Adventure Is Out There!

“Adventure is out there!”

Pixar’s Up is one of the most emotional children’s movies I have ever seen. But this line never came across as one of the heavier parts until I was thinking through this blog post this week. First off, I am stubbornly and adamantly against change, or at least, I used to be. I like plans and order and consistency, but life with Jesus is an adventure, and when I stopped fighting it so much, I started learning to love the adventure, even when I can’t see the road ahead.

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My best friend embodies an adventurous spirit, and travel excites her like nothing else. I have always been hesitant to try anything new and instead have been perfectly content staying right here at home. It’s taken years of prodding for her to convince me that some trips might be fun… and may even be convincing me to travel out of the country! But regardless of how much I do or don’t travel in my life, I have plenty of adventures to experience right here and I don’t want to be afraid of them or take them for granted anymore. She hasn’t taught me to love travel as much as to be ready for any and every adventure that life has in story, scary or not. 

Five weeks ago, I started my first semester of college classes, and I absolutely love them so far! The immersion into new ideas and experiences sparks passion inside of me. I have a burning desire to learn and absorb information — and I am getting excited about things that I never would have imagined enjoying . My favorite two classes are Government and Business Law and reading old court cases can now intrigue me for hours! All of these new classes and opportunities have made the past month of my life an adventure to say the least, and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything! I was scared of it a month ago, the large campus with tens of thousands of people seemed daunting, but I’ve enjoyed it so much!

When I look forward, adventure scares me to death, but looking back, I can’t pinpoint a bad adventure, only good ones. I don’t regret the risks I’ve taken, the new things I’ve tried, the passions I’ve pursued, they’ve been some of the best and most monumental parts of my life… and they have made me who I am today.

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God didn’t call us to a life of comfort filled with what is expected or usual. The disciples are described as immediately leaving everything to follow Jesus. Leaving their families, their jobs, their livelihoods… To take on the adventure of a lifetime. They didn’t know where they were going, they certainly didn’t know the whirlwind that would be their next three years, but they said yes to the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Can you imagine saying no to that? It might not have seemed like a big deal to stick with being a fisherman rather than following a carpenter you had never met. But can you imagine looking back three years later at what you had missed? I wouldn’t ever want to look back and regret missing an adventure with Jesus. He’s brought me safe this far, and I know that His faithfulness is never going cease. 

So honestly, I can’t rightfully say that I don’t like adventure. Does it scare me? Absolutely! But is it worth it? Every time. I have one life on this earth to live for Jesus, so I want to take advantage of every opportunity that He places in front of me and embrace all of the adventure that is out there!

— Taryn

Related Posts:

Take the First Step

Just Keep Walking

 

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Lay Down What’s Good and Find What’s Best

“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best”

These few words from the bridge of Johnny Diaz’ song “Breathe” struck me from the first time I heard them. They appear simple at first glance, but the truth that they hold is much harder to wrestle with. And when I think about how this truth has made itself manifest in my life, my mind goes back to eighth grade.

“Hold everything in your hands lightly; otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” — Corrien ten Boom

I vividly remember something my youth minister talked about one Wednesday night five years ago that hit me hard. He told us not to curl our fingers over the blessings that God has placed in our hands. He explained that many things God has blessed us with are for a season, and if we leave our hands open we can enjoy them. On the flip side, if our fists are clenched tightly on these blessings, we won’t see them as blessings anymore, but as things we are entitled to. When we do this, we get angry at God when He “dares to take them away” instead of thanking Him for blessing us with them in the first place.

To the extent that I understood this as a middle-schooler, I began trying to hold my hands open so that God could take out the “bad” things that I had sinfully clung to. I wanted Him to take the sins that I had learned to love, the things that had become idols… and that’s all well and good, but it wasn’t until much later that I understood the fullness of the message my youth minister had been trying to convey.

Flash forward to the fall of my junior year. I’ve told the story before of how I became extremely sick and all of the repercussions that the illness had on my life. That was most definitely a season of laying things down. And believe me, I hated it. I cried and complained throughout the entire process. I was mad. I didn’t understand. I chose not to believe that I would have to give anything up, I thought that I might be sick for a few months, but then I would bounce back to my old life… but that wasn’t going to be the case.

Some things, some of my favorite things — good things — I argued to God, I had to lay down permanently. Jobs, activities, hobbies, dreams… blessings… “God!” I pleaded, “Why would you take this? Isn’t this a good thing? It’s something I can use to honor You!” But the still, small voice inside of me was relentless, “Taryn, it’s time to let go.”

I didn’t understand then, I didn’t understand for a long time… I didn’t even want to understand for over a year. I knew that God was testing and strengthening my faith, but I never understood why He felt it necessary to take away such good things to do so. But standing here looking at my life today, comparing my life now to how it would be if those things hadn’t been laid down… I am starting to see why God did things the way that He did. 

God helped me to find what was best. I fought it to the bone. I screamed and yelled and refused to submit peacefully to His will (which I should have known all along really was best). What was best, was certainly not what I thought it would be… but now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

My life is so different now that it was two years ago. The things that consume my time, my dreams and hopes for the future… My life has changed more than I ever would have imagined. And I never would have experienced any of the amazing changes if I hadn’t had to lay down lots of things. Lots of good things. You see, there was nothing wrong with playing piano or my teaching job, I loved them, they were certainly good things. But God had something different, and so much better in mind for me. 

What I have come to realize, is that God always wants the best for His children. Best doesn’t always mean easiest or most understandable or most fun, but I’ve never been disappointed by God’s best. And He often needs me to lay down all the things taking up my time and mind and energy so that my hands are empty and He can fill them with different things, better things. I don’t want to go down kicking and screaming anymore. I want to live in full surrender to my King, knowing His ways are always so much higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9) I would be crazy not to trust that my all-knowing, all-loving Creator didn’t know what was best for me — so I want to start living like I truly believe He does. 

His Mercies are new Every Morning

I’m definitely a morning person. I can get up at 5:30 am and be productive (like this morning!), but once about 9 pm hits, I lose any ability to function. Most days, I look forward to going to sleep at night and waking up the next morning to a fresh day — a new start. But some nights, I don’t want to go to sleep, I don’t want to have to wake up and face the daunting day that looms before me.

On those days, I have often fallen into the trap of losing hope — of forgetting that God is sovereign and so, so faithful. I forget the verse that I clung to for all of last year, the verse that gave me a reason to keep persevering when that was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Because of the LORD’s faithful love, we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” — Lamentations 3:22-23

They are new every morning! That is a reason to rejoice! Every single morning when I wake up, God has new mercy and new strength in store for that day. I don’t have to be strong enough, because He already is! And I don’t have to have the strength to get through tomorrow yet, that is in the future and God will provide what I need when I get there. When I wake up tomorrow, His mercies will be new all over again and then I’ll be able to take on the future, but not yet.

Not only does this bring hope and peace, it gives yet another reason not to worry.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — carrying two days at once! It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry  doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” — Corrie ten Boom

Let me tell you what, I don’t have any abundance of strength to be wasting. I don’t want to waste the strength that God has blessed me with today by worrying about tomorrow. Especially since He says He will take care of it for me.

What is going to happen tomorrow, next week, in the future… we have no control over! Worrying isn’t going to change any of it, but what we can trust is that God will give us the strength for it as we come to it. That He isn’t ever going to leave us out on our own. That no matter how bleak and helpless things look, His power is going to claim the victory. That brings me back to the verse that sparked this whole blogging journey…

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

That’s more than good enough for me. I don’t have to worry, I get to live without worry knowing that He is abundantly strong and that He is going to take care of me. I get to rely on His new mercies every day, and drown every single day in His sufficient grace. Grace that’s bigger than failures, bigger than weakness and fatigue, and bigger than my extreme senioritis;) Grace in knowing that no matter what happens today, God is still going to be here being faithful tomorrow and it’ll be a new day with new joy in Him to look forward to.

“Weeping may last for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” — Psalm 30:5

When Dreams Die

I laid on my bed sobbing uncontrollably. I’m generally an emotional person, but this was different. It felt like my life, my identity, my future, was all gone, and I didn’t have a clue how to get back up and keep going. Mononucleosis had been relentlessly ravaging my body for nearly a year. I spent that year fighting with every ounce of strength that I had. I didn’t take “no” for an answer and saw taking time to rest as failure. But at long last, it all caught up to me. I am not a superhero and I don’t have control over everything.¬†—-

I started taking piano lessons when I was eight. I have an unmatched passion for music — every aspect of it. It is a vessel that God uses to bring me immense joy. I knew from the time that I was eight that playing piano, being involved in music in whatever capacity possible, was my dream. The May of my first year playing, I witnessed my first Senior Recital. I beheld the seniors playing as unobtainable, as perfect, as my life goal and dream. And I set out to make that dream a reality.

I was never a naturally gifted pianist. There’s things I’m good at, such as memorizing songs, or picking things out by ear, but technique was never my strong point. I practiced twice as long as it should have take before I could learn some basic things, but it was more than worth it to me. I set crazily high expectations for myself, and did absolutely whatever it took to achieve them. That taught me discipline, perseverance, and hard work that have stuck with me through all of my life.

By my freshman year of high school, I was practicing for about two hours a day, and starting to consider pursuing music as my college major and career one day. I talked with my teacher about what that would take, and was willing to do it. Anything to achieve my dream. That year I also got to know another senior pianist that reinvigorated my passion to be able to play like he could. I was willing to push myself to even more hours, even harder music… Anything. I had intense back pain, but I fought through it, all the while believing I could do anything with enough hard work.

Fast forward to fall of my junior year. I contracted mononucleosis in August, but thought that maybe I was just extra tired because of school starting and so I didn’t go to the doctor. By the time I finally went to the doctor three months later, I was beaten to a pulp. My body could hardly handle going to school in the mornings, much less practicing piano for several hours a day. I fought the impeding verdict for an entire year. Each day straining myself to practice as long as possible, but it was never enough. By last summer, the summer before my senior year, God made the truth painfully clear.

My dream of having a senior recital was over. My dream of a piano performance major was over. There was physically no way my body could withstand that kind of pressure and commitment. My dream that I had striven after for nine years seemed pointless. It seemed wasted. Why would God have let me spend thousands of hours doing something that was going to end in what I considered failure?

Slowly but surely, God began chipping down my walls of bitterness. He began revealing to me that my dream might be dead, but it wasn’t wasted. Spending so many years working so hard towards a goal taught me perseverance, taught me hard work, and taught me discipline. I learned to work with other musicians, and at the root of it all, I spent thousands of hours doing something I love. Those hours weren’t wasted. There were hard days, sure, when the last thing I wanted to do was practice. There were songs I despised playing. But there were so many more good days. So many more times that music was my therapy. So many more songs that I loved playing.

Music and piano are gifts God has given me. His intention wasn’t necessarily for me to use them as my career, but that’s okay. His intention was to bless me, and also to enable me to serve Him through something that I love. I’m never going to stop playing in whatever capacity God allows me to. I play for church, I play for fun, rarely does a day go by that I don’t sit down and play just because it makes me happy. My dream may have died when I realized I couldn’t have a Senior Recital or a Piano Performance degree, but my dream was not wasted. I don’t know exactly where my future leads now, but I’m confident that He does, and that’s more than enough for me.

Just Keep Walking

“God, please make Your will abundantly clear. Please give me peace about what You would have me to do.”
This is a prayer that I’ve prayed more times than I can count. With every twist and turn of life, I want to make sure I’m following the plans God has for me. I want to make sure my actions line up with His will for my life. That’s good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be… Right?

Well yeah, of course. But what happens when I don’t feel God’s divine voice speaking into a situation? Am I supposed to wait idly by until God decides to reveal to me exactly what I’m supposed to do? Am I supposed to wait until I haven’t the slightest sliver of doubt before I do something? I had honestly never thought about that until this past week. I was lying in bed praying that God would give me perfect peace about which path to take. And all of a sudden, God made something crystal clear. The right path to take… is the path where I keep walking.

My biggest fear has always been that I will do things outside of God’s will for my life. That I will somehow mess up His plan. But as my best friend likes to remind me, God isn’t going to fall off of His throne if I make a wrong choice. He’s still God, and He’s still faithful to work things for good. I realized that God wants me to keep moving, keep serving, keep loving, a lot more than He wants me waiting around to make absolutely sure I don’t make the wrong choice.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” — Eric Metaxas

What I felt God was pointing out to me, was that Satan wanted me just standing here waiting. Not doing anything because I was scared of doing the wrong thing. Being an inactive Christian and not doing anything for the kingdom of God. But I know what God has called me to do. He doesn’t need to send a special revelation for me to know that. I know He has called me to love everyone, I know He has called me to make disciples, I know that He has called me to glorify Him in everything I do.

“Make Your ways known to me, LORD; teach me Your paths.” — Psalm 25:4

God has already made so many of His ways known to me through the example of His Son. Jesus is my example, and as long as I’m doing my best to follow Him, to go out of my way to serve and love passionately, I’m following Him.

If an opportunity is placed before me that I know lines up with what He says to do in the Bible, and that I have peace about doing for His glory, I’m ready to take it. Yes, I’m still going to pray first, but I’m not going to spend weeks and months wavering in uncertainty before I take the first step. I’m going to keep walking, and knowing that God can show me if I need to redirect my steps. I don’t want to be a Christian that does nothing for the kingdom anymore. I want to run towards Jesus. Whatever that looks like.

“Think about Him in all you ways, and He will¬†guide you on the right paths.” — Proverbs 3:6

It’s okay NOT to be okay

 

 

 

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong…”

 

These are the opening lines to one of my favorite songs “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. Honestly, that’s how I feel about life most of the time. Like I’m not allowed to fall apart, I have too many people counting on me. I need to be a good sister, daughter, employee, friend, band member, student, and so many other things… All while having a smile plastered on my face because as a Christian, I’m supposed I be joyful. But you know what? Sometimes I don’t feel very joyful. Sometimes I’m falling apart on the inside, and sometimes, I don’t have the strength to fake it one second longer. As the next line of the song says

“But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on”

Sometimes, God is calling us to put on a smile and keep going. And I’m not saying that we should make our life into a pity party. But it is okay to admit you’re struggling. It’s okay to
need help. To need rest. Some nights, it really is okay to need to scoop a bowl of Blue Bell and collapse in bed at 7pm. And some days, it’s okay to not be the strong one and instead admit that you’re hurting. To ask for help and prayer and let down the facades for a while. It can be tough to be vulnerable, and it’s easy to feel like that’s weakness. Like we’re not supposed to let ourselves have problems. Like we’re supposed to push through and not let them bother us. But that’s definitely not the case.

Throughout the first half of my junior year of high school, I was extremely sick with mononucleosis. It should have put me out of commission, but I didn’t want to let it. I wanted to prove that I could keep working, keep going to school, keep playing in the praise band… But in reality, I couldn’t. And although I though I was “being strong” and “being a fighter” I was actually hurting myself all the more. It took hitting rock bottom where I could barely climb out of bed to be willing to admit I wasn’t okay. To be willing to ask for time off work. To be willing to tell my friends I was the furthest thing from okay. And you know what? Sometimes that’s okay.

Sometimes I still have awful days. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, or some crazy combination of the two, there’s days I need some extra grace. And that’s okay. You don’t have to pretend you have everything together, no one does. Some days you’re going to need a nap, and you know what, God knows that. He made us to need rest, and He’s going to keep being faithful when we take some. Be willing to take that first step, admit you can’t do it anymore and fall on His grace, I promise it’s more than sufficient.

“When you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender, lay it down and let it go”