One foot in and one foot back.

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On August 23, 2015 I was the most scared I have probably ever been. Of course I waited to get past airport security before allowing myself to go into panic mode. In a few short hours I would be embarking into the unknown. A huge question-mark was before me, and all I could do was trust that God was leading me in the right direction. I silently cried while listening to Bethel’s version of “It is Well.” Flashbacks of leaving for college and Study Abroad fluttered around my mind. That all seemed like child’s play in comparison. It was just a huge mess.

(Avett Brothers, “I and love and you”)

My loving family has always wished me well on my adventures, not doubting me for a second. They threw me elaborate going-away parties with banners, cakes and parting-gifts. They never said, “What the heck are you doing, Bre?” (Well, most of them, anyways.) How did they know I was ready for such a huge change?

I think more than they trusted me, they trusted that God was leading me. That’s BIG.

You see, somewhere between beginning college and graduation I decided to live life full-force. I started praying those dangerous prayers like, “send me anywhere,” “correct my mind and my heart,” “teach me how to love like You.” That’s exactly when it all became clear: I had to start going through those open doors. I had to stop doubting their presence. I had to take a LEAP instead of tip-toeing around.

By result, I have been able to experience so much in life at such a young age. And this is just the beginning! img_4378

I see so many of you wishing your life away, constantly using “if-only” vocabulary. I see so many opportunities escaping you because you are doubting the power of the Creator that made you. Yes, imperfections and life-circumstances hinder us, but do we not know that when God calls us to do something He doesn’t send us out powerless? There is a reason you are passionate about that one thing. There is a reason you feel an urge to travel.

Even if it’s not travelling, but starting that business, that’s shaking you to your core, this is for you.

Sometimes you aren’t being urged to do anything drastic, but something so simple that it seems ridiculous.

Either way, the world is counting on you to take action.

 So this is my challenge to you:

STOP STOPPING YOURSELF. START LISTENING TO YOUR  GUT.

STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR YOUR OWN SELF-DOUBT. TAKE RESPONISBILITY FOR YOUR OWN INACTIONS.

STOP MAKING A LIST OF WHY YOU CAN’T DO SOMETHING. START WRITING DOWN ONLY REASONS YOU SHOULD DO IT.

STOP TIP-TOEING AROUND GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU. TAKE THE LEAP OF FAITH.

You won’t regret it!

Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Christmas: A Reminder

There are a lot of cynical people out there. Throughout the year they have their loudspeaker on full-blast letting us know how idiotic our religion is. They want us to feel insecure in our relationship with the Father, who has been blamed for every disaster since Adam. They want our opinions deemed invalid because they are hinged on our unswaying faith in an infallible God. At times, we feel the weight of this burden is too heavy.

But this season should lift thjhuihuat burden because this season is telling us that it was never ours to bear. We were never meant to shoulder the burden of the world’s cynicism towards God. JESUS DID THAT FOR US.

 

If you’re feeling the weight of cynicism this season, like I have been, remember the birth of Jesus. Remember his story. Remember that you and I don’t have to prove anything. It has never been our job to prove God’s Power. Our job is to pass on the Good Message and let the Spirit do the rest.  That’s what it’s all about: Jesus love for all the world. Even the doubters!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, YA’LL!

thhghjghj

 

 

 

 

American Thanksgiving: What it Should Mean to Us

“giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to the God and Father.” Ephesians 5:20

 I believe we,as Christian-Americans, need to re-focus our attention on the importance of being thankful. The kind of thankful that doesn’t only happen when we ace a test or get what we want. The kind of thankful that shows up in our communion with others and our worship to God. The kind that seems to spill out in our conversation with everyone. The kind not hidden under our pile of complaints.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by people that were recently struggling to survive. In fact, they had little hope left by the time a Native friend was sent to them. They could have started blaming God for the many deaths, not getting to land fast enough and the hard labor they had to endure at much cost to their well-being; but, instead, they worshipped Him. They forewent the complaining and went straight to thankfulness. This should tell us something.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we see the toddler America go through a ghastly, horrible Civil War. Thousands had died at the hands of their own brethren and the result was a huge wake-up-call for the nation. Political interests had already tattered the healthy relationship between the Native People and the New. Selfish interests were keeping people from following the ways of Christ, thus polluting the country with ideas that some humans were less valuable than others. Things were looking dim, but Abe Lincoln didn’t allow the cloud to hover long. In fact, he showed the people that he believed in God’s Providence, even in, what others may consider, hopeless times.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” Abe Lincoln 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation*

Fast forward to now, a still-young country that is still-now dealing with the heavy tides of “progression.” Secularism has taken the nation by storm, and now we are left with few playing cards in hand. The nation that used to be “God’s” is now taken captive (in some opinion). But, to me, this is the perfect time to renew our fervor for the One in control. It’s time to stop depending on humans to fulfill the visions we have for the nation and, instead, place our nation in the powerful Hands of our Father. We need to come together this Thanksgiving and quit parading around like we’ve accomplished anything by ourselves. We need to give Him the thanks and praises that only He deserves.

This is what Thanksgiving should mean to us.

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source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

 

Despite Everything

I want to share a piece of my heart with you.

Just yesterday, someone unfavorable won the Presidency. Half of America is now shocked, ashamed, and down-right angry. The other half is thanking God for pouring out favor on us. If the vote had gone the other way, the script would most-likely have remained the same.

We live in a time of “give me what I want or I’ll complain until you do.” God forbid someone wait longer than five-minutes in a grocery check out line. “How dare you state your opinion to me! You must hate me and my family.” You see where I am going…

But we also live in a time where compassion is easy to find. Just do a quick search of volunteer efforts in ________. There are so many caring people (on both sides of the aisle). There are so many people sacrificing time and money in the service of others.

Despite the changing political climate, these people will still be out there, waiting for more people to join in the effort. Despite the selfish attitudes that seem to surround us, the selfless are pouring out themselves onto altars around the world. Despite the naysayers, the optimists are promising that tomorrow will be better.  Despite everything, God’s will is being done.

Sending thoughts of love and peace from the other side of the world.

-Breezy

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Weightier Matters: Wisdom

Let’s be honest, we just don’t love wisdom anymore.

We pay musicians to tell us we are sexually pleasing and validate our party lifestyle. We drink because thinking about life too much causes us to be uncomfortable. We watch movies that give us fuzzies and laughs about sleeping around with no consequences (as if that were ever true). We worship children as if they place the sun on the hilltop and shove our elderly into crowded, dingy, hospital-style homes as if they deserve a prison sentence for living. Wisdom is being shooed away like a bad smell.

Proverbs is one of my favorite books because of it’s straight-forward answers to life’s many questions. You can graze passages and still pick up so much insight. And one of the best nuggets speaks of our distaste for knowledge.

“Wisdom shouts in the streets….How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge?” Proverb 1:20-22, paraphrased.

We would like to think that we have evolved into wiser, more stable people; but look around you and see that absolutely nothing is new. Same song, different tune.

We are constantly searching for validation, emotional support and ways to escape; then, when wisdom shouts in the streets, we walk away as if she is a crazed lunatic.

Guys, we need wisdom. If Proverbs doesn’t teach us that, then the state of our world does. Wisdom can be found, not only in the Word, but in that seasoned old man sitting on the park bench and that Ph.D. holder that just returned from Africa.

Wisdom challenges us, not validates us, and it doesn’t always make us feel good. So, don’t expect that old man to fluff your ego; expect to gain insight into someone else’s journey.

Let’s start loving wisdom, and see if that can get us further in our goals.

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Weightier Matters: Anxiety

Let’s talk about Anxiety. 

The word alone sends people different directions. Some respond to the word by quoting scripture. “Cast your cares onto Him.” They consider anxiety to be something that only happens when someone dies or you go bankrupt. Maybe you haven’t been saying your bedtime prayers sincerely enough. I can’t count how many times people say “just chill out.”

Other’s respond with complete understanding because there are more people than you’d think that sometimes “just can’t be calm.” They can mentally cast prayers into the sky, fully trusting that they are heard, but, physically, feel the sickness taking over their mind and body.  

As a psychology-counseling major, I looked at this disorder as one of the lighter ones. Before anxiety hit me personally, I thought anxious people just needed to go to the mountains for a while and experience Jesus. I thought anxiety could be an easy fix. It wasn’t a disease, after all. 

I didn’t know how wrong I was until it happened to me. 

Anxiety is real and, at times, crippling. It’s not an easy-fix and it’s not a matter of lacking faith. No matter how badly you want to feel joy and calm, anxiety will fight you at every turn. Anxiety is the thief of calm. 

But that doesn’t have to be the end. 

*disclaimer- I am not an expert in this subject, and I do not claim the rights to what I am about to say.* 

Here is my best attempt at describing my worst days: 

Example one: Before I knew that I had anxiety, I would feel pains in my chest throughout the day without any noticeable reason. This pain I now describe as caged moths fluttering in my chest, rattling the cage. There weren’t many other symptoms at this point. I thought I might have had a heart murmur or asthma. 

Example two: The “cloud.” On these days I feel as if there is a dark fog clouding my mind. I cannot process information easily, my thoughts gets jumbled in my brain and seem to get stuck at the end of my tongue. One of the most major downsides is my inability to process joy. I am physically unable to laugh at a joke. Even if I mentally consider something humorous, my spirit remains cold. I distinctly remember a day when I went to a huge church gathering out in a field. I walked around with my family, looking at all the other smiling people, but all I could do was stare. Like I was inside of a dark cloud hovering above all the happy people. Even when I mentally wanted to “snap out of it,” my spirit could not liven. I felt like a statue. 

Example three: Sleeplessness. This one has just recently shown it’s ugly face. Tossing and turning in the bed until one in the morning, I stumble to the livingroom couch to try and change environments. I listen to some music, play mind games, but the moths in my chest and the hovering thoughts keep me in a state of insomnia. In the morning I will hide my tired eyes with cold cream and concealer. 

Example four: The voice of fear. This one is my worst enemy. The guy that tells me everything negative about myself. The guy that tells me I can’t be fixed and I need to find an out. Run away, it whispers. It’s the only way! It screams. This fella almost gets me in a bind because shutting him up seems to take outside help. Choosing the outside help correctly is critical, though. It’s the difference between addiction and progression. 

Knowing triggers

This is vital to anyone who experiences this disorder. Triggers can be anywhere, but knowing them can be life-saving.

Here are some personal triggers within my  seasons of anxiety and ways I combat them: 

Crowds: Living in an over-populated country is difficult for this reason (and part of the reason I fought God when he told me I was coming here). As I write this, I am in the small compartment of a K train with about ten others surrounding me. Breathing deeply. 

Defense: Discerning the best days/times for traveling. I know that the buses will be crowded at lunch and dinner time. I avoid the malls on the weekend (if possible). If I happen to be on a bus that starts to crowd, I get off at the next stop and take a taxi. I don’t take chances. 

Overstimulation:  Crowds are kind of linked to this one as well. Again, this one is tough to combat in a second-world country. Even in America, we are constantly hit with distractions. But overstimulation, to me, can be found in my classroom. Loud conversations and sudden bursts of laughter. Someone jumps from behind me yelling, “surprise!” My mind turns into a minefield. How much can I take before something blows? My eyes dart in every direction. Who do I look at? Should I just stare at the wall in the back?

Another culprit can be found on the very screen I look at now. Media of all shades and descriptions sends my mind through a whirlwind, twisting and turning until all I can think about is everything right and wrong with the world. After hours of this thinking, I realize it’s four in the morning. 

Defense: In public situations, I am intentional with my choice of attention. If there’s chatter, I either scan the room, looking at each face and think prayers over each one. Or I find a distraction in mind hands, whether it be writing or reading an article. Tuning out is usually the best option. 

As for the technology, I have recently implemented a “safe zone” in my bedroom. My bed is an oasis from technology. No phones or iPad allowed. The bed is for sleep. This, I found, has worked wonders. 

Disorganization:   As an “INFP” personality, organization is kind of on the end of my list (if I actually write one). This leads to forgetting where I put things and actually losing important information. The most disorganized place, though, is my mind. I call my mind a hostel for thoughts. They come and go as they please and most are staying in mixed dorms (only travelers will get that one). Memory loss plagues me and this only increases the uneasy feelings about what I am accomplishing throughout the day. 

Defense: During these times of jumbled thoughts, writing down a to-do list seems to be the perfect remedy. I started this in college and it has proven to be an easy and healthy technique. One might call it a “de-cluttering of the mind.” I also keep a journal bedside just in case I have reoccurring thoughts that I need to release. 

Other defenses aren’t linked to any one trigger, but have been found helpful. For example, talking to a friend about my current battle. It takes humility and courage, trust me, but I have found that going at it alone is much harder. 

Another defense is devoting myself to something I am passionate about; even if it’s is multiple things! Being open to trying new ways to combat my stress and checking off the list of what does/doesn’t help.

 “The only way to be sure that you fail at something is to never try.” -Unknown 

In other words, anxiety is a struggle but it is not something that can consume you if you don’t allow it. Take care of yourself and you will be surprised at how much more you can take care of others. 

**Important: If you have any symptoms that relate to what I have mentioned, please visit a health professional. Mental health is important and should be considered as much as physical health. 

**Disclaimer: I am not prescribed any medications. I do not have severe anxiety, therefore I do not claim anything aforementioned as viable information for all anxiety sufferers.  

These are just a few examples of known triggers. If you want more data-based information, you can visit the American Psychological Association’s webpage and research further. 

http://www.apa.org 
The most important piece of information the I can tell you, though, is that I have figured out something wonderful in my “falling apart” stages: I am not my brokenness. 

 Even when I am down in the valley, He is with me. I know this, and it gives me strength. “Because when I am weak, THEN I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10

You don’t have to feel 100% to know that you are 100% in His eyes. 

This is why  we are told not to lean on our own understanding. Because when we see this picture, we see gray clouds, but He can see the beauty in all that will come from the momentary storm. Lean on Him, trust Him. 

At Once

13658913_282884032078549_8562527167793542911_n.jpgThe glacier in front of my eyes spanned the length of the Florida coast. How could a snowy, white block of ice actually be so….blue. How many clear bits of crystals came together to form this beast that brought chills to my bones in the dead of summer.  My hands shook and my heart beat a little faster because I saw something so much bigger than myself. I thought of my family, how precious they are. How my mother nursed me, father kept me sheltered and sister showed me friendship. Grandmother teaching me how to love unconditionally and my cousins displaying the gift of time. I thought about how much this isn’t about me or them, but something so much larger, vast, all-encompassing. The ruach of God.

 

“and at once I knew I was not magnificent”