“You Are Free”

As an avid reader and someone who loves words (yes, I know I am a nerd), I am constantly on the search for a good book. My Nana sent me a link about a week ago to a video series, Rhythms of Grace, by Rebekah Lyons. The videos were all about learning how to be ok and willing to accept a season of rest from God, and I absolutely needed to hear that. It left me wanting more, so I decided to order one of her books, You Are Free. 

I had no idea in that this book I ordered will literally shake my soul down to the core. Every page of this book felt like this woman knew my life more than anyone and that God was constantly speaking and teaching me. I am trying to learn how to be more vulnerable with what God shows me in my life, so I wanted to share a little of what God put on my heart as I read this book. Each section is a different chapter in the book. So if you are reading this (aka hi mom and nana), be willing to open up your own heart to see what God might be trying to tell you.

“To Be Free”

It is human nature to feel the desire to be needed. Who does not want to feel like they are needed? Whether that be from family members, friends, coworkers, the church and sometimes even God.

“From the beginning of time, all God ever wanted was our union with him. He didn’t create Adam and Eve because he wanted help cultivating the earth of naming the animals. Believe me, God is capable of this all by himself.” Rebekah Lyons

Well here is the reality, God does not need me. He can do more than fine all on his own when it comes to any matter imaginable. But that brings up a point that makes that raw truth bearable, God does not need me, but he wants me. The God that needs literally nobody, wants me. Crazy, right?

That idea that God wants me pushes me to keep on pushing forward. I want to keep up with being the best person that I can be, but that feeling started to feel like a burden to me.

“We weren’t made to keep up. We were made to be free. To be who we already are.” Lyons

I have never really thought about the desire of ‘keeping up’ as a sin. I love to ‘keep up’ even if it drains me physically and mentally. That is just who I am and who I have always been. It caught me a little off guard when I realized this mentality that I have is the exact opposite of what God wants for me. God does not need me to ‘keep up,’ but instead, he needs me to just keep going. He wants me to keep going in the pursuit of total freedom in Christ Jesus.

“We cannot prioritize our doing before being, our assignment before healing, our service before freedom.” Lyons

This sentence forced me to stop and reread it over and over again until it really sunk in. Before anything else, I need to prioritize three things. I need to be a child of God, let God heal my heart and soul and free myself in the presence of God.

“Free To Be Rescued”

I am not one that feels like I ever need to be rescued. I take pride in putting on a face to the world that seems like I have everything completely under control, but boy is that the opposite of the truth.

One thing I struggle with more than anything is asking God for healing. As a junior in high school, I hit one of my biggest breaking points. I got on my knees with tears streaming down my face while I begged God to heal one of my dearest friends of cancer. I had many sleepless nights where I just prayed over and over and over again. My world was shattered when my friend passed away that same year because I felt that God did not listen to me. After that, I never wanted to ask God for any type of rescue ever again.

“He’d found me in my deepest, darkest moment, in the desperation of my complete and utter surrender.” Lyons

No matter how low I got on the hardest days of dealing with my anxiety and struggling with my self-worth, I could not surrender that to God. My fear of rejection outweighed all else. Then, God revealed the truth to me. My friend that had cancer had faith that could move mountains. That girl was something special. She trusted God more than anything or anyone, so she had no fear of what was to come. I do not have the answers to why bad things happen in this world, but I do know that God got to use my sweet friend in incredible ways on this earth because of her mighty faith in Him.

I can slowly, but surely feel God starting to recuse me from this pit I have fallen in. I am not completely out yet, but I trust that God will rescue me.

“Free To Be Called”

If I am going to be honest with you, I am a complete control freak. I have (attempted to at least) had my whole life planned out from the moment I could write my thoughts down. But there has always been one thing I have never been quite sure of, what is my calling? The thought of not knowing stresses me out more than you even know.

“Chasing meaning, I tripped over surrender, the place of releasing total control. Meaning follows surrender.” Lyons

Something I continually struggle with is giving up control, even when it comes to God. Finally, God made me ask myself: How can you expect God to show you your purpose if you will not give him the reigns?

From the moment God created me uniquely in my mom’s womb, he has known what would happen and will happen in my life. He already knows the whole life of Sierra from the moment I was formed to the moment I will one day join him in Heaven. If he already knows, why stress about my meaning?

“God was inviting me to use the gifts that made me come alive, to redeem the things that broke my heart.” Lyons

God is going to use me and the things He put on my heart to glorify His Kingdom. I might not know exactly how God is going to use me yet, but I know he has big plans for me to glorify Him.

“Free To Confess”

Sometimes, you just have to be honest with yourself and then, you have to be honest with God. It is a little scary to admit your faults, but the thing is, God already knows.

“Those who keep score in life just want to know that they count. When you work for an audience of One, you always know that you count.” Ann Voskamp

Wow, how freeing is that? I tend to care so much about what others think of me. I care about the number of likes I get on my Instagram posts, how much feedback I get on my blog posts, etc. When in reality, the one person’s opinion that actually matters calls me his masterpiece. So, why even bother to try and get approval from the world?

“Confession is the gateway to healing, the route to freedom. Confession, whether it be a confession of repentance or a declaration of truth, begets freedom. There is no shortcut or strategy.” Lyons

I honestly did not realize how much I bottle inside and do not even admit to God, even though he already knows. If I cannot confess my struggles and the things that make me a human of the world, how can I expect to get full freedom? Especially when Jesus Christ already died on the cross for my sins. It is so freeing to just talk to God one and one about the things that keep me up at night. It is so freeing.

“Free To Thirst”

“We often insist our setting must change before we can live fully, but perhaps it won’t change until we live fully.” Lyons

Although I am not a huge fan of change, there are certain aspects of my life that I think could use some changing. Sometimes those thoughts consume me and in between, I miss out on so much of the life that is happening right in front of me. I forget about my meaning and I do not just live, but it frustrates me when life is not moving. How do I expect it to change when I am not living?

“She wanted what she could see. He wanted what she couldn’t see.” Lyons

When I read this, I literally laughed out loud because this is the story of my life. I want what I want for my life and I freak out when it does not go my way, but God sees what I do not see: those moments in life that he made just for me.

“When we thirst for what Jesus offers, he shows us what he wants to set free.” Lyons

It is ok to thirst for Jesus, actually, it is more than ok. He wants us to thirst for Him so that He can show us the plan he has created for our lives. The best part? He is there to walk with us on that plan every step of the way.

“Free To Ask”

One of my least favorite things in the whole wide world is putting myself in a position where I have the possibility of being vulnerable. What is one of the main places where I have to be vulnerable? When I ask for something.

“We aren’t responsible for the healing (or whatever seemingly impossible thing we are asking for); we’re only responsible for the asking.” Lyons

Asking for something takes a whole lot of vulnerability, even when it comes to God. God has got it under control when it comes to answering whatever question I might have for Him, but in order for Him to answer, I have to ask.

“For starters, asking often requires an admission and confession of need, an acknowledgment that all is not well. Asking also requires us to do something, to participate in whatever God wants to do. Finally, asking requires us to entrust what is beyond our control do the One who controls all.” Lyons

That is exactly why asking God for something makes me feel so vulnerable, it is because I first have to come to terms with the fact that something is not ok. Sometimes, it is even hard for me to admit to myself that things are not ok, which is why the wounds just grow bigger and deeper.

In those moments, I have to trust God more than ever. He already knows what is going on in my life, but I have to ask him for help, guidance, peace, etc. I have to trust that even if God does not answer my question the way I think I want it to be answered, does not mean he is ignoring me. He will answer it how he deems right.

“Being free to ask God for anything means trusting him the way a child trusts — openly and unreservedly and expectantly. It means not holding back. And isn’t that the crux of our faith?” Lyons

“Free To Begin Again”

The struggle of being a junior in college is the great question: where are you going to go once you graduate? Oh, trust me, I wish I could tell you. The thought of deciding where I want to live after graduation literally kills me because I honestly have no idea and I hate not knowing. The thought of leaving my home where my family is at is terrifying, but the thought of being stuck in Oklahoma forever is equally terrifying.

“Home is wherever God is. And God is ever with me.” Lyons

These two simple sentences have given me such a peace of mind when I think about the future. It does not matter where in the world I might be in two years when I graduate or in twenty years when I have my own family because home is wherever my God is.

“Free To Wait”

“All I saw was scarcity, because I was not seeing the transition, the waiting as gifts from God. But his promise is clear — as we wait on him, we discover we are enriched. The waiting is for our salvation, for our good.” Lyons

As someone who is patient with people, but not as patient with life in general, I can tell you that I absolutely hate to wait. I want to constantly be on the go, moving on to whatever needs to be done. Something I have learned through the years though is that those moments of waiting bring moments of clarity. God purposely sets out a season of waiting, so that when our time comes, we will be prepared. No time is wasted in God’s kingdom.

“Free To Rest”

Along with not being a fan of waiting, I am not usually a fan of rest. Do not get me wrong, I love a good nap as much as the next person. Because I am such a type A kind of person, it is hard for me to accept that it is okay for me to take time to rest.

“Sometimes it takes a stripping away of what we know in order for us to be willing to stop and learn.” Lyons

Sometimes I just have to tell myself to stop. Stop worrying. Stop thinking about tomorrow. Stop planning. Just stop for a minute. Stop, and let God teach you something while you rest. Like I said before, God does not waste time. If he puts you in a season of rest, it is for a reason. He is constantly working to teach us to prepare us for what He has in store for our future plans that will glorify His kingdom.

One thing that I absolutely love that Rebekah did, is put her name in a bible verse that God put on her heart.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me, [Sierra]. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

God is talking directly to each and every one of us in that verse. He wants us to come to Him. God wants me to take a rest in order to replenish my soul. During that time of rest, is when God works the most in our lives, even if we do not realize it. He puts importance in a season of rest, so that we can focus on being in His presence.

“God cares more about our presence than our performance.” Lyons

God wants me. God wants you. God wants us. He wants a real and authentic relationship with us, which can only happen when we spend time in His presence. What is a better time to do that than in a season of rest? Jesus is saying, let me draw you in my daughter or son. The best thing to do in that situation is to pray, overcome me with your presence Lord.

“Free To Grieve”

Grieving is one of those things that is just hard to talk about. All people grieve differently and for different reasons. It is hard to explain to people sometimes how I can still have so much faith in God even when bad things happen.

“Isn’t that what faith is all about — trusting God is working something beautiful and beyond our wildest imagination? Jesus, in the flesh, joined our sufferings in life and death. But the third morning after his death, at dawn, he gave us an example of exceeding abundance. A promise of hope for all who believe.” Lyons

I might not always know why things happen, but I know who God is and I know his promises are true. All I can do is have faith, and that faith is what helps me to keep going when I grieve.

“Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain. When we live out the freedom we have been given to grieve, Jesus takes our grief upon himself and replaces it with comfort. What a precious gift.” Lyons

Jesus did not die on the cross for nothing. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we could live eternally in Heaven and have a relationship with Him. That kind of love does not just leave someone when they are dealing with pain and grief. Jesus wants us to come to Him when we are in the middle of however we experience our grief. He wraps His arms around us and comforts us, because He takes on our pain.

“Free To Be Weak”

I am not one that likes to admit my weaknesses. I try my best to push through the hard moments all on my own, but why do I do that when I have a God who is ready to be my strength?

“What if we’re called to admit our weakness and declare that only God’s strength is sufficient? God wants us to reveal our weakness — to recognize what traumatizes and exhausts us. He wants us to confess our wounds, our sources of pain and stress, and bring them into the light so he can redeem and transform them with his strength. Have you confessed to him your exhaustion, your fear, your stress? Have you confessed that God wants to display his strength in your weakness?” Lyons

God’s strength is bigger than….(insert: fears, weaknesses, flaws, etc.). He is bigger than all of the things that bring you down. God is ready to take over in your life and conquer all of the obstacles that may come in your path.

“Free To Celebrate”

With God on our side, we have everything to celebrate! God wants us to succeed. God wants us to be happy. God wants us to have joy, but that all only happens when we put our trust in Him.

“Joy is not the absence of darkness. Joy is confidence that the darkness will lift.” Lyons

When you trust God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, you will be certain that the darkness that surrounds you will not last. That is the true joy. That is why we are free to celebrate.

God is so good!

“Free To Be Brave”

Even though I try my best to put on a brave face, I am really not brave when I only lean on myself.

“Bravery is moving scared. Bravery requires stepping out. The key is to never stop. Nothing may change about our circumstances, but we make a decision. To move. To trust. To be brave.” Lyons

It can be pretty hard for me to trust, which makes it hard for me to be brave. The thing is, it is not about trusting myself at all. It is all about trusting God.

“If he is the one who sets this thing in motion, he is the one who completes it.” Lyons

With God, I have all the power to be brave. He already knows what is going to happen, so why not trust that He will get me through all things? God will never take me somewhere where I cannot make it through. He is always ready to do whatever He can to get us to the other side of the problem or fear.

“Free To Love”

As someone who is extremely critical of myself, it is hard for me to believe that I deserve to love or be loved. The idea of love 100 percent completely and utterly freaks me out because I do not feel deserving or I am afraid of messing things up. Luckily, God has shown me that my fears are not true at all.

“Jesus’ love will hunt you down until you land on your knees. It knows no bounds; it cannot stop, in spite of all our kicking and screaming. It will lift your heard and cradle your heart. It will remind you who you were before all the running. His love will bring you back to life. Jesus set you free to receive his love, and you are free to love others with the same ferocity. Walk in that freedom.” Lyons

If it were not for Jesus’ everlasting and unending love that I cannot escape, I would never be able to experience authentic love on this Earth. It took me a while to realize that love is way more than being married to that “perfect guy.” Love is the smile on my face I get when I hear my cousin Kaden laugh. Love is when my heart melts every time I see my sweet Blakelee smile. Love is getting to be a part of an organization that cares so much about kiddos who are sick and their families in Oklahoma. Love is my family that would do anything and everything in this world for me. Love is my best friend who knows exactly what to say to me when I need it. Love is so much more than the picture perfect world we see on movies.

“Free To Set Free”

“These things I know:

Freedom begets freedom.

Freedom is contagious.

Freedom helps us set others free.” Lyons

When we become free, God uses us to help others realize that they need to be set free. One thing to remember though, is that is always a God thing, not a ‘me’ thing.

“We are nothing without him. We are everything in him.” Lyons

If you made it to the end of this blog post, props to you! I hope showing you a little glimpse into what God is doing in my life through this book can help you out in some way, shape, or form. This new sense of freedom has completely transformed my life, and I hope it can do the same for you.

10/10 would recommend checking out: You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons.

XOXO, Sierra

Be Still…And Know

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

That verse has always stuck with me, but it took me a little bit to fully understand what God was trying to tell me in one verse. At first, when I heard “be still” I literally thought of physically being still.

I am the type of person that has no problem being physically still whether that be in a classroom, during church Sunday morning, or just in general. People that are constantly moving and fidgeting usually drive me crazy. So naturally, I thought: oh perfect, I have this “be still” thing down.

Then, it finally hit me one day. “Be still” in my case did not mean to physically just be still.

When I started my journey as a freshman in college two years ago (dang where did the time go?), I also started my struggle with anxiety. It is not something I like to share with everyone, but that is the real, ugly truth. I was suddenly thrown into the world where everyone seemed to have their lives figured out, temptations surrounded me at every corner, I did not have someone standing over my shoulder holding me accountable, I was constantly paranoid, I questioned my worth, the battle going on in my brain was (and still is, to be honest) never ending and the storms of life just seemed to never stop coming. I had no clue what to do. Life just seemed to never slow down (and I still feel like that sometimes just to be real with you).

It was in that season of my life that I realized something. God was not telling me to physically “be still.” God was telling me that no matter what season of life I might be in, He is still God. He is still the God that created the universe. He is still the God that created me. He is still the God that has a purpose for me. He is still the God that sent His one and only son to die on the cross for my sins. He is still the God that makes the orphans sons and daughters. He is still the God that provides. He is still the God that keeps his promises. He is still the God that loves me despite what I have done. He is still the God that never leaves me alone. He is still the God that only wants the best for me. He is still the God that is the beginning and the end. He is still the God that I will one day stand face to face with in Heaven.

I realized that because I know who my God is, my life is forever changed for the better. At my lowest of lows, at my highest of highs and everything in between, I know my God is always a constant.

When you read all of Psalm 46:10, it says:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

If you are a little curious about how I came to remember who God really is even during a tough season of life, it is because of the second half of that verse. I finally learned how to “be still” and remember who my God is, was and always will be, because I know that God is always working through us. My “job” as a Christian living on this Earth is to glorify God in everything that I say and do. God used my tough situation (and is still using it) to teach me more than I can ever imagine, and my only hope is that I can help at least one person out of sharing the words that God puts on my heart.

So, when life just does not seem to be going your way, or when you feel on top of the world, or even when you are simply in the middle, just remember to “be still” and remember the God that did, does and will do so much for you. Remember that God is using those moments to glorify the Kingdom of the Lord.

Why?

Tomorrow morning my summer is officially coming to a close as I drive back to good ole Norman, Oklahoma, to start the process of getting ready for the new baby Alpha Phi’s we will welcome home in a couple of weeks.

If you take a look at my Instagram, you probably think that my summer was picture perfect: sweet moments with my family and best friend, pool days, a great nanny job, etc. Boy, if only you knew what was really going on in my life this summer.

Where do I even begin? First, I got in a car accident with my best friend that ended up in lots of medical bills and a new car. Then, I got my wisdom teeth out (10/10 would NOT recommend). Next, my cousin who is practically my big sister lost her husband and father to her two perfect children in an auto accident. And to end out the summer, my Aunt Linda is now cancer free in the paradise that we call Heaven with our Heavenly Father.

What a summer, amirite?

After hearing about my summer, you can probably now see why I am extremely ready for this summer to be gone and over.

This summer has pushed me to some of my hardest and darkest moments in my twenty years on this Earth. It has been one thing after another and my family just cannot seem to catch a break. I have caught myself many times asking: why? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this happening to my family? Why does death come when we are least expecting it? Why do I have to watch the people I love hurt? Why did this happen? Why do bad things happen in this world? Why me? Why, God?

Why?

Guess what? I can honestly tell you that I still have no clue what the answers to all of those questions are. I do not know the “why’s” of everything that my family and I have gone through this summer.

But, do you want to know what I do know?

I know that my God is a good God. I know that my God will one day wipe every tear and take away every pain. I know that my God has a plan. I know that God is always on my side. I know that God loved me so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for my sins. I know that God hears me and listens to me. I know that God cares about me. I know that God loves me with an unending and unfailing love.

I might not always have the answers to all of the why’s that the world throws my way, but at least I do know my God and who He is.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

It is not easy to remember this when we are hurting. The raw truth is that it is easy for me to forget who my creator is when I fall down the deep dark hole of pain and suffering. It is easy for me to feel all alone in this big world. It is easy for me to doubt myself and everything I believe in. But is anything worth while ever easy?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, everything will be ok in the end when you stand face to face with your Heavenly Father and see the glories he has in store for you, his good and faithful servant.

Being You

When I was a little girl, all I did was think ahead. I was always thinking about what was next, and I made sure to have every little thing planned out from my future career to my how many kids I would have. Along with this process (as well as realizing that planning out my future was not really up to me), I started to realize that I did not really know who I was. Yes, I obviously know that I am Sierra, but who is Sierra? What is my heart? What is my destiny? Who am I?

I started to struggle with this, and honestly, I still do a little bit. When I was younger, I thought that I would figure out who I really was when I was “older.” Now I am 20-years-old, and honestly, I still do not fully know who I am and what I am meant to do on this Earth. There are some parts of Sierra that I still am trying to figure out, but guess what? I know the main thing that I am, I am the daughter of the one true king.

Being me means that I am not in control, God is. That is not an easy thing for a control freak like me to fully comprehend, but luckily, God is patient. I might not know much, but I do know that as a daughter of Christ, my identity is clear in Him.

Who am I?

Because of God…I am beloved.

I crave love. It is human nature to claim love. If someone does not immediately love me, I crumble because I crave it that much. I search for love in all the wrong places, when the one place where I will always be showered in love is in God’s arms. Do you want to know the best part? He is always waiting with open arms to pull me in and show me just how beloved I am to him. Do you want to know what is even better? That love is an unfailing, everlasting love that will never ever give up or run out on me. It is an eternal love. I am loved for an eternity by the one who created this world…wow. I do not even have the words to describe how special it is to be loved like that.

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Isreal, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Isreal, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.'” Isaiah 43:1-4

“Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!” Psalms 63:3

Because of God…I am equipped.

Let me tell you, it is way too easy to feel worthless in this world. Our dreams are too easily knocked down by the people of this world because they think we are not “good enough.” Do you want to know a little secret? You are enough, heck, you are more than enough because God has equipped you. God knows we cannot do anything on our own, which is exactly why he equips us with what we need. With God, we can do literally anything.

“May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:21

Because of God…I am called.

I might be a junior in college, but I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do with my life. I might have my degree in two years, but then what am I supposed to do? I do not have a clue and that stresses my inner control freak out. The good part is, God already has his plan ready for me. He has called me for great things to glorify his kingdom, but I have to be obedient. Following God is not easy, so I am sure that most of the paths he places me on will be messy and hard, but I am called to go that way. I will not know why, but God has a purpose for everything. It is hard to trust that God has a calling when it seems like you are doing absolutely nothing at the moment (aka me right now), but trust me, He has a calling for your life and mine (and whatever it is, it will be great because you are glorifying him).

“For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11:29

Because of God…I am an overcomer.

The world tends to throw its worst at us: losing someone we love, struggling with mental health, temptation, etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the pain and suffering and dig ourselves into a deep, dark hole. Guess what? God is bigger than that pain and suffering. God is bigger than the sharpest blow the world can hit us with. When we call to God for help, we can overcome. No matter where we are at in life, God is ready for us to call out to him for help. Do not look for help in the things of this world because it will only bring more pain. But looking for help in God will bring instant peace.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Because of God…I am a masterpiece.

We live in a world where people the think the number of likes on a picture on Instagram determines how pretty you are. We live in a world where models are photoshopped to look “perfect,” and little girls think that is how they are supposed to look. Living in a world like this makes it way too easy for us to think we will never be pretty enough. We care so much about how we look to others that we let our physical features define us instead of what is on the inside.

Who created me and you? Oh, that is right, the creator of the universe…let that sink in for a minute. God only creates beautiful masterpieces, so that makes us masterpieces. Trust me I get it, it is incredibly hard to remember that I am a masterpiece when I look on Instagram and see “perfect” girls. But, why is it a competition? I am beautiful because God made me in HIS image. Now that is a pretty big deal. We are each beautiful in our own special way because God hand made us exactly how he wanted us to be. That is real beauty.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.” Psalms 139:13-14

Because of God…I am innocent.

Innocent? What does that even mean? Well, we are all human. We all mess up (multiple times a day if you are me). It is easy to let those mess ups fill us with guilt and shame, but we are innocent. No, I am not saying that we do not all sin (because trust me, we do sin). I am saying that because God sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life on Earth only to die on the cross for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God and live eternally with him in heaven, we are innocent. On that day, Jesus Christ washed away the crimson stain of sin and made it white as snow. We do not have to walk in shame or fear because we are innocent thanks to the love of our savior.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4

Because of God…I am new.

The day that I gave my life to Christ as a little seventh grader, I died. Obviously, I did not physically die, but my old self died and a new Sierra was created. I am no longer dirty, I am no longer filled with guilt and shame, I am no longer messed up. I am new. I am clean. I am reborn in Christ Jesus. I am here to glorify God in everything I do and say. My past does not define me, my future as a daughter of the one true king does. My life before God was empty and meaningless, but as soon as I invited him to forever live in my heart, I was full and my life was full of purpose.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

A Mind Like A Child

I am spending the week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania because my cousin, Peyton, graduated high school last night! I am feeling super proud and a little old because that was me two years ago. Time sure does fly by. I am happy to be here for the week though! It is a nice little break from Oklahoma and a great opportunity to spend more time with my family.

Today, I got to meet the cute little seven-year-old girl that my cousin babysits. We picked her up from her piano lesson and then went to a fun frozen yogurt place called Cowtastic.

When we were in the car, the little girl told me she had a present for me. She made me a pink, blue and white loom bracelet for me. How sweet is that?

My cousin told me afterward that the little girl had told her that is was the prettiest bracelet she had ever made and that she made it for me. My cousin asked why she would give it to me if she liked it so much and her response was simple: because I made it for her.

This little, but incredibly sweet gesture from this seven-year-old little girl got me thinking. She had just met me, but she gave me a gift that she made sweetly by hand and she was so kind to me. This little girl did not know me at all, but she was sweet as could be to me. All kids have a tendency to do that, but why does that mindset change as we get older?

Kids see everyone as people. It does not matter what color their hair is, the color of their skin, the clothes they are wearing, what they like to do, if they are male or female or anything else. Kids see people as people. They are kind until they are given a reason not to be.

Why do we stop doing that as adults? Why do we automatically judge a book by its cover? What if we just saw people for people?

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28

We are all one in Christ Jesus, so we need to start acting like it. Children have got this concept down, so maybe we need to learn from them. Life is about more than the color of our skin or the clothes that we wear. Life is about glorifying Jesus Christ in every single thing that we say and do.

When we commit to follow the Lord, we take on a responsibility. We then let the light of Jesus shine through us at all times. If we automatically judge a person that we meet due to how they look, how is that showing the love of our savior? It is absolutely not.

Jesus loved all people when he walked this Earth. He had dinner with those we were seen as the worst of the worst. People judged him for not be judgemental of the people he surrounded himself with. If Jesus did it, why are we not doing it?

We cannot just love the people who look and act like us. We have to love all people.

I want to challenge each and every person that reads this to approach the new people that come into your life as a child would. See them as simply a person, and get ready for your life to change for the better. You cannot even imagine what you will learn and how you will be impacted if you do this.

Always There

Hi, there! I have not written a blog post since school was in session, so I thought it was time to get back to my love language: words. So here is a little life update on how my summer is going:

It has been a pretty low-key summer so far. Days of soaking up the sun and searching for a job to make money and not die of boredom. Until last weekend…

Friday, May 26, started off as a normal day. I spent the day with my best friend Ally, shocker I know, and helped her with last minute preparations for her graduation party. We ended the night making chocolate covered strawberries and learning how to cook from her sweet Mimi. Since I am living in an apartment next year, I figured it would be smart to learn how to cook so that Ally and I do not starve in Norman next semester.

It started getting late and we decided to run to Walgreens to pick up a few more things for her party on Saturday. That is when the night took a turn for the worse…

I was driving us into town when a young girl pulled off of the turnpike and t-boned us on the highway. We ended up spinning off into the ditch.

It was a pretty traumatic experience, to say the least. My car might not be ok at the moment, but Ally and I were both alive so that is all that I cared about.

The police came and they thought they were pulling up to a scene a lot worse than it was. Luckily, we did not flip my car, which saved us. They told me that I did a great job of keeping us ok, but all I have to say is that Jesus really did take the wheel in that situation.

A few days later, a trip to the emergency room, some pain medication and a trip to the chiropractor later and we are both a little sore, but alive and well.

I must say, I had a big wake-up call this weekend. I love my God, but sometimes it can be hard to feel his presence 24/7. People keep asking me how my car was not completely destroyed and how Ally and I were not hurt a lot worse, and I have a simple answer for them: God was watching out for us.

I know that might sound a little cliche to some, but I know for a fact that God was protecting me and my best friend that night. How else would we have made it through?

This incident made me stop and think for a second. Why did I need a huge wake-up call, like my wreck, to remind me of God’s presence? He is not just there in the big moments when we realize we need him. God is there in the little moments, the big moments, the moments we realize we need him, the moments we do not realize we need him, and everything in between.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16

Once you accept God as your Lord and Savior, you are never alone. Is that not amazing? No matter where you are at, God is there. You are never alone. You never have to face anyone alone. You never have to do anything alone. God is always there.

XOXO, Sierra

Live Intentionally

When it comes to reading scripture, I feel like we tend to just skim over certain verses. If you grew up in the church, you have probably seen every verse over a million times, so you just kind of tune most of it out. But if we do that, we might miss out on some of the secret treasures God wants us to know.

Clear your mind, and act like this is the first time you are reading this verse:

“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature. So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth.’ God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for the fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.'” Genesis 1:26-28 MSG

Let that sink in. If you are like me, you probably get really tired of reading Genesis over and over again (I am just being honest). I read that verse in my quiet time this morning and I did not think anything of it. But then, God challenged me to reread it and really let it sink in. I knew He was trying to tell me something, but what was that something?

God placed a burden on us. Yes, a burden. A beautiful burden. He gave us a huge responsibility: He created us in His image. Our Creator created you and me in His image.

That comes with some responsibility. We cannot just live our lives and fumble our way through. We have to live intentionally.

We are responsible for the Earth and everything on it. What exactly does that mean? Well, because we are created in God’s image, it is our job to show God’s endless love to everyone else.

Pause for a second. It is not our job to save people, God has got that covered. It is our job to plant a little seed in everyone we encounter. You might not see the fruit of that seed in the moment, but I promise you will when you finally make it to the golden gates of Heaven.

So how do we live intentionally? We live a life that glorifies God in everything we say and do. This is a beautiful burden that God has placed upon us. He expects us to be a light even in the darkest of places. He expects us to step out of our comfort zones. He expects us to pray for those who persecute us. He expects us to invite people to church. He expects us to tell people about Jesus. He expects us to glorify Him forever and always.

I promise you, this is no easy task. We will have to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions. We will have to face rejection. We will mess up. We will probably even cry. But you know what? It will be so worth it in the end when we join our Father in Heaven. I do not know about you, but I want to see the whole world around God’s table when we have a big feast. If we do not live intentionally, how will that happen?

The challenge I have for myself and you today, is to live intentionally. Live how God created you and me: in His image.

Keep Going

Did you just get a bad grade on a test? Did you get in a fight with your parents? Are you unsure of what you want for your future? Did you just suffer from the loss of someone you loved? Are you in the middle of a storm? Did you just go through a bad break up? Do you feel alone?

Keep going…Just keep going.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

I am going to be brutally honest with you. There are times in life when I just want to give up. The things in my life start piling up and pushing me down until I have no motivation to fight anymore. It has hit me even harder during this last semester of my sophomore year of college. I am halfway through my time as an undergraduate, I am searching for a summer internship, I am extremely single, I have a problem with taking on all of the burdens of those around me, I always stress about my future and I could keep going on, but I think you get the point. There is a lot on my mind, and sometimes I just get so overwhelmed that I do not think I will ever make it through college alive.

But I have to keep going. 

Life gets hard. Sometimes we face an abundant number of trials that make us want to give up. We feel like there is absolutely no way out. Life makes us feel stuck and low. Our head fills with doubt and discouragement.

We have to keep going.

Luckily, no matter where we are in life or what we are doing, God is always right there by our side. You might not feel like He is with you, but He always is. He is always ready to comfort you, all you have to do is call out to Him, our comforter.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

God wants to comfort you. He wants to love you and protect you. God wants to remind you how valuable and special you are to Him. He wants you to turn to him through prayer or His word when you are at your lowest of lows and highest of highs. God wants you to trust that He is going to make something beautiful out of whatever situation you are going through at the moment. Everything has a purpose, and He will always get you through it.

Satan is going to hit you when you are at your lowest of lows. When life gets hard, He is going to make you feel insignificant, worthless, unlovable and undesirable. Satan will make you feel like you are alone and that you will never make it through. He will try to convince you to stop and give up. Satan wants to fill your head with lies and make you turn to the things of this world for comfort instead of our Heavenly Father.

Keep going.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

There is so much more to this life than our sufferings. We were put on this Earth to bring glory to God in everything we do and say. We are meant to be a light that shows the power and beauty of God’s perfect love to those around us. Our struggles and hardships will all be worth it when we get to spend an eternity in heaven with our creator. Look ahead to that glorious day.

And keep going.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

A Time to Wait

If you know me, you know that I am a planner. I plan out everything from daily tasks to what I want my future to look like.  I have to know what I am doing in advance, or I stress out. I am not known for being spontaneous or liking surprises. If I am doing something, you can bet that I probably wrote down that I was doing it on my calendar at least the day before (but probably a month ago if we are being honest). I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to my time and  my plans, no matter how big or small.

If you relate to that, then you probably hate to wait. You hate having no control over a situation and not knowing what the outcome will be. The future can be a little frightening, especially when our “plan” does not seem to be going the way we planned for it to.

One thing that I have had to learn, especially as a college student, is that there is a time to wait. I had to realize that I am not the one who gets to plan my life, that is up to the expert, God. He already has the perfect plan set up for my life, but that means I have to wait for that plan to play out.

When I say wait for God’s plan, I do not mean that I am going to just sit around waiting for a sign or for something to just fall in my lap. The great thing about God is that He will open and close all of the right doors for us in life. I still have to take action in my life, but I have to remember something. If one door slams in my face, it does not mean I am a failure. It means that it was not God’s will for me, and that there is something better out there for me.

Trust me, I know it is easier to say you will trust God with your “plan” than to actually trust Him. It is still a daily struggle for me to not stress about my future. I stress about my future career and my future family and everything in between. There are times when I feel like I will never get the things I want for my life. When I really think about it though, every single door that has closed has been a blessing in disguise because it usually leads to something better even though I feel like a failure in the moment. We have to look at the bigger picture, and remember that God is always in control and that He wants what is best for us.

Every single closed and open door is an experience that teaches us a valuable lesson. We might not see what that lesson is in the moment, but we will later down the road. Some times it is going to be extremely hard and challenging, but let those hard times strengthen your faith. Those experiences shape us into the person God wants us to be in the present and the future. He definitely knows what He is doing.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 MSG

Remember that there is a time to wait. It might be hard, but I promise you that it will be worth it in the end when God takes you to where you belong.

Tis The Season of Stress

15056381_1445567062120889_5386928071452584417_nIt is finally fall in Oklahoma. The temperature is starting to drop, the leaves are changing colors and falling from the tress and Starbucks’ holiday cups are officially back. I am not the biggest fan of cold weather, but I absolutely love fall mainly because that means it is time to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner.

Fall also means that it is crunch time for college students. Dead week and finals week is approaching faster than we expected, projects and papers are piling up and stress is at an all time high right now. It is our last chance to attempt to bring our grades up to where we would like them to be (even though the pessimist in me knows that it will not happen in my case). The stress will not subside until we are on our way back to our hometown after our last final, only to return when we come back in January.

Stress is incredibly hard to deal with. It makes a lot of people cranky, physically and mentally exhausted and it can even plant doubts in our head. For me personally, when I am stressed I start to question everything. I question my self-worth and my ability. I question my purpose. I question if I am on the right path. Then, all of the questioning makes me stress out even more. It is a vicious never-ending cycle.

Today I decided to sit outside of the Oklahoma Memorial Union at the University of Oklahoma to work on homework and study.  Then I just stopped. I stopped to look around me and just put life on pause. I looked around to see my beautiful campus and the signs of fall around me. It was an incredibly beautiful day: not too hot, and not too cold. The lovely colored leaves were falling onto the table where I sat.  I took it all in for a moment.

In this moment, I realized that stressing out over all the things I have on my plate right now was silly. I know that it will all get done and come together as long as I keep working hard. This is my second year of college, I know that if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. Even though my studies are super important to me, I realized that my grades and my degree do not define me. What defines me? My love for Jesus Christ and my dedication to glorify Him in everything from my words to my actions.

I also realized that there was no point to allow my stress to consume me and make me question myself. All of that doubt that was placed in my mind came straight from satan trying to discourage me, but you know what? Satan is defeated by God. The devil holds no power over me because God always wins. I know that my worth comes from God, so I am worthy. I am able to do anything with God on my side. I know that God has a purpose for my life. I know that no matter what path of life I am on, God already knows the outcome, yet He still walks right beside me as I go down any road.

I love the little reminders of how incredible God is whether it be simple or complex.

It is hard not to be completely in awe of God when I simply walk outside and see his masterpiece. It is hard not to realize your worth when you think about the fact that the same God who created this universe, created you and me. He could make anything He wanted, and He decided to create each of us unique and special in our own way.

It is easy to get wrapped up in what the world has to say about who you are and what you should be doing, but just remember where your worth comes from. It comes from your Heavenly Father who loves you more than you even know.

So if you need a reminder of your worth and value today, just walk outside and realize that God created everything around you and YOU. It is the perfect reminder of His perfect love and mighty power. If that does not make you feel special, then I do not know what will.

With all that being said, the next time you are overcome with stress, just pause for a minute and realize who you are and whose you are. You are a son or daughter of God. You are His child. You were made perfectly and uniquely in His image.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, and I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14-15