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I Got a Tattoo

I’ve come to a turning point in my life.

The last year of my life forced me to confront lies I’ve been telling myself. It forced me to uncover deep fears I’ve been clutching close, fears I had been letting make decisions for me. It’s been a year of alternating between inviting Jesus into the mess with me and turning tail and running when the emotional work felt unbearable. I’ve been struggling in a season where nothing seemed to make sense and everything seemed to go wrong. I was constantly asking God what He was doing, why He was letting some things happen and stopping others, why He let some people back into my life and left out others.

This summer everything came full circle. Finally. I’ve been waiting so long to say finally. The uncertainty and anxiety and exhausting wrestling with God wondering if the sun would ever finally rise. All of a sudden, He has lifted the veil from my eyes and has shown me why I’ve had to stumble in the darkness for so long. A newer, more beautiful dawn of my life is breaking. I feel that deep in my bones. I think I’ve had a smile plastered on my face for two full weeks now.

It was suggested to me that I do something to commemorate this huge shift in my life. About two hours later one of my best friends texted me about getting tattoos. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Continue reading “I Got a Tattoo”

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The Dark Night of the Soul

 

***This is a blog post that has taken me months of wrestling with denial and apathy and confusion and discouragement to write. Seriously, I wrote sections of this back in March. When I picked this blog post back up last week I realized just how much God has changed my life and my mind since even just this spring. This post still really isn’t finished. It’s messy and ramble-y and full of me piecing together bits of the puzzling last couple months. I wanted to hold on to this post until it was perfect…but really that was just an excuse to never ever let it see the light of day. So here it is, flawed but earnest- just like me.***

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Let’s talk about the dark night of the soul.

Ok, that sounds really Batman-esque, but stay with me.

I am talking about the haunting, broken, ugly, painful seasons of life.  The nights, weeks, months where you are convinced you may not last the next hour because your mind won’t let you have a moment of rest.  The nauseating anxiety that constantly gnaws at your every nerve.  The seconds where your body is either unable to stay still without panic or so heavy you can’t move at all. The bitter sleeplessness or nightmares or torrent of thoughts. The times when you cry out to the Lord but He hasn’t answered yet.

The Psalm 77: 1-4 days.

“I cry aloud to God,

aloud to God, and he will hear me.

In the day of trouble I seek the Lord;

in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

my soul refuses to be comforted.

When I remember God, I moan;

when I meditate, my spirit faints.

You hold my eyelids open;

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”

Been there?  Me too. These are the dark nights of the soul.

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Every dark night starts with a morning, right? Hours that inevitably lead up to the dark night.  Let’s back up for a bit and look at how I fell down that rabbit hole so hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I wrote this statement on my phone back in March and have been chewing on it ever since.

“This has been burning in my chest for a while now so here it goes: sometimes I feel like God is cheating me.”

It felt wrong to admit. Admit that sometimes I look at other people who don’t follow Christ and envy the freedom they have.  They can do what they want. Say what they want. Go where they want. They aren’t shackled to “expected spiritual behavior.” They don’t feel the heavy weight of bearing the name of Jesus all the time.  And, friends, sometimes it gets really heavy.  In those moments of sluggishly dragging the cross on my shoulders, fighting to follow Jesus with every labored breath, it can be easy to glance over at the people quickly walking past and envy their seemingly unburdened bodies. I was starting to feel like, because I was following Jesus, I had somehow been given the raw end of the deal, been cheated.

Out of fun. Out of adventure. Out of freedom. Out of living “fully.” Out of opportunity.

Before I even realized it, I was storing massive bitterness in my heart.  I was mad at God for making me obey. For limiting what I could do in my life. For requiring so much of me. For my heart breaking while I watched other people get whatever they wanted by living the way they wanted. I was fostering the beginning of some dark nights.

Are you feeling heavy too?

I have some good news. God isn’t cheating you. He’s saving you.

Continue reading “The Dark Night of the Soul”

Here’s the New Deal

And just like that, I’m nearly halfway through my first semester of grad school.

I used to scoff and roll my eyes when adults would tell me, “Time just gets faster every year!” …but I think they are on to something. Honestly, it feels like yesterday was Christmas and the day before was my birthday and the day before was summer. And yet somehow we are already in March of 2017. What?!

It feels like ages since I have really gotten to sit down here at my laptop and write.

Man, I missed this. I missed all of you.

In my absence from this blog God has been working and shaping and doing a lot of interesting things so I think it’s time for a quick life update.

  • I started grad school! It’s going well and I really enjoy the content.
  • I started yoga teacher training! It still blows my mind that this dream is becoming a reality.
  • I joined a Bible study (part of my community goal for this year!)
  • Living on Cheerios, eggs, and bananas #poorgradstudent
  • I’ve been hiking and hammocking any chance I can get
  • Still obsessed with my super cute apartment!
  • I discovered Ben Rector and UM OK WOW where has he been all my life???? (I also won a free ticket to his concert and it was the greatest concert ever and wow I am a fan)

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My schedule has been crazy busy- totally the opposite from when I started this little blog back in September. I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and how I wish I had more time to spend on it. My heart has been pulling at me to get back here and- if I am reallllly honest with myself and with you- I’m a little scared to get back on the horse. I want this space to be about growth and pursuit and understanding; I don’t want it to be a waste of your time (or mine!).

So here’s a new deal:

Continue reading “Here’s the New Deal”

Investing in 2017

SUNDAY STORYTIME- NEW YEAR’S DAY

Happy New Year, friends!

Let me start by saying that I hope and pray for extreme growth and blessing for you this year. I pray that you would mend all of your broken relationships. I hope that you set goals and crush them. I want this year to be so full that you overflow with gratitude and praise. I want you to fall in deep, intimate love with your Savior this year.

Yesterday I talked about all the big events that happened in 2016. Today I want to talk about the big lessons. The moments I fell flat on my face and failed. The moments I realized that I was trying to push a boulder up a mountain and finally let it roll away. The moments God kept saying no. I want to be honest and say that this year really showed me just how selfish and stubborn and sinful I am. I learned more about myself and my opinions and attitudes and beliefs this year than ever before. I dared to question everything. I wrestled and fought and interrogated my ideas about myself and my relationships to expose the lies and unhealthy habits hidden in the layers I created long ago. I did some soul work and wasn’t always happy with things I uncovered. I found patterns that I had been using to sabotage myself. Basically guys, I mentally/emotionally/spiritually took stock and cleaned house this year. And wow. You won’t believe what’s floating around in your head until you take some serious quiet and focused time to sit down and name it. After all the soul-searching, here are some things I learned in 2016:

  • Tribe
    • You. can’t. live. life. alone. My stubborn introverted mind tries with all of its might to tell me that I can do everything by myself. That I don’t need to rely on anyone and if I do they will just let me down. This year showed me how absolutely not of Christ that attitude is! People are human and will disappoint us (only God is perfect!) but Jesus created us to be in community- no matter what (even if we are introverts!). The church- the body of Christ. We aren’t wired to be alone, no matter what our jaded thoughts may feed us sometimes. This year I made some friends that have shown me the powerful meaning of godly togetherness- true tribe. And, of course, we started this little ASA tribe together. For 2017 I already have plans in motion to join a church small group, set aside times to truly connect and commune with godly women who are pouring so much of their knowledge into me and encouraging me, to grow this community, and take tribe opportunities whenever God places them in front of me.
  • Be wild
    • Being a Christian isn’t boring. This was a year of really looking at myself and realizing God created me to be a warrior in His name. To radically and wildly love a broken world. To live audaciously and loudly. To not settle for the security and lull of the tame life. To be a woman truly wild in her passion.

Continue reading “Investing in 2017”

What Happened in 2016?

NEW YEAR’S EVE

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Here it is, the last day of 2016. Whether you loved it or hated it, it’s nearly over and 2017 is coming in hot.

Personally, 2016 was full of some of my highest highs and lowest lows. One thing is for sure: I felt this year. Deeply felt everything that happened. And I kept a resolution: don’t shut down. As someone who empathizes and internalizes not only my own pain and stress but the pain and stress of others around me, sometimes my “feelings” shutdown when the burden seems too great. I let myself sink into apathy and superficiality in order to spare my heart and heal. But I didn’t do it this year. In a year that brought me a lot of loss, Jesus slowly taught me to lean on His strength and lean into the pain. To face my pain, learn new lessons, and overcome. So I’m pretty excited about that progress!

This was the year of growing pains. There was certainly a lot of pain but I did a whole world of serious growing. For that, I am absolutely thankful for this year of my life.

So…what happened in 2016?

I am one of those people who can remember wildly specific details about an event but struggle with remembering when that event actually occurred. The only reason I can keep years of high school straight is because the grade corresponded with the year (ex. I was in 11th grade in 2011). Because of that, one of my resolutions for 2016 was to make a list of all the notable things that happened during the year. The good, the bad, anything big. I simply kept a note on my phone and whenever anything big happened I added it to the list.

I kept that resolution rather well and it is absolutely incredible now to look back and see just how much happened this year and how it shaped me. Seriously, I highly recommend that you try this practice. It has really created an awareness of all of the incredible opportunities God has brought into my life.

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So, if you are interested (and you know you are), here’s my 2016 in a nutshell:

Continue reading “What Happened in 2016?”

Advent Flow Pt. 2 + Thoughts on Foundation

TRIBE TUESDAY

Hey guys! How was your Christmas!? I hope you had special time with your friends and family.

I also really hope you enjoyed the heart-opening flow! I pray it left you invigorated and shifted your gaze toward heaven. I waited to post the second half of this flow blog post because I really wanted to focus on turning my attention on the celebration of Jesus and allow myself real time for reflection as we head into this new year.

Today is about grounding. Rooting down. Seeking and building a firm foundation. This subject is really important to me because it’s something that I have to remind myself daily to pursue. Often I get distracted and absorbed and captured by the day and its set of problems (both real and those I imagine). I fly around seeking to please everyone and “fix” things and fit as much as I can into a day. And then I wonder why after all of that I feel wholly unfulfilled. Wasn’t I trying to honor God by being the best and most productive I could be?

I’m starting to realize that if I am a bucket with a crack in my base, it won’t matter how much I desperately try to fill myself with, it will never be enough. I’ll run around fast and frantic trying to solve a problem that can only be fixed when I stop and lay a new foundation.

Ya know what? Continue reading “Advent Flow Pt. 2 + Thoughts on Foundation”

Advent Yoga Flow Pt. 1

TRIBE TUESDAY

It’s a sacred time of year, friends.

Advent.

The season of joyous celebration and anticipation of the coming of Christ. The time when we give thanks for the miraculous first coming of Jesus as a humble baby in Bethlehem and look forward with excitement for His triumphant return.

While Christmas is a very publicized reminder to celebrate the “season of advent”, let’s remember that Christians can and should celebrate a lifestyle of advent.  Christ is returning and that’s something to joyously anticipate in every season.

In an attempt to keep sane during the busyness of the holidays and focus my heart and mind on the advent of Jesus, I’ve been incorporating a lot of grounding and heart-opening postures in my yoga practice.  My goal is ground and root myself down in His truth and turn the posture of my heart to heaven.

Even if you do not practice yoga or you are brand new to the practice, my challenge to you this week is to just try. Take just five minutes for yourself, turn on some soft music, lift your worries and worship to Jesus, and move with intention. I promise it is so rewarding!

Below I have included some of my favorite heart-opening poses for this advent season and some instructions for how to safely execute them. Feel free to message me if you have any further questions (I can talk yoga all day!). Make sure to breathe through all of these postures and have fun!

Continue reading “Advent Yoga Flow Pt. 1”

Flat Tire Faith

SUNDAY STORYTIME

Sometimes you run around and plan and focus and calculate so much that only something really uncomfortable will shake you to attention.

Something inconvenient.

Something scary.

Something expensive.

Something demanding.

Something like a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.

Yeah. Let me tell you the story of last Sunday.

Sunday started bright and early at 7 am…despite having only been in bed since 3am (I went to a college Christmas event! Worth it!).  I say this only so you will understand the fogginess I was struggling with as I pulled on my boots and set out for church at 8:40.

All of this happened down in Lynchburg, VA,  and while it may seem like I live there given the time I spend there these days, I haven’t actually moved into my apartment yet (I do in a few weeks though so get ready for a “tour”).  I was visiting and staying with a friend whose apartment is only about 20 minutes away from the church I attend. Cool. No problem.  I’d get there in plenty of time, grab lunch afterwards, and get on the road for my 4 hour drive back to Maryland. Ah, planning perfection.

I got about 5 miles down the winding country back road before I heard an unfamiliar but terribly ominous sound.

Continue reading “Flat Tire Faith”

My Mantra for Year 22

WORDS ON WEDNESDAY

I don’t know about you, but I work well when I focus in on something. When I set an intention.  If I have a set focus I tend to worry less about surrounding circumstances. Keeping that in mind I decided to choose a verse to serve as my theme, my mantra for this new year of my life.

I want to live my life on purpose for the purpose of loving and serving Christ. As I thought about what direction would best serve that goal, I was repeatedly brought back to the miracle of manna.  The super-weird honey flavored wafers that God provided to feed the Israelites for 40 years. The miracle that required His children to gather only what they needed for the day.  The miracle that turned sour and filled with maggots if they tried to gather more than they needed.  The miracle of daily dependence on Christ to meet the needs of His children. As a compulsive planner, worrier, and future-fixator this concept couldn’t be scarier or more appropriate. The miracle of manna led me to Nehemiah 9:15.

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I absolutely love this verse.  There is so much truth in such a small pocket. I chose this verse as my mantra because it contains three core truths that I want to remember daily in this new year I’ve been granted. Let me break those down:

Compassion: The first four lines, the ones I highlighted in yellow, are a reminder of God’s unwavering compassion for His people.  When the Israelites complained of hunger in the wilderness, God provided manna as their daily bread.  When they complained of thirst, He miraculously called water out of stone to satiate them. They, as we still do today, grumbled and shook their fists at God and He still compassionately provided for their needs.  Even when He disciplined them for worshiping idols or disobedience He did so with the compassion of a loving Father desperate to preserve His chosen people.

Command: In pink we have the command. Christ told the Israelites to go in and conquer the Promised Land.  In their fear, they hesitated.  They had been in the desert their whole lives, they didn’t know anything different. They were terrified of trusting God in this disorienting change. And let’s not forget the huge Canaanites already living in the Promised Land who were not really keen on leaving. God called His people to move forward in faith despite their fear and the obvious obstacles.  He commanded them to conquer in His name. He gave them the assurance of His hand on their side and they were still skeptical! Sound familiar? It certainly does to me and I never again want to miss the commands and chances to conquer nations because I doubted that my God was strong or faithful enough. When the command is clear- go for it!

Covenant: Finally, the covenant. The promises of God are sacred and holy in their binding. He finishes what He starts.  He doesn’t leave you in the lurch.  He doesn’t get nervous or bored or wary of commitment and back out at the last second.  God swore to give the Promised Land into the hands of the Israelites. Spoiler alert: He keeps that promise.  God desires to enter into an eternal covenant with His children.  For them to run and fall at His feet in surrender so that He can joyously seal for them the covenant of eternal life sitting in His courts. If you’re curious about all of the powerful covenant promises Jesus has extended to us, just open the Bible. They are everywhere and ready for you claim in His name.

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This verse is perfect for this stage of my life.  It gently reminds that in this financial season He will provide for me opportunity and “manna.”  It’s a reminder that He has commanded me to pursue talents and conquer habits and break down any obstacle keeping me from the land He has set before me. It covers me in the certainty of His covenant.  His holy promise to hold me in the palm of His hand, to provide a future for my good, to use every circumstance to bring me closer to His throne room.

So there it is.  My mantra for year 22. My daily reminder to depend on my Father instead of myself and trust His aim. I hope you take the time to listen to His whispers and find your own mantra.

20 Scary Things

TRIBE TUESDAY

Hey guys! I’m a little older and hopefully a little wiser since you heard from me last.

If you follow A Select Arrow on Facebook you may remember that I promised myself to do 20 scary things (one for every day of November before my 22nd birthday).

I shared that challenge with you guys to keep myself accountable to doing it and now I thought I’d share my 20 things. Some of these may not seem scary to you- we all find different things scary!- but I’ve learned a lot by  being intentional about breaking through my comfort zone. Maybe you have been trying to break out of your comfort sphere and these things will inspire some ideas…or maybe you can just get a good laugh about some of the things that scare me.

20 Scary Things

1. I took the leap and launched ASA on Facebook. This terrified me because my audience there is much larger than Instagram or the blog alone.
2. I centered a whole yoga practice on flying pigeon– the arm balance bane of my existence and probably the reason I will break my nose one day. I avoid it all costs usually but I made myself face it (and face plant).
3. I voted for the first time.  In this election. I don’t think I need to explain why this was scary.
4. I signed up for my first semester of grad classes. HOW IS IT ALMOST JANUARY!?!?
5. I applied for big girl jobs. My original plan was to do my graduate degree online and work full-time. Even though I’m going to be residential now I still want a big girl job but job applications are still extremely stressful, ya know? Lynchburg General, hit me up.
6. I signed my first lease. This was mostly just exciting but also wow, ok, yikes I am an adult paying rent and living with other adults. Continue reading “20 Scary Things”