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learned

the heart behind my words

Posted in faith

I can be an overtalker. An anxious rambler. I sometimes fear awkward silences, and I can hardly let an uncomfortable situation sit.

There’s a frantic urgency to overreach with my words, to extent an apology or clarifying statement or burst of emotion.

I’ve known this to be true throughout my life, but lately it’s been flashing bright like Vegas Neon. And truthfully, I’m bothered by it.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

I’m disturbed by my fear of discomfort in a conversation. I’m weary from my need to explain myself completely and entirely, to cover all my bases, to fix a situation immediately.

I wonder about pride, and how it could be a root issue here: the need to be sure I’m understood, the desire to make sure I’m not seen as wrong or confused or behind the curve.

Once I get going, words like a garden hose rush from my lips. Usually resulting in regret or self-doubt or disappointment, sometimes condemnation before Holy Spirit catches me.

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making choices like Jesus would

Posted in faith

Thanksgiving week this year was full. Full of family, laughter, conversations, shooting guns, being outside, delicious food, a few tears, lots of grace.

I was driving out to my parents’ house asking Father for help. God, please give me wisdom and discernment in my choices. Bless our families with good quality time and rich conversation. Be honored by our words and actions and thoughts. In His goodness, He gave me a visual.

Two sisters, different personalities. Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while busy bee Martha is frazzled and distracted.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” v. 41-42

The greatest possession is close fellowship with the Lord as our ‘portion’ in life, says the ESV Study Bible. “It will not be taken away from her” — neither now to help Martha in the kitchen, nor for all eternity.

And Father said, stay at my feet, stay close, rest and trust Me. 

Instead of feeling like my mind is distracted and frazzled and busy like Martha, trying to please everyone and make the perfect choice.

Jesus was a man who lived on this earth. He walked, talked, overcame, felt physical needs, spent time with other humans. He valued close fellowship with his Father.

“Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the defining word on God—on what the heart of God is truly like, on what God is up to in the world, and on what God is up to in your life. An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home. To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.”

To experience him and learn about him and know him is transformative.

God is cultivating in me a longing to know Jesus like I know my best friend or my husband.

To wonder about him when doing mundane tasks. To imitate how he speaks to both friends and strangers. To prioritize life as he prioritized life. To learn how he responds well in tricky situations. To love him by my service. To listen to him. To learn his mannerisms and tendencies. To know his heart.

I’m reading a book by John Eldredge called Beautiful Outlaw, about Jesus and his personality. All the quotes in this post are found in the book. It’s an interesting read.

He woos, he confronts, he delivers, he heals, he shoots straight, and then he uses intrigue. He lives out before them the most compelling view of God, shows them an incredibly attractive holiness while shattering the religious glaze.

I’m learning it this way… Holy Spirit is God in us; He is companion, wisdom, comfort, guide, and more. Jesus is our example for life; He lived a life that pleased God. Jesus is our brother to learn from. God is Father; He is creator, judge, powerful.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality. Your humanity, and your life. This is the reason he came. Anything else is religion.

I sometimes underestimate the power of knowing Jesus as if he was a physical person in my life today. I sometimes underestimate the stories of the Bible.. passages that tell of his expressions, his words, his way of being, his view of the world.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality.

Forgive me, Father. Thank you, for sending Jesus to live perfectly and die sacrificially.

If You Don’t Want To Be Lovely….

Posted in inspiration
(This one is close to home, friends. This comes from a heart triumphant from weary years of fighting perfectionism and a distorted self-image. I want you to read this as though we were sitting across from each other in rocking chairs or comfy couch. I want you to hear this as if I was a good friend, with a bear hug and lots of love.)

Question your value constantly.

Insecurity is unattractive. And it doesn’t feel good. Fight against the self-hatred, the discouragement. Fight against grumbling over what you aren’t and pride about what you are. If you want to lack in real beauty, never stand in your true identity. You are valuable. In Jesus we are fully known and always loved, exposed yet never rejected. Jesus declares his affection for us when we are at our very worst as well as at our very best. Is God the most important person in your life? If He is, you are treasured always. He has made you His own. Because of Jesus, everything that is true about Him is true about you in God’s eyes. You are valuable in a way that cannot be changed because you are His. 

“Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything.” St. Catherine of Siena

See strangers and even friends as competition.

You’ve heard the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, there’s no room for contentment. If there is no contentment, there’s hardly a chance for strong beauty. If you don’t want to be lovely, in appearance or attitude, see your peers as threats. Your beauty is not supposed to be the same as someone else’s.

God designed us for supporting and connecting and cheering, not competing. Please know that someone else’s success and beauty and growth doesn’t have the power to diminish your own.

“Our riches are the kind that free us from having to be affluent or thin, or intelligent or networked or famous or anything else that the world says we must be in order to matter. Our riches are the kind that assure and reassure us that we have nothing left to hide, nothing left to fear, and nothing left to prove. Because Jesus took on himself the full freight of our shame, we are no longer under pressure to exhaust ourselves with endless and futile efforts to make something of ourselves. We now have an inner resource that can liberate us from preoccupation with self. We now have an inner resource than frees us to treat all people as our equals. We now have an inner resource that endearingly and compellingly invites us to join God in his mission to love.” Scott Sauls

Build life around your external appearance.

You are not your physical features. Be a woman of substance — physical beauty is continually fading. Your physical features can do little to genuinely help someone or the world, but your heart, soul, and your mind? With the Spirit of God in you, you can do incredible things. Build your life around strengthening your inner person.

“When God and His glory are made our end, we shall find a silent likeness pass in upon us; the beauty of God will, by degrees, enter upon our soul.” Stephen Charnock

Put your worth into bubbles that burst.

A sure way to lose your true beauty is to build your life on shifting sand: talents, looks, accomplishments and possessions. These things are temporary, and can change at any moment. Real beauty transcends time. If you seek your worth in anything but God and His unchanging love and pursuit of you, you will be up and down constantly. If you anchor your worth to being well-read, handsome or pretty, wealthy, funny, smart, or even religious, instead of in the smile of God over you, those things will eventually destroy what’s truly good in your life. You’ll be unsteady, probably a little miserable, and easily discouraged. God created you for more.

“Get alone with God and preach His Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.” John Piper

television is losing its lure

Posted in faith

“Idolatry is when you become the source of your own joy. Poverty of spirit is a wonderful thing.” Paul Washer

I’m pretty sure I’ve been slightly addicted to television. Or maybe not television, but the comfort of having my attention satisfied.

I could hardly be in silence.

Whether I was exercising, cleaning, creating, I almost needed a movie or show going. Or thought I needed. I had to be entertained.

It was almost like I couldn’t survive in the quiet, or the seemingly boring.

This, in turn, if I’m honest, made me mentally weak. In exercise, when I was tired, in making disciplined choices. It caused me to be distracted more easily when I was cleaning, to stop and watch for a few minutes at a time.

The worst part was that my mind became consumed with images of tv shows or movies, and I didn’t have much clarity of thought. Then, Holy Spirit started working something beautiful in me: a real treasuring of God, a real admiration for humanity.

Slowly, worldly entertainment began to lose its luster. I would turn on tv shows, get 15 minutes in, and be bored with the show! I’d even grumble about it.

Before, I thought the tv was a solution to my boredom. Now, I’m almost bored watching the tv!

There is a longing growing within me for deeper things. For sweeter things. I yearn for that which fills me up and refreshes me. Books, prayer, music, time outside, conversations with friends.

Isn’t it amazing? God has changed me.

I still have shows I enjoy watching. And movies are a way J and I unwind. But the unnecessary tv noise? It numbs me. I don’t like how I feel afterwards.

There is a quote by Paul Washer that I found relevant…

Avoid trivial pursuits. You are a child of God, destined for glory, and called to do great things in His Name…. Do not throw away the precious moments of your life on entertainment, movies, and video games. Though some of these things can properly have a ‘small place’ in the Christian’s life, we must be careful not to give undue attention to temporal and fruitless activities. Do not waste your life. Employ the time of your youth in developing the character and skills necessary to be a useful servant of God.

These are strong words. I definitely don’t think entertainment is bad in and of itself, but I had made it an ultimate thing.. an activity I turned to first for satisfaction and inspiration.

The more I sought His face, the more I asked for Him to change the desires of my heart, He did. Conviction set in, why are you looking for a seemingly constant but actually very flat joy in this television entertainment? When you know exactly Who the source of all true and never-ending joy and happiness? 

It’s just me though. If you love watching Netflix for hours, and you and Jesus are rocking and rolling, I’m happy with and for you!

But I needed a change. A change that greatly affected my soul, and my intimacy with my Father.

Praise Him. 

what I would tell 16 year old me

Posted in inspiration

I’m a big fan of Timehop. Since photography is one of my favorite pastimes, I enjoy walking down memory lane. Yesterday an album came up from 9 years ago, the year I turned 16.

A lot of life has happened since I was 16. I have lived a blessed life, not without difficult circumstances and loss, but blessed all the same. Still, life is unpredictable, mean girls exist, disappointments and joys and big decisions come in waves, and change happens frequently.

If I could talk to 16 year old Chelsea about a few things, they would be these:

Embrace the curls.

I know straightening your hair seems fun and easy, but deep down you only do it because you think you’re prettier that way. Rock your curls, sister! You are uniquely you, and those curls will become a true part of you one day.

Be okay with not being everyone’s best friend.

It seems wonderful, but it ends up being pretty exhausting. Find that handful of sweet, God-loving, weird, lasting girlfriends, and stick close. God is not expecting you to be all things for all people. Love well and be a safe place for those you encounter. And trust God to be what everyone needs, not you.  Nonbiological sisters of mine, you know who you are… and I’m immensely grateful for you.

Being a perfectionist is a not a negative, but being a people-pleaser is.

Girl, you spend too much emotional and mental energy living without boundaries. Beware of falling into a snare of fearing man instead of the Lord, of walking around anxious because you might disappoint someone, or not look great in their eyes. Jesus is the person you focus on making great; you cheer and support others in their gifts. You are not defined by the opinions of others, how others react to you, your successes or failures, or even your feelings. Find your specific passions, give God all the glory, and pursue them with that perfectionist DNA.

Live from your identity in Christ, not from your image.

Tie your confidence and anchor your identity to an unchanging, undeniably good, powerful, beautiful, and living God. Your image, your physical appearance, your features — all called good by the most important person in the world. Your image will change, it will fade, but your identity in God can take you to new heights of love and abundant life. Your heart, mind, and soul make you special, new in Christ they make you strong and beautiful — not how much you exercise or how fashionable you are or how your makeup is done. It’s too easy to get caught in that trap, so girlfriend, run the other way and run hard.

Keep wearing those Converses instead of heels.

A time for heels will come, and you will grow to enjoy it, but embrace that well-worn blue jeans and Chucks look you have going. Wear those brightly colored tights and braids and your favorite jeans 4 days out of the week. Life is too short to stifle the way you express yourself for the sake of cool or popular. Styles change too often to keep up with it all. Find a style that fits you, that you feel pretty in, and rock it.

Mean girls will always exist. Remember who you are and Whose you are; rise above.

I would love to hold your shoulders, look you in the eye and say, that girl is insecure, that’s why she’s treating you this way. She is unhappy, and is taking it out on you. It has nothing to do with you. Do your best to be kind, so she never has any ammo against you, and ignore. Keep in mind the people who love you, who support and believe in you, and keep doing your thing. She will eventually see that you are not to be trifled with, and she’ll move on.

A relationship with God will be the greatest adventure of your life.

I feel like I’m experiencing this in new ways all the time, but the delight in knowing God will change your life. He is the coolest adventure, greatest treasure, highest joy, best friend, sweetest love. You seek him, you are active at church, you read your Bible, and I get teary-eyed to think of the grace in those choices. He is with you, in the seemingly mundane, and in the difficult times. Keep living for God, keep shining bright, keep loving people well. The lines will fall in pleasant places, and it only gets better.

There are many many other things, now being 24, but you enjoy your life, girl. Soak it all up, savor it. Because it’s good.