Friday, July 14, 2017

Belief Is Not A Feeling

Our belief is not a warm, fuzzy feeling in our hearts. When we are redeemed and are adopted as children as God, we can experience a spiritual high. Our hearts are changed and we feel the weight of our sin. But, when we ask for forgiveness, we feel a feeling of utter joy and contentment. It can last for weeks or even months for some. Then, something happens. Life smacks us in the face and suddenly we've lost our job, a friend, a home, or even a loved one. It doesn't even have to be as traumatic as that to make us come crashing down in to a sense of loneliness and loss. It can be a bad day, something someone said, or a doubt you have.

No matter what way it happens, there does come a time when our spiritual high deflates and we're left with a hollow feeling in our heart Or, at least, we think we're hollow. We'd have that uplifting feeling and spirit of hope all the time if we weren't, right?

Only a few months ago, I would stand in church and watch as other people closed their eyes and raised there hands up toward the ceiling as they sang. I could see their passion and love for Christ in the way they weren't ashamed to raise their arms and sing. They weren't just reading words off a projected screen, they were praising their God in heaven. I wish I had that passion and those feelings. I can't raise my hands and close my eyes, say "amen" during the sermon, or pray out loud and alone during bible study.

If I did those things, I would feel embarrassed or silly. I have never really felt a lasting feeling of the warm and fuzzies like people talk about. I hear people say all the time about how they just felt a sense of peace in their hearts or had a spiritual revelation or felt God's presence.

This made me feel lost and confused. I would cry on my knees in prayer, crying to the Lord to give me some sort of sign and supernatural peace that would make me like the other Christians. I would ask for forgiveness of my sins every week in church and beg the Lord to make me be his child. Then, as soon as I got home, I would feel the same again.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago I heard this, "Shelby, belief is not a feeling." If only I had heard that a few years earlier. It's changing the way I think about Christianity and is causing me to be more confident in my faith.

We don't have to have these feelings to be able to believe. Believing means doing what God's Word says even when we don't feel like it or don't understand. Believing is praying even when it feels like we are alone and no one is listening. Believing means thinking of others more than yourselves. Believing means digging deeper into the Bible and reading it everyday even when we don't feel like it. Believing means singing in church and focusing your mind on Jesus and the perfect man he was on this earth, instead of what you're going to do after church when you get home.

Belief is action, it is not a feeling. Feelings come after the actions. It's a benefit of doing the work of believing. I was a Christian that was trying to live off of feelings and emotions, and I ended up a lost and nearly starved soul. Our lost hearts believe we live by feeling. That's what culture tells us.

If you are struggling in your belief, know that you are not alone and God is there. If you obey him and lay aside every weight that's holding you down, you will feel relief. It doesn't come right away. It might only be the assurance of knowing that we no longer have to be controlled and tossed to and fro by emotions. But, it is still there. The seed he planted in you when you first had your heart opened up to your sin will grow. It will hurt as the roots tear through your old self, past the unbelief and doubts and past the pain of the past. It will hurt to grow and it will not be a fast growth. But, when you look back and see how far you've come, the flower will bloom. You will see the light.

Belief is not a feeling, it is an action. The feeling comes after obedience. Trust. Obey. Then, watch the flower bloom.
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Hello.

I've spent the past six months going up and down an emotional roller-coaster. A lot of bad things have happened and a lot of good things have happened. At times, it's felt like there's been more bad than good, and that may be true. I wish I would have posted more here. I wish I would have kept this place as a journal to document my struggles. But, I didn't. And I can't change anything that has already happened.

When I started writing this, I desperately wanted to be able to jump right back into the blogger world of writing deep, amazing posts. I wanted to immediately get back into the blogging streak I was in, because blogging is fun. I've missed it so much. But, part of me says I should be here only to vent how I feel, to tell all of the dark and sad things I've had to face because of my depression. That part of me feels ashamed to come to be happy, to come back as the girl who loves gifs and writing in all caps.

You know what, I'm not going to hide who I am. Sometimes I'm going to be the sad girl who can only express herself through dark and poetic words, and other times I will be the happy girl who posts marvel gifs and yells excitedly about art and writing through words. I'm going to be whatever me happens to be here when I want to write a new post, be it the one who wants to rant, sing poetry, be a crazy fangirl, or share loads of pictures because words are just hard to write sometimes.

Today I can honestly say I am happy. I wouldn't say joyful, because that's something that stays in your heart even through the dark days. But, I've slowly been getting better, slowly rising to a place above the sea of depression and grief and loneliness. Yes, I lost my Dad now over six months ago. I don't cry as much as I used to, but then again more than I used to. I've grown, I've seen things, I've experienced things.

I went to Kenya. I even wrote a draft for a blog post about my trip. But, you know what? Even that's behind me now. My time there was amazing, don't get me wrong. But, today all I can think about is right now. All the things and opportunities that have finally come to my attention. I'm finally getting somewhere in my life where a month ago I thought I would never make it to the surface again.

I know some of you right now are either widening your eyes because, "Wait, wow, she went to Africa??" and some of you from Instagram are nodding your heads like, "Yes, remember the pictures. Tell us more!" So, I'll give you a little rundown, but nothing too long.

The children were everything. Everyone treated me like family. And as we drove down the dirt roads past the huts and children waving in the morning, then drove back to the guest house at night with stars tossed into the sky and the air kissing my tanned face as I gazed out the open window, I knew I was home. I felt it in my heart. This place was home. I want to go back so badly.

I will say there was a far share of drama that happened, and it all seemed to be hitting me full force while I was in the midst of it. But, that's all behind me now. And thankfully the bad memories are beginning to fade into only the happy one of the children and there smiling, bright faces.

You know, everyone loves to ask me about my trip. Even if I don't know the person well, they'll ask, "So, how was the trip?" It feels like a life time ago. I find it funny that it's the first thing people I hardly know want to ask me about. A part of me understands. I mean, it is a once in a lifetime experience not many ever get to have. But, so much has happened since then, the memories of my time there have started to get muddled over by the more recent things that have happened.

I'm in transition to adulthood. I've already experienced more trauma in my eighteen years that many young adult my age will ever face. It's something I hate a lot. I can't tell you how many times I've wished to be like the other blogger girls. These girls have perfectly aesthetic Instagrams, have already written a few books, are friends with a famous author, blog at least two times a week, and seem to have it all figured out. Okay, okay, I know you can be whoever you want to be on the internet and people like to share only the good stuff in their lives, but you know what I'm taking about.

It's alright. I'm a mess, and I'm embracing it now. I apologize if I'm not as funny, or witty, or awesome as the other bloggers out there, but this is me. One thing I've learned this past year is you have to be honest with yourself and others. My life is nowhere near perfect. I'm not going to college because it's not for me, I'm currently unemployed, I'm sitting in a messy room, and I slept in till eleven today. And you know what? It's okay.

My life is a mess and I've made hundreds of mistakes, but I'm still here. My faith in Christ is a constant battle of highs and lows and so is my fight for joy over depression, but I'm still here, believing and breathing. I may not be the best encouragement out there. I may not be strong in the faith or strong enough with words, but I am still here writing this post and you're still here (hopefully) reading it. I'm not here to brag, or boast, or show off how cool and rad my life is; I'm here to show that I am broken and you are to, and that's okay.

So, join me on this journey as a new chapter of my blog unfolds. Your brokenness, heartache, and pain is welcome here.


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Friday, February 17, 2017

Lost

On the night of January 1st, 2017, my Dad went to be with the Lord.


There are so many emotions I've felt in the past month and a half. Emotions that dig deeply into my soul like a knife and make tears stream like blood. I have never felt so weak and helpless in my life.


These emotions are so violent and heart wrenching, it's taken away my identity. I can't remember who I was before this. It's forced me to become more raw. It's brought all my brokenness into the light so all can see how messed up I really am.


I get angry a lot more now.


Angry at people because they just can't understand the hurt I feel. Some days I think might be my last because I cannot bear the pain weighing down in my heart and closing up in my throat.


I want to pray about it and I want to draw near to the Lord. I know he is real and I know everything he says is truth. But why am I still hesitant, after all these years? I wish I could just say "Trust in God, he is the only way!" And give you a Bible verse to meditate on. The truth is, I know it's true but the simple truth no longer fixes me.


It feels like putting a bandaid over a bullet hole. There's probably more poetic and romantic ways I could put this. But, the world doesn't need more of that. It needs a little truth now and again. Here it is:


Sometimes life sucks.


It's hard, a painful hard. I wish it wasn't so hard for me. I wish I was out of this fog so I could help you with your problems, write a blog post that would encourage and uplift you.


I've thought a long time about writing a blog post. I thought about waiting until I was stable, until I wasn't so buried deep in these raw emotions. I wanted to come back saying I had found myself and had never been so sure and confident in who I was and who God is.


But, the truth is I am completely and utterly lost.


I have no idea what I'm doing, where I'm going, or how I'm going to do it. It's sometimes just hard to tell myself all I need to do right now is breathe.


Breathe in.


Breathe out.


Don't rush things.


Don't worry so much.


It's all in my head.


But, that's the problem.


Problems, I have way too many of them.


I'm not waiting until I'm better to come back.

I want this blog to show my journey so I can look back one day and see how far I've come.

I don't say any of these things to make people feel sorry for me, that's the last thing that I want. I want to be real and true. The small talk and forced smiles have gotten old to me.

No, I am not somebody who easily trusts or opens up easily.


This has forced me to become more open and raw. I can no longer hide behind a mask. Losing my Dad has made every wall and barrier fall away so I am exposed for who I really am: broken and lonely.


So, this is me.


This is blog is now my real, true, and honest story.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sacrifice


Life is hard.

I know I've started a blog post with that same sentence before, but it's true.

It's hard, it's messy, it's sad.

This isn't going to be a post about depression, but it's going to be real.

When I turned 18, I thought I would be somewhere totally different than where I am now.

I thought I would have things figured out.

I thought I'd be much more confident.

I thought I'd be really fit.

Things have a way of turning out much differently than you think. Is that God at work? I believe so.

Instead, I find myself:

Asking who I am just like the girls in all those Disney films.

Questioning my Faith.

Stressing about what I'm going to DO in life. I'm not where I thought I would be and I'm not WHO I thought I would be. 

I'm broken. 

I'm confused.

I finally broke down to my Dad and told him how I felt. I told him I didn't want my Faith like this anymore, tossing to and fro. I wanted a steady Faith like his, to be confident in knowing WHO I am and WHAT I was made to do. A Faith like armor that blocks the arrows of doubt and depression and worry. I didn't want a Faith that only swelled when listening to generic Christian music then deflated when I was faced with a hard decision or day. I want a Faith that BURNS with passion for our God.

That does not doubt, that never forgets God's grace and Jesus sacrifice.

A few weeks ago, our Pastor was talking about boredom in his sermon. He said, "If you're ever bored, contemplate the cross."

A man went through hell for us.

Not just physically, but spiritually too. He faced the wrath of God so we wouldn't have to. He carried my sin on his bruised and beaten shoulders. He carried your sin too. There were nails driven through his hands and feet, crushing their bones like splinters. There was a crown of thorns piercing his brow. There must have been blood dripping into his eyes. He must have been fighting for every crushed breath. He endeared the unimaginable agony and shame of being slowly killed in front of dozens of mocking people.

Think about the mental pain. the thousands and millions of sins suddenly thrust upon him. Think about when you've sinned, how it eats up your insides and you just feel . . . sick. You feel ugly. Well, our Lord carried that sin. All of it. All of my sin, all of your sin, and all the sins of His chosen people.

Then, it happened. God turned his face away from him. The earth cracked and the curtain tore. All was dark. And for one moment, the earth saw a fraction of God's wrath.

Then, I realized something.

I was there.

I was with the mockers who stood before the cross.

I was with the soldier who stood before the cross with questions spinning through His mind.

Who is this man?

Then, he died.

Here I am talking about my problems and how stressed I am and how broken I am and how depressed I am when the Son of our Lord and creator died on a cross with every. single. sin I have and ever will commit on his shoulders.

Why would he want to save ME?

I used to be among the mockers, the questioners. I was among those who wept for their Savior and those who wept because they knew it was not right. It was not Just.

Why would he want to save a girl who constantly questions if He is really there? Who constantly complains about her life and worries about what she will do? Who constantly complains about how she looks and how she will never be good enough?

I am not worthy.

I never will be.

But, God says no.

He says I am worthy.

Jesus opens the locked door of the dark room I have hidden myself in. He looks over the walls of this room and sees the thousands upon thousands of wicked thoughts and deeds and scars and scratches and cracks and blemishes covering every inch of the surrounding walls. He takes the sleeve of His perfect, spotless, shining rob and beings to wipe away the dripping, black, ugly words and marks on the wall.

Black ink begins to stain His clothing.

"Lord, no! Please, don't do this! I am too ugly to be saved. I have sinned too much. I have thought too many ugly things. I have doubted for too lo-"

"No,"

"But, Lord-"

"Shelby, you are mine."

"Lord, you can-"

"Shelby, your sins are mine. You are free."

The once dark and scribbled walls are now clear. His robe is stained with my sins.

My ugly sins.

But, he points toward the door and it is open. Light leaks through, warming my cold blood, bringing life to my frozen limbs.

I am free.

Yes, I am broken. I have let myself be trapped in a pit of my own sin and doubts. I have seen how self centered I am, how I could not stand on my own righteousness when that day comes.

But, God.

"But, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Sometimes it's hard for us who have been raised in a Christian home to understand this. We've grown up with these verses, maybe even memorized them. It's hard to believe it. It's hard to see it.

Contemplate the cross.

Think about the room you were once trapped in yourself.

Think of Jesus,

Our troubles pale in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice He made.

Look up and see His light, see the open door, see the walls that were once covered in your sin made clean by His blood.

You are free.
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Sunday, December 4, 2016

NEW YORK // DAY FOUR


Each day feels much longer than a normal day, ya know? Maybe it's because we cram so much stuff into one day . . .

WE SAW THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.





Not a small one from Las Vegas.

She was so gorgeous in person, I almost couldn't believe I was seeing the real thing. It was so quite there. Well, quiet compared to the rest of New York.

China Town and Little Italy were next. It was like walking into a whole different world. There were Chinese woman selling things everywhere, street vendors with fresh fruit, and signs everywhere written in Chinese. 




On nearly every street there would be a woman saying:

"YOU BUY SUNGLASS? PURSE? YOU NEED PURSE? I GIVE YOU WATCH? WATCH? SUNGLASS??" 

Eventually you just learn to avoid eye contact or just say no in a very straightforward way. 

We stopped at a restaurant there and the food was so fresh, much better than the Chinese takeout we get back in Arkansas. HA.

Little Italy had SUCH COOL ART.






We planned to walk through central park but then a guy talked us into riding in the back of his bike carriage through the park. My Mom and I were DYING laughing during the ride, the three if us could hardly fit in that small buggy.








We were actually able to go to the hotel before dinner to freshen up. I actually wore tights and a dress tonight instead of jeans because I needed it, ya know?

Tomorrow, we head back to Arkansas. I'll post tomorrow too and share extra pictures from New York. There's something I want to say about my whole experience here.

New York is amazing and a whole different world. But, it is not the perfect pictures you see on IG feeds or even on mine. There are scary parts of it and some strange people and places. You will sweat and get frizzed hair and get sore from the walking. 

Your trip won't be perfect, but it will be FUN! at first, I was so worried about taking perfect pictures and wearing perfect outfits so everything would be just right. But, after I stopped worrying about that and accepted things weren't going to be perfectly flawless like in movies, I had much more fun.

Things I Learned:
- There's almost four times as many people here than where I live
- Hot chocolate is a glorious thing (especially when it's FREAKING 40 DEGREES OUTSIDE AND SUPER WINDY)

Things We Did:
- The Statue Of Liberty
- China Town
- Little Italy
- Central Park

THANKS FOR READING MY DAILY NEW YORK UPDATES. Last one is tomorrow!

xoxo








   
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Saturday, December 3, 2016

NEW YORK // DAY THREE


Today was really long, exhausting, but so much fun. That's literally every day here though, so I shouldn't even have to say that. In fact you should just be able to tell I'm exhausted by my jumbled writing.

We got out earlier today and got breakfast from a vendor. The three of us got blueberry muffins and let me tell you, crumbs flew off those things like Nature Valley Bars. After finishing our muffins, we took the Subway to The Top Of The Rock to see New York from above.




I did a bit of shopping for gifts from street vendors. ;) Buying gifts is fun, especially in New York City.

Next, Rockefeller Center. Let me tell you guys, it was NOT empty like in Home Alone Two when Kevin sat in front of the giant Christmas tree.


Also, so this happened:

le me sneaking picture of Elmo

LE ELMO SEEING ME AND POINTING

le me with a look of pure terror on my face

I was just going to sneak a picture of Elmo, but HE SAW ME AND THEN BEFORE I COULD BLINK I WAS SURROUNDED BY TWO MINNIE MOUSES, OLAF, AND ELMO.

Minnies: You take picture! You take picture!

Me: WAT

Elmo: No, I take picture! Hand camera! Hand camera!

And then, before I even knew what was happening, Elmo took my camera from my hands, backed up, and snapped pictures of me with two Minnies and Olaf.

Minnies: That be ten dollar! Ten dollar!

Me: um okay *has no idea what else to do because Elmo, two Minnie Mouses, and Olaf surround me like hawks*

Me: *hands ten dollar bill out of desperation to escape the nightmare*

Me to Mom: Those pictures better be good.

I still can't laugh too hard about it. TEN DOLLARS.

I learned from that experience.

Never again.

Lunch was at a BBQ place  in Time Square. I was kinda tired from the crowds and noise and might have had a little anxiety attack when I began to think about how far away from home I was. IT'S ALRIGHT NOW I'M OKAY NOW. I felt pretty overwhelmed until we sat down in Radio City Music hall to watch Aladdin.


IT WAS SO GOOD GUYS.

Genie was hands down the best character.

I actually haven't even seen the Disney movie (I have no idea why it hasn't happened) but they play really makes me want to see the movie now.

On our way out, we walked through Time's Square.


TOO. MANY. PEOPLE.

We were going to go through central park on a carriage, but the three of us were too hangry (angry + tired = hangry) and tired. We did some outside shopping and I got this really cute choker win a north star from peter pan charm on it.

What I Learned Today:
- It's not all about the food, it's way more walking than that.
- Avoid eye contact with wild Elmos
- I am much too smol and quiet for New York Life but it is a nice place to visit

Things We Did:
- Top Of The Rock
- Rockefeller Center
- Aladdin
- Time's Square
- Shopping






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Friday, December 2, 2016

NEW YORK // DAY TWO

 

I feel my posts are going to be shorter and more jumbled as this trip goes on. BUT, I said I was going to post every day here so I SHALL.

Today I am (again) super, super tired. I woke up at 8 AM with sore legs and aching feet. I love New York, ya'll, but all these crowds are EXHAUSTING.

We left the hotel at around 11 AM and stopped to get a quick breakfast. I got a croissant with Nutella and cream filling. It was DELICIOUS. Not really a good source of protein, which is what you really need for New York. Seriously, guys, I can not tell you enough how much you have to walk here. BRING YOUR WALKING SHOES.

We've been traveling through the Subway a lot, Once you get used to the jerky, wobbly ride and the fact that nobody has any regard for personal space, it isn't that bad.

We went and saw the 9/11 memorial first which was really emotional for all of us. I can't even imagine how terrifying that day was for everyone.




After that, we headed for Tiffany's.

GUYS.

TIFFANY'S.

LIKE:


THAT TIFFANY'S.

It was real fancy in there, Apparently I have an expensive taste, because every ring I liked was like when you see a shirt you like in the mall, see the price tag, then walk quickly away. It took me a while to pick out my senior ring in the price range, but I DID eventually find it. And it's GORGEOUS. I seriously can't stop looking at it and feeling super fanccyyy.






Am I Audrey Hepburn yet?

Next, The Rockettes. By then my feet were screaming and I just wanted to sit on the sidewalk and rest. We had to wait in a line with what felt like thousands of people to get in there. We were like a herd of cattle as the police directed the huge crowd. Once we did get in, of course Mom and I had to pee and of course the line of far out the door and of COURSE the bathroom smelled like a whopping pile of HORSE POOP.

But, the show totally made up for it.


It was time to find dinner after that. We wanted to go to Serendipity but it was over an hour wait, so we went and got some pizza instead. I got a cool picture though.



The three of us agreed we DID NOT want to make the same mistake as yesterday and WALK all the way back to the hotel, so we rented an Uber. (Oooober) I love you if you get the reference.

Things I've Learned
- Fashion is not above pain. (In other words, WEAR WALKING SHOES NOT STYLISH BOOTS)

Places We Went:
- 9/11 Memorial
- Tiffany's
- City Hall Music Center: The Rockettes  







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