Life Update 

For those of y’all who have forgotten me…my name is Gracen 🙂 I don’t blame you it’s been a WHILE. These past few months have been packed tight. But packed with so much good. Shortly after my last post, I went to a Twenty One Pilot concert, ran a half marathon, and went to St. Louis with my family. I also turned 17!!! My family and my friends loved me so well on my birthday, and it was one of the best by far. During and right after my birthday, I ran for Class Reporter Historian and my friends continued to love and encourage me and left me leaving that week with so much joy. Also since last time we’ve talked, we finished the yearbook!!!! And. It. Looks. Good.

These past few months have been great, but it has taken me a while to realize that. Confusion, disappointment, mistakes, missed ways led me to the foot of the cross. But instead, I ran away.

God doesn’t want someone who doesn’t have all A’s or a 30 or above on their ACT to spend time with Him. He can’t afford someone who can’t win their class election to be in His Presence. He doesn’t want to be near the frayed edges of my mistakes. Or that my work wasn’t good enough to help win us Editor of the Year.

These lies and the fact that I didn’t have it all together left me feeling unwanted, unloved, unmanaged, undone. But instead of giving it all to the one person who not only could handle it, but who wanted it, I kept it inside. It built up these walls, and I strayed from the Lord because I told myself He didn’t want to be with me.

The truth that comes with Easter and the story of Peter slowly ripped these walls around my heart down. The Lord desires to fix my mistakes. He desires to display grace and mercy so there’s no need for me to hide from Him. And by sending His son to die for me, His love for me is inevitable. There is nothing I can do to put Jesus back in the grave, and there is nothing I can do to separate myself from the love of God. Those numbers don’t matter, and neither do those titles because the Lord still pursues me.

Disappointment seems to be a theme of these past few weeks, coming up short at the class election and at a yearbook convention. But my prayer for Reporter Historian and what we prayed before they announced Editor of the Year was that it would be given to someone who needed it. Someone who needed the encouragement and deserved it.

The main reason I wanted to run for Reporter Historian was because they got to pray at graduation. How cool would it be to get to send off your classmates with a word to the Lord. But the Lord has taken that disappointment and turned it into so much more. With the leadership of my friend Ashlyn, once every month our friends go up to the school, split up, and pray with teachers before their day starts. And it has been so fun getting to serve our school through prayer in that way.

And about Editor of the Year…not getting that award helped me recognize friendship and the journey we’ve been on. Lauren, Helen, and Ashley have poured so much time and energy into this book. But along the way we have made so many memories, and grown so much as designers, in our friendship, and in our relationship with the Lord. And I know that the desire of each of these girls’ hearts is to glorify the Lord in all things yearbook.

I am thankful that the Lord desires to be with me despite my mistakes and what I can obtain. I am thankful that he pursues me, and when I keep pushing Him away he continues to pursue me. I am thankful that he turns disappointment into something much greater. I am thankful to be His.

Obedience is Hard

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” Psalm 119:1-2

Woah before we go any further check out that cool logo up top! I know right?? Pretty snazzy…thank you, Illustrator.

Not gonna lie, reading through Pslams 119 this week I was pretty freaked out. Psalm 119 is the longest psalms as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. The psalmist goes on and on  (and on and on) about obeying the Lord’s commands and longing for even more commands so that he could keep them.

Maybe it’s because I am a sinful person, but my first thought reading these verses was that there was something wrong with the person writing this. There is no way he delights this much in obeying rules and the way of the Lord to write this passionate and extensive about it. And I’m only on verse 48…out of 176.

If we’re being real, obeying and following the way of the Lord has been a struggle for me recently. There has been multiple incidents in the past month where I have chosen to deliberately disobey my parents in serious ways. And I didn’t understand why or what was going on. I just found it normal for me to ignore their rules and disrespect their standards.

Ephesians 4 describes this way of living as the “old self” which is a life “corrupted through deceitful desires.” Just because someone has a relationship with Christ does not mean they are completely rid of the “old self”…because I find myself there all the time. A few verses down in Ephesians 4, Paul introduces the “new self” which is a life “created in the likeness of God.”

This “likeness of God” is where we begin to desire obedience and more of it. Although we strive to reflect this “new self”, we are surrounded in a world full of “old self.” This makes it so easy to for me to ignore the rules and intentionally disobey my parents. This makes it so easy for me to turn away from from the way the Lord has placed before me.

From before sunrise to beyond sunset, the word of God dominated the psalmist’s life. His time with the truth and the living God sparked his desire to serve the Lord, and those around him, through obedience. What a life to live and a prayer to pray. That I would be so drenched in the word that I could write 176 verses on obeying the Lord’s statutes and longing for more because the commands I have now are not enough.

Man, I am far away from that but what’s stopping me from getting there.

The Before&After Photo

“I don’t believe in before and after photos because I don’t think there is an after. I think your after is when you die. We are always works in progress.” Kelly Roberts

This quote isn’t very motivational or life altering, but was said by my favorite runner ever, Kelly Roberts, who just started a podcast and I couldn’t be more excited. I love podcasts and I love funny inspirational people, so funny inspirational people on a podcast is where I am at.

But don’t think I’ve got it all together because I like running podcasts. Ha, as a matter of fact I was just at the gym and quit running at half a mile because I was dying. So here I am, blogging, to make a point that in between the before and after picture is hard.

There is beauty in that quote. I think it reflects a lot of aspects of life, especially when it comes to following Jesus. Before encountering Christ would be my before picture, and my life now would be my after picture. But it’s not a true after picture because I am called to be in continuous pursuit of the life Christ has put before me. I find great comfort in that our final after picture is when we arrive Home. God has given me everything I need to obtain godliness, but because of my limitations I will never hit the max and I will always be relying on Him. It’s a never ending journey. Some days I am tracking and other days I have no idea what I’m doing.

“Do not be slothful in zeal, but fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Romans 12:11

I have a whole lot of zeal when it comes to the Tacos4Life opening up on Alcoa. And oh the zeal I have for every new episode of This Is Us on Tuesday nights. But towards the Lord, it’s so easy for me to lack excitement to follow Him at times. It’s become such a habit to plug in my Jesus jams and drive to school and get out of my car like I just rolled out of bed. Spending time with Him hasn’t been out of zeal, but instead out of obligation. And that’s the exact place I don’t want to be. 

I share that because it’s so easy for me not to share it. It’s so easy for me to continue to seek the Lord out of moral standards. But a fervent pursuit out of zeal is far more abundant. I want a life that gets as a close to the after picture as it can. 

BRENG IT.