On Purpose

Photo by: Alisha Benz

I am Twenty-Two years old, I have been blessed to have held the same job for two and a half years; and don’t get me wrong I love teaching. But for the past, well since “teenagedom” I’ve been asking myself “What am I supposed to do with my life?”

I have been interested in a hundred different professions that have varied quite a bit since the “ideal” dream job of a five year old Abigail that held hope of being a Doctor, Waitress, and The President of The United States. A Teacher? that was never part of the five year plan. Now I have had the opportunity to pour into children, watch them grow, and in this season it has been incredibly rewarding. Even still I struggle with knowing what “God’s purpose” is for my life. I know He has a plan, and that He promises that it’s for good, (Jeremiah 29:11) but what does that mean? How do I step into that plan? Who has he called me to be? I wonder why there isn’t a flashing neon sign that reads: “THIS IS IT!” or “ABIGAIL, TAKE THIS PATH”

Over the past few weeks God has been showing me that I don’t have to know exactly the plan or purpose for my life to live according to the calling he has placed… I can still live “on purpose.” These are the things He has shown me through His word that lead me to my purpose:
Love others, Remain in Him, and to share the Gospel.

Love Others:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:31
Last week the Memory verse for our class was Jeremiah 29:11, as an activity for the verse that promises that God has a plan I had the kids draw a picture of what they wanted to be when they “Grew up” one of the children drew a picture and stated that when she grew up she wanted to be a best friend. “Because EVERYONE deserves to have a best friend!”
That is the attitude I want to love with. Part of my purpose is to love with a servants heart. I want to love others because He first loved me. (1 John 4:19) It’s what I am called to do; I want that innocent spirit that says “I want to be a best friend when I grow up.”

Remain in Him:
“Remain in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine and neither can you, unless you remain in me.”- John 15:4
The simplicity of this command baffles me “Remain in Him.” We are quick to forget that we are the ones who wander. When we accept Christ we have a promise that He will stay with us “even until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) When we remain in Him, He promises to stay with us. He is revealing part of his plan; for us to bear fruit and that He will be with us.

Go share The Gospel:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”- Matthew 28:19
At the core of Christianity this is the purpose… For all followers of Christ: to share the love we have found with others. Because how can we with-hold such an amazing gift? Now that I understand that not everyone is called into mission overseas, I have a much better understanding of this command. We all have a mission field, a sphere of influence, and friends. There is a way for all Christians to live out this command.

ive days a week I have the privilege to teach some amazing kids, to love them, and disciple them; but if I’m not careful I get so wrapped up in questioning if this is the job I’m made for, that I forget that over all my purpose can be living life on purpose. I forget that by remaining in Christ and having a relationship with Him, I am able to find meaning and direction in my life, and the ability to love others well, to share the gospel to my community, that is the “Abigail” I am called to be. That’s the path I’m called to take.

Unbelievable

Susannah W.Synonyms for “Persecute” :

Oppress, abuse, victimize, ill-treat, mistreat, discriminate, punish, tyrannize, afflict, torture, harass, mock

Before going on a “missions trip” you have a list of things you need to bring. You will need physical things, mental things, and spiritual things. Before I left for Barre, Vermont this summer I made sure I had packed my checklist.

Windbreaker. Check.

Bible. Check.

Adaptable Spirit. Check.

But the one thing I failed to make sure I had before jumping into the tightly packed, fifteen passenger church transit was the one thing that mattered the most for the purpose of the trip.

Belief.

At 23 years of age, I’ve been a professing Christian, Jesus Freak, whatever you may call it for over 15 years. Submerged in a hotel pool at 19 proclaiming Christ in me, I’m a full fledged believer.

But this year has really challenged me to dive into what that actually means; to dig in to the original “Christianese” titles of “Believer” and “Saved”.

Getting into the van for the sole purpose of spreading the message of Jesus stopped all of my questions and fears mid-orbit.

“Jesus, do I believe you are who you say you are?”

07-29-19

Location: Van

Study: James 1:1, John 15:20

Themes:

1. Trials, suffering, and difficulty can be expected. They never surprise God.

2. God desires progress, not perfection as we follow His Son.

3. Riches and comfort will never satisfy the soul.

Serving God through obedience to Jesus, by his Holy Spirit does not equal health/wealth/happiness/etc;

John 15:20

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

“I’ve been struggling a lot with belief lately, or I guess you could say unbelief. I know that I know Jesus is the Son of God, but currently in my life I’ve become very cynical and un-trusting. It feels like everywhere you turn there’s another scandal unfolding about someone who told some grand story of success, or holiness but were caught lying about the real story in order to protect their status to maintain some level of power or approval.

I can logically sum up the entire word of God to the main points: That He is trustworthy. That His ways are not our ways.

We’ve been reading about the life and writings of David in the Old Testament of the Bible in our young women’s bible study. It keeps theming that the intentions and the heart of David were not what Saul (His father-in-law/king of Isreal) made him out to be.

I identify with Saul, because I question logically what would give a man like David the brashness, and seemingly arrogant spirit to confidently go slay giants.

In my life I’ve learned to distrust “confidence” when I’ve placed my trust in people who appeared to have that attribute but turned out to be arrogant and manipulative.

The same question I feel myself asking is the same one that Thomas, Jesus’ disciple may have been asking in his mind when he stated , ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ (John 20:25)

Jesus, Are you truly who you say you are?

When I read in the book of James, it’s a comfort to me because he was literally Jesus’ blood brother. He grew up with the guy. Any skeletons in Jesus’ closet, James would have known about.

Jesus didn’t begin his ministry for thirty years, but James must’ve seen his life play out in real time, during the years prior.

James actually calls himself a servant of his own brother. His brother, by flesh he still worshipped as his God and King. He was willing to die for Jesus, believing He was everything he said he was. That’s belief. That’s faith.

I confess that I often shrink back from living passionately for Jesus and walking in truth because of unbelief. Deep down, that’s the root of every sin. I care all in all entirely too much of what people think of me. I want others to feel loved and accepted, not to hear what I’m not trying to tell them and immediately label me as a religious bigot before even getting to know me.

The second part of John 15:20 says, “If they obey my teaching, they will obey yours”.

In essence that is saying that if God has opened their eyes, and they are truly following him and living by his word, they will obey your teaching as well. They will agree. They will welcome truth and follow it.

In a perfect world, right?

If they don’t then they’re living for themselves. They’ll make your beliefs about them, take it as an attack and persecute you in response.

What I sense Jesus saying here are these words,

‘It’s not your fault. They aren’t picking on you, they are picking on me but I already know. I knew when I went to the cross and took all of it for them. They don’t know what they are doing. They are sad , angry, bitter, and empty kids and all I want is for them to be with me like you are with me now. I’m sorry that happened. You did the right thing. Thank you for loving me kids. I’m sorry they didn’t listen to you. Come here. *hugs*’

When we realize we are right in the heart of Jesus, that He is our comfort and protection, nothing can tear us down.

He is with us when we take the baby steps. He is with us when we fail. He is with us when the world tramples our sensitive hearts.

Thank you Jesus.”

In that moment in the van I was hit with all of this with what felt like a semi truck.

Believe and conviction began to pour out of me as I was able to rest in the Holy Spirit’s confirmation of the word of God.

It wasn’t about me.

It’s not about us.

I may never be prepared for what God had called me to, but that’s okay because He is God. He can do anything in spite of , or despite me.

That is so comforting and relieving.

At the end of the day I can have all the questions in the world and rest confidently in trusting the one who has all the answers, and so can you.

No Claim

“The grave has no claim on me”

“You have Manic Depressive disorder.”

Were the words out of the mouth of my therapist as I stared at her bright eyes and fiery hair. My all knowing fifteen your old self tried to settle into that statement.

I had been in therapy off and on since I was eight, after grieving the loss of my grandfather. I was fifteen when I walked into this particular office mother by my side when I promptly stated “I dont need a therapist. I have a boyfriend.”

“Alright,” the Councelor answered. “How about a friend?”

Even in the glory of my angst ridden state I couldn’t deny needing a friend…

After that moment we had three years of conversations; I learned a lot of helpful things, yet still managed to tiptoe out of talking about things that made me uncomfortable.

I like to show the world the painted parts of me. Put together, tied with a bow, strategically placed eyeliner and mascara so you wouldn’t know I’ve been falling apart. Inside the idea of this diagnosis weighed on me.

My life has changed drastically since I had that conversation.

I truly placed my trust in the Father, I have a fiance that loves me better than I could have imagined, I have a church home and the support of my family who have always wanted me to blossom.

Still depression has been flirting with me for the past seven years.

I’ve felt like it was my fault, like I wasnt praying hard enough; and I’ve felt selfish “God has people with cancer to cure and marriages to heal. Why should I bother Him with this? Seriously Abigail get some perspective.”

These were lies the enemy was using.

God decides to heal people differently sometimes. How He heals me, could look dramatically different than how He heals someone else.

When I accepted Jesus as my savior, I wasn’t promised a cake walk. Because of the curse of the fall; life is hard. We are going to struggle, we are going to be sad, we are going to feel out of control. Satan is a liar and he whispers our insecurities so beautifully he makes us believe them.

Even still HE HAS NO RIGHT TO TELL ME THE LIES, the ones that I’ve carried inside my head. None of it has a claim on me. I belong to Christ! My heart does not belong to a diagnosis or medication (tools that can be helpful in somesituations.) I do not belong to the voice in the back of my head telling me I’ll never be good enough, that I will never be happy, and if I’m not happy I’m a failure. The voice that tells me that I’ll fail as a wife, daughter, teacher, and friend. I dont have to carry the weight of this death on my shoulders.

Depression has no claim on a daughter of the King.

Please do not think I’m discouraging others from getting help. I believe The Lord chooses to heal people in different ways sometimes. I still see a councelor and I’m still choosing to fight depression. I just wanted to share this encouragement with you, that the Lord gave me.

20 Facts about Susannah

1. My “party-trick” fact is that in a former life I was a full time ballet dancer. Went to college for it. Apprenticed and pre-professional. About 15 years over-all.

2. My first pet was a Chinchilla because my parents are weird and refused to let me get a guinea pig like every other normal child.

3. I was homeschooled, but originally went to public school. 4 years at Caldwell Academy. 8 homeschooled.

4. I’ve loved Jesus as long as I can remember and He’s the best thing about me. My faith shapes my everything.

5. I LOVE coffee but not in a hipster stingy way. It could be from a gas station even. If you bring it to me I will be so so happy.

6. I’m a big foodie. I know everyone says that but I was raised to not go to a chain restaurant if you are anywhere other than your hometown. Find the food. Find the culture.

7. My favorite place to be is a bookstore. It may take me five years to finish all the books I gather for myself but a bookstore/library surrounded by a pile of books in the floor is my ultimate happy place.

8. I love to sing. It’s a wonder I was never fully involved in musical theatre or band as a kid. I sing as much as possible and worship in church is my favorite. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post, but singing and just being in the presence of God is the best ever. I would never leave if I could.

9. I’m pretty tall. 5’9 which is taller than the average woman in the United States at least. I am so very of my short friends who always fit under chins when hugging people which is another favorite of mine. Hugs, that is. I promise I’m not Olaf from Disney’s frozen.

10. Road Trips are probably the best way to get to know me. There’s nothing better than just driving to a new destination and exploring somewhere you’ve never been. I don’t like to do it by myself, but when you add other people in the car/van that is what makes things magical.

11. I have 3 siblings, all younger, making me the oldest child. I’m very much the stereotypical “oldest child”. 100%

12. I SUCK at math. Like to the point of being held back four years in a row and still struggling.

13. I have ADHD real real bad. I always just thought I was annoying for no reason and really bad at school but as an adult I got officially diagnosed and it all clicked for me. Have grace for your ADHD friends. They’re extra, but they need love too.

14. I have a deep fascination with words. That may be why I love musicians, writers, and speakers so much. There’s something so powerful about being able to silence and impact a room with one line.

15. I’m a cancer sun with a Gemini moon, Venus, and mars. Virgo rising.

If you follow astrology at all? Lol

16. My Myers Briggs type is ENFP

17. My enneagram type is 4w3

18. I’m a modern day Lizzie Bennet to be honest. I have some attitude problems when it comes to dating and always go for the Mr. Whickhams

19. I’ve never been out of the country but I deeply love to travel and have dreams of traveling everywhere so that’s an oxymoron if I ain’t seen one.

20. I work in property management and LOVE it, but I also went to massage therapy school for a bit.

It’s fitting considering I have a deep love for creating a sense of “home” for people and the aspect of hospitality and community is literally what humans were designed and created for. I also love the healing arts and healing through art in general, so we will see what God wants to do with all that in my life.

Welp. Those are my things.

What are 20 things you could tell me and the world about yourself?

Painted Pants DIY

I saw this on Pinterest, so it’s basically stolen *but* one of the best ideas ever.

If you’re like me and have artsy juices flowing but rarely the time or tools to express that energy, or if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, painting your very own pair of pants (or shorts) is the way to go.

Step 1.

Buy the pants.

My tip is to go to your local thrift store and find the comfiest pair of mommy mom jeans one can find.

You can also use overalls. Shorts. Anything with a jean-like material.

2. Get some paints.

Any or acrylic or fabric paint should do. No unnecessary glitter or glue. This is art. Not church camp.

3. Get some brushes.

Preferably from Hobby Lobby, because who doesn’t love the place. It’s like HGTV threw up and God blessed it for being closed on Sunday.

Also preferably the kind of brushes you can throw away or wash easily afterwards because we ain’t about that complicated clean-up life.

4. Things you should probably do but I didn’t do because why waste time when you can paint from the inside. (Idk)

– wash the jeans first

– get a paint mixer pallet

– put a sheet down instead of three small trash bags to protect your carpet

5. PAINT IT UP

Don’t worry if your flowers look like smudges. You’re thriving. Let the juices flow. Paint what you want people to see on your butt when you walk down the street.

6. Let the paint dry, and turn the pants inside out to wash and dry after.

Or just wear them if you’re like me and are too lazy to wash them.

Done!

Heavy

By: Abigail Summers

There is a weight on my chest.

It’s the kind of heavy that makes your stomach hurt, causes your shoulders to ache, and your knees to buckle. There’s a liar in my ear, telling me that I don’t deserve anything less than what is already more than I can handle

It is easy to say, “Why don’t you put the weight down?” Or “Why wouldn’t you ask for help to carry it?”

Those questions seem like simple solutions.

The problem with guilt is; it’s too much for us to carry, but we choose to pick it up. We live weighed down by the burden of our choices, our past, and our wrongdoings.

The Bible tells a story of a woman in the book of John chapter 8:1-1 who was caught in her sin. We aren’t even given her name. She is just “The woman caught in the act of adultery.” The religious leaders brought her in front of a crowd in front of Jesus, meaning for it to be a trap.

“The law of Moses says that are to stone this woman. What do you say?”

Jesus didn’t respond at first. He started writing with his finger in the sand. The leaders were persistent with their question. Jesus gave them an answer.

“Let anyone who is without sin throw the first stone at her.”

I wonder if she was trying to hold herself together, or if tears were streaming down her face? This woman whose identity and fate rested on the basis of her sin, and what this man had said.

“At this those who had heard began to go away… until there was only Jesus left.”

I imagine the relief she felt, as the crowd began to walk away one by one.

I can imagine her standing there in shame, trying to look everywhere but towards the only man that was left. I picture her trembling as he spoke to her

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No, one sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.”

Can you imagine the relief?

Standing face to face with perfection. Perfection that looked at her imperfection and sin, then told her that her sin did not condemn her to death?

Do you think she left the temple and held onto her identity as an adulterous woman, or do you think she was filled with joy because she had not been condemned?

“God did not send his son to condemn the world but to save it. ” -John 3: 17

When the rest of the world calls us by our sin, God looks at us and sees who we really are.

He knit us together before we were born, and he planned out the best for our lives (Psalms 139 : 13, Jerimiah 29 :11)

“If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

(1 John 1: 9)

Why do we let our identity rest in something that Christ has already forgiven?

We are not our sin.

Jesus died and took on the weight of our sin. How thankful I am that he is strong enough to take on all of it.

When Jesus looks at you he sees it all, he sees everything that we are holding onto, he sees all the hurt, and every wrong choice.

He doesn’t want you to live hauling that around. We are not strong enough, but he is.

Will you let him take the weight of it?

Grace for the Christian Single Girl: Biblical Femininity in the Modern Age

by Susannah Wares

02.16.18

I told my boyfriend over a text message that I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t the one. I was compromising by finding my identity in him over God. I was done.

02.18.19

I found out said boy that was broken up with over a text message almost exactly a year ago, is officially engaged to “the one”.

I know I did the right thing.

But ouch.

This is the sixth engagement/marriage on the books for close and significant people in my life this year alone. But before we all sigh and roll our eyes at the sob story drama-queen that is Susannah Wares, we can humbly pause and take a moment to realize the subtle pain and frustration in this reality of the lives of 22(ish)-year-old single women everywhere.

It doesn’t get better if we are Christ followers who have heard in almost every other breath by our blessed sisters and superiors that, “Our Boaz is coming”. She will say this gently, peering over a coffee cup with poignantly placed calligraphy that draws attention to the glint beaming from the ring on her left hand matching the sparkle in her eye.

She is the girl on Instagram. Your best friend. Your best friend’s best friend. Your mom. Your sister. The girl from your bible study. The girl who looks up to YOU.

Satan rears his ugly head in the cackle of comparison, and bitterness strikes your heart again as you willfully choke back the emotions you feel because they are increasingly inappropriate and EVIL.

You are truly happy for these women, you just wish they would stop hinting how much they want to be happy for YOU one day.

Why can’t they be happy for me now?

They assure you they are.

“Just wait, God will give show you the one just when you least expect it.”

*Sigh*

Is it really my lot in life to wait for a husband? Is this something the bible calls me to do?

These are all questions that have been plaguing my mind the last year and I have yet to find clear answers.

In reading scripture you have to take a look at biblical context. The context of the culture, language, and the purpose for which the author is sharing these words.

Although the Bible is not a “How-to” manual for life, It is the living word of God, and it often does have some handy tips and examples for godly living.

Unfortunately, due to the running theme of women needing a male to support them in life due to the day in age the texts were written, it makes things a bit awkward for our post modern young single ladies who are financially self-sufficient, and don’t live under their father’s roof.

I found myself praying, “Lord, am I supposed to move back in with my parents?”, which I know would be a resounding “NO” from them.

But as Lord does, and he almost always does, he speaks to my heart “Follow Me” and there is peace and no striving.

This, my friend is actually the goal.

When Jesus picks goes out and picks the twelve disciples, he doesn’t say, “Make sure you’re married and then you can follow me”. He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).

Wow.

Stark contrast to the call we seem to put on ourselves as Christians to “have it all together” first in order to follow him. It sounds like we are supposed to give our plans up.

Even with the women in Jesus’ immediate following, the focus wasn’t placed on their “relationship status” it was placed on their relationship with Jesus himself and their faithfulness to God and each other through serving the group.

Then I look at the women of the bible and the character traits they possessed, and how they trusted God to provide in their circumstances.

Mary trusted God to take care of her through the shame of having and unwed pregnancy. She had a wiling heart knowing that she could have been stoned to death. “Let it be done unto me.” Luke 1:38

Or Ruth, choosing to follow Naomi into destitution because she believed in the Hebrew God, instead of marrying a rando moabite boy for her security.

There are so many more.

I guess the point I want to make is that the example that is set as a whole in scripture is for Christian women to love God first and follow him, despite what the culture around them might encourage them to do.

In fact it’s all of our callings. Male/female/slave/freed- not to take the words out of Paul’s mouth of course; but it’s true.

When asked what the greatest commandment is
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it?

I know it doesn’t feel that way.

If you are one of those girls that sit where I sit, and is honestly just tired of it all- this is a love letter to you.

You aren’t doing anything wrong.

If you have done anything you regret relational in your past, Jesus died for that and pre-destined that He would make all things right (Shout-out to Ephesians. Thanks Paul.). It WILL be okay in the end. Promise.

If your heart is suffering from either what feels like judgment or disappointment from those around you, or an ache to fulfill a role you know you were created for, first of all – Girl I feel you.

But second of all, know that you are loved beyond your wildest imagination and you have a creator Redeemer who desires you to know the fullness of the Love that He has for you, and the delight He has in creating you to be exactly who you are and who you were made to be.

You weren’t made to be like those other girls.

You were made to be God’s girl and He is writing the story of your life that no one else can be the star of, that begins and ends with Him.

Whether it’s healing a broken heart or relationship, or showing faithful in every aspect of His good plan for us; He is able. He is enough.

Trust Him. He’s got this.


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20