good-bye 2014

December 31, 2014


Listening to: The Last Goodbye-Billy Boyd
Line Craze: "The force will be with you, always."-Obi-Wan Kenobi

Dear 2014:

Where to start? 

For one, I will make it known!, I am not getting dressed up to go and celebrate the end of a fantastic year. I did that last year for 2013 and was totally not in to the stuporous state of Music City, Nashville, Tennessee during the wee hours of the night-crammed in the streets like a sardine inhaling the fumes of weed and alcohol; and witnessing the ghastly state of human behavior after several long, cold hours of standing, listening to horrendous music swapping slobbery, drunken kisses; and throwing up after one too many beers was all-too much for me to handle. Granted the fireworks were visually stunning, and the ambiance of the Ice Cream Parlor and Pizza place were nice, but amid the hustle and bustle of drunken druggies, I must say that the end of 2013 was and is the only New Year's celebration thing I will ever put myself through. Ever.

Of course, if there ever happens to be a special someone in the picture, then I might be persuaded to go amid the crowd again; but only for the ambiance-oh, and that New Year's kiss!

Dear me! How do I put into words the w.o.w factor you, 2014, have given me throughout each of the three hundred and sixty-five days I have been able to take on with pride and determination? I have experienced MUCH. And with each experience came a lesson learned and a blessing gained. 

L E S S O N S   L E A R N E D
2014 was very different from all that I had experienced in the four years past. I didn't have to fight an eating disorder. I didn't fall in love. I didn't self-harm. I grew closer to graduating school with each class I took. I grew closer to my God. And I did a lot of personal growing in discovering who I am, what I want to do, who I want to be, and how I want to leave my legacy. 

L E G A C Y
One thing that has stuck with me throughout all of 2014 is my former Pastor David Landrith's series on Legacy: living an amazing life, and leaving an amazing legacy. But it wasn't just his series that made me want to reevaluate myself in terms of whether or not the way I was living my life was worthy of the One who bestowed it upon me, and if it were that which others would look upon and see the full glory of my King throughout every inch of who I am as a Servant of the Lord. 

King David in the Bible was my Pastor's platform that enabled him to paint this beautiful picture of what it means to leave a legacy. Psalm 145 is said to have been King David's favorite song. As you look at this psalm you see the awe and amazement he has for his God throughout this writing. King David was a man after God's heart. A man of legacy. And it really, truly inspired me to greatness. And one thing I learned about leaving a legacy is that leaving a legacy isn't about the words written on your tomb stone long after you've passed away, but by how you chose to live the life that was given to you and through the lives you've touched. I love this quote by Shannon L. Alder: 
Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. 
G r o w i n g   C l o s e r  T o  H i m 
A year ago I would not have been able to sit here and tell you how content I am to be single. I have been single for over eight months now (longer if I had not given into the fateful longings of my lonely heart back in January). Have I always loved it? No. Do I now? Yes. Why? Because I have stopped giving into the fanciful whims of my human heart. You know, the one that desires Prince Charming to come to the rescue? The one that is practically perfect in every way, shape, and form? The one little girls dream of-that one day they'll find this mysterious and enchanted being and be able to call him theirs? 

Yeah, I thought I needed him to be happy. That I'd be happy and truly content if I had someone to call my own. Through 2014, I discovered something better than having a prince come to my rescue. I rediscovered the truest romance a girl could ever imagine! As in my case, I found that the way to a contented heart was not through a prince, but a King. A Mighty, Holy King! 

A greater deal of 2014 was spent learning how to surrender. With white flags flying high, I concluded that the only way I was to be truly content in my season of singleness was to surrender all of me to all of Him. Not just my heart, but every aspect of who I was-dreams, desires, hopes, visions, self-will. All of it.

Giving my heart to Christ was easy. I was five when I surrendered that area over to Him. But- little did I realize that true surrender meant giving Him my all. And giving Him my all meant allowing Him into the relational part of my life, too. I was scared at first. I mean, in my heart I knew I was risking the possibility of being single forever. What if I gave this area to God and never got it back? 

It was a leap of faith. And I went for it. I am glad I did; it's freeing to not feel discontent with the state of singleness. In fact, because I took that leap of faith, I have only grown closer to God and even more excited for what the future may hold. How will He use me? What can I do to please Him? Those are my thoughts. My desires. And I want 2015 to be a continuation of the reflection of Christ in me. Mirroring His desires and dreams. Following Him to the ends of the earth. 

You are bigger than any battle I'm facing
You are better than anything I've been chasing

Savior and royalty, the only hope in me
Jesus, You are, You are
The King of my heart, heart
The King of my heart, heart 
{Love & The Outcome}

My Prince Charming-my Knight in Shinning Armor-has already arrived. But, while He is here-never to leave-I will never stop pursuing His perfect greatness. He gave His all for me, the least I can do is devote my all to Him. 


W h o   H a v e   I   B e c o m e ?
It's weird to think: I'm a twenty-two single gal from Cottontown, Tennessee. (Did you catch the age part? 22! Egads! Lawdy, I'm feeling old). Okay, it's not weird. But it is unfamiliar. The age of twenty-two is uncharted territory for me. It's an age that I have not encountered yet. And yet, I already know a little something about feeling twenty-two-it's an age for greatness! As Shakespeare says: "But be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" {Twelfth Night, Act II, sc. v}. While I may not have been born with greatness pulsing through my veins, I do know this: I have been called to greatness. For I am a daughter of the King! I am not great because it's a birthright. But I am great because in my weaknesses God power is amplified. That is when I am made strong.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. {2 Corinthians 12:10}
G o o d b y e  2 0 1 4 
2014, you've been a gem! With you I have met some great people, learned some crazy things, and have been blessed beyond measure. And while today is the last day I will ever get to spend in your presence, I want to thank you for sticking with me to the very end. For giving me another year to better myself-to learn about who I am meant to be. And for giving me the chance to rediscover what love really means. Sometimes love is apparent, and sometimes we have to believe that love is there in order to see it. You'll be missed, good friend. And with my stamp of approval, you will forever be known as one of the greatest years I have had the pleasure to journey through thus far. Thank you!

it's my party || i'll cry if I want to

December 25, 2014


Hello December,

You and I are like, best buds. 

We have this secret knowledge of the inner workings of each other.

I know you like to come and go as fast as you can, while painfully slowing down for the week of Christmas, only to speed up and be on your merry way the minute the holiday season is over. 

Maybe it's because all the eggnog has you super excited for the festivities to arrive that you fly through the hours within your control, racing to get to the one day that makes life feel utterly complete and fantastic. 

And maybe...just maybe...the reason why you go so excruciatingly slow the week of Christmas is not because you want to torture me in my angst for the day to arrive, but because you know full-well my birthday is the day after, in which you'd rather me not have...either because you hate me, or think I am obviously too fabulous to get any older than the fabulous age of 22. (And I hope it's the later, of course). 

 If his is the case, we may remain friends. For we have always been good friends-minus all those years you didn't give people the memo to not wrap my birthday presents in Christmas paper. 



Yes, my birthday is a holiday!

No. It does no need gold plated, Santa faced, snowman bombed Christmas paper to make it complete and festive. 

I can do that all by myself.

I am happy.

I am fly.

I have swag. Wait. I do?! 0.O

Oh, yeah, I do. Totally.

And I am feeling twenty-two! 



December-my good and trusty pal, 'tis another year for joy and giving, loving and healing. But are you ready for another year of this festive thing and all of her insane and laughable personality? Because if you aren't, BE READY. 

I am coming with cake and ice cream. Oh, and my cake is gonna have huge silver gumballs on it. Yeah, that's right! 

I'm getting down right FESTIVE in this place. You've been invited, but warned. 

And if you or anyone plan any surprises, I am not held liable for what may happen to you. Just sayin'. 

So, my dear friend. 2014 is almost over. And before I leave and enjoy my celebratory Birthday Starbucks, I want to say THANK YOU. 

Thank you for that beautiful blast of cold air. Thank you for the warmth you bring that comes with the joy we get from giving to others rather than receiving. And most of all, THANK YOU for allowing us a perfect season of stillness to gaze upon the truest and sincerest form for this seasonal celebration--Jesus Christ. The wreath may symbolize the season in which we all celebrate for a single purpose, but that crown of thorns symbolized the reason in which so many give unto others-because His dying for us was the greatest gift He could give. Thus, we should live for Him and the people he came to save. It's the least we can do. That's the true reason for the season. Pass it on. 

blessed singleness + forsaking it all

December 14, 2014

Blessed is it to be single! I'll be honest, it wasn't until last Sunday that I realized just how content I was at being single, and how fooled I was into thinking I was still in love with my past. Have you ever been in that predicament? I am sure, if you're the hopeless romantic like myself, you've been there and done that. It's sad, but true. 

Backing up to last Sunday-it was a single's small group Christmas Party! (Bless my beautiful group and those fearless leaders that make me laugh and wonder....). 


Of all the people to be there I was the most excited about my ex-boyfriend attending. Just days before God and I had been on brutal speaking terms (mainly on my part), where I had been bashing God about cursing me with singleness, taking away my ex (whom I still thought I loved), and never answering prayers.

"Lord, I DO NOT want to be thanking you for unanswered prayers," I said shaking my fists. 

I even went so far to explicitly challenge God to show me a sign. Not a subtle sign, but one that was WHAM... POW....IN MY FACE. I should have known better than to challenge the maker of the Heavens. I should have known He would have accepted the challenge gladly to prove to me who was BIGGER. And...so He did just that. 


That very Sunday God worked His magic. 

Unbeknownst to me, while I'd been anticipating seeing my Ex ALL DAY with a pounding heart and sweaty palms, God was at work. Even though back in May I had surrendered my all in all over to the Lord (Ephesians 1:23) when I broke it off with my best guy friend, I had wired myself to always revert back to the hope that my Ex would return, arriving at my door step to win me back. 

Well-what happened Sunday was just the opposite. 

There we were, sitting down our desert platters onto the table filled with sweets and one odd cheese ball, side by side. I was nervous. I was sweating. As I began to walk away he tapped me on the shoulder. "Oh, my Gosh! He's touching me," my heart screamed. And then he started talking. Little did I realize that my actions towards him would later resound in my heart like a gong. 


He spoke to me, but as he spoke I felt NOTHING for him. Rather, I felt numbness. As if he was nothing more that a part of my past that was over. It was over. We were separate people. I had grown up and he was still very much a little boy. The year and a half had done nothing to cultivate him into someone better than the one who'd left. He was still the same irresponsible, selfish, entitled guy I had fallen in love with, and had fooled myself into believing that one day he'd grow up and come back.

I didn't see God's hand in any of this until I was in my car on the drive home. "Oh, my Gosh!" I proclaimed as I tried to keep my car from veering off the road. I was astonished by the amazing miracle God had done in my life. "Lord, I cannot believe it! Forgive me for ever doubting you! I can't believe I am saying this, but THANK GOD FOR UNANSWERED PRAYERS. You gave me a sign, Lord. And because of that-being able to see it first hand-I am free from this foolishness. I am free to live. Free to dance. Free to dream. Free to serve. Free to love when the time comes."

Remember (above) my mentioning about my breaking it off my with best guy friend back in May? Well, it was a struggle, a real painful experience. Not because I was lonely again (I was in a relationship with him because I had been lonely and now I was in a predicament). It was painful because I knew I'd lost a friend, but it was also a relief because I knew I'd made the right choice. It was a struggle because I had to challenge myself daily to change my thought process from a huntress, preying around ready to pounce on the first guy that noticed me, to a content, blessed single woman filled with Christ, surrendered to His plan with reckless abandon. 

I loved the picture Leslie Ludy paints in her book Sacred Singleness. Like Leslie, I grew up in church praising Jesus and singing songs about Him being my all in all. But never did I really accept the concept readily as a reality that I needed to pursue.

However, Sunday was when everything came full circle. In honesty, even up until that moment in the car did I not consider that God could actually satisfy my heart. All the songs about Him being my all in all sounded good, but they only sounded like spiritual babble that was good in theory, but not in actuality. In those moments of learning about God being my all in all, I'd usually feel like Billy on Polar Express who, before really experiencing the miracle of Christmas:

Billy: Christmas just doesn't work out for me. Never has.

In reality, I was a lot like Billy. Except, I believed wholeheartedly in Christmas, but seriously doubted the power of God. Before that moment in the car, I had always been repulsed by the idea of being single and alone. But in that car, God had me pinned. There He showed himself to me; to the point where I really had to stop and examine my past, present, and future motives. What was I living for? Was I willing to let God become my all in all? But most importantly, which is what I found to be an amazing coincidence that Leslie Ludy had put into words what I had been feeling in the car that Sunday night "Is not the One who had given everything for me worthy of everything I could offer Him?



I had attempted this before back in May. But not with a fully committed heart. Yet, this time I knew I needed to change my heart, my direction, my focus, and surrender to the foot of the Cross. Yeah, that night I surrendered my dreams of marriage and a family to God. I gave those hopes and dreams to him, much like Mary of Bethany did when she broke her Alabaster Box of precious ointment at Jesus' feet (John 12:1-3). She sacrificed the one thing that was most precious to her, recklessly abandoning her own wants and desires for God's perfect plan. 

I knew in my heart-and readily accept it now with joy and pride-that surrendering that which I have focused on for so long to the Lord doesn't mean that God keep from me those dreams and desires, but until that time when He is ready to fulfill those dreams, my focus is on Him alone-serving, worshiping, evangelizing, praying, and loving the One who gave His all. 

Last Sunday, I decided to forsake it all for the sake of my Father. It's not been an easy week. I have been having to refocus my thoughts and actions from thinking about guys and how I can be the most attractive to them, to wanting to be the most attractive inwardly to God and thinking of ways I can serve Him, please Him, love Him. 

It's a beautiful time of surrender. And I am uber excited about the ways in which God will reveal Himself to me in 2015. I look forward to see what God does in my season of singleness and where He will lead me! In the words of Bilbo:
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
But as Chris Tomlin says in his song I Will Follow
Where you go, I'll go | Where you stay, I'll stay | When you move, I'll move | I will follow you
And with that, I take my leave. I am ready to do life BIG!

Mission Trip 2015 {need prayers}

November 29, 2014

Ah, the life of a Starbucks addict. So much so that I have to put my Starbucks fund on a separate card-so that when I run out, I am DONE. No more spending, no more Starbucks. I am trying to do the Dave Ramsey thing here. Finances are short and I am evidently trying to put money aside for savings and my trip to France in July. (Yes, you heard right! FRANCE). 

I am actually going to France with my church to do VBS. Did you know that LESS than 2% of French people know Christ? Saddening statistics.
There is a great need for people to share their faith with the French. Less than 2% of the French population is Christian, and in some cases, there are major consequences for accepting Christ. This annual trip provides a week long VBS camp for local children that includes bible study, crafts, worship, games, and the message of Jesus Christ. Each year we see the lives of children and their parents radically changed for the gospel!-Long Hollow
At first I was planning on going to Haiti. However, as I continued to pray and pray about this opportunity to reach the lost with the love of Christ, I was led to the France Mission Trip. I would love to be able to raise all the money needed (about $3500) before July 3rd. I would like to ask for your support in funding my trip, but mostly in prayers as I believe that God will take care of my financial and spiritual needs in order to go on this mission trip to France. 

I am not only praying for donations, but for much needed prayer and encouragement, as this is my first trip overseas. And since I'd prefer to use my talents to support my fund, I have set up shop at Storenvy where I am selling Vintage/Chic items as well as crochet items and miscellaneous items. This shop is also set up to accept $10, $20, $50, and $100 donations. {If you'd like to head on over to the shop, click the picture below. Or click HERE}. 


 Lastly, I would like to provide you an excerpt about my and my vision and calling for this trip to France. {Feel free to read. I know it's lengthy}. 

I am Emily Kirk- a 20-something Christ-follower whose random ways lead her on great adventures and chance encounters with some very awesome, and not-so-awesome people. I am a Starbucks addict, part-time college student (yay, Vol State!), and a full-time preschool teacher! I am a photographer, crocheter, embroiderer, sister, daughter, and friend. 
I have never been on a mission trip. I have never had the desire-regardless of the pestering prayers for God to lead me on that path. Instead of doing missions abroad-or even somewhere else in the U.S-God chose to stick me in the path of people's lives right here in good 'ole Middle Tennessee. Here I have met incredible people who have blessed me tremendously. Some have made my heart happy, and others my heart very heavy. Regardless the situation, or the person, I have seen how God uses simple acts of kindness to plant a seed in the hearts of people-regardless their position in life, or spiritual readiness. 
While working with the elderly and the very young have been my beautiful lot in life and place of service, I have felt a shift in my heart-to take my love for Christ global. Recently, I was doing my daily devotional (which is basically a random encounter-sometimes-with whatever verse(s) God should lay upon my heart to study). And lately Matthew 25:40 has been pressed heavily on my heart. 
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
As I read this-over and over again-I feel like Jonah. Scared to go into the unknown for fear of the unknown. I know not whether to run and hide, or stand tall and face this fear head on. 2 Timothy 1:7 states clearly that God has not given us a spitit of fear, but "gives us power, love, and self-discipline". Whoa. So with that, I believe God has called me to stand tall and forge on with a hardy faith and a spirit of love. And so I shall.
Even though I can hardly believe I am doing this, I can almost see it now-the potential to change lives-to share my passion and zeal for the Lord to those who are the least of these. Jesus calls us all to make a difference in the world. And even though I am but one person, I have a change to make a huge impact on someone's life! To inspire them to greatness; to lead them to the King that I so lovingly serve. 
I am overwhelmed by the unfolding journey that God has called me to partake in; to go on a Mission Trip overseas with Long Hollow Baptist Church. To serve alongside fellow Chrisitans in spreading the perfect Word of God!
I am excited for what God has in store for me in 2015-one of them being in the mission field. I think it pure joy to be given a chance to serve others, and love on others the way Christ has loved me. 
My heart is ready for whatever may come. I am ready and willing to follow wherever He may lead. And I am ready to love on the lost!
My hope, is that God will use my passions and talents to love those in need, as well as fuel their hearts with an exuberance for life and the Lord, Jesus Christ! Because, after all, God says to "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples".-Psalm 96:3
So, with that, God has called my to do life BIG. And that's my plan! God came to give me life...it's time to spread my wings and fly...and without fear, I am going to do life BIG. :)
With much love and thanks, EmilyGod bless!! :)



// Behind every "no" is a better "yes"

November 28, 2014

It's me! Yeah, here I am again. What's new, you ask? Oh, I celebrated Turkey Day 2014. It was a blast. SO MUCH FOOD! Unbelievable. I have decided and prayed heavily for God to lead me towards a Mission Trip for 2015. And guess where....France!!! My church is going to go to France and do a week and a half of VBS for kids who have yet to know God's love. Incredible, right!? Yeah, I know! I am excited and know God will ultimately provide. 

Anyhow, today I wanted to come to you guys and share something with you that's been on my heart for the longest time. Some of you know that my first and only boyfriend broke up with me in September of 2013. No worries, I am over the heartbreak. All is forgiven. But my feelings, I must confess, are still alive as ever. (Did I mention he goes to my church now-a-days?). 

Yeah, awkward! 

Nah, just a little uncomfortable, but he keeps his distance (which sometimes drives me crazy), but if he didn't keep his distance, I'd be liable to kiss him. Lord knows I am over the heartbreak, but nowhere near over him. Well, to be honest, it's made seeing him so hard to bear. I'll be open here and just say that I want him back. I know, I know. I should look forward and give up on these notions that we're "meant to be". Yada-yada. But a part of me had felt extremely hopeful since we parted ways. I have prayed for these feelings to GO AWAY. But a part of me still hopes. I have been mad at God for not taking my feelings and ripping them to shreds. I pray that these hopes and feelings of certainty disappear, because I really don't want to fool myself into thinking I am still in LOVE. (Even though I can still hear his voice clearly, smell his cologne perfectly, and feel for him deeply). Oh, the craziness!

Anyhow, the message from this past Sunday really spoke to me. It gave me hope and a reason to break my Alabaster Box (Mk. 14:3-9) at the feet of Jesus and surrender all to Him. Sunday was a bitter sweet day to hear a strong and powerful message. So much sorrow flowed through the church, but there was so much joy and peace that it was an indescribable and irresistible time to worship as each was called.  

The speaker was incredible. His relation to Pastor David was touching and mind blowing. You see, our pastor had been a part of our church for seventeen years! And this Sunday speaker was the one who introduced Long Hollow's pastor to the congregation. It was amazing to see how the speaker tied in the past troubles of the church to Matthew 14:22-33 as an illustration to what it means to trust that God knows best. I needed that message. It's surprising to me how much I needed it, because I didn't realize all the emotions and pent up frustration had been holding inside of me towards God. Maybe I feel a sense of entitlement (yeah, I guess you could say that) that I have worked so hard to please God that He should be more apt to want to answer my prayers-the way I want them answered. 

Being single, as I will use this as my illustration (since church problems are seldom understandable), is (as I say) tough. It's difficult. And I sometimes hate the idea of being single when so many girls have someone by their side. I get frustrated by it. I get mad at God for it. And I become resentful, envious, and angry. I become mellow-dramatic and can get fairly Bipolar in regards to wanting something that God just won't give me, pronto. And thus, you now know why I needed the sermon.

Well, to start you off, as I mentioned we were in Matthew 14:22-33. It is an amazing passage if you give the time to study it in depth. It definitely gave me different things to think about, for sure. And it was neat to see the whole passage play out to the glory of God! Whoa. Here's a few things I noticed during the sermon over the passage: 

  1. God told His followers to get on the boat. He didn't ask them, He ordered them.
  2. God knew there was going to be a storm that night. He knew the disciples would encounter that storm. And He knew they'd be out that night struggling 'til 3 A.M to fight the waves and the wind to get to the opposite side of the sea (which, in reality was more like a lake). 
  3. It is referenced in Mark (v. 6:48) that God was intending to pass them [the disciples] by as He walked on the water towards the boat. It struck a cord in my that spoke numbers to my heart: that, like Peter, it's our choice whether to go out in the storm, face it head-on, and meet Jesus in the middle, or, to let the opportunity to be blessed "pass" us by.
In essence-God allows storms to come (knowing full well they're coming and He's sending you their direction) to redirect us. And in my position, while I feel in my heart there's hope for my future, right now I am having to learn that I'm not always going to get what I want NOW, or even LATER. Sometimes God simply says no to us because He wants us to struggle for a time, to get stronger, more independent, and more reliant and depended on Him, not man! Behind every "no" is a better "yes". While I have no clue what that better "yes" looks like, I simply pray to hope that my feelings are from Him and not a hope placed in selfish desires and of man. 

Like I said, God spoke to me. He didn't say "He's coming"; "You're feelings are right"; "Just wait and see". No. He said to me "seize the moment to serve me during this time of singleness"; "take this chance to know Me"; "allow me to do good works in you!" God wants me to seize the moment and not let Him pass me by. There are so many blessings that God has in store for me, but like anyone, I must pay attention to the details, because sometimes those blessings are not big and obvious. Sometimes they're subtle but the most impactful. 

LORD,

I AM PRAYING FOR PEACE. FOR FAITH TO TAKE HOLD AND CARRY ME THROUGH THESE YEARS KNOWING YOU HAVE A PURPOSE FOR EVERY BREATH I BREATHE. I WANT TO SEIZE THE MOMENT. I WANT TO TRUST IN YOU WITH MY LIFE THAT WHAT YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR ME IS GOING TO WORK TO FRUITION AS YOU PROMISE IN PHILIPPIANS. I WANT TO DO LIFE BIG AND DO IT WELL. SUPPLY ME WITH COURAGE AND STRENGTH, LORD. BEING SINGLE HURTS. BUT WANTING SOMEONE I CANNOT HAVE HURTS MORE. GIVE ME REST IN YOU. GIVE MY HEART PEACE AND HELP ME TO FOCUS ON WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT-YOU. 

AMEN

// rest in peace Pastor David

November 21, 2014

It was Tuesday morning. Bright and early. I didn't think anything of it, checking my Facebook page and all. Just another work-day. Another day of wishing I were anywhere but at work, working as I always do. It wasn't what I was expecting. It wasn't what I had prepared for that morning as I ate my cereal, put on my coat and grabbed my Starbucks. The news on the web was disheartening. Saddening. It was not the kind of news one wants to hear about at 7:20 A.M. I sat in my car and cried. Barely able to process the news I had just come to know. My pastor had passed. He had been battling cancer and had finally won the fight. He had been called home to glory and was rejoicing with his Heavenly Father, basking in love at the feet of the Almighty. 

My Pastor was the pastor of a mega church. But he was certainly a humble individual with such a heart for people! I only ever met him once, but that one time impacted me. It was humbling in itself to meet such a joyful man of God! I remember bumping into him (as I have an occasion to do to people). He was just coming off the stage after service talking to a couple from the church. Not paying the slightest attention to where I was going, I knocked into him. Of course, I was in shock to find out that I had almost taken out the Pastor of Long Hollow. But was immediately reassured that he was fine, no harm done. But that he was, instead, very happy to have had the pleasure to meet me. 

It was a solidifying moment that made it certain to me that Long Hollow was my forever home. If the Pastor was such a gentle spirit after practically being plowed down, then I was certain this was the place I belonged. In a church accepting of the body of believers, and even more loving and caring for those who walked in unsure of where they stood-looking for something to rekindle their hope, spark their faith, and propel them to a greater love than is humanly possible. Pastor David certainly had that vision. And as an individual lived out what he preached. 


Pastor David was an extraordinary man. Even up to his final days of being called home, he got up on that stage and preached every Sunday not giving up on what he loved most-The Gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says,
 "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day." 
David was always so joyful and never lost hope in our God. His spirit was being renewed day by day. We have this hope and it is an anchor for our souls.
"We don't grieve like the world grieves. We grieve, but not without hope." -David Landrith
He was a man filled with the spirit. Of faith. Of hope. Of love. Of LIFE! Oh, to be half the servant of Christ as he was would be my ultimate prayer. He led a good life. And left an amazing legacy. You'll be forever missed. You've won the battle, Pastor. I am rejoicing with Angels on your victory over cancer. Hallelujah! 

// dear teenaged self

November 16, 2014

Ah. I remember Christmas of 2009 like it was yesterday. Okay. Not really. Actually, I barely remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, so...I really have no clue what Christmas of 2009 was like, except for the pictures. 



Sorry, my dear! I had to embarrass you somehow! Just think, though, in 2009 you were seventeen. Holy cow! I bet you don't even know how special you are. Probably don't even realize that one day you're gonna experience the worst times of your life, accompanied by many of the best. Hang in there, girl! I am gonna give you a heads up on this so-called LIFE you're about to encounter. Buckle your seat belt. You're gonna want to hang on, because I promise you're gonna be BLOWN away!

Y O U R   N A M E 

Hey, Emily. Do you know what your name means? Have you ever stopped to actually look the meaning up? What does it say about you? In the Urban Dictionary it states that:
She is the most beautiful person in the world. Often referred to as a Goddess. Has eyes that one can easily get lost in. A great friend that cares about people and makes the world a better place. Easy to love, too. 
Apparently, my dear. You're HOT stuff. Okay, I won't embarrass you. I'll stop poking at you for the fun of it. But, seriously! Have you ever thought about what the name EMILY means? Apparently, other people have. Other people know something about you that you never would have guessed. And, here's the kicker, it's all TRUE. 

For a more accurate depiction of the name, it has Teutonic (meaning "hard working") + English (meaning "rival") roots. Also, the German+French+Latin roots to your name mean "industrious". 

From my own experience, little one, the name Emily means far more than what was stated above (we'll get to that in a moment), but first let me tell you some of the things I have learned about being an Emily.
We tend to take the initiative. To be leaders rather than followers. And we have powerful personalities. We tend to be focused on specific goals. Experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. We tend to be (in spurts) courageous and sometimes aggressive. We are unique, creative individuals. And we tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient.
There you have it, love. That's us in a human nutshell. We're imperfect. Impatient. Rivals. And focused. (Sometimes). However, that's not what I want you to wholly get out of this. I want you to know the deeper meaning behind your name, behind the person you are becoming. 

W H O   I S   E M I L Y ?

I wonder. Has anyone ever asked you this question? Who are you, Emily? What is it that makes you unique and one-of-a-kind? Aside from the apparent, answer: JESUS, what are your likes and dislikes? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? Angry? Favorite foods? Movies? Places to visit? Books? Colors? 

Here's what I have learned about US:
You are unique in the songs that you sing.  Meaning, you're a long way from being perfect, but still very much our own person. You are you because you are very sensitive to people's needs. Don't try to hide this. Period. It's a strength. You are simple, but very complex. You're favorite flavor of gum is Spearmint. You're favorite color is a toss between yellow, green, and blue (always has been). You're favorite movie has consistently been Lord of the Rings and The Patriot; and more recently, The Hobbit Trilogy. You're favorite book, by far, is Last of the Mohicans (because you have a crush on Hawkeye). And you adore Pizza, mint ice cream, peanut butter fudge, and cherry Twizzlers. 
Nature makes you happy. So do Starbucks Frappuccinos, blueberry-anything, long walks (no kidding!), cats, photography and blogging. You have a way with capturing the moment with your camera and a way with capturing hearts with your words. You are wise beyond your years. You are braver than you think. Stronger than you may seem. But have many fears that betray you. Don't give up! Fight!
Injustice makes you angry. You are a black and white thinker, so this comes as no surprise.  You are all about fairness. And getting credit where it's due. But crazy as it may seem, you are also very introverted, with a dash of extroversion that is your confidence trying to bloom (let it!).
Emily, apparently you are a very lucky girl to have so many blessings and aspirations in life. You have a heart overflowing in love and kindness. And one day someone is going to be mighty lucky to call you theirs. Which brings me to my next point. 

THE WORLD OF DATING

Oh, boy. Where do I even begin? 

Want a piece of advice? Don't ever listen to your counselor about online dating. It's a cruel thing to convince someone to partake of, and you'll only come away empty handed with a hamburger heart. So, just a word of caution, leave online dating well alone and continue to be content in being single. Because, trust me, you're first boyfriend will break your heart, and you'll just struggle afterwards because all other guys do not compare to his looks or his personality. 

However, since you have never dated, let me inform you on the ways of this foreign thing called dating. It's fun, sure. You get a few free means, maybe see a cute movie, and have some ice cream. But the reality of dating, unless you are serious about finding your spouse, is that its one big game of dodge ball. You either get hit by the love-bug and are set for life, or, get hit by heartache and get knocked down (and it takes a while to get back up again). Especially for you, dear. You are so tenderhearted. And the rejection, well, it really crushes you in the end. 

My dear, because you decide to follow your counselor's advice, you will have dated several guys from the age of twenty to the age of twenty-one. You'll only have had one boyfriend, and the rest you'll fine are duds that you willingly, but regrettably, go out with due to your desperation to find love. Don't be desperate. I will be honest and tell you that after your relationship with your boyfriend ends, you're going to struggle. You're going to feel lost. You're heart is going to ache. And you are going to be very discontent with the single life. I am saying this because I am still struggling with some of those things! 

However, I will say this: not all of those things are bad. Struggle is good. It will teach you perseverance. And heartache, while it doesn't feel good, will be your best friend during this season of singleness. Not in a bad way, I assure you! This aching will serve to help you keep your dreams and desires alive. And as you grow closer to the Lord (which you will), dating will become less, you'll become filled with an original, precious, holy love that will flood your heart and create a sense of peace that you've never known before. During this time you will grow closer to your family, to your friends. And during this season, you will also grow content in this season. You will start to love being single and embrace the freedom you have to serve Christ and love others without distraction from a significant other. 

Emily, I wish we had skipped the dating scene like we'd planned. But, I am glad we didn't. Instead of being a hermit for the rest of your life, you will be awakened to a desire to be loved, cared for, and to captivate. I can honestly say that this season of singleness I would never have been able to experience if it weren't God's way of telling me that He has something/someone better in store! If it weren't for this season of aching and desiring, I wouldn't have had the chance to grow and know God's heart. And I definitely would not have guessed the lessons He would teach me along the way about my identity in Him! Are yo ready to be BLOWN away?

YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST

Emily, I am writing this letter in pieces. Lots of little pieces. One, because writing all this in one segment is exhausting. And two, because as I write all that's going on in my head (that I want to say to you), I either get distracted by those thoughts, or become overwhelmed by the things I am continually learning as I write this letter to you. My dear, there is something wildly intoxicating about you. You have a fire within you driven by a fear of merely existing. Driven by a desire to love and leave a lasting and impactful legacy. You didn't know any of this at the age of seventeen, but you do now! You didn't feel this way at such a young age, but as you've grown closer to God, you have developed these things with time and perseverance. And as you continue to grow closer to the Lord (as I can assure you that you are!), I want to share with you a few things that I have learned that will hopefully help you help me in the long run. 

Dear one, the matters of a woman's heart are tricky. Any man will tell you that, but most women won't admit to this. It's true. You are complicated. To a fault. And sometimes (as in the words of Tammy Wynette) "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman". But blessed you are to be a complicated creature! Want to know why? All your life you have felt invisible-unseen by those who are closest to you. You've felt unsought- as though no one cares to pursue you. And uncertain-of what it even means to be a woman. Let me tell you something, love! While I can vouch for the legitimacy of these feelings, you have the choice to let them overcome you, or for you to overcome them. Which will you choose? At first your choice was destructive. Deadly. I encourage you to go another path. Choose God! Not food!

Because of your longing to belong and be loved on a deeper level, you caged yourself in, downplayed your emotions until they were so numb you could barely even breathe. And then...all at once, these emotions came to life and exploded. Bringing you down with them. You could have chosen a different path, but you didn't. You decided to control your future, your body, your experiences by the way of food-very little of it. And while it hasn't caused you any long-lasting aftereffects, it did do one thing (that may not have happened quite so magically as it came to pass)...it brought you closer to God. 

You see, during your struggle with food, and all those emotions that had you like a caged bird, you learned what it was to have the heart of a woman. To have an identity so enmeshed in Christ that people must seek Him first to know you. But why? Because God is the core of who you are. He is the source of all your creativity, courage, and convictions. I mean, just think about it- "Your feminine heart as been created with the greatest of all possible dignities-as a reflection of God's own heart" (Captivating, 8). Whoa. 

In addition to that, you will also learn your value is in God...not man. You may not get it now, but I want you to be ready for it: Satin is going to attack you left and right because of your faith. I want you to know why: because you are the crescendo of creation, the final work of God. THE CROWN OF CREATION. And you hold so much power within you that it scares the heck out of the devil. 

You're beautiful soul matters. It's a powerful thing, beauty. Wield it with great care and accuracy. For good, never evil. It speaks. It inspires. It transcends. It invites. It nourishes. It comforts. Your womanhood is only the beginning of who God is, but it speaks to his feminine side-which is full of grace, mercy, love, and care.   

ON BECOMING YOU 

You have so much to learn. About life. About God. About guys. About dating. About expression. About living. Just living. Living every single day to the fullest. If you can manage to live your life well lived, using your precious time to further the Kingdom of God, then you'll do just fine.

I will say this. You haven't always been good at LIVING. You used to merely exist. However, I want you to start living NOW before you waste any more time. God doesn't want you wasting what He gave you on wishing, hoping, and waiting. Go. Move. Breathe. Live!

I remember reading the last chapter of Paper Dolls thinking, "Whoa. What an amazing depiction of the way a girl feels. I sure do feel that way a LOT. The Samaritan Woman was loved by God regardless of who she was and who society claimed her to be. She's beautiful. Different. Alive. A paper heart coming to life." 

Emily, look here, see. There's more to becoming you than getting through your teen years, overcoming your awkwardness, and successfully defeating that blasted acne. You are more than what and who the world defines you as. You're smart. I mean, you're going to college to become a teacher for crying out loud! That takes courage and smarts. You're also a preschool teacher. Dang, girl! Brave soul. But through these things, you are recovering from heartbreak and returning to a love that is alive and and like water! You're encouraged to love. To live. To think. To become. To wish. To hope. To believe. 

Take time, Emily, to take advantage of your alone time with the Lord. Build your prayer life. Get rooted in His unchanging word. Live life based on how God views you, not the world. Stand strong in His mercy and forgiveness, for He has covered all your sins! Strive to be authentic in your relationship with God. Reach out to your community and share the love of God!Live a life of true, intimate worship. Show evidence of God's love in your relationships. Trust God's timing-in everything. And GET OVER yourself and out into the community, and world, and show them what love really means. 

All-in-all Emily, I say you've done a good job at becoming you. But if you follow my tips and stay authentic and yourself, the rest of your young adult years won't be so bad. And one more thing....I mean it when I say DON"T DATE. Just let God control that area of your life. Most guys are duds, anyway!

// i am in shock

November 6, 2014

I have felt so discouraged for the past several weeks. (I am not anymore). But during that time of "despair", I was enlightened. Firstly, through this amazing video I ran across online (which is uber cute!). When I watched it for the first time (I ended up watching it three more times afterwards), I cried. It is basically a video of what my heart cries for from my mighty God to bring into my life. A man that loves me so passionately that he'd be willing to move mountains to be with me and show me his undying love. At first it made me jealous. But then, during the second and third time watching this video, God began to transform my selfish heart into a heart beating with dreams and hope for this to one day be my story of a sweeter song. It became a story of encouragement, rather than a story that showed me what I DIDN'T have. You have to watch this. Guys, take note. Girls, have a box of tissues ready! Here, have a look for yourselves!!!!!


And secondly, through a mighty BIG God. Have I told you lately just how mighty our God is? I mean, He's a pretty BIG deal. Incredibly awesome. Totally cool. 


Here's the gist....

So, Fridays are basically another mundane day in the life of yours truly: another day to work, sleep, work, study, work,wait, work,wait,wait, and wait some more. Can I let you in on a little secret? I cry sometimes. 

Yeah. I do. 

And it's usually over having to wait-while seeing other girls (yes, girls-who are not even women yet!) that are younger than myself get engaged and married. I get so discouraged when it seems like everyone is moving ahead, while I am stuck in the "warped" reality of this crazy, endless cycle of work, eat, sleep, wait; repeat.


I am the caboose. 

I am the end of the line. 

Still waiting. 

Forever alone. 

What's the point?

I could easily succumb to this thought process. Again and again. Over and over. Lather, rinse, repeat. I'm only twenty-one, almost twenty-two! People tell me that I have time. And...I do. But to see everyone I know grow up, get married and leave me behind makes me feel strange. Strange, as in, they must be better people and more deserving of love


I want to believe that through all of this my desires are for realz. Waiting on God has proven to be a difficult task. There's a LOT of aching involved. A lot of RISK. Which often leaves me wondering: If I wait on God will He lead me to the one, or will I be, literally, forever alone? I don't want all of this aching to be for nothing. I want God to craft my soul into a display of splendor! Truly radiant. I want my journey in seeking after God to not assuage (awesome word!) my desire to be married, but to DEEPEN it!



Sometimes it's all too much to bear. But, even through the aching I want God to make me heart a beautiful one. Truth be told, I am in doubt that God will ever bring me by Boaz; but I feel that there is wonder at work in my heart. A story that God is slowly unfolding-a story that is a holy one. A story that is LOVE. And while it seems impossible to do, I want-no, need-to stay awake to my hurting and doubting heart. I love this quote by Staci Eldredge (I would seriously have a fan-girl moment if I were to ever meet her!) that struck my heart hard today. 



WE WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AS LONG AS WE ARE TRYING TO LIVE APART FROM OURSELVES OR IN DISREGARD OF OURSELVES, OUR HEARTS, OUR DESIRES, OUR ACHE.

I desire to be a woman who is thankful for how God has made me, trusts that He is transforming me, and actually enjoys who I am. God loves me; I should too! I just need to hold on to His many promises, such as Matthew 6:33.

SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU
Obviously God will bless those who seek Him. Who flee to Him. Who cling to Him tightly. I love that, in this huge world, we are not alone. That you and I are not by ourselves. EVER. The beauty of being protected is that God also promises that He will, as told in Hebrews 13:5: 
NEVER LEAVE [US], NEVER WILL I FORSAKE YOU.
...And...
GOD IS WITHIN HER, SHE WILL NOT FEAR; GOD WILL HELP HER AT BREAK OF DAY (Ps. 46:5).
Ladies, I am gonna leave it at that. How truly blessed we are to have a mighty God!!!!!