faith

Encourage Yourself

I woke up a few mornings ago and this song was in my spirit. I think I had actually been humming it all weekend and didn’t realize what song it was until today.

The church I grew up in sang it a lot and I vividly remember my mom being really into it whenever it came on. I didn’t fully understand it, not because I was a child or anything, but simply because my faith had never been tested in the way that it is now. I never felt the need to encourage myself because things were never “that bad” for me.

Now that I’m dealing with job loss, being in a long distance relationship and ultimately failure, I know I need to be positive. I know I’ve got to speak victory during a test, but honestly, it’s so difficult.

A few weeks back when I was counting down the hours until I left to go back home for the holidays I told myself I would pray every time I got down on myself and had negative thoughts. I spent a lot of my days praying, but I never quite felt like I was more positive.

What I realized was even though I was trying to be positive when I’d get on social media, or turn on the news, or talk to friends, the conversations were bombarded with negativity. So, I unfollowed all the toxic accounts on social and replaced them with accounts that were positive and posted testimonies and scriptures (@wisdomfeed and @instagodministries are great on Instagram). I prayed when I saw tragic stories on the news and I spoke positivity into loved ones who were being hard on themselves. I even put encouraging messages on my own social channels.

Even though I wasn’t encouraging myself, doing these things made me feel better.

Sometimes it’s not so much about looking yourself in the mirror and saying positive affirmations that you don’t believe, but rather watching what you say that’s negative and watching what you consume that’s negative. Without even realizing, the negativity that I was surrounded by was sucking the life out of me and so staying encouraged felt impossible.

What we have to remember is life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What we speak, we become. If you call yourself a loser and say that you’ll never get it right, chances are you won’t. But if you speak positively, if you speak like you’ve already got the victory knowing that you’ve gotten through 100% of your hardest days on earth so far, things will start to come together.

So speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord.

God Bless,

-BK

Photo credit: Wavy1 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Honesty & Growth

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

I have a lot of friends on Facebook who like to share praise reports and I’m thankful for them because they remind me and others of the great things God does for us. But so often I find myself reading these praise reports on my newsfeed and wanting to know more. What did God bring you through? What scripture did you read? Do you have a Spotify playlists of uplifting songs to recommend?

Maybe I’m nosey  I am definitely nosey. But God puts us through tests, so we can share our testimony! Everyone isn’t going to want to share all of their business and I understand that. But I told myself if I was going to make this blog all about me and my life, I was going to do it right. And for me, the only way to do it right is to be honest.

I’m being tested right now. My faith is being tested, my mind, my willingness to succeed. I feel like I’m being attacked in every aspect of my life. It’s like the world is saying “Welcome to adulthood Brittany, not as great as you imagined is it?”

No, it certainly isn’t.

But I think about the past few months and although it’s hard, I am thankful for how close my struggle has brought me to God. Before losing my job I was pretty unhappy. For so long I had dreamed of moving to a city on my own and taking it by storm. I wasn’t worried about making friends or even failing because I just knew I wouldn’t. So to be in the position I am now is hard. I feel like a failure. I heard about stories of job loss, loss of a loved one and other tragedies, and how it brings a person closer to God and I foolishly thought that somehow I would be exempt from that pain, that I’d never experience it simply because of who I am.

But I am nothing without Him. I didn’t wake up this morning without Him, I haven’t been able to make ends meet for the past few months without Him. Everything that I have and everything that I don’t have is because of God. Although I believed in Him when I had my job, when I was in college and even growing up, I did not believe that what I had was because of Him, but rather because of me. I couldn’t see that it was His grace and mercy that allowed me to be so blessed.

I believe it is impossible for us to know what we’ve got until it’s gone. I was in a place that made me unhappy, that I dreaded going to every day, and so I complained and had a nasty attitude. I was not thankful for the fact that I had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a reliable car to drive and a consistent flow of money, so I lost it.

I know God has something better in store for me. His word says so. He has plans to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). But we can’t receive a blessing we aren’t ready for. That our hearts are not ready for.

I’ve always been told that God takes us through hard times, so that we draw near to Him and in the past three months, I have. I’ve spent more time with God than ever before and I’ve watched myself changed. I’m more positive, I start my day off with prayer and devotion, and in the last few weeks I’ve taken the time to pray for people who have hurt me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but I thank God for how He has grown me during this tough time. And even though I can’t see it, I know better days are ahead!

Let Him do the same for you, submit to Him, talk to Him. Tell Him what is on your mind. Seek Him and trust that He’s got it all figured out. If you’re not sure where to start Bible.com just launched their new website and it is fantastic! So if you’re a person who want’s to read devotions on your laptop or home computer, you can just go to the website, they’ve got a lot of great devotionals as well as multiple versions of the Bible. So check it out!

God Bless,

-BK

 

 

Under Construction

Under construction. That seems to be the theme of my life right now. I’m in between jobs, not loving the city that I’m in (not even really liking it) and so confused about what God wants me to do.

I’ve been reading my Bible and praying every day searching for an answer, but I feel like I’m not listening hard enough. Or maybe God is giving me an answer and I just don’t like it.

You know, I read all these articles every day about “How to be successful as a 20 something” or “The 3 keys to success by your 30’s” and a lot of other crappy headlines that are crafted by writers like me to get those who have felt that they have lost their way (also like me) to click the link and hopefully share the article.

The truth is, no 500 hundred word article is going to have the exact answers I’m looking for. No amazingly successful 25 year old can tell me what I need to do in order to be successful. All I can really do is pray and trust God. And currently, that answer is truly driving me insane.

I realize I’m all over the place in this post so far, but just bare with me.

It seems like I give this blog some love and then leave it, I give it some more love, and leave it again and so this time around I asked God “What should I be writing, what should this blog be about?” and while I was home for the holidays visiting Light of the Word Christian Church (if you’re in Indy, check them out!) I got my answer.

I have sat through countless sermons where the pastor tells the congregation that we all have gifts that God gives us and I’ve been lucky enough to know that mine is writing for most of my life. I remember being five years old and saying I wanted to be an author and an illustrator. Now I’m not too crazy about writing and drawing children’s book anymore, but I do still want to write. So I listened to all those sermons and I wrote more the second half of 2015. I got published in Elite Daily and more clips from Thought Catalog, I wrote for Barkley’s blog, published my first think piece on LinkedIn and I even started and finished my first novel. What a blessing!

But here I am, a week or so into the new year with some serious writers block. Actually, some serious life block (is that even a thing?). Every thing is up in the air right now and guys, I’m scared, I really am. I’m excited about what God has in store for me, but I’m terrified too because I like to control things and right now, there are just somethings that are really outside of my control.

So I kept praying the same prayer because the word says to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

On the first Sunday of the new year Dr. David Hampton preached about how to grow the church. He said one of our main missions as Christians, is to bring sinners to Christ and I’ve been thinking about how I can do that ever since.

Personally, I do not think I’ve been called to preach, I’m not a fan of crowds, or public speaking and I’m not the best at uplifting people, so the thought of teaching a Sunday School class, or preaching to a congregation isn’t for me. But I am a writer and I do like sharing what I’ve been through in hopes that it will help someone else.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

I have a lot of doubts, I’m not sure what’s particularly exciting about my life. (I feel like you all will soon realize the answer is nothing.) However, if I can use this blog to be really raw and honest about my walk with Christ, I think I’ll be doing something right.

As for my professional life, I’m currently freelancing in Kansas City and it’s a move I made a lot sooner than I wanted to, but it is what it is. All I can say is, pray for me friends. My 20’s so far have been a bit bumpy, but it’s all been worth it and I know that there is nothing I can’t do without Him on my side!

God Bless,

-BK 

Easter Sunday + Convo with Common

I promised myself that I was going to write more, I had tons of ideas and titles picked out for future posts, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt like it was something I had to do. I felt like it would impress future employers or teachers and so I’d start a blog post, get about a quarter of the way through and then say “I’ll come back to it,” (spoiler alert I never did).

I have wanted to write ever since I was in kindergarten, it was an outlet for me. In class, when we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up I always proudly said an author and an illustrator (which are pretty big words for a kindergartner if you ask me). I even came to Mizzou convinced that I was going to be the greatest editor-in-chief to graduate from the journalism school. Now I’m 30 something days away from walking across that stage and I’m not even graduating with a journalism degree. In fact, I’m more confused than ever about what I actually want to do with my life.

I came to a point where I just got sick of writing and the more people said “but you’re so good at it!” the more I wanted nothing to do with it. I can’t even say why, I’m not sure why. What I was writing just didn’t excite me anymore and they weren’t inspiring anyone else so I thought there was no point.

David and I went to Kansas City for Easter weekend. I always get really homesick during Easter, so I thought getting out of town might help (it didn’t–I now know that no matter where I end up in life, I will need to go home for Easter). We visited New Vision Christian Church. Before the service started I was on my phone, messing around with my LinkedIn, which as you can imagine I have become obsessed with since I am looking for a job post grad. I was looking over my applications that I had sent in via the LinkedIn app and some were really strong and some weren’t as strong. I knew I had been applying to a job for the sake of getting a job, but I hadn’t realized to the extent that I had been doing so. When I got to the bottom of the list a window popped up and said “You have applied for 48 jobs.”

My mouth dropped, I knew that number was only the jobs I had applied to on the app. That didn’t include the 20+ jobs I had applied to via other websites. How could I have applied for that many jobs and had no luck? My mind raced with thoughts of friends who have connections, or who are putting their eggs all in one basket and hoping it works out. I thought of classmates who are in schools at Mizzou that have job placement and ones who refuse to look for any jobs that aren’t in a certain city or state and in that moment, as church was starting I got so frustrated. Pissed even. I had been so open with my search. I had applied for jobs in almost every major (and not so major) city. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and I wasn’t sure what God was trying to teach me. Even worse I felt (and still feel) like no one understood what I was going through, even though I am surrounded by graduating seniors.

As the sermon started I tried to brush all the thoughts I was having off and just enjoy what was being preached on. The pastor preached out of Philippians, one of my favorite books of the Bible. He read the letter Paul wrote from jail (Philippians 3:4-11) where he talked about his status in society and how none of that matters if he does not have Jesus in his life. The pastor went on to preach about how some Christians may feel like there is something missing in their lives, how we need to seek God out more, stay prayed up through the good and the bad and read the bible daily.

But that’s not really what spoke to me. There was a point in the sermon where the pastor paused and he admitted he wasn’t sure why he was saying what he was about to say, but that God was speaking through him and someone in the room needed to hear it. He said (and this is not word for word) “Someone in here is a writer. One of you can write, you can write beautifully the way Paul wrote and you are not using the gift that God gave you.”

He went on to talk about how words can change people, how the Bible changes lives daily. He then said “Whoever I am speaking to, spend some more time in the word, spend more time writing and see if God doesn’t change your life.”

I without a doubt believe he was speaking to me. I believe God was speaking through him. I left church feeling so inspired, with plans to finish all the blog spots I had started as well as write new ones. But then homesickness took over, and by the time David and I got back to Columbia, I was tired and sad and I just didn’t want to do anything, so I didn’t.

For the next few days I spent free time working on homework assignments, watching Netflix, pretty much doing anything, but writing. Then last night, my boyfriend David got us tickets to hear Common speak on the topic of greatness.

common

His speech focused on finding your path, what you’re good at and love and letting it change your life. The moment he started talking about our path, writing is what came to my mind. All my life I’ve told myself that I was going to be a great writer. I didn’t know what I was going to write, or where or how, but I thought that was the path God had for me and so I was going to do it. I realize I’m lucky to have realized the gift that God gave me at such a young age. It’s never changed for me, it’s always been writing. I just needed a reminder.

Writing may not be what I get my first job in, I may never actually have a job description that is solely writing, but I definitely think it’s the first step to something bigger for me. But the pastor was right, how can I find out what that something bigger is if I don’t pray about it, read the Bible more and write. It’s not going to be easy by any means, I’m balancing so many things, but I truly believe making an effort to pray more, read the bible more and write more will bring me happiness.

If you’ve been lucky enough to find your calling already, live in it, do it with purpose and if you haven’t yet, spend some time alone reflecting, or with God or whatever high being you believe in. Trust that there is something out there that you can do amazingly well. And in the words of Common: “Find your path. Love your path. Believe in your path.”

Reflection

I’ve attempted to write a post for a few weeks lately. So many life lessons, but I haven’t exactly known how to put any of them into words. So excuse this for sounding like word vomit.

Something about my senior friends graduating and not having a job scares me. Yeah, I’ve got a year to make sure that doesn’t happen to me, but if businesses wait as long as they did to get back to me about internships (even thought I got a lot of offers) I’ll be a sitting duck for a lot longer than I want to be. I told myself that come June and especially come August, I’d start really looking/applying for jobs. I think that’s the biggest mistake some of my senior friends have made. Yeah, it’s super easy to get caught up in football season, classes and all the organizations you’re involved in, but eventually all that ends and if you don’t prepare ahead of time, it could be bad news.

Then there’s the lack of a dating life. I guess when I look back on my time in college (and even high school) I never really had a dating life. I think last summer was the closest I’ve gotten and while that was really great, it was also, not so great. I don’t know, my best friend is getting married. She’s 21 and getting married, our conversations have switched to “I hate boys, let’s grab Ben & Jerry’s and cry,” to “There’s nothing like falling in love.” In yet, I still can’t relate to that.

For a while I had gotten out of my mind that there was something wrong with me. I started getting healthy, losing weight for myself and loving my body. I wish I could tell you what changed, I’m not too sure. I do know that I hate working out, it’s not fun, at least not to me.

Anyway, I say all this to say, despite all of the awesome things I have gotten to do, I still feel like something is missing. Some days it feels like maybe an org I could have joined, others it feels like a person. I’ve definitely been praying through it, but I just can’t seem to shake it. It’s weird.

Despite the difficult time, I can’t help, but be a little happy because I feel it signifies change. I know God wouldn’t take me through anything I cannot handle and even though things seem really up in the air right now, I know He’s got my back.

Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. 

-Proverbs 3: 5-6

Be blessed you all!