Less of Me. More of Him.

This morning I was looking through old journals from this summer and I stumbled across something I wrote in August that I shared on an old blog of mine, A Ray of Sunshine …as I read through my own words I felt like I was being reminded of the the sweet, carefree, and joyous spirit that I had this last summer. I miss that girl. I miss her adventurous spirit and her desire to submit to whatever the Lord has planned for her. I miss her constant laughter, her infectious smile, and her constant joy in even the simplest things.

I think through stressing out about jobs, money, and life in general, I have lost sight of that girl and all that she embodies. The crazy thing is, last summer was the most unstable and uncertain season I have ever experienced….and I’m not talking about the weather here people. I was unsure about jobs, my future, school, living situations, and so so so much more….but because of this, I clung to the Lord in a way that I never had before. Because of this, I was drawn so close to him and I was blessed with a truly amazing summer. My heart was so full of joy, love, and contentment.

But as the last days of summer dripped away like a melting ice cream cone, so did this joyous girl I once knew.

And now here I am, longing for more….but more of what? More adventures? More opportunities? More money? More clothes? I’ve discovered that none of that will do. In order to find that girl again, I must find less…less of me; less worry, less doubt, less discontentment, less anxiety, less criticism, less materialism, less control. It is when I find less of these things and more of Jesus that life falls into place according to HIS purpose instead of my own…and that is a beautiful thing.

A Grateful Heart

Gratitude; Thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation. A feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

Discontentment; Absence of contentment; dissatisfaction. A restless longing for better circumstances.

These two words do not go together. In fact, they completely FIGHT and contradict each other. We’re talking a full on brawl…chairs flying, windows breaking, people screaming….ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But, what I’m really trying to get at is that there is seriously only room for one of these in our lives. You just CAN’T have both. Much easier said than done.

 I totally find this to be one of my biggest struggles. While it’s good to want more for our lives, we can reach a certain level of dissatisfaction and discontentment where it’s as if nothing and no one will ever satisfy that craving we have for more, more, more. We end up really losing sight of all that we have to be grateful for. (Side note: I say “we” but I am truly just talking about myself in hopes that some of you may share the same struggles…)

Earlier today, I was on the phone with my Mom, talking, venting, and complaining to her (the usual) and being the sweet, loving, and patient parent she is, she listened. But, not without her two cents of wisdom, which Mom, you know I don’t always like it, but THANK YOU. Thank you for always putting things into perspective for me and reminding me to count my blessings. So that’s what I’m doing…she told me to make a list of all the things I am grateful for, so you win Mom. Here it is:

My amazing family. My sweet friends. My loving church. My home. Jesus. A healthy body. Coffee. Music. Books. Food. Education. My job. The beach. Sunshine. Surfing. Running. Hiking. Shoes. Clothes. Heat. My car. Computers. Phone calls. Emails. Communication. Sunsets. Sunrises. My crazy cat. My bike with bad brakes. Love, life, and happiness.

Here’s the thing: this list could go on FOREVER. I have so much to be grateful for, I could go on for days, literally days. But the thing is, none of it will ever leave me feeling the sense of fulfillment that I SO strongly desire. Over the last year, God has revealed some pretty crazy stuff to me and I have had my heart torn open, bent in half, and twisted around in a jumbled up mess. It hasn’t been easy, but WOW my heart has transformed in the best way possible.

See, here’s the secret….God is the ONLY THING that will EVER leave me satisfied, content, and fulfilled. Crazy, right!? No other job, guy, hobby, no person, place or thing will ever leave me feeling completely 100% satisfied because the only one true thing that can and always will leave my heart content and fulfilled, is God. Truth BOMB. When I first heard this I literally freaked out, like as in my whole world came crashing in around me as I finally realized how true this statement really was. Crazy how a few sentences like that can seriously change your life.

I’ll be honest, this is still really hard for me to remind myself of each day. I’ll catch myself feeling discontent with the small details of life and I can get so wrapped up in it that I lose sight of the bigger picture. But, it’s a learning process, it’s a growing process, it’s something that God’s grace has been SO apparent in within my life.

Moral of the story: gratitude + discontentment….they just don’t work together. Look to the cross and remember that Jesus is truly the only thing that fills our hearts with endless joy, gratitude, and contentment.

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A Ray of Light

There are certain people in this world who absolutely radiate light. After spending the last week feeling pretty low, yesterday I got to spend the afternoon with my dear friend, Brooke. This girl completely embodies the beauty and love of Christ in all that she does. Whether she is snapping pictures for her up and coming photography business, Poeima Photography, or just spending time with friends, Brooke’s desire to further the kingdom of God is apparent in all that she does. I feel so blessed to know this lovely lady and I am so excited to see God using her in incredible ways in this world. Check out her work below and prepared to be absolutely STUNNED by her ability to capture each moment perfectly.

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Finding Joy…(even in hard times)

Life has been really hard lately. I’ve found myself in one of those lulls where all I want to do is curl up in a cozy blanket, eat cupcakes, and feel sorry for myself. YEP…I’ll be honest, it’s been on of those kinds of weeks.

A few weeks ago, I started this blog with The Joy of Sharing, where I shared my hearts greatest desire to share my life with others and spread light into the lives of those around me. But, after feeling sorry for myself all week and consuming copious amounts of coffee and chocolate,  I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good by sharing only the good parts of life. Reality check: everyone has struggles.  I realized that I am not meant to share only the good parts of life, but also these struggles.

The other day a good friend shared a verse with me that opened my eyes and put everything I was going through into a better perspective.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” — Romans 5:3-5

I read this and my heart was completely undone. God is challenging me because He loves me. The circumstances of my day, my week, my month, my life will never outweigh God’s love for me. He is the only thing constant, unchanging, and never-ending, and it is Jesus alone that will satisfy my every need, want, and desire. I am designed to find contentment and fulfillment through God alone.

So, I admit it…finding joy in times of darkness is really hard. And I confess, I can often find myself consumed by the darkness around me and the circumstances of my day. But, when I look to the cross, I am blinded by the glorious light of Christ and I find my heart overwhelmed with pure joy.

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Mondays…

5am is my least favorite part of Mondays. With my alarm buzzing away in my ears, I am forced to drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed and face the day in a permanently under heated apartment. Through halfway closed eyes I stumble to the kitchen in a sleepy daze repeating to myself…”need. coffee. now.” Glamourous, huh? Everyone thinks I’m a total morning person…which I completely am, but catch me on a Monday before I’ve had my coffee and you will see a whole new side.

Mondays…ugh, right? What if I told you I actually love Mondays. It’s okay if you think that’s weird…because I even think it’s weird. Maybe I don’t enjoy the 5am wakeup call, but Mondays are probably my favorite day of the week. A fresh start, a new week, what’s not to love? Now I get it, Mondays usually mean “back to the grind” for most, but I feel like Mondays set the tone for your whole week. I mean, if you catch a bad case of the Mondays, your Tuesday probably won’t be too great either, and chances are if your Tuesday wasn’t very good, Wednesday isn’t looking too hot either….seeing a trend here?

What if we all made a commitment to make Monday our best day….couldn’t that change everything? Maybe this is crazy, maybe we’re all just wired to truly dread Mondays. BUT, try it….see what happens. Set a goal, buy yourself a coffee, run an extra mile, eat a donut, buy a new book, take the long way home…anything to make YOU find a little more joy in Monday.

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