Friday, August 23, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Jen Harrell

Words cannot describe my relationship with this girl. She is the one I dream with and the one I travel with. She is the best Young Life team leader I know and there has not been a day that she has not encouraged me towards knowing Jesus more. She sits beside me when I cry and when I am jumping for joy. She lived with me in the McMansion and she will always be one of my very best friends.

Her words will make you laugh but present so much truth. She is trying this whole graduate, get a job, grow up thing... it teaches you things, of that I am confident. I am forever thankful for her outlook on growing up and graduating. 


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). 
This- these months right out of college- this is a time for tearing down.

This is a time when your best friends are living in Hawaii and New York and Colorado and you realize you’re not officially a resident of any state and you’re not really sure where your home is but your happy to have your passport because at least you have something that says you’re an American.

This is a time when your friends are falling in love and getting engaged and marrying their best friend and you’re getting spam emails from ChristianMingle

This is a time of realizing maybe setting up all your automatic bill pays for the same exact day wasn’t the most fiscally responsible decision you’ve ever made.  And a time of looking at your checking account and realizing maybe things like Oreos and really good wine actually are wants not needs.

Also: a time of buying Oreos and really good wine and eating them for dinner at 9 o’clock because damn it you’re an adult and you’ll do as you please.

This is a time of feeling so weird and so unlike yourself that- hot butter and oil Seth!- you convince yourself you probably, definitely have diabetes only to have a doctor recommend that you just go home and eat a sandwich.

Consequently, this is a time of crying in the parking lot because you didn’t really understand how health insurance works and it just cost you $78 to get your finger pricked.

Have I convinced you that I’m doing a good job being an adult yet?  Transitions are hard and right now it feels like I’m not getting, well, anything right. But in the past few weeks I have found comfort in the Lord’s promise that this is a season in my life. It is hard to imagine when you are in the middle of something that things will ever change. But we live and we do change and there are seasons to our life.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil- this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)

Today I will trust that this is a season in my life. I will trust that even if I don’t always like this season 
that it is designed so that I may know Jesus more and know that He is enough and trust that He is good.  A few days ago I felt frustrated at everything and I realized two important things.

1.     For everybody who is growing up right now, this is the first time they’ve ever done it. I don’t really know how to move from 22 to 23 because this is the first time I’ve ever done that. So I’m figuring it out. And it won’t always go that well, but the Lord promises me “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16).  

2.     I have never lived a day in my life where Jesus didn’t give me all the grace I needed to get through the day. Never. I will not have to figure out a way to make it through tomorrow without His grace. “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  And this means that I do not need to figure out next month or next year or the next season of life right now because I’m getting there just as fast as I can and when I do get there, there will be that grace that I need for that day. When Jesus teaches us to pray, he teaches us to ask the Lord to “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). My heart wants to live so far out in the future (yo, Jordan the heart is wicked amirite), but Jesus is giving me all the grace I need for today.

Well, that’s what I think about all day long in the cube. Star employee over here. Deuces.

PS there are also a lot of really fun parts of being 22 and out of college and living the life and being single and I do have a savings account and sometimes I still eat vegetables for dinner.  Mostly including this in case my momma reads this and is worried about me. Love ya Nance.   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Comin' in Hot

It's coming back, y'all. The blog took the summer off from having friend guest posts on Friday for a few different reasons: 1- I don't have that many cool friends to sustain this forever. I joke, but not really. 2- Didn't want to have to be committed to something so regularly when the days were not readily labeled by the day of the week. 3- And mostly because so many of my friends were off doing really awesome, cool amazing things all over the country and world, and well, I figured it would be best they share when they return.

But it's returning now... the fall has come and it's time to share some of the wisdom of my really legit, amazing friends all over the place again.

Until Friday has officially arrived, check out some of the guest posts from last school year because they freakin' ROCKED. (There are links to them all in the tab up top that says "Funtastic Friend Friday").

There are posts on all sorts of things and from people all ages and from places all over. I am continually amazed by the people the Lord has put in my life. I am blessed and my prayer is that you are too by the words that they share.

Oh, and this week's friend, is a real good one. Kickin' it off right.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts As The Bell Tower Rings

The sidewalks were crowded, the restaurants bustling with students and families, and dorm rooms being decorated. Life was being breathed into Chapel Hill this weekend as students poured back into town for school to begin once again.

And in that I realized: I am no longer a student at the university. I no longer have syllabi to read, books to order, or schedules to piece together.

But I did absolutely love my four years at UNC. And I am beyond excited for all of the students beginning another year there.

For you all beginning another year of school, whether it be your first or your last, here are a few little things that got me through college and a few that I wish I had known myself as I went through college:

Don't waste your college. And by that I mean don't waste your years from eighteen to twenty-two (or whatever age) doing things that don't matter and have no significance. Use your years in college to live outside of yourself, even though the world says differently. Use your college to love others, serve in your free time, adventure, and to live radically different as the Lord has called you.

Speaks words full of Truth and grace to your roommates and housemates. Living situations in college can be some of the most life giving or some of the most stressful things while in school... make them life giving by using words that build one another up. Extend grace more than you do anything else towards one another and never stop encouraging one another in the gospel.

You are not your GPA. You have never been identified by a number and you never will be identified by a number. You are a child of God. Do not let striving for a certain GPA control you.

It's okay to say "no." You do not have to over commit yourself and agree to take five leadership positions, volunteer in every organization, and be at every event. You just do not have to. Choose to say "yes" to the things that you love and things that you can be fully committed to.

When given the opportunity to dress up in some sort of themed attire, go all out. You won't regret it and you will be thankful for all of the pictures that you have afterwards.

Never turn down the opportunity to get coffee with someone. Even if you don't drink coffee. Time spent in conversation and sharing life with someone over coffee (or tea or soda or whatever you would like to drink) is invaluable and worth every penny and second spent. Take that time to share with others, be vulnerable, and to listen.

Use your time effectively and efficiently. It will help you get more done and allow for more fun. When you study, actually study, so that you can go play faster. When you are spending time with people, be all there and make it quality time so that you are not rushing from one thing to the next.

When finals time comes around, remember, it is not as serious as you think it is. I do not remember the grade that I made on one single final. There is not a large amount of eternal significance in the grades that you make on the final exams you take, so do not take them too seriously. Do try hard and do really study, but never let finals steal your soul or your kindness.

Stay up late, even if it's a little irresponsible sometimes. Some of my favorite memories from college are when I thought I was going to go to sleep, but then spontaneously decided to go to Waffle House with my roommates, or to answer the late night phone call, or to put on a fashion show with the third floor besties.

Do not pull all-nighters doing school work. I never did and I am thankful for that. And all of my school work still got done.

Honor the sacredness of Sundays, the day of rest. I wish that I did that more. I wish that I honored the day the Lord has called us to rest a little more often. Work can be done on other days, even if it isn't fun those other days. Take a day to fully rest and delight yourself in the Heavenly Father.

Don't put God in a box. God is the Lord. He is the Creator of the universe and he cannot be limited. Do not set expectations that will limit God, but believe that He can do more than you could ever think or imagine. Open yourself fully to the work that He wants to do in you.

Share wardrobes. College are some of the only years where you get to live with lots of people and with lots of wardrobe options, so take full advantage. And then one day, way down the road, when you get married your roommate will be the opposite gender and you can't share clothes anymore (womp), so do it now.

Take classes that you love and study what you love. I did not regret a single class that I took that I actually enjoyed. I chose to study a subject that was interesting to me, challenged me intellectually, and made me want to (sort of) go to class and do the reading. You do not have to choose a major that will make you a ton of money just because that is what the world says you should do.

Take hold of the small things in life and practice being grateful always. The Lord speaks through little things and He blesses us abundantly, sometimes we just have to open our eyes by being thankful for the little blessings He has put in our lives.

Travel and go on adventures. Use fall breaks, spring breaks, and Christmas breaks to go on all sorts of adventures. Once you get a big kid job breaks don't come as readily, so use them while you have them to see new places and to spend time with friends traveling all over. And do it all on a college budget... it's entertaining, spontaneous, and memorable.

Honor the Lord with your school work. Having the opportunity to go to college is a privilege and a blessing and should be treated like one. Never be completely irresponsible with your time in school if that is where the Lord has called you. But all the while, show yourself grace when you don't do as well as you had hoped or thought you would.

Serve. Serve in a campus ministry or serve at a church or serve in a campus organization or simply serve your neighbors, but serve, somehow, some way.

Don't live in a "if I can just get to ______________" mentality. Fall break, winter break, summer, end of finals, end of that exam, your vacation weekend is never ever enough. That mentality is always a vain hope for deliverance and it will not save you; it will only wish your days away and leave you disappointed when you realize that things are never as perfect as you had imagined on the other side of that deadline.

Dance in the rain and play in the snow. You won't be sad that you did and you can feel like a little kid again. Note: no matter how intense the rain, attempting to tube down McCauley will not be successful, but it may include lots of laughter.

Eat lots of pancakes. At the McMansion with so many friends is kind of the best.

Remember that we were created for eternity, not for this world. There will be quite a few disappointments during your time in college... caused by yourself, your friends, family, professors, or just the circumstances of life, but do not lose heart. Jesus, says "take heart, I have overcome the world." Things are surely not always easy, but an eternal perspective will bring hope when nothing else can.

If you go to UNC, get a cherry smash from Sutton's regularly. It provides a little bit of soul sunshine every single time.

You are never "so busy" that you do not have time to spend with Jesus. You choose what time to set your alarm for in the morning and you can choose to say "no" to some of the many things you have in your day if it means you spend any amount of time with Jesus. So choose Jesus. I only regret the days that I did not make the time.

Send snail mail to your friends that aren't in your town. It's always appreciated, keeps the USPS in demand, and brings unexpected joy.

For seniors, it is completely okay if you do not know what you want to do with your future... and I seriously do mean that (no matter how many times people ask you and expect an answer). You were not made to do one great thing, you were made to serve one great God. So do that.

Love, always love. Love your housemates, roommates, friends, teammates, leaders, professors, class mates, and every person you in encounter. You won't regret it and love does things... to you and to the people you love.

Today I pray for all of you beginning another semester of school that is right around the corner. I pray that it will be another semester that grows you more into who the Lord has desired you to be. I pray that you extend yourself and those around you grace each and every day and that you are challenged to be more like Christ in the way that you live. My prayer is that you never stop loving Jesus, even when it gets tough and that you realize your only hope can be in the One who has already saved you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Season of Circles

I believe life happens in seasons. Sometimes we can recognize the season that we are in and other times  we can look back on our life and point out the seasons that we experienced.

For the past few months I would say that I have been in a season of transition. A season of transitioning from college to the post-grad life. This season of transition has been full of emotions, ups and downs, and all that go in-between. 

For the longest while I blamed the swing that was my emotions and the madness that was my head and the confusion that was my heart on the "transition season." 

I swept many issues under the rug to be handled at a later date or after the transition phase had passed. But in that, I have come to realize that I have been living through a much larger season of life. One that while being lived in could not be easily named or easily recognized.

It was (and still is a little bit) a season of circles. 

A season that is delicately held together by the cyclical motion. It is a season like a merry-go-round: full of pretty lights and sweet music, coupled with the ups and downs of the horses' movement and the questioning of when it will ever stop.

To describe the circles seems silly because there are so many pieces comprising them. The words juxtapose themselves in ways that are difficult to comprehend and make this a season that is not easily identifiable. 

In my feeble attempts to put words to this season I can say that it has been a season of: frustration, excitement, grasps for Truth, guilt, delight, feelings of being less than and not good enough, recognition of my sin, anger, celebration, heartbreak, beauty, unbelief, blessing, and love. 

Now is the time to say WHAT? Jordan, you're crazy. All those words do not fit together in any sort of picture. And it's true, they don't. They don't make a lot of sense. 

But as I said, it's a season of circles. Circling through each of those places on repeat, over and over... over and over. I have asked myself when is it going to stop, more times than once actually.

The lessons I have been learning never seem to stick... it has been as if they are going in circles, dragging me through each of those places multiple times. There have been moments of victory where I feel as if I am on the cusp of something real and lasting, only to be met with tears a month later when I have forgotten all that the Lord has done and said to me... and the circle only begins again.

And now I can finally say: I think the circle might just be breaking. At least a little bit. This summer it's been broken, piece by piece, slowly but surely. 

I can finally recognize that I have watered God down to a mere list of lessons and truths that I have needed to learn and know: 
1- God loves, adores, and cares for me. 2- I am made in God's image. 3- I am safe in Christ. 4- The Lord is faithful to what He has promised. 5- The Lord's love is unfailing. 6- I am not defined by how other people see me or how I see myself, but by how the Lord sees me. 7- The Lord not only loves me, but likes me. 8- The Lord has a plan for my life. 9- My worth is in the Lord and in nothing else. 
Those are the lessons that have been on repeat, over and over and over... never sticking and never really making any sense in the deepest part of my heart. It is easy to proclaim those truths over someone else's life, but just not my own. 

I have finally come to see that maybe, just maybe, these lessons are not ones that are meant to be crossed off a list, but are ones that are meant to be believed by the deepest part of my heart and soul. It's no longer about Bible verses just being memorized, but about the God-breathed Scripture being engrained in all of my thoughts, words, and actions. 

It is about the Holy Spirit breathing life into the deepest part of my soul and letting Him write those truths throughout all the parts of me and guarding me from the many lies of the enemy. 

So come, Holy Spirit, come. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life Under 5

Kids and babies teach you things. And I just spent an entire week with my mom's whole side of the family at our family's lake house, therefore, I spent a lot of time with little kids and babies. I picked up on a few things and learned a few lessons:
  1. There is never an inappropriate time to swing on swings. You get to experience the freedom of the wind blowing through your hair and you get to enjoy the thrill of swinging really high in the air. Best. Thing. Ever. 
  2. We begin to say very early on: "I am a big girl and I can do it by myself." By the grace of God may we learn that we can't do it by ourselves and that we need Jesus each and everyday. 
  3. Dancing creates all sorts of giggles and laughter, so dance a lot... even if it's just moving in circles and being all kinds of goofy.
  4. "Mine" is one of the first words in a child's vocabulary and one that is difficult to overcome. Lord, grant us hearts to share and hearts that want to freely give. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you. [proverbs 3:27-28]
  5. We all crave attention and the desire to be known and heard and loved. Praise to the fact that the God of the universe looks at us as children and we can call Him "Abba." 
  6. Playing dress up is never a bad idea. I learned that with third-floor McMansion, but these little kiddos reminded me. 
  7. When you're five and you hurt someone else's feelings things are quickly resolved by saying sorry and giving one another a hug. Lord, may we come to know the power of repentance and forgiveness and humility more.
  8. Eating all of your peas just so that you can have a cookie after dinner is worth it. And I'm celebrating that because I am twenty-two I can eat dessert before my dinner anyways. BAM. 
  9. Tubing is sure to strike fear in the hearts of four-year old little girls, but when they have their daddy right beside them it seems exhilarating and beautiful. Life is kinda like that too: Life and the unknown is sure to strike fear in the hearts of twenty-two year old girls, but when they have their Daddy right beside them it seems exhilarating and beautiful. 
  10. Tears express discomfort or some kind of discontent. May we be less scared or self-conscious of crying and more prone to search out the discomfort or discontent in our life and ask Jesus to bring healing and to fill those voids. 
I am thankful for these little lessons and reminders. I am thankful for a week with my family. And I am thankful for some of these special moments and the pictures that captured them:

there is no where else i would have rather been
the beauty speaks to His majesty
two and a half years old, some kind of cute
dancing with my favorite little man, owen
brenna:my little bestie
tubing on the most beautiful of evenings
brenna & brooke always wanting to help
owen's twin brother and my favorite little smile
if the shoe fits