So much has happened since I last wrote... Lots of fun end-of-school adventures, ran the Oklahoma City Marathon (Jesus gets ALL the glory for that one)! I graduated from college (Boomer Sooner), attended lots of family graduations, helped my twinny move to Tulsa, and celebrated my best friend's wedding! Not to mention, lots of mother/daughter trips to Anthro (naturally), family dinners, cheering for the Thunder, preparing for DC, reading, lootttssssss of paperwork, pinning, and an episode or 12 of FRIENDS. Whoa baby, it has been a busy but relaxing and ever-so-enjoyable past few weeks! I'm so lucky to have this sweet time at home before I ship out (fly out) to my new home in less than 48 hours -- ahhhh!
Is this real life?
Before I begin on this next chapter of life, I've been wanting to reflect a bit on the past four years!
As I look back, I am overwhelmed by how much I've learned -- and how much I have yet to learn. Toward the end of college, I found myself frequently referencing the phrase, "If I only knew then what I knew now...!" And trust me, what I know now is slight and little in comparison to all I have to learn! While I could never begin to express all that I gained from my time at the University of Oklahoma, these are a few things I learned and pray I never forget....
1. Be intentional with your time, money, and conversations. I often say time is fleeting, and I say it because it's true. Time is a non-renewable resource, and every second of it is a blessing. It's so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and forget that our lives aren't about us. (That was a difficult lesson to swallow -- my life isn't about me. Novel idea, right?) Bless people when we're able -- and even when we think we might not be able. If the Holy Spirit leads us to give, may we give freely in confidence that our faithful Father will always supply our every need. With our tongues, we speak life or death, hope or despair, light or darkness. Holy Spirit, may you speak your life through us on all occasions. And may we know that in every conversation you bless us with, we have the opportunity to encourage or discourage. May we be encouragers always!
2. Everyone is broken. Everyone matters. My freshman year of college I was walking across campus when the Lord overwhelmed me with a vision of every individual near me with a picture of pain above his or her head. In that moment, Jesus taught me that everyone is hurting. Every individual has experienced some sort of serious pain in his or her life -- some debilitating fear, some death, some addiction, some eating disorders, some extreme insecurity, etc. If all of us can unite on any one thing, it is the fact that we have all experienced some sort of pain. Pain often reveals our humanness, our weakness. It wasn't until later on in college, however, that I learned our pain isn't meant to be kept hidden deep down inside of our hearts. When I think of pain, I think of darkness. And as trite as it may sound, darkness begets darkness. If we leave our pain in the dark, it remains dark and grim. But it is when we draw out our pain and bring it to the light that we are able to experience HEALING. Frederick Buechner depicted this idea in one of his sermons recorded in his book Telling Secrets. Nonetheless, with this truth in mind, I walk away from college, praying that when I look at others, the Holy Spirit would always remind me that no matter how put together anyone may seem -- including myself -- we are all broken before the Lord. To deny my brokenness denies the necessity of Christ to come to pay for my sin, redeem my soul, to heal my weary heart, and to make me free to dance and sing and play forevermore. And I pray that this truth resonates in our hearts so strongly that whenever we see others who are hurting, we hurt for them. Jesus, help us to empathize with one another in all things -- to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. Help us to not consider ourselves better than anyone else. Give us faith to believe in your redemptive power, that you make beauty out of our mess, and that what the enemy means for evil, you work for good.
3. Community is CRUCIAL. I cannot thank the Lord enough for the incredibly community of believers and friends He blessed me with these past four years. They have taught me more about grace, forgiveness, unconditional love, and the Gospel than I ever imagined. I know that my life would have looked drastically different had I not been surrounded by the most encouraging, loving girls in the world. I always say if there was a contest for the best friends, I'd win. Community truly does shape the way one's heart is molded. Because of that, it truly is so important to surround yourself with people who CARE about you, who LOVE you, who DESIRE to see you grow. Lord, thank you that we weren't meant to do life alone. Thank you for surrounding me with people who I care so much about and who care about me. Thank you for ice cream dates in the stadium, pillow talk, early morning runs, mini-road-trips, countless conversations over coffee, PTLs, frolicking in the fields, and so much more -- all precious memories which wouldn't near be so dear were they not shared with the sweetest people in the world. I did nothing to deserve them, but thank you for blessing me with them anyway! Please help me to be the kind of friend to others they have been to me.
"Think where man's glory most begins and ends
And say my glory was I had such friends."
4. All of life is grace. This is a hard one to put into words. But basically I mean that to say that everything in our lives is a gift that we did nothing to deserve. I didn't deserve to be born into the family I was -- literally. I wasn't entitled to have great friends or to go to college or to have a job when I graduated. I am a mess -- literally. And on the outside, I may seem like I have my life all together, but I don't. God knows! He sees my often worried, fearful, anxious, prideful, little heart which many days has a difficult time trusting Him and others and says, "I don't love you based off of what you do or where your heart is. My love for you is everlasting. I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. And no you didn't do anything to deserve my love. But I am your father, and nothing can separate you from my love." By the GRACE, the unmerited favor, of God that I did nothing to deserve, I have HOPE and JOY and PEACE in all situations not because of anything I've done or will do -- or anything I haven't done or won't do -- but simply because God loves me more than I could ever imagine! Thank you, Jesus, for your abounding, abiding love. Thank you that because of your grace, I have LIFE when I deserve death. That I get to be FREE in a world that seeks to enslave people to itself. Thank you for the cross. Thank you that even when I act as though I don't have time for you or think ill thoughts of others or myself or don't trust you, you look upon me and say, "I love you not in spite of your sin but with it. You are mine -- always and forever!"
5. GOD IS FAITHFUL. Whoa baby. This of all the lessons has been undoubtedly the most special to learn, and I'd venture to say is the underlying theme of all of our lives. Throughout college, Jesus continually told me, "I am faithful. I will be with you. I am faithful. I will be with you. I am FAITHFUL! I will be with you!" And it's true. As I mentioned, I have a really difficult time trusting people and God sometimes. But God has never once proven Himself unfaithful. He is faithful even when I am not. He is always beside me. He goes before me and behind me. He is with me. He works everything for His glory and my good. That's not to say that life is pain free, but it is to say that He who is in me and with me is greater than any power in this world. I look to all of the mountains in my past and all those that lay before me, and while I could shutter at the thought of how challenging some were to climb and how difficult some will be in the future, I know that Jesus will never leave my side. I know that in all things, in all situations, I can have great hope and great joy because I trust in the unchanging character of the Lord whose love for me is not based upon my actions or my inaction but on who HE IS. His faithful love endures forever. I'm the luckiest daughter in the world to have my earthly father. He shows me the love and service of Christ on a daily basis. But words cannot begin to express how overwhelmingly lucky I am to be the daughter of the Lord. Thank you, Jesus, that we can always have hope, peace, and joy because we trust that in who you are. We're the luckiest munchkins in the world!
and just in case you're needing some summer reading/listening...
by far the best books I read in college...
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (for you fiction lovers), A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, Abba's Child by Brennan Manning, Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
best sermon I listened to in college...
A New Heaven and a New Earth by TIM KELLER
TFA/DC COUNTDOWN... Less than 48 hours! Keep the Kutch fam in your prayers! We'll need it:)
Here's to dreamin' big and believing Jesus is with us all the way no matter what!
Love yall! Can't wait to update you soon!