A time for growth

It’s officially been one week since I packed up my belongings in my trusty little Jetta, strapped my bike to the back of my parents car, and drove from a place of comfortability into the complete unknown. I wouldn’t call myself brave. It’s all Jesus. This kind of trust in the future comes solely from the hands of the Lord.  

I loved my life in small town Monrovia. I loved going on runs in the tree-lined neighborhood, stopping in for ice cream in the downtown that so perfectly resembled Stars Hollow (thanks for tainting my dreams, Gilmore Girls), and holding babies in the nursery every Sunday morning

I so so so dearly loved babysitting my sweet little family- with 3 kids that I adore and have missed everyday since my departure. I loved preschool drop-off on Thursday mornings, dancing and making snapchat videos with sweet Truly Star. Taking August to various therapies and target runs, and feeding him endless popcorn and yogurt. Watching him learn to walk, say words, and then snuggling him before nap time. Jumping on the trampoline with Macy girl, causally throwing the best dance parties in the living room, watching her learn her sight words and eventually, earn student of the month. These memories are irreplaceable and will forever hold a huge section of my heart. (Currently tearing up because I miss them so). Through this family, I learned so much about loving selflessly, pursuing hard and holy things, what teamwork looks like in marriage, all things Down syndrome & adoption (which now I totally want for my own future life), and following the Lord’s call in your life. Their hospitality and generosity mean so much to me.

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Which brings me to San Diego. But first, let me talk to you a little about my experience with graduating…

Graduating college is a weird thing. Sure, the actual day of graduation is fun because it’s the first time you realize you don’t have any more homework to do, ever. (This is a lie, past Abby. Future Abby is doing lots of studying now). I was surrounded by my family and friends, and the affirmations of my success were pleasant to hear. And then a couple days or weeks later, it hits you. Adulthood is hard. 

I loved school. I loved learning from professors, going to chapel, living with my best friends, and running around Pasadena completely care-free. But loneliness isn’t something they talk to you about before you graduate. The best friends you’ve spent the last 3-4 years with leave. They get married or move on in various directions. After I graduated, I quickly found jobs to replace school, had a wonderful church community, was strengthening my relationship with the Lord, but was trying so desperately to fight this loneliness. 4 months later, I was still battling this and decided enough was enough. I had great friends, great jobs, a great church, great mentors… But I knew life could be more. I trusted God had better things planned for me and I had faith that although life in Monrovia was awesome, there was more out there. I didn’t want to settle. I wanted to jump into the unknown with an open heart and an open mind.  

God had better and bigger things planned, and I was finally ready to take that leap of faith. 

One week in San Diego, and I’m completely in awe of the Lord’s goodness. Just two months ago, I was so angry with the Lord for taking something so good away and questioning if he wanted me to be happy… And then I came here. His ultimate goal for my life isn’t that I’m happy. But that I can find happiness, fulfillment, joyfulness, and purpose in him. And I have found it. I have learned more and more each day about the Lord and his purpose for my life. These are little snippets or “God winks” of what I have experienced in the last week: I’m 20 minutes from the beach and can watch the sun set over the water any time I want. I found a gym that I can bike to, one that also has an outdoor lap pool (I broke out my old swim team suit this week!). My roommate is heaven sent and our apartment is just the cutest. I’ve enjoyed making all my meals in my own kitchen and even made my dad’s famous cookie recipe the other night! (These cookies are now all gone. Thankfully they were very healthy 🙌). I accepted a job offer to become an ABA tutor for kids with Autism and other developmental disabilities, and have already started my training to become a Registered Behavioral Technician. I attended a service at Mosaic SD this morning and am in prayer over where God wants me to meet his church and family.  

The Lord is good, he is faithful. Life is good, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever…

to him alone does great wonders,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Blessings,

Abby

On Identity

Beautiful words c/o my soul sister Heather @ https://manandmountain.wordpress.com
Beautiful words c/o my soul sister Heather @ https://manandmountain.wordpress.com

Lately, I’ve noticed that most of my conversations with friends, mentors, and family members have circled around the idea of identity.

Maybe it’s because graduation is right around the corner and I’m still not sure what post-grad life looks like yet, or maybe it’s because so many questions I get asked are along the lines of “how are you doing since the breakup?”

My answers are straight-forward and simple: “I have no idea!” and “I’m doing well, thanks for asking!”

But on one occasion I found myself with tears starting to well up in my eyes because one friend simply said: “No, how are you doing? Please tell me so I can pray for you.”

Honestly, I have moments that I am overwhelmed. I thought I had a clear picture of my future, both in career and love but both of those changed dramatically. I look to God when things are wavering and seem out of control. In those moments I am learning to stop and say, “God, use this uncertainty and teach me.”

Last Saturday night, a few friends and I had the opportunity to hear world-renown NYC Pastor Tim Keller speak at a church here in Los Angeles. He spoke at the concluding session of the TogetherLA conference and his session was free, so being college students who love to soak up any new information, we jumped at the chance.

And of course, Tim Keller spoke on identity. Similar sermons and speeches have been given and each time I find myself completely bewildered that God created me and relentlessly pursues me each and everyday. And he does have a plan for my life, even if I can’t see what that is right now. My career and love life don’t define me. Who I am in Christ does.

“Your identity is not your feelings or the interpretations of your feelings. 

Your jobs, dreams, aspirations, goals are not the only things that define you. 

Any thing that you try to get self-worth from that isn’t from God will destroy you. 

We have the identity that is not achieved- 

but received

Jesus Christ is your one true love and he went to the cross to show you what that means.”

We are defined by God and God alone. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “But it is God who established us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” As we grow in trusting God, He is likewise molding us into the person he created us to be.

I think it is so important in this time of preparation for the next season of our lives that we learn and put our whole selves into God’s steady hands. Our identity rests in Him and Him alone– the creator our inmost parts and the keeper of our souls. He is our safety and our home base while everything else seems to be a slippery substance crawling out of our hands. He is our unbreakable foundation when grad school applications are looming in the distance, apartment lease and roommate agreements are confusing as all get out, and romantic interests slowly fade. Our neediness for daily joy and happiness is a link to His presence. 

In this time of waiting and preparing for the next steps, I am learning to listen more to Him and less to my doubts and fears. His faithful love is mine to embrace. He knows my next step, and the one after that, and the one after that. After all, He has known my identity for ages and ages, and He cannot get enough of who I am in Him. And he feels the same about you, too.

Blessings,

Abby

P.S. here are some more verses on Identity for your bible studying pleasure!

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Colossians 3:1-3
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

1 John 3:1-2

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

On Praying

“Prayer is not designed to change God, it is designed to change us. Prayer is not calling God in to bless our activities. Rather, prayer takes us into God’s presence, shows us His will, and prepares us to obey Him.”

Henry Blackaby

The meaning of prayer is simple: a method of talking with God.

Prayer has always been a difficult thing for me to grasp, or even to participate in. In my early years of faith and pretty much up until college, I was insecure with praying. I am not even that comfortable with small talk with people right in front of me so praying to God was a whole different story. It’s not that I don’t like people or talking with them! I just find it difficult to come up with things to talk about. However, once we get going into a good conversation, the flow becomes natural and I find myself not wanting it to end!

This is how my talks with God usually start, and I used to be so insecure about this. I mean, everyone tells us that we can talk to God about anything and everything, and there should be no boundaries. But the fact is, a lot of people have trouble talking with him because of one specific  boundary: he isn’t right in front of us. 

Except…he is. And always will be. No, he physically isn’t in the room with me but He is in my heart and his presence has never left my surroundings. I now find prayer to be one of the most reassuring and relaxing activities. There is something so beautiful and inspiring and heart-wrenching about talking with the One who held my heart before I was born and formed me into his precious daughter that I am today. Prayer is transformative.

“Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Most of my prayers are actually written- in my journal, on the sides of my planner, and on my computer. I am a writer and I like to use my creative capacities to talk to our Creator. I have also found that I like to use the ACTS method when writing in my journal. I simply write out my thoughts in each of these categories and then find myself done with my prayers pages and pages later!

acts prayer method

There are tons of ways to find how prayer works best for you. If you have trouble with praying, I want you to know it’s okay. It will be okay. It may not come easy at first and we go through seasons where it feels more natural, and that’s okay. But keep praying. Keep talking with Him, the keeper of your heart. The more time I spend with God in prayer, the stronger I feel and the more capable I feel to walk through this hard life. He may not answer your prayers right away, he may give you a “no”, a “wait”, or nothing at all. God sees the whole picture, and he will give us the desires of our hearts when they are in accordance with his plan. This is the most comforting thing of all- His plan for our lives. His good and God-sized plan.

“Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as he likes.” -Oswald Chambers

Blessings,

Abby