Seeds.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

“…just as you are doing.” I want to begin by asking, are we really doing this? From what I have noticed, society has become a very discouraging environment. I tend to stay away from anything and everything political because stating an opinion feels like navigating through a minefield. Differences in opinions plague social media, and comments are almost always discouraging and very quickly turn ugly. Compliments and encouraging words are few and far between. Social media is now an outlet consumed with negativity and I have come close to ridding myself of it many times. Today is one day that I am glad I didn’t.

God has indescribably perfect timing. He caught me in a moment of discouragement in the most unexpected way. I received a facebook message from an old friend I haven’t spoken to for approximately 5 years. He was reluctant to press send, but felt called to do so and man did God relay a sweet message from him. We were both blessed by the short message he sent. I was blessed by being given encouragement through a fellow Christian that reminds me of my value. He was blessed by being God’s vessel in a small, but precious moment.

You see, when we speak, we are planting seeds. We have the choice to plant seeds that allow flowers to blossom, or to plant seeds that give rise to weeds and thorns. Weeds grow rapidly and spread easily. It is not difficult to get swept up in the wind and spread negative seeds, so we must be careful. When you choose your words, do so carefully. Take your time to note areas in your friends lives that contribute to discouragement, and dig a small hole through the soil they bury themselves in. Use encouraging words to plant a small seed, a seed that changes their outlook. Continue to encourage them, and my how they will grow and blossom! Love and kindness are some the most potent medicines of all, a little bit goes a long way.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ” -2 Corinthians 12:10

There is an unfathomable strength found in being vulnerable through all of our weaknesses.

In my life, I have never struggled with being vulnerable. Like my mom, I tend to overshare because of my talkative nature. However, I’ve also learned that it’s better to be completely open with people and get hurt, than build up a wall and feel nothing at all. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have had my heart broken, but I can say with certainty that every pain makes me love even deeper.

For the first time in my life, I decided to cut off some of my vulnerability for a weekend. I spent the weekend at a Cru women’s retreat in Tennessee. I didn’t want my friends, nor any of the girls in the bible study I lead, to have any distractions this weekend. I wanted them to be able to focus on themselves, and what God was trying to show them through the retreat. The theme for this year was Fearless. We were being called to be vulnerable with one another through our fears and weaknesses, but for some reason I chose to hide my own vulnerability from those who are closest to me. Now that the retreat is over, I felt the need to make up for my lack of vulnerability. So here we go…

My name is Margaret Ashleigh Rosser, and I have a crippling fear of rejection. My fear stems from the insecurity of never being enough…

In all but one of my past relationships, I have never been thin enough, pretty enough, or just [something] enough for someone else. I have accepted love, over and over, from guys that I thought I deserved because I never imagined I could deserve to have someone that loved me in a way in which I could be more than enough for them. However, God has given me peace in knowing that he loves me with this all powerful, unconditional love. He sent his son to die for my sins so that I get to spend eternity by his side! That is a love I am truly undeserving of, but I will choose to welcome it with open arms for the rest of forever.

…and the insecurity of never measuring up to the expectations others have for me.

My entire life, people have always expected greatness from me. I am grateful for the motivation this gave me, but I am ungrateful for the pressure it has placed on my life. There is a difference, that seems to get lost, between encouraging someone to succeed and expecting them to succeed. The moment encouragement turns into expectation is the moment that failing gains the power to destroy you. When you’re expected to succeed, but fail, your self-worth is what takes the fall. In high school, I was deferred, wait listed, and rejected to my dream school. Man, did I feel worthless when I found out. Little did I know, I would have to face this all over again. Thankfully, I have turned to God and found peace in him this time.

I was about to leave to pick up the girls I was driving to women’s retreat when I got my admissions letter for nursing school in the mail. I was so excited because all of my friends and even my advisor expected me to get accepted. When I read my letter, I had found that it was yet another rejection. This terrifies me. I do not have a back up plan. I fear people will think less of me for it. But…

It is evident that God has an even better plan for me, and I am grateful to be weakened so that I may gain strength through him. He is in control. I am so excited to see where God takes me next, for there is now an entire world of opportunities out there for me to explore!

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Moments.

In our society, young adults are expected to have their entire life planned out. When I come home from college, I don’t get asked about the things I’m involved in. The only questions I receive are,

“So, what are you going to do with your life?”

“Where are you going to live after college?”

“When are you going to be in a relationship?”

“When do you think you’ll get married?”

The amount of pressure that is placed on us, to be honest, is a little bit ridiculous. My life has been turned into a world of worry and regret. I find my mind constantly worrying about what I am going to be doing/ who I am going to be 3 years from now. When I worry about my future, I often fill with regret. My mind questions every decision I’ve made and makes me wonder if any of my decisions were wrong/will change the path I take to get to this, now ominous, future.

Recently, I have been reminded of what it means to truly cherish the moments. Last night, I told some of my friends a story behind the ring that never leaves my finger.

One day, when my mom was in nursing school, she sat down for lunch in the hospital cafeteria. She looked down at her hands and saw the ring. She realized she had forgotten to take it off. You see, if her supervisor were to see it she would’ve gotten in trouble because the only jewelry you were allowed to wear were wedding bands. This ring was definitely not close to a wedding band. My Great Grandma, the one I was named after, had given my mom the ring as a high school graduation present.

For those of you that know me, you know that my Great Grandma has always been extremely important to me. People say that some people grow mean and grouchy as they age, but I can assure you my Great Grandma is evidence of the complete opposite of that. She seems to only get sweeter with every day that passes by. Some years ago, she started to develop dementia. There are always good and bad days, but I never know which day will be the last. I got the opportunity to talk to her on the phone when the rest of my family went to visit her at her nursing home last week. She was having a very good day. My sister told her who I was before she gave her the phone, but I’m fairly certain she didn’t quite understand. She shared a few words about her day and how she was enjoying her time with the family. Our conversation, to the outside ear, could be described as having little to no substance. However, that conversation meant the world to me. I don’t know if that will be the last time I get to speak with her, but that’s the point. It isn’t about where she and I are going to be 3 years from now, it is the small moments we get to share with one another. The only way I get to truly cherish that conversation is because I was living in the moment. A moment that, if it is my last with her, I will be able to look back on and love that I was present in the time we spent together. By present I mean I wasn’t there thinking about the rest of life, I was present in the conversation I got to share with my Grandma. Every day I look at my ring and I remember that moment, and every one in between, without worry.

Now, back to the hospital. My mom quickly slipped the ring off her finger and placed it in her pocket. Little did she know, that small moment would continue to mean the world to her many, many years later. My dad happened to be looking at her from across the room, trying to muster up enough courage to ask my mom out on a date. God was truly looking out for my parents in that moment. My dad had seen the ring on her finger and was disappointed because she appeared to be engaged. BUT, here’s where God comes in, my dad continued to watch my mom long enough to see her take the ring off. My dad’s confidence was restored because he knew if she had removed the ring, there was no way she was engaged. Later on, my dad asked my mom out and the rest is history.

In one single moment, my parents’ lives changed. I ask you, how can we continue to worry about the future when a single moment can mean everything? I’d like to challenge you, as I do myself, to stop worrying about what is going to be and start being present in what is going on. Only then will we find the joy God has in store for our lives.

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Dear “You”…

Hi there. I may or may not have met you yet, but there is something you need to know. You may read this and think I’m weird, creepy, etc… but I promise you I’m not trying to be…at least at this time. I hope that you appreciate this someday.

Sometimes I worry about you. I worry about whether God has a “you” in his plan for me, I worry whether or not I’ll be up to your standards, I worry about what decisions you’re making right this moment. These are reasons why you should know that I am praying for you. I pray for you every night before I go to sleep. The first thing I pray about is that God would make it clear to me if there will ever be a “you”…If not, I pray that I can find peace with single-hood and the opportunities/freedoms that come with it…If so, I pray for your heart, your spiritual growth, and that you can become the man God wants me to be with. Not only do I pray for you, but I pray for myself to be the woman you deserve…the one God wants you to be with. I pray for our future, a one in which you are able to lead in our relationship with God as our first priority.

I know this is a scary thing to think about because I’m only 20 years old and I may not have met you yet. However, I want you to see the love I have for the potential “you”…I want you to know that I want God to be the center of our future…I want you to understand how important our relationship is to me. I’m sorry if you see this as weird, but I’m not sorry I want us to become the version of ourselves God wants us to be when we finally meet. I say finally meet not assuming we haven’t met, passed by one another, or seen one another in pictures with mutual friends…I say it because we are never the exact same version of ourselves as we are in this very moment…I say it because I can’t wait to meet the version of you I get to spend my life growing beside. So, Dear “you”…I’m praying for you.

Much love

Getting Older.

As of this morning I am officially 20 years old. It may not seem big in the grand scheme of things, but a part of my identity has entirely changed. When people ask you to tell them about yourself you state your name, your age, and maybe where you’re from. For the past 7 years, my age has finished with the word “teen”. Today that all changed. When you’re younger you think of 20 as such an old age. You may even feel as though by the age of 20, you would have already met “the one”…at least that’s what I thought. However, God has had a much different plan for my life. I assumed being 20 would make me feel more adult, more like a mature woman, and more confident in who I am. Unfortunately, I’m less confident in myself than I ever have been before. Instead of living my life and enjoying what God has placed before me, I am dwelling in the past and on things that were said that have latched on to me and seem as though they’re only grasping tighter. My confidence has dwindled into a small nothingness I shove in the very far corners of my mind, such that it is almost entirely out of reach. When I look in the mirror, I have stopped seeing the girl that God fearfully and wonderfully made. Instead, I look at myself and the voices of my past ring in my ear…

“well, you’d have to fit them over your thighs first”

“wow…they actually fit”

(to list a couple)

…My mind has been playing these things on repeat for the past 6 months without fail. My concern about my body image has squashed the confidence I had in my inner being. I can never understand why it is so difficult for me to dislike someone who has wronged me, yet so easily hate myself.

As I did my laundry at 2 this morning, I had the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for for so long…When I reached into the washer to move the clothes to the dryer, my cartilage piercing got hooked on the lid. As I stood up, my earring ripped halfway through my ear. I know its cheesy, but I couldn’t help but relate to the whole situation. I could either leave the earring halfway in my ear and continue to avoid my problem/continue to wallow in self-pity…OR I could accept that it happened and fix the situation/allow myself to heal.

Yes, I was damaged.

Yes, I wanted to ignore that it was a problem.

But now…now I have to accept it and move on with my life.The pain is always going to be there, but it doesn’t have the power to define who I am. I am a creation of the all mighty God and I am beautiful. I choose to no longer live halfway. My past cannot control my self-worth.

Turning 20 doesn’t mean you are supposed to know everything about your life and your future. Turning 20 is a change in your identity, an identity that changes every second of your life. It is okay to not have everything figured out. Just because you’re no longer a “teen” doesn’t mean you’re running out of time. I am just beginning my life and I choose to begin it while revering myself. I am who God created me to be and I choose to love every second of this life he gave me. I challenge you that aren’t quite yet 20 to plan on celebrating by choosing to revere yourself, for you are beautiful.