Monday, December 31, 2012

To 2012…

I’ve been seeing a lot of “2012 Recap” posts floating around this bloggy world. Gosh, it’s like its 2013 tomorrow or something :p Anyway, I‘ve read posts about DIYs, outfits, travels, and other memories. While these are all exciting and truly wonderful, I have something a little different in mind. This past year, my relationship with God has been nothing short than crazy! I went from thinking I had everything together to realizing the brokenness I have in my life. I started to see how life-giving and life-altering an uninhibited walk with Him can be. This year…has been a learning process. It has been exciting, convicting, challenging, uncomfortable, joyful, and fruitful!

Here’s my short recap of God’s work in my life in 2012:

~He challenged me to pursue outreach

~I accepted the role as a small group leader and was humbled in my leadership

~I got out of a non-God-honoring relationship and released my life to His plan

~I took a leap of faith and started this blog to document my journey

~I became consistent in my daily time with Him, and grew exponentially

~He broke my heart for the needs of others around me, and I started to learn to be selfless with my time

~He showed me that my value needs to come from Him alone

~I reassessed and restructured my prayer life

~I started to see the beauty and joy of a relationship founded on His love

~I was challenged to be bold around my non-Christian peers

~He revealed the ways I need to grow in the relationship I have with my family

~I began taking time to be thankful for the little blessing in my life

~I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone and choose a new church home at school

~I learned (and am still learning) to trust….in Him alone

All that being said, I know I still have so much growing to do. I could go on and on about everything God has done for me and in me this year. It has truly been unbelievable how He gripped me and revealed to me so many aspects of my life that needed to change and I needed to release to Him. As I enter the new year, I come excited and expectant for His work in my life. I know He has mighty plans for my walk as I embark on this new season. My hope is that I can continue to be emboldened to do Christ’s work in my life.

So here’s to 2013: May it be a year that we are filled with His power & grace! Thanks 2012, it’s been real.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Worthy Export

Currently many of my friends are joined by over 16,000 other students from around the globe at InterVaristy’s Urbana 2012. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Urbana is a global missions conference held every three years that engages students in a multicultural setting on how to bring God’s kingdom here on the earth. I am so excited for the experiences they are having, and I cannot wait to hear about it from all of my sweet friends who are being met by God in some pretty cool ways.

Although I was unable to attend this year, I have been following along with the live feed (you should check it out!). God has already been challenging me as the speakers delve through the gospel of Luke. The first night Calisto Odede, a pastor from Kenya, spoke on Luke 4:16-30, when Jesus was rejected in Nazareth. Some of Calisto’s words really gripped me:

“Many of us would rather go to total strangers and share with them about our faith and Jesus Christ rather than turn to our friends, to our colleagues, and our family members where we are known. We’d rather keep quiet about Jesus Christ. Not so with Jesus. Well if you cannot share it with people who are nearby, you cannot share it with people far off. If it is not good enough for local consumption, it is not good enough for export!”

Woah. Prior to hearing this, I was putting away laundry while listening to the message. But then I stopped. Literally. I  stood there, rewound the video, and let those words resonate. I felt convicted.

I have always struggled with this aspect of outreach. Even in my youth group, this was the common theme among us. We hated sharing the gospel with the people who knew us best. But Jesus, He knew this to be true. Verse 24 says “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in His hometown.” But that didn’t stop Jesus. He revealed Himself as Christ, as the fulfillment of all the prophecies. He told them what He had to tell, and He told them what they needed to hear.

Our excuses are always the same. “They’ll judge me” or “I’ll lose friends” or “They won’t care”. but honestly, when did it become okay to write our our friends’ need for a savior? They are just as broken as we are. Why would we want to keep them from true peace, from true joy?

Jesus was literally thrown out of His hometown for speaking truth, but He did not back down. He embodied the truest example of missional living: unadulterated selfless passion for people. And He calls us to do the same. To live dangerously. To live uncomfortably. To live missionally. What would it look like if we stopped caring about our image, and started caring about the image of God? What if we saw the value in what we are consuming from Him, and had the courage to export His truth?

This is what I’m praying over today.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

White as Snow

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As I sit here writing, I glance outside and see the wonder and whimsy that is a snow storm. The first true storm of the season. And all I can think is that God is good. He is truly the greatest artist. I cannot understand how someone claim claim snow to just be science. It is beauty.

The way it falls softly to the ground.

The way each flake is perfectly shaped; an original in itself.

The way it makes everything so fresh, so clean.

God is good, He is perfect & pure…and yet wants us. The dirty broken people we are, and He doesn’t leave us in this state. I am awestruck by this truth.

By the end of this past semester, I felt drained. Drained physically and emotionally, and it started to affect me spiritually. Since break began, I have been searching for His peace again, longing for that passion I know He’s given me. And as I sit here now, I am starting to regain that peace. He is making me fresh and clean. He is washing me white as snow.

So friends, as this busy season is winding down, take moments to pause in His glory. Look outside at the wonder of the Artist’s grand painting. Allow yourself to be refreshed by His grace, because with the new year comes new opportunity for us to be used & molded in His plan.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow
;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
~Isaiah 1:18

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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Girl Behind the Blog: Holiday Traditions

As you read this, I am probably driving back home for winter break…wahooooo! I’m so very excited for this time to spend with family & friends. Today I’m linking up with Ashley & Kerrie for this month’s vlog!

Hope you enjoy :)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Currently…

Loving…the frosty ground outside this morning
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Listening…to “Of Monsters And Men” radio on Pandora
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Reading…the Advent devotional plan by #SheReadsTruth
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Eating…gingerbread men & double spice chai tea
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Studying…organic chemistry. Wahoo pre-finals week.
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Wearing…
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Memorizing…
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday

This week has been stressful….that may be an understatement. It seems like all of my professors want to cram as much material in as possible before the exams, and I am most certainly not a fan. Between assignments and studying, I was overwhelmed these past few days and I felt tired and drained. But, I did title this post “Thankful Thursday” and that was no mistake. As I sit here at my computer, I am overwhelmed with peace, despite everything this week. Peace from God that has led to my thanksgiving.

Today I’m thankful for…

Texts from friends saying they were praying for me.

Sweet hugs that were shared.

Sleeping in on Tuesday morning.

A surprise letter of encouragement from my friend Lacy.3d0e05f83f2a11e2bf6922000a9f1404_6

The Advent plan I started this week.

That feeling after my orgo test was done.

Date night silliness including a thrift store run for ugly Christmas sweaters.
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Some awesome time with God reminding me of His power through all situations.

Only two weeks separating me from winter break!!

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  ~Psalm 61:2
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cara Box: Childhood

This month I had the opportunity to link up for the Cara Box Exchange hosted by Kaitlyn at Wifessionals. What is a Cara box? Cara means beloved friend. Kaitlyn’s idea behind the exchange is to link up bloggers each month to send each other a care package full of goodies and encouragement. Each month, she has a new theme for the box. After you’re paired up, you get to know your partner a little and put together their box!

I was paired up with Jillian at Keep Calm and Wear Pearls. I loved getting to know her a little bit, and it was cool to see some of the random things we have in common. You should stop by and check out her blog!

Anywho….onto the good stuff:
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Ballet Shoes because I loved ballet
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Quite possibly the funniest chocolate bar ever
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Awesome Nail polishes
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All of my ah-mazing gifts
I absolutely LOVED my box, Jillian did a great job reconnecting me with some sweet things I enjoyed as a kid (and now). Thanks again girl!
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Girl Behind The Blog: This One Time

Hello lovelies! Today I am linking up with Ashley & Julie for this month’s vlog!

I hope you enjoy my awkwardness…it’s pretty typical of me :p


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Monday, November 26, 2012

On Leading

During my time here at Binghamton, I can humbly say I am learning what it means to be a leader. I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as a small group leader for almost two semesters now and God has definitely been teaching me a lot.

It is important to vision cast. Vision casting gives purpose to your actions, reminding you of God’s will behind it all. As a small group leader, it can be easy for me to get caught up in the planning. To focus on making “good conversation” flow during bible study or to come up with a creative application response. But that’s not the point. A small group needs to be community. One that promotes deep, vulnerable conversation and equips its members to live missionally. I so easily consume myself with the minor details that I lose sight of that purpose. But without vision, we lose focus on God’s will for our time. Furthermore, if God’s will is not been done, the vision needs to be reassessed.

We are not called to lead alone. God made us relational people for a reason, we are not called to ministry alone. Both semesters I’ve been a leader, I’ve had a co-leader with me. This is by far the most wonderful thing that could have happened to me! Having a partner in crime helps in so many ways. My first semester as a leader, my co-leader Winnie mentored me in how to lead small group. She taught me how to facilitate discussion and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. This semester, I am paired up with my friend Sasha. She balances me out so well. We are able to bounce ideas off of each other and share the work that goes into planning and facilitating. It has also been so beneficial to fellowship with the other small group leaders in IV. We can come together and share our joys and burdens, what works and doesn’t work, and ultimately build community with each other as we grow together.

Things will go against your plan. This is by far the most difficult thing I am coming to terms with. It is taking a lot of time for me to truly comprehend that God’s plan does not always match up to my own. Some weeks our small group has low attendance, sometimes Sasha and I struggle to facilitate deep conversation, some planning sessions take way longer than expected. But that’s okay. It’s more than okay, because God works in all situations. He is not limited by my idea of a good small group. Ultimately, His will is being done.

If I could sum leadership up in one word I would say humbling. I have been humbled when my plans do not work. I have been humbled when I am reminded to refocus on God’s vision over my own. I have been humbled in realizing I can’t and shouldn’t lead alone. But all in all, leadership has grown and challenged me to rely more on God. It challenges me to live transparently for God in everything I do. I am learning to let God equip me for His kingdom work.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

As I prepare to head back to Bing tomorrow, my heart and belly are full. This break was such a wonderful time to truly reflect on what I have to be thankful for. Hours were spent laughing with friends, good meals were shared with family, and I got to rest and relax in the place I call home. I am leaving tomorrow refreshed and ready to get back school (just maybe not the school work!)

For now, I am resting in these words:
”I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
~Psalm 9:1-2

Bump Photos - November 24 2012
Top: missed the cats obviously // My dad’s turkey brining method…a cat litter box (cleaned of course) // Family recipe for my favorite rolls // Our Thanksgiving spread
Bottom: #SheReadsTruth “Thirteen Days of Thanksgiving” // Snuggling with my kitty // More #SheReadsTruth // Indian buffet lunch with my dad & brother // Black Friday finds

I can’t wait to be home again in just under a month!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

Looks something like this…

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Oh you know, just an intimate gathering of 30 people.

Complete with 2 turkeys, a 10lb ham, 3lbs of pasta, and lots of other deliciousness.

Jealous?

Thanksgiving 2012
Top: all dressed up and ready to go // a glimpse of our menu // best dressed
Bottom: some of my lovely small group members // dessert // my wonderful friends who planned this shindig…they are kind of amazing

After this on Saturday night and a church potluck tonight, I am nothing less than excited for real Thanksgiving this Thursday with my family. Now if it was just Wednesday so classes could be done and I could go home!!!
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I mentioned in this post that I was going to start a list of the things I’m thankful for on a daily basis. Well, my life has been pretty hectic since then so I put it off. But wow is that the wrong attitude! The busier I am the more I need to step back and thank God for the things He’s giving me. That being said, I bought a notebook on Sunday and I’ve been writing down a few things that I’ve been blessed with this week.

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These are just a few of the things that made me thankful this week. Hopefully as time goes on, I’ll be able to notice so many more things throughout my day. I am officially on my way to my list of One Thousand Gifts. Already, God has been changing my heart to reveal the ways He is at work, and I’m excited to see how He grows me through this!
I’m also linking up with Sarah at Gracefully Made for Thankful Thursday!
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Monday, November 12, 2012

A not-so-DIY

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Here I sit, in Starbucks sipping my pumpkin spice latte, feeling all legit (now I know what Erin was talking about in this post). All I can think about are these verses.

1 Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”


These words seem so easy, so encouraging. To think that God, as powerful as He is, cares for me enough to take my anxieties and burdens on Him. And yet, here I sit, with the skewed mentality that I need to clean myself up before I come to Him. That He can’t handle the bad stuff, or that I don’t want Him to. I feel like I need to impress Him with my ability to handle everything. But honestly, what is there to impress with? We are a broken people. I am broken. God knows that….but He loves me anyway. He invites me to Him, as I am.

I’ve been wrestling with this truth for a few days now. Thinking about how I need to be vulnerable with people, because God made us relational people so we can encourage each other. But the sad reality is that I rely on people too much. I easily ask people to pray about something for me, and completely disregard my need to pray about it too. It seems that I try to replace God with people. But if God is truly sovereign, then He is the one in control. He is the one I should be going to with my pain. I can’t hide anything from him. And it’s my pride alone that gave me the false idea that I can.

Today in my #SheReadsTruth study, I was reminded of how God canceled out my debt, how He nailed it to the cross. What would it look like if I reminded myself of that daily? If I remembered that He truly does want to raise me up, and rid of the anxieties that weigh me down? He wants to see me grow, not dwell on the past.

I am about to enter a new season of my life. A season of service for God like I haven’t experienced before. It is so exciting, but I also know that it can easily bring stress if I’m not careful. I need to reevaluate the chain of command in my life. I need to give God lordship over everything I do. My schoolwork, leadership, time, relationships, and my struggles. He holds all the power. He is the only one who can strengthen me. I can’t do it myself. He can…and will!
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Expedition

As I mentioned before, I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to attend InterVarsity’s annual fall conference Expedition. The weekend was filled with goofy friends, matching pj’s, late night drug store runs, lots of laughter, and God. Meeting me right where I needed Him most.

It. Was. Awesome.

I participated in the prayer track, and I can honestly say I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I’d be taking away new insight on my prayer life, but I definitely wasn’t expecting the ways God challenged me.

First, He challenged me to reevaluate how I pray. As an extravert, I constantly feel the need to fill the silences. I can easily be that person who rambles in their prayer….but that’s just no good! In fact, Matthew 6:7 speaks blatantly against that. In my track, we learned how to pray in agreement. now, I had done it before, but never properly. But after this weekend, I really see the power in keeping your words few and affirming each other’s prayers. Silence is also becoming more prevalent in my personal prayer. I’m learning (and struggling) to allow God to fill my time instead of just talking at Him….it is a conversation after all!

Second, and one of my favorite aspects of the weekend, was learning about ninja prayer. (Just saying it makes me smile!) Confused? Ninja prayer is where you go into situation, maybe a public place like a cafĂ©, and pray over your surroundings. You observe the environment, listen in creep on conversations, and pray. The purpose of ninja prayer, or stealthy intercession, is to come in, pray, and leave without people knowing. Its not about you, but totally about the people around you. We had the opportunity to pray over a couple other tracks at the conference, and boy was it powerful! There’s something so wonderful about being completely selfless in your prayer. Coming back to campus, I’ve been excited to try this in the cafes, dining halls, and even in church. It is so easy yet so impactful. Think about it, God has sovereignty over every situation…even the ones we aren’t fully connected with!

Finally, God met me on such a personal level. As I mentioned here, I was convicted on one speaker’s talk on rest, and how I fail to do it. But beyond that, God revealed to me ways that I was still broken and hiding from Him. You see, God had been putting my one friend on my heart a lot lately. I had felt this pull to talk with her for a few weeks and we finally got to hang out at Expedition. I went into the conversation thinking God wanted to use me to encourage her and be there for her, but boy did I underestimate His plans. Our conversation opened up things within me that I hadn’t told anyone. Brokenness I had kept to myself because I didn’t think anyone could relate. But to my amazement, Katie was in the same boat. We talked and cried (well, I cried) and prayed for each other. I left feeling refreshed and free. I have a peace that was from truly handing these things over to Him. I am so joyful that God brought Katie & I together that weekend, because I know for sure it was not by accident. He is just so good.

Anywho, I figured I couldn’t end this post without some pictures of my weekend at Expedition!

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Expedition 2012Late night snack run…complete with mini Ben & Jerry’s // Maggie and I with our amazing pajamas // post-Expedition Chipotle // Piggyback ride // Katie & I debriefing our fellowship on the prayer track

Expedition 20121All of the Binghamton IVCF who went…I love these people so much!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving

thanks·giv·ing [thangks-giv-ing] noun 

1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
2. an expression of thanks, especially to God.
3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

The concept of thanksgiving has very prevalent in my life lately. Now that it’s officially November, I have a feeling that this will be coming up a lot more in the near future.

Back in September, I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Although its been hard for me to stay consistent with my reading, I have undeniably been impacted by Ann’s words. I am most inspired by her choice to make a list of 1,000 things she’s thankful for. From the small parts of her day that bring a smile to her face, to the big ways she has been blessed. The impact of this list is so apparent in her life. Her attitude and outlook are radically changed. What would it look like if I actually took time out of my day to identify the things I’m thankful for? What if I actually acknowledged the ways God blessed me? My stress would minimize, and my fire to she His truth would be ignited.

So this post…its my humble admission that I do not practice gratitude. I fail to celebrate the wonderful little things in my life.This post is my call to change. To begin living in a way that takes the focus on myself and give the glory to God. Starting today, I am going to list out the things I’m thankful for. I am starting my one thousand gifts list. {Stay tuned to see how its turning out}

As I wrote this post this song kept coming to mind. It is currently one of my favorites, and I believe it is quite fitting for the topic.


Will you join me? To go beyond the superficial “thanksgiving” that is associated with this month, and dive deep into the things we are truly thankful for.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Girl Behind The Blog: Show & Tell

Happy Halloween, friends! I’m super pumped to be linking up with Ashley & Erin for another Girl Behind the Blog vlog. I Was bummed when I missed last month’s so here’s mine this month.

So I realize I didn’t introduce myself…whoops. and I mumble a little. And the lighting is weird. But enjoy :)



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Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Quick Encouragement

This verse was on my heart today:

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
-1 Peter 5:10

Have a wonderful Saturday! I hope today you can rest in His glory and allow Him to restore you.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rest

As I contemplated what to write about in this post, I became overwhelmed with the possible ideas. My heart is so full and I have so much good stuff to share, but somehow I don’t think writing a novel of a blog post is ideal. So I’m starting here. I’m starting with rest. The concept of rest has been strong on my heart recently. Why? Because I don’t do it. I was asked about two weeks ago what I do to rest. My answer: I go be by myself. As soon as the words left my mouth, it hit me. I don’t rest. In fact, since the beginning of the semester, I hadn’t spent any time alone besides when I slept at night or the occasional time I studied alone (study parties have become a habit this semester). Even my quiet times have been a quick morning routine in my bedroom while my roommate is still asleep. I felt convicted by this realization. but also very conflicted. I’m a major extrovert! I hate being alone. I feed off of people’s energy. I feel a strong pull to community. And honestly, I suffer from major FOMO (fear of missing out). But as I pondered the thought, I realized how truly exhausted I was. I felt mentally and physically drained, and frankly…spiritually discouraged. Talking it out with my friend, I realized my feelings of inadequacy in leadership or inability to fruitfully pour into my friends intentionally all comes back to how empty I’ve made myself. I hadn’t allowed myself to be filled. That night, after that conversation, I rested. I apologized to a friend who I promised to hang out with, telling her I needed to just have some time for myself. I went to my room, laid down, prayed, and cleared my head. The result was overwhelming, I felt refreshed.

This past weekend, I went to InterVarsity’s Expedition Conference (more on that later!). I was so excited for the intentional time I would have to with people in my fellowship. We stayed up late each night playing games…resulting in about 9 hours of sleep for me total for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong I LOVED the time I spent with my friends, but I totally threw this rest thing out the window. The irony is that I even told friends who felt bad about going to bed early that it was ok if they were tired, that they needed rest. Silly Sarah, why didn’t you take your own advice?! God challenged me immensely this past weekend, He really identified areas of my life that I needed to give up to Him. But the real kicker came in our last session before we left. The speaker prepared a lesson to help send us back to our campus, full of God’s power and strength. The topic: rest. Woah. It was like the message was written right to me. Jon spoke about the importance of rest in our lives. How God gives sleep to those He loves (Psalm 127:2). He talked about how we need to be restored. That we need to intentionally make time to fill ourselves up in a stress free way. Why? Because God can’t use us if we are to weak to see where He is calling us. There is no shame in needed to be alone and rest, it’s required. We can’t pour into others until we, ourselves, are filled.

This morning, I woke up knowing I needed to rest today. I needed to overcome the stress of homework & midterms…through God’s peace. As I returned from my morning class, preparing for a quick nap, I received this text from my friend Amy: 3d51918a1df911e2957d22000a1f9779_7I couldn’t have gotten this text at a better time. I love how God used her to remind me of this truth. (Also, check out her post on rest)

Dear friends, where are you right now with God? With life in general? Are you overwhelmed with stress from school, work, or relationships? Are you feeling stretched too thin by a need to always be active? God does not call us to more than we can handle. He calls us to rest, in Him and His power. My hope is that you can be encouraged today to say no to the clutter in your life and truly humble yourself to His grace. It is okay to be tired, just embrace it :)

Rest well today!
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