Knowing His Voice

As I mentioned in my previous post, last Thursday I went to an All Sons & Daughters concert (WHICH WAS AMAZING) in Raleigh. At one point, one of the lead singers briefly talked about the word “fold.” She was referencing it in the context of the old hymn, Come Thou Fount. One of the lines says, “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God.” She said that the word “fold” is one that people in biblical times would have been been very familiar with. In their agrarian society, everyone was aware that occasionally sheep would wander from the sheepfold, away from the safety of their shepherd. In the Bible, Jesus says that we are those sheep who have wandered away from the sheepfold and away from His protection. It’s true. I can hardly count the number of times that I wander away from God just because I want to be the one in control, or because I think there is something better outside of His perfect will.

The singer went on to reference John 10, where Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd, and that His sheep know his voice. It got me thinking – do I know the voice of Jesus? Or am I too busy listening to the voices of my fears and anxieties? Maybe I think about voices more than your average person due to my field of work, but they are just so important. When I dial my grandma’s number and then hear her, “Hello?” on the other end, I smile because I know who it is. Am I that in tune with the voice of my Savior?

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Sweet Grams!

I started searching through the Bible for specific ways that would help me recognize His voice better. Here are a few verses I found:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:14

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 8:1

 

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17
 

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” -Matthew 9:36

 

“And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.'” -Luke 7:13
 

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” -1 Kings 19:11-12

 

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Carrboro sunset

The voice of Jesus is loving and kind, and His words are full of grace and truth. His voice isn’t pushy or mean or condemning. All too often, though, I listen to voices that are pushy or mean or condemning. That isn’t the voice of Jesus. Next time I’m faced with a big decision, or, honestly, just making it through the daily grind, I want to pay attention to what voice is guiding me. Is it the voice of society, telling me that I need to look different and perform better? Is it the voice of my own insecurities, telling me that I’m not good enough the way that I am? Or is it the voice of my Savior, whose perfect love casts out fear and who will quiet me with His love? These are the words that I want to listen to:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28-29
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Loving Lately [#2]

1. All Sons & Daughters. I cannot even explain how much I love this group. Their live album has been the soundtrack of my driving for a couple years now, and I finally got to see them perform last Thursday in Raleigh (thanks, Josh!). They did not disappoint. You can check out one of my favorite songs here.

2. McD’s iced coffee. It’s officially iced coffee season!!! I pass not one but two McDonald’s on my way to work, so pretty much every morning is a test of my willpower. Every so often I’ll leave a few minutes early so I have time to stop and grab one. They are glorious.

mcds coffee

3. Breakfast bowls. This is basically just a gratuitous way of saying “leftovers with eggs on top.” This bowl in particular was basmati rice, roasted asparagus, eggs, and avocado. The eggs + avocado combo can do no wrong, am I right?!

brek bowl

4. My new journal (from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition). Yes, I am one of those nerds who loves journaling and gets overly excited each time I get a new one. Normally I just get basic ones with blank pages, but I love how this one gives you prompts for each day. It has definitely helped me be more intentional in making small joys a priority in my days, and in creating action steps for my goals.

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I’m off to enjoy this last bit of weekend!

Light & Momentary

How often in life do we find ourselves waiting? Waiting for the weekend, waiting for pay day, waiting for traffic to clear up, waiting in line at the store… the list is endless. Lately I have felt somewhat “stuck” in a season of waiting, and I have to admit, I haven’t been handling it well. So many days have been spent resisting the waiting rather than viewing it as an opportunity to trust God and rejoice in the fact that He has good plans for me, even if I can’t see all of them quite yet. Not only does my resistance to waiting hinder me from trusting in God’s perfect timing, but it also obscures my view so that all I can see is what I don’t have, rather than the billion things that I do. Isn’t all of our life going to be spent waiting for something? Whether it be a small thing, like waiting in line for coffee, or a big thing, like waiting for a pathology report from your doctor, we will never be fully and completely satisfied until we are in heaven. As C.S. Lewis put it, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” That being said, I want to wait well. I don’t want to postpone my joy until I have what I am waiting for, because I know that as soon as I get it, I’ll just be waiting on something else. I want joy that is rooted in Christ rather than in my circumstances.

I believe that God is intentional in each season of our lives, and that He doesn’t want us to wait until we have all our ducks in a row before we have peace and joy in Him. Goodness knows I would be waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r. How, then, does God want us to wait? A few verses in particular have helped change my perspective on waiting, and given me hope that there is purpose to be found in those seasons.

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:4

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” -1 Peter 4:12-13

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-17

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Photo credit: Rebekah Senter Photography
My conclusion is that during seasons of our lives when we feel like we are waiting on some Big Things, God is perfecting our character so that we become people who are capable of greater joy, greater hope, and greater peace than we ever thought possible. It’s almost like the pain of waiting carves out space in us to be filled with more of the good stuff. The truth is, many of the things we’re waiting for may never come to fruition. We may never get that promotion or go on that vacation or have that house. It’s dangerous to put our hope in fleeting things like that (even though I do so all the time!) because they can never fully satisfy us. Knowing what we know about God, His character, and how much He loves His children, I think that if we don’t get what we are waiting for, it means God has something even better up His sleeve. It means that we will learn to put our hope in Jesus instead of the temporary things of the world. There are so many things out there that promise joy and fulfillment, and it seems like I have chased after every single one of them, but it is in Jesus alone that God promises we will never be disappointed.

“Those who trust in Him will never be put to shame.” -Romans 10:11

Loving Lately [#1]

Thanks so much for all the love on our engagement photos/story! 🙂 Today, I wanted to share a few things that have been bringing me happiness lately:

  1. This dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s. SO GOOD and only $1.99! (Confession: Most days I have a square with my cup of coffee in the morning.)choco
    2. Spring flowers. Wisteria seems to be taking over the planet lately, and I love it. I also found some beautiful lilies at the store one day and got some to put on our kitchen table. They brought me so much joy every time I saw them sitting there.

    lilies
    wisteria
    3. “In Over My Head” by Bethel Music. Worship songs like this make my commute to work not just tolerable, but actually enjoyable.

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    “Whatever it looks like, whatever may come, I am Yours”

    4. ALDI. Y’all, ALDI is where it’s AT. Last weekend I got a cantaloupe for 99 cents- need I say more? This place has great prices and lots of random deliciousness I haven’t found anywhere else, like healthy(ish) snickerdoodle cookies and spinach + feta chicken sausage. The only slight downsides are that a) you need to bring your own bags, and b) you need to have a quarter on hand if you want to use a cart. Last time I went I didn’t have a quarter, but a very kind couple gave me one when they saw my struggle. Problem solved! My new life goal is to never move further than a 30 minute drive from an ALDI.

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    5. Bike blenders (blender bikes?). Last Sunday after church, Josh and I stumbled upon a street fair and decided to check it out. One of our many commonalities is that we both have a very deep and wholehearted commitment to finding free food wherever we go, so needless to say we were thrilled when we found a tent offering free smoothies. The only catch- you had to pedal a bike in order to blend it! We both agreed we will be searching for one of these contraptions to put on our wedding registry. 😉

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    Josh getting ready to blend
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    My smoothie- blueberries, mango, & coconut milk

    That’s all I have for today. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

 

Engagement Photos

If there is one thing I’ve learned during my short time as a Christian, it’s that God is faithful. I love love love the words of 2 Timothy 2:13- “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

When it comes to the often-overwhelming wedding planning process, God has shown Himself faithful in a million different ways, but one of the most notable has been with our wedding photography. Let me tell you a little story:

A couple years ago, before I had even met Josh, one of my good friends showed me the blog of one of her friends, who was a wedding photographer. I was captivated by the images and knew that if the time ever came for me to get married, I wanted this photographer to capture the day. Fast forward to when Josh and I got engaged and began wedding planning. Anyone who has ever tried to plan a wedding on a budget knows what I mean when I say it can feel nearly impossible, and I was pretty bummed when I found out that this particular photographer was not within our price range. As we were emailing back and forth, however, she mentioned that she was holding a giveaway contest, and that we should enter. You know where this is going… By some miracle of grace, Josh and I won the giveaway!!! It just blows me away how God is so intentional with His gift giving. Not only are Josh and I getting free wedding photography, but it is with the photographer I had dreamed of having all those years ago. God is such a good Father, I can hardly fathom it.

Below are some of my very favorite photos from our engagement session with Boots (Rebekah Senter Photography). Boots is not only a talented photographer, but she also loves Jesus in a way that shows, and her generosity is inspiring. Such a gift!

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“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest…”

Taking a Sabbath is hard for me. To be completely honest, for probably an entire year after I became a Christian, I didn’t even know what the word “Sabbath” implied. I figured it was just a synonym for Sunday. As I started learning more about Jesus, however, I realized how much He valued Sabbath rest, and how God created it as a GIFT for us! In Mark 2:27, Jesus says that the Sabbath was specifically made for man. I also love how Hebrews 4 explains it:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it… There remains, then, a Sabbath -rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.” -Hebrews 4:1 & 9-10

If God, an all-powerful and perfect being, rested from His work, then how much more do I need to rest from mine??

After learning about Sabbath rest, I spent the next 2ish years putting it off. In grad school, my weekends were packed to the brim with studying, friends, church, and Special Olympics soccer. I reasoned that as soon as I got a job, then my weekends would be free and I would be able to set aside a day to rest. Ha! Turns out that once you start working, you have pretty much no time during the week to run errands/grocery shop/cook/see friends/etc., and all of that gets pushed to the weekends. To make a long story short, I finally got exhausted with being exhausted all the time. I felt like there had to be a better, more sustainable way to live (aka not in a constant state of burnout). Lo and behold- God knew exactly what He was doing when He commanded us to rest! I’ve found it to be a way not only to obey God (after all, He is pretty serious about the whole Sabbath thing) but also as a way to remind myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me, and that taking a day to be “unproductive” will not cause a worldwide shutdown of operations. Who knew!

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Currently re-reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Many of my weekends are full of trips/weddings/other commitments, which I truly enjoy, but which do not bring me real rest. On those weekends of busyness, I make sure to block off at least a few hours for Sabbath time, which to me means having NOTHING planned. It is such a glorious feeling! During weeks that seem relentless and unending, Sabbath rest can feel like a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that Sabbath rest looks different for a lot of people, but I think if your desire is to honor God with that time, then you can’t really go wrong. For me, this past weekend’s Sabbath included:

-Sleeping in! To me that is anything past 7am. Unfortunately I’m not joking. But it was amazing to open my eyes at 7:30 and see sunlight streaming in through my bedroom windows!

-Drinking coffee and talking about life with one of my roommates/best friends, Kate.

-Going grocery shopping. This probably feels like work for most people, but I actually love it as long as the stores aren’t crowded and chaotic (I’m looking at you, Trader Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon).

-Relaxing on the couch. Reading, Pinterest-ing, half-napping… It’s the best.

-Hanging out with Josh. He came over in the late afternoon and we went on a walk and then cooked dinner together (see photo below). So fun!

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Chicken + red pepper skewers atop a quinoa/rice combo

So there you have it- an example of my Sabbath rest. I still often have to fight off feelings of guilt for being “lazy,” but when those feelings come up, I recognize them as my pride lying to me and telling me that in order to be a valuable human being I must always being doing something or being productive. God certainly places a high value on work, but He also invites us to enjoy a day of rest during which we can recharge and remember that our worth does not lie in what we do, but rather in the fact that we are created in His image.

Hello!

I have always loved writing and sharing thoughts/photos/ideas with others, and a blog is such a great way to do that. So I decided to start one! A few of my faithful followers (just kidding… hi mom) might remember my blog from back in the day, which was aptly titled “The Oatmeal Diaries.” Since then, I’ve gone through some major life changes including (but not limited to!): becoming a follower of Jesus, graduating from undergrad and graduate school, meeting and getting engaged to the love of my life, and beginning my first full-time job in the field of speech-language pathology. I will write about all of that and more on this little space, so for anyone who may be reading right now, thanks! 🙂

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Strawberry picking – Summer 2015

The blog name “A Continual Feast” comes from Proverbs 15:15, which has always intrigued me:

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”

I think that intrigues me because I want it so badly. Who wouldn’t want their life to seem like a “continual feast”? Unfortunately, I can look back at days or weeks or even seasons of my life where I let despondency and trouble win instead. As someone in their mid-20s who is on a lifelong journey of figuring out who God created me to be (and what that means for my relationships, career, passions, etc.), I thought this blog would be a good way to hold myself accountable for cultivating gratitude, joy, and, yes, “a happy heart.” I’m not sure exactly what direction my posts will take, but I do know that I love talking about Jesus, food/nutrition, and random daily adventures/musings, so we will go from there. Hope you enjoy!