Why Happiness does not spell L.O.V.E.

Since it is Valentine's Day, I feel that it might be appropriate to write about love. Now before you stop reading, understand 2 things.

1. I hate Valentine's Day
2. It's NOT because I'm currently single

So let's get started. I do hate Valentine's Day and it is not because I am currently single. Although I have spent most of my life as a single woman, I recently ended a long term relationship. We spent two V-days together, and I hated it then then, too. I am a firm believer that love should be celebrated every day, and it is for those of us who are in Christ. (And for those optimists out there!) My point? Keep reading.

Why do you suppose I chose the title of the blog post? Happiness does not spell love. It is a lesson that I learned the hard way.

Society puts so much pressure on individuals to be successful, start a family, get married and obtain a sort of 'social status' that will ultimately render us 'acceptable' within our circle(s). We are told that love is synonymous with happiness...in other words if we obtain all of these worldly things that make us happy, we will also have love. Vice versa if we have love then we will be able to obtain all of these worldly things. Neither of these should be the basis on which you build a relationship.

Let me get personal. my family has always been pretty successful at whatever they do, and I love them for instilling hard work, dedication, and moral value in me at a young age. However, I can be so goal driven, that I forget not everyone thinks the way what I do were is capable of the same things in life. Fast forward to that long term relationship I mentioned earlier.

When I met him we were friends first. Everything in our relationship was met with an obstacle.  When we first started dating, I was in the process of accepting a position in another state, 1000 miles away. of the nearly two years we were together, we only spent about one quarter of that time in the same state. Even after that, we still lived two hours away from each other. Our relationship also faced other issues that I will not discuss here, but they are issues that any normal couple would understand. My parents were very critical of my choice to be in a relationship with him, because he did not share the same goals, or motivation. There were other people who disagreed for other reasons and because I am a person that values the opinions of friends and family, I listened a little too much. I do believe that they had valid points sometimes during our relationship. However, I always thought in terms of the American Dream and how that would make me happy. Like every girl, I dreamed of a white picket fence  at a house with a loving husband and successful career. It mattered if my social circles didn't agree with my relationship.

Eventually, I broke up with him - not once but twice. Both times I felt that we were in a different phase of life (or in other words he was not moving fast enough for me or fulfilling my idealistic American dreams.) All of those things that the world told me would bring me happiness may indeed do so, but now I gain successes without being able to share them with the one person I love the most.

The world did not accept Jesus Christ, even after he lay down his life on the Cross. In a way, I did not accept the person that my boyfriend was because I only wanted to see the version created for me by the "world" around me. We as Christians are persecuted everyday for what we believe because the majority of people don't agree, or don't understand. I believe it is the same way with those we love on earth. Not everyone is going to agree with your choice, support your friendships, or relationships with one another. Not everyone in my family supports my decision to be a Christian, but that did not stop me because I love Jesus. I do not need the success of my job, a house in the suburbs, or the model marriage, even though those would be nice. All I need is my relationship with Jesus and in that relationship I have a duty under that covenant, to live as justly as I can. (Micah 6:8) In the same way, I should have loved my boyfriend, with the understanding that our love was greater than worldly desire, parental expectation, or any other stumbling block....especially had we been married.

Today I understand the choices I made. I now have to accept the outcome of that situation, even if it means we are not together and may not ever be again. What I realize now more than ever is that when you love someone, you tend to take the good things for granted. Everyone has flaws and he was no exception. But neither am I. Don't give up on love because you are unsatisfied with the material possessions and societal influences of the world. if Christians gave up on their faith every time Jesus didn't deliver what they wanted, we would all be in deep, sinking mud. We don't know what's best for ourselves anyway, Proverbs tells us that.

Happiness does not spell love. Two things I can think of spell love:  J.E.S.U.S., or L.O.V.E. Happiness from success or material possession does not spell love. It spells temporary.

Take it from me, this is one spelling test you do not want to fail.

(To my ex boyfriend: I'm sorry. Hindsight is 20/20. I love you still. I know you have forgiven me and I'm thankful for that. I don't know that you will ever give me a final chance and I suppose that's more than fair. But please know you are the one love that I will never be able to top, and that regardless of what happens,  instead of wishing you happiness,  I wish you love. And I pray for you every night.)

I'm back...hopefully.

It's been over a year since I've posted in this blog. I guess I've been a little busy, and a lot has changed. Every now and again, I decide to start writing again; the history of this blog has been much of my journey with Christ. I do intend to keep that my focus this time around. After all, that is the center of everything I do in life. but, I also want this blog to be a place where my readers feel as if they are not alone. That is one of Christ's main goals when he is with his children. He wants us to know that we are always love and that he has been through every trial and temptation that we face. If I began to write in this blog again, it was on the condition that I too would be an open book. Furthermore, that my life, whether success or failure, would be a testament to God's grace, namely His mercy. You see, we are all flawed and God loves us anyway. His divine Word (the Bible) has all the answers!

keep reading my posts to hear a little bit more about my life, and also to see what sort of answers God has given me. It is my prayer that something I say or a situation I have faced will resonate with someone, and by putting myself out there I can make a difference.


Doing what is necessary.

Doing what is necessary...oh the sigh that comes with saying that.  And it's difficult at that.
I won't bore you with a long list of my "necessaries," as I am sure you have your own battle scars, too.

I could count a lot of things I have been through in life as necessary. I'm not talking about this stuff:

What is convenient...
What is popular or like-able...
What is easiest...
What I want...

Rarely are the things you need convenient, popular, easy or what you want to do. A lot of times doing what is necessary is painful or requires effort.

  • A mother who disciplines her child doesn't want to cause distress, but she knows that the greater good will come from doing what is necessary, and best for her child. 
  • An Olympian may not want to train that extra hour, make that move across country to work with a coach, or run that last mile...but they do because it is necessary for success.

The same is true for God. He wants us to have the very best, so he chooses sometimes to make us do the difficult things - the things that a selfish us would choose not to do if God was not calling us to grow. (Job 5:17). 

I have still been searching for a job here in Springfield, but I know God will provide. That's not the subject of this post. With all of my free time here, I have met some people, walked the Missouri State campus, applied for a lot of jobs and made a lot of connections. But, I have also spent a lot of time on Facebook. And Twitter. And FourSquare. And especially Pinterest. 

I am a people person. I thrive on social settings and relationships with people - that's what they call an extrovert. I re-energize myself by being surrounded with people. In my case, college students are the usuals, and the college ministry is the setting in which I excel...

Social media is convenient. It is popular. It is easy (especially with Smartphones). Connections with others. I would say it is something almost all of us desire. God can use it to make great things happen, but when Jesus walked the Earth, he met people...in person. And His life was devoted to making disciples and teaching. 

If you are looking down at your phone or your laptop, chances are you are MISSING OUT on an opportunity to fellowship with the body, meet someone new, or to grow spiritually...what would God's Kingdom look like if we all spent even HALF the time we do on Facebook actually meeting people? My guess is, very different. 

I have given up social media (save for this blog), for awhile. I need to spend more time with God, more time with His word, more time learning, growing and maturing. More time being made into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ. 

I cannot effectively disciple if I do not first discipline myself.

I really do believe that. If I am not spending every spare moment I get reading Scripture or meeting new people, or growing relationships within the body of believers, or making myself more knowledgeable about the Kingdom so I can tell others, or serving...then I am not doing EVERYTHING I can to grow. 

What in this world is taking you away from getting to know the Christ?

Video games?
Social media?
Clubs, parties?
A personal sin...that crutch that always seems so convenient?

I challenge you to do something about it. If you don't like something in your life, replace it with something better. My suggestion? Replace it with Jesus.

If you stop growing spiritually or you are spiraling downwards, you are decaying and dying. Fight. It's difficult. It's not convenient. It's not popular. It's not easy. But it is NECESSARY AND POSSIBLE. Grow upwards and keep going, never quit. Keep changing, keep replacing the bad habits with the good. Keep faith that God will help you through it. 

Do what is necessary. Don't just say you will do it...because you won't.
Put it into action.
Become a better you. 
Become a better reflection of Jesus Christ.


New Adventures...new chapter!

Well, it's been a while - and I think it's time that I revive this blog. From now on, I will use this to periodically try and keep all of you up-to-date on my new life as a campus ministry plant team member. I moved this past weekend to Springfield, MO to work with Jeff Keely and Catherine Kraus from the CIA (Christians In Action) Tampa Ministry. We will be partnering with East Grand Church of Christ and working with students primarily from Missouri State University as well as Ozark Tech and Drury.

It had been a crazy few weeks getting ready to move. I started packing up my things from the temporary spare bedroom I was borrowing from two amazing sisters in our ministry, and headed to Orlando to say goodbye to my family; that was a hard few days...but, I plan to get them a webcam so they can learn how to Skype! (:  I went to Searcy to the Campus Ministry United conference and had a great weekend learning about how to be better equipped in ministry. It was also my last road trip with the Tampa ministry - well, at least our interns. It was quite an adventure - with no flat tires or blown gears this time. I got to spend time with all of them which was a really special weekend. I also got to celebrate six months with my boyfriend - and he took me on one last set of dates on Saturday. Although it was sad to say goodbye to him, Kelly and the others - complete with tears - I know that this is my God-given path and over time, God's peace has allowed me to focus on why I'm here.

I quit my job in Florida, in faith that I would find one in Springfield before I moved, but as of late, I have had several interviews, I don't have an offer yet. Please keep praying that I am able to start working again soon...not only to earn my living, but also because I'm ready to work again!! In the meantime, I am here and excited to go walk the campus tomorrow. Perhaps I can find some students doing orientation or something? (: We are having our first outing on Friday to see Batman: The Dark Knight Rises; Jeff is even driving over from Searcy (or as I say it "Seercy"). I'm very excited about that and I'm excited to put in my membership with the church here. They have such a loving body of Christ and I am looking forward to helping plant, develop and grow a college ministry here. (Go, make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded, Matthew 28)

Catherine and I are in the process of looking for a place to live, so please also be prayerful for that. Right now, we are blessed to be able to stay with a couple from the church. Being roommates should be exciting! Springfield is an awesome town with TONS of places to eat - PERFECT for a college ministry...they love food. I've loved driving around just familiarizing with the area...drivers are so much better here than in FL, but I do miss the beach! (;

This will be a way for you all to keep up with me; I am overwhelmed to have so much love in my life from Tampa, and I can't wait to develop those relationships here, too. Since I don't have time to message you each individually, check here from time to time. I am so blessed to have such amazing brothers and sisters in my life! Be praying for CMU and for our plant team to set this campus on fire for Christ! (:

Until next time...
"Lead, follow, or get out of the way" - Lynn Stringfellow aka "Pops"


Unlocked, Unburdened. (And great Ministry news!)

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever tried to open a door with the wrong key, or tried so hard to wrestle your way free of some situation, but you just couldn't? Maybe it's an addiction , guilt from mistakes in the past, a broken relationship, or something else that you have convinced yourself you cannot break free of in life. On a side note:  If you have a serious addiction or problem, I encourage you to seek medical attention or a counselor.

But, think about it for a minute. If I asked you all to close your eyes and then raise your hand if you've ever felt trapped, I'd assume that the majority of people would raise their hands in the air. We all feel stuck at some point. What if you could change that, though? What if the tedious routine of "ignorance is bliss" or "I'll deal with it later" could finally be dealt with today, and you finally felt unlocked and unburdened?

This morning, I stayed up well into the night moved to tears by a true story about a boy with autism.  Many kids who suffer from this are trapped inside of a world they cannot escape, whether they are non-communicative or high functioning AS (Asperger's Syndrome). That's about the extent of my knowledge about the subject, but I will say that the story of a boy who broke free through music and because of prayers and pleas to God filled my heart with a gut wrenching sadness and joy all at one time. He trusted God, even though he couldn't express that to others. 

So, what in your life can you not express to others?

Maybe, you haven't even admitted it to yourself. Maybe, you're scared. Maybe, you feel lost or trapped. I think at some point, we all have or we all do. Will you trust God to help you, even if the answers are not immediate...can you have faith as small as a mustard seed to watch what He can do with your problems? The God who created the stars in the sky and every creature and landscape - He loves YOU. His son Jesus, well, He died on a cross so no one else would have that burden. But, God and His son, they love YOU. We are  told that we would have trouble in this world and to take heart, for He has already overcome it.

Guess what that means?

It means God can overcome whatever is going on in your life. His LOVE surpasses all things and His grace is unending. What can He help you to unlock; what burden can his he take upon his yoke to make your burden lighter? (Matthew 11:28-30) Start on your knees. Last night, I prayed like I hadn't in a long time. I'll admit that to you. But, what I will also say is that all of the problems in my life, all of the dilemmas big and small that I was dealing with this week, don't seem like dilemmas today. I don't have to carry the weight of them, because He is already doing that. I just have to trust in His direction and follow His small, still voice. 

I'm headed to Missouri on a Campus ministry plant at Missouri State University. You can read more about it from the director of Campus Ministry United here. God has so much more planned for me and for our plant team than I could have ever imagined. In my case, I believe that it is because I allowed him the key to my heart and the weight of my past burdens. Now, my future looks so incredibly beautiful and bright! (I'll write more about what I'm feeling regarding this plant in another post).

Don't let the things of the past get to you. He is doing a new thing and you just don't see it yet - trust Him, and see where it goes. This is a personal topic, because it's something that in the past, I've had difficulty wrapping my head around it. That's not to say I never slip up and start trying to rely on myself - I do, I'm human. But, now I am quicker to get on my knees and turn the keys back over to God. He's a much more efficient navigator.

Start the change now. He won't necessarily lead you to Springfield, MO, or even on a campus ministry plant. But what I do know is that He has great plans for each one of us - the blueprints are simply waiting to be unrolled. Where might your adventure with God begin?