Dear New Self

A letter to yourself on the days when being a Christ follower is really hard…

Dear New Self,

Let me just start by saying that you’re doing a great job.

If you’re reading this then you’ve made a choice.

“..when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

You’ve decided to put on the new self and make a change for the better.

“I have decided.”

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

GO. YOU.

Making the decision to follow Christ can look pretty glamorous from the outside.

And while I know it’s exciting, I want you to know that the path you’ve chosen isn’t the easy one.

Yes, the reward of throwing out your old self and becoming new is better than I could every even being to explain…

But I am here to tell you that your journey is going to hard.

You will be criticized.

People will question if your transformation is genuine.

People will mock the scripture you use on your Instagram captions.

People will question why you gave up the lifestyle you had and chose the path that you did.

But listen…DO NOT..

I repeat..

DO NOT let what other people say get you down.

Don’t you dare do it.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This is your special journey and it’s unique to only you.

It’s not for everyone else to understand.

Keep. Going.

Trust God and seek His voice in everything you do.

I promise, it’s going to be worth it.

Making decisions that honor and glorify God will lead you down a path that you’ll never regret having been down.

But even after that…

You will make mistakes.

You will slip up.

You will fall short.

And when you do, it’s important to remember that you are not perfect.

No one is perfect.

There will be days that the enemy will do everything in his power to attack you.

There will be days that you will feel like you’ve dug yourself into a hole too deep to get out of.

There will be days that the world will get the best of you.

Just remember..

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”

When you made this choice, you also chose to accept Gods grace.

And you can never out sin God’s grace.

Ever.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

But even after that…

And this is a tough one.

You will feel like you’re missing out.

There will be nights and weekends that your friends are doing things that you know you shouldn’t.

And even though you know you shouldn’t, you won’t be able to help but feel like you’re missing out.

You’ll stalk their fun on Snapchat and Instagram.

You’ll feel like a loser.

You’ll cry yourself to sleep.

I want you listen to me and know that you are missing out on nothing.

As you know, change is hard.

And your friends might not totally understand why you’re changing. But this is the exciting part.

Show them.

It’s your job to show them.

Don’t abandon your friends just because your lifestyle is different. Remember, Jesus was a friend of sinners. And you should be too.

Be a light.

Pour into them.

Love them.

And I can promise you..

You will be ok.

I mean it.

You’re doing a great job.

Your journey will be long and it will never really be over.

Your battles will start again every single day.

And every morning, you’ll have to make a choice.

You can choose to go back to your old ways.

Or you can accept Gods grace and move forward as a new person.

An entirely new you.

And as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times before…

This road is not going to be easy.

There will be times that you will question your decision.

There will be long nights, lots of tears, and days when you’re not sure if you’ll ever make it though.

But no matter how scary the road ahead may be, I promise the destination will be worth it.

God loves you endlessly.

No matter what.

And there’s nothing you can do to change that.

He is holding you in the palm of His hand and He’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.

You’re growing and changing into an amazing person with the most beautiful heart.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Throw out your old self and choose the new one day after day.

And if you can just do that..I can promise you this…

You’re going to be ok.

You are ok.

And you’re so much more than that.

You are chosen.

You are free.

You are forgiven.

You are loved.

You are enough.

And you’re doing a great job.

Press on.

It can only go up from here.

Love, Me

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Created to Create

I was sitting in church on Wednesday night and the question arose: do you read more of the Old Testament or the New Testament?

I’m a New Testament gal all day long.

Fairly new to this journey with God and the whole “reading the bible” thing, the New Testament is what I’ve found the most interesting, so I’ve just continued reading it.

After I answered the question, I got this anxious feeling in my heart.

“Oh my gosh, I don’t read the Old Testament.”

I mean, ok…my goal is to read the bible in its entirety. So I’m going to get there eventually. But since I’ve started reading it, I’ve just..found myself in the New Testament often.

..often as in every day.

When I got that sick feeling my first thought was, “I wonder what I’m missing out on?”

Immediately, I made a mental note: start reading the Old Testament.

I hopped in bed that night and I was just about to dive in to Luke and I remembered my mental note.

Not really knowing where to start, I figured Genesis was as good a place as any other.

Page 1.

After I finished the first chapter, I got all my pens and highlighters out and started taking a few notes.

In Jordan Lee‘s Brighten Your Bible Study  she suggests when reading scripture, to ask the question “What is this passage teaching me about God, His plan, or His purpose? And therefore, what does this teach me about myself?”

So what does the first chapter of Genesis teach me about God?

He is a creator.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1

He made everything.

All of it.

No biggy.

So then I asked, what does this chapter teach me about myself?

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭

It teaches me that I am created in God’s image.

The very first image we have of God in the bible is Him as a creator.

And if God was a creator…

And I was created in His image…

Then I was created to create.

Created to create.

So wait..God created the heavens and the earth and everything on the earth (trees, flowers, me, you, clouds, rivers, oceans, mountains..just to name a few) and I am expected to create like Him?!

I can barely make breakfast without burning the house down!

I wish I was kidding.

Ok sooooo if creating trees and mountains or pop tarts isn’t really your area of expertise, what are you supposed to create?

By definition, create means to bring something into existence. To cause something to happen as the result of our actions.

One of the pastors at my church gave some really great advice when it comes to finding your creative gifts.

Make a list of all the things you like to do and all the things you’re good at, then go down the list and circle the things that serve others .

And there you go.

Take action.

And create.

Create burgers and fries in a fast food restaurant.

Create memories for the children you babysit.

Create financial plans for multibillion dollar corporations.

Create a happy home for your family.

Create a little blog for your friends to enjoy.

Create.

Never feel like what you’re doing with your life isn’t good enough. If you’re loving God, serving people, and living out His will, then chances are..you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

And you are where you are for a reason.

Embrace it.

Don’t get caught up in worldly success.

I know that can be difficult.

But here’s the thing…you don’t have to make six figures or have a hip job or be a world renowned artist to be successful in God’s Kingdom.

Seriously.

Be obedient to God’s calling on your life.

Whatever it may be.

“I’m just a nanny”

“I’m just a fast food worker”

“I’m just a student”

But you know what?

You’re also a child of God.

And that’s more than just enough.

There are days that I feel so sure that I’m doing exactly what God has called me to and I’m headed straight down His path.

But can we be honest for a minute?

There are also days that I feel like I’ve taken 76 wrong turns and I’ll never, ever get where I’m going.

It’s ok.

All you have to do is ask God for direction.

I promise He won’t steer you wrong.

Just always, always remember…

You are significant.

And what you’re doing matters.

And hey, what you create isn’t going to look like what everyone else creates.

It’s not supposed to.

It is by no mistake that God created only one you.

A one of a kind, unique, beautiful you.

You are here for a specific reason.

Seek that.

Live out your calling.

Honor God.

Love people.

And create.

Create well, my friends.

“I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.”  1 Timothy 1:12-14 MSG

bless and be blessed

Mary Alan

Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Single

I’m coming up on two years of being single.

Single.

Without boyfriend.

Alone.

On the couch with my dog.

Yep, that’s where you’ll find me.

And while being single isn’t exactly a death sentence, this just isn’t how I pictured my twenties looking.

Yes, my distant memory recalls, relationships are hard.

But let me tell you something:

Sitting back and watching your friends get engaged and married and have babies one after another…

IT AIN’T EASY.

I so often catch myself asking things like:

“God, when will it be my turn?”

“God, WHY NOT ME?”

If you know me and you’ve ever heard me talk about my future, then you’ve probably heard this exact line come out of my mouth:

“I strongly believe that the reason I was put on this earth is to be a wife and a mother.”

Some of you are probably laughing right now because you’ve heard me say it 3,762 times.

My deepest desire is to be a wife and a mother.

(additionally maybe a best-selling author)

But seriously…a husband and a kid or two will do the trick.

PAUSE

I started writing this blog with very little direction. And it wasn’t until I typed that, that something really clicked for me.

RESUME

While I do deeply, deeply desire to be a wife and a mother, how dare I proclaim that to be my deepest desire.

I was put on this earth for a different reason.

We are all here for a bigger reason.

We are here to bring glory to God.

WHO AM I TO BE SO SELFISH?!

I think sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day things in life, or dragged down by the season we’re in, that we forget what we’re ultimately here for.

We need to pause and remember that it’s our job as Christ followers to sacrifice our selfish wants and desires and surrender…

(there’s that word again)

…surrender our plans to a God whose ways and thoughts are crazier and better than anything in our wildest dreams.

My body trembles with excitement as I type that!

This picture perfect life that I’ve always had in mind for myself…Gods picture is still better!

Way better!

And hey, maybe you’re not going through a single season, maybe it’s a totally different kind of season.

“God, why won’t you give me that promotion?”

“God, why won’t you heal my sickness?”

“God, why won’t you just take away my anxiety and depression and make me happy?”

Instead of pointing a finger or shaking a fist at God, maybe we should ask this:

“God, what is it that you’re trying to teach me during this difficult season?”

Chances are, you’ll start seeing things much clearer.

And while sometimes in these seasons it may feel like God is punishing you.

He isn’t.

He’s protecting you.

And even more than that…He’s preparing you.

He’s preparing you for something bigger and better and more beautiful than you could ever possibly imagine!

God has absolutely used my single season to change my heart. I learn new things about God and myself every single day. This season is preparing me for my future. Preparing me for my husband.

And so much more.

Immeasurably more.

Why would I ever want to rush something that God already has so perfectly planned?

If Gods will for my life means waiting 20 more years for Mr.Right…I’ll do it.

Seriously.

I refuse to let my selfish, impatient, worldly desires get in the way of what God has for me.

Don’t settle for that.

Now ok…selfishly, I can’t wait to come home and plop down on the couch next to my hottie of a husband and share everything about my day. The ups, the downs, my fears, hopes, dreams…all of it.

Can you blame me?

And as much as I love her, I really look forward to the day that I get to come home to someone other than my dog. Ya know?

But until that day, I’ll come home and plop down on the couch and tell God all about it. The ups, the downs, my fears, hopes, dreams…all of it.

I can’t think of a single better listener than Him.

Do I still want to be a wife and a mom?

Yep.

But chasing after the heart of God has to be the first priority in my life.

In all of our lives.

Always.

The truth is, if I was still dating that guy…I don’t know if I would be in church.

I don’t know if I would’ve gone on a mission trip.

I don’t know if I would’ve made the decision to give my life to Jesus.

And that’s a really scary thought.

In saying all this, am I convinced that this season of singleness is a big beautiful blessing wrapped up with a pretty bow on top?

Not quite.

But I do know this:

It was a breakup that brought my sad little broken-hearted self to the cross.

And it’s in this single season that I’ve grown to understand what it means to give it all to God.

Surrender.

Wowwweeeeee.

So on this anything but exciting Friday, I’ll curl up on the couch with my puppy, and thank God for this special little season.

The season that shattered my heart into a million little pieces.

The season that forced me to lean solely on my Father.

The most beautiful season.

With no one else to turn to, my soul finds rest in my Savior.

And for that, I am so thankful.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

bless and be blessed,

Mary Alan

The Day God Gave Me More Than I Could Handle

I recently read a blog with a sweet little story that ended with a sweet little quote that we’ve probably all heard (and said) hundreds of times.

“God will never give you more than you can handle!”

And while the article was good and it brought a tear to my eye…I couldn’t stop thinking about that overly used, “go-to” Christian phrase.

“God will never give you more than you can handle!”

“God will NEVER give you more than you can handle!”

During some of the toughest times in my life I’ve been told that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle.

And I hate to break it to you guys. But we’re wrong. We are all getting it SO wrong.

To the mother whose fourteen year old daughter is fighting for her life in a hospital bed…

To the husband whose wife lost her life in child-birth, leaving him alone with a family to care for…

To the girl whose boyfriend is recovering from a gun shot wound to the head…

To the person reading this whose daily battle is deeper and darker and scarier than anything you’ve ever been through…

The truth is, God is giving you more than you can handle.

When you’re dealt a hand of cards that turns your world upside down, He’s not trying to make you mad.

I promise.

And while you may get mad and want be strong and make it look easy…I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do that.

You never have to do that.

God doesn’t expect you to be strong or make sense of the mess or step up to save the world.

(He already sent someone to save the world, remember?)

He wants to show you that leaning on Him is the only way you’ll find the strength to keep moving forward.

Will God give you more than you can handle?

Yes.

There will come a day that God will give you more than you can handle.

I can absolutely guarantee it.

Life is hard, it’s scary, it’s lonely, it’s confusing, it’s dark, and there will be times that it’s more than you could ever possibly deal with alone.

But you know what?

This is the beautiful thing about it.

God doesn’t expect you to do it alone.

And while it’s way easier said than done, I truly believe that surrendering to God is the key to peace in our darkest hours.

Surrender.

It means trusting God’s timing not knowing when it will come.

It means expecting a miracle not knowing how God will provide it.

It means coming to the feet of Jesus every single day and saying “I trust you.”

Even though it might be hard to believe right now, this is all part of a perfect plan. It may seem like a disaster, but every single event in our life plays a role in a much bigger picture. A big, beautiful, God designed masterpiece

Lean on Him.

Seek Him.

Trust His will.

And find comfort in knowing that you aren’t walking down this road alone.

God is walking right beside you and He is ready to carry your load just as soon you make the choice to surrender it to Him.

Let Him handle it.

He’s got this.

I promise.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

bless and be blessed
Mary Alan