Me of little faith.

6 Apr

I feel lacking. Like there’s so much more I have yet to understand or to learn. I feel God opening up all these new horizons and experiences for me with the people in my life and with Him, but at the same time I feel stuck, trapped in the same current and constant cycle of thought. Like I’m circling a drain.

I look at my heart, and see what I feel, know, and believe about my Savior and I’m ashamed. There are SO many things I have yet to delve into. Like forgiveness for example. When I sit and think about forgiveness I honestly don’t know how that works in light of what scripture teaches. It’s really easy to say “I forgive you,” but the real work of forgiveness is in the heart, and that’s what I’m craving: heart change. Restoration. To be swept up in wave after wave of grace and love from the Throne. To continue to discover new aspects of His greatness through His Word, and my heart respond with “Wow God, You’re amazing. Thank You.” And I know this relationship with Him is life-long, and there will naturally be an ebb and flow (as long as I’m on Earth anyway), but I don’t what to think that way. To settle with feeling like this because I’m just in an ebb stage, and that the flow will soon follow. No. I refuse. This heart longs, and craves growth and I know He won’t refuse me,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a student at TAMU-Commerce (Music Education major). And at school I’m surrounded by people. People I see everyday, and have become friends with. What do I say? What do I do? How do I live in light of what I believe? Can they even see my light in all this drowning darkness? Would Jesus have buried his head, like me, in a game of Angry Birds at the dinner table when His friends started on a subject He felt uncomfortable or offended listening to? He probably would’ve said something…so what do I say? It sometimes feels like it’s Me vs. the World, where the world is Rocky and I’m a toothpick. In other words, I lose faith and focus more on the answers to these questions than the Name behind them all: JESUS.

 

Sound familiar?

You know the story:

“’Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and started to sink. ‘Lord save me!’

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

Matthew 14:28-31

I feel like Peter in the sense that I got out here on the water, but now I’m distracted by this crazy wind so I lose faith that the Lord of the Universe is standing right over there on the water with me. I asked to be taken out on the water (salvation) but the winds (the challenge of actually living the salvation I was given) are scary, and often the World vs. Me gets so overwhelming that I just crawl back into conforming, abandoning the faith I had in the boat that the one who controls the winds would actually come along side me and hold my hand to help, guide, and comfort me at every step. Whatever your winds may be, don’t forget that they obey the One who’s holding your hand.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

My favorite part of the story is when it says, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him…” It brings tears to my eyes. He takes hold of us..ah praise God! My fragile little heart may wander and the light may dim, but when I cry out “Lord, save me!”, my Savior doesn’t hesitate! He doesn’t stop and think “Well that’s what she gets for doubting Me. She deserves to drown. That’ll teach her.” No!

I can’t get over how loved by Him I feel when I read that. I encourage you to just stop and go back to that verse above and read it three or four times. Go on…I’ll wait.

……….

Isn’t it great?! I get goosebumps at “…took hold of him.” I get that same feeling of comfort and love as when my mom would say “Everything’s going to be ok sweetie, I’m here.” and I felt so much better even though my knee was cut and bleeding. As I read it more I get hit with the fact that Jesus actually reached down and grabbed Peter to help him. He didn’t send some fish, or throw Peter a golden life-preserver, He Himself actually reached down and saved the drowning apostle, making it even more personal and further showing us as Jesus-followers how much these aren’t just stories, but a constant comfort and help to us. Jesus will save us even in our doubt and dwindling faith.

 

So now I will close in saying that my God is still reigning, sovereign over all, and still forever worthy of my life and adoration. In this darkness I will praise Him.

He is the only God, the One who saves us. To Him be glory, greatness, power, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord for all time past, now, and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:25

 

in His Name, His fame, and His glory,

-Shelby

My Desperate Cry

24 Feb

Today’s been sort of a rough day, and I’m not sure exactly why. So out of the circumstances of the day I just started praying. It started out as a twitter status (in bold italics below) and I later wrote it down in my phone’s notes and just kept expounding on it. It ended up looking like an exact portrait of my heart. So I hope it speaks to you in some way. I just felt like I needed to post it.

Praying for confidence and courage enough in my true feelings that the need to hide behind false ones dissolves and my heart is left exposed. And that when my heart is exposed, it is the spitting image of my Savior. Oh how very far I am from this. I’ve just been struck with this acute awareness of all the pitch black spots of imperfection on my heart, and a feeling of such incredible unworthiness of the love and grace my Savior pours out unabashedly and without second thought. All He sees is His blood and its power trumping all the shame and constant failure of my life before His salvation and even to the present. This makes me worthy of His blessing and love, and carves me a space of my own to rest in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8). Oh how unworthy and undeserving I am. I never do as I know I should, and almost always have my head lost in thought or in worry on something that will absolutely never matter. I’m completely overwhelmed with gratitude for every circumstance he so beautifully orchestrates right before my eyes, for the love so freely lavished on this heart that looks worthless to me, but has become a treasured pearl to this Father who now holds it. For the grace and mercy shown so completely when I am never deserving of them, and for the Savior that loved so much and so perfectly that he rescued me from all that held me back from His embrace…Lord Jesus You are everything and I offer You my life, my heart, God everything I am. Lord hear my desperate cry. Mold this heart into the image of the One who saved it.

Psalm 26:2-3

“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes…” 

Psalm 9:10

“And those who know Your Name will put thier trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

in His love,

Shelby

there once was a girl who knew what she was made for…

8 Oct

A few weeks ago one of my best friends got married to another great friend of mine, and the bride (the best friend) asked me to be her wedding photographer. I’ve been an amateur photographer for going on three years now but I’ve never really taken myself seriously in this little hobby. It was always just something I loved to do. I would carry my camera with me everywhere, nestled in a sock at the bottom of my purse, and snap a pic or two whenever my eyes caught a moment where the lighting was just right, or there was a moment happening that was too good to leave un-captured. But it was always mostly for self-gratification, a shameless outlet for releasing creativity.

So about this wedding. I was so nervous. I’d done a few family portrait sessions before for people in our church and for family, but nothing this big! All the pressure was on me to get shots of every oh-so-important moment of a wedding day: the preparations, the cake, the kiss, the aisle walk, the family, the festivities, and altogether happiness of the day. Not to mention the ever-present reality that nearly every shot had to be candid. Almost none of the pictures could be staged later if they didn’t come out perfect the first time. No big deal, right?

A week before the big day I was feeling a little reluctant, I had zero ideas for what I wanted to do and didn’t even really know the first thing about being a wedding photographer. Do I need an assistant? What camera should I use? What will I wear!? (well, that last one would’ve happened regardless.) All I knew was to prepare for madness: to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to dash to get every shot possible.

The night before the wedding a photographer friend of mine posted a link to another wedding photographer’s site* on her blog and after pouring over every single image on the blog I was suddenly overflowing with inspiration. Their pictures were incredible. So creative, unique, and the way they incorporated their quirky sense of humor into the beauty of a wedding day was inspiring; exactly how I wanted my “look” as a photographer to be. It was like a switch was flipped in my mind and the creative juices and ideas haven’t stopped flowing since.

The wedding was amazing! I can’t explain the feelings I had being in the moment and working under that fantastic pressure. I felt like I was absolutely in my element for the first time in my life. Even more so than I’ve ever felt doing music, which is what I’m going to school for. It was so incredibly liberating and just altogether amazing to have this passion free-flowing out of me the entire time. Knowing that my passion was going to make someone else happy for the rest of their lives supplied an entirely new level of intensity and greatness that kept a smile on my face and fuzzy feelings in my heart. It was beyond incredible! All I want to do now is get more weddings, or birthday parties, or portrait sessions so I can actually do something with this ocean of ideas and pure passion that is welling up inside of me.

Ever since the wedding I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how amazing it would be to make photography my career. Everytime I think about it I get a feeling that I can only describe as total and complete happiness. To think that I can actually make money doing what I so enjoyed doing that day excites me to my core and has sortof made me question if music is really what i’m supposed to be doing. This whole thing just caught me off guard. I’ve had this love for music my entire life and never really doubted that music is where I’m supposed to be. But I have thought about it alot, and have come to the conclusion that I don’t need a degree to be a photographer, but I absolutely need one to be a professional musician (at least for the field I’m aiming for). So, not that I was seriously considering switching majors, but I’ve decided that it will be better for me to stick with music and get the degree because photography can always become a weekend jobby (job + hobby) while I’m doing the music thing during the week.

But who knows what God will do with all of this. I’m leaving it completely in His sovereign hands, and will go wherever He leads. I have put all my trust in Him, and know that whatever He leads me to do will be so much greater and more amazing than anything I could plan. So far He’s led me here to Commerce to study to be a music teacher, and this is where I’ll stay until He says different.

I just thought I’d share with the world what’s been the main subject of my thoughts for the past few weeks.

Thanks for listening.

in His love,

Shelby

*http://www.brookecourtney.com/blogs/   <<<inspiraton!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2237453&id=38707822#!/album.php?aid=228768&id=518326241   <<<<<<The pics from the wedding!

join me?

2 Sep

So this morning in class I started playing with this idea of blessing others…

There’s nothing like that feeling when a complete stranger comments on something they like about you. It could be something as simple as the color of your nail polish, or as deep as the “color” of your heart. In whatever degree the complement comes, that feeling that follows is the best isn’t it?

I’ve never been, and to be honest never wanted to be, the kind of person that just hands out complements to everyone I see. People, girls especially, that I see who do that…I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem as pure to me when they just hand out their admiration to everyone. The intentions behind their words always seem kindof shady as well. I see it as them trying to edify their own egos than actually wanting to make the complementee feel better or more self-confident. (granted, there are indeed exceptions). It’s far more special to me to give complements as savored treasures to people who are truly deserving of the word. If you ever get a complement from me, I want you to know that it comes from the depths of a really special part of my heart and it’s meaning is far beyond the words I say.

There is a downside to my “savoring the complements” method however; because when a complementing situation actually arises and my brain and heart agree to say something, I feel extremely uncomfortable saying the words that I want to say. I’m not used to saying things like that to people, so most of the time I just choose not to say anything at all to avoid an awkward feeling inside.

Living on campus I’ve seen so many beautiful girls. Not all of them are the cookie-cutter beauty this generation has convinced us as the only definition of the word, I no longer notice those girls though they are beautiful. The girls I notice are rare beauties and the first thought that goes through my mind when I see them, honest to goodness, is “Oh my gosh. She’s beautiful!” The next thought is something along the lines of “I should tell her how beautiful she is. It would make her day.” I feel the want to tell them this because with these girls it’s clear that the world hasn’t told them of their worth and that they’re convinced they’re ugly. For a girl like that, coming from a girl who used to be the same way, a comment from a stranger on how beautiful they are would be forever burned into their memory and every time they remembered it they would smile and feel loved. And though I know how much one of these girls’ days would be blessed just to hear someone tell her of her beauty, I’m too embarrassed to speak because I can’t overcome the possibility of being misunderstood or being thought of as a weirdo.  And that’s really sad. To feel uncomfortable about saying something that will make someone else feel that indescribably good feeling of receiving a complement just because I’m afraid is pathetic and shameful.

So I’ve decided to try something…

Giving a selfless complement is a small way to make a difference in someone’s day, thus blessing them, even if they don’t see it as a blessing. These little kindnesses are an easy and powerful way of showing others love, which is what Jesus was/is/will always be about. We’ve been called to sacrifice ourselves in order to take on the traits of our Savior Jesus Christ, and for the longest time I’ve never known where to start. I have this burning passion to live a life for Him, but fear and pride have held me back from taking action in any kind of regular way. I’ve learned that it takes initiative and action on our part. Yes, He has a will for us to become an image of Christ, but we have to inter-twine OUR will WITH His in order to make it an active faith. How are people going to see Him in us if we don’t live it?! How are they going to know that we’re different, that we belong to Him if we don’t BECOME it in and out?! This means stepping out of our bubbles and acting on the passion that dwells inside our souls.

I’m going to start out small by trying to give one selfless (keyword) complement a day. This will force me to look for the best in people. And by acting on what I feel, I pray He’ll teach me to overcome my pride, hopefully making a difference in the long run. If this turns into me looking for someone to complement just to satisfy this dumb quota (which is my only fear in this), I will have lost hold of the point and will stop immediately.

Join me, will you? I am convinced we could only do good by this, so at least give it a shot with me. Let’s start taking baby steps to becoming what we’ve been called to be: the spitting image of our Savior.

in His love,

Shelby

blinded from blessing

18 Aug

As this summer comes to a close, and Facebook statuses flood with summer re-caps, I can’t help but start to reflect on how this summer has been for me. By the time I think through my entire summer experience a sad and pitiful realization hits me: this summer has been amazing, and I didn’t even realize it until now.

I spent way too much of my summer focused on one minor disappointment of life trying to pick apart what went wrong or what I could’ve done differently. Sometimes my brain gets so engulfed with these thoughts that I become blind to anything else, and for a little while that’s what overcame me. I was too blind to realize the torrential downpour of blessings God was raining down on my life. I feel so ashamed that I didn’t see these things and immediately cry out thanks to Him. Forgive me God.

He has  perfectly orchestrated my college funds and provided everything I’ll need to start school financially secure. He has brought my family closer together than we’ve ever been. He has taught me lessons in Him that shook me to my core. He has given me time with my high school friends, brought an old friend back into my life, and taken me on a fantastic and interesting journey with a new one.

I cannot praise Him enough.

Sometimes I can be so blind, and it tears me apart.

The one thing God has taught me this summer is that He is in control. No matter the situation, whatever He has planned is TEN-MILLION times better and more incredible than anything I could ever think up. In light of this lesson, I surrender to Him all my worries, confusions, relationships, and trials because there is none more capable and willing to mold them into something beautiful than He. And in the beauty that becomes of them I will turn around and give Him the glory He is due for so sovereignty reigning in all areas of my human existence. Soli deo gloria.

in His love,

Shelby

on my mind

9 Aug

I feel the need to write about something that I’ve had on my mind for a little while.

I teach a Preschool Sunday School class with my mom at the church I go to, and yesterday as my mother was struggling to get the concept of The Burning Bush across to the impatient 2-4 year olds, it hit me: how can we just expect toddlers to understand and accept stories like that? I mean, Moses is just walking along one day tending to his flock when he sees this bush on fire, but not burning up. He gets closer, and it starts talking to him! That’s about as paranormal as it gets, and yet we teach it to kids as though it shouldn’t provoke a thousand questions. We tell the preschoolers about how it was God talking to Moses through the bush, and mainly push the theme that “God is always with us” (that being something 2-4 year olds can easily wrap their minds around) after explaining that Moses was afraid to confront Pharaoh, but that God promised to be there. But still, seeing the kids’ faces as my mom explained the story in her sweet “talking to kids” voice, you can see the wave of “Huh?” pass over them as she talks, but it fades as they file it away under the same section of mysteries that contains stories of The Flood; Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; Jonah and the Whale, and The Ten Commandments. It brought me to a point of asking myself  “Why are we even doing this?! If they don’t get it, then what’s the point? How can they possibly understand the true joy of knowing that the God of the Universe is with you wherever you go if the basics of the story don’t even make sense?”

Now, I don’t expect Preschoolers to be able to understand the majesty, glory, and infinite complexity of the miracles of God. And I know that through these stories we’re getting to important points like “Jesus loves me” and “God will always be with me.” But, if you’ll allow me to vent, it’s tough to not be able to teach kids that it’s ok to ask questions. In fact, if you don’t have questions, something’s wrong! You shouldn’t hear these stories and be like “Oh, ok! Yeah, that makes perfect sense!” I just hate to see them “graduate” and go off just accepting that these things happened in Biblical history and not realize how radical and not normal they were. After all, the whole point of those miracles was to shake people up by doing the impossible; to prove how supreme God is over Creation.

But there’s really no other way. The point isn’t that they understand the story, but that they know that there is a God and that He loves them very much. We can only pray that when they move to the next age group’s class and beyond that God opens their eyes to the wonder of what He has done, and try our best to teach and show them His love while we have their adoreable faces in our class.

thanks for reading.

in His love,

Shelby

late night blog

20 Jul

I’ve been using this book (some might call it a “devotion book”) to help me attempt to read and study my way through the New Testament. The point of the book is to read a chunk of New Testament, plus a related passage from the Old, and then it’ll have a little commentary by a pastor/speaker/Christ-Follower. All this is designed as a once-a-day sort of thing and is supposed to get you through the New Testament in a year…i’m ashamed to say that it’s been almost two years and I’ve just started Hebrews. But that’s not the point, this book has helped me grow TREMENDOUSLY! Not because Lifeway had it on sale, and I’ve just plucked a few life lessons out from the pages as I make my way through this book on to the next motivational Christian paperback (because this book isn’t like that at all. It’s really just a bible with a few notes thrown in), but of because the simple fact that God has used this attempt at spiritual discipline to speak to me in the most personal and unique ways, each time shattering every whisper of coincidence and replacing it with the clear and mighty voice of God calling out to my circumstance.

God’s Word needs no embellishment, or detailed chapters explaining what He meant by this or that. God is still speaking through His Word, and only uses the words of men to further punctuate His initial message. Like He did with me tonight…here’s the author’s excerpt after my scripture reading:

“Christ in us can manifest His holiness if we will yield our flesh to Him. This is not a human operation; it is a spiritual one. Jesus installs His holiness in us by grace. Not a once-for-all-time transaction, this is a daily, moment-by-moment striving to live more by the Spirit and less by the flesh.

Though becoming more holy is God’s work in us, it is not a passive enterprise. Our part is active, to strive and strain toward the high calling we have received. God’s part is to forgive our failings based on the merit of Christ’s atoning death.

His will is that we become holy…This kind of holiness is not the result of our own best effort…

The forgiveness of Christ makes us holy; He washed away our sin. In reality, God in us-the Holy Spirit-makes us holy. There is no possibility of holiness apart from His grace. He calls us, He justifies us, He sanctifies us (makes us holy), and He will glorify us – all by His grace.

Our part is to surrender in faith; God’s part is to implant the sanctifying Holy Spirit in us. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16). Because of His everlasting love, we know Him, and He is faithful to mold us into the character of His Son Jesus Christ- to make us holy.

Patrick Morley”

It speaks for itself, so I won’t even try to dissect it.

He knows and provides for my every need, and that need is to be filled with Him. With these devotional reminders He shows me that He is in charge, and that even with my best effort to try to control, I will crash and burn. He is faithful and true. I give up control to You my Master and King. I praise You for all that You are.

Check out the Book @ Amazon.com:

My Time with God for Students

in His love,

Shelby