I sat and really truly puzzled this simple line in Psalm 30. In that moment, a lot of things in life just looked pretty disappointing…they didn't seem to be covered in Jesus, and just pretty hazy. I sat there and almost laughed at the fact that Jesus could turn my mourning into dancing. I thought to myself, “It’s not that easy.” As usual Jesus would prove me wrong.
Jesus is someone who is always there to celebrate. He is always there to bless us and laugh with us. He is such a happy guy! Truly! But MAN he is always there in our pain. He is there to comfort us. There to remind us who we are and how we get to claim a life with Him.
One year ago, my sweet Grandpa passed away. He was one of my favorite men on this Earth and now one of my favorite men in Heaven. I remember that season being one of mourning for me and my family. I remember the feelings of pain, loss, confusion and so much more. The feelings of heartache were so real, and Jesus met me right in them.
When we go through suffering and heartache we sometimes want to be so quick to blame God, but what if instead, we were so quick to realize how he sits with us in the pain. His love is too great to not feel what we are feeling. He has been on this Earth and He has experienced overwhelming sadness; He knows what our sadness is like.
Lately I have been learning what it looks like to let Jesus into my disappointments and pain. He whispers to me how strong I am. He blesses me with things I loves and He catches all my tears. I think that there are two options when we are faced with sadness. We can either take on the pain alone or we can step in to mourning with Jesus and have him teach us how to dance on our mourning. It’s a fight to dance on our mourning but with Jesus by our side, anything is possible. How long until we can all realize that the pain and brokenness in the world is where Jesus is most? He never leaves His sons and daughters dry, always meeting us in the wilderness.
He turns our deserts into oceans.
My sweet grandpa is gone but he is living it up in Heaven and I can’t wait to see him one day. During that season, Jesus met me more than ever in my mourning and together we learned how to put the sadness and pain underneath my feet and Jesus taught me how to dance on it. Jesus always has joy for us even in seasons of pain; the fight to dance for joy is something worth fighting for.
There are so many different kinds of love in this world. There is the love for our really cute dogs. The love for our favorite late time snack. The love for the people that mean the most to us, like friends and family. And then there is this type of love that I’m sitting here trying to wrap my mind around: holy love. This kind of love was created by the greatest act in history. This kind of love was created by a Father sending his beloved son to die for everyone else. The word holy love oozes out of every corner of the resurrection story and out of our own stories.
Our stories, our testimonies, are what make us…well, us. When I used to tell my story, I only told the parts that made me look like I had everything under control. I told the parts that weren’t scary or sinful. Over the years, I have realized that changing my story made me believe that I had to bottle up the places of my testimony I never shared and place them in a corner of my soul where only I knew where they were. As Jesus would have it, that corner in my heart became so crowded and I needed release.
Something really beautiful happens when your only option is Jesus.
After I started spending time with Him two years ago, I received glimpses of what He meant when He said that we are made new in Him. I learned that all He wants is for me to come as I am. All these things I had been trying to control for so long started to be let out. I remember sitting down with the people that I love and trust and telling them all those parts of my testimony that were bottled up. The parts I was always so scared to share.
Vulnerability truly wins.
The friends and family looked back at me usually with tears in their eyes telling me how worthy I am and how Jesus died for those sins. The feelings of release that I didn’t have to carry the weight of my sins was undeniable.
I started understanding how Jesus sees me and wants me. He showed me that He still wants to use me for His glory. He whispered that there is no one too broken for Him to use and love. He transformed the girl who couldn’t even tell her testimony to a girl who couldn’t wait to share it!
The thing is, the holy love of Jesus was always there for me. It has always been there for us. When we are in the midst of our sins and our hearts are so lost, His holy love beckons us. Jesus stands there always with His hand extended and all we have to do is take it. I didn’t take it until I felt like Jesus was the only option - but you can take it today no matter what! YOU can experience a love that is nothing like any of the loves that you have experienced before. There is no story or person too sinful or lost for Jesus. Today I belive that your winter is over! He is the ultimate restorer and wants to give you His holy love for eternity.
Something really amazing will happen if you choose to take that extended hand of Jesus; take it and find out. (:
This Hawaiian island had my name written all over it. Locals know it as the “Garden Island,” and it really does embody its name. As soon as you get off the plane, you step into a quaint open-air airport and can smell the freshness of the air and hear the stillness of the town. We stayed in a magnificent house that overlooked waves crashing into huge rocks. When I think of Hawaii, this is definitely what I had in mind.
On our first night there we went to a Luau. I had never been to one before and loved how they greeted us with beautiful, fresh smelling leis and a Hawaiian smile. They had local Hawaiian foods at the buffet that were all so interesting and delicious. The Luau itself was truly something special. It was a beautiful story of the island and its people, with some really cool fire stick throwing.
The next day, to align with the stillness of the island, we hopped on a long boat ride. It was so beautiful to watch the blue water all around us. We got to see some amazing cliffs and so many places where movies had been filmed. My brother and I fell asleep and both got pretty wicked sunburns. The boat trip was originally supposed to be a snorkeling trip, but in the winter, the swell is so crazy that it is difficult to safely get people in to snorkel. So, for the Perez fam it turned into a sightseeing, tanning trip, pretty sure we all came back at least 2 shades darker!
The next morning, we all woke up at 5am for our helicopter ride. It was so worth the early rise. We got to see Hawaii from above and it was truly an experience I will never forget. My older brother got very plane sick. Don’t tell him, but it was quite funny and he did not have the same experience the rest of us did – he could not WAIT to land haha!!!
My favorite days in Kauai were the last two days. We went on the longest hardest hike of my life. It took us over huge boulders, across a river numerous times, and through a deep bamboo forest, but led us to the coolest waterfalls ever. You could climb up the double waterfall and jump back down to the pool below. I was so scared to climb up and thought that was the hardest part, and then I got up there and was so scared to jump back down - haha! Despite my fear, I said a quick prayer and jumped, and I am so glad I did because it was truly exhilarating. Our last day was so sweet and magical, making flower crowns or “Haku Lei” as the locals say. It was a personal class where my mom and I got to hang out with our sweet new friend who showed us how to make a Haku Lei. I would highly recommend this class for girls who want to make the original Hawaii flower crowns! Our last hours in Hawaii consisted of Yoga on the beach, Kayaking and watching the waves.
It truly was so special to spend that much time with my family in such a beautiful place. I have the funniest, craziest, best family and thank Jesus every day for them.
I think that something that the enemy is really good at is twisting our vision so much that we can’t see our situations how Jesus sees them. The enemy is especially loud in our seasons of waiting. He wants us to believe that the only words that come along with the word “wait” are draining, fearful, drowning, difficult, and so much more. It’s easy to believe that waiting for something can be a bad thing. Today’s world seems to be on a fast track with one goal in mind: no more waiting.
I think that Jesus loves the word “wait.” (:
In Psalm 84:11 it says that Jesus will withhold no good things from us. So, when we are waiting, why are we always so anxious and fearful if we know that Jesus, our one true King, will withhold NO one good thing from us? I think it’s a pretty simple answer really: we are imperfect and will never be able to wait perfectly like Jesus who waited 40 days and 40 nights fasting to serve his Father. But because of who Jesus is and what He can do, He wants to teach us how to wait well and teach us the true beauty of a waiting season.
I have been learning a lot what it looks like to wait well and when Jesus asked me to step into this season of waiting, it took everything in me to be obedient because let me tell you: I am SO impatient. Jesus knows that and I know He wants to break the chains of impatience; I know that this season was happening for the sole purpose to teach me to wait well. Everyday does absolutely not look like I would hope. Many times, I am begging Jesus to let the waiting stop and give me what I want now. Jesus is so kind. I have been blown away by how He has truly met me in the waiting. He is teaching me what it takes to wait well and how rewarding it is. To wait well is to find Jesus in the waiting. Sometimes all we have to do is run as fast as we can to the King of all Kings, surrender all we have and all we are and the rest will fall into place.
I find a lot of peace knowing that He holds the desires of my heart, along with my hopes and dreams. I know that He will give me the ones that are going to bring me closer to Him. I’m still uncovering the secrets of waiting well but I am getting stronger and getting so much more dependent on my Jesus for everything.
Jesus has a plan for your life even if you can’t see it; believe that He holds your desires and that He carries around books filled with your hopes and dreams. If you are in a season of waiting, seek Him hard and watch the anxious feelings that the world tells us we should have because we are waiting, slowly fade away. You can do this because you are fearless and you have Jesus in your corner!!!
Think about this. What if you are walking down the street just having a regular old day. You are thinking about your to-do list in your head and mentally checking off the things you have done. You are so lost in your own thoughts that you don’t see her approaching with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She touches your arm and you pop out your headphones confused. She hands you the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen and simply says, “You are so loved.” She quietly walks away, and you stand there and smile, as it processes that a stranger just handed you a bouquet of flowers.
When Jesus started speaking the words “steadfast love” over me this semester, I wasn’t even sure what the word steadfast meant. I did some classic dictionary research and found some definitions, but the word that kept standing out to me was “unwavering.” Next, I went to the Bible and found so many rich Psalms that talk about the steadfast love of Jesus and then Jesus started to speak. Together we defined steadfast love as an unwavering sense of worth, patience beyond understanding and stillness.
I think for a while I was doing what the lady with the headphones was doing. I had been so wrapped up in my mind and my own thoughts. But recently, Jesus has been asking me to take off those headphones. He has been asking me to show steadfast love to Him like He shows it daily to me. He has been asking me to have patience, grace and stillness in my days. All of His guidance is leading me to step into the one thing that we all long for: the feeling of being worthy. He has made me feel so worthy. Whether He is whispering words of who He says I am during worship or He is blessing me with things that I know I don’t deserve; He makes me feel like a princess who is strong and fearless.
Circumstances change daily. The lady with the headphones might have been having the worst or best day of her life but it didn’t matter because Jesus was going to make her feel worthy either way. He celebrates with us, but man He also sits with us in the scary parts of life. He sits with us in the waiting and the searching. I’m thankful for a God who I know that I can count on always because of His steadfast love for me. I am forever worthy because of whose I am.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Because Jesus is good and loves to give us the desires of our hearts, my family and I got to go to Hawaii this past Christmas break and it was everything and more than we expected. The first Island we went to was Oahu, which was not at all what I was expecting. We stayed at Waikiki Beach, which is huge, has sky rise buildings, and Austin-like traffic. My mind had Hawaii set a few years back from modern buildings and I really thought it would be all beaches and tiny cute shacks. However, I was quickly proven wrong by Oahu. We stayed at the coolest hotel called The Laylow. It had rooms with such fun colors and ukuleles. There was a coffee shop called Hideout Coffee within the hotel as well. It was just a quick walk to the beach and so fun to be in the middle of the bustling city of Waikiki.
On our first day there, I got to go to the beach and have quiet time with Jesus. I truly think that I have my best quiet times on the beach. I had just gotten a new Bible for Christmas from Hosanna Revival, an amazing custom Bible store, and loved getting to watch the waves and listen to the voice of Jesus through the new Bible. Later that day we went on an amazing hike. It was one of those hikes where you are never sure if you are going the right way but somehow you eventually find your way. It looped through a bamboo forest and ended up at fresh waterfalls that were icy cold, but so refreshing. The hike was so muddy because it had rained earlier so afterwards we were all laughing and covered head-to-toe in mud.
Our final day in Oahu was spent on the impressive North Shore. My brother, the surfer of the family, educated me as he told me this is where the famous surfers surf. He explained that people come from all over the world with one goal: surf the North Shore. The waves were absolutely HUGE! We got to watch some of the surfers do their thing and I was so impressed, they were truly killing it out there. After a while we went to find the Sunrise Shack, the reason I wanted to go to the North Shore. This is a cute, famous little yellow shack with, drum roooolllll, acai bowls, yes, no surprise there for me. They were amazing, and I loved every minute of my time around that cute little yellow shack. Because we were in Hawaii, we went and ate again, this time coconuts and Caesar salads, just to balance out all that acai. (:
I loved Oahu. I have never been the biggest “city girl” so I was really excited for our next stop. I had heard it is the most beautiful island on Hawaii: Kauai.
There is nothing quite like a family road trip. My family is pretty spontaneous, and we always end up planning random-day-before road trips. This time it was to Doss, Texas. I had never heard of the place before but was excited to go. It is very close to Fredericksburg, Texas, so in true road trip fashion of stopping at all the cool places before the final destination, we decided to go to Enchanted Rock before heading to Doss.
My little brother is into climbing massive rocks like the ones at Enchanted Rock. He took us to his favorite climbing spot which was a giant cliff that was actually so huge and terrifying, but as you sat on it longer it got less and less scary. The hike up was so beautiful and the different rock colors really caught my eye. You can totally tell you are in Texas by the cactus that line the pathways. We got to step into his world as he showed us the ropes of climbing. I think my dad was the funniest climber – he made us all laugh so hard, but he DID it and that’s a cool dad right there!
After Enchanted Rock, we headed over to the ever loyal HEB; we got dinner to cook and headed to good ole’ Doss, Texas. Thank goodness we stopped for dinner before we got there because it seems all of Doss, Texas is ranches and empty fields. We found my mom and dad’s Airbnb and my brother and I set up our tents outside the Airbnb. Before heading out to the cold and our tents, we had some hot chocolate and muffins that were so delicious. Let me just say…it was quite the night!
It was pretty chilly that night, so I had a lot of layers on and it just so happened that the tent I was using hadn’t been used in a while. It rained that night and I woke up halfway through the night with my tent LEAKING! Haha! All I could do was laugh. I tried to mend the leak best I could and headed back to sleep. Next thing I know, I wake up and am being attacked by a HOG. Okay, okay that is just me over-reacting, but I promise there was something out there sniffing around my tent and I HOPE it was a hog and not something scarier. In between leaks, bathroom breaks and hogs, I think I maybe got 4 hours of sleep? However, it was so worth it to wake up and catch the last moments of the big, starry skies and then watch the amazing sunrise.
I would highly recommend spontaneous, random road trips. They always make for the best and funniest adventures
When I found out I was studying abroad in Prague last spring, I’ll be honest, I had to look it up on Google maps to see where it was. My next stop was Pinterest: Top Ten Things to do in Prague lists. Over the next few weeks, I got so excited to see Prague for real and not virtually. I had never been overseas before this trip and my study abroad trip would be the first time. To say I was nervous is a huge understatement. I was terrified. I would be going to Indonesia later that summer, so before hopping on the flight to Prague, everything seemed overwhelming. I was about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime and all I could think about was how scared I was for this adventure.
I boarded the plane on May 16 at 4am completely terrified. I continued to feel the weird mix of anxiety and excitement until we arrived in Iceland. We landed and hopped on the bus to the Blue Lagoon (a giant natural spring hot tub in Iceland), a truly perfect start to the trip because it helped calm my nerves. I remember thinking how everything seemed SO far from home. We would hop on a plane that next morning and eventually make our way to Prague. That first night in Prague, I sat awake in my bed praying and thinking, and Jesus started to speak.
Psalm 34:4 says: “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.”
Man, something that I learned while studying abroad was that even though there were so many times where I was uncomfortable and nervous, every single time Jesus showed up and reminded me how to be comfortable with him when I was standing in the middle of something uncomfortable.
When I finally began to understand how to constantly stand in the comfort of Jesus while in Prague, I was amazed to see the world around me. I loved experiencing the difference in culture. Trying all the new Czech foods. I adored the little chocolate market down the street that I almost went to daily. I loved the day trips to places outside the city in the Czech country side. I loved the flowers that covered the country side roads. The farmers’ markets and rooftop dinners. All of a sudden, I realized that I had now become so comfortable with where Jesus had me that the spirit of anxiety and fear had faded and I could now live fully in the moment and be present.
Jesus was so sweet to use study abroad as a lesson of how to always be comfortable in him. When I got back home it was so much easier to take things that scared me and remind myself of how Jesus moved in my heart abroad. So thankful for a God that said, “Let’s go travel,” and took me to places I would have never gone…to grow me. He is so faithful!!!
“Stop listening to what you say about yourself and start listening to who Jesus says you are.”
Yes, go ahead and give that one more read and really let the words sink in. Deep breath. I truly believe we all are so hard on ourselves. We have heard the words a million times before, “we are ourselves worst critics.” In my architecture classes, it seems that my peers and I only seem to find the flaws in our projects. We had a final project due a couple of weeks ago, and after my friend and I finished, we proceeded to sit there and criticize our own hard work. Sure, there were things I loved in my project, but all I could focus on were the things that were a bit off, or the glue that was still left over. The flaws.
More often than I would like to admit, all I seem to focus on is my own flaws. The places where I fall short again and again… and lately Jesus is having none of it.
I’ve been learning a lot about my worth. I think this cycle of focusing on my flaws stems from a long history of boys, friends, and grades who have told me time and again I am not good enough. Finally, I just seemed to bend to what they thought and my worth started to become what they thought.
A couple of months ago, Jesus started speaking….
“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,”
over me. I wasn’t quite sure why and honestly felt like it wasn’t really relevant to what I had been walking through, which had been a lot of healing from past relationships. However, as usual, sometimes we just can’t see where the Lord is going until we get there.
On September 14th Jesus asked me to write down a list of the desires of my heart that He answered the day before. I started writing the list and when I finished, I read over it again and in that moment, I have never felt so very worth it. So loved. The list was the simplest things that only someone who loves me and knows me so deeply could have known to give me. I sat there and cried. I cried because I felt known after so many years of searching for being known in things that would never allow it. I cried because Jesus is good. The list goes on. This moment catalyzed my mindset of finally listening only to what Jesus says about me and blocking out what the world says.
It’s not perfect. I find myself still labeling what I think I am, but I am trying and growing, and learning everyday about what Jesus thinks. Sometimes, most times, it’s really not all that pretty. I stumble so much, but I find every time I stand back up, I am stronger. Something that gives me so much comfort is He is right there with me, right there forever and I will never have to walk alone.
My worth is Jesus.
Our worth is Jesus.
You are strong.
You are beautiful.
You are confident.
You are intentional.
You are deserving.
You are funny.
You are kind.
We are HIS inheritance.
Let’s start believing what our King says and stop listening to our own labels.
Jetty walks are one of my most favorite things in the world. I love walking out onto those huge rocks stretching out into the water and feeling like I am part of the ocean. This summer, my family and I were in Port Aransas, TX and we made a stop at the jetty. I instantly noticed that there were two very different sides of the jetty. One was calm, while the other had intense, powerful waves. I wondered why both sides were so different, so naturally I Googled to find the answer. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website said that jetties are created to protect beaches from erosion and protect shipping channels from filling with sand. This allows one side of the jetty to have way more waves than the other side. I felt satisfied with my googling and continued my day in Port Aransas TX. Little did I know that the Lord would use this simple curiosity of jetties to speak to me much later.
It was a Wednesday and I was stressed out. I was planning to leave town on Thursday and be gone all weekend; however, before I could leave, there was much to prepare for: I had a test on Thursday, a paper due the following Monday, and a homework assignment due the following Tuesday. I knew those school assignments would take me many hours, plus I had meetings to attend for major exploration, study abroad meetings, and volunteering duties. Stress consumed me.
I was on my way to volunteer, which I do every Wednesday and I called my mom, hoping she could make me feel better and take away my stress. She was encouraging me as always, but I still got off the phone stressed. So, I began to pray, specifically asking God to show up at volunteering that day and also the rest of my day. And that he did. Volunteering calmed me down and I left feeling less stressed.
As I was driving home, my friend sent me a song to listen to that she had just heard called Ruins by Jonathan Thulin. The song talks about your lowest point and how God is still there even though your life is broken. I took the chance right there to continue to throw the pity party for myself which I had been throwing all day long. As the song continued, I looked up and saw a homeless man and the Lord spoke truth. "This man is struggling, he is at his lowest point, he is broken; Bri, I am here in your midst and you are choosing worldly stresses over resting in me and my peace that I provide you.”
I got up that next morning and read Job. Job is struggling because he has had everything taken away from him and he is questioning the Lord and crying out to him. Job has conversations with 4 people; 3 out of the 4 provide reasons why Job is suffering, including that he has sinned, or his children have sinned. However, the last person, Elihu, presents a different argument. He answers the questions Job has asked the Lord many times, “Why am I suffering, Why am I having a hard time right now?” Elihu says…
“By means of their suffering He rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention though adversity. God is leading you away from danger Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food.” Job 36:15-16
Job was too focused on his suffering that he wasn’t able to see that the Lord was working for his benefit. Just like Job, I was too focused on my stress and couldn’t see that the Lord wanted me to allow Him to work in my benefit and give me peace.
A jetty is the perfect representation of life in Christ. The jetty is like the Lord, constant and always there fighting to protect us. The water on either side of the jetty is similar to our choices: peaceful or distress. Every day, we make a choice on which side of the jetty we are going to stand.
No matter what side we choose, the jetty remains; the Lord is always present in our lives.
It is up to us to either make the choice to stand in the distressing waves that are everyday life, or to stand in the peaceful waves of God’s security. When we choose to stand in the distressing waves, we will be attacked at all angles and we will struggle to see the Lord working for us.
But when we choose to stand in the peaceful waves, we are covered with His unfailing love and His promise that our sufferings are for our benefit. We can redirect our troubles and problems to God, who will always present the choice of peace for us.
Next time you walk on a jetty, think of the waves you have been choosing lately and remember…
“He is mighty in both power and understanding.” Job 36:5