Thoughts from a coffee shop

It’s funny how inspiration sometimes hits us out of nowhere. When I want to sit down and write I make sure to create a playlist of inspiring music and try to make the magic happen. But then it doesn’t. I used to tell myself once I graduated from college that would be the time I would start writing again. However, when you are a first year teacher sometimes that just isn’t going to happen y’all.

But then one day  you are walking around an old antique shop looking at old books and the inspiration finds you. Some people love that new book smell, but I prefer the older books because of the history that comes with them. I came across David Copperfield written by Charles Dickens, and inside the dedication a previous owner of the book had written their own. It read, “To my dearest friend, 1907.” One-hundred and ten years have passed since then, but those words remain the same. I wanted to know this person’s story, who their friend was, and why this book was important. I began to look through the other books and they were all engraved as well. At one point in these strangers lives they believed it was important to write inside of these books, which I believe tells a deeper story on its own.  This experience led me to think about a few things that have been happening within my classroom.

I currently teach high school reading, and in my classroom we recently finished the book Night, by Elie Wiesel. If you aren’t familiar with this book it is written by a man who survived the Holocaust, and then had the bravery to write a book about his experiences. What is so important about this book is that we are able to learn from the author’s story. His story teaches us about racism, the pain he went through, and then how he used his painful experiences to help reach people. Elie Wiesel died last June at the age of 86, however, his story still goes on, specifically within the walls of many schools.

At the end of the novel, I wanted to leave my students with something that would challenge their thinking. I asked them to simply answer the question, “Do you believe taking time to understand other people’s stories is important?” Now, let me tell you if that have ever doubted that teenagers “just don’t get things” this is for you. One of my students said, “Of course it is, this is how we understand why people are the way that they are.” Another said, “Yes, because sometimes understanding someone else’s struggles can help you with your own.” So, let me just brag for a minute and tell you that my student’s are brilliant and they understand things I think some of us have been neglecting.

Why do we not take the time to stop for five seconds and try to understand one another? We spend so much time bickering about our differences instead of trying to learn from one another. Today I learned from a person who decided to write in a book one hundred and ten years ago, that I need to slow down and stop trying to rush the time by. I believe that we all have a story to tell and that we all have things that we can learn from each other.

Everyday my story is changing. I graduated from college in Decemeber, and now I am a teacher who gets to educate and hopefully inspire 86 young heroes. Some days I mess up, but everyday I am learning. So, whoever took time to read this, just know that I think you are valued and important. What’s your story?

M I N D S E T

Jeremiah 29:11 by French Press Mornings #bible #verse #typography:

As the year of 2016 comes to an end, I have been reflecting on all of the events that have happened during the last twelve months. I completed my student teaching, graduated college, and I recently got hired at a high school. All of these things I am thankful for, and by the grace of God (and a lot of coffee) I finally can say that I am a college graduate and a teacher. However, somehow, I must admit that none of this was adding up for me during the last few weeks.

When I graduated high school I had a four year plan. I would graduate within four years, write a book, and probably be married or close to getting there. I am here to say that none of the above happened. These were also the things that I chose to focus on the last several weeks. Yes, I graduated but it took me five years to get there. No I didn’t write a book ( I realize this now was not a realistic goal, because hello, college). Lastly, I am also as single as a dollar bill. I joke about this, but sometimes it’s hard when you watch your friends get engaged and married, and you begin to wonder if you will ever have that. So instead of focusing on the things that I had accomplished, I began to focus on everything that I wish would have happened.

Let me tell y’all, that this way of thinking is toxic. Instead of being thankful for what God had provided for me, I chose to have a pity party for myself. Isn’t it mind-blowing that when we have so much to be grateful for we still sometimes chose to focus on everything but that? We rob ourselves from joy and we sometimes even miss the bigger picture of it all.

I recently read “The Magnolia Story” written by Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper.” One thing that Joanna mentioned has really made an impact on me.

“I realized that my determination to make things perfect meant I was chasing an empty obsession all day long. Nothing was ever going to be perfect the way I had envisioned it in the past. Did I want to keep spending my energy on that effort, or did I want to step out of that obsession…. I chose the latter – and that made all the difference.”

This really caused me to think about the last five years with a new perspective. No, I may not have graduated “on time,” wrote a book, or gotten married, but I have gained something much greater than all of those things. I absolutely know that God does work all things together for my good.

One example of this is when I found out that I would be completing my student teaching at a high school. I had made up my mind that I wanted to be with the middle school, and maybe in 15 years I would be comfortable with teaching high school students. Much to my dismay, I ended up at a high school and I wondered how in the world I would ever survive (very dramatic times). My student teaching experience ended up being one of the most rewarding parts of my schooling, and I was able to learn so much from my students. The funny part is that this exact high school is the same school that hired me. If I hadn’t completed my student teaching at this school, I most likely wouldn’t even have this job. I don’t believe that things are just a coincidence, but I do believe that even though situations don’t always make sense to us, that God has a plan that will later be revealed.

I am not going to lie and say that I don’t still desire wanting to write a book or getting married, but my perspective is different now. When we are able to see and truly believe that God has a perfect plan for us, we don’t have to worry about “whens” or “ifs.” I want to live a life to where I am focusing on what I do have and what I can do with it. I don’t want to only focus on what I want or think I need, but how I can help with someone else’s needs with what I do have to offer. We have been given life, and that’s not something I want to waste.

Keep on pressing on friends and fighting the good fight. Focus on what God has given you, and how you can help others with it.

Love and prayers for all of you.

“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” – Esther 4:14

 

 

Blistered Feet

blog

Do you ever make a choice that you know isn’t going to be the right one. However, you convince yourself that it will be okay and you will face whatever consequence comes with it? I made one of those choices yesterday with a pair of shoes I choose to wear. I was going to have a fun filled day with some friends, so of course I had to wear something cute. I own a pair of wedges but the problem with them is that they absolutely destroy my feet. I knew that I was going to be doing a lot of walking and that these were probably not the best choice in shoes to wear that day. But for the sake of my outfit by golly it was going to be with worth it (if you are a boy reading this, I promise this has a point). Friends let me tell you by the ending of the day I was barely able to walk from the blisters on my feet. To make matters worse I had also spilt green tea all over my white pants and down the front of my shirt. So not only was I limping around, I also looked like I had dropped green goo all over myself. All this came down to one thing- these darn shoes that I just had to wear. I knew that I was going to regret my choice that morning for the sake of appearance I went against what I already knew. Was it worth it? Blistered feet and looking having green splattered pants, I believe that it was not.

Let’s take a look at a story that has much more seriousness to it that some of you may already be familiar with. In the book of Genesis we are introduced to the story of Adam and Eve who were the first human beings that the Lord created. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, and were given only one command given by God. “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Adam and Eve were both made aware of what was good for them and what was not. They had been warned of what would happen if they disobeyed this command. Then one day Eve met the serpent that is described as being “more crafty than any of the wild animals.” He had come with a plan that day to convince Eve that she must eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He tells her that if she eats from this tree that she will be just like God, and that she will certainly not die. Eve eventually believes this lie, which was going against what she knew was good for her. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Eve soon convinces Adam to eat from the tree and immediately they are described to having their eyes opened. They felt ashamed, guilty, and embarrassed. Both Adam and Eve knew the right choice to make, but because the tree of knowledge looked appealing they went against what they knew was good.

Sometimes I think it is easy for us to think, “Why couldn’t they have just listened to God? They knew what the consequence was going to be.” But if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we have all probably been a situation when we knew that we weren’t making a fruitful choice but carried through with it anyways. Why is this? Let’s take a look again at Genesis 3:6. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Good, pleasing the eyes, and desirable. Lets also not forget the beginning of Chapter 3 when the serpent is described as being “crafty.” Because of this, led Eve to believe that this was going to worth the consequence. In our own lives the wrong choice also looks desirable, good, and pleasing. There have been many times that I have asked myself “Why did I do this? I knew better.” I then feel like Adam and Eve did; afraid, ashamed, and defeated.

Everyday we are all faced with choices whether they seem big or small. The good news is that we do not have been alone while facing them. James 1:5 says this, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” When we pray this prayer diligently, God says that wisdom will be given to us. Some of you may be wondering like I did, “What about the times I have messed up?” Even though there will still be consequences to our sin, Isaiah 43:25 says, “I even I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remember your sins no more.” What may seem like a hopeless ending God intervenes. James 4: 6 “But he gives us more grace. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” We are given wisdom, grace, and forgiveness. When it feels like we are drowning in mistakes God rescues us and redeems us.

My prayer for you and myself is that when we are faced with choices that we are in-tune with the Lord to guide us, and for us to have willing hearts to listen. When we have that desire like Adam and Eve did to take control of their own lives, I pray that we reject that notion and live in confidence that God’s plan and way is always going to be better.


What Love Really Means

blog

Hi friends! I hope you all have a great week and a relaxing Saturday. This was my first full week back to school which means that my week my was full of coffee. I commute about an hour to school every morning, and that gives me a lot of time to talk to Jesus. One of the things that I have been asked for is to be given the opportunity to show Christ’s love to someone. Needless to say, I learned an important lesson from this.

I am one of those people who HATE to be late, but I am also that same person who will sleep until the last possible second, because I promise that extra minute of sleep is completely needed. I arrived to school that morning and realized I had exactly 6 minutes to get to my class on the other side of campus. This also made me realize I could run faster than I thought I was capable of. I arrived to my building and out of breath. I began to panic because I realized that now I couldn’t find my classroom and questioning my philosophy of sleeping in. A girl approached me and asked if I could help her find the Admissions building because she was lost. I pointed to the right and told her that it was somewhere over to the right of the building we were in. I then quickly walked away to find my classroom.

Later that evening I was reading my bible and I came across John 15:12 which says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” The girl I had been so quick to brush off immediately came to my mind. I had been asking God to give me an opportunity to show love to someone, and I had completely missed it by a mile. After thinking about this, I realized I had missed this because I wasn’t thinking that showing Christ’s love to someone meant doing something so simple as giving directions. Sometimes I think we think that showing Christ’s love to someone is by immediately changing the entire world (not saying this isn’t possible) and not by doing the simple things. I didn’t realize that no matter what I am doing that God’s love should be flowing out of me.

During this humbling moment, I began to think about what this verse was actually saying. Notice that the verse begins by saying, “My command is this.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “Well I just don’t like him/her.” I am also guilty of having said this at points in my life. Jesus isn’t saying, “You should love someone, only when you feel like it” but He says, “Love each other as I have loved you.” I think part of understanding this verse is by understanding what God’s love is.  Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,  before you were born I set you apart;  I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” One of most favorite verses Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.He will take great delight in you;  in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” When we look at these verses we see what a perfect and precious love that God has for us, and that He is the definition of what love is and should be.

I believe that we begin to understand and know God’s love,  we will be able to show that love to people through whatever it is that we are doing. I believe that we will become more aware of the people around us, and I believe that when we truly begin to grasp how much we are loved that it will be radically life changing. My prayer for you and myself is that we will live in that love, and that our hearts will be forever changed by this truth.

Such a time as this

cropped-blogg1.jpgHello there friends, it has definitely been some time since I have written. In case you are wondering it has been almost a year and half. I hope you all have had a great New Years, and a good break from work or school. I know it was very needed in my own life. I have been noticing a trend on social media about people setting their new goals for the year and how this year is a fresh start to start over, which inspired me to write this to you. I promise this isn’t a long spill about my goals or how this year is going to be better than the others. I am writing this because I think many people were in my shoes this time last year, and my hope is that this speaks to you and that you can know that you aren’t alone.

 

In complete honesty this past year and a half has by far been the most miserable season of my life. I had just gotten back from interning at an incredible church where I was able to grow as a person, and also where my relationship with God was strengthened. I had these huge plans to begin my own non-profit organization geared toward helping young women. However, in the back of my head there was still this nagging voice telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and it eventually completely overwhelmed me. I gave into the lie that God didn’t have my best intentions, and the only way I was going to be happy was if I took control of my own destiny. I realize this seems like common sense to know that God does in fact have your best intentions, but when you are constantly degrading yourself and your worth this thought soon becomes distant. I automatically dove right back into my old habits, and gave up everything I had worked so hard for. I hurt people who cared about me, gave up on my dreams, pretty much failed a semester of school, lied, and the list could go on. I don’t want you to think this is a sob story, but I want to be honest with you of how my life took a complete 180 twist. Even in my most miserable moments I was still too stubborn to turn back to God because of how far gone I felt I was. I felt weak, ashamed, and alone.

 

There wasn’t this defining moment for me that we often see in the movies where the girl realizes that everything is going to be okay, and life goes back to normal. Even though I had turned my back on God, I can say with confidence that He never turned away from me. Because of the people God placed in my life, I began to see that I didn’t have to live in this pit I had put myself in. It was literally a day by day process with beginning my relationship with God again, and even though I knew that God had forgiven me for all I had done, I still felt voice telling me that there was no way that God could ever use me again.

 

I do believe that God has a sense of humor, and that everything He does has a perfect meaning. This New Years I spent with the same people and the same place that I grew the most as a person, and fell deeper in love with Jesus. Being there made me reflect on how differently my life could have been if I hadn’t fallen into the trap of lies. However, God also showed me how this brokenness was also beauty, and how all of these things that once made me weak, had in the end made my stronger. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or how much I meant to God. Because of these things God has shown me who I am to Him, and what He is capable of doing through me. No longer do I question my identity in Christ, and no longer will I allow myself to be subject to the lies the enemy tries to defeat me with. I am made new not because of the start of a new year, but because God has made me new. I will be strong and courageous, because of this truth.

 

I want you to know that no matter who you are, or where you have been, or how far you think you have fallen that God still loves you, and that I do too. Believe that, and choose to walk in freedom.

Father’s Day// Restoration

Today has been one of those days that my prayers and talks with Jesus have been causing those big ugly tears. But these are also the moments that I feel so complete and aware of the Lord’s love for me. I have debated about posting this, but the Lord has been showing me that being authentic and real with people is completely necessary in my walk with Him.

Yesterday was Father’s day, and probably my least favorite day of the year. I have been consistent with making this day an excuse to throw myself a pity party. This is a day of bitterness, and jealousy for me. I usually try and avoid social media at all costs, because I don’t want to see pictures of people with their father because of my lack of pictures and memories. This past week has been a struggle for me, because the conviction I have over my bitterness. People have always told me that even though I don’t have an earthly father; it is okay because of my Heavenly father who loves me more than an earthly father ever could. My usual response to this is to naturally agree, to be completely honest I have never truly grasped this.

  I have questioned the Lord for many years questioning Him, on why I wasn’t given an earthly father. After 21 years of questions, and being angry with the Lord, my friends I am finally beginning to see His beautiful perfected plan. It began with making the choice to stop asking why, and asking for a new perspective. It takes realizing that even though I have experienced a loss, I have gained a spiritual break through. It takes replacing the questions with absolute truth from the Word of God, and clinging to it. I am loved, I am treasured, and I am a daughter of the King. The hole in my heart could never be filled by an earthly father, but my heavenly father.

We have all experienced loss and pain of some sort. I want to encourage you that through the pain there is beauty. There is promise of restoration, and I urge you to cling to this. No matter what situation you are going through, the one thing that remains consistent is that the Lord is always with you, and He loves you. Rejoice in this, my dear friends.

I am praying for you all. Love, Brooke.

Faith

Hello my dear friends! Many of you may know that I am interning at church in Michigan this summer. I really wanted to take some time to fill you in on what has been happening in my life over the past week. First off, let me just say that Michigan is great. If you have never traveled here, I definitely encourage that you come at least one time in your life. There is also really good food, so that should be enough encouragement in itself! 

 When I first arrived in Michigan the church I am interning at hosted a welcome party for the new interns. I instantly felt incredibly loved by the people I met. Even though I have only been here a week I have formed long lasting friendships and relationships that will always have a special place in my heart.

I have really been thinking about what it means to live a life by faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When I really think about that verse, I wonder about what that looks like in action. During my time in Michigan I am living with the Reed family, who are absolutely incredible. They have three precious children, and I have learned how cool God really is by seeing their unique gifts and talents. During memorial weekend the Reeds had a little get together at their house. I expected to have a great time getting to know new people, but God also had a lesson in store for me that weekend. The youngest daughter named Ella had a scratch on her hand that was bleeding, and when I asked her if she was okay she responded, “Yes, God will heal it,” and continued to play with her friends. Later that evening when I was reflecting on my day, I really began to think of what she had said. Ella was showing me what faith looked like. Instead of worrying about the scratch on her hand, she knew in her heart that God had her. I found that incredibly beautiful and inspiring to me. God is so neat in the way that He can speak his power through children. 

My dear friends, there is always the constant struggle of worrying. My challenge for you and myself is to literally live in faith that God has everything in control. His power is much bigger than the doubts we may have. When we begin to exercise this, I promise you that big things will begin to happen in your life.

Praying for you friends.

Thoughts from a 16 Year Old Mind

Image

Dear my sixteen year old self. I know you think you’re pretty dang cool, with your record collection and band t-shirt that you hide behind so well. Music is a wonderful thing, but you can’t always hide behind it. It’s more than okay to be yourself. It’s time to quit hiding in your room. God made you to be unique, powerful, and a leader. Embrace this.

Appreciate your beautiful friends more. Soak in the simple things, like driving around your one stop light town at 2 o’ clock in the morning singing to Blink-182. Soak in the times, when you’re laughing so hard, you pee your pants. Literally. Be there when your best friend gets her heart broken, and be ready to help pick up the pieces. Give thanks to God for these moments, because eventually they will just become memories.

Here comes the part you don’t want to hear. Dun dun dun. The guy you’re currently seeing… take a step away. Let it go. It’s okay to be alone, and you will manage just fine. Your self-worth is not found in men, but in the image of God. Remember this always.

Last but not least, I know you’re completely ready to get out of this town, and start your life. But your life is now. The choices you make will effect where you are in 3 years. Embrace laughter. Embrace forgiveness. Embrace heartbreak. Embrace… life. You’re going to be okay champ.

Holes.

Image

I have been thinking a lot about holes here recently. Yes, holes. Normally if we see a hole we avoid stepping in it, obviously because we don’t want to fall down. For holes to be made somebody has to dig it right? I will be the first to say, that I am not a fan of digging holes because of the getting blisters on my hands thing. Then sometimes you have to fill the hole back up. I believe that this can sometimes be the trickiest part. 

You are probably wondering why the heck I am talking about holes right now. It’s not that I find them particularly interesting, but the fact that I have these holes in my life. But these types of holes have their own specific name called, pain, suffering, depression. Every hole begs to be filled up, yet I kept filling them up with the wrong type of soil. Specifically labeled; relationships, lust, busyness, and to sum it all up … Sin.

I would see the hole, yet I continuously chose to fall within it. Before I knew it the hole was closing up, and I couldn’t breathe anymore. But then one day rain began to fall, and all that rotted soil began to wash off of me. This rain was the forgiveness and healing of Jesus Christ.

I wish the story could end here, and I could tell you that there are absolutely no holes left in my life. But I would be lying. I still deal with these holes on a daily basis, but the difference is now I have the guidance to avoid filling them with the wrong type of soil. Restoration is not something that happens over night, but those certain holes are being refilled with what is true, lovely, and pure.

Whatever type of hole you are struggling with, I urge you to fight against it. Choose light over darkness. Let Jesus fill you with love, grace, and freedom. It’s easy for us to fall into back what is comfortable, but when you choose to let Jesus fill you up, your life will be flipped upside down in the absolute best way possible. I assure you that Jesus is always better. 

Praying for you friends.

Above All Else…

IMG_27122

I have been told all my life that it is vital that I guard my heart. Guard my heart in relationships, friendships, situations, etc. We teach that in church, Sunday school and many times that is the advice we receive when entering into a new relationships and friendships. But do we actually grasp what this means to guard our hearts?

While I was pondering this thought today, I began to examine my own life and my own hurts that I have went through. Most of these hurts came from the truth that I wasn’t guarding my heart. I dove into unhealthy situations because of my own selfish desires that I was going to make this work. No matter what the consequences would be. We are completely self-destructive when we do this, and I know that we have all been there at one time or another.  Again, I ask the question what does it actually mean to guard our hearts?

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” When I see this verse I am reminded that most of the hurts that I have caused is from what I have kept inside of my heart.  I have learned how vital it is to stop and examine my own heart, and let go of any bitterness, or pride I have stored in it. This begins firstly with the confession of my sins.

We find our freedom, in the forgiveness that God gives us Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” When we have God’s spirit living inside of our hearts, we are able to have the discernment God provides us to lead us in the right steps of life. What we have in our hearts flow the springs of life.

My encouragement is that we all take time to truly examine our hearts and to truly mediate on this last passage from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Have a great week friends!

-Brooke