On Living With Purpose (+ really exciting announcement)

Purposeful Pages Meme

 

Today’s the day! The day that the fabulous Hannah and I reveal a surprise that we’ve been working on.

 

And…the news is…

Continue reading “On Living With Purpose (+ really exciting announcement)”

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When Happiness Isn’t Enough

When Happiness Isn’t Enough

Dear Readers,

 

I want you to know that sometimes, I dream.

 

I dream of a big future, a bright one, a happy one.

 

As I get older, I’m thinking more and more about where and who I’ll be in a few years.

 

I’ll be honest, I want to be an editor. Most of you, if you know me, have probably heard me blabber on about that. I want to edit books, and live in an adorable top floor apartment in New York City, drinking coffee and cranking music at all hours of the day, wearing cute clothes, reading lots of books, and hanging with my good friends on the weekends.

 

While that whole scenario seems highly improbable and dream-like (not the editing part, I’m actually serious about that), there has been an underlying wish there that I’ve had my whole life.

 

Before I completely reveal that, I’d like to take you back to when I was five years old. My cousin and I were always close, and still are to this day. She and I were at our grandparents’ house, and she asked me, “Amanda, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I thought for a moment, and then replied, “I want to be a singer or an actress.”

 

I always hated to sing or speak in front of people, because I was painfully shy and self-conscious, but I still had a dream in my heart that one day, I’d find something to really make me happy, and right then it seemed like acting or singing was the way to go.

 

I love to sing, and I also love to entertain the delusion that I can act. But as I’ve matured, I’ve realized that neither of those is probably the path I’ll wind up taking. I enjoy those things, but I don’t feel a passion for making either of them my life’s calling.

 

However, I do love words, if you hadn’t already noticed. So for me, it seems like editing would be a good career, at least for the next couple years or so.

 

And sometimes, when I think of my mental “wish-list” for the future, I put an asterisk besides everything, saying “as long as it makes me happy, which I’m sure it will.”

 

I think that by having a certain job, a certain sized paycheck, a certain house, certain friends, certain environment, certain material possessions, that then, I’ll be happy.

 

But you know what?

 

Chasing happiness is like pursuing a shadow, or trying to catch the wind. You’re always striving, but never savoring what you have.

 

And while this seems a tad depressing, keep on reading, because I promise that it doesn’t have to be.

 

I told myself when I was young that when I “became a teenager,” that I’d be happy and free and all that jazz. I told myself that when I finally got a job and paycheck, I’d feel contented that I was somewhat independent. I told myself that when I finally started a blog, I’d feel an overwhelming sense of peace and purpose, and feel like I was important, that I was contributing something to the world, that I was valuable. I told myself that when I started dressing with more style and less Aéropostale graphic tees I’d feel more beautiful. I’ve told myself so many things over the years about what new thing would make me happy.

 

And I have news for you.

 

That happiness is so short-lived and shallow, and so easy to move on from as soon as we find “that next thing” to chase after. All those things have happened, and I’m not any happier because of them. Perhaps they’ve added some dimension to my life, but nothing on this earth can fulfill the hole in my heart for something more.

 

But there is One who can.

 

If I didn’t have my faith, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know who I’d be.

 

Things don’t make me happy, per se, but I am still a satisfied person, with joy in my life.

 

Philippians 4:11-13

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

This is one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. The last verse, at least. In this chapter, Paul tells us that in everything, the key to contentment is facing all things with the strength of Christ.

 

Now strength may not seem to connect with being content or happy, but let’s think about it.

 

This isn’t the strength that athletes claim before a competition. This isn’t “I can win this thing because I’m mentioning Jesus, and then I’ll get this gorgeous trophy showing how amazing my life is.” It’s facing every aspect of life with the mindset that we are never alone in facing trials. It’s knowing that life won’t always be good, but trusting God that He has a plan in all of it.

 

That, my friends, is what brings us to true contentment.

 

We can chase things, but they’re never going to fill us 100%. Or we can choose Jesus, to sustain us, to strengthen us when we succumb to our weaknesses, to hold us together when we fall apart. We can look to His grace when we fail, and mess up, and our lives are in disarray.

 

And that’s satisfying to me.

 

I know that I’m doing right now what He wants me to. I know that I’m letting Him lead my life. I know that I’m imperfect, but He has forgiven me.

 

That is what fulfills me.

 

That is what brings joy to my heart when I’m depressed.

 

That is what gives me meaning, a reason to go on, and inspires me to move forward.

 

I might not ever be rich, or famous, or have really wonderful stuff. And you know what? I’m okay with that.

 

Because life is about so much more than just being happy.

 

*aj

You Have A Purpose

You Have A Purpose-2

Yesterday afternoon, I had a wonderful idea for today’s blog post. “I’ll remember it,” I told myself. Did I remember it? Of course not. So goes the life of a blogger.

 

Recently, I’ve been addressing topics having to do with life and purpose. I haven’t explicitly stated that, but let’s look at the most recent ones and you’ll see what I mean.

 

In There is Always Hope, I discussed how we can have hope even in the darkest situations of our lives. Similarly, in Where Does Your Strength Come From? I explained that we need to rely on God to get through our difficulties. In Don’t Regret Where You Are and There is A Plan For You, I talked about living lives glorifying to God right where we are. That it doesn’t matter what point in life we’re at, but that we make the most of the lives that God has given us. In Christianity: Hypocrisy vs. Authenticity, I wrote about living authentically as a Christian.

 

As you can probably see by my past five posts, life and purpose are important to me. So to tie those posts together, I’d like to explore purpose today.

 

Before we get into why purpose is important, I want to establish what it is.

 

The handy-dandy dictionary.com says that purpose is “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.”

 

Therefore, it stands to reason that our purpose is the reason we were made. Why we’re here.

 

As Christians, we’re not left in the dark about this, though. We don’t need to wander aimlessly through life, crossing our fingers and hoping we make the right decisions. We can live a life full of purpose and meaning, and we don’t have to wonder what that is.

 

Firstly, we must acknowledge that God creates our purpose for us. His purpose is worked out in our lives through us.

 

One of my favorite verses is this one.

 

Job 42:2

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

 

It’s so encouraging to me to know that God’s plans surpass my own, and that no one can get in the way of His purpose and will. But what is His will?

 

John 6:40

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

 

I find that to be an interesting verse. It’s such assurance to know that everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved, and that salvation is not withheld from anyone who wants it.

 

2 Timothy 1:9

“[God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”

 

His salvation of us is by His grace alone, and not by our works. Because of His grace, we have been called to live in holiness – that is, as new creations in Christ, the holy people He has transformed us to be. We have purpose in this – to live out new, transformed lives.

 

Purpose is what gives our lives meaning. Purpose gives us a reason to live. A reason to get up in the morning. A reason to put others before ourselves and press on through hardships.

 

In this life, we’ll have difficult times. We’ll struggle, and stumble, and mess up because we’re not perfect. This life can get us down, stressed, depressed, discouraged, whatever. But because of salvation, we have such a great hope. We have the hope (and assurance) of everlasting life in Heaven, and God is not withholding that from us.

 

God desires for us all to choose Him, for us all to choose everlasting life.

 

This doesn’t mean that everyone on earth is saved, but that everyone who calls upon Him for salvation will receive it. It’s our choice. And His grace.

 

Romans 10:13

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

 

With this purpose in our lives, a reason to live, and an assurance to inspire us to press on, we don’t have to fumble around. We can live confidently, hopefully, and peacefully, in knowing that there is, in fact, a purpose for us.

 

*aj

I’m A Christian, And Also An Introvert

Woman, Mountain

As you all probably know…I’m an introvert.

INFJ, to be exact, which just so happens to be the rarest personality type in the world.

As an introvert, I enjoy solitude, find my best friendships one-on-one (as opposed to in a group setting), and I feel most comfortable at home. Preferably with a book, cup of tea or coffee, and gentle music in my earbuds.

All bookishness aside (though I would gladly talk about my love for books for hours), it’s part of my personality that I’m not very much of a social butterfly. I love people…one-on-one.

I find that a lot of times I lose myself in a group and find myself off to the side. I’d much rather converse with one friend than contribute to a group conversation in which we talk about pointless things.

That’s just who I am, and I’m still trying to accept the fact that 90% of my friends are extroverts and introverts understand me so much more. But it’s okay.

See, as humans, we all are different. Very different in fact. There’s not a right or a wrong personality, just like it’s not right to be a bus driver and wrong to be a waiter. Everyone has different gifts, and they’re all really important, especially as Christians.

God made us all with a purpose and a plan!

Psalm 139:14

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

For me, that’s a relief, because a lot of times, I feel like there must be something wrong with me. Social situations can be quite awkward, even if I know exactly what’s going on. Why don’t I just connect with friendly people my age?

Although I can’t really answer that, because I don’t really know, I do know that I have a purpose.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

I’ve come to understand that there’s nothing really wrong with me. I’m a rare introvert, and while I wish I had closer friendships, God has made me to be me. And I have a purpose in an extroverted world…even when it seems as though I’m a circular puzzle piece in a square-jigsaw-puzzle of a world.

As a Christian, I’m realizing that while having a unique personality is all well and good, it’s really important what we do with it.

Do I keep quiet about my faith in compromising situations because I’m “not comfortable” with speaking up and obeying my convictions?

Do I ignore the New Kid because I feel like introducing myself will be awkward?

Do I refuse to serve at church in a position that’s out of my comfort zone?

Do I ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share the Gospel because “it doesn’t feel right”?

This is where, as a member of the Body of Christ, I can get in trouble.

Because God doesn’t call us specifically to comfort.

Oh yes, He uses us right where we are. In fact, I don’t know if I’d be blogging if I spoke all these words instead of writing them.

But if God calls us to do something, we are wrong to refuse it because it’s “not our thing”.

We are all different, but we are all called to be salt and light in a dark world, and to share the Gospel.

It’s never easy, and it’s something that I think we all need to work on.

So, I’m going to take advantage of who God has made me to be. Places like this blog give me the opportunity to share my faith. Having close friendships help me to have meaningful discussions about important matters. Solitude helps me to get to know who God is more and more. When it’s quiet, and I feel alone, I remember that God is always with me and He will never leave.

But also, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunities that God puts in my path to serve Him, and I’m not going to rely on comfort to make decisions for me.

I have decided that I will live my life for my Lord, who has loved me first and saved my soul. It doesn’t matter if befriending someone is awkward; if God is nudging me to do something, I will do it. For living for Him is all that matters. Here and Now will fade away, but God stands for all eternity.

My personality doesn’t get me off the hook for serving God. I have a part to play in this world. I have so many opportunities, both within my comfort zone and outside of it, and I’m not going to give them up.

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began[.]

We have a holy calling. Isn’t that amazing? Let’s follow after God in what He is calling us to do, both in what comes easy, and what we have to rely on God’s strength for.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him.

Yes, I’m still an introvert. But yes, I am still a Christian. I have a different personality than most people, and I have a place in the Body of Christ. But I’m not limited…for God has plans for me, bigger than I could dream of. And I desire to be used by God.

*aj

How Long Will I Trust God?


How Long Will I Trust God?
Really, how long will it be? What will be the thing that would make me stop?
The world wants me to believe that I know what’s best for me. Because “only I would (and do) know that”. It’s “my” life, after all. 
But wait. Who gave me “my life”? Um, God did, actually. So technically it’s not “mine,” then. 
The Spirit of God has made me,         and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4, ESV)
Who knows what’s best for me? Well, God gave me life with a purpose, so He must (and does). 
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8, ESV)
Sometimes that’s the only thing I have to hold on to. When my world falls apart and I can’t help it, He will get me through. When life crumbles and feels like it’s crushing me, it’s okay. 
Because I trust God. 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,         and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)
I will trust Him always. 
I will trust Him when I succeed. I will trust Him when I fail. 
I will trust Him when I’m singing with joy. I will trust Him when I’m crying tears of pain. 
I will trust Him if I stay right here. I will trust Him if He calls me away. 
I will trust Him with now. I will trust Him with the future. 
I will trust Him if I stay secure. I will still trust Him if I lose everything. 
I will trust Him no matter what happens. 
I think we have two choices. 
1) Trust God and follow along, because He knows what’s best for us. 
2) Don’t trust Him and be dragged around in life, because we honestly have no idea what’s best for us.
Without God, we. are. hopelessly. lost. Really. Our finite minds cannot know the best. We can’t even make good little decisions. How could we possibly trust ourselves with our entire lives?
I’ve made my choice. I’m trusting God, and I’m not turning back.
*aj