…And One More Thing Before You Go

As a kid, I always thought I had the best of both worlds. I was the baby of my family (which, undeniably, comes with its perks), but I had a load of cousins always ready to stand-in as younger siblings when I felt I needed someone to boss around. Growing up geographically close to your family lends itself to cool things like that.

And even though some days I thought about how fun it would be to have a little sister, I always came back to the reality that that spot had already been filled….I had you.

There were times we fought over the dumbest things. Weeks we went without talking, waiting for the other to make amends first.

But even more days were spent laughing at things only you and I found funny. You’ve always been good at that- finding the funny.

On my worst days, you were there with a hug and your bubbly grin just waiting to make me laugh at something. And on my best days, you were there, ready to celebrate life’s little blessings with me. You’ve always been there.

Now, it’s my turn to be there for you. As you begin your next adventure as a freshman in college, there’s some things you need to know first. Pay close attention. You ready?

1. “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” Speaking as one of your biggest fans, I don’t see how there could ever be anyone who won’t like you. But the truth is, there will be. Even with your joyful spirit, overwhelming kindness, and infectious smile, someone somewhere will look at you and decide they don’t like you. But guess what? It’s okay. You were not put on this earth to gain the approval of everyone you meet (although, you do a pretty great job at that). When you meet someone who rejects you, don’t let it steal your joy. Keep smiling, and accept that not everyone will like you, and that’s okay.

2. “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you don’t belong.” You are about to experience some of the biggest changes of your life. For starters, you will be away from Blake for the first time. It will be hard. It will hurt. But it will be SO worth it. It always feels nice within our comfort zones, but growth doesn’t happen there. To fully experience life, we have to take a step out of that circle. It’s not always comfortable, but, in the end, it’s worth it. Embrace the changes, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. “What if I told you that 10 years from now, your life would be exactly the same? I doubt you’d be happy. So why are you so afraid of change?” – Karen Salmansohn

3. “Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.” Grace, you have a heart of gold. You would do anything to help anyone who asks. I know God loves that about you. I love that about you. Unfortunately, you’ll learn that there are people who take advantage of that. They will see your willingness to put yourself aside and help them, and they will pile loads of their own responsibilities on your shoulders. Perhaps the most valuable thing you can learn is to say “No.” It’s admirable to always help other people, but, at some point, you have to take time to help yourself. When the demands of school start piling up, remember that it’s okay to tell people no. You do not have to accept every club, event, or party invitation you receive. Take time to take care of yourself.

4. “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” Read your textbooks. Take good notes. Pay attention. Study early. Don’t procrastinate. And don’t push deadlines. Your life will be so much calmer if you learn these things.

5. “No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.” You will make mistakes. You might do things you swore you would never do. But the best way to “fix” those mistakes, is to learn from them, and forgive yourself. Don’t let today’s clean slate be covered with guilt from yesterday’s mistakes. Learn your lesson and let it go. You’re also going to have some major life decisions to make. It’s scary at first. But losing sleep worrying about the right decision won’t help you make a better choice. Pray about it, and do your best. What’s going to happen will happen whether you’ve spent nights awake worrying about it or not.

6. “Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” The sooner you learn to go with the flow, the easier life will be. Leave everyday in God’s hands, and He’ll equip you to deal with whatever comes your way.

7. “Don’t forget that you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed.” Inevitably, there will be days that hit you like a semi on the interstate. You’ll fail a test or forget an assignment or have 4 tests in one day. Something will happen that will make you feel like you are being crushed by the demands of life. And on those days, you might crumble. Complete with ugly crying and a dramatic pity party. But can I let you in on a secret?….that’s normal. Even the strongest people have days that break them down. So cry it out. Go for a run. Or run to me and we’ll go get ice cream. And the next day, you’ll be okay again. The bad days don’t last forever.

8. “Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.” In life, it will always seem like there’s something to look forward to that’s more exciting than where you are now. Something better that’s always just outside your reach. But the truth is, you’ll waste your life constantly looking for something better. Enjoy the little things and appreciate every day. Way too soon you’ll be getting ready to move-in for the last time.

9. “Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be you.” College campuses seem to be a breeding ground for comparison. Between sororities, honor awards, and GPA recognitions, you’re constantly pitted against each other. Do not let those things define you or tear you down. There might be someone who breezes by with a 100 in the class you studied 36 hours for only to barely get a B. There will be a girl on your hall who looks California beautiful even at 3am fire drills. Someone somewhere will always have something you don’t. But the cool thing about that? That means you’ll always have something to offer that someone else doesn’t. Embrace your flaws and celebrate your successes. No one will ever fill the spot you fill. It’s yours. Own it proudly.

and Finally,

10. “You are GOOD enough, SMART enough, BEAUTIFUL enough, and STRONG enough. Believe it, and never let insecurity run your life.” Punch your insecurities in the face, and remind yourself of the truth everyday. You were created in the image of God, and you are MORE than enough.

It’s hard to believe the day is finally here for you to start college. It doesn’t seem real yet, but I could not be more thrilled that you are joining me this fall. I can’t wait to share the city and campus I love with you. But more than that, I can’t wait to watch you rock the world. You’re destined for greatness, and I’m pumped that I have the privilege of watching His plans for you unfold.

Love you to the moon and back, Grace. Thanks for being the little sister I always wanted ❤ IMG_4078IMG_1781IMG_1700IMG_8430

When Loving like Jesus Looks Different Than You Think

If you have had any connections to the outside world in the past week, you know some major changes have occurred in our Nation. And I didn’t want to address them.

As a non-confrontational, introvert, there aren’t many things I hate more than stirring the pot, causing arguments, and stepping on toes. I don’t want to call you out or upset you. I don’t want to be the cause of hurt feelings.

So I planned on keeping my thoughts to myself and remaining silent on the issues at hand.

But what I hate more than the idea of stirring up arguments, is the thought of having to answer My God one day on some tough questions:

“Where were you when my Words weren’t being defended?” “What were you doing when the world was dictating what was right and wrong?” “Why did you sit idly by?” “Why didn’t you speak out for Me?” “Why didn’t you FIGHT for Me?”

The longer I sat on my hands, quietly observing, the more I saw Christ’s very identity being twisted, marred, and distorted to fit every different agenda.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” “Win them over with love.” “Never judge. Just love.” “Love wins.” “Love like Jesus.”

Our society today gets a lot of things wrong. We have a long list of ways we have missed the mark in every way. But one thing we seem to understand, is that Christ loved.

He loved well. In fact, He loved with the greatest love to ever walk the face of the earth.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

In keeping with Christ’s example, we are called to love one another.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” – Ephesians 5:2

The command to love seems fairly simple. But what does it really look like to love like Jesus when it comes to dealing with sin?

In light of the recent decision by the Supreme Court, it seems a mass amount of believers have turned “Speak the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) into “Just love.”

The problem with the idea of “Just loving” is it’s not Biblical. It’s not even Christ-like.

Yes, Christ showed loved without partiality. The greatest of love. But have we forgotten what happened in the temple with the money changers?

“In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!'”

The people were distorting His Father’s intentions for the Temple. And Jesus didn’t stand for it. He acted immediately and forcefully. There was no question about Christ’s opinion of the events at hand.

Did this incidence diminish the love Christ had for the people? Certainly not. But he didn’t sit idly by, trying to love without offending. He got angry when His Father’s laws were disrespected. He turned the tables over, a violent display of disapproval. He spoke up for what was against His Father’s will. He took a stand, and He made it known.

When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Him, He showed her love and compassion. But Christ told her to go, and sin no more. He didn’t simply overlook her sin. He didn’t brush it under the rug, or seek to “just love her.” He showed love, while addressing the sin. Because He loved her too much to leave her in sin.

After all, what kind of love comforts others with a lie? Certainly not a love I want shown to me.

Homosexuality is a sin. No greater or less than the sins every one of us commits. But the truth remains, it is a sin. Sin separates us from God. Homosexual marriage is the blatant decision to live your life everyday in defiance of God’s commands. And living in sin leads to eternal punishment.

It’s harsh. It’s not a fun stance to take. But it’s the stance we are called to take as Christians.

But taking a stance against sin doesn’t equate to forsaking love. Quite the opposite, actually.

So I will seek to follow Christ’s example to love you in your sin, whether it be homosexuality or any number of other sins. But I won’t comfort you with a lie. I won’t overlook it, sweep it under the rug, or pretend you’re ok.

Jesus got angry when His Father’s laws were disrespected. And we have a right to be angry too. But be angry and sin not. Speak the truth, but choose your words carefully. Always with grace, seasoned with salt.

I want to love like Jesus. But I want to really love like Jesus.

Jesus loved fiercely. He loved with the greatest love ever to walk the earth. But He loved those souls too much to leave them in their sin with the impression they were okay. He loved them too much to approve, accept, and encourage behavior that His Father will punish. He loved well. But He didn’t love wrong.