Dealing with Change & Being Obedient

This is something that has been on my mind for a while. So prepare yourself for some vulnerability right now.

I’m a fourth year. This is my last year of school and from the outside it may look like I am set. I’ve had a job secured for next year since last semester. I know what my geographic location and occupation will be for the next four years. As a planner this all sounds like a good thing. So why do I feel anxious about what is next?

Change is hard and while I do know where and what I will be doing there are a lot of details I don’t know. I am also not going to downplay the feelings I have about potentially being in a long distance relationship for four years. One year has been hard enough and I have no doubt that we will stick through the tough times but hot diggity dog it is not the ideal plan.

In this time all I can tell myself is to be obedient. I need to continue pursuing the Lord, pray and make Him involved in my life decisions, and just have faith that God is ordering my every step. I know that if I am obedient I will end up exactly where I am supposed to be. Though in order to be obedient I have to put myself in position to listen and learn from the Lord so I know exactly how to carry out my obedience.

I recently finished reading Chip and Joanna Gaines book, The Magnolia Story. Joanna speaks about how she heard the voice of the Lord telling her to close her shop so she could spend time with her young kids, even when it was prosperous. Then again, many years later she heard this voice instructing her to open the shop again…the same shop that is now the massively successful Magnolia Market. Not to mention the success of their show Fixer Upper. That is obedience, and sometimes it is blind. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but the Lord knew exactly what He was doing and the blessings He had in store for her.

I want to have this level of obedience. I want to put my faith in the Lord and know that the change in front of me is just a point of transition in my life. I will make it through and what He has in store for me is more than I could ever imagine.

xoxo,

‘Lysse

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He Holds The Whole World in His Hands

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes..  Jeremiah 29:11-14

A conversation I had the other day reminded me of this book I read a few years ago, that preached the idea of having “audacious faith.” That if the plans we had for ourselves seemed easily attainable, or even realistic for where we are now, then they were not grand enough. That we should have so much faith in the God we serve that we would aspire for more. I do think goals and dreams are specific to the individual, and what seems “big” to one person, may not to another, but it got me thinking about my plans for the future.

As a college student, there is so much about my future that is unknown, and that in itself is scary! I don’t know when my boyfriend and I will ever live in the same state. I don’t know where I am going to get the money to carry out the dreams I have for after grad school and teaching. I don’t know if I will ever have the income to afford a farmhouse on a plot of land with a white farmers sink. In the process of thinking about all the steps and obstacles  required to reach my goals, I get suddenly overwhelmed with fear and doubt. In those moments I turn to the Lord. I lean on Him and I remember that I serve a big God, a God that provides, a God that can do exceedingly more than I can ask or think.

I know that if I have faith and put my life, my hopes and my dreams in God’s hands, He will show up for me, and for that I am thankful! I also know that what my dreams are may not be aligned with the plans God has for me. So, I pray that I will have an obedient heart. That I will have a relationship with the Lord that puts me in position to hear the directions God has for me, and that I will listen.
Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.03.31 PM I encourage you to put your future in God’s hands. To have faith in the power of God, but to also work hard and pursue what you want wholeheartedly. I promise you, it will give you a sense of freedom unlike anything else!

xoxo,

‘Lysse

Sunday Night Routine to Kickstart Your Week

 

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 4.29.41 PMSundays have become my favorite day of the week this summer. The ultimate day of rest and relaxation, just as God intended it to be. The week gets hectic and we often forget to take time for ourselves. Sundays are a great time to center in on the Lord, as well as your personal needs. When I pause and set aside the day for me, I always end the day feeling at peace and prepared for the week ahead. After church, and maybe brunch and shopping I come home to prepare for the week ahead. Here is my Sunday routine to start you week on track!

Write in your planner

If you’ve been a reader for a while you know how I feel about my planner. I like to have a solid picture of what is required of me for the coming week. Where I need to be, who I need to send a follow-up email to, who I need to remember to contact. As well as more personal things like, remembering to read, or buy milk, or study for the Praxis (tears).

Pick out your outfits

This is something I used to be better at, but picking out your clothes for the entire week is so helpful for getting ready in the morning. When I am really on my game, I pick out the earrings and necklaces I plan to wear as well. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what day you are going to wear whatever outfit, but having complete options to choose from can take a crazy morning to a more organized one.

Plan meals for the week 

Alright, most of y’all know by now that I am “de-fluffing.” This has required that I am very attentive to each of my meals, which has led to me meal prepping. When I get home from church it seems as if I walk straight to the oven to preheat it to 350 so that I can start preparing my baked chicken. Yes, I do spend a good amount of time in the kitchen on Sunday’s but it pays off when I can just pull some tupperware out of the fridge when you’re in a rush on Thursday evening.

Wash your sheets 

It has probably been awhile, huh? Yeah, go ahead and wash them. You’ll thank yourself tonight.

Take time for yourself

Paint your nails. Deep condition your hair. Put on a face mask. Drink tea. Read a book. Sundays can be very busy, but all in all, it is suppose to be the day of rest and I really try to channel that at the end of my day. When 6pm rolls around and you are have freshly painted nails, moisturized hair, smooth skin, cuddle up in a clean bed with tea and a book you will feel SO FREAKING GOOD about yourself. Use this time to breathe, reflect, mentally prepare for the week.

Remember, you can always find rest from Jesus, for He is gentle and humble. Do you have your own Sunday night routine? Do you think you could try one of these steps? Let me know below!

xoxo,

‘Lysse

 

 

I Don’t Know What’s Coming, But it’s Gonna Be Good

Alright so its been 3-days since seeing my favorite band, Johnnyswim in concert. In August, the beginning of this school year, I got to see them in concert for the first time and it was a magical experience. It was in a small intimate setting, and it just gave me so many feels. One of my favorite songs of theirs is called Adelina, and I can remember hearing them sing:

“I don’t know whats coming, but its gonna be good, gonna be good…” 

After they repeated that 3-4 times I decided this is officially worship time (lols) and I stood there with tears running down my face really meditating on the lyrics, sincerely hoping that whatever comes next is better than what I’ve been going through.

On Monday, almost 8 months later, I saw Johnnyswim in concert again. When they sung Adelina I teared up again, but not because I was overwhelmed by life and school, or heart broken and frustrated. This time I cried because I was so proud of how far I’ve come. I stood there and reflected on all I’ve accomplished and gained this year because the Alysse 8 months ago had none of this planned. But you know what, I serve a great God and He is always working.

If this is you, then keep your head up and stay faithful to the Lord. He has plans bigger than you can even imagine but we must learn to operate on His time. Be encouraged, you are the Sun, and you will rise again.

Its not me, It’s Him

Hey friends! So, I had planned to drop a new post I have been working on, entitled: “My Thoughts on Becoming a Teacher” (check back later this week) but then I went to a Christian ministry service here on Grounds and it gave me some time to reflect. In the service tonight we were asked to reflect on some ways God has been faithful in our life? Immediately, I thought about school.

Many of my prayers for the past 5-7years have been surrounded around doing well in school and getting into school (wahoowa!), in order to set myself up for my future goals (grad school? a job? both? see next blog post!) As of right now, I feel I am in a really good space academically, and for a while there I was giving myself all the credit. People ask me, “Alysse, how do you balance all your clubs, meetings, schoolwork, (sleep maybe) and keep such a positive attitude?!” My response would usually be, “well it’s all about planning, being organized and efficient with your time” and then I would probably go off on a tangent about how important planners are.

But I was wrong. Jesus is the reason I am able to balance everything so well. Its not me, its Him. 

I lean on Jesus in my moments of stress. I draw strength from Him. I know I can call on His name and He will be there. I would not be where I am today without the grace of God, and I need to do a better job of giving Him that glory. So next time someone asks me how I handle it all, Jesus will get the credit first, then my planner.

2 Months and 1 Day Later….

Tonight, our Athletes in Action/Fellowship for Christian Athletes student leaders group, had bible study and reviewed a passage, (Isaiah 26th) that we previously worked through a day before the semester started. August 24th, exactly 2 months and 1 day ago. As we talked about the chapter we worked through a handout that had questions such as:

“What is God calling you to trust him with this semester?”

“What do you need to give over to Him so that you can walk in the goodness of his ways?”

“What in your life is taking God’s place?”

Tonight, I answered those same questions again and then reflected on how God has worked in my life this semester, what I still
need to be praying about, and also things I completely forgot I wrote down. I really enjoy doing activities like this because it gives me concrete examples of the growth I’ve made. I write a lot so I always have material to reflect on, but if you don’t often put your feelings on paper I recommend finding/creating a list of questions and answering them every 2-3 months to track your own growth, as a person and/or in your relationship with the Lord.

I would love to hear about different methods you use for reflection, and/or prompts you might use for journaling!

In Case You’re Feeling Like a Fake

Have you ever sat in church and felt like you shouldn’t be there? Do you ever feel so distant from God that you don’t see why or how you are going to fix things? Do you ever blatantly disobey the Lord and feel little remorse?

Do you ever feel like a “Fake Christian”?

Over the past month or so this is exactly how I have been feeling. I could blame not being in school and therefore not being in my routine for why I haven’t been reading the Bible. I could blame not being around my christian community for not having anyone to keep me accountable. I could blame my work schedule for leaving me busy and tired, but no. It is really my fault and there are no excuses. Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.24.52 PM

The other week I met with the women who has been discipling me over the past year and she asked how my “Jesus life” was going. In efforts to be honest I just came out and said that I was feeling like a fraud. I went on to explain how far behind I am in my Bible reading plan, and how far away I have felt from God. She immediately reminded me that this is happens to everyone and that the devil is who is making me feel like I am a fake. In reality, God is trying to draw me back in, and I just need to cancel out one and focus on the other. In the moment I felt relieved and encouraged but the feeling didn’t last long.

That conversation was at least two weeks ago, and I still have not given a real effort to spend time with the Lord, and I think I know why. I am hiding. When I sin, and I know I am sinning I feel as if I need to hide. Like who would I be to sin, then open my Bible later that night and stand directly in God’s spotlight?! Well guys, it turns out that God can see me no matter what. Obviously I know that but it doesn’t make things easier. I also tell myself that when I decide to stop sinning I can run back to the Lord, repent, then get back on track. I am right, I can do that, but that is taking advantage of God’s grace, that is not how it is suppose to work.

So here I am feeling like a fake and feeling like it’s the wrong time to turn back to the Lord. But really, there is no better time then now. I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. He turned his back on his family and did everything wrong, but when he decided to come back home, he was celebrated and welcomed with open arms despite his obvious mistakes! Beautiful right? 

God knows what we have done, it is impossible to hide, and because we know we are wrong, and because we know we need Him it is time to come back home. Run back into the arms of the Father. Let him celebrate your homecoming, and realize that you were never a fake, you are a child of God and He will always celebrate your return. 

What I’m Reading!

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I finished a book!

Pleasure reading in college can be a real challenge! I needed to carve out some designated me time, and after first semester, I knew it needed to be focused around Jesus. Before, quiet time just meant that I was reading a chapter or two in the Bible, maybe sorta kinda getting something out of it, and then saying a quick prayer before I went to sleep. One of the christian ministries I am apart of had a series on spiritual disciplines and it really helped me shape what my “quiet time” with the Lord currently looks like.
Soooooooo, I started reading the book The Circle Maker. The basis of the book is about Honi, a man in history who drew a circle in the dirt, stood inside of it, and prayed to God to make it rain during a horrible drought. Not only did God send rain, but he sent it exactly how Honi asked for it. The entire book uses this miracle as a way to illustrate how prayer circles are created and how prayer can be the most powerful tool we have as Christians.
Sometimes I think we forget how powerful prayer is. It is more than a few memorized lines said before dinner, it is direct communication to God! Just think about that. Referencing one of my past blog post, if you think of your relationship with God like you would with a significant other is helps create a picture of what your daily relationship should look like. You wouldn’t go multiple days without talking to your wife/husband, you wouldn’t only ask favors, you wouldn’t reach out in only the tough times. Right? Right,  because that would be a very unhealthy marriage. In our relationship with God, prayer is a way to grow close to Him, while simultaneously receiving unconditional love that is unlike anything you have ever experienced.
The book is separated into small stories within multiple chapters.  I read a few “stories” along with some typical scripture reading. Incorporating this book into my quiet time gave me tangible things to pray about and also expanded the amount of time I was spending in the presence of the Lord. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to improve their prayer life, light a match in their walk with the Lord, or simply just need a new book to begin!
The second book in the picture is what I am reading next, I’ll be sure to share how I like it!

..and we are His Bride

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 7.40.21 PMOn my drive back to school a couple of weeks ago,  I was listened  to Jeff & Alyssa’s podcast (on iTunes!!!). One of the topics was about what having a relationship with the Lord looks like. Normally when I hear the phrase “relationship with the Lord” it sounds like an euphemism for “I’m ACTUALLY one of those good Christians who goes to church and has quiet time etc” and it is often said instead of the phrase “I am religious” Well at least I can admit that is how I use it. During the podcast Jeff said a few things that really set a light bulb off in my head.


1. When I first think about the word relationship I think about couples who are dating.

If you are a Christian, then you are in a relationship with God. A relationship. In any normal relationship you wouldn’t go weeks on end without talking to your significant other, but we do that with God sometimes don’t we? Remember, we serve a jealous God and should not have other idols in out lives. Often in a relationship, what you do is a reflection of your partner, or the family you have created together. As faithful Christians we should want to present ourselves in a way that reflects God, and the love He has for us. It doesn’t matter if you have been saved for 2 weeks, or 20 years, it is important to continue to pursue the Lord and grow deeper in His love, just as you would with your spouse.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

2. There are ebbs and flows

If you have ever been in a long-term relationship you know that you are not always on this continuous “high on life” feeling. There are times when you feel more connected to your partner and times when you feel more distant. That is normal. We can’t always have the same “on fire for God” feeling, but it is important to continue communication with Him and really pray through.

That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.. (Acts 17:27)

3. He will always love us more

Sometimes in relationships it seems that one person loves the other more. Well in your relationship with Jesus, he will always be the one to love you more than you love Him. He shows us unconditional love that is impossible to top. In Jeff & Alyssa’s podcast they used the ocean as a metaphor for this. God’s love is like the waves of an ocean, continuous and never ending despite where we are. If you are feeling distant from the Lord His waves of love are still crashing all around you, and there is no place you can go to stop that.

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us.. (1 John 4:10)