6/5/19

Even When I Fall


"Renew," I thought in January as I mediated on what word I would focus on this next year. "That is the word." 

Little did I know.

"Faithful," I thought in January as I prayed over what characteristic of God I would pay special attention to this year. 

Little did I know.

"The Lord is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will sour on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." 

Isaiah 40 spoke to me in January as I pondered what verse to dwell on this year. It captivated me with it's demonstration of God's power and tenderness even in difficult circumstances or my inability. 

Little did I know. 




But God knew. He knew what He was doing when these words, characteristics, and verses came into my life in January. He was preparing me, showing me that He is in control. 

For I, a youth, indeed grew weary, as I wrote about last time. But God didn't give up on my distracted and weary heart. He reminded me of the gospel even when I didn't want to hear it and has pulled my heart closer to Him. 

I also stumbled and fell. Quite literally. Here's the story:




It always feels vulnerable to pray, "Your will be done." However, that was my prayer Recital 2019 morning as I drove to dress rehearsal. As I submitted to God in my car, moments before facing the rest of the day, I wondered if I truly meant "thy will be done." What if that meant breaking my foot, the worst case scenario on my mind? 

Yet, with breaking my foot in mind, I knew that God was faithful and Jesus is better. I prayed again, "thy will be done." 

Perhaps that's why, when my foot twisted on the first run through and I heard that snap, I felt a strange sort of peace. Perhaps that why, as I knew that I broke my foot, again, I felt prepared for this. God and I had already talked about this, and it was going to be okay. 

That day was one of the hardest in my life, and I won't write that I didn't question God some and cry a lot. Facing three months of recovery daunted over me. All of my plans crumbled. Not to mention, the show must go on, and I wanted to be backstage to support my students, classmates, and faculty members. Without any time to process, I went back and faced hundreds of people who were concerned. I watched from the wings the show that I had been working on for many months. 

Yet, through it was hard, God's peace never left me. It was so strange, so beyond me. I knew that God was faithful to bring me through that day and the hard days to follow. He would renew my strength even when I fell. 




You see, God had prepared me for that moment since January. 

And with my hope in him, I know that I will sour on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint, even if I am walking on one foot. 

Our God is faithful and tender to us. He is the renewal of our strength, and my hope is that through His work in my life this past year, you will remember that He is also at work within your life, whether you can see that now or will see it revealed later. 

Thank you for reading, 

Hannah
Hannah
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5/14/19

The One Where Hannah Has Four Jobs




I'm afraid of being busy.

I get anxious when I don't think I will be able to get everything done that needs to get done. I feel overwhelmed when I look at a color-coated planner with a rainbow of words across every inch of space.


Perhaps you are afraid of being busy, too. Perhaps the demands of life seek to wash over you. Perhaps you, too, struggle with enjoying God's work for you today instead of just anticipating the weekend.

If so, I have some encouragement for you today.



This past semester has been, in a word, busy. I had four jobs, school, church, family, and other things like cleaning my room, showering, and necessary parts of life. People often asked me if I had time to sleep or have a social life. I didn't.


I faced my fear of busyness all semester, and it was rough. I can't say that I enjoyed it or handled it well, either. More often than not, you could have found me watching Friends in my spare minutes because I didn't want to try to think about anything. I tried to push my way through the tasks and deadlines, not really submitting to God or resting in the gospel. I didn't feel like I had time for that.




In the beginning of the year, I focused on a word and quality of God for 2019. The quality of God is faithful and the word is renew. I rejoice now in seeing how God prepared me for this season of busyness with those two words.

For in my unfaithfulness during this busy season, God proved Himself faithful. When I faltered, He was unfaltering. When I gave up, He pressed on. When I numbed my mind with Netflix, God stayed close, reminding me of Himself.


"If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is." (2 Tim. 2:13)


He is not going to leave us. He doesn't grow weary of us even when we grow weary of ourselves. This is really true! This is an eternal hope for our souls. He will remain faithful even if we are anything but faithful. That hope is not conditional upon our own behavior, feelings, or success, but solely upon Jesus. And Jesus never fails. 


In time of busy, it is important to remind ourselves that God holds our hand, even when our hands are full. He will never let go, for He is a faithful God. 




Not only is God faithful, but He renews us. Yes, there is abundant grace for us in overwhelming seasons, for God Himself is our hope and strength. He will renew our spirit.

As I thought about the word renew this past semester, I wanted it to apply to my own ability to get things done. But that is not what the renewal of God is about. No, He renews our minds so that we can see more clearly His will, which is what really matters. His renewal is one of hope, not that everything will go perfectly but that He will make everything perfect.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Cor. 4:16-17)




We are renewed in order to get a little closer to this glory, this surpassing beauty that outshines productivity and success and dreams come true. God renews our spirit not so that we can get chase our dreams but so that He may become our dream. 

And in this hope, in this vision of Jesus, we will also find strength to press forward with the challenges at hand, that we may glorify Jesus through hard work and joyful spirits.


"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col. 3:17)




I'm not done facing my fear of being busy, but God has given me comfort, perspective, conviction, and practice in leaning into His faithfulness and depending upon His renewal. I hope that you discover in Him a love far greater than every fear, including the fear of being busy. 


Please leave a comment below with how you deal with busyness and what God has been revealing to you about this. 


Princess Hannah


P.S. PIVOT




Hannah
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2/20/19

Contentment Isn't the Answer to Singleness


"It was when I finally felt content in my singleness that I found the perfect someone. The timing couldn't have been more perfect."

"Once I stopped looking, it just happened."

"Be happy and content with where you are. The rest will come."



I've been told these things by well-meaning people before, and the theory behind these thoughts has always confused me. For, although they sound sweet and solid, underneath this logic is a huge monster of discontentment mascaraing as contentment.

What these kinds of thoughts are saying is that feeling content about singleness will solve my singleness. Pursuing this kind of remedy for a disappointed heart treats contentment as a magical cure for the "disease" of singleness. Contentment is more like an avenue to get what I want than a beautiful place of peace.

The truth is, contentment isn't the answer to singleness. Being content about being single won't solve my problems. It won't erase all of my desires. It certainly won't get me a relationship in the next couple of days.

The answer to singleness is not about how we feel about being single. In fact, I dare say that there is no "answer" at all.

Rather, we are called to bring all of our questions and desires and disappointments to the Lord and dwell in Christ. 

When I'm content in Jesus, I'm happy to be with Jesus. I'm happy to serve Him, know Him, and follow Him. I'm content in Jesus while I'm single. I'll be content in Jesus if I'm not single. My contentment isn't in singleness but in Christ. 

This past weekend, I led a DNOW, and one of the questions in our study was "what does it mean to be in Christ?" When preparing for the study, I had to pause and think for a spell about this one.

In Christ. I say this phrase a lot, but what does it mean? What does it reveal about God and about how I respond to Him?

I started looking up verses that say "in Christ." As it turns out, there are quite a few instances of "In Christ" in the Bible, 89 to be exact. Here are a few:

In Christ there is life. (Romans 6:11)

In Christ there is grace. (2 Timothy 1:9)

In Christ we are one. (Galatians 3:28)

In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)

In Christ we put our hope. (Ephesians 1:12)

In Christ we are created for good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

In Christ God forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32)

In Christ there is peace. (Philippians 4:7)

In Christ there is fullness. (Colossians 2:10)

In Christ we will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

In Christ there is glory. (1 Peter 5:10)

Oh, contentment is such a small response to these truths! In Christ we have new life, new hope, new identity, and so much more. In Christ there is glory, peace, grace, forgiveness, and purpose. 

This is extravagant! This is joyous. This is worthy of all our adoration, much less our contentment. 

In Christ we can be fully content while also being fully single, not because we no longer desire to find romantic love but because we are saturated with the divine love of Christ flowing through us and in us. Not because we don't face disappointments in life, but because we have put our hope in the One who never disappoints. 

This is not to say that being single will be fun and easy when we are fully living in Christ. Nowhere does the Bible say that "in Christ all of your problems will go away." However, in Christ we can trust God with our desires and disappointments and move forward with purpose and strength from God. In Christ we are free not to serve singleness or feelings but rather be rooted in love for God and others. 



I try not to write much about relationships and singleness because a lot has already been said on the subject and I am rather inexperienced in this playing field. Funnily enough, though, the one time I do sit down to write about singleness, it turns out to mostly be about Jesus.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


Hannah


P.S. if you want to think more about how to serve God in whatever stage of relationship you find yourself in, check out Ben Stuart's sermon series about relationships, later turned into a book called "Single, Dating, Engaged, Married." I've listened to the first few sermons, and they have sparked so much passion in me for God's kingdom!
Hannah
4 Comments

1/17/19

Seeking Perfection, Finding Jesus


Life isn't perfect.

We know that. We live every day in the imperfection. yet sometimes we still think that somewhere, somehow, life can be perfect. If we only had that job, boyfriend, or trip. If we only felt rested, beautiful, or successful. If only.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no perfection in "if onlys."




As many of you know, I spent the Fall 2017 semester in Disney World as an intern. It was wonderful, but not perfect. I cried a lot. I spent too much money. I struggled with making friends.

However, upon returning home, I began to idealize my experience there. I began to think that everything was better in Disney World. Discontentment began to fester in my heart as I faced imperfections in life. When I went through boring classes or rough patches in community, I remembered the excitement and friendship of my time in Disney and idealized it.

"If only I was back in Disney." And although I didn't think it in so many words, I began to think that things would be perfect in Disney.

How did I realize that I was idealizing Disney?

I went to Disney.

My mom and I took a spontaneous trip to Disney this holiday season. It was wonderful, but it wasn't perfect. I realized that my idealized version of Disney didn't exist. It was not the answer to my if only feelings.




Maybe you're idealizing something, too. Perhaps it's a community that you miss. Perhaps it's rest. Perhaps it's traveling. Perhaps it's the elusive illusion of an Instagram worthy life.

Regardless of where you look for perfection, let me challenge you with this: don't look in imperfect places for perfection that can only be found in Jesus.

Whatever you think about when you think if only, let me tell you, it won't satisfy. Those grades, that relationship, that conference, that career move, or that number on a scale will only leave you thinking what now. 

This is where Jesus becomes clearer. Jesus shines brighter. Jesus remains the only perfection we can turn to.




Let's face it; our hearts long for perfection. Why else would we be dissatisfied with anything else? Why else would we feel the need to add a filter to our life to give the illusion of perfection? We seek something beautifully perfect.

However, we can't find perfection here on earth (even in Disney World). We cannot create perfection through our Instagram feeds. This lack of perfection can either leave us distraught or it can turn our gaze to Jesus, who is perfection. Jesus came to earth to show us the perfection of God even in our imperfection. He came to fulfill our desire for perfection by becoming perfection for us.

People will tell you to find beauty in the imperfection, and that is good. There is beauty in imperfection, authenticity, and honesty in the mess. However, the perfection of Christ is far more beautiful than our imperfections. The radiance of God's perfection outshines Disney, boys, rest, and success.



I have found myself thinking more of heaven lately. There, things will be perfect. There, God will be clearer to us. There, nothing will distract from the perfection of Christ. There, we will no longer think "if only." We will be too full of the perfection of God.

Heaven is the one thing that we can idealize, because it will far outshine our greatest ideas and hopes. Heaven will not disappoint us. Everything else will fall short of glory, but heaven is a firm hope that will not fail. It is a hope that can carry us through the boring classes and rough patches. It is a hope that keeps us fully engaged in the battle of the present while still looking forward to the rest beyond.

And so, I will keep my eyes on Jesus. When I am tempted to put my hope and ideals in something else, I will remember that it will not satisfy me. It can not hold that kind of weight. But Jesus can.

Let us keep two eyes on Jesus. He is perfect.

Princess Hannah
Hannah
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1/1/19

Holding Onto Today


2018, what a year!


I'm not sure what 2018 held for you. Maybe you experienced new adventures. Perhaps you were met with unforeseen sorrows. 2018 could be leaving you with a hopeful expectation for 2019 or an uphill battle.



During the transition into  new year, this season of reflection and resolution, I have one reminder for you: Don't forget about today.


Don't get so caught up figuring out yesterday and planning out tomorrow that you let today pass you by.


Jesus, when instructing us how to pray, guided us neither into a prayer to provide understanding for the past nor a request for comfort in the future. Instead, he reminded us to depend daily upon the mercies of God.


"Give us today our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11)



This reminds me of how the Israelites gathered manna from God in the wilderness. God required that they not store up manna from yesterday nor gather extra for tomorrow. They were required only to gather enough for today. 


Just so, we can't keep holding onto yesterday or revolve every action upon tomorrow. Rather, we are called to live faithfully today, in expectant dependence upon God.


This is not to say that we shouldn't reflect and learn from yesterday. I think that reflection is valuable and necessary part of life. But in our reflections, we must not let yesterday dictate today. We can be tempted to identify "seasons" of our lives and make excuses for today because "that's just the season of life we're in right now."


Of course I'm worried, but I'm just in a season of transition. 

I'll tithe later, because I'm in a season of financial instability. 

I'm not sure about this God-thing because I'm in a dry season. 


Pish posh. God is the maker of the seasons of weather, how would He not also be in control of the seasons of our lives? We mustn't be too hasty to discard something because it doesn't fit in our "season." We also must be careful that we don't lay out self-fulfilling prophesy when we attempt to label too clearly what "season" we're in.


Instead of relying on the past to interpret our present, we should rely on Jesus to fulfill our todays. We need to stop hanging onto yesterday and grab hold of the mission of the Gospel with two hands. And we'd better do that today. 


"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)


Sometimes, though, we are more concerned with the future than the present. I'm guilty of this one. For me, today seems like a stepping stone for tomorrow, rather than the stage on which the true action occurs. My mind is always planning the next step, the next trip, or the next list. It can get overwhelming, if I'm honest.


However, God leads us in a different way. Instead of gathering manna for tomorrow and today, He instructs us to live in His abundance today and trust Him to provide again tomorrow. Plans, when hoarded and clung to in our hearts, turn out much like the hoarded manna in the Old Testament, filled with worms and rotten smells.


"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)


This isn't to say that we shouldn't make plans. They are useful and a key to making the most of each day. Even God commanded the Israelites to plan by gathering twice the amount of manna in preparation for the Sabbath. Our plans, though, should not be the reason that today is meaningful. That's Jesus' job.



And so here we are, in today, in the moment where Jesus shows up and leads the way. Let us trust Jesus with every day of 2019. Let us come to Him expectantly 365 times, not clinging to the past or leaning on the future but pressing on toward the goal, which is the glory of Christ.


"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)


Happy New Year, and Happy New Day!


Princess Hannah
Hannah
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