His Promises are “Yes”

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This sign hangs on the wall in my room directly across from my bed. My Mom got it for me for my 16th birthday, and every time I look at it, I think about the goodness of my Savior.

The Bible promises so many amazing things that we could never begin to fathom, much less deserve. And you know what the best part is?

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are β€œYes” in Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 1:20

How amazing is that? All of God’s promises are faithful and true, and they are all fulfilled through Christ. I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited! There are hundreds of promises in the Bible and these are just a few of my favorites:

  • “My grace is sufficient for you” — 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • “His mercies are new every morning” — Lamentations 3:23
  • “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” — Matthew 11:28
  • “Those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” — Isaiah 40:31
  • “No! In all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37

There’s plenty of things that the Bible doesn’t promise too, and that’s where we often get hung up and let our perspective turn sour. The Bible, for instance, doesn’t promise that God will show us His plans for our entire lives and careers our senior year of high school so we can accurately pick a college and major. We would sure like to think that He does, but it often doesn’t pan out that way.

But what does He promise?

He promises that His ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), that they are for our welfare (Jeremiah 29:11), and that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6). And these promises all ring true and are trustworthy, whether we believe it or not.

Again, we would like to think that God promises that life will be safe and painless, when, in reality, Jesus said quite the opposite (John 16:33)

This week has thrown me some curveballs, but standing on the promises of my Eternal King has helped me to stay strong and positive and remember that it all comes back to Him in the first place.

— Taryn

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10 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

Hey everyone!

So technically, I’m not done with college until next week, but as I’m in the midst of finals and projects and all of that fun stuff *not* I had all of these things bouncing around in my mind and wanted to go ahead and get them out there:) Some are basic college tips, some are about life and growing up, and as always, God has revealed some pretty awesome things to me about Himself as well. Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with me through reading my thoughts a couple times every week, you’re brave πŸ˜‰ Here we go!
1. Use Rate My Professor — Just do it. Of course it’s beneficial to stay away from the bad professors, but also, look around and figure out who those professors are that you just have to have. This may be just me, but it’s much easier to get myself up and to class in the morning when I’m actually excited for the lectures. I have two professors whom I absolutely love and that gets me to class on days I really don’t want to go.

2. You have to be proactive about making friends — In high school, especially going to a small private school, making friends came naturally. Here on a campus with 30,000 people, I could easily go all semester without speaking to anyone *guilty as charged* I told my Mom I have one and two-half friends on campus, and even that is a stretch. Honestly, I know some of my professors better than any classmates! I’m pretty upset with myself and how I let this semester get away from me. Be willing to start conversations, get to know the people around you, it won’t just happen if you don’t put any effort in.

3. Go to office hours and ask questions — I already mentioned that my two “best friends” on campus are professors, and this may sound really nerdy, but talking to professors excites me so much!! They are such smart people! I love asking questions after class or going to office hours to talk about things in more depth. They love when students come to talk to them about things other than makeup exams and late assignments. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your disposal!

4. I’m no longer a slave to fear — I have sang these lyrics for years, but honestly sang them without much thought. It seemed like a no-brainer because I had never felt enslaved to fear in the first place. Until this semester. I have no idea how or why, but anxiety has been taking hold of my life bit by bit this semester. And honestly, it seems like it is still getting worse before it gets better. The littlest things can set me completely off, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure that something terrible has happened. I worry about anything and everything, and yes, I know the Bible says “do not worry” 365 times. But when I go into panic, I have no control over that. I make myself physically sick and life seems completely and utterly overwhelming.

Now all that sounds really negative and not at all like something I’ve learned this semester. But God has been right here leading and guiding me through. Even though I can’t always feel His presence. He keeps reminding me through His words and promises that His grace is still more than sufficient, He has a hold of me and is never letting me go, and although Satan wants me to be afraid, I am no longer a slave to fear. He has called me by name and I am His. I am His child, and nothing can ever change that. He wants me and loves me just as I am, anxiety and all. And that is something worth rejoicing and celebrating about.

5. Don’t take all your classes on one day — Especially seven. Don’t do seven classes in one day. Because inevitably exams and group projects come up and you will be at school for 14 hours straight. I won’t make that mistake again.

6. You’re not a failure — In a way, these next three all flow together. I have always been a perfectionist and put way to much pressure on myself. But I finally had to realize that I’m not a failure by Christ’s standards. I can’t make everyone happy. Not my friends or family or professors or even myself — and that’s not the goal. The goal is to pursue Christ with everything I’ve got and let that be enough. And when I do that, “failing” is irrelevant.

7. Push yourself, but give some grace too — I had to realize this semester that I couldn’t push myself in absolutely every area or I was going to crash. I pushed myself to take a lot of classes, so I had to realize I couldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t keep a 4.0. There’s balance in life. I worked incredibly hard and studied for all my exams, but some nights I just needed to read and eat ice cream and forget about it all for a few hours. You won’t survive without the grace, so don’t feel guilty for it.

8. To say no! — Yes, that extra Bible Study on Thursday nights would be great. Yes, going to the grocery store every single week would help my family out a lot. Yes, I would love to be able to take my siblings to McDonald’s and the library all the time. My two best friends are captains of their soccer and basketball teams and I would love to be at all of their games. But I can’t do everything. Even all the good things. Even all the things I want to do. So sometimes I have to step back and say no to things, even good things, so that I can say yes to the things that are really most important.

9. Group projects aren’t pretty – -True story. I have a group project due on Monday for a group that has seven people in it. We had our first meeting three weeks ago and four people showed up. The next three still haven’t ever done their parts. Some people don’t care, some people never text back, and that’s going to have to be okay. You aren’t responsible for all of them, just do your best and let it go:)

10. God has already won — In a song by my favorite band, Anthem Lights, they sing Our King has won the war, He reigns forevermore, Hallelujah Hallelujah

The lyrics are simple but so true. God has displayed that truth in my life over and over this semester. When I struggled with health issues, He reminded me that He was the ultimate healer and His ways are so much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). When I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, He reminded me that He was my peace and He was never ever leaving me (Isaiah 26:3). When Satan threatened to attack, when I ran out of time to study for my math exam, when everything around me tried to knock me down… God had already won. He is so much bigger than anything I faced this semester and then anything I will ever face. He speaks victory over me, and I get to live in that victory every day for the rest of my life.


Wow, as much as I wanted to share all of this with you guys, it also reminds me of how faithful my God is and makes me realize how much He has brought me through and taught me over these past four months. I can’t wait to take on whatever He has next, however crazy, I know that His grace will be more than sufficient for all of it.

Taryn

Will It Ever Be Enough??

I’m really good at playing the Thanksgiving game.

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“What are you thankful for?”
God, family, friends, health, education…
*10 minutes later*
Making my Christmas list, complaining that the wifi is slow, asking if we seriously ran out of milk. 

—-
Wow. We laugh it off by calling them “first world problems” and attempting to justify our lack of thankfulness. But changing how we label it doesn’t change what it is.
Discontentment.

Selfishness.

Entitlement.

I like the idea and thought behind Thanksgiving. I’ve written posts in the past about thankfulness and choosing to have joy which I still completely agree with. But a fault I’ve started recognizing in myself is that I tend to convince myself I’m “being thankful” when in actuality, my heart is far from it.

“In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content. Whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” — Philippians 4:12 (HCSB)

Contentment. Joyful contentment. I think that’s the key. Not just being thankful for what we have, but letting that be enough. Not pining after or basing our happiness on what is next, on what will satisfy our earthly longings for one more day. But rather digging wholeheartedly into our Savior who is more than enough for us.

This world will never be enough.

All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.” — Ecclesiastes 1:8 (HCSB)

I like to convince myself that I am being thankful, I can make my list of things I’m thankful for a mile long, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Honestly, it helps my attitude a lot to think about things I am grateful for. But I have let it become a ritual an routine and the true joy and contentment that I am supposed to have in Christ has faded into extinction. I am often “thankful” because I am supposed to be, all the while taking for granted all that I have and all that God has blessed me with.

What kind of message is that sending to God and to this world?

God, You aren’t enough. You sent Your Son to be brutally killed for my sake even though I could never deserve it. You have gifted me with life and loving family and friends around me. BUT that’s not enough. I want more. I think I deserve more. Can’t you just make my life easy?

Wow. I would never verbalize it in that fashion, but is that not what I’m saying? I wouldn’t ever want to be that way. I wouldn’t ever want to be that selfish and shallow. And yet I am and I’m not even noticing it because I am still “being thankful”.

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” — Colossians 3:15 (HCSB)

As long as I keep living with fake gratitude, I will never think anything is enough. I will always feel entitlement and contempt. But God has already provided so much more than enough. His gifts, are more than I could ever need. His faithfulness is everlasting. I want to start living in recognition of that. I want to live in recognition of the fact that I do have enough, and I want to live consciously in awe and amazement of what my Savior did for me. Because that… is so much more than enough. And that’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

— Taryn

The Heart of Worship

“When the music fades and all has slipped away and I simply come… Longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart. I bring You more than a song — for a song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within through the way things appear, You’re looking into my heart.”
“You always smile while you worship! How are you so joyful?”
I’ve spent three years worshipping in front of people on a stage. It’s my job to model worship. To model joy. And yet sometimes, that is the furthest from what I feel like doing. 
There are days when I don’t feel like worshipping. When I feel full of negativity and apathy rather than joy. When I feel fake to get up there on a stage with a smile on my face as if my life is all together. 
But that’s the wrong attitude. Worship isn’t me putting on a show for anyone. Worship is me making an offering to God. And sometimes that offering is small and weak. Sometimes I don’t have much in me to give, but worshipping anyway invites the power of God to come and be present. 
When I start running my fingers along the keys and singing the words I know in the bottom of my heart, it may start off being forced. It may be ritualistic and void of emotion. But God never lets it stay that way for long. When I let myself stop and dwell on Him, He shows up. Not always in a mighty, rushing wind. Not always in the way I want. But even on the hardest days, I am reminded of the old precious hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness, LORD unto thee”
God has never stopped being faithful. I don’t always feel emotion when I start worshipping, but worship isn’t emotion anyway. It’s my heart before God. Just as I am — hurting or rejoicing, weak or strong. God has blessed me with the gift of worship. To invite Him to meet with me there. And He always does. 

Joy is a Choice

What is joy? We probably all have a pretty good idea already, but humor me for a minute. 

The Bible has “The Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) that lays out plenty of love is… statements. 

There’s also “The Faith Chapter” (Hebrews 11) that starts with “Now faith is…” 

But the Bible doesn’t lay out what joy is that plainly!! I’ve always known that joy is a deeper sense of happiness, knowing that God is taking care of me… but it wasn’t until recently that I learned what joy in my own life really looks like.

~~~

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my youth minister last summer at church camp. I was miserable. I didn’t feel one ounce of joy, and I felt completely empty. I believed in God, I didn’t doubt that for a second, but aren’t Christians supposed to have joy? I was filled with guilt because I believed I was an awful Christian if I was incapable of having joy in my Savior. 

I remember him telling me that we don’t always feel joy. Then he prayed over me, and that was such a special and touching experience to me, but still, the weight of his words didn’t hit me. 

Joy is not a feeling!! I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, but now the truth is right in front of me. 

Joy is knowing that God is control. Resting in the love and peace that He provides and choosing to let that be enough. 

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” — Nehemiah 8:10

Joy isn’t a feeling, but choosing to have joy often does fill me with peace and a feeling and sense of excitement, knowing that God is so faithful. It strengthens me and fills me, but how do I make sure I have joy?

Joy is a choice. I get to wake up in the morning and choose to remember that God is control. Choose to rely on His faithfulness. Choose to let that be more than enough, and then that joy really does start to strengthen me. 

Some days, choosing joy is easy. But some days, it takes a conscious, concerted effort. One thing I’ve really enjoyed doing in 2016 is keeping a “happy journal”

 This journal was started as a project based on Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”. It’s just a simple list of things that make me smile in a day. For example:

  1. Having a great hair day
  2. Understanding the physics chapter
  3. Sweet texts from sweeter friends

It may seem small and insignificant, but choosing to be thankful, choosing to recognize God’s provison, choosing joy really does make a big difference. I have so many reasons to be thankful and constantly staying aware of them keeps my perspective right and makes life so much sweeter. 

Christians are called to have joy, but not to “feel” joy. I’m going to make this year about choosing joy deliberately. Will you join me?

“Rejoice in the LORD always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” — Philipians 4:4

I’m a Social Media Hypocrite

I’m a social media hypocrite. If you were to scroll through my Instagram feed for the past several months, you’d think my life was all sunshine and rainbows. In a way, I’ve led you to believe that. And that’s a blatant lie. Now, don’t get me wrong, life is great. God is good, and those church events, concerts, and vacations really did happen. But so did a lot of other things. Scrolling through the pictures I’ve handpicked to put up on social media, you see highlights. You see good days. You see me trying to convince the rest of the world, and in turn myself, that life is great and that I’m content and joyful.
But there’s a lot you don’t see. You don’t see how exhausted and physically drained that great day made me. You don’t see that I couldn’t get out of bed for two days afterwards because I was so sick. No one knows that when I post happy throwback pictures, it’s because I’m trying to boost my own shattered self confidence and there’s not any current pictures on my phone. My feed doesn’t tell of the broken hearts, the hopeless doctors’ verdicts, or the anxiety attacks. No mention is made of rude customers at work, of failed Calculus tests, or of feeling isolated and alone.
Now I’m not saying this is wrong, I don’t think we have to, or necessarily should post all of our woes on the internet. I don’t think that would help much of anything, and frankly, I’m not too keen on sharing my hard days with a couple hundred people. But the problem is this — we are ALL social media hypocrites. Far too often, we forget that crucial fact.

“The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steven Furtick

All I see of other people’s lives, is what they want me to see, what they choose to put out there, what makes them feel good about themselves. But what do I see of myself? I see every failure. I see every hard day. I see every headache and tear and insult. And I fall into the trap of comparison. I fall into the clutches of the nasty monster that is self pity. I start complaining and cease to be content with the life God has blessed me with.

Life is hard for everyone. Just because they put up a smiling picture doesn’t mean life is perfect or that they’re not hurting inside. We can’t take social media at face value anymore. All that’s doing is sparking envy, causing us to think we want what others have. Thinking we want their lives, when in actuality, we probably don’t. God has specifically equipped each person with the strength to take on the challenges He knows are in front of them. I’m not made to live your life and you’re not made to live mine. Instead of saying “oh poor me, I’m at home alone while so and so is out having fun with friends” we have to learn to be content with our own lives knowing that no one lives a picture perfect life.

“Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” — Hebrews 13:5

I’m a social media hypocrite. And that’s okay. It’s fine that I pick and choose what parts of my life to broadcast to the world. As long as I realize that everyone is doing this. As long as I don’t compare the hidden parts of my life to the highlighted parts of someone else’s. Remember that the next time you scroll through social media. And remember that it’s more than enough to know that God will NEVER leave not forsake us. And then maybe, just maybe, we can put social media in its place and learn to be content and joyful with all that God has blessed us with.