as the deer 

I was not expecting Cameron Park when I moved to Waco. I’ve posted about it before (here!), but this past Saturday I went on a walk with my sister and I was just reminded again of  special way in which nature can point you back to the Creator.

When I was much much younger, one of the first songs for which I learned harmony from the 80s, called ‘As the Deer’. It’s based off of Psalm 42:1-2, and the lyrics are so simply beautiful:

“As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship Thee. You alone are my strength, my shield. To you alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship Thee. You’re my friend and You are my brother, even though You are a king. I love you more than any other, so much more than anything.”

The man who wrote it (story here) never intended to share the simple melody, just wrote down his prayer for a strong strong relationship with Jesus. It’s a prayer that so many people resonate with; I’ve even written about this concept before, of finding your everything in Christ, and finding your expectation in Him. But I think this goes beyond that.

Is your heart’s desire for God?

Not in what He can do for you, or what you can do for Him (guilty). Not in the strong sense of community you experience in your small group, or the warm feeling from serving in kids ministry (guilty and guilty). Not in a particularly convicting message, or an immediately answered prayer.

What if instead of longing for disciplines or sacraments, we longed for communion?

See, those of us who have walked with Jesus for a while, we know what to do. When we feel spiritually starved, we open our Bible; when thirsty, we pray. We pull out devotionals and call friends asking for prayer. We become vulnerable and open with our struggles, we share with people who we know will support us. We switch our radios over and only listen to K-Love for a week or so, until it passes.

But what if we never let ourselves thirst.

What if we were so hydrated, so saturated in the Word of God, in the goodness of His character, the depths of His mercy, the boundless bounty of His love? What if we didn’t reach for our Bibles as the result of trial, but we longed for the heart of God before trials.

We know how to arm ourselves for spiritual warfare, but we sometimes wind up in battles that we needn’t have wandered into.

Say you have a houseplant. You stick it in an open window, spritz it with some water. Time goes on. You notice it’s not doing so well, so you dunk it in water, and nervously wait to see if it’ll pull through. And it usually will. But that’s not the life Christians are called to.

Consider, instead, a tree by a river. It doesn’t go through these periods of neglect and drought, but instead sips steadily from the stream. It doesn’t deal with extremes—sometimes watered, sometimes dry—it just constantly draws life from the water. Yes, both plants will flower. Both will grow and both will mature. But which would you rather be?

If you let me anthropomorphize that tree, just for a moment, by the river. It’s not waking up one day thinking ‘I need water, I need water, I need water, lest I die’. It draws from the river without thinking. It knows its strength isn’t in its boughs, but in the water that brings it life.

What if we ran to Jesus not in times of trial, not in temptations, not in heartache, what if we ran to Him for life. If every day, every moment, every action was so marked by the presence of God. If nearness to our Savior was so instinctual that separation brought instant longing.

And you know what blows my mind?

That He wants that with me. My Savior, my Creator, my Protection, My Jesus, He wants that closeness. Just let that sink it for a moment.

Psalm 42 does not end on as hopeful a note as it starts on. The Psalmist is well aware that he is surrounded by enemies who revile him and doubt his God. His closing prayer is just as beautiful though: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

We don’t just seek Him in praise; we don’t just seek Him in petition. We seek Him in life.

rock and refuge

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:5-8

Sometimes, I think it’s enough to wait on God in spans of minutes. To have my quiet time in the morning, to listen to praise music instead of Hamilton, to say an extra prayer, and not just when I’m about to eat or sleep. I tell myself that if I do x, y, and z, then I am waiting for God, and I’m a good and patient Christian. I get focused on a checklist of Christian disciplines, and forget a tiny, little (neither of those adjectives actually apply) aspect of my walk with God: the continuity.

It’s not about the frequency with which I read my Bible. It’s the way that the Word I read lingers in my mind. It’s not that I’m somehow holier because I listen to Hillsong on my way into work, it’s that the truth in “The day and its trouble shall come / I know that Your strength is enough / The scandal of grace, You died in my place / so my soul will live”  washes over my life, and affects how I live. It’s not about a verbose prayer, it’s about when I’m not actively praying, if my thoughts and mind still honor God. The Christian lifestyle is not supposed to be a collection of moments where heaven parts and a beacon of sunlight falls on me like a halo, and I feel holy. The Christian life is marked by unswerving, persistent, continuous, unvarying mindfulness of the character of Christ, and how I am being transformed into His likeness.

What if I stopped dividing my life into ‘Time with God’ and ‘Things I Have to Do’? What if every moment, I was cognizant of the miracle of grace? What if my quiet time, my worship time, my prayer time weren’t the only times I acted in awareness of the presence of my Creator and King?

When God created me, it wasn’t so I could live two lives, one holding His hand, and one waving from a distance.

I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with watching a video of British Shorthairs being their adorable, chunky selves, or rooting for your football team, or going to IKEA for six hours because it’s your happy place (guilty, guilty, and lol SO guilty). I’m saying there’s a problem when those things take the place of God in my life. When my heart waits on things other than God—when I am filled by friends, by Broadway, by anything other than my sweet Savior—then I am not living my fullest.

Do you ever wonder at the availability of God? The One who scattered stars like petals down an aisle on the day of a wedding, He listens to the beat of my heart. The One whose creativity was not exhausted by the infinite intricacies of cells and oceans, microorganisms and savannas, He smiles at the sound of my laugh. The One who paints each sunset with colors so inimitable, this same Lord longs for the attention of my heart.

And for yours.

We are not loved by a distant God, but by One who so wanted communion with us that He sent His son to pay for our mistakes, our foolishness, our rebellion, so we could spend eternity with Him. The life that is convicted and molded by this Truth speaks much more loudly than an aptly timed prayer, or a well-worded praise song.The Psalmist says to trust in Him at all times, to rest in the refuge of His love. To be protected, to let Him be your Rock and your Salvation. It’s not just moments of godliness that bring us closer to heaven, but constant rest and restoration from God.

Give the Lord your hopes and dreams and hurts and fears and the things you think anyone else would laugh at. The things no one could possible understand, give them to the One who created Your heart. Let Him be your defender, let Him be your protector. Find your expectation—your hope, your satisfaction, your contentment—in Him. There is no safer refuge, no trustier confidant, no firmer foundation, than Jesus.

from the wilderness

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“Don’t remember the former things; don’t dwell on things past. Watch! I’m about to carry out something new! And now it’s springing up — don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the wilderness and paths in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

This is one of those verses that makes me smile when I see it on Pinterest.

If you look at the life of Christ, it’s amazing how much He gave grace. How freely he showered compassion on every less-than-perfect human around Him. He forgave sins, He listened to those without a voice, and to everyone who sought healing—physical, emotional, spiritual—He said “Go, your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52). Our God is a God of mercy, of love, of second chances, of new mornings.

Yet sometimes, I think that when He looks at me, at my life, He says “mmm, not you.”

I think one of the hardest things is not uncertainty about the future, but uncertainty about the past. It’s not where will I go? who will I be? what will I do? And don’t get me wrong, that’s plenty scary, but not as bad as the inverse. It’s what if where I go isn’t far enough from where I’ve been? what if who I am is who I’ll always be? what if what I have done overshadows what I’ll do? The future is unknown, but there’s always a bit of anticipation that comes with the unexpected. The past is pretty much set—actually, there’s no ‘pretty much’ about it; it’s untouchable. 

And for a Fixer like me, that’s a problem.

Because it means no matter what I do going forward, there’s this element that I can’t control, and it’s the girl that I was 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years ago. And while I don’t make a habit of doing things I regret, it’s bound to happen. And current me, say nothing of future me, can’t do anything about it.

Cue Isaiah 43. 

If you have a minute or three, go read the chapter, it’s amazing. 

God doesn’t say that He can only fix my future. He doesn’t say that He will make beautiful what I haven’t messed up already. Remember the first time you wrote on a chalkboard, messed up, and no matter how many times you wiped or washed that board, there was a little bit of white powder left? God doesn’t bring a rag for me to wipe the chalk off my chalkboard; He trades me for a whiteboard. He doesn’t wait for my “wilderness” to become an oasis, or for my damaged life to be pretty enough for Him to work in, but instead transforms that wilderness with streams of water, flooding the barren ground with life. Even I am not exempt from the love of the Father. 

What’s more, it’s a promise. A promise to not only forget the past, but of newness. Creation is such a trite word nowadays, making us think of apple trees and firmament and little else, but it’s such a miracle. It’s more than a development, but a transformation, something beautiful out of something nonexistent. Light from nothing, birds from emptiness, lillies from thin air. A new life for you and me. 

 

 

resolutions

quelle suprise, another blogger talking about how this year will be different. Read on (does that phrase make anyone else think of Mr. Bennet? Just me? K.), and I might just surprise you yet.

But can you believe we’re almost a week into the New Year? My office is full of people again, Texas might actually see some snow, AND Ed Sheeran has promised new music, so really, I’m a happy girl. How did I spend NYE, you ask?

Blowing glitter at cameras, laughing in a turtleneck and tulle skirt? Nope. Reminiscing with old friends about years past around a cozy fireplace with mugs filled with more marshmallows than hot cocoa? Not this year. Assembling a ridiculously difficult puzzle with my family, toasting with sparkling apple cider and then fighting my sister for the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and go to bed sooner? No, that was last year. This year, there was no confetti, and no toasts. Last Saturday, I entered the new year with thousands of other believers in prayer. In Houston, of all places, we met and consecrated the year to Jesus: to His will, to His plan, and to the quickening of His coming.

Typing that was hard.

It’s dumb, I’m dumb, but a part of me is convinced that I can’t do this thing that I love–write on this blog, create content, share and connect with y’all–if I  dedicate CC to something other than fashion, with the occasional coder moment. I find myself thinking that if I share what’s on my heart, that people will feel like I’ve overstepping, and trying too hard to shove my faith at them.

So for a while, my faith has taken a back burner on this blog.

Oh it’s there, if you look for it.

There’s a verse in my bio; that puts me up there with Mary and Paul, right? And every now and then, I mention something about church or my Christian sorority, so I’m practically already gushing with the gospel message, right? If someone were to look at my blog, and then keep looking, and then look hard enough, then they’d totally know that I’m a Christian.

I hope you can feel the sarcasm seeping through cyberspace.

Here’s the thing, y’all: I was reading through Tuesday’s post, and I realized how unintentionally ironic this blog has become. I make such a big deal out of how we all have such different parts to us, yet here I am: afraid to proclaim the biggest part of mine.

This isn’t to undermine the last year of this blog, which I’m terribly terribly proud of, and it doesn’t mean that every post from here on out is going to be a sermonette. It doesn’t mean I’m going to put up a facade of being the perfect Christian–did you see my insta story yesterday? I literally pulled down a display rack of salt at an Albertsons. Two employees had to come over to help me reassemble it (a leg broke) and people were awkwardly stepping around me while I was kneeling on the linoleum in my work clothes, picking up pints of salt from where they’d scattered. The shambles are real, y’all, and they’re hear to stay. I don’t want to hide the struggles any more than I want to keep hiding a part of my life that is so important to me.

She’s so pretentious, blogging about her faith. Who does she think she is? She knows people don’t read this blog because of her beliefs, right? This is supposed to be a style blog, I don’t know why she feels compelled to bring her religion into it. 

I sincerely hope no one’s thinking that. Yet I’m terrified—and have been terrified—that that’s what you’d think. That your opinion of me would lessen for sharing my faith, and that I’m just another drop in the sea of Baylor girls who feel entitled to blog about their faith. And yet here I am, about to hit publish.

It comes down to resolutions.

Not the ones I made on December 31st, but the ones I made on September 15th, 2007—when I was baptized. In front of my family and friends, it was a public declaration that I would always proclaim Jesus, always show Jesus, always choose Jesus.

I’m not changing this blog, not altering what it’s about or what I stand for here. It’s just that the 09/15/07 resolutions seeped into the 12/31/16 resolutions, and I’m going to try to be better about being candid in all areas of my life, not just the ones that photograph well. If it’s not your cup of tea, then honestly I don’t think I’m your cup of tea. And that’s okay. I have been so happy for each person that clicked onto this blog, and I’d love to think that each one of you will stick around. But if you don’t, that’s your prerogative, and I really do hope you find macarons and 80s fashion elsewhere. If you do decide to hang around here, then I hope you’ll hold me accountable when I say that I’m going to be sharing more of myself on here.

This post has been both a long time and a stream of convictions in coming, and it was pushed over the edge by the New Year, and the radiant joy that is Hannah from The Cake by Hannah. I’m not cool enough to Pure Barre (yes, that’s now a verb), and I don’t have the cutest puppy ever…but I am loved by the same Savior, and I am determined to share Him with the same joyous resolve.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16

Long-winded exposition now over, I’m going to go back to drinking herbal tea and willing these clouds to spontaneously combust in snow. Thanks for reading, y’all, and even more for understanding. I’ve been so blessed by the amazing community of followers CC has accumulated, and I really can’t wait to see where this year will take us ♥