Dreaming God-Sized Dreams!

At the beginning of the year as I was putting together a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish (you can read those here) and while I was doing so I was noticing a lot of people, mostly on social media, were coming up with a "word of the year" just something that they really wanted to focus on implementing in their lives throughout the year and even beyond.  I just thought this was such a wonderful idea so I decided to come up with my own, and that is God-sized.  

About six months ago I started to feel God weighing on my heart something that has now become a project that I will share with all of you someday.  It started out as an idea that would just roll around in my head from time to time but I didn't really take it that seriously and honestly the prospect of it terrified me.  Recently though, around the end of December, I felt like God's pull was getting stronger and stronger.  I could just hear him speaking to me through everything that I was reading and people I was listening to and it's something that I couldn't ignore anymore.  So with shaking knees and eyes on Him, I decided to step out.

Now I'm not here to hang a "super secret project" in the air for the purpose of being suspenseful but rather for the purpose of sharing God's desire to call upon us and to see us through our callings.

This project that I have embarked on, by worldly standards, is ridiculous.  I have no real knowledge of what I am getting into except that I feel called to do it, so I am.  And I am leaving the rest up to Him.

I knew that when I started this that I was going to face a lot of demons and I most certainly have.  Almost daily I hear the lies in my head saying things like:  "you aren't good enough", "you're a nobody", "how could you ever believe yourself the least bit qualified for such a task", "no one is going to support you", "you did pretty good today but eventually you're going to burn out"  I could go on forever, really.

But each day, even if there are tears or frustration, I pick up my head and return my eyes to Him.  Yes, the success rate for what I am doing seems next to impossible but it just brings me back to my word of the year, God-sized.  

The thing is that at the end of the day I am absolutely not qualified to do what I am doing but what actually renders that as a lie is that He is qualified to do it and because he works in me and through me I am now capable of doing anything.

Don't you think it's amazing that since the fracture of heaven and earth God has called on man to aid in repairing it?  He sent his only son to die on our behalf and then to share that good news, He called on the very thing that drove a splinter through God's design in the first place, our hearts.

This is the ultimate calling of turning everything we do back to the glory of God and the restoration of His kingdom.  Of course we are called to do this in the everyday, the mundane but my suspicion is that God calls a lot of us to do outrageous things that we simply aren't pursuing because we are too afraid to do them or because it feels too uncomfortable or worst of all, because we believe that God is incapable of seeing us through.

I love the story of David because he was the least likely candidate to be chosen as king.  His father, Jesse literally presented seven of his sons before the Lord before even thinking of his youngest, David.  In his humanness, Jesse rendered David as an afterthought.  He was a shepherd boy, young and small and yet the Lord called on him because He sought after his heart (You can read the full story in 1 Samuel 16).  David went on to become a great king, a man after God's own heart but guys, it gets good even before his time as king.

1 Samuel 17 tells the story of David and Goliath.

I know, I know ... David and Goliath, so cliche but when I read this story it just sparks within me so much confidence in the Lord.  He was laughed at and ridiculed not only by the giant but by his own men and David didn't listen to a word of it.  He went into battle knowing full well that he would come out victorious:

"When the Philistine looked and saw David, he despised him because he was just a youth, healthy and handsome.  He said to David, 'Am I a dog that you come against me with sticks?'  Then he cursed David by his gods.  'Come here,' the Philistine called to David, 'and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts!'

David said to the Philistine:  'You come against me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Armies, the God of the ranks of Israel.'"

And as the story goes, David was indeed victorious, because he chose to believe and receive what God had called him to.

I don't know about you but I want to be like David, I want to live and operate outside of worldly standards because that's where my God's power resides.  And I really want to drive this home because there is a world out there that is famished, desperate to see His light and if we are not willing to trust Him as He calls us out towards the deepest parts of the waters then we are sincerely missing out on His desire to use us in extraordinary ways for the world to see His glory.

So I am choosing to dream God-sized dreams and to ignore the opinions of the world and if trusting in the Lord to see them to fruition earns me the label of naive, then I will wear it, gladly.

Bookish Chat: All the Books I Read Last Year!

Hi everyone!  I know that I haven't been posting per my usual schedule but my family and I just moved and we are just now getting settled into our new place so as soon as we get a new rhythm settled I will get back to posting at my normal pace!

By now most of you probably know that I am a huge book worm.  Reading is just something that I love to do and so I always try and make the time for it.  Every year I love to reflect on everything that I have read and having a blog just makes it so much more fun because I get to share some of my most loved books (or not so loved) of the year with all of you!  So I decided to answer a series of questions (20 in total) that go into depth of the all the books that I read in 2017.

1. Number of books read 


2. Number of rereads 

Two.  I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Thirteenth Tale both of which I gave five stars.  I loooooove both of these books so much!

3. Most read genre 

Just by a quick overview I would say fantasy followed by historical fiction.

4. The best book you read in 2017 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I have just fallen fallen in love with this series over the past two years (I didn't get to read them as a kid) and though it's really hard to choose a favorite of the bunch I think the Order of the Phoenix is my favorite because there are just so many exciting things uncovered in this book!

I don't want to give just one answer though because I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield!  I read this book back when I was in high school and even reading it a second time, I devoured it!  I think I read it in like three days, which is really rare for me because I am normally a pretty slow reader.  This is a really erie master/gothic novel surrounding the lives of twin girls.  I just couldn't stop turning the pages.

Oh gosh and My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.  This book was absolutely hilarious!  Ok, that's three.  I'll stop at three.

5. What's a book you were excited about and thought you were really going to love but didn't 

The Couple Next Door Shari Lapena.  Though I flew through this book (as I often do when I read thriller/mystery novels) I was extremely disappointed by the ending.  I had all of this built up anticipation and the conclusion was just flat out predictable.  I love mystery novels but I tend to be hard on them because I really need them to shock me in order to feel impressed.

6. Most surprising book that you read

Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston.  I don't really go for fan fiction and honestly it has some pretty low ratings on Goodreads.  I only picked it up because I had it on my shelf for over a year so I decided it was time to give it a go and didn't really expect much out of it but I actually really enjoyed it!  I thought it was fun and witty and I loved getting a glance at 18th century English society.

7. Best series you started in 2017 

Definitely Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake!  I love this series so much!  It's such a unique world and concept and it has consistently kept me on my toes.  Book two was my first read of 2018 too and I am dying to know what happens next!

8. Best series ender you read in 2017 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Need I say more?

9. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017 

I'm going to have to go with Kendare Blake.  I have never read anything by her before The Dark Crowns and I am just so in love so maybe I will check out more of her work this year!

10. The most action packed, thrilling, unputable down book of the year

I know I said this earlier but I loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because I just found that there were so many secrets uncovered!  I found that while reading Harry Potter I never wanted to put them down but then I was torn with not wanting to finish the series!  I always feel so sad when I finish a series, it's almost like losing a good friend haha!  Just so much love for Harry Potter, so much love.

11. A book that you read in 2017 that you will most likely reread 

Any of the Harry Potter books.  I will always continue to reread them!

12. Favorite book cover of a book you read in 2017 

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero.  This is actually a middle-grade novel and the cover is absolutely gorgeous!  It's kind of magical realism story about a dollmaker living in Krakow Poland during WWII.  It was really sweet and heart wrenching but ultimately a story of great hope!

13. Most memorable character of 2017

I am going to cheat and go with three.  Edward, Jane, and Gifford from My Lady Jane all three of these characters were so funny and I loved watching them interact together, I found myself laughing out loud a lot!  This is another one that I will probably be rereading as well because it was that entertaining.  I also can't wait for the companion novel, My Plain Jane to come out in June!

14. Most beautifully written book of 2017

I am going to choose Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  The reason I chose this is because I really felt like this book opened my eyes to studying scripture in a whole new light and she writes in a way that is encouraging, comprehensive, and practical.  Jen Wilkin is also one of my personal heroes of the faith so I will gladly read anything she writes!

15. Most thought provoking book

Definitely The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  THIS BOOK BROKE MY HEART! In so many different ways and throughout reading it I often wondered why the author chose the fates of many of the characters the way he did but in the end I realized that this was a reality during WWII.  This awful war is not just something someone made up but to see it reflected in fiction maybe sometimes we can forget that.  Even though your heart will be wrenched out of your chest I recommend this book to anyone and everyone to read (although I think I am the one who is actually late to the bandwagon).  It's good for all of us to reflect on what the world is capable of and how we can move forward in love to prevent it from happening again.

16. A book that you can't believe you waited until 2017 to read 

Definitely the Book Thief!  I can remember my mom telling me to read this years ago and I may very well be the last person on earth to do so!

17. Favorite quote from a book you read in 2017

"Your mother died to save you.  If there is one thing that Voldemort cannot understand, it is love." 

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Call me a nerd but I think this will always be one of my all time favorite quotes.  I just really points to the power of love.

18. Favorite non-romantic relationship in a book you read in 2017 

I love the friendship between Arsinoe and Jules in the Three Dark Crowns series.  I love that they have been friends all their lives, they just have this strong sisterly love and are always fighting for the good of the other.

19.  A book that made you cry in 2017

Look I will just be completely honest, it does not take much to make me cry in a book so there were a  lot of tears shed this year.  The ones that I can think of off the top of my head are:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I was not ready to let these characters go, ok!), The Light Between Oceans, Me Before You (even though I absolutely hated this book!), and of course The Book Thief.

20.  What book are you looking forward to reading in 2018

There are quite a few actually so I will just leave a little list below.  Of course they aren't all the books I am looking forward to but you get the point :)

1.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

3. My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien (I really want this to be the year that I accomplish this!)

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

* I would also like to continue on with the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

Ok guys, that's all I have for you today!  If you have read any of these or have any suggestions for me please leave me a comment because I would love to have a bookish discussion!

I hope you are all having a wonderful 2018 so far!

The Unknown and the Known: Trusting the Lord Through Every Season

In my last post I briefly mentioned that my family and I are going to be moving to a different city, in now, just a few days time.  My husband and I decided a while ago that it's time for him to make the move from active duty to reserve service.  And while this is such an exciting new chapter for us I started to face a ton of anxiety surrounding this decision.  Both my husband and I joined the Army when we were 18 and so even though I got out three years ago, for eight whole years the Army is all we have really known.  Every two weeks the paycheck comes, every year a raise comes, every year brings four weeks of paid time off, every doctors appointment, every trip to the ER, every dentist appointment, covered.  Being a military family most certainly has it's challenges but there is also a lot of comfort found within it, comfort that we have grown accustomed to.

Now I have a confession.

I wouldn't say this is true in every aspect of my life but I believe in a lot of ways, especially financially, over the past eight years I have looked to the Army as my comfort and not to the Lord.  The reason I think this conviction has came up is due to the anxiety that I was starting to feel.

Here's the thing.  I think that we can easily talk ourselves into the fact that 'anxiety is just part of life' and because of that simple fact we can excuse it.  It's true, with life will come anxiety but how we deal with it is what matters.  So when I started to feel anxious about transitioning into another chapter of life I failed to look to the Lord.  I failed to credit him for all of things the Army has done for us over the years.  I failed to trust.  Sometimes I think that God takes us out of our comfort zone in order to shake us a little, otherwise we tend to get complacent and I think for us, this is one of those times.

Being a little bit shook can get scary because the reality is that we were not created for this world.  We were created for the garden, to walk with God in the cool of the morning.  To rely on Him for every single need.  To live along side Him in a paradise free of any looming threat.  This is why there's this kind of void that we feel as humans when we fail to trust in Him.  Whether we are conscious about it or not we have a desperate, all consuming need for God. When heaven and earth split God's original design was no longer our reality.  Now there's the unknown and with it, fear and anxiety.

So what do we do with the unknown?  We look to the known.

There are going to be times in your life when you have absolutely no idea what's coming next.  I'll just tell you that for us we are taking a pay cut, leaving a church family that we dearly love, and moving to a completely new city that we have literally been to once.  And we are doing it in the dead of winter.  I don't know about you but I would far better prefer to look for a new home when there are flowers blooming, not when everything is covered with snow.  See?  It's a comfort thing.

It's been a stretch for me because I love the illusion of control but I have really been trying to use this as an opportunity to trust the Lord in strengthening my faith because honestly I already know everything I need to know and the rest is not up to me.  I may not know where we are going to live in a year or how much money we are going to make but I know that my Father will provide for us.

Jesus talks about this in his first sermon (Matthew 6:25-34).  Something that Jesus says that really sticks out to me is this:  "For your heavenly Father knows that you need them."  We were created to "need" and who understands this more than our creator?  It's so simple!

That in His splendor he created us and in His mercy and great love He cares for us.

I want to be bold in my faith, I want to enter into uncharted territory knowing that whatever the Lord has in store for me is good, that He will fulfill every need, and that he will fully equip me to handle what lies before me.

Another thing that I think is so important to remember and it's something that I still struggle with, is realizing that because of what Jesus did for us, God is not distant only available after a long journey.  He is a God who remains near and it's really up to us to reach out towards his ever extended hand.  It's important to declare His presence and to receive it because it keeps us in tune with his character, his voice, and his care.

I really just want to encourage you today.  No matter what season you are going through right now to step out in faith and just let the Lord steal away your anxiety to be replaced with a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Remember that faith is not about seeing but it's believing what cannot be seen and trusting that it will come to fruition in His timing (Hebrews 11:1).

It's the processing refinement.

Surrender everything to the Lord and watch Him move mountains.  The choice is yours, really.

He is patiently waiting.