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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

If leprosy isn’t your biggest problem.

What if the most embarrassing thing about you was known publicly?

Maybe it’s a bad habit.
Maybe it’s a relationship.
Maybe it’s a health problem.
Maybe it’s your grades.

What ever it is, what if it was written in BOLD letters on a sign around your neck. What if it was so horrible that you knew people didn’t want to be even 100 feet from you. Walking down the street, you would have to announce it so people had time to get out of your way.

That’s how it was for people with leprosy.

They were banned.
Outcasts.
Rejects from society.
All because of something they did not want or choose to get.
One day they were fine, and the next-they were banned from being close to anyone.

In Luke 17, the account is told of a group of 10 men with leprosy. The only reason they were friends was because they all had the same disease. Some came from poor backrounds. Others came from rich families. Some were intellectual. Others were laborers. We don’t know exactly. But we do know that they wanted healed more than anything else in the world. And then one day they heard about a man named Jesus who could heal them. Word was going around that Jesus was in town, so as quickly as they could, they ran to the outskirts of the town hoping that Jesus would see them.

Luke 17:12 says that the lepers saw Jesus & they knew He could heal them, but they still “stood afar off.”

I can see it.

The lepers stay away. They are unsure of whether they should go to Him. One finally convinces the rest.

“It can’t hurt to try. The worst that could happen would be that He rejects us, and we’ve been through that hundreds of times.”

They slowly walk towards Him, trying not to gain attention or get too close. Instead, they “lift up their voices” and cry out to Him. And instead of walking away, Jesus walks closer to them!

Jesus loves on them. He heals them. He tells them to go show themselves to the priests because they are healed!

Their leprosy was not because of sin in their life. They had leprosy so the power of God could be shown through them. They suffered, so Jesus could do amazing things in their life, and they would come to follow Him. They suffered, so that through them, others would hear the story and come to follow Him.

I am suffering. You are suffering. We are all suffering. Why? So that Christ can come into our lives and do amazing things so we can come to love Him more, and so our testimony’s can be used to bring other’s to Him.

For multiple reasons, the lepers didn’t want to get too close to Jesus. They thought that leprosy was too big of a problem for Jesus to fix. Instead of turning away, Jesus runs close to them and says, “Come close to me! I will heal you. I will change your life. No problem is too big for Me.”

Your problem is not too big. Whatever would be written on your sign, it’s not too bad that Jesus can’t fix it. I promise.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Completely unrelated picture, but ya’ll this Starbucks drink is the BOMB and its only $1. Does it get any better? Nope.

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Sometimes, we forgive others for things we don’t forgive ourselves for.

Extending to that other girl grace and patience and forgiveness while I hold myself to a standard I would never force anyone else to meet.

Unrealistic standards.

Cruel standards.

Be perfect, sit up straight, look perfect, talk quietly, don’t let them see the loud and messy. Say this, hold back the tears, make sure they think everything is okay.

We live through days of tension. Always on edge, waiting for the next moment where we have to prove that we are okay, and we are good enough.

We have our parents who accept us unconditionally and friends who tell us we’re beautiful. So why is there still that tugging on your heart? Telling you that you aren’t good enough? Telling you to not take that risk because it might put you in a position of vulnerability.

Don’t live like that .

That’s not where you were meant to live. Relinquish those chains that you bind yourself with. The devil wants to tie you up with intimidation. fear. uncertainty.

Our Lord wants to break you out of prison with grace and love.

Breathe in. Feel that? That beating heart? That’s a result of grace. So breathe it in as if you can’t live without it. Because you can’t. God extends bucket loads of grace for every moment, so grab it. Why would you hold yourself to a standard that doesn’t allow you the thing you need the most?

Maybe extending grace to yourself means unfollowing that person on instagram that makes you feel “less than.”

Maybe extending grace means quitting the comparison, and getting your joy back.

Maybe extending grace means giving yourself permission. Permission to be vulnerable and admit that you aren’t okay. Permission to say no. Permission to say yes.

Maybe extending grace means being gentle with yourself. Knowing that you are going to mess up, but that’s okay. Knowing that God’s grace can cover any mess up or failure. Knowing that God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, so you shouldn’t either.

 

It’s getting real.

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“Self Protection: the self-centered commitment to act without courage, compassion, boldness, and tenderness for the sake of the other.”

“Self-protection is the intentional, though usually unconscious disposition that offers the other anything but the heart.

Self-protection can be dressed either in codependent maneuvering that lacks self-identity, freedom of choice and strength, or in counter-dependent distancing that alienates through self assertion, demanding control, or intimidation.

In either case, in extreme or subtle form, there is a failure to offer both a tender and a strong heart.” (from the book Bold Love, by Allender and Longman)

I do not want to be a woman who self-protects her heart. I want to be a woman who is authentic. Who is REAL to everyone she comes in contact with.

So right now, I’m gonna be super real, and share with you all something I wrote in a journal on a night that impacted my life.

“It’s gonna be hard, and it’s gonna hurt. Coming before God with all of my messiness. He is so HOLY, and I’m so…….me. Messy, controlling, self-conscious. I self-protect my heart instead of fully giving God room to come through for me and show Himself faithful in the hard times when I had to step out and be brave. He’s not going to let me down, because He is faithful.  But I have guilt. So much. But He covers that with love & grace. We sing about freedom, but do I feel free? Or do I feel bound by shame? What would it look like to be real? unedited? open? intimate?  I am messy. He is not. He is worthy. I am not. Jesus is willing to meet me in that messiness and show my His goodness. Am I…..Can I be willing to fully surrender & be open to Him? He wants to pick up the scattered pieces. He wants to break the chains and set me free.”

After I wrote this, I was super pumped to go out and be brave. be bold. be totally open with people and my Lord. and then I was like, wait, how do I actually do this?

I don’t know about you all, but I get super excited when I hear an inspirational message, and then that excitement dies down because I don’t know how to actually live it out in my own life. what exactly does it look like to have a heart that doesn’t self-protect? what does it look like to be brave?

To me, not self-protecting my heart means I’m going to mess up. Hundreds of times.

Let’s be honest, probably hourly.

Not self-protecting is going to take time. I’m going to have to start over. Because the only person who got it right every time was Jesus Christ. Being bold is a process. It doesn’t happen all at once. I don’t want to pretend I have it all together and create this vision of perfection that other people are jealous of. Because on the inside, I’m probably falling apart. Christ doesn’t expect us to have it all together all the time. He just wants us to be honest. He wants us to reach out to others.

He wants us to talk about Him every. single. chance. we. get.

And sometimes, people might hate you for it. You won’t be everyone’s best friend. “Not everyone is going to love what you say, but it won’t matter when you are more focused on impacting people than impressing people. That’s what matters.” (Jordan Lee from “The Soul Scripts”)

We need to start meeting people where they are. People are often intimidated by someone who seems “perfect.” They won’t want to open up because they afraid they will get judged or looked down upon because they don’t have it all together.

You will do your best impacting when you share your story and your hurts and your struggles. When you strive for purpose and not perfection.

So can we start a revolution? Of being real? Being non-perfect? Being bold with our struggles and stories and how Christ has changed us? Yes? okay cool.

So be bold. Be brave. Share your story. Start impacting people for Christ.

goodnight loves.