2016


Still Following: I’m a regular Southern Belle.

I’ve always had a feeling that I would like the South. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like a Pennsylvania Summer or the beauty that comes in the Fall with the changing of the leaves, but I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to live in the South. 6 months and 11 days ago, I decided to give it a shot. I’m not really sure what it takes to qualify as a Southern Belle but I live south of the Mason- Dixon so I’m gonna claim that I’m a Southern Belle til the cows come home.

I came to North Carolina in August knowing only 7 people and with meeting my roommate only for a brief couple hours in May. And it has been quite a whirlwind of an adventure. I didn’t even know all the steps you needed to take in order to move .Sidenote:  there’s a lot…like A LOT!  Nobody told me there would be so many papers to fill out or that a 3 hour visit to the DMV would be my first introduction to North Carolina. People kept telling me about this place called Harris Teeter and I didn’t know that was a grocery store or that Lowe’s wasn’t only a place to buy construction materials and plants but apparently also a grocery store. I didn’t know a lot about moving or what to experience but I did know that God had a plan and he had opened this door for me so I was going to walk through.

Throughout my 6 month journey there have been a lot of ups and an equal amount of downs. I’ve gone through moments of intense homesickness (which I’m sure is expected after having the same zipcode for all of your 25 years) and moments of intense happiness. I’ve been lonely, scared, unsure, happy, excited and blown away by the goodness of God. God knew exactly what I would need to survive this transition and I am oh so grateful. He gave me an amazing co-worker who was actually working in the same room as I was for the first time in my life, he gave me an amazing church family that I can’t imagine not having in my life and a wonderfully supportive Gentleman who not only spoils me with beautiful words but has joined me in my obsession with Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Sidenote: I’m gonna take a minute to brag. My Gentleman’s name is Nate. I met him last year after I had already decided to move to NC. Well, he lives in NC. I consider him God’s way of giving me a reward for being brave enough to step through the doors he opens. Probably the best prize I’ve ever gotten in my entire life.

Moving on, one of the main things that this time in the South has taught me is that God doesn’t/isn’t going to leave you or lose track of you just because you change zip code. I can’t even count on one hand all the ways that God has shown up to me while I have been in North Carolina. From hearing my favorite song played in church or on the radio when I ask him for just a sign that he is with me or when a random shop keeper gives me a stone carving that has Jeremiah 29:11 on it and tells me that God is with me. God has stretched me and challenged me. He has allowed me to become a part of an amazing church where they have brought me on in leadership in ways that I sometimes don’t feel qualified to be in but their encouragement and willingness to bring me in has been a blessing. I believe God is using these experiences to shape me into the person He wants me to be and I am so excited to see where this path leads. Thank you for your support and prayers whether it has been for my work with Praying Pelican Missions or those who have been with me every step of my journey to become a resident of the South. I’m still here and still following the One who knows all and loves all. I encourage you to join me.

 


Still Following: Resting and Enjoying His Presence

There is one thing I feel has been shoved in my face since the moment I got to Winston: the idea of rest. Not rest as in taking a nap or sleeping but resting in the presence of God. Oftentimes we can get wrapped up in the responsibilities of the day and what we need to do for everyone around us that we forget what we need. Just as children need time to spend with their parents, we need to spend time with our Father in Heaven. I don’t mean just spending time in prayer but actually spending time with Him. Learning about Him from His word, learning about Him while walking through the woods or at a park. We just need Him.

At the beginning of this year, I made it my goal to get up earlier than usual and spend that time just reading God’s word. I didn’t want to spend that time even talking to Him in prayer because I wanted to first become more acquainted with the person I was talking to. I just wanted to know Him deeper. I bought a book recently which has helped me a lot in that respect. It is called “Women of the Word.” It talks about different ways to look at and study the Bible. They are not focused on you reading the Bible to get something out of it or so you can have a feel good moment. The different ways they talk about are meant to help you read the Bible for what it actually is: a book about God. They take the focus off your heart and how we (myself included) read the Bible to make us feel good and instead help you focus on the story. You focus on everything you can learn about God within its pages. It’s a beautiful story telling of His love, character, mercy, grace, might and power. Of someone who is as fierce as a lion and as gentle as a lamb. What’s the best part you may ask? He wants to enjoy your presence too. How crazy is that?! The King of the Universe wants to spend time with you. I don’t know about you but the more I come to realize and appreciate that the more excited I get.

About a month and a half ago, I was listening to the Passion Conference online as it was going on and I had the privilege of hearing a woman named Christine Cain speak. I had honestly never even heard of her before that night but was absolutely blown away by each thing she said. She addressed the idea of greatness and how we as humans seem to have our heart set on doing all we can to make it to the top. A lot of times this causes us to forget to enjoy the process; To enjoy what is going on around us. I think the same can be true for those who aspire to go higher and higher in any capacity. We always push to be better, push to know more than everybody else, push to discover something new and exciting. In the midst of all the moving pieces we forget to enjoy God in the moment thinking we will only be able to enjoy God when we know the next thing or the next thing. We forget to acknowledge each blessing he gives us, each door he opens. God wants us to enjoy him right now where we are at. We may not be the lead pastor or the head of some organization but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us or that we shouldn’t seek to know him more. I think we should seek him and we should desire to go deeper but I also think going deeper in our faith doesn’t always mean going higher on the ladder. Sometimes you go deeper but God still wants you where you are at. He wants you to go deeper but to stay the secretary at the public school or go deeper and continue to be a barista at a coffee shop because he needs you there.

While Christine was speaking she highlighted one verse in particular: Exodus 33:11. It reads:

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Joshua lingered in the presence of God. He didn’t care that God only spoke to Moses at the moment. He didn’t mind standing on the outside while Moses got to go in. Joshua enjoyed simply being in the presence of God. To be like Joshua finding contentment on the outside is one of my deepest desires and to be quite honest I struggle with it each and every day. But I know even if I struggle with it every day for the rest of my life it will be the best struggle I’ve ever had. So come join me and let’s find rest in our Father together.