Tuesday, February 24, 2015

With All of Your Heart Preview

Just to keep you excited for With All of Your Heart...here's a short preview of chapter 1!

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“We’re proud to present to you this year’s graduating class!” 
Finally! I thought, I’m finished.
I watched as all of our caps flew into the air and shouts of joy were let out from the people in the crowd along with a few of those graduating.  A smile was plastered on my face as I walked off stage (after a photo opp of course) to greet all those who came to see me.  To greet them as an official high school graduate. 
“My babies are all grown up!”  Mom said, engulfing me in a hug, tears brimming in her eyes.
“They sure are,” Dad agreed as he hugged both of us.
“Congrats,” Nathan, Carly’s boyfriend, said to me as he and Carly walked up to join the family pow-wow. 
“Thanks!”  I responded as Carly placed her arm around my shoulder and we walked off the school property for hopefully the last time ever.  
“Where are we headed for lunch? This better be good,” Dad asked as we searched for our car. 
“Um,” all I could think about was getting that awful graduation robe off. Number one, it’s not fashionable.  Number two, I was sweating like a dog underneath that black curtain.  “I don’t know. First I’ve got to get this robe off before I die of heat stroke.”  
“Better?”  Mom asked laughing as she helped me out of it.
“Much,” I said, adjusting my floral dress and necklace.
“So, where to for lunch?”  Dad asked as he started the car.
“He must be really hungry,” I leaned over and whispered to Carly and she laughed.
“Red Robin maybe?” 
“Why don’t I get a say in this?”  Carly asked.  “I thought this was a double graduation lunch?” 
Carly had just graduated from Gardner-Webb University a few weeks earlier.  She graduated with her degree in education and was trying to find a teaching job at an elementary school in the fall.
“Well, where would you like to go?”  Mom asked.
“I guess Red Robin would be okay,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“You’re ridiculous,” I said rolling my eyes as I laughed at her.
“Sounds good,” Mom ignored me as we all loaded into the car. 
“Are you getting excited about Uganda?”  Nathan asked me.
My heart beat faster just thinking about it, “Oh yeah. I can’t wait until next week.”
“Speaking of Uganda,” Mom turned around and looked at us all in the backseat.  “Carter wants to Skype us when we get to the restaurant.”
“I know!” 
“We also need to go shopping this week to get all that stuff you said you needed.”
“Yeah.”  A thought popped in my head just as my phone vibrated in my purse at my feet. The screen read: Meg!
Hey girl.  Hope graduation went well this morning.  Wanted to see what day this week would be good to talk about what I need to get for Uganda.  Just let me know which day will work best for you.  Love ya!
My fingers flew across the keys as I responded.  Would Monday morning work?  We could grab coffee!
Perfect!  See you then.
All right! 
We pulled into the Red Robin parking lot a few minutes later and all piled out of the car. 
“I’m going to go get connected to the wi-fi so we can skype Carter,” I said walking quickly to the door.
“All right,” Dad said with a smile as I pulled open the big swinging door.
I took a seat on the bench inside the entrance, relaxing in the cool air. 
“Got it, Chrissy?”  Carly asked, sitting down beside me.
A few clicks later and everything was set up for me to talk to my brother again.
“Remember this time last year?”  Carly asked.
“Yeah,” I said smiling, picturing our family sitting in this restaurant just a year earlier.  I could only think about how different all of our lives were. 
Carter was home from Uganda for a month.  I had just finished my junior year and was still dating Hunter.  Carly was getting ready to be a senior and had just started dating Nathan. 
We hadn’t gotten in a car wreck.  I hadn’t gone to Uganda.  I hadn’t broken up with Hunter. James wasn’t in my life.  God wasn’t important.  My heart was as hard as stone. 
But then I went to Uganda; I met Ava and James.  God changed my heart.  He guided me in a totally different direction than I would have ever imagined.  He put me on a path that was taking me back to Uganda for the summer.  He brought me an amazing friend who kept me accountable in my newly found relationship with God.  Not to mention, he gave her an opportunity to join me in Uganda for a few weeks. 
This past year had been unbelievable.

And I couldn’t wait to leave in just over a week to return to the country that I had grown to love dearly.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

To You, the Girl Looking for Love this Valentine's Day

Today is February 13th, 2015.

It’s the day before Valentine’s Day. My favorite part of Valentine’s Day? The cards from my grandparents and the candy.

Tomorrow is the day husbands treat their wives to a nice dinner and a bouquet of flowers.

It’s the day boyfriends get their girlfriends an oversized teddy bear and a box of chocolates. If they’re lucky, maybe some flowers, too.

It’s the day the restaurants and movie theaters will be full of couples celebrating days, weeks, months, years together.

And it’s the day that so many single girls spend wishing they had a boyfriend who would buy them flowers, tell them they’re beautiful, tell them they love them.

This post is to all of you girls- to all of you girls who are spending this Valentine’s day by yourself watching chick flicks and drowning yourself in self pity and chocolate.

While chick flicks and chocolate are pretty great, let me tell you, sweet girl, it’s not worth wasting your time on. Don’t waste your time, your precious teenage years, seeking after boys.

It’s just not worth it.

It’s not worth the heartbreak, it’s not worth the pieces of yourself that you will lose, it’s not worth hurting yourself like that over…and over…and over again.

Darling young girls, let me tell you something that I have held onto since I was young. Lean in and listen close because it’s really important.

You don’t have to search for love on this earth.

Yes, you heard me right.

No, I’m not crazy!

There is a God who is waiting to love you. He is waiting for you to cherish Him and to run to Him.

And He wants to love you more than any boy on this earth ever could.

His Son died so that He could love you.

Are you hearing that?

You don’t need a boy this Valentine’s day. You need to run to the love of the Father and never, ever let go. Because He won’t let go of you.

Now I know every girl’s dream is to meet a man and fall in love and wear that white dress that makes him cry.

I know because that’s my dream, too.

But here’s something else I’ve held onto for my entire life, throughout all of my teenage years.

The Lord will bring me that man. The Lord will show me exactly who he is and it will be in just the right time.

I look at so many young girls and girls my age…I hear their dating and breakup stories and it absolutely breaks my heart. They’ve given pieces of themselves to someone they knew they weren’t going to marry.

Sweet girl, save your heart for him, for that man you will marry. Wait for him!

Just as I believe God is writing my story, my fairy tale, I believe He is writing your’s, too.

And when it is all said and done, it will be your favorite story yet. You’ll love it more than Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast and maybe even Pride and Prejudice.

I was sitting in youth group two Wednesdays ago with my friend Caroline and we were watching a video of John Piper because our youth pastor was sick. He was speaking on Ephesians 5 and the roles a man and woman play in marriage.

Afterwards Caroline and I stood and talked…we stood and talked about how excited we are to meet that man. To meet the man who will lead us like Christ leads the church. To meet the man who will love us and cherish us like Christ does the church.

My friend, this is what the Lord wants for you. It’s what He wants for me. He wants us to marry the man who will lead us, love us and cherish us. And He wants nothing less because you are His daughter, He loves you and He cherishes you. He wants to see you loved and protected and following in His will.

Two nights ago I was looking at Instagram and came across a post by Ann Voskamp. It was a picture of her husband cleaning the kitchen and part of the caption read this, “I could weep for a quiet love like this, the kind that they don't write movies about, but the Maker writes down in a book of His own. It's not the kind of flashy that makes the red carpet, but it's the unforgettable love that runs red.”

I immediately texted this to Caroline knowing she would love it just as much as I did.

Because that’s just what I want! I want a love that the Maker writes down in a book of His own. I want an unforgettable love that runs red.

I want it in the man that the Lord has set out for me.

And sweet teenage girl, that’s what I want for you, too. It’s what the Father wants for you.

So right now, live in the love of the Father. He’ll give you more love than you ever thought imaginable.

While you live in His love, live being cherished by Him, He’s writing your fairy tale.

Run hard and fast to the love He is holding out for you.

Darling girl, He wants all of you. He made you so beautifully and He made you with a wonderful purpose and plan.

Spend this Valentine’s Day thanking Him for His love for you and this story that He’s writing.

Have no doubt it will be the best story you’ve ever heard.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

There is Liberty

I don’t even know how to begin to tell this story.

Only God.

I guess a good starting point would be this blog post, the one where I talked about what I didn’t know what was coming next in my future.

Around this time I had started looking at three different colleges. I had been to two of them and didn’t feel at home, I didn’t love either of them. Many of my friends who are in college had said, “You’ll know it. You’ll walk on campus and you’ll know it’s where you’re supposed to be.”

I hadn’t felt that at either of these two schools (nothing against either one- they are awesome schools!). So the next week my parents, my friend Caroline, and I traveled up to Lynchburg Virginia to visit Liberty University.

*Let me give a bit of background here: from various things I was basically set I was not going to be attending Liberty University. I just had it in my mind that I was not going to Liberty.*

So. We go on a Thursday night to see The Little Mermaid at their theater. Holy cow, was it amazing. The next day we take a tour to see the campus and to experience convocation (chapel). It was all so very impressive and so beautiful. Every person and every atmosphere shouted Jesus.

Various times throughout the tour I could just picture myself there, growing in my relationship with the Lord there. And I thought, Maybe this is that feeling they were all talking about. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks.

I really wasn’t thinking about the college thing all that much but I had been praying, “Lord, give me clarity, give me undeniable peace.”

I had pretty much already eliminated the other two schools but I wanted to know that Liberty was where I was supposed to be…wanted to know without a shadow of a doubt.

Right after Christmas I had sat down with my mom and dad and just said, “I’m pretty sure Liberty is a yes.” I had begun to sense this peace and contentment about the whole decision.

Little did I know what God had planned.

Soon after, I’m scrolling through Facebook and I see that Liberty has posted something about Karen Kingsbury. I clicked on the link to see that she had just partnered with Liberty to be a visiting professor, would be offering exclusive curriculum to Liberty, and would be offering a significant scholarship to four students.

I turned to my mom, “I could be taught about writing by Karen Kingsbury!!”

Alright, Lord. I’ve got it. Liberty it is.

Friday, January 30th, my dad and I made the two hour drive to Liberty for convocation because Kari Jobe (my favorite female vocalist) and Beth Moore would be there! Obviously we needed to go.

So just my dad and I went. We left bright and early and got there twenty minutes early just in time to see Kari Jobe finishing her sound check. (Yes, it was awesome.)

We met up with my cousins who are there and the service started.

She sang Revelation Song, one of my all time favorites.

But then they started playing the chords to the second song.

Wait, I know this. I thought. Great I Am. 

My heart filled.

For those of you that don’t know, Great I Am was Paige’s favorite worship song. For the first year after she passed away, I couldn’t sing it without breaking down into tears. But the Lord has brought me SO far since then and now it is my own worship anthem to Him.

I stood and worshipped and it was if the Lord leaned down and said, “My Daughter, if she were here, she would love this school and how they proclaim Jesus and she would support you coming here, too.”

As if that wasn’t enough, there was peace. There was clarity. More importantly, there was Jesus. Lifted higher than anything else. Great I Am.

It was all the confirmation I could have ever needed. Tears fill my eyes just typing this.

Only. God.

Only God!

As I was reading my Bible last night before bed, I came across this note I had written on a post-it note and stuck in the book of Esther. It read, “As painful as the process might be, that which shatters us will also shatter our fragility and free us to walk with dignity and might to our destinies. We aren’t the fragile flowers we’ve considered ourselves to be. We are the warrior princesses of God.* Let His name be higher than all He has overcome!”

And the date noted at the bottom? January 30th, 2013.

What was Friday’s date? January 30th, 2015.

I don’t begin to remember what happened on January 30th, 2013. Obviously it was something big. God was doing big things in my heart that prepared me for this day.

But I know that every moment that has shattered me has allowed me to walk with dignity and might to this, what has been my destiny since the creation of the world.

Not only will I walk with dignity and might, I will walk in His love, in His plan…and in His liberty.

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


*I do remember I was doing Beth Moore’s study on Esther. This quote is from that study. It is excellent! I highly recommend anything by her.