November 17, 2017

Contentment vs.Gratitude

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*Sigh*. Where do I even start?

I've been wanting to write a post ever since the beginning of November, and I have several ideas lined up that I'm rather excited about. But the time hasn't felt right for any of them and the words simply weren't coming for what I've been feeling lately—until now.

Some of you may recall that I mentioned struggling with contentment in my last post. I also mentioned the possibility of writing a more in-depth post about my struggle, and while this post isn't it, it's very much related to the topic.

Guys. I've been struggling so hard lately.

Thank God for His strength and the friends and family He's blessed me with because I'd be a mess (well, a bigger mess ;)) without these things.

The thing that has been causing me so much anxiety lately (actually ever since I graduated, to varying degrees) has simply been the future, I guess. Namely, what am I doing with my future?

Before I graduated high school, I decided I wasn't going to college. I knew that I ultimately wanted to be a stay at home wife and mother someday (Lord willing and if Steve Rogers is a real person because otherwise I don't know who I'm going to marry) (kidding...kind of :P) and that all my other interests were all things I could essentially teach myself at home. I dreamed about starting a home-based photography business and being an author and essentially being a rebel who doesn't conform to the pattern this world sets. I didn't want to go to college when I graduated, and my parents were fine with that. So I didn't go.


Fast forward little over a year later and I'm still not at college, but I'm feeling more desperate for a purpose. And yes, my purpose is to serve and glorify my Savior. I know that ultimately I should have no bigger goal in life than that.

But there are moments I forget that. And even when I don't, I still want a physical, tangible purpose in life. I like goals. Goals give me motivation and excitement and A REASON FOR GETTING UP EVERY MORNING.

Currently if anyone asked me what my goals were, I'd say they are to publish my books. And that is a dream still very near and dear to my heart. I still want to be an author. And I've written 20k words this month for NaNo, so hey, I'm not giving up yet. But even that has lately been...dissatisfying.

I think that dissatisfaction has more to do with my heart and the fears and worries it holds than anything else.


Worrying over what people think of me is one of my biggest weaknesses. I hate that about myself. God has helped me grow in this area so much over the past few years, but lately it's been cropping up again whenever people ask me what I'm doing.

Am I going to college? No. Do I have a job? No. (Though I have applied to a bunch of different places, just sayin'.) Well, what are you doing with your life?

When I tell them that I'm living at home and working towards being a self-published author* I feel like they think I'm lazy or unambitious or just plain stupid for "wasting my life".

Or maybe it's just me that feels that way and other people couldn't care less what I do with my life. *cringe*

*among other things. Every day is vastly different. Today I helped my brother with algebra, cleaned a rug that one of our dogs got dirty, learned two chords on the guitar, watched the rest of Emma 1997 with my mom (and had tea of course), washed dinner dishes, exercised, etc. etc.

So many people tell me I don't need to feel this way. I've talked about some of this with a few friends and they all tell me the same thing. That they understand/can relate and that it doesn't matter what I do as long as I'm following God. He has a purpose for me. (And thank you all for the many times you've said that to me; you don't know how encouraging it is every. single. time. ♥ Y'll are awesome!!!)
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My parents tell me that I shouldn't think that getting a part-time job or going to college automatically makes me responsible. They would support me if I want to do those things, but they keep telling me that my presence and help is so appreciated here at home. (Maybe I should just start listening to them?? My parents are always right anyways. :P) (Love you, Daddy and Mommy. ♥)

Tonight I watched two videos (who says youtube isn't helpful? haha) from two of my favorite youtubers and their videos hit me so hard.

First...


What even. Look at how joyful these people are. And look at their day to day living conditions.

And then there's me, a typical spoiled American.

Ummm. What the heck am I complaining about?

I really needed this reminder of how awful other people's lives are, and how blessed I am. 

I spend so much time feeling down about the 1%  of what I don't like about my life, when literally 99% percent of it is pretty perfect.

Instead of worrying what people think of me for not going to college or having a job I should be grateful those are even options for me. I should be grateful that I have the choice to go or not go to college. Grateful to have the opportunity to apply to jobs in my area. 
Grateful for every single thing God has blessed me with

I need to stop complaining about what I don't have figured out about my life and start being grateful for what I do.

God has given me life; and He's given me a good life. Therefore I should be nothing but grateful.

Second...

I know I shared one of her videos in my last post, but her videos have been so encouraging to me lately. So many of them are exactly what I needed to hear.

This one was no exception. I'm going to be seeing extended family soon for Thanksgiving, and I always worry about
a) How can I present Christ's love and His gospel to them?
b) Oh no they're going to ask me what I'm doing with my life helpppppppp

Unfortunately I probably put the latter above the former too often. 

Not only was this video encouraging and eye-opening, it also was convicting. From about 10:52 to 12:40 (although I really recommend watching the whole video if you have time PLEASE it's so good) she mentions how our witness can be helped by being open and vulnerable about our imperfections--and joyful because it is from Christ that we gain confidence and strength.

Not ourselves.
"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"  -- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces.
This especially spoke to me:
"...[when people can see] that you're okay with not having the perfect presentation, and understanding that your life is more of a witness and a testimony than a presentation you can put on....that's intriguing."

Ouch. Friends, this is so me. I want so much to put forward a good "presentation" of myself—to make myself look good. To make it look like I have it all together "just like everyone else."

But I don't have it all together....and you know what? Neither does a lot of people, I think.

So often I forget that and think I'm the only one with insecurities and doubts and fears about life.

When really...I should be happy to have these struggles.
Because maybe Jesus can use me to encourage others with similar struggles.


And would not even one soul guided toward Christ be worth any amount of struggle here on earth?


There's so much more I could talk about, but it's late and I should probably just publish this before I chicken out. ;) I rarely share posts this personal...but throughout my four years of blogging, you all have been such encouraging friends that I feel like I'd be lying if I didn't share some of the more personal things on my heart sometimes. If any of you read this whole post let me give you a *hug* and a "thank you" and "CONGRATULATIONS." I wouldn't blame you if you skimmed. :P

This Thanksgiving, I want to focus more on being grateful and not worry so much about being content.

This Thanksgiving, I want to admit that I'm far from perfect—but I know One who is.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6

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Are any of you going through similar struggles?
What has reminded you to be grateful lately?

28 comments:

  1. This was such a great post, Natalie!
    I really liked hte conclusion, that we can help others who struggle the same way we do! When one struggles nothing is more encouraging than to know that you aren't alone!
    A few years ago I felt a lot like you do now. I had a vision of how I imagined my life to turn out and none of it happened the way I expected, and therefore I felt that my life wasn't properly started and that I was behind everyone else.
    But just as you mentioned I really tried focusing on all the blessings I received and to be thankful for what I had. And today I'm really happy with my life, even though it is way different than what I'd planned.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings on the matter:)

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    1. Thank you so much, Rose!! I'm so glad this was encouraging for you. I agree! I feel so much better when people say that can relate to my struggles--as you said, it's so nice to know you aren't alone.

      Thank you for sharing how you felt about your live expectations vs. life reality. I'm so happy to hear that you're happy with your life! It gives me encouragement that someday I'll feel the same, despite it not going as planned. :D

      Thank YOU for your comment. I really appreciate it! ♥

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  2. Thank you for this post, Natalie. I have been struggling with similar issues as long as I can remember. I always care what other people think of me, and, though I realize I shouldn't, I can't seem to help it. But it truly does make life that much more difficult. And I can certainly relate to trying to put forward a perfect presentation of my life--it never works, but I try. You're right, it is easy to forget that other people also have doubts and insecurities, which is why we all need posts like these to remind us that it's true.

    Psalm 13:5 is one of my most favorite Bible verses. It never fails to sway my thoughts back to joy and thanksgiving.
    This post was definitely encouraging, and I'm glad you put it out there. I needed that reminder:)

    ~Elanor

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    1. Ahhh, Elanor, THANK YOU! To be honest, I was a little hesitant about posting this. I didn't want to come off as complaining or anything. But I hoped that maybe someone else could benefit from what I've been learning through this. So I'm very happy to hear this post resonated with you!! ♥

      "though I realize I shouldn't, I can't seem to help it." SAME. The struggle is real. But as you said, life is so hard when we care about what other people think...I know God will help us both conquer that worry. It just seems really hard when we're in the midst of it, I think. :(

      Awww, really? Yay! I rarely hear it, but it's such a good verse.

      Again, THANK YOU! I'm really glad it was encouraging. :)

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  3. *sends hugs*

    I know we've talked about this--and I know it can be a huge struggle--but, Natalie, rest assured that you are NOT ALONE. You are emphatically not the only young person in the United States of America who's trying to figure out their future and finding it a bit more *ahem* complicated than they expected . . .

    *RAISES OWN HAND*

    You're already a beautiful, special person who's accomplishing amazing things <3 And remember, what you want to do with your life is up to YOU. Just because "everybody else" is going to college doesn't mean you should--even though I've loved my own experiences in higher education, I strongly believe college is not for everyone and shouldn't be pushed on people as their default choice. There are all kinds of exciting life options out there that don't require a college degree. You have plenty of time to figure out what it is you'd really like to do, and to make it happen. And don't ever let other people judge your choices.

    Like, you want to be a self-employed photographer? That's fantastic! You want to work towards being a self-published author? THAT IS AWESOME AND I LOVE IT. You want to go to Singapore and make a fortune selling organic tea? GO FOR IT, GIRL. I have faith in you.

    :-) :-) :-)

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    1. *accepts hugs gratefully*

      Thank you so much, Katie. <3 I'm really glad we can talk about this together and encourage each other. It's just so good to know I'm not alone!!!

      Gahhhhh, GIRL. THANK YOU SO MUCH. And I really appreciate your opinion on college. I certainly believe going to college is a VERY good people for some people. I just hate it when society makes it seem like it's the One and Only route to have a good life. So I really love that you feel the same way, even though you're going to college, too. <3 And for the record, I think it's AWESOME that you're doing what you're doing. Not many people are gifted with the skills you have. And I bet it takes a lot of courage to be working toward such a TREMENDOUS goal. So my hat is off to you. ;) You're awesome.

      Hahaha!! I hadn't thought about going to Singapore to sell organic tea yet! Hmmm, now you've given me yet another idea. ;)

      THANK YOU FOR BEING THE AWESOME, AMAZING, ENCOURAGING FRIEND THAT YOU ARE. <3 I loved your comment, very much.

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  4. Oh, my... *tears*
    I felt like this was ME talking, as if I had written this post myself.
    I have been graduated for three years now, and haven't felt like I have made it very far since then. I've had a few jobs (on one right now) but generally I clean for people. It doesn't feel like a very rewarding experience at times, simply scrubbing down a stranger's house and then leaving without even knowing who lived there.
    For a person who's so insecure and shy, I also would like to make a difference. Do great things. And cleaning just doesn't give that feeling.
    BUT it's been okay. :)
    I've been learning a lot since I "stopped" my education, and God's been shaping and molding me into a person I'd never thought I'd be.
    He's always faithful, and He has a beautiful plan for you, although it seems so uncertain at times.
    It'll all turn out all right, in the end.
    *Warm hugs and prayers*

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    1. Ahhh, LaKaysha!!!! *hugs* THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENT! Hearing about your similar experiences made me tear up. I'm really glad my post resonated with you. It makes me feel so much better to know I'm not alone; I'm really happy if my post made you feel the same way. <3

      I agree. I too want to make a difference in this world and "do great things" as you said. But, I also know that "even the smallest person can change the course of the future". (Tolkien) So if that's true, I think even the "smallest job" can make a big impact as well!! You never know how God might use the humblest task for His glory. <3

      Thank you so much!!! Your words are so encouraging to me. And thank you for the prayers!!! I will do the same for you. :)

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  5. The "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" question Is. The. WORST!!! My mind always goes completely blank and I then immediately feel like the most pathetic creature alive. :) Something Abbiee once said about how she isn't doing just ONE THING, but rather trying to help everyone she can, came to mind, but then I couldn't find the link, THEN I realized pretty much every post she writes speaks SPLENDID ENCOURAGEMENT about this; however, her "Mission Statement" page is especially good.

    Yes, goals; I seriously love those things, I even love the sound of the word. :) Yet at the same time the joy in them can be so elusive to keep.

    That video from Jordon Lee just popped into my feed and I had it on my to-watch list, but I think it may be just what this afternoon needs. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my mind. :)

    Speaking to All of This Sort of Thing I REALLY recommend reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman (had to sneak this one in :)) and also her podcast, "The Next Right Thing".They are both a huge breath of fresh air and have been a gigantic gift to me of late.

    I applaud your courage in writing this, Natalie. The transparency in it is absolutely beautiful.

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    1. I know I already mentioned this, but I'll say it again: I FEEL EXACTLY THE SAME WAY!!! <3 *hugs*

      Abbiee's blog really is one of the most encouraging ones out there, isn't it? :D I'm really glad you love her posts, too!

      I agree! And yet what you said about the joy being elusive is so true. I guess that's where I need to remind myself that it's okay to fail some goals--because after all, that's NOT where our true joy is found. :)

      You're welcome! I hope you found it super encouraging, too. <3

      Thanks for the recommendations. I will definitely check them out!

      Awwwww. Thank you, dear friend!! And thank you for your unwavering encouragement; you are truly a gift. <3 I know God has both your and my future all worked out, even when we feel as if it isn't. I'm glad we can encourage each other through this crazy thing called life. :D

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  6. My sweet friend, this post was beautiful and thank you for writing it. I haven't got much time to comment now, but I can fully empathise with what you described.

    Doing nothing is not what God wants you to do; so fill every second with learning new things, praying, encouraging people... don't underestimate His plan for you and the way He values every act, no matter how 'small' it may seem!

    Praying for you girl!

    Love you x

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Naomi!!! I'm sorry to hear you struggle with this, too. But I'm really glad we can encourage each other through it. <3

      Ahhh so true. Thank you for that; it's what I needed to hear today. :) (And every day for that matter!)

      Praying for you too!! *hugs* Love you, friend.

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  7. Oh my goodness, Natalie, this post was amazing. Like, I could write and talk books about these topics and I'm so stoked that you chose to share this with us. :) Some of these things are incredibly near to my heart.

    Good gracious, where to start! First off, I'm sorry you've been struggling so much with this. But the good thing is, you only grow if you struggle and get pushed out of your comfort zone and are forced to really think things over that you otherwise might not. Often times the "waiting" seasons of our lives are the seasons where God grows us, so that we may be ready for our next season in life, whatever that is.

    I'm just about to step into that world. I'm rapidly nearing the end of my school, and I already have people ask me eagerly what I plan to do and yep, I have to give the stuttered reply of "Err... I don't really know yet. I don't want to go to University, and I don't really want a big career, as such." They always seem disappointed.

    (I could go ON AND ON about EVERYTHING here, by the way, but it's 10:40PM and I'm getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow and I ought to be in bed and I'm behind on stuff so bear with me okay? :P)

    That first video, about being thankful was definitely a great eye-opener and humbling thing to see. Those kinds of videos always make you realize how blessed you are and I think they are a great help when we need reminders sometimes.

    But oh my goodness, Jordan Lee Dooley is basically my new favourite person at the moment, haha! ;) I was going to watch that video at some point soon, but since you had it up there ready to go, well... I just sat down and watched it, didn't I. ;) She is AMAZING. I was nodding my head in agreement so much my neck kinda aches. :P I love her perspective and oh my goodness this is something I have talked about with people SO much and also learnt myself and something I'm very passionate about.
    (And then your part about how you feel you have to have a good "presentation" of yourself and hide all your struggles and flaws... oh my goodness, I know exactly what you're talking about!)

    I've had some tough things to deal with in the past few years, mostly concerning what I believe in and what my convictions are when it comes to anything remotely related with Christianity. At the tender age of 16, I have had to think about some tough topics and know where I stand on them. That's not to say my opinion is now set in stone and I'm right so everyone else is wrong (heck no - if that is what I'm like, somebody please slap me!)... but it has helped me clear my mind.

    You see, I was brought up in a very religious setting. That's not to say it was bad and unhappy, but a lot of it wasn't helpful. I was "the perfect child". I went to the same church for over 10 years, I never missed Sunday School, I knew all the memory verses, I talked to everyone and knew my manners, I was popular, and I had a good "reputation". I put on a good presentation of myself, let me tell you - I made an excellent little Pharisee! The 'church' we went to was a strict, traditional reformed baptist church, and everyone there (myself included) was extremely busy in keeping up their presentations also, and judging everybody else who did not. I was brought up so that I thought any kid who didn't "go to church" OBVIOUSLY WASN'T A CHRISTIAN AND WAS TERRIBLY WICKED, and those people in the back row at 'church' who came occasionally and soon disappeared were back-sliding Christians. That's just how things worked, no questions asked.

    (I have to split this into two comments.)

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    1. There came a day when I was forced to think about my mind set and my actions for my whole life. I actually considered the idea that people who left "our church" may still be Christians after all... the relationships everyone had there were quite artificial, because everyone acted how Jordan said. They treated the people who weren't members as unbelievers, and tried to force the gospel down their throats. That makes people shut down. No one is going to listen to something they're not ready to hear.
      This is SUCH a big thing I've learnt. There is a time and a place for preaching the gospel. I believe such a thing is for people who have never heard it before. But if we truly want to help someone, whether it is to lead them to Christ or help them through a rough patch, we ought not to preach to them! We shouldn't force anything onto them, but wait for them to be ready. A gentle, loving attitude is so much more inviting than a stern, I-am-going-to-convert-you-so-I-can-check-it-off-my-list attitude. (And that attitude is SO WRONG, in my opinion.) And as Jordan said, it's not our task to CONVERT them, that is God's! We're there to plant the seed, and if He chooses to let it grow then that is His work, and not ours. If someone is hurting or in need, they want someone who is genuine, respectful and a person they can relate to in some way. I think living your life as Christ's child and resting in his peace and joy and strength and not being afraid to shine that anywhere you go is a far greater testimony than saying "If you don't ask Jesus into your heart, you are going to HELL!"
      *pants*
      Honestly, this is a HUGE issue for me and I feel like I can't express myself the way I want to. :P

      So... what I guess I want to say most is these 2 things:
      1. I believe if people were a lot less judgmental and worried about self-image (ESPECIALLY within churches and religious circles), but instead focused on sharing what we have in common (Jesus!), agreeing to disagree if need be, loving each other as God called us to do, and realizing we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in need of support and encouragement from each other, not continual exhortation and judgement, the world would SO much better for it!

      2. Don't stress about not knowing what to do. As long as you appreciate every day and keep yourself busy, continually learning and growing, you will have nothing to regret! Rest in God, and His timing, and His plan that He has for you. Opportunities can appear in a heartbeat, doors can be opened in seconds and circumstances can be changed dramatically... nothing is impossible for God.
      And you know what, part of the adventure in life is not knowing what is going to happen next. With Jesus within you, you will be ready for what comes next. <3

      I'll pray for you, dear.

      P.S. (Sorry if I made no sense whatsoever. Just ignore me. ;P)

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    2. *points to what Gabby said*

      THIS. HECK, YES.

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    3. EEK, GABBY! *huge hug* Wow girl, you get like the best comment award ever. I can't believe how long it is. xD

      Awwwwwwwwwww. Thank you. I'm so very glad you enjoyed it. I know we've talked a little about this before, but it was so good hearing more of your thoughts!

      Thank you for reminding me of that. I think I often forget that the seasons of life that feel full of "nothing" ARE, as you said, really full of a lot of spiritual and mental growth. And what you said about God using those seasons to ready us for the next....YES! Again, I forget that too often, but it's so true. :)

      Eeek, poor you. I'm sorry you're already getting those questions! But at the same time, it sounds like you're wayyy more prepared for handling other people's questions (or even criticisms) than I was. For awhile, when I was still in high school, I would tell people I wasn't going to college and it wasn't too hard to say that because I was still busy with high school. But NOW when I'm done with school and desperately trying to figure out how to use my time....it's way harder to answer people because I have nothing "to show them", so to speak. BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW AND I'M STILL FIGURUING IT OUT. Thankfully, I have met a few people who are SUPER encouragiang and understanding of where I'm at....but as you said, there's always those few people who seem disappointed with our answer. :( WHY is that?? Why do people care so much that we don't necessarily want a big career or to go to college? It's not like it affects them in anyway--society seems to encourage people to "be themselves" and "be an individual" or "pursue your dreams".....until you actually are. :P

      (Not a problem!!! How did getting your wisdom teeth out go? I hope it wasn't too bad. *hugs*)

      I'm really glad the videos were encouraging to you, too!! And YES. Aren't Jordan Lee Dooley's videos just amazing? Several of her recent videos have been like....PERFECT for some things I've been going through lately. Really love her channel. <3

      Oh, dear Gabby. *hugs* I'm so sorry. Dealing with tough issues is never fun, especially when they're about your faith. After all, your faith is THE most important thing, so it definitely makes any struggles or worries or anything a lot harder.

      Thank you SO much for sharing your story, dear friend. <3 That is certainly a LOT to go through at any age, much less when you're still in your teens. But praise God that He used your situation for good. I mean, it certainly sounds like He has opened your heart in a way that makes you an incredibly loving, understanding person. He'd helped you see how dangerous some mindsets in Christian circles can be, and helped you understand what true Christianity is: not a judgmental, showy, "club", but loving, forgiving, honest fellowship of sinners redeemed and made new by an incredibly gracious Savior! :)

      ...

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    4. Part 2....

      (There's probably a lot more I could have said in my above comment, but I TRIED TO keep it brief....not sure I succeeded. xD)

      I've never quite thought of preaching the gospel as something for people who haven't heard the gospel at all, but I like your take on it! I think sometimes (in America, or even other places where Christianity SEEMS to be popular, but really isn't) even people who vaguely known about Christianity need to hear it preached. Because I think a LOT of people who would claim to know what Christianity is, really don't. But I also agree that, as you said, if we're wanting to help a particular person to Christ, we should focus more on loving them and being there for them (always ready to present the gospel to them if they ask or if an opportunity arises) rather than treating them like a school assignment or something. :P

      AMEN. I too have had to learn that you CANNOT shove the gospel down people's throats. After all, I don't like it when people try to force me to see their point of view, or hold their opinion. Just because someone isn't saved doesn't mean they don't have feelings that need to be respected and valid opinions, too. Basically, it comes down to remembering that Jesus loved and died for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. Thus we should treat the unsaved with just as much loving patience and understanding as He did for us. (Of course, that doesn't mean we excuse sin or take part in all their activities or what have you....as Christians we ARE called to be holy and separate. But that doesn't mean we separate ourselves and cut ourselves off and treat unsaved people as outcasts. :P How can they ever become saved if we don't welcome them and invite them to join us?)

      Yes yes YES. I just love everything you said. Especially: "If someone is hurting or in need, they want someone who is genuine, respectful and a person they can relate to in some way. I think living your life as Christ's child and resting in his peace and joy and strength and not being afraid to shine that anywhere you go is a far greater testimony than saying "If you don't ask Jesus into your heart, you are going to HELL!"" <<<AMEN.

      Your last two points were GOLD. I really have nothing to say, because what you said was so good I can't possibly add anything. :)

      I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, GABBY! THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP AND YOUR PRAYERS. You're always an encouragement to me. *hugs again*

      PS. Whaaaatt. Are you kidding? YOUR COMMENT WAS SO FANTASTIC. :D

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    5. PPS. Gabby--I know I've said this before, and I hope you don't feel bad because I'm certainly NOT trying to pressure you...but one of these days you've got to start a blog. ;) I totally understand if it's not possible now, but I sure hope someday it works out because your blog would be awesome. :D *hugs*

      Jessica and Evie--I AGREE!! :D

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    6. Gah, THAAANKS. <3 I loved everything you had to say and it encouraged me so much!! <3 I don't have heaps of time on my hand, so I'll just pick through some of the things that especially stood out to me in what you said.

      I think the reason people seem "disappointed" in us (at least partly why) when we don't choose a big career, is that they do care for us, and they only wish we make the most of our life and talents and not waste them. Only, sometimes people have different priorities to us, and while theirs may be something like "making money and doing what you love", ours may be somewhat different, and that will impact our actions. But yes, I think those people are simply being caring and looking out for us, but they just have a different viewpoint and a bit less understanding.

      Thanks! My wisdom teeth went alright! I felt like I thoroughly wasted a week of my life, but it was only a week, and then I was pretty much back to normal. I only had a little pain, and my chipmunk cheeks went down after 5 days. ;) I'm just glad I only have to do that once in my life, and that it's over, haha! (But I also didn't have any nerves at any point WHATSOEVER, so I think that may have something to do with all the prayers that were being sent up for me. ;))

      Oh, I know! Jordan Lee Dooley is like a breath of fresh air! I LOVE her perspective and so many of her videos are incredibly relevant to me.

      Oh, don't feel too sorry for me. ;) It wasn't a hugely traumatic experience, just a slap-in-the-face eye-opener mostly, and I've recovered now, and learnt a lot from it! But it was difficult at the time, that's for sure. (It was actually at that time that I began commenting and making friends, and that's why everyone has been so special because they were really what I needed at that point in my life... and still are!) God has shown me time and time again how He can transform something painful and ugly into something beautiful and life-giving!

      (Darn. I'm going to have to split this comment again, haha. :P)

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    7. That's a very valid point, what you said - about people who claim to know what Christianity is actually don't. I guess if they're in that predicament, they are either in a circle of people who are a little drawn back spiritually and tangled up, or they haven't truly embraced God in a personal relationship. It just bugs me when a large group of believers - true believers, who know their Gospel like the back of their hand - have to sit through the same "God came to save you, so accept Him as your Saviour!" every Sunday, when they could be learning so much more. The Gospel is important, and it's also important to know exactly what you believe, but a lot of the time Christians are being fed "baby food" when they need "meat"... otherwise you're left saying, "yes, I am already saved! Now what?!"

      Yes, amen! I definitely believe we should be in the world but not of it, but I think we have to be careful of our mindset... I've witnessed some Christians who (perhaps even subconsciously) "look down" on the unbelievers and treat them like dirt and "oh we don't want to mix with THEM". Yes, we should remain pure, but how can you ever help someone when you abhor and look down on them?! I think a lot of it comes down to loving in replace of judging.

      Aww, thanks for everything, dear. Xx I love you so much, Natalie! And also, thank you SO MUCH for being open and honest, and willing to talk about these things! (Is it just me, or do you ever get sick of the never ending conversations you have with people that never go further than the weather and your health?! :P I love some good, gritty conversations every now and then, haha!) I'm definitely nowhere near perfect, nor 'have it all together' - I'm on a learning journey! These are just some things I've come across in my life, and I thought I would share them. :)

      P.S. AWW. <3 <3 Thank you! I would LOVE to start a blog... it's just time management (and permission). But, *whispers* just between you and me... I think there is a good possibility a blog may be on the horizon in 2018. :D

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    8. I'm so glad!! <3 And no problem. I'm probably going to make my reply a bit condensed, too. :)

      That's very true. I do admit that most of the people who don't really understand my reasons for the way I'm doing life probably don't mean to be discouraging. They just want to see me being successful. But so many people have a very narrow minded view of what successful is, and though I really can't blame people for how they were raised or whatever, it can be frustrating.

      I'm really glad it wasn't *too* bad getting your wisdom teeth out. <3 Although that must have been annoying since it felt like such a waste of time! :/ I'm glad you weren't nervous, though!!! <3

      I'm glad. :) And awww, really? I'm so glad we all were an encouragement to you at the time, then!! It's funny how we all came to the blogging world--I came to it hoping to make some friends, because I didn't have many at that time in life. And blogging certainly gave me all that and more!! I'm just so so grateful God gave me the opportunity to know so many amazing people I never would have otherwise. *hugs*

      Amen!! God can and has and will definitely transform the ugly into beauty. <3

      Ohhh, I see what you mean. I totally agree. We have been to a few churches like that, where every Sunday's sermon seems to be nothing but a "witnessing speech". :P So yes, I agree!! I remember when we were attending one like that, my dad said something about how church is for the believers, not the unbelievers. Christians need to be spiritually fed and learning to GROW in their faith and understanding. They need to for their own spiritual life obviously, and so they can then present the gospel to others, with confidence in what they believe. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't invite non believers to church because certainly they should be invited! But as you said....if the majority of the church is believers, then they need "meat" not "milk".

      I agree. And honestly, I've struggled with this one. There's been many times I've looked down on nonbelievers for the things they do. But God reminded me that without HIM I would truly be no different. So I should never treat someone like that, because it's only by the grace of God that I'm not just like them.

      ♥ You too!!! And awww, of course! Thank you as well! Because no, it is definitely not just you. :P I often get so sick of small talk--and yes!! It's always the weather and health! I wish people would get into GOOD, deep conversations more often in day to day life.

      I'm really glad you did share them. <3 *hugs* I love encouraging each other in our faith.

      PS. I totally understand!! But EEK. Now I am VERY excited for that possibility....!!!!!

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  8. that second video. *picks jaw up from floor* THAT WAS SO INSPIRING!
    Also Psalm 13, that is my favourite Psalm! - I'll be back to comment much more, just learning some music right now!

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    1. Wasn't it just, though?? THANK YOU EVIE, I'M SO GLAD IT ENCOURAGED YOU, TOO. <3
      Aww, really? That's great. :D And no problem!

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  9. This post was such an encouragement, Natalie! I can relate to so much of what you said. I'm currently in the middle of applying to college, and sometimes I feel like I have no clue as to what I want to study, or whether it's even the right decision for me to go at all. It's nerve-wracking, but I'm just trying to remind myself that I don't have to have it all figured out right now, because God does, and that's far, far better. :)

    That first video you shared was so good, and such an eye-opener. I need to watch the other one soon, as that's a topic that I definitely need to focus on more!

    Oh yes, trying to keep up a perfect image in front of others because I'm too concerned about what they think of me is something I struggle with, too. And it's so exhausting! I love what you said though about being grateful for the things that we struggle with, because Christ can use them to encourage others. I definitely to remind myself of that truth more often, instead of trying to appear as though I've got everything all together!

    I could go on, but I'll just end by saying thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I will be praying for you! :)

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    1. Aww, I'm so glad, Molly!!! Thank you! I'm sorry you can relate, too. :( I hope you can figure out what it is you want to do. I understand how hard it is to know what to study. I have several friends who have struggled to figure out what to major in. And whenever I DO consider taking college classes I give up simply because I just don't know what to study! But YES, as you said, God has it all figured out. One of my favorite verses is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3: 5-6; emphasis mine) I hope you can find some encouragement in that. <3

      I'm glad you found the videos encouraging!

      It IS exhausting, you're so right! I can remember certain times in my life when I didn't feel self-conscious or nervous about what other people thought of me--and I remember those times as some of the happiest, most fun moments of my life. :D I really wish I could posses that confidence all the time, because it makes life so enjoyable and relaxing. Awww. I'm so glad you liked that. I hope you and I BOTH learn how to drop our "perfect" image and just enjoy life as we are. :D I know we'll be better for it. :) (And "through Christ we can do all things", so I have no doubt we will succeed!)

      Thank YOU for your prayers! I will do so for you, as well. :)

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  10. Okay. So I wrote out a whole long comment with lots of super encouraging words (at least they were meant to be encouraging, haha :P), and then...I LOST IT! All of it. Ugh.

    So I'm thinking maybe you've probably had enough of Miss March's "encouraging" words and I shouldn't even go there this time. Instead, I just want to say, THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!! It was beautiful and well-written and your openness and transparency was so good!! Thank you for being honest about your struggles and pointing yourself back to the Lord. That's so helpful because we all have struggles and we all need to be reminded of the TRUTH! Those two videos were super good. Lots of great things to think about there. Thank you so much for sharing them!! <3

    I love you, friend! Keep doing what you're doing! No matter what other people think (or even what you think), I know you're right where God wants you to be. Because your heart's desire is to serve Him and He knows that and He's certainly not going to leave you to figure out everything on your own. Through all the ins and outs of life, high points, low points, exciting times and boring times, He's right there steering you in the right direction. He's got you on a journey and He's more concerned about the outcome of it then you are, so you can be sure you're in good hands. Maybe it doesn't always seem like a real journey to you compared to other people's lives that seem so much more interesting and exciting, but it's YOUR journey, Natalie. Your journey, WITH God. And He knows exactly what life circumstances you need to go through in order to be molded into the person He wants you to be. Nothing's wasted. Every day has significance and purpose, even if it's just spent at home doing things around the house. (Besides, if being a stay at home mom is really what you're called to be, then what better place is there to prepare for that than at home? People don't go to school for nursing if they're going to be an engineer, now do they? That would be silly.)

    Okay. That was a whole lot longer than I had intended it to be. Sorry about that. I really should have kept this short and not tried to say anything encouraging because sometimes too much "encouragement" can get old. Especially when the same old person just keeps saying the same old things to you. (Meaning me. Haha.) So yeah, sorry. I'm leaving now.

    P.S. But again, THIS POST WAS SO GOOD!!! Thank you, thank you! And I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!! *hugs*

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    1. AHH losing blogger comments (especially long ones) is the WORST. Sorry you had to go through that. :(

      But thank you for leaving a long comment despite that! And are you kidding?? I love Miss March's encouraging words. :D AND AWW NO THANK YOU. I'm so glad this post was encouraging to you. <3 I was a little nervous about posting this, but everyone's feedback has been so so wonderful. Y'll are awesome. :D

      What you said is so true and uplifting. "He's more concerned about the outcome of it then you are, so you can be sure you're in good hands." << Ahh! I never thought of that, but you're so right. <3 Thank you for everything you said.

      NOT AT ALL. I'm so glad you left a longer comment than you planned. There is definitely no such thing as "too much encouragement". The idea. :P

      PS. *HUGS*

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