Lately

So, lately I haven’t been around here much. And I apologize. And I wanted to update you all in what has been going on in my life!

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In April I made the decision that after graduation I would head into Discipleship Training School with YWAM (or Youth With A Mission). So the past summer has been filled with working, preparing, fundraising, and spending as much time with family and friends that I could before leaving the state for 5 months. I am officially 2 weeks in to this experience, and it is better and harder than I ever could have imagined.

I love the atmosphere here. I love how every moment of every day there are people around you encouraging you and walking alongside you as we all grow deeper in love with Jesus. It is hard because I’ve come face to face with some things in my heart that I never knew were there, or had suppressed for so many years and never wanted to have to face again.

But Jesus is so faithful! He has shown me His overwhelming love for me, and how He will never stop pursuing me. And because of that, I can stop focusing on what I have to do to earn His love, and just bask in His presence instead. Because nothing that I can do will ever be worthy enough to earn His love for me. I just have to accept it.

He is worthy of the highest praise, yet He longs to hear my voice in constant communication with Him. He wants me to tell Him everything about how I’m feeling and how my day is going, even though He already knows.

One song that has really been impacting me these past few weeks has been So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong:

God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
So will I

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.

 

I’m hoping to start posting on a more regular basis, so PLEASE let me know what kind of content you would like to see around here! I want this to be a constant place of encouragement, and I would very much value your input! ❤

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When the passion burns low

Honestly?

Recently I haven’t felt like I am the one qualified to be talking and posting about how we need to love God and other people more and how we need to pursue Him farther and harder and deeper.

Because I’m the one that has been falling short. I haven’t had my devotions every day or spent extended times in prayer pursuing the face of God recently. I struggled with this 24/7 for the past few weeks wondering why the passion has grown so dim.

Colleen-blog photo-prince street

I felt like I lost my wonder and gratefulness of the cross and the mercy and grace of God. I’ve realized this, and was so mad at myself and discouraged for feeling this way, and I did nothing about it. Until this morning when I was reading 1 John 1.

Verses 1 through 4 say,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”

As I thought about that, I realized that I have no right to not believe or not thank the Lord for all He has done in my life…..no matter if I feel like He’s been working lately or not. He has done amazing things in me. Even though I might not have a testimony of being addicted to bad habits or bad influences, I was saved from facing the wrath of God.

Jesus took the axe for me. I should have been the one to die, but He took it on Himself instead.

Maybe I am the only one, but I think that it’s easy to lose our wonder of the gospel when we have grown up in a church and have heard it every Sunday for years and years. We quickly throw out that we were saved when we were 6 and we know that Jesus died for us on the cross and took away our sins without giving any thought to what that actually means to us. But these things we have known since the beginning – we have heard these things and seen these things and known these things. We are the ones who have the hope!

And for an example of the way that God loves to reinforce things when He wants to show us something, I walked into a college class a few minutes after journaling about 1 John 1, and I found out the topic that day was the Gospel, and how we need to have the FIRE instead of just going through the motions.

Okay God.

The professor was a local senior pastor and some of the first words he spoke hit home.

“Every testimony, no matter how ‘normal’, is a story of amazing grace.”

When we begin to realize this, our whole outlook changes. We will walk and live differently. God chose us to be ALIVE in Him. No longer a people who will face Him in terror on Judgement Day, but a people made holy by the cross. He no longer looks on us and sees our sin, but He only sees the cross that covers our sin and ugliness.

And if we as Christians back off on telling people about this life-giving hope that we have, what hope does the world have??

I want this urgency to talk about Jesus to burn like a fire in my heart. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish that I had given Jesus more. I don’t want to wish I had laid down more for Him or wish that I hadn’t just gone through the motions but had pursued Him and loved Him and followed Him in the deepest parts of my soul.

God chose me, so I want to choose Him. Even when I feel like a royal mess and I don’t feel qualified to talk about following Him because I haven’t been doing the best at following Him.

I don’t want to ever stop talking about Him because I don’t want to ever stop being amazed at the grace He has shown me.

Waiting For Happily Ever After

Sister, did you cry on Valentine’s day?
Me too.

Did your heart maybe say some ugly words as you walked past the couple staring lovingly into each other’s eyes while you were getting your coffee?
Me too.

Did you laugh and smile when they said it’s also “Happy Single’s Awareness Day,” and pretend that it was all okay?
Me too.

 Pieces // Steffany Gretzinger // From the album "Have It All":
photo via Pinterest

I was hoping that this Valentine’s Day I’d be happy and carefree and proud to be single.
But no.
It was hard to see my best friends that evening and know that they had a romantic date to get to yet that night while I was headed to a café to eat alone. And go home. Alone.

And not have a boy that you love to give you a hug and tell you that he loves you and he hoped you had a fabulous Valentine’s Day.

If you’re there too,

Sister, I feel you. Join the club.

We just want our Prince Charming to come riding up today, DANG IT.

We so easily get trapped in that feeling of loneliness that is so hard to climb out of. The enemy knows how to keep our hearts captive by feeding the lies that there will never be a boy to love you and everyone thinks you’re ugly and you’ll be alone for the rest of your life.

The enemy is quick to point out all the cute tumblr couples and sappy Instagram posts and perfectly posed Pinterest pictures that are all great on their own, but lead to comparison so quickly if we let them. We want a boy to love us NOW.

But is that what we really want?

Do we really want to skip these seasons of our lives and go straight to the end? This time of year hurts for many people, but the Lord has a big plan through it all. Maybe this wasn’t the Valentine’s Day that you were hoping for and the movies and cards and sappy Instagram posts made you cry, but it’s not over yet.

This season is contributing to your happily ever after.
It’s all part of the real-life fairy tale, and the ending will be oh so much sweeter if you let the Lord do His thing, and not force a relationship that isn’t His best for you.

It is so easy when you’re lonely to be so desperate for someone to love you that you are willing to throw your heart out to the first boy who will pay attention and tell you you’re pretty.
It’s not worth it.

You’ll know when it’s HIS best for you, and please don’t settle for anything less.

 

Even When You Can’t See

Staying passionate is something that I think we all aspire to.
We want to constantly be so in love with Christ that it just spills out into everything that we do and we cannot stop talking about Him and His goodness.
So we go to a conference or a worship service that inspires us. And for a week we are head-over-heels in love with Jesus.
But two weeks later, we’re back to were we started.
And then we start to beat ourselves up and wonder if we’re actually a Christian if we can’t stay in love with Jesus.

Or is it just me?

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I think we need to be honest with ourselves.

We are going to go through mountain-top experiences in our Christian walk. We’re going to be so in-love with Jesus that everyone can see that the glow and the smile on our faces is from Him
But we’re also going to go through dry valleys. dark tunnels.
We need to prepare ourselves for hard times. We need to realize that these are the times where we dig down deep and press into God. Even when we can’t “feel” Him. These are the times to truly pursue His heart. These are the times that your roots are going to grow deeper as you learn to trust Him even when you can’t see Him.

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And the mountain-top experiences?

Praise Him. Praise Him with every breath within you. And as you worship Him, He will allow you to experience His majesty as He pours out His love on you.

Learn to accept both seasons.
We need to love our love and delight for God drive everything that we do. We need to let our gratefulness for all He has done in our lives push us forward into tomorrow.

We need to live a lifestyle of thanksgiving for all He has done, and also realizing our need for more and more of the Father.

During the good times and the hard times, He is still good. Don’t ever doubt that.
Anchor yourself in the foundation that you are marked by His delight.
He is always for you.
Whether you can feel Him or not.

 

If it’s day one and you already feel like quitting

January 1st.
Almost everyone in the world becomes an dreamer with huge ideas for the new year.
goals they want to achieve.
& aspirations of being a better person.

But by January 5th, we’re reminded of how bad we are failing. How we forget things so easily.
Especially our goals of eating healthy when your best friend offers you a bowl of ice cream.

We set goals.
& fail.
time and time again.

We either see January as a clean slate, or we see it looming ahead of us, waiting for that fateful day when we fail at reaching our goals.

But I think we all love the idea of a new year.
Where we can start over, make things better.

Maybe, if you’re like me, you messed up on January 2nd. But the good news is, each day is a clean slate. Each minute you can promise to make better than the last.
This isn’t a 10 step process where if you mess up the 2nd step you’ll never make it to the end.

I am certain that it will take longer than a few months to become as fit, or healthy, or kind, or patient, or talented as I would like to be.

But I do know that my ultimate goal for 2017 is MORE of Jesus. less of me.

My goal is to become more in love, a more devoted follower, a more passionate pursuer, a daughter more aware of her status, in Jesus Christ.

This is a life-long journey. not a goal for just this year.

I don’t want my life to be filled with strict rules of having devotions in the morning and praying in the evening. I want my life to be constant worship.
Constant thankfulness for all of His goodness.
I want my life to be set to the tune of grace. Not routine or tradition.

So there. There’s my goal for 2017 and the rest of my life.

& tomorrow, I will undoubtedly fail at being the person I want to be. But there is grace.
Every day is a clean start with fresh mercies.

so yes. I’ll fail.
but yes, I’m extended more grace than I can imagine from my Father.
whether it’s on day 1, or on day 365.

Fall is for relaxing

It’s finally starting to feel like fall!
On Saturday, we had a major change in weather. Like MAJOR. I was outside working in short sleeves in the morning, and then we drove home from a barn party in snow.
I am not okay with this. But then again, I am.

 : image via Pinterest

So with fall comes relaxing, right? Right.

Fall is a lazy season for me. All I want to do is cuddle up in a blanket and cozy socks and some warm tea/coffee/hot chocolate/apple cider/whateveryouprefer.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I relax, I feel as though I should be doing something productive instead. I come home from work and go straight to my room saying I’m going to relax for a little. But in reality, I’m probably on my phone scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest or catching up on blogs.

The word “relax” almost has a negative connotation in America. We should always be striving and reaching and working for the next thing to get or accomplish. It’s work-work-work-drive-hustle-strive.

I’ve realized something about myself recently. During the day when I am working, it’s always top speed. Sometimes I’m literally running around the house to get things done, or I’m typing at work or writing for school crazy fast because that’s how my mind works. It’s constantly going full speed ahead. And then by 8:00 at night, I’m worn down. I can’t even sit down in the evening to read a book because I know that I will fall asleep. As long as I stay concentrated and focused, I’ll stay awake. So learning to relax without falling asleep has been a struggle.

Life is fast. But sometimes, you have to take some intentional time for yourself. So here are some tried and true (for me anyway) ways to relax.

  1. Make a hot drink   . Coffee probably isn’t a good idea if you are trying to relax. Just saying.
  2. Turn off your computer, Ipad, phone. If I get a notification or a text, i’ll probably look at it. And then get distracted by facebook..or Instagram…or Pinterset…or snapchat…or tumblr…or……you get the picture.
  3. Put on some comfy clothes. Sweatpants are like a warm hug. They’re fabulous.
  4. Listen to some calm music. I’ve recently discovered a love for acoustic covers of my favorite songs. What are ya’lls favorites?
  5. Light a candle. Candles are the way to my heart. Honestly. Buy me a candle and I’ll love you for forever.
  6. Spend some time with Jesus. When life get’s tough and crazy, there is nothing more comforting than the Comforter Himself. Spend some time loving Him, and letting Him love you. Learn to “be still.” Give Him some undistracted time….you’ll never see that time wasted.

Take some time for you today!

If you think you’re alone

Why is it that we think we are the only one going through life awkwardly…messily.

That we are the only one who struggles with “that” issue?

That we are the only one who has those fears hidden deep inside our hearts?

Why is it that we feel as though we are the only broken human.

Why is that we feel alone?

 

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We pass others on the street with our heads down, oblivious to their lives. The hurts that they have. The fears that they struggle with, that might be the same as ours. We don’t realize that every day we interact with others who feel just as alone as we do.

I want to tell you.

There is a place for you, for them. A place where you don’t have to feel alone.

 

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There is a place for your fears. For your good side. For your bad side. For your talents. For your bad habits. Everything. There is a place for you. A very special place in the kingdom chosen for you before you ever existed.

Instead of striving to be better on your own, drown yourself in the reality of who you already are. Your identity as His child.

Immerse yourself in His love.

And be alive and aware of other people and the stories and fears that they have.
Extend to them the same grace that has been extended to you.

You are a mess. They are a mess. But you don’t have to be a mess alone.

Because you have a place.

Bless > Impress

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Shauna Neiquist said, “With people, you can connect and you can compare, but you can’t do both.”

You can choose to have a relationship.
Or you can choose to stand back and evaluate what they have that’s better than yours.

You can bless them, or you can impress them. But you can’t do both.

The bottom line is: you can live from a place filled with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit, or you can live from a place of desperation-reaching-searching for anything you can say or do that will make you “enough.” Whether that is comparing what you have to what she has and deciding you have the best, or realizing that she has the best and deciding to not like her.

These cycles of comparison always hurt you and others far more than you realize.

Choosing to live from a place filled with love will allow you to accept yourself. You will begin to know the heart of the Father towards you and through that, you will be able to love yourself and other’s the way that He would. You will be able to end the cycle of comparison.

God calls you beloved-can you call yourself beloved?

To those who are able to be brave, and have the courage to show up. I want to thank you. Thank you for living and loving from a brave and authentic place. To those who are able to connect instead of compare. We need more people like you.

We need to start accepting ourselves as we are. Accepting our gifts. Our talents as well as our flaws. Accept our lives. Accept the adventures we been given as well as the trials we have endured.

We need to choose to go up to that girl who looks like she has it all together.
Maybe her outfit all matches while yours has a coffee stain as well as a hole you just found while you were driving to work that morning. But chances are, she’s hurting as much or more as you are. Choose to get to know her before you compare your insides to her outsides.

When you choose to accept yourself and your identity as His beloved, you are able to truly connect with others and show them their identity in Him as well.

Summer Recap

This summer has been a whirl-wind.

Between vacations, mission trips, work, being in a musical, and spending time with friends, there has hardly been time for anything else.

Some of the highlights,

  1. Spending a week and a half at the beach with family.
  2. Having a role in the musical, Godspell Jr.
  3. Multiple cabin trips.
  4. Going on a mission trip to Puerto Rico.
  5. Going on a beach day trip with some of my best friends.
  6. Two of my best friends taking me to my first truck pull. #redneckatheart
  7. Attending the most beautiful wedding.
  8. Spending 17 days exploring the western part of our beautiful country.

 


the wedding

Boquerón, Puerto Rico (part of the Carribean)


Bryce Canyon, Utah

Also, some of the things I learned this summer:

  1. Being open. Being okay with brokenness and imperfection. It’s been a life changer y’all.
  2. How to do a smoky eye. Not nearly as important as #1, but still. It’s nice to know 🙂
  3. God is doing a new thing.Prepare youself for it!
  4. GROWTH TAKES GRACE.
  5. How important authentic community is and having friends that you can truly share what’s going on in your life. Friends that know your story and can give you wise advice.

Yellowstone National Park

What have you all learned this summer?

also, check out @foreverlovedblog on Instagram if you haven’t yet. 🙂

 

The Perfect Love


Hate and fear are two of the most prominent things in our world today.

Current events will quickly show us that almost everyone is living out of either one or the other.
The media encourages us to hate the bad guys and fear what could happen in the future.

We have programmed our minds to search for things to worry about, whether it’s our jobs, our families, our grades, our paychecks, or our country.

What does God tell us to worry about?

 

Absolutely nothing.

 

We start living out of fear and making choices out of fear. We start coming up with situations that aren’t even logical and worry that they could happen to us.

1 John 4:18 says that “perfect love casts out fear.”

If you live out of fear, you will have anxiety and unrest.

If you live out of love, you will have a sound mind and peace.

Knowing the Father’s heart of love will enable you to live it out in your own life.

Living out of love and not fear will enable you to share the love inside of you without fearing what they could say about you or do to you.

Not everyone is going to accept and appreciate what we have to say. But we are called to share anyway. Jenn Johnson once said, “Even if you’ve only been a Christian for an hour, that’s one more hour than someone else. So you are called to share your faith with them.”

When you have received the perfect Love, you can’t possibly keep it to yourself. When you truly have a relationship with the Lord, there will be a light shining out of you.

The devil wants your life to be driven by fear, the Father wants to lead you with love.

The devil wants to scare you into hiding, the Father wants you to live in His glorious light.

Living out a perfect love isn’t easy, because we as humans aren’t perfect. Even though Christ asks us to display His perfect love, He knows our weakness. Which is why He offers more grace than we ask for.

Most of my life, I’ve lived in fear. I’ve worried about my future and anything and everything that could possibly happen in my life.

If you have walls of fear in your life, darling, tear them down. God has amazing things planned for your life, He’s just waiting for you to say yes. He’s waiting for you to accept and believe in the perfect love that can come only from Him. Ask Him to give you His eyes and heart for the hurting world we are living in. He will use you to make a difference. Don’t shrink back into the shadows and live out your Christian life in secret. A dying world needs to hear about an everlasting Love, and we are the ones that know the secret. We know the Love. The Love that can overcome all fear and hate.