nobody knows. It is only human to want to be recognized and acknowledged for the work that you do. Sometimes, it was extremely difficult to convince myself to keep working so hard for what seemed like no reason. So one night I was working with a server I had never worked with before, and I was battling with feeling like I was unnoticed, unimportant. But I decided to keep up my spirit and keep doing my work. In the middle of the shift she comes up to me and says, “Do you love Jesus?” I smiled and told her I do, and I asked her why she asked me or how she knew, and she told me, “Because you are really happy and really kind.”

2

One night after I had just finished up meeting with some people, I was walking down the sidewalk on my way home. I passed by this place called “WOW” which serves bubble tea and other drinks, and something just came over me to go buy two drinks for people in my house. I went in and the place was empty except for two girls who were waiting for their drinks to be made. I walked up to the counter and ordered the two drinks. As, I was standing there I noticed the two girls look at me and then giggle and whisper to each other. This went on for a little and then eventually one of the girls came up and explained how they weren’t trying to be rude, but they thought I looked a lot like this guy from a show they watched. I laughed and ended up talking with them for a while and explained how I just felt a random urge to come in and buy drinks for my friends. The other girl noticed my bible and started asking me questions about my faith, and I got talk to her about Jesus. Afterwards, they gave me a hug and told me to “keep doing good things.” I got my drinks and headed out.

3

I was in a waiting room, hanging out before an appointment and I noticed that the room was pretty empty. It was just the receptionist and me. This thought crossed my mind to start a conversation with the her. It was early in the morning though and I didn’t really feel like talking but I decided I should. We started talking about random things, mostly small talk, and I had actually thought the conversation was over but then she asked me more about my life. We talked for a few more minutes and then she paused and said, “What did you do to end up going in the right direction?” and I laughed because I hardly feel like I know where I am going. But I got to explain to her that my faith has led me to where I am, and I definitely don’t know if it’s the “right” direction but I love the path that I have been on ever since I started following Jesus. She scrunched up her mouth and looked up over my shoulder, somewhere into the distance, and after a moment looked back at me and told me thank you.

I think that it is very easy to let our focus turn to pursuing gratitude and affirmation in life. But what we need to do is focus on Jesus, because when you do that you won’t even care about being affirmed by the world because you are affirmed by the God of the world who sees every second of work you have put in. Affirmation from the Lord will leave you feeling encouraged and inspired and through that you will give into others selflessly and without concern for your own acknowledgement. Also, when you pursue Jesus and let him affirm you it becomes so much more evident all the little ways we are affirmed each day. We have come to believe that affirmation must be a big event that will leave us in awe, but the truth is affirmation is in the smiles that we see from others, the simple and sincere words they share, and the small acts of kindness people do for us. In the stories I shared it wasn’t until I was really doing things for others, without my own desires leading me, that people said something. It wasn’t by my own strength or desires to do something and try and be acknowledge, but a prompting from the holy spirit that led me to affirmation. When I step out of my own way and let Jesus lead, people see that and respond. I also think that it is important to consider that these are what I would call “big” moments of affirmation. You have to realize that these happened after years of following Jesus. They don’t happen every day, but the small things do. If you let your thoughts become focused on being affirmed in huge ways and spend your time and energy living for those moments, you will always end the day feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The truth about affirmation is it’s simple, effortless, and everywhere if you focus on Jesus.

*Image is called Picture My Thoughts by Myra Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Willing

 

What do you do when all your plans fall apart? When the world you know is flipped upside down and everything changes? Everyone goes through a season like this, most likely multiple times through out life. I am writing to address why I believe we find ourselves in these situations, and how we can get through them and be thankful for them.

I was recently listening to the song “Looking for a Savior” by United Pursuit when I got the idea for this post. At the time, I was going through a hard period. A lot was changing, and that can be scary at times. I am still going through everything, but I am proud to say that each day things are getting better as this season comes to an end and a new one begins. Looking back though, I wish I would have known how to handle things better. I wanted to understand how I ended up at that place and why it was so hard. One line from the song stuck out to me: “When our plans become the casualties of getting through the day.” This entire song speaks to the struggle of finding peace and comfort in all the wrong things. However, I feel this line addresses the root of the problem. It is so easy to idolize things, even things that aren’t tangible. In fact, these things are probably the biggest cause of idolization and they are also the most unnoticed at times. For me, I always thought that only real things could be idolized. For example, a person in my life, an object, a book, my family, etc. All these things can be idols but the ones that I really struggle with and that I see others struggle with is ideas, careers, plans, etc. We put so much value on the things we want, even if they are good and pure they are still idols. I have always wanted to be married, become a father, and have a family. These are good things to look forward to and be hopeful about, however, I began to focus only on that. I got up each day with the mindset of getting to that place in my life. My actions were dictated on if they would help me get what I wanted. Pretty soon, my pursuit of these things veered me off course from God’s plan for me. That is why I love the quote from the song. Our plans, even if they are small and seemingly harmless, can be a casualty if they get us out of bed and drive us through our day. If you only pursue these things they will lead to that place of pain, struggle, and sorrow. It’s so easy to justify these things too, because they are great things to look forward to in life. I don’t want you to get it twisted. I am not saying don’t pursue a family, time with friends, love, a career.  What I am saying is that they should supplemented with your pursuit of Jesus. He should be our driving force and what determines our actions each day. In the bible app plan, “Finding God in The Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie she puts it this way, “We’re all just walking each other home to Jesus.” I love this because if we consider each day in terms of this quote we keep our focus on getting to Jesus. Also, we are “walking each other” which gives room for relationships. Whether that is through a family, hanging out with friends, or being involved in a career, they are on the path to Jesus, so we don’t need to pursue them individually. When we chase our own desires without Jesus they will inevitably fall apart, and we end up in those terrible and hard seasons.

Getting caught up in our plans is unavoidable. So instead of trying to elude these hard times, we should learn how to make them easier to handle. One thing that helps me get through them is keeping in mind that it is a period of realignment with Jesus and his plans for me. When our plans fall apart, that can sometimes be just what we need to see where we are and the true intentions of our heart. It is very reassuring to me during this time because I know that I am growing closer to Jesus and refocusing myself, and my direction, on Him. Another thing that helps me during times of hardship is reminding myself of the truths of God. He is a good father that has the best intentions for you in mind. He knows your heart and what you want. You can rest easy in the fact that when things don’t go the way you planned, that the heavenly father has something even better in store for you. The plans we make are not set in stone, no matter how much we want them to be. I think this quote from James says it best:

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

So, I ask that you still chase your dreams and goals but keep Jesus at the center of it all. When you let God take control of your life you are relieved of the pressure of trying to do things and get places on your own. Know that the Lord is not a reckless father. He will guide you and lead you to what you need, which may not always be what you think you want. We can be thankful for these seasons because even if we can’t see it at the moment, God is leading us in a good direction.

I hope this has helped or encouraged you if you are struggling. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in what you are feeling. Life can take unexpected turns at the most inconvenient times and leave us confused and alone. But remember, you aren’t alone when you follow Jesus and good things are coming. If you want to hear more encouraging words on the same topic, then check out my friend Tristan Epperson’s blog. I have linked it below, along with a link to the bible app plan, and the song. I hope you all have a great day!

IMPORTANT!!!

Before you leave I would like to ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Carr Fire happening in Northern California. I also urge you if possible to donate and help. There are more things than just money that can be donated. I have linked a website down below that explains more on what’s going on and ways you can help. Also, I have included links to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thank you so much.

“Hope Through Heartbreak” by Tristan Epperson: https://tristanepperson.com/2018/07/24/hope-through-heartbreak/

“Finding God in the Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3137-finding-god-in-the-hard-places

“Looking For A Savior” by United Pursuit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4YhvfN4_Vk

How you can help: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/07/29/carr-fire-northern-california-help-victims/859636002/

The American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation?cid=donation&med=cpc&source=google&scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=CjwKCAjw7vraBRBbEiwA4WBOn_LUB8OD179drHUfOnr_uNw4id7CdE3Jl-eIppJYRV_NSBUx2gyYfRoCG1AQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CNOXn6aiyNwCFZwGrQYdQ_IDfw

The Salvation Army: https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/