Midpoint

I took this picture at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Each section represented a number from 1-12, such as a clock…time or I guess you can also say thyme?! ūüėČ

We all have a beginning and end since time is always moving forward. ¬†The moment we breathed our first breath we are going to encounter x, y, and z until we breathed out last. ¬†Imagine with me. ¬†There is a timeline and a chunk of that timeline is where I am right now in life: pursuing my college education. ¬†On that chunk there¬†is a smaller timeline: four years. ¬†It is crazy to me that I can now pin where I am…at the midpoint.

If you go into my archives, then you will notice that this past school year I only published two blog posts. ¬†That tells you how much I prioritized my blog… ¬†(If you have not been able to read them, then please do!) ¬†Regardless, this school year–in fact, college in general so far–is going by so quickly, and even saying that is an understatement. ¬†How is it that I am already at my midpoint? ¬†As much as I want to breathe in everything that is happening around me and adore the big and small things I get to encounter time will move forward. ¬†It will go on even if I want to bask in that moment for a little bit longer…or you can also say that you do not want an exam to come or a paper to be due, but it will still come and you will still be evaluated at how well you do.

If there were any words I could think of that would make me think back to my second year in college, then it would be relationships and application. ¬†I could have chose adjectives like challenging, stressful, tiring, memorable, and more. ¬†It does not mean my year was not what those words described because they certainly were. ¬†The words “relationships” and “application” are the umbrella to my year and we can say that those adjectives above are the subtext descriptions of my experiences.

Relationships — Maybe it is due to my roles, such as being a Resident Assistant (RA) in the college dorms, but my relationship building and interpersonal skills were executed everyday. ¬†My personal relationships were tested and challenged. ¬†In addition, the kind of person I wanted to be with others was determined. ¬†Interacting with others is a daily thing we do. ¬†This year, in particular, I have never been challenged so strongly in the following ways:

  • To choose to love others deeply despite what they did wrong.
  • To fight for someone I love and to work through conflicts together.
  • To learn how to forgive.
  • To discover what friendship means.
  • To find individuals who sincerely love you and want to be there for you.
  • To put yourself¬†out of your comfort zone.
  • To extend a helping hand or an invitation of friendship despite rejection.

The list above does not mean that I have mastered all of those areas. ¬†I still struggle so much to do most of them. ¬†Relationships are complicated. ¬†Others may disagree with me and say that relationships can be complicated, but that¬†implies that everyone can do relationships well (which can or cannot be true–I agree with the latter) or that there is some secret formula that only some of us know about that will work for all relationships (which I will describe in a bit here that is not true).

This year, in a way, has “forced” me to decide the person I want to be with others and how I do relationships. ¬†I am not implying that I was not myself with others before this year but it has made me become more self-aware of the individual and woman I want to be around those I love and do not know. ¬†The way that I “do” relationships are and will be different from the way that you “do” your relationships. ¬†So, learning the way that I “do” relationships in a deeper way this year has made me learn more about myself and how I am created. ¬†I like to say that when I learn more about myself then I learn more about my God (Genesis 1:27) because He is the One who created me so beautifully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:13-14) which gives me a glimpse of who He is.

So, whether it is because of my roles on campus or the experiences that I encountered that taught me a lot this year about relationships, my relationship with God is the most important factor in my growth. ¬†It may not have been the first relationship I chose to focus on, but He still never wavers to be there for me or forgive and love me. ¬†Who can be like Him? ¬†During this time, we are not to take our God or His mercy, love, or compassion for granted. ¬†We step back up, take His hand, and say “Let’s try again.”

Application — We know a lot of knowledge in our head. ¬†We believe a lot of truth in our heart. ¬†However, if our head and heart do not connect and put any of it in action (application) there will not be any wisdom. ¬†This can easily be said than actually putting it into practice.

It may be really hard for someone to practice or be vulnerable than it does for me.  It does not mean that I am any better than that individual or vice versa.  Application in my life will look different than my peers around me.  This goes back to how we are created all so differently.  With that being said, the following are ways that I have and have not applied knowledge or what I believed in:

  • As a friend, I was able to continue to apply what kind of friend I wanted to be and how I do relationships like I described above.
  • As a leader, I learned a lot in my different roles and was able to execute my leadership skills. ¬†This past year, I applied different leadership styles, improved on many skills, and still working on quite a bit of skills. ¬†(This year’s experience in my leadership roles has showed me what I want to focus on this upcoming year as I continue new and old roles on campus. ¬†See? ¬†It is a continual cycle of learning and applying!)
  • As a Christian, it was difficult to apply my spiritual disciplines. ¬†There were times where I did not make God or my devotion to Him a priority. ¬†#confession ¬†Despite this, my experiences I had this year made many life lessons and biblical truth more personal for me. ¬†This makes it easily to relate to.

Learning to adult is not an easy thing to do, and being able to learn how to apply what I know is true, good, and important is crucial to the kind of adult I will be.  Learning to put what I believe is to be true in my heart into action comes faith and wisdom, and it will reveal my character.

So, as time moved forward I did too to where I am at now. ¬†I am grateful for the time that I put in to reflect on this year’s journey. ¬†It was bumpy and tiring but it sure was one great roller coaster to ride. ¬†Even though things will be heading forward I also take the time to consume the present and to bathe in this season to seek God more and to keep my eyes on Him. ¬†That is my goal for today, and I hope for this summer. ¬†It is great to make big goals and promises, but when it comes to my relationship with God it has to be a daily surrender and submission to Him. ¬†Everyday I have to choose God, and I want to.

This chunk of the timeline that I am at is only a small part of my grand timeline, and even my grand timeline is not even that long. ¬†As much as I am in awe of how fast this year or college is going by it is supposed to. ¬†It is only four years… ¬†Four years where I do most of my adulting and set myself on this voyage where I can explore the rest of my timeline. ¬†Want to join me? ¬†Let’s go!… ¬†Together because I heard it is a lot better with community! ūüėČ

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Stop and Breathe

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After a long day I sat on my bed, and I asked myself what I was going to do. ¬†Was I going to complete everything on my to-do list, go to sleep, complain, or better yet just give up? ¬†The latter felt freeing and easy. ¬†I wanted to give up…multiple times actually. ¬†Up to this point, I had friends that told me it is okay to cry and that I can let it out. ¬†However, as much as I wanted to express my stress, tiredness, and weakness in tears I could not…at least not until that night on my bed. ¬†I got on the phone with a friend and my tears came. ¬†My heart released all that it could. ¬†My own cry made me sad. ¬†It only grew louder and louder. ¬†My head was pounding and my nose was clogged. ¬†How did you keep it in this long, Lisa? ¬†You are not okay.

I do not know about you but my schedule is most of the time filled with things I need to do because of what I am involved in. ¬†I have back to back classes and meetings to go to. ¬†It’s been like this since the beginning of the school year. ¬†A part of me absolutely enjoys it though. ¬†I enjoy what I do because I am passionate about it. ¬†I enjoy spending one-on-one time with people I care about because I am passionate about cultivating and maintaining my relationships. ¬†I enjoy sitting down with a team and planning the next club event because I am passionate about planning and the importance of our purpose on campus. ¬†I enjoy being in a place that I can share my ideas and being challenged by other’s perspectives because I am passionate about building connections and understanding others. ¬†I enjoy sitting on my bed planning hall events for my residents because I am passionate about creating community. ¬†I (sometimes) enjoy reading about what I am learning in my classes because I am passionate about learning.

As much as I enjoy doing those things I listed above I constantly need to remind myself of the following:

  • You are only one person and human–you cannot do everything.
  • You can say no, you know?
  • You have a limit, Lisa.
  • You need to take care of yourself, too.

I know it is important and needed as a student and leader to not neglect themselves of self-care but I lost sight of taking care of my own personal needs.   As I was constantly giving to others what was being poured into me?  I did not allow time or space to let God pour into me or to do the things I love to do to that energizes me.

“I’ve got to spend time getting quiet so I can be prepared to hear new things from the Lord. ¬†Isn’t it a lovely thought that God might be waiting for there to be silence in your life in order to be able to share some of His best secrets with you?”

— Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

Now that I can recognize that I need to take care of myself, I want to make it a goal to insert time into my day to be quiet so that I can listen to the Lord.  I want to be able to enjoy a meal without having to be on my laptop responding to emails or doing homework because I want to eat slowly and mindfully.  I want to be able to give myself time to journal thoughtfully or read something satisfying.  I want to be able to enjoy a Korean drama after a long day or be in a hot, bubbly bath!

I cannot be a good student or leader if I am running empty in my cup.  Finally being able to experience this has taught me a lot.  From my reflections, I know that even though I lost sight of self-care I have complete trust that my God has been and is taking care of me.

So as I write this, I am lounging in my dorm with a blanket wrapped around me.  I am basking in the beauty of the silence in the room.  I also inserted time into my schedule this upcoming week to do things that I will help fill my cup in the midst of my busy schedule.  I am thankful for a free weekend to breathe and lay back as the sun shines into my room.  Lisa, one step at a time.  You are doing great!

lisa (3)

College: Year Two

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Packing and preparing for college this year was different than I expected. I noticed that my heart was heavy, my soul grew tired, and physically I was not receiving quality sleep. I went to God desperate for some answers because I wanted to get rid of this overwhelming feeling. As I began to find the root of my situation, I was reminded of my many roles on campus. From there I started to understand why I was feeling this way…

I am afraid. I need to say it again. I am afraid! I am afraid I will not meet the expectations of the roles I have on campus or even my own expectations I give myself. I am afraid I will fail people in my life. I am afraid that all of my responsibilities will be too much for me to handle. I am afraid I will get lost in constantly doing something.

This overwhelming feeling stole my joy and excitement for this new school year!  However, when I was honest with myself AND God I realized how much weight was lifted from me.  I began feeling excited again.  The fact of the matter is that I will not be perfect in my roles, I will make mistakes, and my responsibilities will be too much for me.  It will get overwhelming and I cannot deny that.  However, I cannot deny who my God is either. He is the source of my strength. I believe that God has given me the roles I have on campus for a reason, and I believe for many reasons.  I am so honored to be serving and leading in different areas across campus, but I am also called to be a child of God.  He is my Father who still needs to feed and teach me.  To do so, I must humble myself and become obedient to Him and my calling.  I need to draw from His water and when I did He reminded me of something great!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

1 Timothy 1:7

Because I have accepted God as Lord of my life, I have the Spirit of the living God living inside me! I do not need to be shy or intimidated for what is to come! He is the One who calls me out beyond the shores and makes me brave.

I am excited! I can definitely say that again: I AM EXCITED!! Year two of college will be a great year. I see a lot of growth and transformation happening this year, not only in myself but in others and on campus! I truly am thankful for having the opportunity to attend college and to take one step closer to fulfilling my calling. Thank You, God, for always taking care of me and providing what I need.

lisa (3)

Summer Thoughts From A Future RA

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Ever since I moved back home for the summer, I have been dreaming of the day I can go back to college in the fall…and become a Resident Assistant (RA)!! ¬†I am so excited I got chosen for an opportunity to be in charge of a hall on campus, and help foster my girl’s social, emotional, and even spiritual lives. ¬†I know that it might be a little early to start calling them “my girls” but I cannot think of a better name for them!

This summer is crucial that I prepare myself for the responsibilities of a RA, and to make sure that I enjoy my summer too. ¬†One of the things I began to prepare myself for is how my dorm and hall will look like! ¬†What theme should I have for my hall? ¬†What color scheme should I choose? ¬†How should the door “decs” look like? ¬† What do I need in my dorm as a RA? ¬†What style do I want to go for? ¬†As a early planner and person who loves to decorate and prepare, I made a lot of decisions about the appearance of being a RA. ¬†In the middle of shopping online, pinning ideas from Pinterest, and making plans, a question popped in my head: “What else do you need to do?”

In that moment, I knew that question was from God. ¬†As I stopped scrolling a store’s website and ponder about the question, I was convicted of what I was not doing. ¬†In that moment, I felt God saying to me:

“Lisa, you can prepare the appearance of your dorm and hall but, what matters to me is how you are preparing yourself emotionally and spiritually so you can be the best RA you can be.”

I am not saying that wanting to make my dorm or hall nice and welcoming for my girls is wrong.  I believe that God has given me a gift to plan and decorate, so that I can use them for His glory.  I strive for that.  However, I definitely believe that not only should I be preparing for my dorm and hall but, I should also be preparing my heart, mind, and soul for a RA position.  That was what I lost sight of, and I am so thankful for a God who always (always) helps and guide us!

So, how do I prepare myself emotionally and spiritually to be a RA?  Seeking God in His word and prayer is always a great first step!  I also began writing down expectations and boundaries for myself.  It is important that I am flexible with these lists because once the real deal comes it may be best for me to get rid of an expectation or alter a boundary!  I have also been reflecting and observing my behavior during certain situations and seeing how I can take care of myself so I can re-charge.  I am quite sure that my training to be a RA in early August will also cover these topics or lists, so I cannot wait to learn more of these kicks and giggles in my training!

Even though I am excited about being a RA, I am also kind of nervous. ¬†“What if my girls do not like me?”, “What if I do a terrible job?”, and “Can I really be a RA to some (or most) of the girls who are older than me?” ¬†Those questions have been sitting in my head… ¬†However, I choose to not let those questions invade my mind. ¬†Yes, it can be true that some of my girls may not like me or think I am doing a terrible job. ¬†Yes, people and my girls may have their own thoughts about a younger RA and what I should be doing versus what I am not doing. ¬†I accept that I will not be a perfect RA, and that I will make many mistakes!

I strive to be the best, genuine, and caring RA I can be–in the eyes of God! ¬†Before heading off to college, a close friend and mentor noticed that I am a huge “people pleaser”. ¬†She encouraged me that I am not trying to please the eyes of people but the eyes of God. ¬†So, with that being said, people interpret what a “best, genuine, and caring RA” can be like in so many ways but, for me I am stating that I will try my best to exemplify the leadership of Christ, love extravagantly, ¬†speak courageously, and act responsibly as a RA! ¬†I want to do things where God will say, “That’s my girl!” or “I am so proud of my Lisa!”

lisa (3)

A Beautiful Mess

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Imperial Beach / San Diego, California / 2015

In these nineteen years of life so far, I believe I can say that I have gone through a lot then I should have.  I am not saying that my story has greater worth than others or that others have not gone through difficult situations.  As much of the pain, loss, and trauma that we want to deny that we have experienced, we have felt them and it is real.  I want to share and digest this small piece of my complicated mess and how God is working in me this summer.

I have faced loss, rejection, and abandonment. ¬†All of these have been traumatic for me to this day. ¬†I have a hard time living in what happened to me and my family. ¬†Even though I believe that God is the One True God and my Father, it became hard for me to¬†believe that He is ¬†good because of my pain and hurt from my past. ¬†How could He allow those things to happen? ¬†Why am I still hurting from it? ¬†Will He even heal me? ¬†I know that it sounds hypocritical for me to even ask these questions as a Christian but, it is these hard questions that run through my mind as I grieve from my past. ¬†I was afraid of how people–and mostly how God–will look at me if I asked those questions. ¬†However, when I did God did not love me any less than He did before. ¬†He did not get upset at me for asking these questions. ¬†He knew that I was just trying to cope and heal from everything that happened. ¬†He chooses to hug me a little tighter and make ¬†me see that He is a loving and good Father.

When difficult situations arise and we do not know why it occurs, one of the many things we do is blame God.  I certainly have!  However, as I asked God my hard questions, He reminded me of who my real enemy is.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy […]”

— John 10:10

I hate Satan.  He has stolen from me, killed my peace, and attempt to destroy my family, and my hope and faith in God.  I will probably never know the answer to these questions and why God allowed the hurtful and bad things to happen.  I believe that God has used and will continue to use the hurt, the mess, and the brokenness in my life for good.  How?  I have no clue but, being able to look back this last decade I can see how faithful He has been in bringing me into my healing that I need, and that I can trust Him.

(One of the reasons that The Story of Joseph (Genesis 37-47) is my favorite Bible story is because it has the same theme as my story: using the bad for good.  Go and check it out!)

I choose to trust God because God knows my pain and He deeply cares for me and my pain. ¬†He hurts with me. ¬†“On the cross, He willingly felt every sin, illness, and heartache. ¬†He did it for one reason: LOVE!” (Kim Niles and Grief Bites). ¬†God is a personal God. ¬†He truly cares about my heart, and when I come to the cross I have nothing to give except for my heart, hurt, pain, and brokenness. ¬†And God replies and says, “Lisa, that is all I need.”

As I give my heart to God, I asked Him to speak what is true to me.  I asked Him to remove all lies Satan tried to convince me of so that I can clearly see who He is and that He IS a good, good Father to me.  God hopes for no harm for me and wants me to abundantly enjoy the redeemed life that He fought for died for.

Throughout this post, I have been describing my situation as a mess or broken because it is but, it is also a beautiful broken mess. ¬†I will never have it all together. ¬†I am no angel. ¬†I am a daughter who is going to choose to seek God and His heart through every circumstance that comes my way. ¬†I have a beautiful purpose in God’s grand story.

And so do you.

lisa (3)

Lessons I Learned From My First Year of College at UNW

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“For I am the Lord your God¬†who takes hold of your right hand¬†and says to you, Do not fear;¬†I will help you.”

— Isaiah 41:13

And it went just like that.  My first year of college went by so quickly, and I am convinced that the rest of my college years will go even faster!  I am so fortunate to say that I had a fantastic and amazing first year of college!!  It was everything that I wanted it to be like.  If I could describe my first year of college in a couple of words they would be:

exciting, fun, stressful, overwhelming, new, adventurous, and freeing!

So, after cleaning and packing up my dorm, saying goodbye to my amazing roommates, and moving back home, I got some time to think about my year and try to digest everything. ¬†My mental list of “things I learned” kept growing so I thought it is a good time to¬†write them down.

+ God is faithful.

This one had to be the first one! ūüôā I have been reminded of this truth in so many different situations and I needed to hear it so badly. ¬†Even though it is just three words, it is a promise and truth that always comforts me and makes me want to grab onto God more!

+ Enjoy the freedom & have fun!

Once I moved out of my house and onto campus it hit me that all (if not, most) of the 168 hours of the week for the rest of the school year is my time to decide what to do.  I put a lot of pressure of myself, especially in my academics so I forget that I can go and have fun.  Choosing to take a fun study break, a night out to do something new, to relax, or be with friends made such a difference in my college experience.

+ Time management is not easy so find a system that works & stay disciplined! (Priorities, priorities, priorities!)

I found a system that worked for me: record everything I am going to do for the week, literally.  (I have mostly everything written down to the hour.)  It took a while for me to begin it but once I figured it out it helped me so much to manage my time!  I found what worked and stuck with it!

+ I may never be ready.

As a newbie on the college campus,¬†I thought I¬†should not “go all out” or jump for the big roles on campus because I was “not ready”. ¬†It makes sense that I would think this way but it just limited myself to the opportunities out there for me. ¬†I¬†may never be ready to make a big decision, to start a new relationship, or graduate from college but using discernment and getting guidance will help me so much in the process.

+ Bless and love other people.  (Yes, be intentional.)

The first two people I think about when blessing and loving people on campus¬†are my roommates because I see them everyday! ¬†ūüôā ¬†I am so fortunate to have had two amazing roommates through random assignment. ¬†I ENJOYED living with them both–seriously! ūüôā ¬†I learned that it helps a lot when I took the time to learn about my roommates! ¬†We figured out what worked out collectively, and then over time through conversations and doing things together I learned so much about them. ¬†I was able to love them by doing what they enjoyed and doing what made them happy/feel loved! ¬†At the same time, it is important to allow other people to get to know me–the real me! ūüôā

+ Make sure to eat & do not be consumed with the Freshman-15!

Alright so most of my days was scheduled from 8 AM to 9 PM. ¬†I had to make sure I ate my three meals! ¬†There were times I did not eat dinner because I lost track of time in the library… ¬†Remembering to eat and to eat a well-balanced diet is crucial! ¬†Also, the Freshman-15 can be a big deal for first year students so students may watch their food intake and weight more closely. ¬†I get it but do not be focused on it so much. ¬†I knew I was going to gain weight my first year, and I found to be content with my size. ¬†My weight–a number or how I look like–does not define who I am or prove my worth because I know that my identity and worth¬†is found in God!

In addition, listening to what your body needs whether that is food or sleep is important also.  Multiple times after classes I would go straight to my dorm and take a nap because it was something my body needed.  (I probably looked like a zombie walking back to my dorm!)  Yes, getting homework done, studying, being there for a friend/family are all important things but if I am lacking in an area in my life that is preventing me from being the best that I can be, then I have to make sure I am keeping myself (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) well-balanced.

+ Resources are there for a reason.  Use them.

From high school I kept this lesson with me: ¬†Do not be ashamed of getting help! ¬†It’s quite simple and basic so I’ll leave it at that.

+ It is okay to be okay.

There were so many days where I was simply okay.  It is a weird state to be in (I thought), so I always assumed it was a bad thing to be.   I learned it was not bad to feel this way, and that I am not alone!

+ Do not forget about the people right in front of you, Lisa!

There can be so many great (and not so great) things happening in college.  In the midst of it all, I learned not to forget the people right in front of me!  Whether that is your friends, roommates, mentors, or even your family!  There can be so many things I did get caught up in but remembering, acknowledging, and updating those who has helped me and who have been there for me is so important!  A relationship is a two way street and it is mutual.  I have had many experiences where I lost a lot of my relationships.  I do not want to let small circumstances, feelings, and even priorities get in the way of those close to me.

+ Lisa, be smart about your spending!

It took me to experience the consequences of spending too much money to learn this one!   (There is so much I can say about this topic but I will keep it very short.)  I have been told this so many times but it is true.  Consider your intentions (need or want) and your budget!


Okay, I will stop here. ¬†This list can go on and on and on… ¬†Something important that I want to emphasize is that the things I learned in my first year of college does not just apply for my college career–it goes beyond these four years as an undergraduate! ¬†The list above are things that I can take and apply in so many different areas in my life. ¬†College gives me experiences and opportunities to grow, to be challenged and build up my credibility for my future. ¬†If anything, I learned how fortunate I am to get access to higher education and to not take it for granted. ¬†I want to use this time to learn knowledge and wisdom so I can better help people in the future and give back to the people in my life and my community. ¬†I am unsure of what my career will be but no matter what it is I want to be able to do¬†what I love with God.

I am overly excited about my second year in college!!! ¬†I¬†will be a¬†Resident Assistant and continue in some of my roles from this past school year. ¬†There are see many things to look forward to and I cannot wait to be able to look back at my path and see where I have gone. ¬†I may not have a yellow brick road to follow but I have God’s hand holding tightly to mines. ¬†I am not afraid to walk my unknown path and to follow Him! ¬†So, cheers to college life and experiences. ¬†I look forward to what is to come. ¬†Meanwhile, I will be enjoying the warm weather, laughing with family and friends,¬†and preparing myself for another great year–it is what you make it to be.

lisa (3)

Beyond The Horizon

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[A song that has been resonating with me about this post: Cagelesss Birds.  Press play!]

I went on a Girls Getaway to the North Shore (MN) shortly after I finished my first year of college. ¬†(I want to give a shout out to God for the beautiful weather and keeping me and my friends safe!) ¬†Visiting the North Shore was beyond what I could imagine. ¬†Driving along the coast of Lake Superior made me tear up. ¬†I was mesmerized by God’s creation. ¬†I had no words to what I was feeling. ¬†I was so overwhelmed by the sensation of the grand, blue horizon before me. ¬†The water glittered and moved so gently.

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Not knowing that my friend was taking pictures of me, I dived deep into my thoughts as I sat along the shore. ¬†I decided to take advantage of this peaceful time and talk to God and tell him how I was doing. ¬†I tried to put words to where I am in life and the season I am in. ¬†I stumbled on finding words and grew frustrated with myself. ¬†Little did I know that the water before me was calming me, and that the sun shining on me was God’s warmth telling me that it is okay that I cannot find my words.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God‚Äôs people in accordance with the will of God.”

— Romans 8:26-27

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God knows what is going on in my life and the season I am in even when I fail to use something simple as words to tell Him.  He knows.  This is a truth that God always reminds me of, and He always has unique ways to relay this message to me.  This time it was the horizon before me.

lisa (3)