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Okay girls, let’s talk about guarding our hearts. Before I lose you, hear me out on this. I, of all people, need to hear this and I hope it will be just as useful to you. I think we go through relationships thinking, that we are guarding our hearts, when we really have no idea how to. We don’t see the difference between telling ourselves we need to guard our hearts and actually guarding ourselves. If you are anything like me, you are not even sure of how long you are to guard your heart and to whom you are to guard it against. This blog post will not give you all of the answers, shooot, it might not help you at all; but it certainly gave me some thoughts to pray through. I only hope it does the same for you whether you are a female, male or a unicorn.

1. Not a 4.0 so far?

I hate to be the one to break it to you. But we have this heart to guard and we cannot get out of it. We are told it’s the very center of us. (Psalm 4:23) But how do we possibly guard it against the breeze we desperately open the window for? If you struggle with this the same way I do, you feel as though you are being graded with an “F” in guarding your heart these days. Whether you are single or in a relationship, you have to do it. You think (or rather convince yourself) no guy will ever be captivated by me and as soon as one nearly grins at you, you prepare a four course meal with the night’s special a-la-heart. How can we possibly help ourselves from giving our hearts so freely when we don’t even notice we are? I mean, we are girls (no offense).

2. All that advice you are given-What is a girl to do?

Between the, “Guard you heart, let him chase you, control your emotions, be patient, and he should pursue you” isms, you don’t even know what to do anymore. Between the silly advice your friend’s give, the little tid bits of wisdom you receive from ghosts of courtships past, and the will of God, you have a lot to decipher. We place so much emphasis on what others tell us. As soon as something big happens, we tell someone! I know for me, as soon as something comes up I run to text a friend about it, rather than praying. What’s so wrong about that? I don’t even give myself time to guard my heart and unfortunately, our friends are not always so helpful in that! The most important advice I have for you, pray! Even when you don’t feel like it, even when you don’t want to. Submit to God’s will. Place his desires above your own. Easier said than done, I know!

3. Finally, how do you really guard your heart?

To be entirely honest, I don’t want to guard my heart. I want to give it away. That is what I was made for. But I have it backwards, I was never meant to give my heart away to man (nor woman). I was created to give my heart to God. Wholly and always to Him. So if you feel the same way, how do you guard your heart when you want to, but have no desire to at the same time. You guard it with scripture. Do you spend more time thinking about the man of your dreams, or the man in your life, than you do thinking about the one who loved you first? Afterall, it says in Deuteronomy to love the Lord your God with all your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5) It doesn’t say with a fourth of your heart or half heartedly.

I was in a Bible study a few weeks ago and we were talking about spiritual warfare. The verse Psalm 4:23 came up in our workbook which says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” I was struggling particularly that day, with guarding my heart and understanding how to guard it. Then it all suddenly made sense. Here we were talking about knowing scripture to stand against the enemy, when I realized scripture can be used for so much more. I have always loved the verse where the Psalmist says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) When we know God’s word, do we not come to know God better? His heart for us has been written down and so often we don’t take the time to read it, me included! When I find myself so eagerly ready to give away my heart, I begin to remind myself of verses that I committed to memorization. When I do this, suddenly my mind is no longer on the things of this world, but focused on God.

He’s Always Enough,
Liberty

When I look at certain things in my life, sometimes it feels like they are enough. I mean, when people tell me that I am wonderful, it makes me feel amazing. The career that I am planning for, its pretty exciting. I know I am going to love what I will do, that has got to be enough! Now you want to talk about boys? Well, that is simple, I will get married one day and we will live happily ever after. This stuff will make me happy, right?

Sometimes I try to convince myself they are enough. That they satisfy me and make me happy. There are days when I believe that I can keep living like all of those things will get me through this life. A life where children are starving and being beaten. A life where people go to bed hungry at night, in most parts of the world at least. I live in a world where women are seen as objects and are sold like antiques to be displayed. How can those things be enough when so many people in the world are without them?

Could He be enough for the broken and the oppressed? Could He be enough for me and for them? I think about the destiny we all have. Because we have fallen short of the glory of God through our sin, we deserve to be punished. We deserve hell. Grace, has been shown to us. I needed to be saved and Christ has stood in my place. God loves us and does not treat us as though we deserve his wrath any longer. Still not sure if he is enough?

God has sustained me time and time again. When my faith was weak, he showed me true faith. When my eyes were blind, he opened them and when my heart was dark, he brought light to it. When I thought I had no hope and that this world was too much for me to handle, He reminded me that He is my hope and the world is not too much for Him.

Could he possibly be better than anything I could dream up? Could he be better than rain? Could he be better than love? He never changes and promises to never leave me. Could he be better than guys? Perhaps better than receiving compliments and pleasing people? Could he be better than sunsets or gold? Or chocolate mousse? Could the sun be shining for him? Could he be the mastermind behind spring, summer, fall and winter? Could he hold me in his arms even when he feels far away? He has and he always will.

He is the blood that flows through my veins. The tears that fall down my face. He is the wind I feel through my hair. God is my everything. I was created to know him.

He’s Always Enough,
Liberty

We did it! We are officially in Kentucky. In a few short days we will have moved into our new home completely. In two weeks I will be moving out of that same home to live on campus and hopefully we live happily ever after. But before this sounds too easy, let me give you a little piece of the in between stuff.

Let me start with saying packing is not easy and neither is moving 800 miles away. So let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned this time around:

1. Don’t bring your favorite blanket on the trip, only to have your cat poop on it, in the car, on the way…

2. Keep a good eye on your underwear because you might end up getting to your destination unsure of where all but 4 pairs have ended up…

3. Pray for patience. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I’m about to slap somebody,” this week. (Not something I’m proud of.) For those wondering, I haven’t slapped anyone..yet.

4. Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn’t taste better in Kentucky. This was a let down. I just miss wawa.

5. I have to remember that New Jersey is the state I USE to live in not the one I currently live in. Still working on this one in my head.. So no one ask me where I’m from for now!

Now for what’s really on my heart (if you haven’t had enough honesty from me today).

I miss my friends. I miss someone I really care about. I miss my old house. I miss my church and my pastors. I miss wawa and jug handles. I miss the beach. I miss crazy adventures with my best friends. I miss consistency and familiarity. I miss it all. I never thought these words would come out of my mouth in relation to Jersey.

Here’s a recent entry from my journal:

Dear Lord,

I feel so upset. I feel like I’m just now beginning to doubt your plan. You knew I would though; you knew I would come to this place of doubt. You knew how you would be there for me through it to. I know you will be there for me. I know I can’t ask you to make this easier for me. This wasn’t meant to be easy. I only ask that, Lord, you be ever so near to me. That I boldly and without fear walk by faith. I am yours. For who alone can save me? I love you. Draw near to me. Slow down this dance that I may find my place again.

Sincerely,
Liberty

I sit here and type this thinking, I have no motivation whatsoever. No motivation to attack my to do list, none to take a shower or to even write this post. I am at a time in my life when I feel as though I have no purpose. Have you ever been here? I’m not taking summer classes, neither am I working at all. I’m just preparing. In preparation for things to come. Don’t get me wrong, I have a massive to do list that encompasses everything from applying for on-campus housing to packing my room up in boxes, but not even these things sound the least bit interesting. So I sit here. No motivation. No purpose. What’s the point of life right now? I’m one of those people who needs a purpose. I refuse to strive for the laziest person award. (But that does not mean I don’t have my lazy moments.) I just need a passion. A routine. Some consistency. I need to feel useful. Life is not giving me any of these things right now. Not even the lemons. So what can I do when I get to this point? Give up, throw the towel in? Or wait patiently for this to pass? I’m certaintly on the fence with this one. But I’m learning more and more that my life is not defined by where I work or what classes I’m taking. If I’m looking for a passion in this world, I’m going to be looking for a long time because each one will eventually fade away. The only thing I can have faith in, is that God is good. Simply that. That He has good for me and what I have now is good. Now, I’m not quite getting to where I need to be and I know this won’t happen overnight. But I am learning to take one day at a time, because looking at the big picture, just isn’t helpful right now. All I can do is pray and go buy some lemons.

He’s ALWAYS Enough,
Liberty

Pretty is. Beauty does. I heard this on a commercial recently and began to think about this. I mean, what could it possibly mean? Every girl wants to be pretty. We want to feel pretty and be told we are. But what about this thing called beauty? What could that be about? I hate to break it to some of you, but its not just about a girl who loves to read and ends up in a mansion with a harry beast, its much, much more! Lucky for us, we are to be called beauty too.

Recently, I was having lunch with some friends and we were talking about relationships. I confessed that I struggled with my definition of beauty. I feel as though I don’t have anything to bring to the table of marriage. I mean, what will I be able to offer my husband one day? I can’t really cook, neither do I care to honestly. I’m not very intellectual. I can’t talk on various subjects and don’t have profound knowledge on very much. I don’t always please everyone. I don’t always wear the right thing or show up at the right time. I certainly never say the right thing or respond the right way. So what could possibly be beautiful about me? Seriously. As my confession came to a close, I expressed what I am passionate about; however cliche it may be. Its the truth. I love people. I love holding orphans in Africa. I love loving people. I love caring for and helping people. I love being there for people. I love my family. There is nothing I love more than holding babies, any babies! But that’s all I have going for me and that’s my heart. My friends began to laugh as they looked at me puzzled. They obviously knew something I didn’t.

You see, I was looking at my strength as a weakness. I was forgetting the fact that I have loved. This then reminded us of what 1 Corinthians 13 says: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. If I gave away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

I realized the Bible says something quite differently about the beauty I possess. My friends also helped me realize that the very essence of my beauty is incredible. In fact, these verses greatly encourage what my heart longs for. The beauty the world asks of me is meaningless, its beauty that chases after the wind. What I gained from all of this? Who gives a rats rear that I can’t tell time backwards, recite the constitution or make French cuisine. According to Corinthians, if I have not loved, I am nothing. As a matter of fact, I’m not content with being nothing. I would rather love while I can. And that my dear reader, is my beauty. So whether my hair looks a hot mess tomorrow, my clothes don’t match or I don’t end up eating that great of a breakfast due to my lack of skill; I know that beauty is defined differently for each of us, because its defined by beauty itself.

Some think that happiness has lots to do with money. Still others think it has to do with their significant other wrapped around their finger. For me, happiness is deciding I am going to be happy anyway. A good friend recently told me that the only person who keeps me from being happy, is myself. I didn’t exactly want to hear that at the time but they were words I will never forget. I think about happiness a lot because of my depressive episodes. When I have one of my bad days, sometimes I will sit and think about what it felt like to be happy before. I’ll think about whether I could become happy if I was given something, went somewhere else or was with someone I wanted to be with. But in the end, each of those things I know, have the ability to leave me desperate for something else -something more. In a world where we have TV, magazines, books and people telling you to eat chocolate, drink wine or go after that man you have been waiting for; we forget that those things don’t bring us very much happiness for long. We look around and see the objects that make others happy and we wonder why we can’t feel that way too.

As I prepare to move with my family nine hours away at the end of the summer; I can’t help, but be far from happy. I’m loosing my friends, my church, my job, everything that I have known for four years now. I ask myself, how could I be happy? I mean seriously, I’m about to be stripped of the very things I love. Tell me how to find joy in that and I would appreciate it. Why should I be happy, after all things aren’t going my way right now. Sometimes I feel like telling people to get back to me with that happiness crap, when they’re going through the same thing I am. Then just as my moment of despair gets close to breaking me. I remember the person who chose to be happy for me. I think about how he lived for 33 years. He knew he would die, it was the whole reason why he was born. Yet, for 33 years he didn’t act like he was going to die. He chose happiness. Because he knew there is something so much more than this life. He didn’t walk around with the illness that afflicted him. That illness was my sin. So why should I live as if I carry it now, when he’s already done it for me.

So, what is happiness for me, you might ask? Its choosing to fight even when I feel like I have nothing left. Its choosing to love when I don’t feel loved back. Its choosing to smile when the pain tries to stop me. Its choosing to live as if I knew I would died tomorrow and die, as if I’d live forever. Its choosing Christ’s way, rather than my own way.

He’s Always Enough,
Liberty

Why would life,
Feel so lost at this moment.
Buried beneath you,
Hidden in your eyes.
To be claimed by no one.

Why would you keep it,
Hidden from even me.
When all I hope for;
Is to hold on to it,
Forever, never letting go. 

So about 3 weeks ago, I was at work. Minding my own business. Well, somewhat. We were outside attempting to entertain the little ones (middle school students) for a few short minutes before the program was over for the day. Leading a type of hand game, I suddenly heard various individuals around me yell, “Watch out!” Without the slightest knowledge of what was to come next, I was hit from behind with a football. I wasn’t knocked down, it simply made me stumble. Other than that it didn’t really affect me all that much. I couldn’t tell you much about what happened after I was hit. I remember two students talking to me about it while I responded, but I have no idea what they were saying or what I said back. We soon after went inside and that was when it began. I felt nauseous, dizzy and a horrible headache made its way to the back of my head. I ignored the pain but wondered if I could have suffered a concussion. I’m one of those people who searches my symptoms on webmd as soon as they appear and that’s exactly what I did. Despite my ill symptoms I drove home moments later hoping that I would feel better. However, I was wrong, the pain only got worse. That night it was so bad I couldn’t lift my head up. The next two days it was difficult to walk. I stayed in bed all weekend and went MIA to the world. By Monday I was feeling a little better. I was able to go to class but took the day off from work. The next day I returned to my usual schedule being busy as any ordinary day. I would take Aleve and simply ignore the pain. Life is too busy to get caught up in such a thing, at least that is how I felt about. I finally went to see a doctor almost a week later. The doctor told me what webmd already had, it was in fact, a concussion that I suffered and I should feel better in a week or so.

Now, this is the way I saw it. Life is busy for me right now. Between class, homework assignments, work, friends, church and the prospects of moving at the end of the summer. I am one busy woman. I enjoy being busy, there is nothing I hate more than sitting at home doing nothing. The less time I have to think about stuff like myself the better. Or so I thought.. This kind of thinking can backfire on you. You see, I think too little of myself, that’s why I ignored the pain and moved on. I didn’t want to see a doctor and if my pain would not have been so bad, I would have never went to one anyway. But time and time again, the Lord uses these times to sit me down and teach me very important lessons. I realized that I needed my life to slow down a little. That I am spending a tremendous amount of time on things that will whither away. I came to the realization that my life really is a vapor and that everyday I live because of the Lord. I learned all of this mostly because of the of fact that you can die from a concussion. Now, obviously, I was not hit very hard with the football. But it was still the worse injury I have ever been inflicted with. With this being said, I am recovering well. I feel almost myself again and am so ready to take on life headfirst. No more catching footballs with my head though. I am dying to go to Africa and hold some orphaned babies. To watch God work in my family. To see my best friend pursue her dream of writing. To see another best friend pursue teaching english as a second language. To meet the man of my dreams. To grow more into a Lady of Faith. More to come soon.

He’s Always Enough,
Liberty Stripped of her Pride

An excerpt from my journal in third person. Warning: This is not one of my most pleasant posts nor positive in its attitude. But i wanted to share my struggle with depression.

She wakes up at 6:45am, worried she didn’t get enough sleep. She tossed and turned most of the night and when you add it up. She usually gets six hours of sleep. Not nearly enough she thinks to herself. She rushes in and out of the shower, worrying she’ll be late for class. She doesn’t feel like going anywhere. The more time she’s in the shower the more time she thinks about all the ways today could go horribly wrong. She tries to fix her hair for the day, but she feels as though it looks hideous no matter what and, in the end, pins it up with 50 bobby pins or covers it up with a hat. She gets in the car worried there won’t be enough gas to get to class. Mostly because she’s down to her last $15 and her paycheck doesn’t come till next week. She wouldn’t have enough time to stop for gas anyway because now she’s running 10 minutes late. Nothing ever seems to go right for her. She happens to glance at the left side tire and sees its almost flat again. She doesn’t have enough time to drive down to the gas station three minutes out of the way to fill it with air. Consequently, she’s also out of quarters to fund the 75 cents required. So she drives to class, with an almost flat tire. In a panicky mood about all of the above and what could possibly come next. She knows something bad will happen on the way, nothing ever goes right. This makes her sad, uncontrollably upset and depressed. The fact that there’s nothing she can do. Whether the tire blows or someone yells at her. She feels on the cliff of emotions, something will have broken her to bits by noon. She gets to class with an eager desire to leave again. She almost does, but convinces herself otherwise. Finding a seat is a nightmare and makes her feel so self-conscious. The lecture begins with the same boring lesson we learned last class and continues to carry on for an hour. She fidgets her fingers anxiously. The sign in sheet is passed around the room for students to be counted for attendance. She signs in but sees that as the sheet comes up the row on the other side of the room, it is not passed to everyone and some don’t see it. This makes her feel angry and annoyed. She wonders how people are so stupid they can’t even pass a piece a paper around a room properly. The thought consumes her mind for the rest of the class and how much it irritates her. Class comes to an end and all she can think about is how much she would like to go back to bed. She goes home. She eats a snack, but only if her stomach isn’t completely tied in knots like it typically is. She sleeps for an hour, because she has no energy to do anything else. She wakes and changes for work. She use to put on makeup but gave up because she didn’t feel like it made her feel any better about herself. She tries to look happy so no one figures it out at work. She knows she has to work a faking it all the time, but at work its much easier considering no one really knows her. Fake it till you make it has become her unconscious life motto. No one notices she isn’t laughing or telling jokes like she usually does. Work can be slightly stressful sometimes for her, but she always reminds herself its only three hours every week day. Besides, she may not feel herself. But at least she’s making a difference in the kid’s lives, right? Work is over, she drags her feet to her car exhausted from all she put into those three hours. She turns on the radio to drown out the sound of her own cry. Simply because its usually a reaction she does when she’s alone. She doesn’t know why, she just knows its a cause for the pain she feels. She’s lonely, but that’s not the reason for her tears. She’s been holding it all in, waiting for the moment when she can just let go of herself and not hide it for just a little while. She doesn’t think about killing herself often. But she thinks about dying a lot. What if this? What if that? Often these questions come to her mind in relation to death. She worries on the way home. She never did get gas earlier. She never did put air in the tire. She never found any quarters. She can’t make a decision about whether to stop either. She can’t make decisions at all nowadays. Its too much to handle for her most of the time. Even the smallest decisions feel like a burden for her. She gets a headache several times a day from all the thinking she does. Sometimes she’ll pop an advil or an aleve every so often that way she can prevent them from happening. She worries if she might be abusing them though. The aleve helps with the headaches, but it doesn’t stop everything else that’s hurting. The questions, the decisions, the lies, the mess, the future, it all makes her hurt. She feels like she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Sometimes at night, she sits and prays someone will save her from the pain. She knows she can’t make it stop on her own. It gets so bad every now and then she thinks about taking something sharp to her arm. She hasn’t done that in while. She keeps telling herself she won’t. But each time she thinks of it, she feels as though she gets closer and closer to doing it. She cancels plans with friends. They can’t see her not put together. They can’t know what she’s going through. No one understands. No one cares, they have their own problems to deal with. She feels like she’s had to hide enough today, and doesn’t feel like she could keep herself together for even an hour. She fears she might loose it in front of someone one day. Even though she’s not sure what loosing it would look like. She goes to bed, terrified of the challenges tomorrow has already burdened her with.

Why does she keep this hidden? For fear that people will know she’s really messed up. That she is in a million pieces most of the time. Don’t get her wrong, she has good days often. So, don’t pity her, she’ll make it in the end. Feel free to ask questions.

He’s Always Enough,
Liberty Stripped of her Pride

For the first time in my life I saw my parents exemplify, “For better or for worse.” For the first time, I understand what it means to be with someone through the beautiful and ugly, the nice and the bad. Especially the hurt and lonely times. The joyful and the exciting times. For the first time, I understand a little more about what Christ did for me. For the first time I know what I want my own marriage to be like one day. For the first time, I know that I can’t know a deeper love unless I know my heavenly Father’s love. God knows I desire to serve him all the days of my life. But do I realize that also means the man I fall in love with one day. The one I will give the rest of my life to serve. The man I will follow. The man I will promise, “For better or for worse.” What does it mean to lay down your life for her, just as Christ laid down his life for us? What does that practically look like? How can you be sure she loves you for better or for worse? How will you love him when he isn’t loving you back?

Let me explain. This past weekend my dad began having back pain. It was so bad, that he decided to go to the doctor Monday morning. He went and had an ultra sound which came up with no results. They then sent him in for a cat scan and still found nothing. A few days later we got a call saying that my dad had two kidney stones.
Now, i work, I’m taking five classes. I tend to have a social life. Other times I can be selfish with my free time. I have different things that I am struggling with right now; But while I was dealing with all the things surrounding my life. My mom was spilling out, “For better or for worse,” throughout her day. She was helping my dad walk, she sat by his side and kept him company. She made him breakfast and took it upstairs to him. She eagerly took up his responsibilities. She did what she had to do. She did all she had to do with a smile and a positive attitude. I want to be that type of women. You know, the woman Proverbs 31 describes as:

-Far more precious than rubies
-Trustworthy
-Gets up early and is not lazy with her time
-Strength shown brightly through her life
-She never gives up
-Has time for her family and others as well
-Not stressed about the future
-Speaks when it is appropriate and says only things that honor God
-Others are blessed by her
-Her inner beauty is what shines through, she doesn’t have to hide behind make up

So there it is, a lesson worth learning.

He is always enough,
Liberty Stripped of her Pride