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To THAT Girl

I want to write this letter to THAT girl…

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I want to write this letter to THAT girl…

The girl who is always passed up, overlooked, and turned down by the guys…

The girl who is left trying to figure out what is wrong with her and what that other girl has that she doesn’t…

I want to talk to YOU. Have you ever been THAT girl?

The girl who is never thin enough, athletic enough, pretty enough, funny enough, brave enough…

The girl who shouts for joy with her friends when they are blessed with the desires of their hearts, but goes home and cries herself to sleep.

THAT girl.

I hear you. I see you. I understand you, because I AM you.

I’ve shed those tears. I’ve felt that pain. I understand the loneliness and the wondering if it will be forever.

I get the questions that go through your mind.

Am I too much or not enough? Am I too intense or too nice?

Am I worth it?

It seems like the world would say you’re not. It definitely seems like guys would say you’re not.

And right now you expect me to come in and say something to try to win back your hope…

Right now you expect me to say that someday Prince Charming will come and that you won’t even remember all the years of pain getting there…

But I couldn’t say that, because truth be told, I don’t know what may come someday. And I can’t promise that you’ll forget.

And I wouldn’t try to cheaply explain away your pain, because people have done that to me for years and quite frankly, I hate it. I hate the well-intentioned comments that people make. I hate the flattery. I hate false promises…I’ve heard enough of them to make me doubt a real one.

Are you THAT girl?

I AM.

But there is so much MORE to me than that. And there is to YOU too.

I AM the girl who said “Yes” to God many times when I was scared to death…and watched miracles happen before my eyes.

I AM the girl who has been able to do so many crazy things with my life because my path looked different from my friends’….and I’m not sorry for that at all.

I AM the girl who overcame countless obstacles to become who I AM today. No, really…you have NO STINKING IDEA what I have had to go through.

I AM powerful in Christ. I AM successful because of Him. I AM relentlessly loved by Him.

And I NEVER EVER EVER have to apologize for who I AM.

I am THAT girl, and you’d better not forget it.

And you know what I think?

I think you’re THAT girl too. You’re AMAZING. You’re BEATUIFUL. You’re WANTED.

You’re WORTH IT.

And guess what?

You NEVER EVER EVER have to apologize for being THAT girl. Seriously, don’t do it. There is so much more to you than meets the eye…so much more than even you’ll ever know…so much more than any boy could ever define for you.

Go out there today and be THAT girl.

O Ye of Little Faith

There is one thing in me that I know makes His heart smile. I keep getting out of the boat for one reason only: if Jesus is out there on the waves, then I want to be out there with Him.

Be strong and courageous…

I’ve never wanted to run in the other direction so much in my life. I’ve never felt more inadequate or stretched. I am scared. I am overwhelmed. I’m drowning.

A few weeks ago, I saw a painting of Jesus standing on the water, reaching down through the tormented waves for my hand. His face was peaceful, His eyes determined, and the light surrounding Him a stark contrast to the darkness all around.

I remember a conversation I had with God as a senior in high school. He asked me if I could do anything with my life, what would it be? So I shared with Him my dreams. Only a few days later, I received an email that I was nominated to attend a leadership conference in South Africa, and my life took off from there. To tell you all that He has done would totally exhaust you, so we will just stick with this statement: it’s been CRAZY.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to re-surrender my life. I can’t tell you how hard it has been to be obedient at times. I can’t tell you how many times my efforts have fallen short. I can’t tell you how many times I thought my life was leading in this direction or that direction, and in the end wound up totally confused. However, I have discovered that as chaotic as my life has been the last ten years, it has truly been led in one direction only: straight to the heart of Jesus.

And that’s how I found myself here, struggling for life under these tormented waves. I wanted to live an extraordinary life for Jesus. I wanted to see Him do great things. I saw Him out there and I just wanted to be with Him. I didn’t even step; without thinking I jumped out of that boat! And I walked on that water.

Somehow the storm got loud. Somehow I fell, and all I knew to do was cry out to the only One who could save me now. Turning back isn’t an option. My strength is totally irrelevant here in the depths of the sea. The only thing that matters is that hand reaching down, that face of peace, and those determined eyes of love. “Lord, save me!” the words bubble out of my mouth as I reach with all I have for His hand.

“O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?”

He’s right. My faith is so small. I often doubt my ability to follow Him well. But then I remember that this isn’t my first time swallowed up by waves, and it won’t be my last. I must look like a clumsy idiot to those other disciples. However, there is one thing in me that I know makes His heart smile. I keep getting out of the boat for one reason only: if Jesus is out there on the waves, then I want to be out there with Him.

I want more of my Jesus, every single day, every waking moment. Pour it out on my life, Lord! I want to see God do extraordinary things. I’m not satisfied with anything less than all of His power, all of His presence, and all of His Spirit flowing in and through me. I want the Church to once again shake the gates of hell. Holy Spirit is calling for a rescue, and I want to be the first to volunteer.

So what does that look like for the cities that you and I are in? Ask God to give you a vision. Ask Him to share His heart with you. I am exploring that right now. It’s going to be an exciting year. Let’s go!

Alien Encounter

Meeting a Christian should be like a wondrous alien encounter. It should be MEMORABLE. It should be CONVICTING. It should be stuffed and overflowing with LOVE. People should walk away from meeting a Christian thinking, “Wow, that was SOMETHING.”

My friend posted a video the other night of an amazing conversation with a pizza delivery guy who encountered Jesus and it changed his life. The man went out and in turn impacted the lives of other people. His enthusiasm was really exciting.

I sat next to a guy on the airplane yesterday who, when he found out that I was a Christian, he clammed up, saying that he does not practice any religion. There was pain in his eyes. I asked him how his experience has been with other Christians, and he said, “They’re just like everybody else.” I asked him, “In a negative way?” And he said, “No; they’re just like everybody else.” Then the conversation ended. Part of me was thankful that he did not have negative feelings toward Christians, but I couldn’t be too sure where the pain was coming from. Ultimately, I was sad that his experience with Christians was that they were “just like everybody else.” Ladies and gents, this SHOULD NOT BE.

Meeting a Christian should be like a wondrous alien encounter. It should be MEMORABLE. It should be CONVICTING. It should be stuffed and overflowing with LOVE. People should walk away from meeting a Christian thinking, “Wow, that was SOMETHING.”

Let’s look at Jesus for a moment. People wouldn’t leave Him alone anywhere He went. Why? Because an encounter with Jesus was powerful. Sickness went running for its life. Demons came pouring out of guys in legions. A suffering heart met grace and sin met its maker and stayed in the slimy pit from which it came. The dead were raised and pride was dashed into the ground.

I say that I want to be like Jesus, but do these things happen when people have an encounter with me? Nope. I rejoice when I have a good conversation with someone, but the truth is…there is so much more transformational power longing to be at work in and through us. I don’t know what impression that guy walked away with yesterday. Honestly, it was a confusing moment and I literally didn’t know what to say or do. However, it brought to light to me how much more I need to pray for an awareness of Holy Spirit in every moment, so that I might connect with what He is already doing in the lives of the people around me. I don’t want to be “just like everybody else” in anybody’s life. Call me extraterrestrial; I don’t care. I want people to meet Jesus when they meet me.

So that’s my prayer, now and forever. The deep desire of my life…that all would truly KNOW Him. He is so amazing! He captures my heart every day! However, I need Him to capture me in a greater way, so that there exists no missed opportunity for someone to encounter Him through me. Today, here we come!

Delight

I am learning that God deeply delights in each one of us, in our uniqueness; in our beauty and personality. He enjoys spending time with us and He loves to love us.

My greatest prayer is that God would teach me to love people more; that He would make me perfect in love. I so desire to have His heart.

There are moments when I realize that my love is not perfect, when my comfort zone is stretched or I am surrounded by a genre of people that I am not normally with. My tendency is to shift my focus from the people to my feelings about the situation. “Is it ok for me to be here? Around THESE people who are doing THESE things?”

However, the more I read the Bible and understand the character of Jesus, I realize that this is ugly and needs to be broken in me. Jesus constantly put Himself in questionable circumstances, surrounded by “questionable” people. He was not worried about getting “dirty” by being with people doing dirty things. He knew who He was and He deeply loved these people. In fact, He defended them to the church leaders when they questioned His actions.

God has been opening my eyes to His heart as I meet with people every day. It doesn’t matter who that person is or what they have done; I have been able to sense a growing wonder in each one I spend time with. I am learning that God deeply delights in each one of us, in our uniqueness; in our beauty and personality. He enjoys spending time with us and He loves to love us.

If God feels that way about each person, how should I feel about them? How should that change the way I interact with them? How much should that call me to step out of my comfort zone and GO to them where they are, just like Jesus stepped out of heaven to come and DIE for us? The call is the same for me and for you: to give all, to literally DIE to ourselves for the sake of love. The point is: if we truly understood how very much God loves the people that surround us every day, it would drastically change the manner in which we interact with them.

It doesn’t matter what may be going on in society or in the immediate situation surrounding me; I am called to reflect God’s heart. I pray as David prayed in Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I pray that I would in no way, in word, thought, or deed, online or in person, be a stumbling block to someone knowing Jesus as He really is and His powerful love in all its transforming beauty. I want my life to be another avenue that God uses to draw the hearts of His people whom He loves so much to Himself.

And I pray that as I have lunch with people, visit their restaurants, walk by their schools, and step into their places of business that I would genuinely delight in people as God delights in them. May people find in me something real. May they find Jesus in me.

Who are YOU?

God didn’t respond with a gushy answer like, “You have specific gifts and skills for this task and I chose you because of your leadership qualities.” He responded with, “I will be with you.”

True story: I often battle insecurity. Whenever God reveals to me more of His plan for my life, that evil voice comes from around the corner: “Who are YOU to do that? Who are YOU to have that kind of influence, to think that YOU could go to those places and say those things?” You could call it fear. You could call it shame. You could call it Satan. I challenge you today to call it MUTE.

When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and revealed to him the calling that He had placed on Moses’ life, the first reaction was not astonishment, but this simple question, “Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11)” Like, seriously, God…wrong address. However, God didn’t respond with a gushy answer like, “You have specific gifts and skills for this task and I chose you because of your leadership qualities.” He responded with, “I will be with you.”

And God says the same thing to you and me today. We were not chosen because of our qualifications; we were chosen by grace. Our lives have one purpose: that our relationship with our Creator would bring Him glory and honor. When we lead people to Christ, it is not because we are attractive, but because He is truly beautiful. When we see real success in our work or ministry, it is not because we are so gifted, but because He is with us. This whole thing is really about HIM.

Decide today to mute the voice that says, “Who are YOU to do this?”. You are loved and chosen by God for this. He knew what He was doing, and He is with you. Story complete.

To Walk With Jesus

And that’s what I want my daily legacy to be, not only what people say about me at the end of my life. I want people to step away with the impression that this is what it’s like to be with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him.

Tonight I had the opportunity to be a part of a home Bible study for law school students and had an amazing time. During the study, we watched a Francis Chan video on the church, and he told a story that really impacted me about a man named Vaughn.

Francis had a missionary speaker at his church, and this missionary talked about how his life was deeply impacted by a youth pastor named Vaughn. The next week they had another speaker who talked about how his life was impacted by this same youth pastor named Vaughn.

Finally Francis went to a friend and told him about how crazy he thought it was that both these people knew the same youth pastor, and his friend said, “Oh yeah, I know Vaughn! I was in Mexico with him one time and watched how the children on the street flocked to him because they knew that he would take care of them. He was always giving them clothes and food and just loving them.”

Then the man said something that totally rocked my world. “In walking with Vaughn that day, I think that’s what it would have felt like to walk with Jesus.”

Like, really….wow!?!?

My first reaction was: I want people to say that about me! I want that to be their take away from hanging out with me, that they could say, “Hanging out with Chelsea is what I imagine it would be like to hang out with Jesus.”

And that’s what I want my daily legacy to be, not only what people say about me at the end of my life. I want people to step away with the impression that this is what it’s like to be with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him.

What a way to live!

The Journal

I want to love people THAT much, that I might be so disciplined to pray for them and care for them every day.

I don’t remember my great-uncle Dennis very well. I remember watching a home video of him and me talking when I was maybe two years old. He passed away when I was ten. Although I don’t remember him much when he was alive, he made a huge impact on me when he died.

You see, they found this journal among his things, and I am not sure how many people even knew that it existed. Inside it were hundreds of pages of his writing. Each line was filled with tiny words and numbers, holding the name of someone on his heart and a list of dates on which he prayed for them. Sometimes he didn’t know the name of the person, but saw them walk to the altar on a Sunday morning and God laid him or her on his heart. He would simply write, “Lady in red dress” or “man being called” and it would be followed with many dates on which he prayed for them. Many countries and world areas were listed with the dates, and often he wrote, “My faith” as he prayed for his already mighty faith to grow. At the funeral, every family member found his or her name in the book with their list of dates. What an impact this prayer warrior had on so many people!

A few days ago, I was sitting and talking with my great-aunt, and I suddenly remembered this prayer journal. I asked her about it, and she jumped up to bring it to me. The rest of the evening conversation was shot, because I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages of this journal for at least an hour. The pages were so full that they were mesmerizing, and I felt frozen by the reality of the volume of prayer that came out of this journal. There was one thought in my heart as I flipped every page, one by one: I want to love people THAT much, that I might be so disciplined to pray for them and care for them every day.

Then I found my name. I don’t know what I was going through around the time that I turned four years old, but he prayed for me every day for months. Whatever trial I was facing, or might have faced had he not prayed for me, he and God got me through it. I am so thankful for the legacy of my great-uncle, the gentle prayer warrior in every sense of the sentiment.

I am moved to pray now more than ever. I am moved to love others now more than ever, and I want to leave a legacy of faith for my friends and family. How will you do that in your life? That’s a worthy question to ask.

The Younger Me

One thing I have noticed in looking back, is that I didn’t do it all wrong by any stretch of the imagination.

“What would you go back and say to the younger you in college?”

Oh conversations over Korean food and Baskin Robbins ice cream. Today has been a blast from the past. I spent the morning with one of my closest friends from college and the afternoon wandering around my college campus, reminiscing over old memories and talking to faculty members that I hadn’t seen in years. I have had the opportunity to spend the past couple nights with one of my best friends from college, and as we talked, we remembered that time….that awkward time called college.

And what would I say to myself back then? So many things. I was so ignorant then, but I will probably have a few words for myself again a few years down the road. Thank goodness we can keep on learning and growing. Thank goodness that in some ways I am not the girl I was in college. So here are some things that I would tell the younger me if I could:

  1. Focus your energy on becoming an awesome woman, and spend way less energy on boys.
  2. You’re worthy of the right kind of attention. You don’t need to beg for it from people who…how else do I put this? Don’t deserve it.
  3. Lighten up, dude.
  4. Hang out with your friends instead of always being alone in your room feeling sorry for yourself. Stop being lame.
  5. You should probably do your homework. Actually reading the material makes the test much easier.

However, one thing I have noticed in looking back, is that I didn’t do it all wrong by any stretch of the imagination. I definitely don’t look back with total regret, or even mostly regret. It is a temptation to think that I was all ignorant back then and that I am so much wiser now, but I have to give myself credit for doing the best I knew how with what I had. So, despite all those negative “pieces of advice” I would give myself, I would also say this:

  1. I’m proud of you for being brave in so many ways when you wanted to shrink back in fear. You chased after what was important to you 100% of the time, and you were pretty darn courageous.
  2. I’m proud of how you sought the heart of Jesus with everything you had and how you wanted His will, even when it made you mad. You never refused to do anything you knew He wanted you to do.
  3. You were a good and loyal friend…you always did the best you could for your friends, even when it hurt. You always wanted people to feel loved.
  4. You were a hard worker. You held down three jobs while going to college full-time, traveling part-time with a music group and carrying an internship in a neighboring town.
  5. You made some really good connections with some stellar people. You had good taste in mentors and godly role models.

What a strange thing it is to look back and to truly take a look at things as they were, or at least how I remember they were. For me, this day has been a great experience. So I’m curious…what would you say to the younger you? What advice would you give? What compliments would you give? Please comment!

Fleeing Ninevah

-Guest post by Andrew Ross

The description for Jonah 1 says, “Jonah flees the Presence of the Lord”. Why is this the first kicker? It seems a bit harsh, to some degree, to jump right to that. However, Jesus always got to the heart of the matter. He asked the questions that mattered, not the ones people wanted to hear. My pastor recently stated, “If you aren’t going where Jesus is going, then you are not following Him.” Ugh. Punch to the gut.

In the last year, I’ve known that the music industry is where God is directing me to go, but I haven’t wanted it. It was my Ninevah. I have a really hard time going where I don’t see how it would be beneficial. “I’m just me, there’s nothing I can do that will make an impact on the music industry”, this is where my head and heart were at. Honestly, that’s true. There is nothing that I can do in my own power to change or reach the music industry. However, I’m not going alone. He is leading me and preparing the way.

Looking back on this past year, He has been teaching me to recognize when He is in the midst of a situation. As I have learned this, I have become more aware to His presence in this opportunity.

I won’t even try to sugar coat it, this year has been tough. Not bad, just tough. I’ve grown a lot, and “growing pains” is a phrase for a reason. I’ve been stretched and challenged in my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. In order to put in something new, you have to get rid of the old. The old has held me down for quite some time, but I’ve been letting go. As I let go, God keeps speaking identity and vision into where there was once only fear and doubt. It’s a process. I’m not perfect, but I’m being perfected. I am the book and He is the author bringing me from glory to glory.

God gave me a few words to speak over a few friends recently. I never knew they were intended for me as much as they were for them. This was one of them. “God has proven His faithfulness over and over again, anchoring our faith in Him. Every time He proves His faithfulness, it’s as if the anchor gets larger, making the anchor sink deeper into its place of rest and it becomes more stable.” He has revealed His faithfulness to me more than ever recently, to prepare me. I don’t know what’s in this, but if He’s asking me to walk it out, I’ll go. My eyes may be full of tears and my heart full of questions, but I’ll go, because I know where my hope lies and that He is faithful.

anchor

As I have started to follow where He leads with the making of this first album, it has brought me on so many adventures. Most recently, while I was recording in Eisley’s studio in Tyler, TX (***WHAT?! Yeah, God is hysterical), God showed me the why behind the what. He showed me the purpose of me going into the music industry; to minister to those who don’t know Jesus and to edify those who do. Divine appointments popped up left and right, and I realized these were the moments He was calling me to. This short trip changed my heart more than I could have ever anticipated. It shifted my heart and mind to His, because, once again, He proved Himself faithful.

As I’ve accepted where He wants to go, I’ve had more joy than I have had in a long while. Even as I look to the future and know that some major transitions are coming in my life, I know who He is. A friend spoke over me recently, “I see God with you, like a thundercloud. Where you go, the power of God follows.” Wherever God is calling you, you are not alone. The power of God is going with you and has already gone before you. Be not afraid.

I want to be in His Presence but I can’t if I won’t go where He leads, so, I’m no longer fleeing Ninevah. I’m running to it; to be ever near to Him.

Where is your Ninevah and what is keeping you from it? God is bigger than your fear. Just remember, with the obedience of Jonah, God spared and rescued an entire city. Follow where He leads.

You are not alone.

***Eisley has been a band I’ve loved since I was 15. The opportunity was ridiculous and super humbling.

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Andrew Ross is from Kansas City and is a budding musician with his group Noble Giant. He loves to cook and often pretends he has his own cooking show while making the food, describing in great detail the steps. For more information on him and his band, visit his blog at: http://andersross.com/noblegiant/

Master of None

If I have given God my life, I want Him to have something fantastic to work with. I want Him to have the best of me. If God has given me talents, I should seek to multiply them and not hide them in the dirt.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to a photographer friend of mine who graciously gave up a big chunk of time to advise me on the in’s and out’s of having a photography business. Although we only scratched the surface, I learned a lot and gleamed a lot of helpful information as I pray about how I should delve into those waters. In the course of the conversation, he brought up the eventual dilemma of specialization, and he made a comment that jumped out at me: “You’re going to have to decide, do you want to be a Jack of all trades and a Master of none? Or do you want to be known as the “go-to” person for a certain type of photography?”

If there is a comment that fits my struggle right now, it is THAT comment. I’ve been thinking over my life as I am applying for jobs, and I realize that I have done a lot of random things. However, if you asked me what I am expert in, I would have to say, “Nothing.” I also realize that I don’t like that, at all.

So this next year, I am taking advantage of the amazing opportunity I have to find my voice in the careers I have chosen. I will be on staff at a church and working with outreach and discipleship. I have done this for the past few years in Ecuador, but have so much more to learn and discover, especially in doing this apart from my team. I am also working on finishing and publishing my book. I am getting my name out to the world and building my audience. And I am figuring out how to not only start a photography business, but also grow exponentially in my skills as a photographer. On top of another full-time job (hopefully), is that enough for a year?

I don’t want to be a Jack of all trades for the rest of my life; I want to work hard to be good at these three things that I really do love.

So here is the point I want to make: there is nothing wrong with ambition. In fact, it is a very godly concept. If I have given God my life, I want Him to have something fantastic to work with. I want Him to have the best of me. If God has given me talents, I should seek to multiply them and not hide them in the dirt (sound familiar?) If God has asked me to write and be a woman of great influence, there is nothing holy about living small. In fact, Hebrews says that we as people of faith are not a people who shrink back. We are called to be bold and courageous. We are called to be excellent at what we do.

So here is my question for you (and it is a challenge and conviction to me too): what has God called you to be excellent in? Are you giving it your all?

Wherever Is Trevor

{ he asks himself the same }

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