In the Meantime

IMG_8468.JPG

For as long as I can remember, my least favorite day of the year has been the end of the Christmas season, when all the decorations come down and the house goes back to “normal.” I tend to not get super hyped about Ordinary Time, but I just returned from Mexico City, where I started thinking of “normal” in a different light.

I was struck at how similar my mission week was to normal life. Instead of being able to leave my phone and laptop at home, I still had people to email, lessons to plan, and work to do throughout the week. Even the encounters with my friends in the garbage dump were strikingly normal. I found out my 10 year old best friend loves the movie Hotel Transylvania and saw her little sister dressed up in a princess gown. We talked and joked and were serious, just like I would with my little sister or a kid I babysit back home. My reflections climaxed one day on mission when I started feeling sick after arriving at the garbage dump. A fellow team member prayed over me for healing, and then he encouraged me: “But in the meantime, don’t waste your suffering.” There is so much to be said about choosing to not waste our suffering (that will have to wait for another post!) but what really captured me was that first phrase, “in the meantime.”

We live our lives in the meantime. We know that we are en route to our eternal home, but how often do we disregard the meantime, living for the big experiences and considering the “normal” to be devoid of value? There are certainly times when I look at my well-planned out day, subconsciously think, “Ok. Just a normal day. I got this,” and proceed to go through school and work on autopilot for the simple fact that I anticipate nothing out of the ordinary. Even prayer can take on a certain superficiality because I don’t feel the need to cry out to God in praise or petition.

What made “normal” different in Mexico, and what lesson do I want to take home with me? The difference was that I walked in the confidence that God’s Kingdom was alive in me and in the people I would meet that day. I knew that my intent was to allow Love - not fear or anxiety or pride - to have the final say in each decision I made. I trusted that even if I was sick, God was still a good God who was good at being God. I believed that whether He came in a mighty wind or a still, small voice, His power was present and on the move. I spent my “meantime” moments in affirming conversation with my teammates, resting in silence, or rededicating my day to God and asking Him to show me His presence where I was previously blind to it. In short, I chose to be present to the meantime rather than disregarding it while waiting for the next big moment.

We are all waiting for something - ultimately, Heaven -  but we also anticipate many different milestones in this life.  I don’t know what your “meantime” is right now - maybe you’re a second semester senior, a single woman struggling with the question of vocation, or settled into a career but wondering if there’s more. We talk about waiting a lot in Advent, but sometimes it’s harder for me to believe that God has not lost me in the Ordinary Time. But here is the truth: He has not lost you in the details. He’s not scrambling to bring something good out of that mess you deem inescapable; He has not abandoned you to your own devices.  He’s with you in the meantime; He’s the Alpha and the Omega but He’s also here in between, building His kingdom in you and around you and inviting you to help Him create something beautiful.

As we journey for several weeks in Ordinary Time, let’s spend time in the Gospels pondering the disciples, who witnessed the mighty ways Jesus manifested the Kingdom and who also lived all those daily moments in between. I firmly believe that Saints are made in the meantime. I don’t know what the apostle James the Lesser did on that random winter day of 31 A.D., or what Mary Magdalene’s first thoughts were when she woke up in the morning, but I think at the heart of a Saint is a firm conviction that Emmanuel has chosen to stay with His people and that the Spirit is always stirring within us, inviting us into the romantic and adventurous and creative Heart of the Father. What if we refused to accept a mediocre, bored existence? What if we walked into our not-so-favorite classes, our offices, or our family’s homes, rooted in the truth that the fire and spirit of our Baptism accompany us?

In John 10:10, Jesus invites us into abundant life, and I refuse to believe that His abundance is restricted to Pine Hills Camp or a mission trip in Mexico. Abundance awaits us once we let Jesus break down our neatly packaged idea of “normal,” and let Him take us up on our cry, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” And so we continue to wait in hope for all the good that is to come - be it graduation, a promotion, a relationship, healing, or ultimately, Heaven. But in the meantime, let’s show up. Let’s build His Kingdom. Let’s be revolutionaries.

For I Know the Plans I Have for You

rawpixel-211022-unsplash.jpg

Something that’s been on my mind lately (and I’m sure I’ve written about this on the BLR blog before) is the future.  A lot of you ladies reading this might be having a ton of pressure put on you to decide your whole future now, whether that pressure comes from your school, your parents, or yourself.  If you haven’t experienced this yet, you will. There’s so much pressure towards the end of high school and all throughout college to choose the right path for yourself, and I think a lot of students get so caught up in this that they feel like a failure if they don’t have it all perfectly planned out or stick to their original plan. I’m here to tell you not to worry. There are two important things I learned during my journey into adulthood that I think you high school and new college students should know: 1) no one knows what they’re doing, and 2) God’s plans are better than yours.

As a kid, most of us have the impression that adults have life all figured out. However, I just graduated from college last month and I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life. I’m not going to take the time to lay out my whole journey for you (it’d be too long), but I can tell you that my life looks nothing like I would’ve imagined in middle school, high school, or even the first two years of college. I’ve experienced things I would’ve never dreamed up on my own. I moved back to Michigan, I lived in South Korea for six months, and I became friends with people I didn’t even like at first! (Ask Elizabeth Muise…she loves to tell that story.) And after living in a house with six other women, I’ve realized we’re all just trying to swim after being tossed into adulthood. We’re still figuring things out, even if we have found our dream jobs. That’s because we’re always growing, always changing, and always becoming better. And all of this we can attribute to our devotion to the Lord.

The reason my life has become something I hadn’t imagined—something better than I could’ve imagined—is because the Lord has given me things I didn’t even know I could ask for. He’s brought me more happiness and fulfillment than I could’ve achieved on my own. And although I’m not sure where I’ll be or how much I’ll change once the end of this year rolls around, I know that it’ll be even better than it is now. All the best things in my life I can attribute to Him. As He says to us in Jeremiah 29:11, “'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” He has so many gifts to give you! He wants to form you into a better person and a better version of yourself! You just have to let Him. He will not disappoint you. Although the answer might not come right away (I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do for years now), through prayer and discernment, He’ll answer you and more. Just remember this, which we all seem to forget: He is God and you are not. The quicker you give in to that, the happier you’ll be. Good luck, ladies!

BONUS BLOG: A Call to Authenticity

vince-fleming-507013-unsplash.jpg

What has come to my attention is that the brokenness of this world lies in the harsh reality that many people simply do not know who they are. They do not know their identity, their dignity, and their worth. The shortness and fragility of this life seems to be a reminder that this is a life we are meant to skate through; a life with no depth and no meaning. This is far from the truth.

Each and every person on this planet was made to thrive, to love, to be loved, and to glorify God with every breath. As we search the hearts of those around us at school, work, and even in our faith communities, we see a common trend of covering up the most authentic version of ourselves: all the way from how we look and how we dress to how we act. All of us can name a time where we conformed to those around us. What is so sad about this is that how we conform can turn into us breaking the Perfect Lover’s heart, as one night turns into two. And two nights into three. And four. Then seven. And then it is a lifestyle. A way of life. How heartbreaking is that? How heartbreaking is it that we ignore the call for authenticity out of fear of being rejected, of feeling unloved, of no longer being included?

This is a reminder that the devil comes to steal your joy, and that he CAN be defeated. He does not want you to be happy. He does not want you to find your worth in God. Rather, he wants you to place your identity and self-worth in others. He wants you to conform. He will try to convince you to compromise your standards in hard situations. Do not worry. Your foundation lies on Jesus Christ, and in Him is found strength to defeat every single battle. Jesus is rooting for you, and His call to authenticity and way of life is something worth standing up for. In fact, it is something worth dying for. The reward is irreplaceable and incomprehensible.

I was inspired to write this when I started realizing all the lies the devil was telling me. I know that the enemy knows that I struggle to pray. Every evening and morning, when it is time for me to pray, he reminds me of the people I failed to love. He reminds me of the broken friendships and relationships in my life, and tells me that not even God is able to mend them. He reminds me that these people were my “home”, and where my identity lies. “Look how you hurt her, she doesn’t turn to God because of you,” “Look at the mess you made,” “This is hopeless,”: all disgusting lies he loves to whisper. Recognizing where he tries to mess you up is what can help you to realize where you need to call upon the Lord most; where you need to beg for his mercy.

Every soul was made for greatness. Each of us are called to be ourselves, to place our identity in Him, and thrive in His goodness. From here on out, always keep in mind that the Maker of the Universe is calling your name, cheering you on through life, and is recklessly imploring you to live a life full of joy, love, and authenticity.

A "Resolution" to Be Intentional

emma-matthews-558684-unsplash.jpg

Happy New Year!

I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of resolutions (mostly because I’m terrible at keeping them), but I do relish the idea of a “fresh start” at the beginning of a new year. While in actuality January 1st is a day no different than any other day, I find myself buoyed by emotions of hope, anticipation, and renewed zeal as I look at the span of a new calendar year before me. It’s an opportunity, really. It’s a chance to take stock of what has consumed your life in the past year and re-evaluate what you really want to consume your time, energy, and mind.

BUT I’m not going to propose a resolution to you. Resolutions are flimsy. They are grand ideas that very often don’t translate well into reality. Instead, I’m going to remind you of something: intentionality. To be intentional means to do everything with purpose. It means that there is a reason behind each decision you make and it’s not just, “because I felt like it.” We are all called to be intentional disciples in this world, which can be difficult, especially when it’s so easy to slip into autopilot.

Last Sunday at Mass, the priest mentioned autopilot (specifically at church) and I almost physically felt Jesus elbowing me in the ribs to listen up. The priest reminded the congregation that we, as Catholics, believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and yet, how often do we let our minds wander throughout the liturgy and especially as we go to receive Him? Now, I’m not saying that every time we get distracted at church we should feel terribly guilty, but that we may have a tendency to go through the motions and not really be intentional about participating. Why do we go to church? Many answers pop into my mind, but I know that the primary one is to get closer to God. And yet, so many times while I’m in church, I’m not actually trying to get closer to God - I’m watching other people in the pews, I’m thinking about lunch, I’m stressing about an event later in the week, etc.

What would happen if we started being really intentional about church? And not just about church, but about our daily prayer time, or evangelizing friends and family, or being love to our classmates or coworkers? What if we did everything with the intentional thought: “I’m doing this for you, Jesus.” How would our lives change? How would our faith change? I suspect that life would become more peaceful as we surrender everything to God, that it would become more joyful as we see His hand in everything, and that we would be able to love more freely and selflessly.

I know that it’s not easy to be intentional all the time. Sometimes autopilot kicks in when we don’t even realize it, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t switch it back off when we do. So as you gaze at your fresh, unwritten 2019 calendar or planner with all the cute little stickers and doodads, I invite you to be intentional about what you write on those pages each day. How can you invite Christ into each activity and intentionally love Him through it? What if this year was consumed by the desire to live intentionally for Christ?

Each day, and every moment within it, is a gift from God. A new year is a fresh set of 365 days - each one with a plethora of opportunities to be a revolutionary in big and small ways. Let’s keep moving the revolution of love forward by being intentional. It’s all for you, Jesus.

Mind Your Own Fitness

cyril-saulnier-250098-unsplash.jpg

Just past the end of the Advent season, right as the twelve days of Christmas close, another holiday looms. With New Year’s Day comes the Feast of the Unreasonable Expectation, the “secular” feast (or should we say famine?) day when goals are set for the new year and plans are drawn out to straighten the path towards becoming the best, mightiest, most awesome version of oneself. With much fanfare, resolutions will be shared with family, friends, and social media.

I say “secular” like this is a holiday only the heathens celebrate, but this annual tradition is carried out by many. And actually, it’s a good thing to make goals and resolutions for yourself as we begin a whole new year! Just, please, don’t let me hear you swear you’ll detox, hit the gym, do a new juice cleanse every month, and lose fifteen pounds by February. I can give you fifteen good reasons why creating such diet and fitness goals for yourself is pointless. One: humans aren’t wired to make dramatic alterations to their physique in a short period of time, because it’s not evolutionarily helpful. A saber-toothed tiger could come along and gobble you up while you’re weakened by your kale-and-sesame fast, and I would hate that.

Once, at a retreat about using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, 1 Timothy 4:8 was the basis of a talk. Paul tells Timothy that “Physical training is of some value, but holiness is valuable for all things, both the present life and the life to come.” The guy giving the talk, my friend Will, paused here to say, “Notice how Paul says, ‘physical training is of some value…’” We are, in fact, meant to maintain our bodies to glorify God, who made them. Now, Will and I are runners. In high school, cross country was practically my introduction to self-discipline, a concept that begs to be discovered rather than taught. For me, running is challenging, rewarding, and sometimes strangely cathartic. For others, it’s brutal and unnecessary. “The pounding makes my whole body hurt,” says my friend Bre. No matter your opinion about running, there are a zillion ways to work out. Go for walks, stretch daily, head to the gym if you are privy to a membership, do bodyweight exercises, Insanity workout videos (sooo hard), or ride your bike. And switch it up! Running and I have been on a break lately, and it feels good to give the ol’ upper body some attention.

It’s important to ask yourself why you work out. Are you interested only in obtaining the perfect size and shape? Then, my friend, you are missing the best benefits. Working out gets back to our roots, from the days when every task was laborious and every meal required much hunting and gathering. For many people, this is still the case, but as long as you don’t have to walk to the well twice a day for water, you should probably supplement your daily activities with exercise that honors the way your body was made to be. Indeed, it is crazy what the human body can do, and to stretch and challenge it intentionally means to partake in your very own miracle of metabolism (not to mention mentality). And, of course, it feels good to be strong. For me, physical strength makes me feel capable, energized, and inspired. I’m not #swole or anything but I can climb the stairs without wheezing, which seems appropriate for my age.

Paul was wise to connect physical training with spiritual discipline, because the two can go hand-in-hand. If your mind is trained to keep your body disciplined at exercise, it will also know that much more what discipline is like for your spirit.

How Good God Is

jason-blackeye-201795-unsplash.jpg

I was recently reminded of a powerful characteristic of God I definitely haven’t acknowledged enough — how GOOD He is!

A few weeks ago, as a leader of my school’s junior class Kairos retreat, I watched high school juniors I’d been praying and loving for years encounter Jesus in an incredible way. I have never seen so many people crack open the doors to their hearts and allow Jesus to burst through that opening. All around me, people I’d poured out my time and heart for were standing up and thanking God for Himself. I was speechless. They saw the light, and despite some of them barely understanding what it is, they knew there was something MORE there. These retreatants looked at their leaders, looked at each other, looked at the cross, and they knew there was Someone greater.

They became unafraid to get up in front of their classmates and talk about what they were experiencing, without shame or fear of rejection. Friends of mine handed me letters depicting their changes of heart that made me want to cry and leap for joy at the same time. One retreatant said it best when he got up to share on the last day of the retreat: “I don’t want to go home.”

“I don’t want to SEND you home,” I thought, my eyes filling with tears, as I watched him allow his small group and new friends to embrace him wholeheartedly. That was one of the only times I truly cried on that retreat. There was new light, new life, new overwhelming HOPE beaming through them! Why did we have to take them away from an uplifting, loving environment where they felt at peace with themselves? Why did we have to let them go?  

Well, because they were never ours in the first place. They had always been His.

My time on that mountain top watching ministry come alive might have ended, but the love we’d learned wasn’t going away so easily, and the God we’d met wasn’t going anywhere, ever. All weekend, I heard stories of how the juniors had been love to themselves and others. My prayer was a thank you, rather than a demand for an explanation. They are mine, the Lord says, and my hands are never going to falter as I hold them, and my legs will never grow weary when they run from me.

The Lord was so, so, so completely GOOD that week. He showed up, broke down walls, and changed both minds and hearts. But what I am realizing is that he will be just as good this week, when I am not away on a profound retreat with inexplicably, beautifully, wonderful people. He will be just as good in the ordinary things. He will be there when someone pushes the last button I have to press, when I am left holding back tears at a friend’s desk (while also trying to review a homework assignment), or when I’ve slept through a dozen alarms after an especially long week. God is still good. He will be there when we see the fruit of labors of love come to life before our eyes, when we watch people fling open or crack the door to their hearts so that the King can enter.  

He sends friends to comfort us when we’re down, energy when we need it the most, and a glimpse into His infinite love when we’ve been blind to it.

“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?” (Matthew 6:26)

If the God who breathed stars into existence and sculpted the earth from nothing, in his goodness, ensures there is food for a random flock of birds, how can we not have the utmost confidence that he will care for each of us who are his beloved children just as well? He does not forget about us. He sees us on the mountaintop during a retreat. In his infinite goodness, he will see us through the valley below, through everyday life, just as well.

Hope is a Who

aaron-burden-170500-unsplash.jpg

Many Decembers ago, in a small dorm room at the University of Michigan, a miracle happened. The God of the Universe broke into my selfish and sinful heart. That night after months of searching, my unnamed longing was revealed to me in the person of Jesus the Messiah, and through my feeble YES, faith—as new as the baby Jesus—was born in my heart.

Now as a disciple of Jesus I’m trying to help others, especially young women, to know, love, and follow Him too. My idea of a great week is Pine Hills Girls Camp, being on mission in the garbage dump in Mexico City, an early Tuesday morning bible study at the local coffee shop, and being with my grandchildren.

Yet despite all the good things and God things in my life, I am prone to discouragement, and at times I struggle with HOPE. After many years of following Jesus, I have faced great joy and great pain, triumphs and disappointments, answered prayers and ones that seem to fall on deaf ears. But during the season of Advent there is a truth that has helped me cling to and grow in hope. Hope is a Who. I know this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book title, but hear me out...

When I was pregnant with each of my children I was filled with such expectant hope because I was preparing to giving birth to a real person, not a theory or a concept, but a real, living person with a name (Sarah, Michael, Joshua, Rachel), a face, an identity, a personality, and a purpose. I couldn’t wait to welcome that little person into our life.

Advent helps me remember that God who really exists—not as an idea, a philosophy, or theory—was born into our world as a human person, with a name (Jesus), an identity, a personality, and a purpose. Hope is a Who. My hope is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and the certainty of what God has promised in Him. My hope isn’t based on my feelings or circumstances which change constantly, or in material things which break and wear out. My hope in others can bring disappointment, and hope in myself incites self-reliance and often ends in failure.

What fills me with hope is Jesus’ unbreakable promise: “I am with you always.” The name Emmanuel, God-with-us, reminds me that I am never alone, that he came to earth to set up his dwelling within me; that he will never leave me or forsake me. True hope isn’t anchored in my word, on wishful thinking or what I want, but on what the sovereign, loving God knows I need, revealed to me in the Word made flesh, and the rock-solid truth of the Scriptures.

Hope has a name and His Name is JESUS. When the light of hope fades within you, like it does in me sometimes, I challenge you to speak, proclaim, and praise the name of Jesus with the confidence of a trusted friend. Let your hope grow—not in what is to come or in what may be, but in Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah who has come to make His home in us. This Christmas, may Jesus, the Hope of the world, find a welcome place in our hearts.

Waiting in Joyful Hope

jarl-schmidt-557318-unsplash.jpg

Advent has never been more real for me than this year. As we wait in joyful hope and anticipation for the coming of the Christ child, my husband and I are also waiting to meet our future child through the process of adoption. Throughout this past year, the Lord has been teaching me in a very real way what it means to “wait in joyful hope.” And to be completely honest, it hasn’t been easy to wait joyfully and hopefully. The desire in my heart to be a mother is a strong one, and looking at an empty manger is a powerful reminder of something I want but can’t have… yet.

This past year has seen me laying down my timelines, plans, and ideas at the foot of that manger again and again; surrendering my will to His. I feel a lot like Mary who had to lay down all her plans for the future when she was visited by the Angel Gabriel. But what I often forget is that Mary accepted God’s will for her with trust and hope. She didn’t worry and fret about how God’s plans didn’t match hers or that He was asking too much. She just said yes. She trusted in God’s goodness, provision, and boundless love and said yes. Isn’t that what it means to surrender? To believe so deeply in a loving, good God that you are unafraid of whatever He lays before you because you know that He will be with you through it all? To happily sacrifice your own wants for the one you love simply because you love them?

When Mary arrived at that stable in Bethlehem, she likely looked at that empty manger and a spark of joy burst in her heart as she pictured what it would look like full. She didn’t see emptiness or lack, but who would soon be the fullness of all her- and our- hopes. The empty manger was, and still is, a symbol of hope. It speaks of what’s to come and the joy that spreads like fire when we let God work in our lives.

So this Advent, I invite you to look at the empty manger and see what God is asking you to surrender there. Then, I challenge you to surrender it with trust and hope into His hands and wait in joyful anticipation. Whenever you find yourself doubting, think about that manger again and its purpose. The manger was meant to be filled. It was filled with something unexpected, but nonetheless more bountiful, wonderful, and perfect than anyone expected. That manger shone in the night like a pyre, warming all those in its circle of heat, igniting within them hope and joy and filling the darkness with light.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1: 4-5

Advent Poverty

pawel-franke-189606-unsplash.jpg

There was a guy I ran into on the street last week who asked me for a couple bucks to buy a bus ticket. His cardboard sign also mentioned that he was homeless. He looked pretty bummed, sitting there on the sidewalk. I had this ridiculous desire to stick my hand out, help this guy to his feet, say, “Come on, let’s get out of here,” and… I don’t know what. Walk him, magically, into a more favorable life? Instead, I think I probably said, “Have a good day,” and went on my way. James’ admonition from his second letter to the Christian people came to mind: “If you say to him, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, be well fed’, but do nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” I sighed, my breath vaporizing in the frosty air. Well, shoot.

The Christmas season is typically a time when richness is celebrated. Even those of us who don’t have much in the way of material possessions scrape together what we do have and celebrate our relative richness—in being together, in having a little time off, or in giving hard-earned gifts. There is a lot of beauty in recognizing what we have and celebrating it. But the rapidly approaching Advent season apparently calls for something opposite: a celebration of poverty.

As most of the Christmas-celebrating society hurtles towards the holidays with feverish preparation (or maybe dread, in the absence of perceived richness), we Christians take a detour through the wilderness. If the Christmas rush is taking place on a main artery streaming into town (picture US-23 South at rush hour), celebrating Advent is like getting off five exits early and taking the quiet back roads. Have you ever noticed that, unlike Lent, we are not often encouraged to create a roadmap for the season? Less people say, “I’m giving up chocolate for Advent!” partially because that would be, like, really hard. We long to live in structured ways, for routine is often the marker of discipline, and disciplined is the life of the saints. But perhaps, in Advent, the doing is not the point? By celebrating poverty, we acknowledge emptiness.

This is truly just a suggestion, but I’m interested in exploring this during Advent. Remove some structure. Set all that pressure of final papers, exams, etc. aside for just one red-hot minute each day. Maybe a few minutes. Look inside yourself and find out that within you is miles of emptiness, a vast wilderness that has yet to be shaped or printed on. What you see during your quiet explorations will stand in stark contrast to the typical holiday hustle. Don’t seek to accomplish anything, except to get better at listening. You know what John (the OG of Advent) has to say about wilderness: “Make straight a highway for God!” Turning eyes to the inside to scope out the place where this highway should be seems like the best first step towards building one.

Back to the guy I passed up on the street. I don’t really have a pretty answer to my dilemma, except to recognize the very necessary truth that Christmastime isn’t a merry time for everyone. I don’t want to celebrate the poverty that keeps people cold and lonely on the streets for the holidays. I do want to pursue the kind of spiritual poverty that will allow the long-awaited Christ to flood our lives—my life, and the life of that guy I met outside Starbucks. And your life, too.

So Grateful

nathan-ziemanski-538202-unsplash.jpg

The other day, as I was walking out of class with snow falling softly around me, I was seized with such intense gratitude that I almost doubled over under the weight of it.

“Oh my God,” I whispered, “I’m so grateful.”

My mind went back to the girl I was one year ago. Looking back on who I was, I can say with absolute confidence that I’m not the same person I was then.

But for how far I’ve come in a year, the journey has been far from easy. It took reopening old wounds and inviting Jesus into the hurts in order to forgive and heal. It took asking questions, being vulnerable, and believing that there was (and always is) more. It took learning how to renew my mind and change my old ways of thinking. It took becoming uncomfortable and allowing God to stretch me in ways I never thought I could. It took lying on my face, crying out to Daddy God, and learning how to let Him lift me into His arms. It took learning to lift my eyes off of the storm and crashing waves and up into the eyes of Jesus.

And standing in that parking lot on a snowy Monday night, and sitting here now, I can’t help but cry out in thanksgiving to a God who has brought me so far.

There are still days where I feel like I’m so far off from who I want to be; that I’ll never get there. Even in those moments, God gently reminds me how far I’ve come.

He reminds me that I’m His daughter and that He delights in me. He reminds me that I don’t have to prove myself or even strive for His love; He’s already so pleased with me. He reminds me that He came and died that I might have life abundantly. He reminds me that He makes all things new. He reminds me that I do belong and that I have a place in the body of Christ. He reminds me that the same Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead is alive and living in me. He reminds me that where Holy Spirit is, there is freedom. He reminds me that I am free.

And for all these things, I’m so incredibly grateful.

We have a God who sees us as more precious than His life itself. We have a God who is faithful; whose promises are “yes” and “amen.” We have a God who doesn’t leave us forsaken and who chose us before the beginning of time, destining us to be His.

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving, eating lots of turkey and favorite sides, spending time with people we love, and maybe catching some z’s, let’s enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Let’s look over this last year and put our gratitude before His throne, thanking the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all that He’s done. Because friends, He’s worth it. He’s so worthy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Song Suggestion: Thank You by Jonathan Helser (Bethel Music)