John Mayer’s songs are not about me.

I’m back in a John Mayer kick lately. No, no, I’m not heartbroken, but I am in pain.

After a few weeks of feeling this way I think I’m coming to terms with this “growing” pain. See, my life is changing and there is nothing I can do about it. God has been preparing me for this season, I’ve felt His hand. I am transitioning from an old life to a new one… to a better one. In my personal life, spiritual life, career, etc, I have a sense that a transition is near.

At first I was scared and resistant, “I don’t want to change. I want to stay in this place. I have a plan. My life is good.” I didn’t want to pray, I just wanted to listen to “Why Georgia” on repeat and ignore the uncertainty around me.

So what, so I’ve got a smile on
But it’s hiding the quiet superstitions in my head
Don’t believe me
Don’t believe me
When I say I’ve got it down

After maybe the third day of the song being played on repeat, it occurred to me that this song wasn’t about me, it was about God.

This song is not about me and my would-be “quarter life crisis.” How pretentious of me to have thought it was. I don’t have it down. That is so hard to type. It is so hard and painful to fall to my knees and say that I don’t have it down. After all, I thought I did for a while now…

But in the pleading cry of John Mayer’s chords I heard something I didn’t hear before: I heard a God that does have it down. 

Four years ago, before I moved to Nashville, I felt this pain and said a prayer, “If it be your will, let it be done.” God provided a one-way ticket for me. He grew me that day.

Two years later, I cried at a church and again asked for God’s will to be done. It was. He grew me that day.

Today, I’m again praying for God’s will to be done. I am praying not to hide behind song lyrics, but to talk to my God who knows my heart better than I do. It’s painful and uncomfortable for my Type-A personality, but it is always worth it.

And in case John Mayer ever reads this, I pray that through this blog post and in all of my encounters, I glorify our Lord and not myself. Finally I’d like to thank God for whatever he is doing to my heart that brought about my previous sentence.

 

 

26.5

I’m turning 26.5 on Friday. Yes, I celebrate my half-birthdays (why not)!? And God has been speaking to me in so many beautiful ways recently.

Last Sunday at church, I opened up my bible exactly to 2 Chronicles 7, the exact reading for the sermon. The reading was about Solomon’s dedication of the temple.

 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good;
    his love endures forever.”

As I giggled at my bible-page-turning skills I also thought to myself, “Thank you for this miracle.” 

Yesterday, I had coffee with a man who gave up a lucrative career in real estate to follow the Lord’s calling to help alleviate poverty and social injustices. He TOTALLY changed his career. What faithfulness! I sat at the coffee shop and I felt Jesus’ presence in that encounter. I thought to myself, “Thank you God, I’m thankful for this.” 

I went on a walk with my boyfriend earlier this week to the park in a neighborhood called 12 South. This was at the same neighborhood where I had my first dinner in Nashville, the place where I had my heart broken, the place where I met the love of my life… Again as we walked back home from the park I thought to myself, “God, thank you for the road that led me here.” 

I feel it in my heart. Honestly, I feel it in my throat. I feel it in the way I listen to my friends. I feel it everywhere — I feel God opening my eyes. The practice of thankfulness is opening my eyes. See, His arms have always been open wide. He longed for me all those years that “I didn’t have time for Him.” He has never left my side, I just didn’t see.

I want to shout this! I want to tell everyone that I have found this treasure and that thankfulness is changing my life. I want to tell others (aside from my best friends who read this blog) that after years and years of Catholic school and ministry, and years of knocks and darkness, that I am learning how to truly see. All of those years, filled with victories and sorrows, have led me here, to the end of myself.

At 26.5 I am celebrating the ways in which love is transforming me. It is with hope and joy that I come humbly to my Father’s altar.

 

 

Thankful.

I am so incredibly thankful lately. It’s my favorite mood. Thankful thoughts are my favorite thoughts that I toss in my head as I talk to God on my way to work. It’s the greatest joy, I’ve noticed, to feed myself with thankfulness.

I count his graces and they seem to be endless. Here are some of his graces that I listed today:

  1. Mommy’s emoji’s (always in 3’s).
  2. The “Empire Nissan” bag my daddy gave me that I used yesterday to store hot dogs and buns.
  3. I’m thankful that my job is hard and makes me face hard questions every day.
  4. I’m thankful for His Word and the desire He puts in my heart to discover Him more and more.
  5. I am thankful for the way my boyfriend is patient, forgiving and compassionate. He sees the best in me and others. I see Christ in him and I’m so thankful…

I’m so thankful, but I fall. My conversations with God look a lot different than the thoughts that surface in my brain. You know… the petty, ungrateful, ugly thoughts that creep up. I go from a spirit of thankfulness to ingratitude within minutes. I fall all of the time.

Me to God: “Father, I am so thankful for my health and body that lets me jam out in spin class.” “I’m so thankful for the time I spent with my family. “Lord, I’m so thankful for the people I’ve met that are drawing me closer to You.” 

Me to myself: “I could really use a new pair of stilettos.” “I want to buy a house now.” “Why can’t he solve this for me?” “Ugh, I need a vacation.”

How do I mix the joy of thankfulness with this feeling of disappointment I have in myself when I am ungrateful?

By His grace alone. 

His grace allows me to see that I fall in the first place. His grace forgives me and allows me to forgive myself. His grace makes me try again, and then try another time.

I know who I am and where I’ve been. Before I masked my ambition and greed in a bow and called it “the grind.” But the “grind” was empty because it left me with a heart always wanting more and more… things.

“With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9)

I masked my outbursts in a bow and called it “stress” and said mean things to my mom and sisters because I felt I couldn’t control anything. I just wanted someone to hear me.

I know who I am and where I’ve been. And I know that God is changing my heart. I won’t stop trying to fill my cup with thankfulness.

His grace pours over the fires I start with my ingratitude. I am so thankful.

 

 

His plan, not my planner.

I made a lot of goals for myself this year. If you look at the “Passion Roadmap” on my planner you will see branches for “Career,” “Fitness,” “Nutrition,” “Relationships,” and “Finances.”

People have told me my entire life, “giiirrrrl, you get things done. You’re a boss.” I appreciate the thought, but hearing these accolades always made me think about what it was that I was winning at… what I was chasing after. Was I chasing recognition, accolades, status, control, or dare I say, perfection??

I used to live my life by the quote, “She believed she could so she did.”

But see, my life transformed – and continues to transform – ever since I heard this quote flipped on its head: “She believed she couldn’t and so He did.” 

I cannot move without Him. I need Him. It’s really that simple. It was only once I surrendered my life to the sole pursuit of chasing Him that my goals found purpose and victory. The fitness/nutrition/finance/work goals have a new-found purpose. Their purpose are to glorify Him.

So yeah, I’m maintaining my fitness and nutrition goals. I’m actually quite the spin enthusiast now and I’m meal planning like a pro (ask my boyfriend). I’m on the phone with my family and friends a lot more. I’m making meaningful relationship a priority. I am debt-free! As I go down my planner and put a check mark beside my victories, I am in awe. I am in awe because this was not me, but Him. It was Him transforming my heart and I am so very grateful.

For now, I am chasing Christ from victory to victory. I do not move without Him. It is my prayer that the goals for my life (the things I put in my planner) will look more and more like His will for my life. It is in this truth where my faith (and Passion Planner Roadmap) will firmly stand.

Yours,

Cynthia

The Contentment Challenge

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord.

This year my Lord called me to give up shopping for 3 months straight, a little thing called “The Contentment Challenge.” I read about this challenge from some faith bloggers and finally, I made the commitment.

God was calling me deeper into Him, to find my joy in my relationship with Him – not in things or appearances. 2017 was the year.

Now, I’m not going to lie, I was scared. Was I ready to look at my financial spreadsheets? Was I ready to look at my vanity and selfishness in the eyes? What if I failed?

I could write a whole book about what this little challenge did to my heart. For now, I’ll just list some questions and answers it gave me.

  1. Invest in others. I always say “I love others” but I only spent money and time on myself. I set a new goal for myself: find ways to participate in people’s lives relentlessly. This means a phone call, a card, a meal, an invitation. I don’t want my relationships to be observed via social media. I want to invest.
  2. Turn my anxieties into obedience. This challenge was not a “cure all.” I wasn’t little-miss-perfect during this time and I struggled with handling anxieties that crept up. This time spent saving money, thinking long-term, and praying brought up hard questions. Am I making good career choices? When will I be able to buy a house? Am I adulting well enough? Though I still struggle with these hard questions, this challenge reminds me of one crucial truth: My joy is in His promise – not in a house or job title.
  3. Take action. Find community. For years I have “church hopped,” hoping to find a community that fit. I am Catholic and have always been part of bible study classes and groups. I struggled finding a church in Nashville that offered the tradition I sought AND a lively ministry and community. I am now part of a new, welcoming church community. I am excited that this contentment challenge opened up my heart to this church and making new friends.
  4. I’m going to talk about God. I work in politics, I’ve been trained to keep my Christianity to myself. Coupled with my fears that people would find me “preachy” or a “prude,” have all stopped me from bringing God up in conversations. This challenge taught me that my faith is not something that I could tip-toe around. I cannot talk to anyone about life without talking about my faith. I can’t give boy, career, or health advice without turning to my light and solid foundation. Why wasn’t I going out as often? Why did my lifestyle change so much? Why did I seem so happy? It’s all Him!

Lord, help me to always push myself aside and make room for You. I don’t have all of the answers but this contentment challenge opened my heart and I am thankful for all that I learned and am learning. This challenge continues.

Be still, my heart.

One of my best friends asked me earlier today, “how is Lent going?”

“Good!” is a socially acceptable response. But Gomes’ question led me straight to this week’s Lenten series reading in Deuteronomy. It led me face-to-face with my forgetful faith. 

In Deuteronomy Chapter 4, we are reminded that our hearts are easily forgetful, that our faith is easily distracted and weak. Moses, the author, urges his people, “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you” (23).

Especially during happy times, my faith becomes distracted and forgetful. During Lent I’ve noticed that I would rather read books about prayer than sit down and pray. I would rather surf the web for an hour and read blogs about faith rather than be still in the presence of my God. What is stopping me from being still?

I suppose in moments of joy and victory, my faith is forgetful of the deserts my God has pulled me out of. It is forgetful of my nothingness without Him. My happy heart and mind are running and restless, but I should know better. I am only found in the perfect stillness and completeness of His name.

My God, have mercy on my forgetful faith.