Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thoughts on Insecurity + Identity

"What consumes my thinking will be the making or breaking of my identity." -Lysa TerKeurst

2017 has been the most refining year I've ever experienced -- as usual, the Lord is wrecking my life and my plans and is putting it all back together far more beautifully than I could have ever dreamed. It's a paradox that I'm still trying to wrap my head around -- how could I possibly be more in love with God today than I was months ago, even though I've walked through the fire of refinement for the past 11 months that at times seems like it's never going to end? 

I've discovered that there's intimacy to be found with Jesus that can only be found when you're in the middle of trying circumstances. This year, He has been stripping me of all that I have found my identity in and each time it happens I find that He is the very best thing - the truest thing. He can be trusted even when I don't know what He is trying to show me. He is good. 

I never thought of myself as being an insecure person until I got to graduate school and then for some reason, I began praying big, scary prayers. Be careful what you pray for because God ANSWERS THEM. I prayed that I would be so "wildly secure" in Him that I would have no room to worry, no room to strive, no need to question anything about the way He designed me. Ha!!! I don't think any of us will ever be fully rid of our insecurities because that's part of being human. I have a long way to go before He's done, but Jesus has done some unbelievable things in my heart and life over the past year. 

I've learned to not be distracted by those moving forward. His timing is perfect and He is trustworthy. I think about this a lot with the job industry that I'm getting ready to enter. I'm surrounded by the most talented, most driven, most successful people I've ever known. I am honored and excited to work with them. I fully plan on being inspired by them and letting them sharpen me. But I can't let the goal of progressing in my career stunt the things that God will teach me day in and day out, if I let Him, through the process of discipline. I must be faithful with little if I want to be entrusted with much. If I scratch and claw my way into something before I'm ready, it will only lead to insecurity. Even if what I want is something that is good for me and I have the right skills and/or the right motivations! Trying to operate in the gift on your life without the character to uphold the calling and its weight will leave you empty and insecure. I've found over and over that the Lord will strip things away from me until I am ready to find, once more, that my security is in Him alone. If I hadn't been placed in situation after situation where I allowed God to deal with my insecurity I would walk into St. David's HealthCare in January and immediately be striving in this incredibly humbling calling that God has put on my life. If I hang on to the identity of "Administrative Resident"/"Future Healthcare Executive" God will not be able to achieve above and beyond in my life. 

I never want to pray prayers that ask "What is going to make me better/more successful/happier?", but rather, "Whatever lines up with extending Your kingdom here on earth... that's what I want." I want to be secure enough to not devote negative attention towards other people's blessings that I want but be obsessed with what He is doing in my own life, trusting that anything good that happens to me is an overflow of His goodness. And His goodness is everywhere.

Y'all... insecurity is a thief and will rob you of your joy, because you're too focused on the opportunities that other people are seizing. It turns into jealousy that you can't handle. It's empty and robs you of your true identity. It is the breeding ground of offense. I know because I let it do all of these things at one point or another this year. It will rob you of your future if you are not careful. It's not worth it because all it is, is lies. God will consistently put us in situations that are beyond our capacity and we will be tempted to be insecure. Sometimes I still let my insecurity get the best of me and I wonder how in the world I will be able to do the job that God is calling me to... but then I remember, when has anything that I've ever done been about me? It's always been about Him and what He can do THROUGH me. (THANK. GOODNESS.)

I can now say with certainty that I don't necessarily need the gifts that Jesus can give me, as wonderful as they are. All I need is Him. All I want is Him. Whenever, however, whatever way He wants to show up - I want everything that happens in my life to be done His way. I will trust Him, hold on to Him and let Him be God in my life, knowing that He is not just good, but He is good TO ME.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

lessons learned from a social media detox

shoutout to all the gals who are suffering from a big case of social media-induced anxiety. i now understand it. i just took a few weeks off from social media to try and help rid myself of the worry that comes from being constantly attached to that tiny screen...

here are some lessons i learned while i tried to detox from the constant scrolling. these aren't really groundbreaking thoughts, but i never thought they were affecting me until i decided to step back from the ever-present stream of pins of pretty houses and the latest engagement announcement on instagram and the most recent job update on facebook. hopefully other people can be encouraged by these thoughts as well..

1. the comparison game is a REAL FREAKIN' THING and it will eat you alive if you're not careful. comparison is a monster and will steal your joy. it will keep you blind to all the ways your life is just as wonderful as the gorgeous girl who has thousands of followers. think about how you feel when you see the girl who has the best clothes. or the cutest boyfriend. or the shiniest engagement ring. or the coolest job.


do you rejoice with her for all the ways her life is going well? or do you feel the looming sense of jealousy and fear? these comparisons can go on forever and be applicable to whatever it is that you want and don't have, that someone else does. taking a breather from social media (instagram especially) has taught me a bit more about not being jealous, and instead realizing that i have my own ginormous storehouse of blessings that are right in front of me.

i have been blessed with an amazing family.
i have the chance to get my masters degree.
i have the best friends.
i am healthy.
i have Jesus.

and i'm learning that even if i only had Jesus, that would be enough.

once you recognize all the ways your life is great, it makes it so much easier to CELEBRATE the blessings of other people rather than resent them for what they have been given.

2. take pictures to HAVE them, not to solely post them! you take pictures to have them as memories once those moments have passed, not to prove to someone else that your life is cool.

3. social media gives a false sense of community. you see picture after picture after picture while scrolling through your feed, allowing you to believe for a little while that you're truly connected to these hundreds (or thousands) of people. in reality, you only know half of them and if you're REALLY honest with yourself, you only truly care about keeping up with the lives of a fraction of that half.

i want to focus on cultivating friendships with the people i interact with every day. it's so much more fulfilling to form friendships with those that are walking out life in the same sphere that i am rather than try to examine the lives of the people on the other side of my screen.

4. don't post pictures to get peoples' attention or get a like from a certain person. your worth is not determined by the number of likes your pictures get, or who likes those pictures, or how aesthetically pleasing your feed is. don't look on the "following" side of instagram, either. it's a dark place. save yourself the stress! on that note, some encouragement...

5. you have worth because of WHO JESUS MADE YOU TO BE! your worth is dictated by the creator of the heavens and the earth, the one who knows every tiny detail about you and loves you more than you could begin to fathom. He says you're beautiful and worthy and accepted and chosen, no matter what your follower to following ratio is.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

spring is coming

at my parents' house in nashville you can look out of the windows at the front of the house and see trees. LOTS of trees. this particular break when i was home it was striking just how bare they were, but i couldn't put my finger on why i kept noticing these trees. there was nothing particularly beautiful about them. not long after that i stumbled across a video of a woman telling a story that hit me like a ton of bricks...

"i was sitting out on my deck one day in my backyard... when the trees are barren, they're barren. the holy spirit said, 'don't you love how far you can see? don't you love the clarity that winter brings?... do you feel anxiety in the trees? do they feel anxious that they'll never have leaves or bloom again? of course they don't. there is a confidence and a security here. do not misinterpret this season.'"

how ridiculous it would be to run into the woods in the middle of winter and yell at the trees, "don't worry!! you will bloom again!" you would never do that, because the trees are so rooted and grounded. the trees understand that a season of barrenness and rest is an essential precursor to their inevitable harvest and fruitfulness.

i think we have a lot to learn from the trees. (that's the most hippie thing i've ever said.) God deeply desires to help us grow our roots in Him, in utter trust and dependence that we too, no matter how hopeless and confusing our circumstances seem, will experience life once again. seasons of barrenness and emptiness feel as if they will last an eternity, but the Lord is FAITHFUL to redeem these seasons.

the only way He can build this rootedness in us is by taking us through a process where He places us in situations, continually asking us, "do you trust Me?" each time we can respond with "yes God, i trust you." our root system grows a little bit more. and then we begin to thrive.

i am so eager for 'spring' to come, but i also do not want to misinterpret this season. my biggest temptation is to rush ahead because of my expectation for what's to come next.. but there is still so much to learn in these days and these moments. it's all beautiful. he enters into our barrenness and empty feelings and the unknown and the mess. he sits with us, beckoning us to trust him. he is writing his story. i don't want to miss any of it.

"in the spring i know Your joy and laughter, 
in the summer I know Your abundant love.
in fall i know Your smile overflowing into colors,
but in winter, i know Your faithfulness, God. 
i shed only what is temporary
and my truest self comes forth, bare before You
i stand in all my weakness and frailty.
and yet, You remain.
you never let go of me, never.
yes, winter sings of Your faithfulness,
declares Your faithfulness
to my rawest self. You sow yourself
and stand with me. You never leave, never.
yes, there is no season more fruitful than winter,
for here i fall into the depths of God
and discover i am cradled by a faithfulness 
that never stops giving.
what a privilege to know You in winter, God." 
-rosemary gingerich

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Name of Jesus

"Christmas forces people to face the reality of what they believe. If your belief isn't changing your life, then is it really belief at all?"

This question was posed to us as we sat in church last weekend. Talk about causing someone to think hard about what it is they believe...

Maybe you know what you believe in your head, but oftentimes have difficulty connecting it to your heart day in and day out. Maybe you don't know what you believe. Maybe you've been hurt by the church and people who claim to be Christians.  But here is the beautiful truth: God is not afraid of our doubts and questions, no matter where we fall on the spectrum.

Here is what I know I believe:
I believe is that the name of Jesus has the power to save, heal, restore, and deliver.
I believe that Jesus has no rival, no equal, and He reigns now and forever.
I believe that the name of Jesus brings peace to every situation, calms my heart when I'm stressed, and helps me dwell on truth.

Do these truths make it from my head to my heart every day? No. But the good news is that my inability to recognize those truths doesn't nullify the fact that Jesus is still all of those things.

The song "What a Beautiful Name" is jam-packed with truths about who Jesus is and the magnitude of what His name embodies that help remind me of what I believe..

"What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus Christ my King."

Beauty has to do with the things that are appealing or attractive to us. God is the epitome and essence of perfection and the most beautiful being in the whole universe. Think about the most beautiful thing your eyes have seen on this earth... snow capped mountains, the power of waves crashing on a shoreline, the smile of a child on Christmas morning, the most stunning sunset.. all things find their source of beauty in Him. And while we find beauty in all of these things, it is Jesus' characteristics and works and attributes that make him the most beautiful: his goodness, kindness, compassion, love... the way he relentlessly seeks out the people the world says are unlovable and irredeemable.

"What a wonderful name it is, the name of Jesus my King."

The name of Jesus has the ability to invoke wonder. We are given the opportunity and ability to live as new creations in Christ.... my tiny brain can hardly begin to wrap itself around that concept. It truly is amazing beyond comprehension!! We are walking miracles.

It is so easy to go through the motions. "Yes, Jesus died for me and forgave all of my sins. Yes, he rose from the dead to give me life. Yes, he is my everything" and the list goes on... but I never want to lose my wonder at the work that Jesus has done and is continuing to do in my life, in the lives of the people around me and the lives of people around the world.

"What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus."

The words we speak have power. The most powerful word we could ever speak is the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus literally means, "God saves".. and not just as our Redeemer, but as our Protector, Comforter, Guide, Healer and the One who sets us free. The power of his name creates miracles, brings peace to any circumstance, protects from harm, heals the blind, makes the deaf to hear and sets people free from the things that burden and enslave them.

Praise be to the One who came to earth in the form of a baby, laid out in a dirty manger so the lowliest of us could have access to Him and be reconciled to Him forever. He is the God of hope and healing. The God who can breathe fresh life into anyone or anything. The One who is faithful to be all He says He is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

grad school lessons: semester 1

i blinked and the first semester of grad school is almost over. it went nowhere close to the way i thought it would go, but the peace, love and faithfulness of jesus has overwhelmed me every day since i moved into my little home here in san antonio.

lesson #1: it's okay to not know.
i started the semester with a stupid amount of self-induced pressure on my shoulders to be "good" at grad school. wake up early, spend time with jesus, drink my coffee, make my bed, look presentable, go to class, ask great questions, do homework all afternoon, then have the rest of the night to myself. sounds ideal, doesn't it? life never goes the way you plan it.

instead, i started the semester that way, then realized that everyone in my class seemed to be a lot smarter than me. they understood concepts that i was still having a hard time grasping. i was insecure because i possess strengths that didn't seem to be applicable to the traditional world of healthcare administration. why should anyone care that i'm empathetic, harmonious, a developer or love to connect with people? they can comprehend financial statements, understand payer mixes, and ace their statistics exams.

it turns out that when you're vulnerable and open with people, you discover that people "don't know" things just like you "don't know" things. when that happens, it becomes easier to trade knowledge with each other and work together to make one another better. if you don't know the answer to something, find somebody who does. learn. grow. do things. make mistakes. don't be afraid to fail. the only way you'll ever wind up learning is by doing these things.

lesson #2: hold your plans lightly in your hands.
it is okay to wrestle with, cry to, shout at and question jesus. it doesn't change the fact that he loves you more than you could ever imagine, and that all he has in store for your life is good. pain is an invitation to draw close to him. let him love on you... let him heal you. then pick yourself up, set your eyes on things above and walk in freedom. his plans far outweigh what we could conjure up for ourselves.

lesson #3: surrender leads to joy.
the more i want what jesus wants, the more my desires will come into alignment with his. every day this semester, i have had to surrender something. it hurts, it's hard, and at the same time it is the most freeing thing in the world. trusting that jesus loves me and remembering that he has never ever ever once been anything other than faithful allows me to follow him in joyful anticipation for what my future holds. and speaking of which, the future doesn't have to be scary. hallelujah!

lesson #4: people are fascinating. 
i have loved getting to know everyone in my class. we are all united by the fact that we want to ultimately make a difference in the healthcare industry, but at the same time we are so different. we have different interests within the field. our upbringings were all different, we studied different things, we hold different religious and political views, some of us are married, some of us are dating, some of us are single. none of this changes the fact that we are all human beings who are deeply loved and are worthy of respect. everyone has a story. life is hard and it is messy, but when i take my eyes off of myself and focus on jesus and the people that he has placed around me, it puts everything in perspective.

lesson 5: discomfort is beautiful. 
the words that are defining this season for me are "refinement" and "hope". despite uncertainties, newness and transitions, i can trust that i am not alone and that joy can be found in every circumstance. "for i know the plans i have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you -- plans to give you a hope and a future."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hospitals: a Place of Miracles

People often think of miracles as being supernatural events where no human could possibly be involved. People also think that the miracle of modern medicine is exclusive from these supernatural events, such as Jesus healing the blind or cleansing the leper with the sound of His voice.

Today I spent time in the trenches of the hospital and got to see things I never thought I would get to see. I watched a cardiologist perform two heart cath procedures where he so tediously threaded a catheter into people's hearts to ensure that the organ that keeps their blood pumping and bodies alive was working properly, and if there was a problem then he could do something to help heal that person. I also watched as an electrophysiologist performed an a-fibrillation procedure where a man's heartbeat was restored to its regular rhythm after dealing with a very irregular heartbeat.

I have always believed that God can perform miracles, but I always thought of them in the context of the Bible where Jesus would touch a person or say a word and that person would be immediately healed. But since Jesus is not here in the form of a man, and he still performs miracles today, then so often He will use His people to work through in order to heal people. He can use any method He pleases to perform his miracles, and there is no place I have seen this truth more clearly than in the hospital.

God has gifted each of us with unique abilities and skills and passions, as well as means by which we can heal people in both our professional and personal lives as well. It doesn't matter if it's a nurse, physician, surgeon, or administrator... All of these employees are reflections of the Great Physician.

What really amazed me was the sweet reminder that Jesus gave me when I was walking through the shock/trauma ICU this afternoon. I was incredibly nervous to walk over there-- what would I see? Hear? Smell? I've seen almost every Grey's Anatomy episode ever made and could stomach that for the most part, but I had convinced myself that I couldn't deal with the stereotypical hospital/sick person smell, and don't even think about asking me to deal with blood and body fluids. It was just too much for me. But as He so often seems to do, Jesus  so kindly, gently and patiently reminded me that not once has he ever backed away from me in my human state, in my sickness, or at any time that I reek of anything other than what flows directly from His spirit living inside of me. Each and every day, He presses in to me and cares for me, provides for me and loves me. How could I possibly tell myself that it was okay to just "hold my breath and look away" when I encountered a patient that looks deformed or smells bad?

So I will continue to press in. Even though I am not healing patients at the bedside, I want to press in to every person I encounter-- coworkers, patients, families and friends-- because Jesus has pressed in to me, loves me and has healed me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

dear freshman girl: advice from a sentimental senior

dear freshman girl,

tomorrow is your very first day of college classes, and if you're like i was the night before then you're pretty nervous about making sure you get it all right... not walking into the wrong class, making sure you show up on time, making sure you don't come off as TOO much of a freshman.

from a senior's perspective, here's some advice that i wish someone had told me when i was in your shoes:

it's okay to miss your parents. all those pretty, fun, outgoing girls you see in your dorm that seem to not have a care in the world? i promise-- they're missing their parents as much as you are. speaking of parents, they're your biggest fans. they're in your corner. they're your people! (try to) include them in what's happening in your new life. :)

lean into the loneliness.  you know that gross, uncomfortable feeling that's making you want to run as fast as you can back to everything you knew at home? embrace it. be all here. all of this is just helping you form into the person God created you to be. i promise, the loneliness doesn't last forever! it takes time to find friends as good as you had in high school. you had four years to form those relationships. don't freak out because you haven't made them by the end of the first weekend! before you know it, you'll be friends with people you absolutely adore, and you'll have no idea how you lived 18 years without them. hang on to those people.

don't be worried about everyone else. it is so easy as girls to become insecure. so what if susie in collins 302 has perfect teeth, bright blue eyes and a magnetic personality? the biggest lesson i've learned in college is just because someone else has something we wish we had, doesn't mean we have to subtract something from ourselves. nothing good ever comes from comparing yourself to others. this is the time to figure out who you are, what your passions are and what kind of person you want to be. speaking of insecurity...

instagram isn't real life. no one ever posts an ugly picture of themselves on social media. i'm a big fan of artsy photos with deep and profound song lyrics and/or quotes. i've had to gut check myself about my motivations for posting photos. but don't let that picture of the girls on your hall having tons of fun at a party give you FOMO or the insta of your best friend's perfectly arranged picture of her bible, journal and coffee cup at common grounds make you think less of yourself. because that's the enemy trying to plant lies about your self-worth in your head.

your faith will probably be tested. if not by other people, then you yourself will start to have questions. if you were raised in a christian home, then you know how easy it is to have "your parents' faith". now is the time to make your faith your own. there's never been a time when God has flipped me around more than college. he loves you more than you can imagine, and he's better than any other thing you think could bring you fulfillment. i hope that you experience him in powerful ways over the next four years, because there is nothing sweeter than seeing the evidence that God is right there with you, walking you through everything you could possibly experience in college!

find a church or campus ministry to get involved in. i church hopped my first two years of college and couldn't find a place to settle, but once i did, it made ALL the difference. my church is one of my safe places. i absolutely love it. join a small group. these people will sharpen you, encourage you and push you to be everything God has called you to be.

go to class. need i say more? don't let the professor who doesn't take attendance trick you into thinking you don't need to be there. if you don't go to class, you're going to end up at home because i highly doubt your parents are going to want to continue to pay baylor tuition if you're failing your classes due to a lack of trying. trust me, those conversations are not fun.

finally, have fun. these are some of the best years of your life. meet people-- there is something to learn from every single person you encounter. take a road trip to dallas or austin with your roommates. go watch the sunset from the top of a parking garage. take naps. order pizza late at night while you're watching a movie with your friends. roll down the windows in the car and sing really loudly. ask to hang out with that older girl that seems cool. who knows? she might end up being a mentor to you.

i would go back and do college again, with all of its ups and downs, in a heartbeat. it goes by way too fast so please don't wish away these days!

love, a very sentimental senior