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. 

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. 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!