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!

Move Your Mountain

Move Your Mountain

Happy Monday!

Last week seemed to last forever, which, since Pai and I were on a mini vacay for the extent of it, was a good thing. We had so much fun traipsing about Greeneville, SC. I can’t wait to share all the good eats we had with you soon!

A Mustard Seed Faith

When I was a kid in Sunday School, I was told that if I had faith as small as a mustard seed, I could move mountains. In my naive 6 year old mind, I would focus on a mountain, pray and ask that God would move it. And the mountains never moved. I’m glad they didn’t, because my 6 year old mind didn’t understand the implications of such a geological shift.

Growing up in the church, I’ve always heard this saying. I didn’t know what mustard seeds were until about a month ago. I honestly thought they were sesame seeds like on a hamburger bun because those were always pretty small seeds to my young mind. I’ve since learned differently. Mustard seeds are one of the smallest seeds in the world, and are actually used as spices in some areas. I’ve never seen a mustard tree in my life, but I learned they grow in the Middle East primarily due to the hot climate.

So why does the Bible tell us to have faith as a mustard seed when the seed is so small? When planted, a mustard seed grows into an enormous bush-like tree with an extravagant root system.

Building Faith

Four years ago, I went to the Dominican Republic to intern at a shelter for women coming out of sex trafficking. My summer had started in chaos. I had a plan to act in a short film that fell through, another job prospect fell through, and my boyfriend and I broke up. I was devestated. So I fled the country. (Kidding.) I heard about a ministry that worked with women coming off the streets, and I knew that was something I wanted to pour into. So I applied for the ministry mid-May; I didn’t hear that I received the internship until June 19th, and the intersnhip started July 1st.

I was overwhelmed. Why would I find out twelve days before I needed to be there? How would I raise $1500 in such a short amount of time?

I’ve learned over and over again that God gets to show off when we are in these tight squeeze situations. We’re walking along in our journey and we meet an impossible mountain.

Impossible mountains are planted in our way so that we are forced to rely on God and our community. We cannot overcome anything by ourselves.

I didn’t fund raise for my mission trip to the DR; instead I just put a note on Facebook explaining my situation, and my community stepped in. I trusted God to walk with me through that mountain, and he showed up. 2 days before I flew out to the Dominican Republic for a month, I received more than what I needed to cover the expenses.

Having a Miracle Memory 

Mountains are always going to show up in our path. Some we will walk over, side by side with our community, and some we will need faith to move.

Any time a mountain shows up, I freak out. I forget that God has walked me through and helped me to move mountains in our life before.

It helps to have what one pastor calls, “A Miracle Memory.” A miracle memory is a timeline or testimony, if you will, of miracles you have seen in your life.

Recently Pai and I have been praying for a miracle. When I thought everything was fallen apart, I remembered the miracles God has performed in the past. I wrote them down, and I submitted my anxiety to the Lord. A few days later, we received a miracle. Even though it didn’t show up the exact way we hoped, the season we get to walk through together has produced more faith and more miracles.

Moving Your Mountain

A mustard seed-like faith is more than just moving mountains. It’s also about the extravagant root system. When we choose to walk out in faith, our roots deepen and widen, further grounding us in our relationship with the Lord. We become immovable, even when the circumstances around us are chaos.

Our mountains don’t move because we want them to. They move because we believe in a God who can.

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
-Matthew 17:20

Life is like Salt Water Taffy

Life is like Salt Water Taffy

You know when you go down to a candy shop and you see that they are making saltwater taffy? It used to be that two people would pull the taffy apart from each other, creating that tension, stretching it. Now there’s a machine to do that for us, and it’s quite mesmerizing to watch.

via

Seriously, I watched that gif for a solid 5 minutes.

I’m going to propose something to you similar and contrary to what Forrest Gump said: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Yes, there are so many circumstances you will walk into and receive that you never could have imagined. Some are chocolate creme filled and delicious, some are nutty, and some are surprisingly nasty (like those orange ones that came in the cheap Valentine’s Day hearts? BLEGH.) Yes, I agree with Mr. Gump. But I also have another theory: Life is like salt water taffy.

What do I mean by this? I mean we are stretched and and stretched and then we come back together, getting closer to our goal: what we want to do, who we want to become, etc., and then are stretched again. It can be exhausting. Do you ever feel like, OK God, I conquered this area. WHY AM I BEING STRETCHED AGAIN? Because the stretching never ends. I finally figured out what I wanted to do. And then I had to wait – the waiting being sretched and pulled while still staying stationary. I found myself comfortable for a moment, and then the Lord was like, “Alright, time to move you out of your comfort zone again.” Stretched and pulled again.

It’s feels like we’ll never truly “arrive.”

It’s a depressing thought. 

We’re exhausted and we’ll never arrive. We’re constantly being stretched and will never fully be the ultimate person we thought we were going to become.

But it’s also an encouraging thought.

We will always be stretched; we will always grow. Pai tells stories about us when we first started dating –  I was awkward, insecure, and a little dramatic. OK. . .so I’m still a little awkward and dramatic, and let’s face it: do we every truly grow out of all our insecurities? No. But I have noticed growth in how I respond and who I am today is not the same person who I was 3 years ago. And who I am today will not be the same person I will be in 3 years from now. I have the potential to grow out of my personality flaws, I have the time to become who God has created me to be.

And even when I’m seventy-five, I will still have things I can improve upon.

This is the beauty of the different life stages. When we enter into a new stage in life, we’re confronted with new challenges. When we are confronted with  new challenges, we succeed and fail. We grow.

So while it’s exhausting to always be stretched, in the end, we’ll become something good.