Intentional Love Stories

Four months ago, I got a thoughtful Facebook message from someone I had never met. Now there’s only two months separating us from grabbing coffee in person. Today’s post is written by sweet Katie of A Thousand Little Choices – author of that Facebook message. Turns out she hails from Coeur d’Alene and is family to the worship pastor at our church. World’s collide. I love having her heartfelt voice on Primitive Roads!

Intentional Love stories

Our various experiences are meant by our Heavenly Father to furnish fresh viewpoints from which we may see the loveliness of Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon

Has your heart been troubled lately? Have you been plagued by blustery seasons? In the midst of them have you wondered and asked the question, “why?” “Why, God, why would you let this season of life plague me now?”

You’re not alone if you’re asking such questions.

I have had many outpourings of my soul during difficult times. I wondered what my King was thinking while I cried each night during my years and years of singleness. I had struggles in college and after graduation, when my family was being torn apart and even now, a difficult season is on the horizon. Though I hate to admit this, I often asked the question “why, God?” A normal question, but unfortunately my heart had the wrong glasses on.

In the midst of asking “why” and beating our heads and hearts against the waves of pain, we often lack seeing the many details that come with unwanted seasons. What if I told you they are love stories? The times of tempestuous storms are all stories written in love. What would you say then?

I laughed at first, but then beautiful Emily told me her two words this year were community and intentional. I love those words and my heart started praying for ways to incorporate them in my own life. Community, thats a tough one being a transplant in Philadelphia, but Intentional captured my soul. I sat down and started writing all the ways I could be intentional in my life. Unfortunately, with our move (you can read about it here) and lack of community, I couldn’t come up with much. Then it hit me. This current state, this unwanted season, it is much more.

When we start to look at God in all that is happening around us, you see how intentional and loving He is. For years, I’ve known that He has been writing my life, chapter by chapter. Now, I’m not facing trials – no, life trials are really intentional love stories, written by a Great Author.

This is the first unwanted season of my life that I have looked at differently. I finally see that God knows exactly what I am dealing with. Though our eyes are misty and our souls are tired, we can rest in the intentional loves stories of life. Time is never wasted, experiences are never forgotten, and God has walked the path of this story before.  He hears your hearts cry. He is constantly there with you, and you shall never walk alone.

He has been the Author this whole time, writing gorgeous stories with courageous characters and the most beautiful of settings. Think about the last time your tempestuous season came. You might have thought, “I can’t do this anymore”, but look at you now, getting ready to face the hardest moments in life. He thought you were strong enough, brave enough and courageous enough to face them.

With His writing, love, and grace, we can get through the storms that are soon to come. I hope you can turn them around and look at them as great, passionate, intentional stories of love.

Oh child of God! If you could only see your sorrows and troubles from the other side; if instead of looking up at them from earth, you would look down on them from the heavenly places where you sit with Christ; if you knew how they are reflecting in prismatic beauty before the gaze of heaven, the bright light of Christ’s face, you would be content that they should cast their deep shadows over mountain slopes of existence.

Selected

KatieKatie Sjogren is a twenty-something living in Philadelphia, PA with her sweet husband Jordan. Katie is an avid choice maker, Starbucks consumer, chunky sweater wearer, blustery weather lover, and deep conversation maker.  You can read more about Katie & Jordan’s life on her blog, A Thousand Little Choices, where they choose joy, follow Christ and live fearlessly for love.

(photo credit–Pamela Moore, Getty Images)

 

How Community Changed My Life

Despite her petite frame, I was a bit intimidated by Lindsay when we first met a few months ago.  She’s a lovely, capable woman who is passionate about many things. Fortunately, we both volunteer with our high school youth group and I had an opportunity to discover we have a lot in common – coffee, books, travel, writing. Lindsay is sharp and articulate and I’m happy to have her thoughts here on Primitive Roads. Her experience with community is very similar to mine and my guess is that many of you will relate as well.

Community Series

How Community Changed My Life

I will never forget the Tuesday night during my junior year of college when I made the trek over to a table with a sign that read “Core Group Sign-Ups.” I put my name down on a piece of paper, committing myself to meeting weekly with a group of girls I had never met.

I will also never forget the first time our rag-tag group met. We sat in a circle on the floor, staring at each other and the platter of food that remained untouched. I remember looking around the room, thinking, “this is a horrible idea. I have nothing in common with these girls…well, maybe that girl. She scrapbooks.”

Even though 5 years have passed since then, I don’t mind when Mama Jess (the nickname earned by our leader) brings up the early days when we were afraid to speak and wouldn’t dare pray out loud. It reminds me of how far we have come together. We’ve been through break ups, mission trips, roommate drama, break ups, graduation, career choices, engagements…did I mention break ups?

After two years of walking with those girls, I had a new group of best friends. But I also had something better–the confidence to sign up for retreats, mission trips, intentional living communities, and even an internship abroad.

Through it all, my life was completely transformed.

I realized that some people actually make God a priority in their life- and the result is a life full of joy.

I learned the importance of having people to keep you accountable.

I discovered how easy it is to build relationships with people when you are serving the Lord together.

I learned to put others before myself.

I learned that love and discipleship are the keys to the Christian faith.

I learned that God designed this thing called “life” to be done with others.

I will admit that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing since then. It usually isn’t. The periods of growth and transformation tend to be the most painful.

And now I face a new challenge. Like most recent college grads who are trying to figure out where they will land, my many moves have brought me to a new place. A place where I have struggled to find the community that came so easily in college. It is only recently that I have noticed the repercussions this has brought as I have slipped into my old ways. Remember that list of ways my life was transformed through community? It seems like these days the opposite is true:

I’ve pushed God onto the back burner, resulting in loneliness and exhaustion.

I have no one to keep me accountable, which has led to some poor decisions, like entering into dating relationships that I had no business pursuing.

I’ve become selfish and resent the time that I spend “serving the Lord.”

I find myself living a boundary-less life. Without community that respects my “no”, I end up saying,  “yes” to a lot of things I am not passionate about.

I’ve forgotten how to love anyone other than myself.

I’ve learned (and prefer) to do life on my own.

I know that my natural instinct is to turn inward when I am in trouble. Just like Adam and Eve, who hid their nakedness from God after they sinned, we are afraid to expose our sins, our struggles, and our weaknesses to those around us. We like to act as if we have it all together. But it is only when we are able to humbly confess to one another that we need help that we will be able to grow and triumph. With the support of a great community we feel confident enough to take risks.

Sometimes the biggest risk of all is acting on your need for community. I will admit that it took me two years to walk up to that table. I made an excuse every week about why that “wasn’t for me.” But really I was just scared. Because I knew it was risky; I would have to talk about “important things”, and I had always shut that part of myself off.

And now I find myself back at that place. But luckily I’ve seen the wonderful things that community can bring, and that is what I honestly desire.

So what is stopping you? Do you need someone to walk to the sign up table with you? I’m headed back there myself. Together, I think we can do this.

blog picLindsay is a Starbucks loving city girl who has been displaced to rural Northern Idaho. She blogs about faith, relationships, and anything else that can be considered a “grey area”.

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Kindred Grace & Rubrics

Part of building community is finding like-minded people to surround you, keep you accountable, and support you.  Part of building an online community is producing edifying content and providing a place to fellowship and connect with those like-minded people.

It’s a huge treat when both happen at once.  Writing for Kindred Grace (formerly Young Ladies Christian Fellowship) has forged community in person and online.  Gretchen and the Kindred Grace team has worked for years to create a “haven for hearts”, as you will, for women of all seasons.

I’m new to their team but have been immensely encouraged by the vision of Kindred Grace and each team member’s desire to honor God with their words. We hope you find words of grace, of joy, of honesty, and of hope in the pages of our online community.

Today on Kindred Grace, I’m talking about my misguided quest for perfection.

God's Rubric1

Rubric of Grace

Sometimes goals and plans for the upcoming year become an agent for self-condemnation. Instead of my resolutions being a loose guide for the year ahead, those intentions become requirements the minute I write them down.

Read the rest here!

Kindred Grace: conversations between sisters in Christ

Guest Posting & Crazy Connections

Turns out, I guest post for people who I have random connections with.  Last week it was Kayse Pratt {6 Things I Learned in 6 Months of Marriage}, who was my city-neighbor for a year, and today it’s Marie Osborne.

I connected with Marie on Twitter only to discover she is the daughter-in-law of my brother-in-law’s pastor (Pastor Larry Osborne at North Coast in Vista, CA). David, my brother-in-law, works at North Coast and knows all the Osbornes.

Crazy. Small. World.

So, I’m writing over on Marie’s blog as part of her new series called Living Out His Love:  

This world isn’t perfect. We are fallen creatures struggling to learn how to give and receive this love. How to live out His love.
 
It’s a lifelong goal for all of us. But we can stumble along together. This series, “Living out His Love,” will be a place where we can talk this out. Share about our struggles, what His word says, what we learn in prayer and practice, really trying to live out this love. How we’ve been encouraged and how we’ve been wounded by others attempting to live out His love in our lives. Our hopes, our aspirations, our past. What we thought love was and how we learned it was different. How we strive to apply this love, in loving Him, our family, friends, enemies, community, ourselves.

My take on Living Out His Love revolves around my love of based-on-a-true-story sports movies. Thank you, Rocky Balboa!

Beyond Gaps

Aside from a hefty dose of chick-flicks and Jane Austen films, my movie collection is dominated by inspirational sports dramas.  I’m a sucker for the underdog and can’t get enough of the comeback montages set to heart-moving music.

The likes of Remember The Titans, We Are Marshall, and Miracle make me cry without fail.  Maybe it was the boxing factor or the endless sequels, but my based-on-a-true-story, sports film fanaticism never touched the Rocky collection.

Little did I know that lurking beneath all the blood, sweat, and punching, there were real lessons to be learned about love from the unlikely boxer.  With a few short lines uttered in the company of his friend Paulie and a bunch of cold cows waiting to be butchered, Rocky perfectly illustrates the symbiotic nature of true love.

Read the rest over on… Marie’s Blog!

Six Things I’ve Learned in Six Months of Marriage

Tim and I celebrated our six month anniversary on Sunday!

In the process of adjusting to married life and consistent disorder, I’ve learned many new things about myself.  Six qualities stick out to me as I reflect over my first six months of marriage.

I’m sharing  the six things I learned in six months of marriage over on Kayse Pratt‘s blog: Live Authentically, Laugh Joyfully, Love Intentionally.

Even the blogosphere is a small world.  Turns out Kayse and I lived in neighboring cities for a year without knowing hide nor hair of each other! Now we live in different states, but I’m excited to be part of her internet home today.

Read all about what I learned in six months of marriage and then poke around Kayse’s delightful and encouraging blog!