4 Steps Towards Living a Full Life

4 steps towards living a full life

Last week I passed by an oak tree – branches heavy with leaves. The house behind it peeked through its fullness and I thought, I want my life to be like that, Lord. Full.

And then the thought came: Your life will be as full as you want it to be. I get the choice. I can choose to live a full life or I can choose to live a small life. What does living a full life look like?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Become Uncomfortable

The older I get, I find myself more cautious. I am neater, more organized, and more aware of consequences and implications. All these things are an important part of development and maturity, but sometimes overthinking and staying too rigid leaves little room for adventure and the ability to be uncomfortable. It’s amazing the little things that make me uncomfortable these days: a change in routine, a small inconvenience. I’ve turned into a persnickety 83 year old in my early-mid twenties. When I get too comfortable with my routine, who I am, and where I am at in life, I limit myself.

One reason I knew I Mr.M was the man I was going to marry was the sheer fact that I was uncomfortable. From Day 1 of our relationship, he pushed me outside my comfort zone. I was uncomfortable at the level of spiritual vulnerability. I was uncomfortable navigating the intercultural nuances. I was uncomfortable with the leadership that came with our relationship. But my life was full. Being outside of my comfort zone pushed me in ways that I could never have imagined. I experienced intense growing pains during the beginning part of our relationship, and I loved it.

What is one area you need to get uncomfortable?

4 steps towards a full life

Establish Deep Roots

The second thing that came to mind as I considered the full oak tree is the roots. A tree cannot grow into adulthood and expand its wings, so to speak, without a deep root system. Likewise, we need our roots to grow long and deep into healthy soil.

How do we get our roots to grow?

We drink deeply, feed our soul, and press into our foundation.

Drink deeply of the life you are given, and press into your foundation. My foundation is my faith. I drink deeply of the wisdom of those older than me and of the Scriptures. I notice a change in myself when I’ve isolated myself from my roots. When I neglect to take time to feed my soul – whether that is refusing to take time for a bubble bath sans Netflix, going on a walk outside, or reading my Bible at night – I feel my leaves start to wither.

How do you feed your soul?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Healthy Soil

For those of you who grew up in Sunday School, you likely heard the parable of the sower and the seeds.

A sower threw his seeds into four different areas. The seeds fell onto the path, where they were eaten up by birds – they were denied the chance to grow. Other seeds fell into rocky soil. The plants quickly took root and shot up, but the roots were shallow and the plants were scorched by the heat. Some seeds fell among the thorns, where they were choked up, and the seeds that fell on good soil grew strong and healthy and produced a large crop.

Our soil is our community. Who are we surrounded by? Who do we have to lift us up? Who do we have to nourish us, encourage us, and give us the space to grow?

There were times when I felt as if I was on rocky soil. I feared that if one more thing happens, I would give up. During these times, I wasn’t surrounded by a strong community. I had isolated myself. And even worse, I allowed people who didn’t have my best interest to speak into my life.

There are growing pains that come with a full life. We go through various seasons, and if we are not rooted in a strong community, we will wither and die. What does a strong community look like for you?

For me, a strong community looks like peers who are ambitious. They are pursuing their dreams, their calling, and most importantly, the Lord. A strong community also consists of allowing people who are older and wiser to speak into my life – to call me out when I’m being crazy and to encourage me when I’m weak. In a strong community, there are also people who may be different than me – whether it be younger, or living with a different (but holy) perspective from whom I can learn.

What does a strong community look like for you?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Duration

When I think about how long it takes for an oak to grow, it’s exhausting. Oak trees can take up to 100 years to grow to their full potential. Some days it may feel like we see little to no growth at all in our lives. We wonder when we will reach our destiny and fulfill our potential. But we remember, growth comes little by little. We may not see it in the moment, but we get to look back and see how far we have come.

Living a full life takes patience. We must weather through various seasons, year by year, in order to grow. Like the oak tree, we experience high winds, torrential downpours, snow, the hot sun year after year after year. But one day, thirty years from now, when we look back, we will see how much we have grown.

4 Steps to Living a Full Life

10 Verses for When You Feel Afraid

 

do not fearThe news has been crazy lately. My heart goes out to the victims of Irma, Harvey, the earthquake in Mexico, those in fear because of DACA ending – my list could go on. There is so much pain and hurt in the world.

It is so easy to overwhelm ourselves with anxieties about the world that we cannot control. Yesterday at church, my pastor shared a convicting message about fear that inspired me and revealed 3 important truths:

1 – Terrible things have been happening in the world since day one. Think: crusades, the Civil War, World War II – the list could go on. Nowadays we know about all the terrible things happening in the world. With an overload of information, it’s understandable that we get overwhelmed with anxieties and fear.

2 – In a world that broadcasts chaos daily, we are called to be peacemakers.

3 – Peace is not a reaction of our external circumstances, but a presence from within.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been intentionally overcoming fear. Two years ago, I declared to become a prisoner of hope. After listening to a sermon from Pastor Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding, California), I declared that to be the year that I would become not a prisoner of fear, but a prisoner of hope.

Someone who had time and the energy looked up the word “Fear” in the Bible and noticed that it says “Do Not Fear” 365 times. That is one time for each day of the year!

When we are afraid, we must declare who we are, and whose we are. We are strong. We fight from victory. We are children of God. And our God will fight for us.

I don’t say these things because I pulled them out of the air. I say them because they are full of light and truth from the word of God.

10 Verses For When You Feel Afraid

God cares for us 

1 Peter 5:7 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

God is our Salvation

Isaiah 12:2 

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

God is our Father

Romans 8:15

 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.

God is with us

Joshua 1:9 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

God will fight for us 

Exodus 14:13 – 14

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

God gives us peace 

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is no fear in love 

1 John 4:17 – 18 

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

God does not give us a spirit of fear 

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.

God brings us joy in the midst of anxiety 

Psalm 94:19

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Don’t worry about tomorrow. 

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


What are your favorite verses on fear?

What is your fear coping mechanism? 

5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week

5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week (1)

I like to start my Monday off by hitting snooze 7 times, snuggling up to my husband, and whining before we have to get out of bed and face the day. For some reason, Mondays are the hardest to get out of bed! One thing that is for sure to put me in the right mindset, though, is to tune my heart with some uplifting worship music.

Why Do We Worship?

For many of us, worship is something we do on Sunday mornings while listening to the music being played at church. We close our eyes, sing along and sway along without truly paying attention to what we are doing. I find myself guilty of this often. As I’ve grown in my faith, I have found worshipping to be something I can do every day without even listening to music. Like I have said before, worship is anything we do intentionally to give glory to God.

I love how Jonathan David Helser, a worship leader affiliated with Bethel, talks about worship. I have been listening to the Helser’s podcasts a lot while I’m at work, and it has been quite a treat. 10/10 would recommend. In one of his podcasts, “The Presence is Greater than the Pressure,” he says that “worship is not a genre of music, but a position of the heart. [Worship is ministering to God, and] those who most effectively minister to God allow God to minister to us.”

And sometimes on a Monday morning, I am not in a position to minister to God/anyone else. I’m grumpy, I’m sleepy, and I just want to crawl back under the covers. So I have a list of songs that I love to listen to that remind me of who I am, whose I am, and why I am loved. I’m excited to share those with you today!

5 Uplifting Songs to Start Off Your Week

Catch The Wind

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that I screenshot and Instastory this song probably once a week. I can’t stop with this song. It’s a great declaration of strength, courage, and boldness.

Reckless Love

If you want to be absolutely wrecked, give this song a listen. We’ve been singing this at church for the past couple of weeks and I walk away overwhelmed and reminded how much God loves me.

Starlight

The first time I heard this song was at a Bethel worship night last year with Pai. I was amazed by the beauty and intimacy of these lyrics. It’s a song of hope and longing, but knowing that your Savior is coming soon.

Sinking Deep

In case you haven’t guessed by now, my favorite attribute of God is his neverending, continuous love. I’ve found in my life that I don’t love myself or others very well until I know that I am loved by my creator. I love to listen to this song when I am feeling particularly numb or unlovable. When I remind myself that I am washed in the love of Christ, I can go throughout my week loving others and myself better.

Out of Hiding

A sweet friend who loved on me during my senior year of college introduced me to Steffany Gretzinger and her music (I wasn’t as big into worship music as I am now.) I was having a season where I was being particularly hard on myself, so she encouraged me to listen to this song every day. I found myself in my car, sobbing on a Tuesday afternoon listening to this and allowing God to remind me that I was his child.

Listening to worship music to start off the week, or any morning, reminds me of my purpose. My purpose is not to just go to work, do the paperwork, talk with the students, and go home. My purpose is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, love others like He loves me, and to serve others.

What do you do to get out of the Monday grump slump? 

Run your Own Race

run your own race

With social media at our finger tips, we are invited more and more into people’s lives – not their every day lives, but the best of their every day lives. You see a picture of my coffee, but you don’t know that I had a complete melt down because the coffee pot wasn’t working that morning. You may see me post something sweet about my awesome husband, but you don’t know that the night before that picture that we had a huge fight (regardless of when we do fight, I still think my husband is awesome.)

As a blogger, I want to be as authentic online as I can without selling my soul, and I think other bloggers may feel the same. There are just some things that shouldn’t go online. But because we don’t air out our dirty laundry, we only ever see each other’s highlight reels, and then we compare them to our own mundane lives.

It’s hard when you’re 25 and you see everyone getting married and you don’t have a boyfriend. Or when your feeds blows up with squishy babies and you get can’t pregnant. You may feel a tinge of jealousy when you see everyone going to these fancy islands and all you can afford is a weekend at the lake. And when your friends are working in fulfilling jobs they love, it’s hard to have an attitude of contentment.

The Marathon

I once heard Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz – a great book for millennials who are questioning everything already) explain marriage like a marathon. A successful marathons require intense training, extreme discipline, a positive attitude, and persistence. This is why I’m never going to run a marathon. But I like the analogy.

Paul also likens life to a marathon in the book of Hebrews:

“. . . Let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. . .”

We Christians see life as a race. Sometimes I think people see it as a race to the finish, with heaven being the goal. That’s great and all, but there’s life here. So if we are constantly looking towards heaven as our goal, then we’re missing out on the beautiful scenery here in our life. Each and every one of us was born for a purpose. And we are racing to complete our purpose. 

Run Your Own Race

The Weight

You know how some people run with ankle weights? I think this is dumb. It’s harder to lift your legs and hurts your knees. Maybe I’m just lazy. I know for a fact, though, that whenever I ran, I tried to have as little on me as possible. I didn’t even like to run with a water bottle when I was training for my half marathon because carrying something was a hindrance.

When we are running life’s race, we end up picking up so many things. Insecurity, Comparison, a Broken Heart, Hurt Feelings, Toxic Relationships, Too Much Netflix, Other People’s Opinions – I could go on and on and on. We don’t think of these things as weights, but they are. Nursing hurt feelings takes WAY more energy than letting go. Toxic relationships add WAY more strain onto our emotions than healthy. Too much Netflix pacifies us. It’s hard to run a race when you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Looking Ahead

We can’t complete our purpose if we are looking to the right and to the left. As the oldest of 6, a control freak, and a bit of a bossy pants, I like to look around and make sure that everything is going the way it should be. When I see someone doing something they shouldn’t, I have to fight my innate urge to tell them what they are doing wrong and why it is wrong. Because I want people to like me and be my friend, I often keep my mouth shut.

I’m not just looking at people to see what they are doing wrong, but I’m also looking to see what they are doing right and I’m doing wrong. I see bloggers who have been doing this thing for 6 months with 30k Instagram followers. I see friends accomplishing their dreams while I’m still trying to figure out mine. My mind becomes consumed with what other people are doing, and I’ve lost my focus. I see everybody killin’ it while I am afraid to take a step because what if I step in the wrong place! When I am looking at other people, I’m not looking ahead. And when I’m not looking ahead, I’m likely to stumble.

The Scripture doesn’t tell us to look ahead at our purpose, or to look ahead at our goals. It tells us to look ahead at Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He already ran this race. In fact, he was the first one to run it. He knows the best route, he knows the pace, he knows where the water stations are. And He is perfect. So many times I beat myself down for not being enough. But I don’t have to be enough, I just have to rely on Jesus because He makes me enough in Him.

run your own race

Run Your Race

So maybe you don’t know your purpose. I ask this of myself a lot. What is my purpose? What am I here for? Who am I? These are the great soul searching questions that keep us up at night. And I love it. It’s annoying, but it also shows that we believe in something bigger and better than ourselves. I came to a conclusion one afternoon while I was searching.

My purpose is to worship. Plain and simple.

But what is worship?

Worship is anything I do that glorifies God. Making dinner for a family who just had a baby is worship. Singing worship songs loudly in my car is worship. Spending intentional time with my siblings is worship.

Even if you don’t know your life’s purpose at this very moment, you have a purpose for your day. Mine is to worship and love people well. What is yours?

 

Choose Bravery

choosing bravery

One of the things that most defines my inner thought life is fear. As happy and bubbly as I am, a pessimist sneaks into my thoughts every now and then. Some days it’s a constant battle to think of the bright side instead of allowing fear induced thoughts to creep in.

When I was a freshman in college, one of my friends gave me an ornament with a Bible verse on the back. She told me she had prayed specifcially for each person and wrote down a verse that she felt like God was leading them to. On the back of my ornament was 2 Timothy 1:7: For I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. I appreciated the gift, but didn’t think too much of the Bible verse until a couple years later when I started my senior year and found myself fearful of everything.

I was afraid to graduate because I didn’t have a job, or a 5 year plan.

I was afraid of the world because there were so many terrorist bombings and evil being publicized every day.

I was afraid to get vulnerable and blog about my faith, because what if there were consequences?

And then I remembered: God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control. God’s perfect love cast out my fear (1 John 4:18.)

The Anxiety Generation

Millennials are crippled with anxiety. We have been labeled the most anxious generation. Some experts think it is because we lack a familial support system. Half of us are living with our parents, and half of us have moved across the country and only see our family one or two times a year. Other experts think we have too many choices.

In my college psychology classes, we learned about the paralyzation of too many choices. When we have 10 things to decide from, we have to think 10 times as hard about what we want. Rather, when we only have 2-3 options to choose from, we are able to make a more informed and less overwhelming decision. Regardless of the origin of our anxiety, we are an anxious generation.

Be Brave

So you may remember that my word of the year is Be Brave. I was laying in bed at the end of December, thinking my word was going to be Creativity when the words “Be Brave” spoke so loudly in my heart that I opened my eyes right away.

“God, is that you? Are you sure you want me to be brave? What does this mean?!”

I kind of freaked out, because I’m a pansy and don’t want to do anything scary. I concluded that being brave meant dreaming, being vulnerable, and punching fear in the face.

And so far, so good.

Dreaming

I had been dreaming of starting a book club since I graduated college. I love to read, and I love to discuss. I need the intellectual engagement and I need a lovely group of people around me to push me to think about something differently, so in January, I started a book club.

Being Vulnerable

I like to say that Dating is Vulnerability 101. Engagement is Vulnerability & How to Communicate Through Stress 201. Marriage is The Vulnerability that Never Ever Goes Away Practicum Level 500. Vulnerability is real. And it is so beautiful.

After we got married, Pai and I moved to a new church. We loved our old church, but we knew God was calling us out into something new and taking us away from our comfort zone. A couple months in, I tried to figure out the blue feeling inside of me, and realized it was because I was lonely. I had moved churches, got married, and separated myself from a group of ladies. So I got vulnerable, and asked a couple of girls to get together a couple times a month. We share our stories, we study God’s word, and we are learning to be vulnerable.

Punching Fear in the Face

Yesterday I went kayaking and boat riding with some friends from church and my blogging & IRL bestie Tiffany. As we were kayaking around the lake I suddenly thought of brain eating amoebas. Y’all, I am so dramatic. I sat there in my kayak, nervous to actually get in the water because I didn’t want to be the rare case of a newlywed 20something year old who died of a brain eating amoeba. But I thought of the rarity of it. I asked myself, “Am I going to allow an irrational fear keep me from having the time of my life?” And that answer was no. So I jumped in the lake, and even tried to surfboard in the wake of a speed boat.

I didn’t want to surf board because I was scared. The moment I recognized my fear, I said “I have to do it. I have to try.” So I climbed out of the speed boat and onto the surf board and tried something new. I got water up my nose, and I had a blast. I got to test my strength, practice patience with myself, and celebrate the 5 seconds I stood on the board.

It’s easy to allow fear and anxiety rule our lives.

It’s hard to recognize what we need to do to make that change. For me, it is all about perspective. It’s about changing my mindset. It’s about choosing to be brave.

Apply for that job you’ve been eyeing.

Break off that toxic friendship that has been draining you.

Do something that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone, chase your passion, and makes a difference.

What is one brave thing you’ve done in 2017 so far? Tell me in the comments below!