“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

Farewell To Sophomore Year

I am not really sure how this happened so quickly, but I am officially finished with my sophomore year of college. I swear that I blinked in August and now it is already May. Like seriously how did that happen? This year has been filled with new memories and growth. I thought that it would only be fitting to highlight some of the best (there is a lot, so I for sure cannot fit them all) moments of my sophomore year of college.

In August, I got to move into the barbie dream house, aka Alpha Phi. I was a little nervous to live in a house with over eighty girls, but it has been one of my favorite parts of college. I cannot thank my roomie, Jesse, enough for all of the Netflix binge watches, late night food runs, cries, laughs, rant sessions, fashion shows and more. Room 233 became a home, and I am so thankful I get to live with my bestie in the dream house this year. It will be missed!

 

What is the absolute best season of the year? Football season of course! Collge would not be college without looking forward to every single Saturday game day in good ole Norman, Oklahoma. From dressing up in crimson and creme, spending the day tailgating with my sisters, and cheering on my favorite boys, game days are for sure the best days. I mean seriously…it is September yet? Boomer Sooner!

One of my favorite parts of freshman year was getting blessed with the best big out there. This year, my family grew a little bigger because I got two of the best littles out there! Hannah and Taryn are two perfect additions to our fam. They might drive me a little crazy at times, but I absolute love being their “mom” while they are at college. I cannot name two people that make me laugh more than my two littles. They keep me young and I am seriously so blessed that God put them in my life. I am not sure how I got lucky enough to have the best family out there!

If you know me, you know how seriously obsessed I am with my cousin Jessica’s two kids, Kaden and Blakelee. I honestly had no clue it was possible to love someone so much until these two kiddos were born. People usually think that Blakelee is my kid since I post so many pictures of her on social media, but do not worry guys I am totally content with playing with my B and Kaden for a long long long (long) time before I even think about having kids. I am beyond blessed to be “RaRa” to my two favorite babies on the planet. I thank God every single day that I get to play such a big part in their lives. They definitely have my wrapped around their fingers. I loved getting to watch them grow this year. From my little Kaden turning four and my Princess B who is about to turn one (ugh how?).

This year, my family decided to celebrate Christmas a little differently this year. Instead of spending Christmas at home, we loaded up and spent a week in a cute little house in beautiful Destin, Florida. I am not one for change, but it was such a nice little getaway with my sweet family. Plus, the good thing is that we can celebrate the birth of Jesus no matter where we are at. I am so lucky to have such a perfect Savior and such a perfectly dysfunctional family! You cannot choose your family, but I would not trade them for the world (most of the time at least).

 

Sophomore year also brought a (somewhat) big milestone with it, I have somehow made it to twenty years of life! Birthdays in college are a little hard without having your family, but luckily I have the best family out there. My mom, dad, and little sister drove up to Norman to spend the weekend with me. Also, my very best friend surprised me and joined us! The perfect day for me is being surrounded by the people I love, so I must say it was such a perfect day. They for sure know how to make a girl feel loved. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my twentieth year has in store for me.

 

March 4, 2017, was the No. 1 highlight of my sophomore year of college. What is so important about that day? One word: Soonerthon. In the fall of my sophomore year, I took a risk and decided to apply for Soonerthon Exec. I was lucky enough to be selected to serve as an Ambassador. As an Ambassador for Soonerthon, I basically was tasked with raising as much money as possible for the Children’s Miracle Network Foundation. I fell hard and fast for Soonerthon. There is nothing more rewarding than getting the chance to spend the day with some of the best kiddos on the planet and get to watch them enjoy being a kid for the day. The number of money we raise is important, but it is so much more than a number. That number is lives changed. That number is families getting to stay in Oklahoma to get the care their child needs. That number is so much more than a dollar amount, and I am so beyond blessed that I got to play a part in it. This year, I also learned that I get to serve on Soonerthon for the second year in a row as a team captain on Ambassadors, so I absolutely cannot wait!

One thing that I strive for every single year, is to grow in my faith. There is not a single “perfect” Christian out there because there is always room for growth. I actually love that concept. I will never be done learning and growing closer to God. God continues to amaze me year after year. In the moment I might not understand what he is doing or what he is trying to teach me, but a little farther down the road, I realize that everything happens for a reason. God never fails to reveal his glory to me and I am so thankful for that. This year God had me step out of my comfort zone, but it was so worth it in the end.

In January, I had the honor of being named the new Editor-in-Chief for the University of Oklahoma’s Odyssey community. I had big shoes to fill because of my EIC, Julia Bauer, was seriously such an incredible leader and mentor to me. I love being the EIC to my team. I get to edit articles and write articles, but most importantly I get to create relationships with my fellow colleagues on my team. I have grown so much as a leader this semester, and Odyssey is part of the reason to thank for that. I love my team so much, and I am so blessed to be their EIC!

 

 

My major is public relations, and I have seriously grown so much as a public relations professional this year. M first semester of sophomore year, I took intro to public relations and from there I fell in love. This semester I took public relations writing, public relations publishing, and global public relations. I seriously learned so much from those three classes. I also had the opportunity to be a part of OU’s student-run advertising and public relations agency, Lindsey + Asp, which also gave me great insight on the agency side of public relations. In April, I got to start my time as the public relations intern for Oklahoma Watch. I get to help set up for their monthly forums and it seriously so much fun! I love having so many opportunities to grow as a professional, and I cannot wait to learn more before I go out into the real world.

There are not many people I would go back to my high school for, but my best friend is one of them. My senior year of high school I took my best friend Ally to prom, and this year, I had the honor of being her date to her senior prom. It was so much fun getting to spend the day getting all dolled up with her and then spending the night dancing away. I mean let’s be honest, who needs a guy when you have the most perfect best friend on the planet? I am seriously so blessed that I get to call this girl my best friend. God knew that I needed her in my life. I cannot wait until she is at OU with me in the fall!

Well, there you go a highlight of some of the best moments of my sophomore year of college. I made so many incredible memories, but it might have taken you a couple days to read this blog post if I had included all of them. I am seriously so blessed to have one mighty God, an incredible family, perfect sisters, the best best friend, and the chance to attend the best university on the planet.

 

Abundant Life Comes From Loss

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? “Father, get me out of this?” No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, “Father, put your glory on display.” John 12:24-28 MSG

Isn’t it amazing how God tells you exactly what you need to hear at the right moment? I had that incredible, yet tough feeling today when I read this verse in my quiet time. How was that incredible, yet tough to read you might ask? First, it is always incredible to me when I realize that God is speaking directly to me. He is always speaking to me, but sometimes it takes me a second to realize that and let it fully sink in. Second, it is tough to hear God’s words sometimes because of my own worldly desires. Today was just a reminder that my life belongs to God, not me.

This verse is Jesus talking to his disciples right before he is betrayed by Judas. Obviously, Jesus knew what was about to happen, but he uses his last moments on Earth to teach instead of being fearful, which is just incredible in itself. If I knew I was about to die, how would I react? Probably not as cool and collected as Jesus was. He glorified God even down to his final breath.

Now back to the meaning of the verse and how it resonated with me this morning. I am sure I can speak for a lot of us when I say that giving up things is not easy. I love consistency, and I absolutely without a doubt hate change. We try to hold on to the life around us. I feel like we tend to grasp on to the consistency in life like when we hang on for dear life when we are on a roller coaster at an amusement park. We want things to stay the same, but that makes us complacent and stuck. It is not necessarily bad, but we are not moving forward.

As followers of Christ, we should always be moving forward. We should strive to grow in our faith and our walk with God, in order to better glorify Him in every single thing we say and do. In order to grow, we have to step outside of our comfort zone. We have to embrace change and learn from it. We have to turn our present situations into something that glorifies God, whether that be something big or small. As followers of Christ, we should never be content with where we are at. We should always want more, all for the Kingdom of God.

During our time of pushing forward for Christ, we are going to be uncomfortable. We are going to have to make sacrifices. We are going to have to die, only to be renewed in Christ Jesus. We are going to have to lose things, maybe even lose people. We are going to be vulnerable. We are going to be sacred. We are going to be faced with rejection. That is the “price” we pay as followers of Christ, but you know what? It is so worth it.

Growth comes from loss. We have to allow those things to happen in order to make room for the beauty that will sprout from it. It is hard to see the big picture, but we cannot see the growth of a seed until it starts coming out of the ground. You are growing from the losses in your life even if you do not see it yet.

In my life, I do not want to focus on my losses. I want to live with a sense of trust and complete and utter abandonment to the things of this world, and a complete and utter trust in God and the amazing things I know He will do through me. I am ready and willing to put my trust in God even when it seems like I have lost everything. The good thing is, I will never lose my God.

Step Back

It is the week before dead week, which basically means that life is literally hell at the moment (yes, I know I am dramatic). I am in the final stretch of my sophomore year of college, which basically for me means tears, three group project presentations, the last bit of homework, working my butt off to pick up my grades, studying, living in Gaylord, lots of coffee and a whole whole whole lot of stress (oh and did I mention tears?).

I literally feel like I am at my breaking point. I am almost halfway done with my college years, but the end seems so far away. Do not get me wrong, I love the University of Oklahoma and I absolutely love my major, but college is hard. I am using every last ounce of my energy, yet it still does not seem like it is enough.

After an hour of laying in my bed crying and ranting to my best friend on FaceTime, I had to pull myself together to go to my favorite study spot to get some work done. On the way there, I decided to FaceTime my Nana so I could see my two sweet baby cousins to help me cheer up a little bit. That was exactly what I needed.

My little princess Blakelee was snoozing, but luckily my sweet Kaden was awake. He usually is not the type to pay attention to me when I FaceTime (he is only four), but today it was like he knew exactly what I needed. In the sweetest little voice, I hear, “RaRa will you come to my house and play with me today please?” Oh, sweet boy if I was not two hours away I would be there in a heartbeat. I got to the library, so I had to say goodbye, and Kaden kissed the screen to tell me bye. Isn’t that just the sweetest?

That got me thinking, wow I am seriously so blessed. I have a family that loves me more than anything, I have friends that care about me, and most importantly, I have a God that is always on my side. What more could I ask for?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6: 25-27

Sometimes you just have to step back and look at the bigger picture. Worrying will literally do nothing for anyone.Yes, I am stressed, but it is not worth it to literally make myself sick about it. I had to step back and realize that there is more to life than stressing about every little thing at school because I am a perfectionist. School and my education are very important to me and they are things I care about, but why let that stress consume me? I get up every day because of God and what He did for me and continues to do for me, nothing else. So that is the only thing I should let consume me.

When life gets overwhelming, step back and remember who you belong to. You belong to God, the creator of heaven and earth, me and you. Step back and think about all of the blessings God has placed in your life. I promise you that God is bigger than that feeling of anxiety and stress. Lean on Him to get you through it.

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.