An Ode to 2020: Hope for Whatever Comes.

I’m going to be honest, the first time I sat down to start writing and drafting this post, I had no idea where to begin. I ended 2019 with a plea for 2020 to be better. After spending the last 6 months of 2019 in a really awful place I wanted some kind of hope to cling onto and for the new year to be “my year.” I remember praying simply: “God, I hope 2020 doesn’t suck.”

I don’t think anyone saw what was coming in 2020, and I don’t know a single person who hasn’t experienced stress, at the very least.

I consider myself lucky and privileged to be in the position I am: working part-time, living with my parents, and healthy. However, it would be foolish of me to not acknowledge the fact that the pandemic has severely impacted our world for the worst. People in our world are experiencing death, loss, loneliness and difficult changes that have been unlike anything we have and will probably ever experience. The political polarization of racial injustice and the pandemic have caused unrest and division around the world as leaders try to lead their countries, for better or worse. Being determined to be “right” has clouded hearts and what it means to partner truth and love.

2020 has been dark, scary, uncertain, stressful and full of so much heartache. If you made it through this dumpster-fire of a year, I’m so proud of you. I’m glad you’re here and you are so wanted and loved.

I want to talk about hope. The kind of hope that loosens our shoulders, relieves the tension in our chests and is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is what we need to experience. But let’s also talk about how, as one of my favourite writers and speakers Jo Saxton puts it:
Hope still wins, but it often has scraped knees because it keeps crawling forward.”
Choosing hope is being in it for the long-haul and waiting for the healing. Hope is healing. Hope isn’t toxic positivity. Hope is sometimes the only thing we can cling onto.

Hope is vital for our walk with God, let alone for facing a world that is filled with darkness. I am learning to embrace hope instead of settling for temporary happiness; the hope and joy that the Lord offers forever surpasses my flesh just merely wanting to be “happy.” Life, even post-pandemic, won’t give me joy. Denying myself of processing the big and “bad” emotions isn’t healthy! I have to allow God to work in my heart in order to come to terms with all of this and realize how lucky I am.

Because of hope:
I’ve seen truth turn to power.
I’ve seen the brightest light in the darkest moments.
I’ve seen people (myself included) change their perspectives and check their privilege, leading them to become kinder, healthier and more compassionate towards people of all walks of life.
I’ve seen people choose truth, hope and love over lies, bitterness and hatred.
I’ve seen Christians ditch legalism for freedom in their relationship with God.

There has been good in 2020. This year I took the time to figure out how to take better care of my ADHD and overall mental health, and started paying true attention to what my brain can and can’t handle. Choosing hope has also been about choosing to find ways to connect with people. I’m grateful for the friendships that have grown in 2020! I also had the beautiful opportunity to connect with other neurodiverse people around the world who get my brain. A few of us ran an online event for people with ADHD to create and facilitate community. (Learn more about Camp ADHD here). I also had a beautiful oppourtunity to participate in Power to Change – Student’s writing mentorship and have an article published! (Check it out here)

Look at you, friend! Look at how this year has been a part of making and shaping you. We’re neither ahead nor behind on our journeys.

Take a moment to read and be encouraged by John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (CSB)

So, whatever comes in 2021, we can choose the pursuit to have hope beyond our biggest dreams through our Lord and Saviour.

What are you hoping for in 2021?

Until next time,

Abby

An Ode to 2019: Grief.

Hi friends,

And hello 2020!

I rarely, if ever, write from a place where I’m in the thick of something. I usually am open about struggles in my blog posts, but only on the other side of whatever I struggled through or learned. This post is different because for the past 7 months I’ve gone through a lot of grief and have had a tough time reflecting on 2019.

So 2019, this is your ode.

(By the way, I’m talking about the grief of having something taken away from you – something that was incredibly significant and gave a lot of purpose. I don’t want to go into detail here!)

While I may be in a better place than I was from the end of August to mid-November and now have words to put to my feelings, I’m still really struggling with grief. This season I’ve been really down and haven’t had the same energy or positivity that I usually have and it’s been hard. I’m the “positive friend” that bounces back from and avoids any sort of negativity or what feels like negativity. I’ve been this way since I was a little kid – it’s a huge part of who I am. (I’m a classic Enneagram 7 – sue me.) 

But this season was the first time in the 23 years I’ve been on this planet that I let myself go through the motions of life sucking and not feeling like I have to shove sunshine in the way of grieving. It felt like the floor had dropped right out from under me. It was scary, and it hurt. At first I set an expectation on myself of how I should grieve and for how long. I became so frustrated with this process and eventually had to let go of those expectations and let God work in me. 

Friends, I can still have joy and hope. Neither come from my personality or anything like that, it’s all from God. Only God can show us what joy is when we feel like things will never look up. I feel like now I understand what Phillipians 4:7 is about, because, despite being really down, I get what the “peace surpassing all understanding” really is. I can have peace, joy and hope regardless of what kind of day I’m having. It’s been a process to come to terms with that, and I’m still working through it. But, hey, the journey is just as important as the destination!

God has shown his kind, graceful and joy-giving self through my parents, friends (especially the ones who sit with me and help me get “out of my head”, not tell me to “just have faith” or “just pray”) music, scripture and desiring to grow through grief. 

I have more freedom than I thought because, while I can choose to let life suck in this season, I can also choose to see that life as a whole can be really beautiful – in all of its brokenness.

I do feel like I’m coming out on the other side of the heavier part of grieving. Sometimes a new layer of the grief process shows up… but, dang, I’m gonna give myself some slack. I’m resilient and trying really hard to do what I can to be present in the now.

We’re all trying in this life, and trying to make sense of all sorts of crap. And there’s a lot of emotion, pain, anger, sadness that comes with it, but darn it there’s so much beauty on the other side.

I recently came across a verse from Lamentations on Facebook Memories that I posted a few years ago that feels super relevant to these past 7 months:

“For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.”

Lamentations 3:31-32

So 2020, please don’t suck. And keep me in your prayers as I find out that the next chapter of my life is going to look like and really trust God and know his goodness daily.

Thank you for reading!

Until next time,

Abby

Dear 18-Year Old Me: 5 Things I Would Tell Myself.

Hello friends!

If you’ve been reading my posts since pretty much day one, I wrote a blog 4 years ago about what I wish I had known at 14. (Read here, if you want!)

I’m almost 23 now and have learned a lot since writing that blog! Unlike the last post,  these 5 things are more of a hug, or a word of encouragement like “You will get through this,” rather than wishing I had done things differently. Turning 18 is a big deal; your post-high school world opens and you feel a whole lot smaller, very vulnerable, but also in a beautiful place to learn a lot about yourself.

Here are 5 things that current me would tell 18-year old me as words of encouragement.

Dear 18-year old me,

  • Your faith will be deconstructed, but you won’t lose it.

Growing up going to church and becoming a Christian at a young age set a great foundation for you! You witnessed and experienced some messed up religious legalism that was surfacing. You were hurt and felt rejected by people your own age and church leadership. So you really started to ask a lot of questions about Christianity. The hurt brought you to a place where you stopped going to church for a couple years, because why would you force yourself to go to a place where you felt rejected by people who claimed to know the same loving God you knew? This intense anger you hold so tightly against the people who hurt you will end. Through having a safe place like Campus Church, friends and family who journeyed with you and counselling/therapy, you will find healing. But having multiple true encounters with Jesus showing who he is and letting him soften off some really rough edges is where it will truly happen. Realizing that all this legalistic and “religious” nonsense is not true to what scripture says and who God is. God is not transactional; he’s relational and transformational. He’s not a “God-in-a-box.” He’s the Creator of all living things, and he made you wonderfully. He can take all of the questions, the tears, the anger and doubt because he’s bigger than we’ll ever be able to know. He loves us and wants us to walk with him in this confusing and messed up life where we feel like we’re winging it 95% (if not more) of the time. And it’s okay to not know or be able to comprehend everything. Life’s a journey, kiddo!

Realizing who Jesus is became so freeing because you stopped relying on the church and other Christians to be the foundation of your relationship with God. You’re not serving a church or its denomination; you’re serving God. 

And, y’know, people who hurt you are just as broken as you are. You will feel resentment towards them, but you will forgive them. And you will see that they are beloved sons and daughters of God; knowing that will create a lot of empathy towards others.

  • You are not defined by any diagnosis.

Oh, by the way, you don’t have Asperger’s. You have a Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD). That is a DOOZY to process. Not only have you had to process growing up with a misdiagnosis of Asperger’s as a little one, but now you have been re-diagnosed with NVLD. And, surprise, kiddo, you still have ADHD (shocker lol).  

But… you are defined by neither. It may feel like it at times because having learning disabilities is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Society is changing, slowly, and people are beginning to accept that a huge part of diversity is also neurodiversity. There are still people who think learning disabilities can either be cured, fixed, or that they don’t even exist.

Kiddo, your worth isn’t in what you can do or who people want or expect you to be; your worth is found in the Creator and lover of your soul, Jesus. You aren’t useless or dumb; you just come at things a little differently, and that’s okay! You will do great things.

(I’ve written about having learning disabilities in more detail in past posts. Read here or here! Learn more about NVLD and ADHD at Understood.org or The NVLD Project)

  • Learning to love yourself doesn’t happen overnight.

You know how one day you woke up being sick and tired of feeling insecure about yourself, period? It was great fun getting your nose pierced because it was a first attempt at confident self-expression. We all have to start somewhere! But that’s not going long-term confidence in yourself! Stop trying to make things happen overnight. There will be disappointments, but there are no shortcuts. Don’t be fixated on “fixing” yourself and risk not being present to life. Let God reveal himself through the ups and downs of learning to see yourself as a beloved daughter of His! You’ll grow to love and accept your body, mind and soul. Trust me!

  • You will learn about giving others and yourself grace and space.

Hey! Little Miss stress-case-perfectionist: give yourself grace and space. You are a human being full of emotion, angst, wonder and a tenacious want for things to always be good. The truth is, things aren’t always going to be good. You’re going to let your emotions get the best of you and you are going to mess up. But that’s part of the whole life thing. You’ll find that when you let God show you his grace, you’ll begin to give yourself grace. And now that you’ve experienced grace in brokenness, you’ll be able to have grace for other people.The gentleness that comes from grace looks good on you, kid!

  • The hopes and dreams you have now will barely match up to the ones you’ll have later.

I think the reason you want to get a Ph.D is because you’re trying to prove yourself and the world wrong that you’re dumb, not because you actually really want to do it. I have no doubt that starting out in university was a good thing, but it certainly isn’t your destiny. Going to college and getting a diploma is just the beginning of figuring out what your hopes and dreams really are. And guess what? After you graduate college there will be disappointments, HUGE disappointments. But you are not going to be crushed because you will hold on to the knowledge that God has something better.

Kiddo, make sure your hopes and dreams are aligned with your love for Jesus and his love for you! There is always, always, ALWAYS hope!

Thank you for reading this! I know I had a lot to say, but it’s important to be open and real about growing up.

If you could tell 18 year-old you ANYTHING, what would you say? Share in the comments and let’s chat!

Until next time,

Abby

Social Media Doesn’t Love You

Social media doesn’t love you; it doesn’t even like you.

Sure, social media connects us to people, information, interaction and resources like nothing else, which is fantastic!

With instant access to social media in the palms of our hands, we can share what’s going on in our lives with loved ones and complete strangers.

I was 12 when I created my first social media account: Facebook. I BEGGED my parents to let me have it because they had it, my family had it and my classmates had it. I remember the thrill of being able to share whatever I wanted, have people like and comment, but most importantly for me I was a part of something. Everyone had Facebook, so why wouldn’t anyone want to be a part of it? Then, when Instagram came onto the scene, 15-year old me was so on it!

Little did I know that having social media at such a young age would really affect my self-esteem.
“She’s so pretty, I wish I looked like her”
“They got to go on a vacation, I wish I could go away on vacation.”
“Oh, my friends did something and didn’t invite me.”

“Look at what they got for Christmas! I only got a stocking…”
“I wish I could have a boyfriend too.”

Sound familiar?

I was content and grateful until I saw what other people had.

It took years of struggling with my self-esteem, studying about social media, and communications and public relations, as well as working in the field, for me to come to this:

Instagram doesn’t love you.
Facebook won’t validate you.
Pinterest isn’t going to give you your dream life.

But, friends, we can rest in these truths from our Heavenly Father:

Jesus loves you.
Jesus cares about your feelings.
Jesus will give you hope, joy, peace and wisdom about your life.

The world of social media marketing and entertainment technology wants to suck the life out of you: you scroll, waste hours of your day and wonder why your life isn’t better.

Is it all worth it?

Using social media with your eyes wide open, it can help put things into perspective. 

Critical thinking is key to using social media. To keep it simple, it’s all about taking a step back and reminding yourself that the people in the photos are real,  but it’s not an accurate portrayal of real life. It can also involve reminding yourself that life will never be perfect, and that’s okay!

So, when should you take a break or completely pull the plug on social media? When it steals your joy and threatens your sense of identity.

Matthew 16:26 tells us “For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?” (CSB)

I’m going to be honest, some days I still struggle with social media and how it reminds me of the things I don’t have. But I have learned the power of putting my phone down for long periods of time, turning off push notifications for some apps and muting or unfollowing people. The “perfect Christian” woman or couple will never exist, but on social media, they appear to. I have chosen to unfollow or mute quite a few social media accounts recently because they reminded me of what’s missing and who I’m not. 

What you feed your mind with will impact who you are, therefore, how you feel and what you do. If social media is causing you to feel discontent or ungrateful, take a break. I often rest on God’s truths about me, my life and my future when I feel the need to put my phone down, because then I don’t have to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I can put all that worry and anxiety onto God and just rest.

Social media doesn’t have to be your life; actually, it shouldn’t be! Connect with people beyond a screen, know your worth through Jesus, and take breaks. But make sure you aren’t just running away; do it for your overall health and well-being!

How do you deal when social media sucks the life out of you? Let me know in the comments!

 

Until next time,

 

Abby

An Ode to 2018: Letting Things Fall Into Place

Hey there!

It’s been a minute since my last blog post because so much has happened! I graduated from college, landed a sweet job in my field, will soon be moving closer to my workplace and much more.

On the surface, it kind of sounds like things are really panning out, right? But 2018 was another year of learning to trust in God’s beautiful plan and timing, which, as usual, was the absolute opposite of what I expected. Things are continuing to fall into place in incredible ways.

2018, this is your ode.

Being a student in my final year of school, the thought that consumed the most energy and the least favourite thing to be asked by an adult was…

“So, what’s next for you after you graduate?”

If you’re anything like me, you use humour to change the subject and as a coping mechanism because you simply have nothing else to say, and because you just don’t know. I had an idea that I wanted to do communications and marketing for a non-profit in the arts like an art gallery or a museum. Sounds great, right? I kept tossing around in my mind jobs that would look good on a CV and pays okay. As soon as I steered my mind into what I wanted, I would panic a little. You would think that the thought of wanting a stable job in a fantastic field would give me comfort!

“So, what the actual heck is next?”

Then I remembered how a couple of years ago at a conference God put on my heart the desire to pursue doing communications in ministry. It took awhile, and I had to let go of a lot of fear and control, but the seed God planted grew through life experiences. Things began to made sense and seeking Him, and finally made sense at the beginning of 2018.

Working at a bible camp for 2 summers, being involved with Campus Church during school, being a part of the core team for a church plant and just having an overall passion for ministry, all led me to this place. Through continually being challenged in my faith, even through times of doubt, God increased the fire and passion for doing communications in ministry became real. I had met with someone about potentially doing campus ministry in Eastern Canada, but had this gut feeling that I needed to stay in Ontario because this is where God wanted me.

Through a lot of intentional and divinely appointed conversations, two interviews, and a part-time contract over the summer, I find myself in working in an amazing church doing communications and social media coordinating. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a part of such a wonderful church community/family!

Now, they didn’t just fall into place “just like that”; it’s taken working my butt off in school, allowing people to give me feedback and hold me accountable, building strength and resiliency, but most, importantly: clinging to God, truly experiencing His faithfulness and becoming more aware of His goodness. Reflecting on what God has done for me in 2018, how can I not feel kind of excited for what 2019 is going to bring? Yeah, it will bring challenges and heartache but it will also bring so much good because, well, GOD!

Friends, in 2019, know that you are known by God. Don’t be afraid of what the future holds. Let good people into your life. Find joy in even the tiniest things. Do things that will make you a healthier you, set healthy boundaries and guard your heart. Laugh until you cry/snort the beverage of your choice out of your nose/pee yourself.

I hope and pray that 2019 is a year of growth and abiding in Christ.

Until next time,

Abby

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendour and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11 (CSB)

5 Bible Verses That Got Me Through Stuff.

God gave us this beautiful book to turn to at any point of our lives; in joy and happiness, but also when life gets tough to face. This book, in my opinion, is life’s survival guide and the story of the ultimate unconditional love story. This book is the Bible.

In this post, I’m going to be sharing some verses that I heard/read when life got really tough. I’ll also give a quick little explanation on what the verse means to me specifically!

1.The Life Verses: Jeremiah 17:7-8
“The person who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.
He will be like a tree planted by water:
it sends its roots out toward a stream,
it doesn’t fear when heat comes,
and its foliage remains green.
It will not worry in a year of drought
or cease producing fruit.”

This verse is my life verse that has brought me through so much! I remember hearing this verse from my mom when I was having a rough week; I was in high school and I was feeling so discouraged about my grades and being a teenager. Since that moment, this verse has brought so much encouragement that I can do anything when I give it to Jesus. The visual of being a strong tree reminds us that we need to be constantly seeking the Lord in all everything and that we will see “the fruit” when we do.

2.The Verses That Reminds Me to Keep “Marching On”: Philipians 3: 12-14
“12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,
14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

Sometimes we lose sight of the big picture in life. I remember when I was struggling through university and wishing that I could find purpose in what I was doing when this passage had the most impact. These verses remind me that I do have purpose in what I do, and that as long as I keep marching on and pursuing a relationship with Jesus, that alone is what I’m called to do.

3. The Verse That Tells Me I’m Loved Beyond My Weaknesses: Psalm 73:26
“26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.”

Weakness is inevitable, we are all broken and in need of healing and restoration at many points in our lives. I know that I am in need of a Saviour; one that loves me and can carry the burdens that I try carry by myself.
I’m extremely independent and can be very stubborn, so to know that I have a Heavenly Father who is willing to break my walls down and love me is all I need to know.

4. The Verse That Helps Me Find Faith Over and Over Again: Hebrews 11:1

“11 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.”

This verse is so sweet and simple, yet sometimes one of the hardest things to fully understand. Sometimes putting faith into something that my human brain can’t always comprehend is difficult, but so worth it when I do. Because that’s when Jesus shows me his love, joy, peace and hope and that I need to keep going.

5. The Verses That Reminds Me to Find Joy In Everything: 1 Peter 1: 5-9
“5 You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

I’ll be the first person to admit that it’s hard to find joy when life gets hard. Sometimes I fixate on the negative and fixate that life is awful and it will never get better. But then I remember who has been by my side since the beginning and who has brought me through the storms in life: Jesus. Even in the highest points in life – the mountains, and the lowest of the lows – the valley, he is there. This verse also encourages that we can come out of the storm stronger than we were before and find joy in that. I can’t find joy in anything else but the Lord himself.

I hope that you found this blog post encouraging. I think it’s important that we are vulnerable and willing to share with each other what we found to be encouraging when life gets rough. Tell me a couple bible verses that have encouraged you!

Until next time,

Abby

Feeling Insecure When You Know Your Worth

One of the most healing and beautiful moments I’ve had in my walk with Jesus was when I reached a point where I was sick and tired of being insecure and finally allowed him to love me and help me see myself as he does. The freedom of letting go of self-hate, doubt and the anxiety that comes with being an insecure person was a weight lifted off my shoulders and changed my self-awareness completely. My relationships with my friends and family improved, even my relationship with myself became healthier. Most importantly, I found Jesus again.

Being an insecure person was lonely and terrifying and I never, ever want to go back to never feeling good about myself. But, I’m going to be honest, the battle isn’t fully over.

Here’s something I’ve kind of been struggling with lately: One moment I’m like “Yes, I got this” or “Wow, I have so much to offer!” and I feel great, like I can accomplish anything. But sometimes those thoughts take a 180: “I don’t have this, I suck at this.” Or “Wow, I have nothing to offer.”

But here’s the catch: deep down in the depths of my heart and soul, I know that I’m exactly the way and where I’m supposed to be and that God, the creator of the universe, loves me the way I am.  It feels like such a paradox: I know my worth, yet some days I feel so insecure. It completely messes with my psyche how I can feel insecure, yet completely know I have worth. Honestly, it feels like I’m not just going against the current, but I’m literally going against myself, my broken human-natured self.

To be honest, sometimes when I’ve felt insecure about anything from the battle of the ADHD brain, not being society’s standard of beauty and even singleness, I turn straight to this mindset: “Well, at least I have my future career ahead of me to keep me going; that will give me worth in this world.” Let me tell you, pushing myself further into “Communications Professional Abby” hasn’t made me feel any better about myself. Actually, it’s made me more anxious and harder on myself than I already am with big expectations.

Now, you might be thinking, “Oh Abby, ye of little faith!” But here’s something to think about: What if God is using these moments of insecurity to bring me closer to him? What if those times I start to feel insecure and I bring it all to God are moments that draw me closer to him, and I stop turning to social media and my make-up bag? Or what if I maybe even stop pushing the idea of my career-as- identity on myself?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: We won’t be able to scratch the surface of being confident unless we let God come into our insecurities. We have a choice what we do with our insecurities; our brokenness doesn’t have to break our spirits, but can motivate us to want to seek restoration.

Yes, you should be investing in your relationship with by reading the Bible, praying and living for his purpose, don’t get me wrong. All that is important to spiritual vitality. But, I do believe God uses moments when we are on shaky ground with our identity to teach us to seek him more. The good news? God doesn’t need us to have it all together to go to him. We don’t need to “fake it ’til we make it” with Him. He wants us to know how much he loves us and that we can come to him whenever and always.

I find the book of Philippians to be the most encouraging when I feel insecure or lack in confidence. Paul had a pretty good idea of what “the struggle” is like, but remained confident in the Lord.

“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, CSB) 

Side note: I’m still trying to figure out this being confident thing, and I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% confident in myself, but if there’s one thing I can be confident about even when I’m feeling insecure: there is hope; I am capable of being successful and I am always loved.

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear what you all do when you feel insecure and what you do to bring yourself back to God. Tweet me or comment on this post!

Until next time,

 Abby

An Ode to 2017: Finding Hope, Grace & Love

Happy 2018 friends! I hope you all had a restful holiday season and a good first month

It’s been a year since my last blog post, so I have a lot to share with you!

The annual odes have become a tradition on my blog that I love doing, so I hope what I learned in 2017 resonates with you!

I would definitely say that I’m skilled at being hard on myself. I’ve put these unrealistic expectations on myself to be this perfect young woman; I felt like I needed to make up where I fell short. Having learning disabilities has had a huge role into why I can be so hard on myself because ever since I was a young girl, I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I’ve written about struggling with my identity before and have found God in all of it. But to be honest, I didn’t experience true healing until 2017 where I found His grace, hope and love all over again.

2017, this is your ode.

2017 was a healing year for me because I learned more about how my heavenly Father sees me. I began to tune out who the world thinks I should be and even who I think I should be because my worth is so much more than that. I had to realize that life happens but God is in every single millisecond of it. He is full of compassion, love and grace that I will never fully be able to wrap my head around, but it’s something I am determined to cling on to because I’ll never be able to feel it by myself. This is how I know God is real.

I re-discovered what it means to have hope, grace and love because I wanted it. My soul longed for these feelings because I strongly believe that these are essential to living and thriving.

Another huge healing part of 2017 was having people from Understood, an AMAZING organization that has resources to help parents who have kids who have learning disabilities, come in and film my story. The process of filming the video was awesome, but the feedback I got from friends, family and complete strangers was the best part. God used that beautiful and overwhelming opportunity to use my story to speak to other people. On top of that he showed me how I can have grace for my short-comings, love for my brain and hope in my abilities. (Watch the video here!)

screengrab

The video I did with Understood!

I don’t love myself, by myself. I can’t give myself grace without knowing God’s grace, and I don’t know hope until I am filled with the hope that He died on the cross for me to have. What matters to me now is that my identity and label is this: I am a beloved daughter of God.

When thinking about God’s grace in scripture, I love what 2 Corinthians 12:9 says:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my 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.” (CSB)

His grace is enough.

So here’s to 2018: a year of growing and embracing life and learning to take it a day at a time. I won’t have it all together because life’s a journey, but God and I will have grace towards myself and others.

Thank you for reading and I hope 2018 is full of many beautiful moments along the way.

Until next time,

Abby

 

That Thing Called Love.

Just in case you didn’t already know…YOU matter and YOU are loved. I sure needed to be reminded of this recently.

God has been showing me a lot about love over the past few months, stopping me in my tracks to remind me that he loves me. I tend to forget about his love and can end up feeling anxious, stressed and sad.

It was during a worship service in early December held by the Christian club on campus where the “unraveling” began. I’m definitely emotional and not one to be ashamed when I feel the feels, but I don’t cry easily in front of people. It just doesn’t happen (much). But, as soon as the worship team began to lead “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”, Niagara Falls decided to rush out of my eyeballs. Seriously. Something about the lyrics and what I was going through at the time hit me like a runaway train! I wondered why a song I’ve been singing since I was a little kid hit me so hard? Because that it was then that the reality of God’s love sank in. I needed to break and soften a little in order for God to have my full attention.

But God did NOT stop there

I went to a student conference over the Christmas break, and, again during a worship set, God sat my self-sufficient behind down and let me know:

“Hey, you, my child. Why do you want so badly to be liked by people, when I LOVE you?”

Yeah, that hit me hard.

Why would I want so badly to be approved of by people when I have a God who LOVES me so unconditionally? Trust me, all this has got me feeling all sorts of overwhelmed!

And you know what? You can experience this overwhelming feeling of love that I’ve re-discovered. God loves YOU. God will never give up on YOU. 

Here is one out of MANY  verses in the Bible that mention God’s love for us

1 John 4:9

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”

 

I mean, I have the Greek word for unconditional love tattooed on my forearm and yet I still need to be reminded daily. Even when I’m at my worst, he’s always there to pick me right up, help me dust myself off, and tells me to keep going. If he’s done that for me, a stubborn and indomitable young woman, he most certainly can do the same for you.

6E9D1CDB-BDFB-416A-B890-4929C4D77B83.jpg

My tattoo: It’s Greek for unconditional love! (pronounced ah-gah-pay)

God wants you to seek him because he made you and loves you. There’s no small print, hidden costs or monthly payments of $9.99 for our sins because all of that was paid on the cross, for us. All because of his unconditional love.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because if I didn’t experience God continually coming in and healing my fears of being unloved, I wouldn’t have an unconditional love story. That’s why I started this blog just a little over 2 years ago, I want to share God’s love with whoever reads this.

So yeah! I posted this just in time for Valentine’s Day. Yuck right? No, not at all! Let God be your unconditional love!

 

Until next time,

Abby

An Ode to 2016: Bloom Where You’re Planted

“Ab, you just need to bloom where you’re planted.”
15-year-old me; scared, insecure and full of angst would roll her eyes. No teenage girl wants to listen to her mother, especially when at that age you think you know everything. (and low-key I knew that she was right, and I was wrong. Yes mom, 5 years later, I am admitting that you were right) Besides, I wasn’t happy with where I was at in life, why should I see the good in it?

Why try to make things work when I could be comfortable in not doing anything about it?

But over the past 6 months, that saying I hated as a teenager has resonated more and more with me. This is an ode to 2016; the year where I discovered what “bloom where you’re planted” actually means.

One night a friend was driving me back home after we had gotten together with our friends from the campus Christian group at school and we got onto the topic of being “comfortable” in Christianity. We both agreed that Christians need to stop seeking a “comfortable life.” Where in the Bible does it say that life will be easier just because we’ve accepted Jesus in our lives?  We need to go into that world, as painful and dark as it is, go in it with an indomitable spirit in Christ. Take the big things and the small things that are difficult and bring them to Christ.

Back in April I began to feel empty. I found out that university was not the right fit for me. I was scared because it was all I had ever wanted as a little girl. I had such a tight grip on setting my identity in being a digital media/culture and Communications academic; because I have learning disabilities, I felt that by doing the “unthinkable” by getting university education, I would be proving the world wrong! I was so comfortable in the fantasy of being someone who I wanted to be.

God “pulled the rug” out from under me when despite working incredibly hard on my school work, I had horrible grades. I didn’t fail, but it still felt like failure. I felt so stupid and began to become bitter about everything and anything around me.

It was one of those seasons in life where God had to save me from myself.

But, ladies and gentlemen, I found God in it. I found God in all of it, even in the darkest corners. I began to see why this moment in time had purpose in God’s plan: He wanted to show me how I could blossom while in turmoil. He wanted to show me that through Him I am strong, I am smart, I do have a bright future ahead of me and that ultimately I can put my identity in him because I am His beloved child. I had to go through a lot of emotions to figure it all out, but I didn’t do it alone. I decided to go to college to major in Public Relations instead, knowing that the “hands-on” experience would be beneficial for me, and it has. God in many ways has shown me that Public Relations is where He wants me to be.

Whatever comes, I know that God will hold me together and allow me to grow. As I blossom into the woman He is molding me into, the more I seek Him, the more I’m okay with not living a “comfortable life.” Now I feel full, because I have God as my comfort, and that I can indeed, “bloom where I’m planted.” And the good news, you can feel confident in Christ as well!

I read this verse and thought it really fit well with how we have to find God in the midst of the hurt:

“But from there you will search again for the LORD your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29 ‭(NLT‬‬) 

 

So, 2017, I’m ready for you! 2015 was the year of being in process, 2016 was the year I learned to bloom where I’m planted; I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for 2017!

Bring. It. On.

Until next time,
(In 2017!!!)

Abby