A Few of My Favorite Things

Woooaah the new year is coming in hot! Guys. THIS YEAR. It’s been an unbelievable ride. And so much has CHANGED! Gosh. I can’t even begin to tell you all the little things that have fallen in and out of place and the tears and the smiles oh me oh my. But I can tell you, 2014 was a growing year for this girl. Lots and lots of (mostly painful) growing. Like the hard lessons were learned the hard way if ya know what I mean. But, along with lessons learned comes new “favorite things” if you will. And I have three of them. And they basically go hand in hand. And I think that’s exactly how God wanted them to be.

faith.

hope.

love.

There they are. My life in 3 pretty small words. And baddabing, there’s a Bible verse to go right along with that! Haaa God is so smart.

1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

And now these three remain. After all the hurt. All the heartache. All the let down. All the good and the bad and the ugly. After every break up and make up. After everything, these three remain. These 3 things remain because we, as people, all have to cling to something. We need something to keep us going. And this isn’t just girls or just boys or old or young. This is everyone. At the end of the longest day, you cling to a hope. A hope that there’s a better tomorrow. You have this faith. Faith that the sun will rise again, and that it can’t storm forever. And you hold on to the people you love the most. Family or friends. Your dog maybe. I don’t know. That after everything, every wrong thing, you still have faith, hope and love.

You probably don’t even know this is what you live off of. But you do. It’s the glue that holds us together. And you can’t just have one. You can’t just have love. Or hope. Or faith. You need them all.

You need to love and be loved. It’s why we were created. To stinking love people! We were meant to be relational. We were meant to have people, the kinda people you take bullets for. You need that fuel to keep you going. That smile, or that hug— that love. Love picks you up and sweeps you off your feet and takes you away from the hurt. Love turns frowns upside down and creates laugh lines. And the greatest of these is love.

Then there’s faith and hope, which in my funky little brain are the best of friends. They pick each other up sometimes, dust the other off and help each other shine. Sounds weird but hear me out. Hope can be so deceiving sometimes. Hope can straight up suck. All the time, I feel that I have so much hope in something happening or worse.. hope in someone.. only to be let down and heart broken. But that isn’t how hope is supposed to work. Hope is supposed to keep us fired up. Hope in our dreams. Hope in better days and happier years and hope that we will be blessed. Hope is knowing that we will receive immeasurably more than anything we can even ask or imagine! Hope can be great. Hope can build a life. But, with hope you need faith. You have to have faith in your hopes and hope in your faith. Faith moves mountains. Faith is trust. Faith is believing without seeing. Faith is peaceful. Faith is beautiful. Faith is the key to open the door to everything you have ever wanted. Faith is confidence. Faith and hope combined literally can rock your world!! And it’s scary sometimes because with faith and hope comes other things like patience and endurance and trusting your unknown future to an All Knowing Jesus. But let me tell ya, if I had my way with this last year instead of Jesus being in control- it would be an absolute disaster. Faith. And hope. In CHRIST. You can’t go wrong because it’s inspiring. It keeps you going.

And the three combined.. well it’s magic. It’s the magic of life.

So there’s my two sense for the new year. Gosh I love new years. New year, new start, new chapter, new adventures. A lot of fun words come after the word “new” and I love it. I’m like, really excited for 2015.

So anyways, there they are; my favorites. Faith. Hope. Love. Can’t do this whole life thing without them.

And the happiest of New Years to ya! 2015 YAY!!

xx. Austyn

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Double Dog Dare

Today, I am daring myself to do some hard stuff. I am challenging myself to just be happy.

Gosh that sounds so simple and silly when I write it out and say it out loud. But I think it’s more than that. There is more to happiness than just a smile and a happy heart. I think there are steps to take, choices to make, a certain outlook on life that leads to happiness.

So today, and everyday these are some of my new dares for myself. Wish me luck ~

Today I am daring myself to care. Maybe care more than anyone else, maybe care too much, maybe I’ll be the only one who cares but I am going to. I am going to reach out to people, ask questions about their lives, give them my undivided attention. I am challenging myself to care more.

Today I am daring begging myself to lock fear out of my life. There are days that fear walks into my heart and wrecks it. Literally my own fear comes and breaks my heart. The saddest thing is, I don’t even put up a fight! I so easily give fear the reigns of my life and that obviously hold such a grip onto my happiness. It stops me from caring, loving, showing up. I am challenging myself to suffocate fear as soon as it creeps in and instead, I will flood my heart and mind with thoughts of love and power and peace. Remembering truths and blocking out fears and insecurities completely.

Today, ya’ll- I dare myself to dance over small triumphs! I want to be so excited about the little things in my life that people think I am crazy! I want to look around at all that is falling apart but only actually see what is beautiful and blessing me. I want it to be so outspoken too. I want to literally dance over the fact that my crazy lion mane hair looks good today or these jeans aren’t too tight or my coffee tasted perfect this morning. I want to say and believe that yeah my car may break down in a few minutes but I have better music to jam to than anyone else on this road. I want to be over joyed about little compliments and friends and just where I am in life. I want to stand in this desert  and know that there is a river somewhere. And i won’t stop until I find it. And then I will dance in that river!

This won’t be easy- these dares and challenges I have for myself will not be a piece of cake by any means. It will be an uphill battle. But if I can just conquer one of these ideas today, well I just think that would be something to sing and dance about!

Sooo here I am, determined to find reasons to dance.

xx. Austyn

Why Does Love Always Feel Like a Battlefield? { Jordin Sparks Wisdom }

Man oh man, it has been a funky few weeks. Doors have been opened and closed and opportunities have come up and I have been a busy little bee. And I like it a lot! But at the same time my mind has been bouncing around a new idea; the idea of love, and what a freaking mess that makes me.

Love. We all know love from the movie aspect. Best of Me just came out in theaters and I cry every single time I see the preview because Nicholas Sparks SOMEHOW knows exactly what heart string to pull on every girl in the entire universe. That kind of love that seems impossible ya know? But at the same time you hold on to the dream/ idea of it because it seemed impossible for them but look! They made it! Or they found it! And I will, too!!!! I tell myself and again, and cry a little inside. LOL it’s funny kind of. Kind of not. Thankfully I can laugh at myself in these situations.

Then there is Instagram, which I have tried to delete time after time but just don’t. Instagram is a breeding ground for happy couples showing of their happiness. Their completeness. Their love for each other. In artsy pictures that some photographer friend took. I like to think I’ll have this someday (the guy, the photographer friend, the pictures, and the love) but we all know I am far too awkward for these staged (even though they claim to be candid) pictures. And then there’s pinterest which is a whole other beast! I really didn’t even know rings and weddings could be so beautiful until I created my own virtual wedding via other people’s pictures. Man, the internet is a beautiful thing right?

Please don’t misunderstand me though, there is nothing nothing nothing wrong with any of the above. The movies, the pictures, well pinterest- maybe but only because I need to make my “dream wedding” board private so no one else can steal my ideas. But the above venting is just simply that, venting. But happy people in happy pictures, that’s awesome! I like to like all the pictures and will continue to rejoice with these people with a double tap of the pic and maybe a heart eyes emoji comment. And they are great and beautiful and I look forward to all of that hopefully someday. But here’s the real thing I want to get to- love and grace and completeness.

Love. What does it even mean to love or be loved? From a worldy point of view, or at least this girl’s worldly point of view, it is this: Being someone’s soul mate, someone’s other half, someone’s perfect puzzle piece, someone’s perfect fit. Completing someone.

I get real wrapped up in that idea real quick.

I see the world and the happy couples and the pinterest weddings and I get wrapped up in the idea that there is someone out in the whole wide world that is going to accept me and complete me and love me in the way I want and deserve and need to be loved. I have high expectations and standards and my mind wanders to this super flashy and worldly way of thinking and I quickly become unrealistic. I think well, God made this person for me so he will be perfectly made to fit and complete me. Oh and he will complete me and be amazing and perfect and it’ll all happen like a real fairytale- we will work together and go together and there will be no problems or disagreements ever and it’ll be great because God made us for each other!

This is simply not true.

No man or person anywhere, or thing, or amount of money, or job, or anything ever will be able to complete me. Or make me whole. Because ya’ll, God did not design me (and you) to be completed by another person. Or another thing. Or a job. Those things don’t complete us and they don’t define us and they don’t fill us. The things and people of this world will leave us hanging, will leave us empty at times, will leave us sad and incomplete.

I think that’s so especially true specifically in love and relationships.

We cannot rely on another person to bring us our joy and be our happiness. Because they will never fully satisfy! Remember the woman at the well (John 4)–she’s seeking joy. Jesus knows her past and her heart and sees her empty soul and looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus says “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (verse 13 and 14). Everyone who looks to this world for anything will never be full and will never be satisfied and will always need more.

The same goes for people. When we look to our boyfriends and girlfriends and friends for completion and acceptance and real love, we come up short. And we always will. Someone doesn’t say the right thing or do what I wanted exactly or I ask a question with a perfect answer in mind and I don’t get it and then you know what? That person doesn’t love me. Instead of extending grace and mercy and loving the flaws and accepting the mess ups and understanding, I come to the conclusion that if it was love, it’d be better. It’d be greater and here’s the kicker, it’d be easier. LOL am I right?? What is this mindset?! It’s selfish, that’s what it is. Where is the grace? Where is the mercy? Where is the LOVE on my end???

Love isn’t perfect. It isn’t easy. It is not pretty all the time. It isn’t always ideal. It isn’t faultless for sure. But what is it??

What is love?

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love isn’t jealous or envious.

Love does not boast and it is not proud.

Love does not dishonor anyone.

Love is not self-seeking or selfish.

Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs (WOW that’s huge).

Love does not delight in evil.

Love rejoices in truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

{1 Corinthians 13}

Notice how it never says, love completes you to be the best person and also makes you feel warm and fuzzy all the time and is super easy. No!! None of those things that love is are easy! They are all really really hard actually. But that is love. It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s the flawed. Because we are hard headed and messy and flawed.

And only perfect love comes from our perfect Savior. Only Jesus completes us. Only He gives us the water of life and purpose and only in Him are we truly and wholely filled. We can only be satisfied in life when we are truly satisfied in Him.

I know that my future husband will be amazing and great and wonderful, but I also know I will need patience and compassion and grace (and I KNOWWWWW he will too, poor guy) to love him. And as I work on those things in my heart, my prayer is that he is doing the same.

And then maybe we can take cute pictures and dedicate cute songs and be SUPER CUTE but all the while being real and clinging to the perfect love of the Father always.

Romans 8: 38-39 // For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So here we go, learning to love.

xx. Austyn

Perfect Timing

Timing. Man, timing is weird. I could write for days about how I really don’t get/really don’t like time and the concept of time. It comes and goes and it’s gone but where does it go? No where, it’s just kinda gone. It honestly freaks me out a little. I don’t like time; I never seem to have enough. That is also largely because I am a terrible procrastinator and spends hours of time wasted on Netflix, which is not so wise in the long run. Timing, though, perfect timing…

Here’s how I know my perfect timing and God’s perfect timing are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I used to have a legitimate timeline of what my life was going to look like from the day I started college to the day I died (give or take a few days, I mean I gave myself some wiggle room). And today, I am sitting here seriously laughing out loud at myself. Because oh my gosh ya’ll, my whole idea of how my life should have looked is so so off. I had my days mapped out and my friends all in order and where I was going and what I was doing and how my apartment would be decorated and who was going to be my bridesmaids and when I was going to get married (but funny because I was/am SO single and I didn’t/don’t have a promising groom lined up). So here’s the big stuff: I would finish school in 4 years (and have the time of my life obviously) and get a teaching job right out of college. My fairytale wedding would be during the summer between my senior year and first year teaching, I’d spend roughly 2-3 years adventuring with my soul mate then bam 3 kids, close enough to be in school at the same time but not close enough to have all the same friends. I had names picked out, a school I was going to teach at, my wedding colors, even! Thanks pinterest! To top it off, I had a dream job for my husband haha! Yeah the one I don’t even know yet! It is all so comical now looking back but I can promise you, I thought this was how my life was to play out.

This was before I knew my Savior as a friend instead of a religion.

Now here I am, head over heels in love with Jesus… but let’s take a look at the timeline. I am in my third year and not close to being finished with school, like real behind, I don’t go to the big university I had planned on attending, I don’t have a cute DIY decorated apartment with 3 of my closest friends, I do not have even a hint of a boy in my life, I barely have friends (and by barely I mean I have like 3)! I am so far off the track I created and dreamt up and I am not going to lie, it is FRUSTRATING sometimes. I am often find myself angry, asking why me.. why not her? Why is this so much harder for me than them? It’s easy to blame God, because I mean if God wanted me to have an easy perfectly timed life, He could give it to me right??

So that is how mine and God’s ideas for my life differ, and here is why I trust His plans over mine. Here is where Jesus swoops in, saves me, and answers all my questions at once. I am about to sound like a stuffy old preacher, but let’s turn to John chapter 11.

{Back story real quick- Jesus was best best friends with the 12, but He also had a special place in His heart for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (siblings). They hung out a lot and were very good friends.}

So in verse 2, we find out L (Lazarus is kind of annoying to type over and over) is sick, so sick and basically on his death bed. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus and get this: it didn’t even say “L is sick, hurry home”, it said “the one YOU LOVE is sick” the one You love, I mean that is top friends on snapchat status, BFF, like Jesus you LOVE this guy. So L was sick and really this is not a problem though, because Jesus LOVES him and heals people daily, people he doesn’t even know. In the sister’s mind, this is an easy fix for the Savior of the world! And He did this all the time! He would be back in perfect timing to save L and get the glory.

And Jesus got the message and said (vs 4) “this sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God” Praise the Lord! Here He comes to the rescue! Or so we thought… instead of rushing to His friend’s side and healing him, Jesus heads in the opposite direction for a few more days. Wait WHAT?? Why didn’t Jesus do what He should have done OMG HOW ANNOYING!! Why isn’t Jesus doing what I think is best for this situation?

This is where I find myself a lot. I think I know all the answers, I think I know what’s best for me and those around me. I think I know what Jesus should be doing and when He doesn’t, I get frustrated.

Isaiah 55:8-9 ~ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

This. Soak that in. Just as Heaven is higher than the earth, so are His thoughts higher than my thoughts. Makes so much sense yet, sometimes I find that so hard to trust.

Jesus didn’t come when he “should have” or when our silly little human minds think he should have.

And L died.

Jesus returned to find Mary and Martha mourning the loss of their brother and broken by the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, their friend, had pretty much left them hanging. Mary cried out to Jesus “Lord, if only You had been here! My brother would not have died!” (vs 32). AKA if you came when we asked instead of playing around for a couple of days, we’d all be happy! Where were you Jesus? Why didn’t you show up when we wanted you to? What in the stinkin world?!

BUT WAIT.. The story isn’t over.

Jesus was sad and he cried and he was angry at himself (yeah guys Jesus was emotional too sometimes!!) and finally said “Remove the stone” And Martha is over there like “Jesus, he’s been dead for FOUR DAYS, let it go man” and Jesus replied “didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (vs 38-40). Throwback to when Jesus said God would be glorified in this. Jesus goes on to pray “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know you that you always hear me…” (vs 42) and then He yelled out “L COME ON OUT!” AND L CAME OUT!!!! He was four days dead, but at the sound of Jesus’ sweet voice, he came out alive and well!

What if Jesus just healed him instead of raising him to life… sure God would still get glory but what a more beautiful way to bring praise to the King right?! He raised a man from the dead! I MEAN HELLO! Glory to God. What a Savior, literally.

This story means so so much to me. And it has for a really really long time. When I think about the anger Mary and Martha and honestly probably Jesus himself felt about L dying, I feel so understood. And I don’t know about ya’ll but being understood brings so much comfort. I often get so annoyed, angry, let down by God’s plan and how it isn’t what I had planned. But this life I’m in, it’ll end in God’s glory. All this pain and loneliness and everything in my life that seems so off track works together not only for my good, but for God’s glory. So I cling to that truth, His ways are higher than mine and I’d take the God of the universe’s ways over mine any day. Plus it’s a much cooler story.

Thankful for His Perfect Timing.

xx. Austyn

Here Goes Nothing

This is my blog. I am writing a blog. I have started my own blog.

I feel like I am seriously not cool enough to say any of those things. I know in my head, a blogger is someone who wears cute baggie flannels and knits cutie winter hats and sits in really hip coffee shops and bears their soul to their macbook. I, on the other hand can barely rock a flannel, definitely cannot knit, and I don’t even own a macbook (or an iphone but that’s a different saga). I am too spazzy and spacey. I can barely talk, much less write my thoughts. I am far too distracted to sit and write, to be still…

But here I am, 11:04 on a Tuesday, sitting, being still, writing. I have wanted to start a blog for a long long time, but I am the girl who is too scared to post a selfie because I don’t want people to judge me or see who I am. This, my friends, is so much scarier than posting a selfie. In my head, a blog is revealing a raw part of myself to all you (or maybe no one LOL who knows really). I am petrified. But none the less, I feel like there’s this bigger, louder part of me who wants to shout from the rooftops the mess that goes on in my head. Maybe someone will get something huge out of these random, sporadic posts or maybe this will give ya a good laugh cause I am pretty weird and not at all normal. But really, I just want to get these thoughts out of my head. So what better way than to post them on the world wide web, right? Right! Okay!

So with allllll that being said, here goes absolutely nothing. My prayer is that somehow, Jesus will make a breakthrough in someone’s heart with these words. That I may be His scarred hands typing away my thoughts, ideas, worries… and that through my mess, He may reveal His message.

xx. Austyn