Sunday, September 22, 2013

Life, Currently

I can't even describe how ashamed I am to even be posting on my blog right now.
It's been so long.
TOO long.

I've been procrastinating (didn't we talk about this in the past?) with posting my travel blog that I mentioned eons ago, and it's for this reason I haven't even touched my blog.

< here's a little teaser of the travel blog to come! >

It's been that nagging little voice in the back of my head, though. Don't worry, sweet, new little blog-I haven't forgotten about you yet!

So I thought I'd quickly discuss current life while I have time to gather my thoughts?
I'm four weeks (FOUR weeks?!) into my junior year of college, and I have to say that so far, it's my favorite year yet!

This year we have six foreign exchange students from Paris studying abroad and taking classes in the school of architecture, and I must say I adore them. I have been hoping and planning to study abroad in Paris during my graduate year of school, and would be studying at their university, which would be so exciting! They have been teaching me how to correctly enunciate my French 'R's' (which is impossible, by the way) and speak French phrases, like 'where are the shoes?', so that when I go shopping in Paris I can find my way around just fine ;) (ou sont les chaussures?).

School has been keeping me busy enough, but not as busy as I was expecting. No complaints here, although this has left me with more free time than a girl with a wandering mind needs.

I must point out that I truly believe I am blessed with the spiritual gift of faith. It has never been an option for me to think of this world without a loving God who created me and gave me new life, and I find it so much more natural to simply believe than consider another option.

But I have definitely struggled with life decisions in general when coming back to school. I have found myself not working out, gorging myself on food and sweets, not budgeting my money or time wisely, not making time for God, and overall just being a lazy person.

I was really hating myself for about two solid weeks, for letting my eating and exercise habits get out of hand, for slacking off on my studies and daily chores, and overall not being the person I want to be. I was brewing in bitterness about the life I was living, and how I wish I could have been different.

And then last night, as I was wallowing in my self-pity, I finally realized I needed some serious time with God, and He opened my eyes to the one thing I was choosing not to see: that I deserve better than this. I am a child of God who deserves more out of her being than sitting on the couch watching Netflix for 4 hours straight.

I never once thought I could be anything important in this world. I had a dream and plans for my future, but I didn't actually believe I deserved them. I have made too many mistakes that they couldn't possibly be cancelled out by any supernatural force. 

And this, my dear friends, is losing the true faith of believing in someone, instead of having (and losing) unsure faith in a circumstance.

Thankfully God restored my heart that night and moved in such a way that I saw clearly how I deserve so much more than the person I previously thought I deserved.

God did not create me to use up and waste the precious gift that is life. He created me to first worship Him, but to also love others, through loving Him and loving myself.

I am a strong believer in the fact that you can not love anything if you can not love yourself, and when I say love yourself, I don't just mean how you look or how you act. Of course, you must be comfortable in your own skin, and love those parts of yourself too, but I what I really mean is to love the decisions you make on a daily basis. I can promise that on the days I love the decisions I make, I can love on everyone else around me so much easier.

God also showed me that I must choose to believe in His power and to believe in myself. And now, it's time to get moving and put this belief to action!

I found this great little quote on Pinterest, (can I get a whoop whoop for Pinterest? Who doesn't love this site?!) and it's the most profound set of words I've ever read.

We can not become what we want to be by remaining what we are.

I can not become the 
that I want to be by sitting on my bum and expecting something prolific to happen in my life without even trying.

As I sat there in my bed with these thoughts, an amazing sense of peace filled me up and I was unable to think anything but these words: 
You are lovely, and you are loved.
You know this much, but now you must love yourself.

I wasn't loving who I was, but my future deserves my love, and my time and my energy.

I will now be expecting better habits of myself. I'm making a conscious effort to love who I know I will become, because I deserve so much more from myself than what I'm giving in the present.

And I thank God for that realization.

Have a blessed and happy week, and don't forget to take some time out of your hectic day to love on your Lord and yourself.

Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice.
Psalms 51: 16-17, MSG

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Learning to Rest

Good Morning friends!

Yesterday I was hit with a sudden revelation that I just had to share.

I'm reading a wonderful book right now, The Easy Burden of Pleasing God, and it is changing my life. I have really been struggling (especially lately) with the feeling that I am not good enough, doing enough, being enough. I have been working and praying for God to change my heart so that I will be a harder worker, less of a procrastinator, a more eager volunteer, and in general, to be a better Christian.

But here's the problem with this: I was praying for all of these things for myself. I wasn't taking into account what God had to say about this situation at all, but rather thinking about how my life could be different if I were better.

Ultimately I wanted to be that person you look at and think, "Wow, she's a great Christian! She's got it all together!" But this is such a selfish thought to have! What does it matter to me what other people think of me? I should be concerned with one opinion only, that of my Creator. I don't pretend to know God's thoughts, but somehow I don't think what he wants for my life is for others to think I'm a great Christian.

I have thought this very thought about many friends in my church family whom I fiercely admire, but they all would vehemently argue with me. No human being on this Earth has ever had it all together. Everyone has their own battles and struggles they deal with on a daily basis. Isn't that in itself such a freeing feeling, to know that you don't have to, nor will you ever be perfect?

There's also the fact that, as humans, nothing is ever enough. I could be a multi-billionaire and still need more money. When will I ever be enough for myself? The sad answer is never. I will always think that I can be better. But the wonderful thing about knowing and loving a God who gives you life is that you are always and forever enough for Him.

Making our way out of that rant and back to the book, The Easy Burden is teaching me how to stop working and worrying about everything in life and to just be with God. Have you ever sat down in silence, maybe reading your bible or just praying, for no other reason but to draw close to Him? It's such a freeing and joyful thing, because that's all He wants, is to be close with you! Isn't that a wonderful thought?

Stop what you're doing, find a comfy spot to sit down and spend some time dwelling in God's presence. Maybe switch up your schedule a little bit. Take 30 minutes in between studying to read your bible. I can promise you will walk away from quality time with Abba more alive, energetic and joyful that you could ever imagine.

Life is a glorious and holy thing, and He wants you to enjoy it, not stress your way through it. You're not Superman, He is! Find peace and know that He has everything under control.

Love and hugs,

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 NIV

P.S. In just a few days I'll be vacationing with the parents at Lake Geneva, and then heading through St. Louis on my way back to school, so hopefully I'll be posting my first (mini) travel blog soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Anti-Procrastination Challenge

It's 11:00AM on a Wednesday in July. It's going to be one of those days. I can't, nor will I, bring myself to do anything productive. In fact, by writing this post I'm slacking off!
Granted, it's summer break, vacation time, blah blah blah, but am I the only person who really struggles with a non-productive day?
I can't stand the feeling of crawling into bed at night and not being exhausted from the day's work. That  right there is a guaranteed restless night of sleep.

Procrastination has been a personal battle my entire semi-adult life. I can remember when I was in high school coming home and plopping in front of the TV for two hours straight (I had a long day, I deserved it, right?). And I mean, who really does their homework until right before class the next day?

The moral of this short story is that I started some horrible lifestyle habits in my early life, and they are haunting me to this day, affecting my school work, my relationships with friends and family, my free time. I even struggle with procrastination when I know that I have so much to do and so little time to do it in. It's like my coping mechanism to deal with this stress is to turn on Netflix.

I would consider myself a very organized person (Mom, there's a difference between being organized and being clean!). I have a daily Moleskine 12 Month Planner (archies unite!) that I carry with me everywhere and write in every day, and hi-light, color code, tab, etc. I also have a weekly calendar that sits in a place I can look at daily to see what the rest of my week entails. It's not like I'm oblivious to the work that needs to be done (I'm not sure if this makes my situation better or worse?).

However, when it comes down to just doing the thing, whether it's a class assignment, or working on my design portfolio, or cleaning the apartment, I. just. can't. do it.

I have no theories so far as to why I am such a procrastinator despite all the steps I take to prevent disorganization, except that I have developed bad habits.

I would say about myself that I haven't been fully aware of my procrastination until my sophomore year of college. I knew since high school that what I was doing when I did anything besides what I was supposed to be doing that I was procrastinating, but I didn't understand the repercussions from choosing this lifestyle. I just saw that what I was doing was fun, and what I wasn't doing wasn't fun, so I just chose (key word: chose) to keep doing what's fun and to do that other stuff later (never).

I think this is an important step of making a lifestyle change, that accepting and acknowledging your problem is the first step. I'm aware of my procrastination, and I want to make the change, and this is a huge step.

But then what's next?

 The not fun part. The actual change.

I am fully aware that this will not be an easy life transition, but it's a transition that needs to be made. From disappointment to satisfaction. From defeat to victory. From childhood to adulthood.

Now, I am also fully aware of the fact that my God will love me even if I don't make this lifestyle change. I love Him, and in the end, that's all that matters. I don't have to do anything at all to "make it" into eternity besides love Him with all my heart and soul and mind.

But I also know that life is a precious gift from God, which I should thank Him for every single hour of every day. On top of this, I can not fully love Him if I don't praise Him in everything that I do, and I don't praise God very well when I've been on Facebook the past two hours.
The truth hurts.

The simple fact is that it's time to grow up! It's time to put my big girl pants on and take responsibility for my actions. Hasn't this been what I've wanted my whole life? To finally be an adult?

It turns out, adulthood can be just as fun as we thought it would be as kids. WHAT? You've got that wrong, Jordan. Adulthood is a time to make hard decisions, and work hard, and go to bed early, and wake up early, and raise smelly children, and be on the go 24/7, and never have enough money, and...

I'm not going to sugarcoat this sucker for you. What little I know about adulthood does include making hard decisions, and hard work, and waking up earlier than you used to, and, for some of us, raising children who may or may not be smelly, and never having enough money.

But there is so much more to life than this. I just know there has to be, and there is. And the difference between people who see adulthood in this negative light and people who love their life is a change in perspective.

I now get to make hard decisions I've never made that will alter me and my life, always for the better.
I get to work hard doing something I love, and if I don't love what I'm doing, I love who I'm doing the work for, my creator.
I get to wake up earlier so that I have more time in the day to spend with the people I love.
Raising clean children can hardly be fun!
And I fully believe that God will provide me with everything I need. Even the richest man in the world needs more money.

A change in perspective is my first step to being productive.

OK, now that I have a change in perspective it's time to get moving! I need some practical, life-applicable changes to be made in my life.

And thus begins the two week challenge!
Exactly two weeks from today, I'll be preparing to make my pilgrimage back to Lawrence from Chicago for school, and I have SO much to do between now and then! This sounds like a perfect time to "grow up" :)

First things first: eliminate all distractions.
1. I'm going to be keeping my laptop downstairs 24/7 so that I'm not tempted to get on every social media site possible every five seconds.
2. I'm no longer going to sit in my bed and work on my computer. This is when I get on the computer for four hours before I realize what I've done.
3. I'm giving myself an hour each day to do "non-productive" tasks on my computer (this includes all social media and blogging!)

1. I'm deleting Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. off my phone
2. Is this really all I can come up with for my phone? I'll have to think of more "punishments"

1. If I find myself being distracted by family, friends, etc. then I must stop being friends with them immediately. Get away from me, satan!
Just kidding, but seriously, the next time I'm being distracted by another person I have to politely tell them that I need to get work done, and distance myself from this person for a short period of time to actually get the work done.

Next to conquer: free time. Relaxation is a great thing! I'm a huge believer in taking breaks, but not for more than 30 minutes at a time. Time to eliminate hours of doing nothing.

There's a million other ways to conquer procrastination I'm sure, but I'm going to start with these tasks and see how it went after two weeks!

We can do this! Procrastination does not own me, or you, or anyone. We are the authors of our own story, and with the help of God we will overcome any obstacle we put our minds to.

"Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism. God's name is a place of protection-good people can run there and be safe," Proverbs 18:9 MSG.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Journey

This is the only word running through my mind as a begin this blog.

I have many purposes for creating a blog, not all of which I can think of, but the main purpose is to begin, or rather continue, on the journey that is my life.

I have grown into myself more over the past 12 months than I have over 20 years, and I could already tell from some major life changes that all the growing pains would (and still will) be worth it. I can honestly say that I don't know who I was a year ago, and it both terrifies to think of going back to that girl, and greatly excites me to face my future!

I am coming upon my junior year in college, and although I have matured greatly this past year, I still have this immense struggle with so many life questions, as I'm sure most college students do.

What am I really doing here?
Why am a studying this major?
What's my purpose in life?
Why do I do the things I do?
Why does my family act this way?
Why do I have the friends I have?
This is such a pivotal moment in my life, am I about to make everything blow up in my face?

My only answer has been to turn to and rely fully on God, my creator and my first love, to help me through this confusing period. I know that my questions are natural, and although I may never get an answer to every question, I do desperately want to ease this transition from childhood to adulthood as best I can. And so this is where the blog comes in! I hope to share and dissect my life experiences with faith, relationships, school, and everything in between, and in the process get to know myself, and my God, and my life. Original concept? No. But this is my very own story, and that is a very original and beautiful thing, as everyone's story is.

And so, the journey begins.

"My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare." Psalm 25:15
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