|In The Stillness|

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Days like today, where my head is spinning with things that need to be done, but the Lord tenderly and my best friend firmly, both tell me to be still. 

I always feel so guilty when I know I need rest. Because there is always something that could be done, I feel obligated to always do it. When I know my absence adds more work to others, I feel bad for the inconvenience. So days like today, I am thankful when my body just shuts down and says no more. When rest is clearly the better option than to just keep going. 

The to do list can wait.

In this moment, for this day, I will agree to be still. So very thankful for days of rest. 

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|The Thief|

For the past several years my sin has crippled me. The shame of the struggle of still falling into sin and some of the same struggles that I had before God brought me to himself made it hard for me to take Him for His word. I preached to others and myself the saving grace for so long, that I had completely disregarded the sustaining grace that I needed for the daily battle against the sin that didn’t magically disappear after the profession of faith. 

One of the biggest blessings in my life is the people God has surrounded me with. My closest friends from college and new friends since then, have seen me walk through my highest highs and my lowest lows. But even what God uses to bless me, Satan finds a way to use it to blind and distract me. I quickly began comparing myself. Saying that I wasn’t as good as this friend in reading the Word, or that another friend didn’t struggle anymore the way I did. I would correlate the blessings in their lives as rewards for how far they’ve come, and the lack of (in my eyes) blessings in my life as punishment for failing too many times. You name it, I compared it. 

The past few weeks, these words by Theodore Roosevelt have never rang so true.

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It became so clear to me that I was viewing God’s grace, love, & forgiveness like a credit score. If I kept messing up, eventually one day He would say I’ve reached my limit and no more grace could be given. Now trust me, I knew all of these things didn’t work this way. I KNEW none of this was true, but sin blinds and tells you lies.

Although I was very aware of the lies behind works-based faith, I was mistakingly blinded to the works-based growth lies I told myself. Somehow I knew my justification was without works but I saw my sanctification as completely dependent on my performance. It was like my justification was Him, sanctification- me, glorification- Him. 

It didn’t matter what my head knew if my heart wasn’t resting in it.  

The beginning of this year I asked a few people if they could get me to read one book right now what would it be. One of my favorite women in Charleston, recommended “Extravagant Grace” by Barbara Duguid. I knew if she was taking the time to read this book and lead others through it, it was a no brainer for me. I immediately got the book and dove right in.

There are so many things I can say about this book. But the words that have wrecked me are far more powerful than any words I can say about it. Below are some of those things.

Those areas of her life where she sought to battle sin most energetically were precisely the areas where she seemed to be making least progress.

Whether we stand or fall, run the race or have only enough faith to keep looking in the right direction, He is faithful to us.

God is actually as much at work in our worst moments of sin and defeat as He is in our best moments of shining obedience.

Truth was starting to replace self-deception, and conviction was beginning to feel sweet instead of simply bitter and humilitating.

Many Christians wrestle with the agony of sinful failure in isolation and desperation.

Many believers are willing and eager to talk about what big sinners they were before they were saved, but few invite you into their hearts to see what huge sinners they still are now. 

He does not ordain the beginning and the end of your story only to leave the middle part – your life as a believer here on Earth- up to you!

Nothing you can do can speed up or slow down the work of the Spirit in you. (BOOM…smack in my face)

… and that was just in the first three chapters 🙂

Yall, this book is speaking right to my core and every struggle that has come with this battle.The book is based on John Newton’s writings and I just love how God works. The week after I started reading this, my pastor gave a sermon that was speaking directly to what the book had already been addressing. If you watch one sermon your whole life, I might recommend for it to be this one.

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God perfectly orchestrated me reading this book and hearing this message at the perfect time in my walk with Him. If you set goals for the year, I would plead for you to add 2 more- read “Extravagant Grace” and watch the sermon! If you are like me, feeling like your feet are stuck in concrete and you can’t find rest in His love, I’m praying this messes you up and you get unstuck. 

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|Lessons in the Snow|

Growing up in South Carolina, snow days rarely actually have any snow. The past 48 hours have been filled with rest, snow, and just when i thought the snow was ending… more snow. I can’t remember ever seeing this much snow. I was quite unprepared with only a rain jacket, non waterproof boots (added grocery bags inside to help a little), a camo hat, and cookie sheets to use as sleds… but it was all worth it! 

As we trekked miles to find the perfect hill, I kept finding myself looking to the ground trying not to stumble over the boulders of ice (exaggeration? perhaps). When I would take the time to trust a much unworthy path of ice, the view was stunning. It was such a sweet reminder of how I can become so ground-ward focus in life. Focusing on the hard things or frustrating situations, while at the same time missing out on everything else God is doing that is beautiful around me. Sometimes its hard to trust Him through the circumstances but I know He is faithful and He sustains. It is hard to trust when I confuse trusting Him and trusting my own strength to make it through whatever situation is tough. He has proven time and time again that in trusting Him, I find rest.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

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What a full 2 days. Thankful for each person I got to share it with. 

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Book Rec: “Salvaging My Identity”

If you are- teen, college, young adult female…or a mom, grandma, aunt, or friend of one.. I highly recommend this book. For several years I looked for a book/devo to give girls that was culturally relevant but Gospel saturated.. and this is it. Salvaging My Identity by by Rachel Lovingood & Jennifer Mills hits hard with truth on all the lies this world is feeding us. This is a great practical resource for you or someone you know learning what it means to love Jesus as a young woman in this world. 

salvageHere are the topics covered just to give you an idea of how thorough this book is:

  • acceptance
  • appearance/image obsession
  • failure/shame
  • discontentment
  • false expectations
  • lying
  • cheating
  • broken promises
  • hypocrisy
  • manipulation
  • isolation
  • conflict
  • gossip
  • social media attacks
  • peer pressure
  • self-harm & addictions
  • sexy influences
  • your look
  • premarital sex
  • destructive words
  • fear & anxiety
  • rejection
  • grudges
  • worry
  • worldliness
  • anger
  • frustration with relationships
  • frustration with God
  • feeling misunderstood
  • instant gratification
  • misplaced affections
  • insincere worship
  • habitual sin
  • inconsistency
  • mediocrity
  • apathy 
  • self-centeredness
  • insecurity
  • depression
  • burnout 

Think that about covers it?

* note: this is a wonderful book and can be beneficial just to read individually, but the book is designed to be used with a friend or small group. Find someone to read it with you or be willing to work through the book with whoever you give it to! Our 9-12th grade girls are studying right now and loving it. Hope you do too! 

buy it here

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| Restless Heart |

Living in a house with 6 girls + working in an office of vibrant and lively females (keeping in line a bunch of rowdy men) + spending almost every free moment with a best friend you rarely absolutely never get tired of = days and months (sometimes years) of never really being alone.

Last week I was blessed to go on a staff retreat with honestly the best staff team a girl could ask for. I didn’t have many expectations for the few days nor had I put much thought into what could come from a retreat. To be honest- sitting still, alone, or quiet scares me. When I was little my dad would taking me hunting or fishing and would end up never taking me back because I was terrible at doing all three of those things- being still, quiet, & alone- the epitome of those activities. Needless to say this has been a struggle my whole life, but only recently has the Lord shown me how it is effecting my relationship with Him and growing myself.

I have been told several times “you do so much fun stuff” or “how do you find all these free things to do?”. My unspoken answer… fear-driven googling. Fear of what I might learn about myself. Fear that I will lose control. Fear that when I sit and rest, I will be asked to do something by God that I might be hesitant to say yes. If I am busy then I don’t have to say yes, right? (hmmm not sure if He works like that).

It is easier to be busy and preoccupied than it is to be still and rest. I am realizing the effects of my restlessness though. When challenged last week at retreat to take time to ourselves, I couldn’t remember the last time I did that.

On the way from Asheville to Easley I decided why wait to plan a personal retreat at a later date, why not just take one during my road trip home. I knew I needed to be in Easley at a certain time to see my momma (we don’t mess with those plans) but I figured I had a few hours to spare. In attempts to find an escape, I just figured getting lost in a mountain town I would land upon a hidden getaway. Oh boy did I ever.

pathway to the getaway- Jump Off Rock in Hendersonville, NC

pathway to the getaway- Jump Off Rock in Hendersonville, NC

worth the drive and walk out to reach this point

worth the drive and walk out to reach this point

Resting spot for the day

Resting spot for the day

Reflected on this scripture...needed truth

Reflected on this scripture…needed truth

Because I know I will fill my time with pointless busy work, I am excited to block out (not schedule or plan) time each month to pull away from all forms of social life & media. Looking forward to what God wants to impress on my heart during this time, and might just share a little of that here. 🙂

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1-2

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20.12- A Year in Review

As I look back and see that I have not written here since October, I get overwhelmed with all that I want to say and talk about. It has taken me some time to reflect on 2012 (a month and 11 days into 2013 to be exact) but I look back with great joy and appreciation for all my loving and gracious God did in and through me last year. I look to 2013 with great expectation and hope for what is to come.

Before I can think about all that 2013 can hold, time to remember and learn from 2012.

Highlights for me to remember:

Passion 2012 with 4 of my favorite high school seniors. God truly rocked my thinking as I got to see the girls that I love so much leaving for college on fire for Christ 

Passion 2012

Passion 2012

2 of my best friends got engaged to their best friends and married in the Fall. It was a full year of seeing my sweet friends Kendall & John and Kaylee & Ben tie the knot!

Kaylee & Ben on their sweet wedding day!

Kaylee & Ben on their sweet wedding day!

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Kendall & John (aka Ken & Johnny) on their joyful wedding day

Lead four 8th grade girls in a bible study. I was excited every Tuesday to spend time with them and then loved extra time having sleepovers, going to the beach, concerts, etc.

Many nights of randomness

Many nights of randomness

This picture might seem random to most people, but to me it shows each of these girls personalities perfectly!

This picture might seem random to most people, but to me it shows each of these girls personalities perfectly!

Lived life with some of the coolest high school girls I know from Bachelor Mondays (“secret bible study”) to concerts, games, and more… these girls are truly friends of mine, even though I got paid to hang out with them haha (Abbie).

The Crew

The Crew

Summer 2012- probably my favorite summer in Charleston! From free concerts at the Pier to 4th of July, I rejoice in knowing not a moment or memory was wasted that summer. Amazing what you take advantage of when you know you are leaving.

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4th of July

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MerriCameron’s fake birthday

Made the decision to move to Durham, NC <— best/hardest decision ever! Charleston was a tough place to leave but Durham has added so many new friends and memories that have enriched my life more than I could imagined.

Blessed by the Purple House

Blessed by the Purple House

First Thanksgiving at Morning Glory- the new family farmhouse named after a song my Granddaddy use to sing. Thankful for my family and memories made this year!

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

Color Ran with my best friends- weekends like this are so needed!

Far apart but they know me best = best friends

Far apart but they know me best = best friends

Where running is fun, if that is possible!

Where running is fun, if that is possible!

Far apart but they know me best= best friends

Worth IT

Lessons Learned:

  • Be intentional- with everyone and every situation 
  • Live in the moment- it is so easy to look at what is next, but live in the now
  • Choose Joy- in every situation, good or bad, choose joy and to see how God is working

There were so many other sweet memories in 2012 but these are the ones I look back on and I am so incredibly thankful for. What a year. I am already enjoying 2013 and can’t wait to see what God does this year to stretch and grow me but I also can’t wait to see what He does to just put a smile on my face. This walk with Christ isn’t always easy, but it surely is sweetness to my soul.

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