“Is that for me?!”

I remember when I was a kid and it was Christmastime… And let me tell you folks, I LOVED Christmastime!

Still do, and if you know me well, you know my love for The Grinch and watching it lasts year round.

And I remember one year, I had asked for something very specific for Christmas. I think it was something along the lines of a Barbie Dream House, but not that extravagant, but maybe more of a Barbie duplex, or something like that. Or maybe it was a cruise ship of some kind?

I go back and think dang, Barbie really had it all, didn’t she?

I remember the anticipation of that gift. I remember feeling so incredibly excited that I had told my mom specifically that this was what I wanted, so of course I would be getting it, right?!

Christmas morning came, and as I opened the gifts one by one the anticipation grew… That was until I got to the last gift, opened it, and it wasn’t the Barbie dream house/duplex/cruise ship that I was anticipating.

It was something I didn’t want.

How many of you were given a gift and didn’t want it?

And I’m not talking about a gift on Christmas or your birthday that you don’t want, although it’s so awkward to try and put on a happy face and say “Thaaanks!” with the utmost sincerity.

I’m talking about maybe a skill, or a strength, or a practical gift.

Let me explain…

I was at one of my favorite coffee shops in the Twin Cities the other day with one of my favorite people, and we were talking about our “thing.”

So often in our lives, we look around and see that everyone else around us has a “thing.”

Maybe your best friend is the star player on your softball or soccer team, and you find yourself on the bench more than the field.

Or your classmate is getting straight A’s and you can’t seem to get above a C on any test or assignment.

Maybe your co-worker knows everything there is to know about the job, is the most popular person in the office, and your boss (and everyone else for that matter) loves them. Meanwhile you’re stuck in your cubicle hoping someone asks you to go to Chipotle for lunch so you don’t have to eat the salad you packed.

Maybe that girl you’re following on Instagram has the most perfect looking boyfriend, best friend, family, whatever it may be, and you can barely find a picture in your camera roll that depicts any sort of happiness in your life other than the funny meme you screenshotted the other day.

It seems like everyone has their “thing…” They are amazing at sports, popular in the office, everything at home looks great…

And you’re just over here wondering, “What is my thing?”

That is what my sweet friend and I were talking about, and I would be lying if this wasn’t something I continually struggle with, and see others of you struggling with as well.

So how do we find our “thing?”

What I’m about to do might burst some bubbles out there, and for that I apologize in advance. However, I think it’s vital that you know this truth about yourself and your life.

Being the starter on your sports team, getting all A’s, being well-liked at work and beyond, and having a perfect Instagram-worthy life is insignificant when it comes to eternity.

And after reading that, you might be thinking, “Emma, how could you say that?! How could these things not be important. These things are right in front of me! Are you saying it’s bad to want to get straight A’s or be well-liked at work, or have a happy family?”

That is not what I’m saying at all.

What I’m saying to you today is that that’s not your thing.

In the Bible it talks about Spiritual Gifts. There are a TON of different gifts or talents or skills that the Holy Spirit gives us once we accept Jesus into our hearts, which is so heckin’ cool!

1 Peter 4:10-11 says this, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

We were designed with and for a purpose. And we are called to use these gifts that Peter is talking about to serve one another, as a good steward, a person who takes care of the earth and what God has entrusted to us.

Some of you at this point may be thinking, “Yeah, Emma! Awesome! What are these gifts?!”

To take the test to learn what your gifts are, and learn more about them, click here!

But I want to speak to those who are reading this today and may be thinking similar thoughts that I was when I got the Christmas gift that wasn’t Barbie’s dream house/duplex/cruise ship…

You’re saying, “Emma, I don’t want it. I don’t want that to be my thing.”

And that’s okay…

But let me challenge you for a moment. If you have been chasing after the starter position on your soccer team, perfect grades, favor in your job, an Instagram-perfect-looking life, whatever it may be, to give you meaning, joy, and fulfillment, let me tell you this…

Those things will never satisfy you.

Psalm 107:9 says, “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”

The “thing” you may be chasing after may be the Lord God Himself.

I’m praying for you today, I’m here for you, and I am so incredibly FOR you in all that you do! So it’s okay when you’re not sure you want the gift, the “thing” I’ve been talking about. But I do want you to consider it this week.

Remember that God has you today, and I pray peace and satisfaction over each person who reads over this today.

-E

I’m scared to buy clothes online.

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Some of you read the title of this blog post and audibly *gasped.*

Let me tell you a little bit about my first experience and you may understand where I’m going with this…

When I was in 7th grade, I lived in this teeny tiny town out in Colorado. It was a beautiful place filled with incredible views of mountain ranges all around us! However, it was lacking one thing…

Good shopping.

If you know me well, you know I’m a gal who appreciates a little retail therapy here and there.

And if you were my roommate in college, you would remember me saying how much money I didn’t have, then proceed to come home with hands full of Target and Old Navy bags exclaiming about the great deals I got that day… Right, Jenna, Michelle, and Callie?

Going back to the situation of living in a town with bad shopping… My mom and I decided one day that we were going to order some stuff online from Forever 21. 

I had been to the store a few times when I was in Iowa visiting my family, and I absolutely loved their stuff. So this was a fool-proof plan!…

Or so I thought.

I carefully picked out the items on the website, checked out, probably paid an astronomical amount for shipping, and anxiously awaited for my items to arrive.

When the day finally came I opened up the box to find that 

NOTHING

LOOKED 

LIKE

THE

PICTURES

ONLINE

!!!

I was beyond frustrated. I had planned for all these items to look perfect when I had ordered them online! I knew when I was going to wear this shirt where, I knew that dress was going to be perfect for that event coming up, but nothing turned out the way I thought.

The plan I had shattered into a million pieces and I thought to myself, “What am I going to do now?”

And isn’t that how our lives end up sometimes?

We dreamed up this perfect plan, right? And it looked so good and we thought we did everything to ensure nothing will go wrong…

Then it blows up in our face, and we never want to try it again.

The idea of “putting yourself out there” is a scary one, isn’t it?! It’s because we’re afraid of failure, and if you’re me, you’re even more scared of the unknown.

But you might say, “No, Emma, that’s not it. I just don’t have the time to do ______.” Or, “I could put myself out there to do ______, but I’m content where I’m at.”

But if we dig deep down… I think it really does come down to the fact that sometimes no matter how hard we try, sometimes things don’t work out, and we’re too afraid to try again.

I can’t even begin to count how many things in my life I thought were going to be the best of all time, when really it was a huge flop and honestly left me a little heartbroken (or a lot heartbroken for that matter). 

Maybe it’s the grades you’re getting at school… You signed up for all those AP classes thinking you’d do great, when really you’re barely passing.

Maybe it’s a group of friends… You thought if you could just get into that crowd, it would be the best. And now you find yourself more lonely than before.

Or it’s the person you’re dating. Things were going perfect for awhile, and all of a sudden you get a text, or a phone call, or they show up and tell you that it’s over.

It’s your family, you thought if you just did this or that everything would be okay. Your family would stick together, your kids would be okay, etc.

I don’t know what it is for you…

But what I do know is that God did not, and does not, intend for us to live this way.

I remember there was a time in my life where I felt a lot of shame.

This is the other side of the coin… Maybe you’ve fallen into a pattern of sin and you are too afraid to go back to God because you feel like you’ve fallen too far to be saved again.

This shame had a grip on me like nothing else I had ever experienced.

A mantra I would tell myself over and over again is that, “I know God has forgiven me, but I can’t forgive myself.”

Maybe you feel that today.

I’m here to share with you a couple truths, and I hope you know that this is something I can 100% understand. I walked through this, heck, I think I’m still walking through it.

First, is that God does not intend for us to live a life of timidity.

2 Timothy 1:7 says this, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

We aren’t called to be timid… We aren’t called to live in fear. His Spirit lives in us! That is something to rejoice about. That is something to live out and live in freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

I know it seems like the things we have done, the shame we have held onto (or has held onto us) can sometimes inhibit us from living in freedom. But there truly is freedom in the Cross.

As I’m typing this up in Caribou Coffee, my Spotify shuffled to “Let Go” by Hillsong Young and Free. It’s quite fitting for this topic.

The lyrics go like this,

“So I let go and I let love
Show me life like it’s supposed to be
An oasis here awaits us
All the freedom I’ll ever need
Now I’m alive.”

I’m praying these words over you today. I pray you take advantage of the freedom the Spirit gives us today and every day.

Self-What?

I sat on the table with the sterile paper crinkling every time I made a move, anxious to hear what the doctor had to say at the Target Minute Clinic that cold winter morning.

It had been over a week since I was feeling symptoms similar to an ulcer, (thanks to WebMD for that one) and knew it was time to start seeking some medical help.

The small woman in her white coat asked me questions like if I had been out of the country recently, how long I have had these symptoms, the usual.

I told her the symptoms were worse when I ate, then she asked, “Well have you changed your diet to more mild foods?”

I told her no, which was followed by her making a face that was half disgusted, half puzzled, then went on to ask more questions.

At the end of my time, she told me I just had a virus (thankfully), and that I should change my diet to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast). 

We begin exchanging goodbyes and such when she drops the a bombshell of a line that left me stunned.

It looks like your symptoms were just due to a lack of self care.”

Ouch.

That one stung a little, but it was true.

How many of you have found yourself in a situation like this?

Well, maybe not exactly like this… You probably didn’t get roasted by a doctor at a Target Minute Clinic.

But maybe a friend told you, “Hey, are you doing okay? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Or your parent says, “You haven’t eaten all of your dinner! What’s the deal?”

Or, “You’ve been acting different…”

“You look different.”

“Why haven’t you hung out with us lately?”

“You seem stressed.”

And we respond with a form of “Oh, it’s just Monday!”

“No worries, I’m just tired!”

“I’m just not feeling well.”

“It’s just an off day.”

Let me ask you a question, and it might be a little off-putting, but I think it’s important.

How are you taking care of yourself today?

Recently in culture the idea of “self-care” has been incredibly relevant and talked about in a variety of ways.

If I search on Pinterest “self-care,” these are the kinds of images that pop up:

So… A lot of flowers, face masks, a bath, well-lit selfies.

This, my friends, is not self-care.

And don’t get me wrong!.. I love a good face mask, bubble bath, flowers, and well-lit selfies as much as the next person, but self-care is so much more than that.

Psychology Today posted an article regarding self-care and says this:

Self-care is best defined as the ability to take proper care of your daily living needs, like eatingsleeping, grooming. But it’s also about identifying your own unique needs and taking steps to meet them—like making the time to do things that nurture you, as well as activities that keep you healthy.”

Let me ask you again, how are you taking care of yourself today?

Because self-care isn’t about doing what you want to do, it’s doing what you have to do.

So what do you have to do today to take care of yourself today?

Maybe it’s mentally… You are so bogged down with work, broken relationships at home, you’re stressed with classes. Maybe you need to watch an episode of your favorite TV show to just take a minute and relax your mind. Or maybe take some time to declutter your room.

Maybe it’s physically… You feel sluggish, you’re filling yourself with junk food every day, you can’t remember the last time you exercised, your body aches, and you’re exhausted. Maybe you need to just take a 10-minute walk in this spring weather! Or find a quick recipe on Pinterest of a new spin on your favorite meal and make it for dinner.

Or maybe it’s spiritually… You can’t “feel” God, your prayer life is nonexistent, you can’t remember when you went to church or small group last because you “just don’t have the time.” Maybe you need to find a podcast to listen to on your way to work to fill yourself with the Lord’s truth, or take a minute to pray to God about what you’re struggling with, or ask a friend to pray for you.

I don’t know what it is for you. But you do.

We need to surrender our routine, expectations we have for ourselves, and our excuses and start taking time for ourselves to take care of ourselves.

I want you to do one thing this week that you need to do.

Sometimes we try to do EVERYTHING since we need a LOT of help, and we think changing our entire diet and routine and whatnot will be for the best!… But in reality, we can’t do it all.

And we definitely can’t do it all if we are used to doing nothing.

I challenge you this week to do just one thing that you need to do.

As someone who struggles with this daily, I know that the journey to self-love and self-care is hard, but it is worth it… Because you’re worth it.

What’s Next

If you’re like me, there are times in your life where you’re waiting for what’s next.

Maybe it’s Monday and you’re asking yourself, “Is it not Thursday or Friday yet?

Or maybe it’s something more than that…

You’re in high school… And you’re ready to graduate so you can move on to college, and start a new life there.

You’re in college… And you’re ready to graduate and start the job you’ve been dreaming about ever since you were a kid.

You’re a young adult… And you’re waiting for that special someone to come into your life. Then you can get married and live in the perfect house with the perfect family you will have together.

Or you’re married and and a family… And you’re waiting for what’s next.

And what’s next, and what’s next.

We live in a society that is so caught up in what’s next. Whether you’re being bombarded at family gatherings about upcoming plans in your life, people at work asking you when you’re getting that promotion, or your friends asking when you’re getting a ring on your finger, it seems impossible at times to be content with what we’re doing right now.

But what if I told you that while you’re waiting for what’s next, you’re missing out on what God has for you in this very moment?

A sobering thought, isn’t it?

The fact of the matter is, there is a time for everything, even when we want some things to happen sooner than they may actually be happening.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 says this,

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

  a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
  a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
  a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
  a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”

Ask yourself today, “What time am I in right now, and what time am I desiring to be in instead?”

Maybe you’re in a season of planting… And you feel like you’ve been planting, watering, and tending and all you want is to uproot.

Maybe you’re in a season of throwing away… You need to get that thing out of your life like, yesterday, but you just want to keep.

I do think we may all be in a season of searching, though. That’s what all this “what’s next” talk is about, right?

This is what I want you to rest in this today…

I want you to rest in that God has you today. He has you here today.

You don’t have to try so hard to get to tomorrow. Rest in today, rest in what He is doing in your life right this very minute!..

Then surrender all the expectations, standards, and plans that others may have for you (and that you may have for yourself!) to see what God has for you now.

A Blank Canvas

There are times in our lives that leave us asking…

“Why?”

We’re completely and utterly stunned that this could happen to us.

“Why?…”

The plans and effort and hard work we put into the various areas of our lives should ensure that we get what we want, right?

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” it says in Psalm 37 verse four.

And to that you say, “This. This is what I want, God! I’ve been praying for this. I’ve done everything for this. So why didn’t this work out?”

It’s a hard place to be…

Heartbroken, confused, frustrated, maybe even angry.

But what if there’s more?

What I can find myself so guilty of in my life is holding onto is this plan that I have set forth for my life. So much so that I forget about this little thing called…

Surrender.

John 12:24-25 says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Although I have heard this verse in sermons from time to time, the true weight of this verse really had not hit me until now.

I had the plan. I was in control (or so I thought) and the plan was ripped from my fist where it was held.

And maybe this has happened a time or two to you…

That you thought this was is!

I’ve got this!… And then you realize you missed the whole point.

As I have been reading Jennie Allen’s new devotional, “Made for This,” I came across a chapter on surrender. This chapter included a quote from Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru), “Until you surrender, there is no vision.” And Proverbs 29 verse 18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

From this, I begin the journey…

A steadfast surrender.

A journey to giving my life, opening my clenched hands, and handing this over to the One who created life itself.