Saying goodbye to the sweetest semester

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Tonight it hit me that in the world wind fall semester of my junior year of college has been, I hadn’t written a post on my blog once. I wrote a lot letters to Jesus, and a lot of papers for class, but nothing here. Something drew me towards it tonight, maybe it’s the fact that I should be studying for finals, or maybe I’m just getting nostalgic looking back over this semester but here I am. I’ve learned more this semester than I think I ever have about what it means to live a full life with Jesus. Now that’s not to say that this semester was easier than the others by any means. Between wrecking my car, failing a test for the first time in college, many late hours spent in the library, and days that simply didn’t have enough hours, this semester wasn’t easier. I mean, just a few days ago I was crying to one of my roommates because I just didn’t know how I was going to get through finals week(ok so I’m a little dramatic), but still this semester was better. Jesus showed up and showed off in my life these past few months. I saw first hand that with Jesus the highs are higher, and the lows aren’t as low. I learned how to surrender parts of my life that I had been holding onto so tightly. I was given chances for redemption, and was extend so much grace. This semester I was able to finally, finally let go of brokenness from my past and deeply believe in the truth that I’ve been given a new name, that I am a daughter of the one true King. This semester I learned how to be content in singleness in a way I definitely never knew about previously, and how to spend that time devoted to The Lord. I was proven over and over again that Jesus is better. Jesus is better than having a boyfriend. Jesus is better than getting a 4.0. Jesus is better than the mistakes in the past and the ones I’m sure to make in the future. I’m sad to see the semester come to it’s end, but excited to see what these next three have in store.

Finding Peace in a Broken World

Processed with VSCO with c2 presetMy head hasn’t stopped spinning for the past few weeks. It seems like every time I get on Facebook or any type of news outlet all I see is a new reason to be worried or scared. Each day it feels like the world is closing in on us tighter and tighter as hurt and hate seem to be covering this already broken Earth. Everyday I’ve been praying for the pain to turn into peace and for fear to not swallow me up every time I read a new story on the internet about death or destruction. This morning I was reading my cousin’s devotional with her and it just happened to be about peace. The verse from it said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” John 14:27. Never had I needed to hear this verse more in my life. It was so sweet the way Jesus placed it on my heart in a time when I was thirsting for peace in a way I never had before. The part of this verse that really sticks out to me is the part that says “Not as the world gives do I give to you”. This made me realize that no matter whats going on in the world, no matter how broken or put together it might seem, I will never find the peace I’m searching for to ease my soul in this world. I will only find that peace when I look to The Lord. Because of this peace Jesus has given to us through Him He tell us not to let our hearts be troubled, because we are His children and He is with us. He will never leave us alone, He will never forget about us. Even in the midst of all the turmoil going on in my heart Jesus proves Himself to be faithful to me each and everyday. Finding peace and joy in Jesus doesn’t come from the circumstances you find yourself in, but instead in something more steadfast and unwavering. It comes from Christ who’s love is unchanging. Jesus says He will not leave us as orphans, and He won’t. He says those who look to Him are radiant. Even in a broken world there is peace to be found in Jesus Christ.

“When the righteous cry out for help, The Lord hears and delivers them from their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but The Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all of his bones, not one of them are broken.” Psalm 34:17-20

My Australian Adventure: Part One

Hello from down under!

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I have had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Sydney, Australia at the University of Sydney for six weeks this summer and because today marks three weeks of me being here (I seriously can’t believe that) I decided what better way to update my family and friends about my experience so far than my blog! So I will start of by saying my time here has been absolutely incredible and I’m not sure that my words will do it justice but I’m going to try! I wanted to outline some highlights of my first three weeks.

Darling Harbor Fireworks:
The first night I arrived in Sydney they were having a firework show at Darling Harbor, which they have every Saturday night, so some of the people in my program and I went down to the harbor to watch.Here are a few pictures:

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We were all completely jet lagged (and most of us complete strangers) so it was a fight to stay awake, but despite that the fireworks were absolutely beautiful. Speaking of being jet lagged, that went on for a little over a week. It was hard for us all to adjust to Sydney time because it’s about 15 hours ahead for most of us. So it was a lot of waking up at 5:00 am and being exhausted by 8:00 pm but eventually we all adjusted. I’m already dreading having to adjust back to American time when I get back to the states, but for now it’s thankfully no longer an issue!

Watson’s Bay:
A cute little place that we visited our first week,!that I loved, is Watson’s Bay. It was just a train and ferry ride away and it’s so beautiful. You can even see the gorgeous Sydney skyline from the island.

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When you arrive at Watson’s Bay you walk up to the national park where you can do a few short hikes that have amazing views of the ocean.

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Afterwards we ate fish and chips outside and enjoyed the beautiful day. Winter officially began here on June 1st, but when we first arrived it was still pretty warm out so I’m so thankful we got such nice weather our first week!

Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk:
Bondi Beach is a famous beach in Sydney and there’s a walk you can do starting at Bondi that goes across the coast to Coogee beach that only takes a few hours! My friend Rachel and I spent some time at Bondi then headed off to do the walk and there were some truly incredible views!

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This was definitely another favorite of mine because I got to take tons of awesome pictures and do some exploring outside of the more touristy areas. If you’re ever in the Sydney area I would definitely say this is a must do activity! There’s also tons of great places to eat along Bondi and one in particular that is really great is called Moo Gourmet Burgers.

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I was desperate for anything resembling  American food so the burgers were just perfect! I’ve been to Bondi three times since I’ve been here and it’s been so fun every time! Here are a few more pictures from another day at Bondi when my roommates and I went right at  sunset!

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Hillsong Church:
Okay I had to talk about this incredible experience. So for those of you who haven’t heard of Hillsong, they are a mega church that has plants all over the world and they release lots of really really great worship music. IMG_8716Well the Church actually began here and Australia and Claire, Mallory (two of my awesome roomates) and I had the opportunity to attend a church service that the Hillsong United Band was at in The Hills, which is a few hours from Sydney. This had to be one of my favorite things because we got to get out of the city and visit more of the suburbs and it was wonderful getting to worship in this beautiful place. I feel so so lucky to be here and I loved getting to sing praise to Jesus for that! The worshipping during the service was like a huge concert, it was truly amazing and so much fun! Afterwards we ate lunch at the church and headed back to Sydney. We did have a little trouble getting there because it was during our first week and we were still struggling to figure out the transit system, but somehow we got there and got home. Every time I think “okay this is the time we get lost” or “okay this is the time we miss the train and are stranded in some unfamiliar town in some random train station”things always end up working out, and we always get where we need to be. If you know me, and know how directionally challenged I am, then you know this is nothing short of a miracle.

Taronga Zoo:
Okay welcome to the best day of my life. I am not exaggerating when I say this was one of my favorite things I have ever done.

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You get to the zoo by ferry and once you’re there you can see the entire Sydney skyline from the Giraffe exhibit, which is so incredible. We saw all kinds of adorable animals like giraffes, elephants, baby penguins, kangaroos, wallabys, zebras, otters, seals, and so much more. 

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This day was pure joy and despite getting chased by an angry emu (that thing was out for blood) it was still my favorite day. 

Surf Camp:

So I know I said I was talking about the highlights of my trip, but this is a weekend I just couldn’t leave out. Almost everyone in my program signed up to do a weekend long camp where you live on the beach and learn to surf. You travel to a place about two hours south of Sydney to a little town called Gerroa. We were so excited to learn to surf but when we saw the weather forecast for that weekend we wereIMG_8992 all a little nervous, but we figured it couldn’t rain the whole time right? Wrong, so wrong. From the minute we arrived at surf camp it was raining, and I don’t mean a little sprinkle I mean pouring down, sideways, freezing cold rain. Unfortunately this rain never stopped, it only got worse. So our “surf camp” ended up being only two hours of surfing and the rest of the time trying to figure out how to not get hypothermia from our hostel with no heater, and attempting to smile through the pain and convince ourselves we were having fun. And how were our living conditions for the weekend you ask? Lets just say the no heater in our rooms wasn’t the worst of it. But despite the rain the few hours we spent learning to surf were actually tons of fun, and I even got up on the surf board a few times before one of the worst storms in history hit the coast of Australia causing us to put our boards up for the rest of the weekend. Now surf camp is a running joke among our friends, and we all agree that if we survived surf camp we can survive anything else Australia throws our way.

The Blue Mountains:
Okay back to the highlights- The Blue Mountains National Park. One of the coolest things about Sydney is that you can get the city life, the beach, and the mountains all in one place. So one morning this past week Claire, Mallory, and I decided to visit the Blue Mountains and go hiking. We took a train to Katoomba and then a bus to the mountains and spent the day hiking. The views were incredible and the hike was so much fun.

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True to our luck it started raining, but this time it definitely didn’t hinder the experience. The mountains were incredible beautifully and we chose the hike that went to the Leura Cascades which are gorgeous waterfalls buried within the mountains. Midway through our hike we decided to go back to the town to grab lunch and we stumbled upon the cutest cafe you’ve ever seen in your life. It looked like it was straight out of a movie in the most adorable little mountain town.

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After lunch, getting lost a few times, and getting rained on we finally made it to the cascades and wow… it was so worth the hike.

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It was hard to narrow it down but here are a few of my favorite adventures I’ve had in Australia. Choosing to study abroad here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in college, and I’m so grateful to my amazing parents and Texas A&M for the opportunity. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about being independent these past few weeks (I guess living on the other side of the world will do that to you) and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience. I know I don’t deserve all the wonderful things God blessed me with not only on this trip, but through my life. I only hope I can turn around and glorify Him through all of gifts He has entrusted me with. Day after day I continue to learn that no matter where I am, my life is sweeter when I’m sharing it with Jesus. My study abroad experience is now officially half way over (what!) and I already know that when I leave Australia, I will be leaving a piece of my heart here as well because I have totally fallen in love with this place. Still, as much as I love it here I miss my friends and family so much. I’m anxious to share with you all in person about my trip when I get back to America! Until then super grateful for the friendships God has provided for me here and all the wonderful people I’ve gotten to meet already. (like these girls!!!) DSC_0253On Wednesday I officially start class! I know, how ridiculous is it that I’m studying abroad and haven’t even had class yet (sorry Dad). It happened to work out that the two classes I’m taking at the University of Sydney are both taught during weeks 4-6 so I really have been living the dream these past few weeks. I’m really looking forward to my International Human Resources and Visual Communication classes to start next week and to keep sharing with you all about Australia.

Cheers for now!
-Reagan

A love that changes you from the inside out

IMG_8588.JPGToday I found myself wondering what the rest of my life holds and what my future is going to look like. I’ve only gotten to experience twenty years on this earth and I long for so much more, but I also long to spend eternity with my Jesus, My Savior. My time in this world could end tomorrow and I would get to be with my Heavenly Father, or I could live a long life of telling people the good news, of sharing the gospel. Either way I know this for sure- my days are sweeter when they’re shared with Jesus. My highs are higher and my lows aren’t as low when I’m running to The Lord. I experienced true freedom once I became a servant of Jesus Christ. People think Christianity keeps you from experiencing certain things that the world has to offer, but the truth is that a relationship with Jesus allows you to taste what it is to truly be free. It allows you to no longer be a slave to this world. It removes the chains of anxiety, self doubt, expectations, searching for approval, emptiness, fear, loneliness, or whatever your demons are that seek to keep you imprisoned and gasping for your next breath. The Lord lets you step out of your personal prision cell in confidence knowing there’s something so much greater than the fleeting satisfactions this world desires to lay at our feet. I spent part of my life running from His grace and I had never felt so lost or alone, but no matter how far I ran He was always there to pick up the broken pieces and sweetly put me back together again, even better than before. I don’t know what the rest of my days will hold but I do know I will spend them seeking My King, My Father, My Redeemer, My Friend, because He has paid the ultimate price in order for me to have unending, unspeakable joy. I will lay down my life and pick up  my cross so that other people can have a taste of what that joy is like. I will spend the rest of my days trying to give back what He has given to me, not because I have to but because I want to. I know nothing I do could ever compare or match what He has done for me, but there has been a change in my heart that has planted within me the desire to serve as I have been served.

“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant”

-Genesis 32:10

When faith is bigger than fear

IMG_4634I’m scared. I’m scared of rejection. I’m scared of change. I’m scared of pain. I’m scared of the unknown, of the uncomfortable. I’m scared of disappointing people. I almost stayed at a college for four years and pretended to be happy because I was so scared of what people might think if I left. I was so scared of failing. But at what point does my faith become bigger than my fears? When do I finally decide to hand over to The Lord all my fears and doubts that have been controlling me for so long. A reoccurring theme in my life has been that if I’m really scared then something great is probably about to happen. The bravest I have ever had to be is when I decided to transfer schools after my freshmen year of college. I know that a lot of people face much bigger challenges, requiring much more courage, but this was it for me. This is when I finally had to relinquish control of the plan I had been clinging to for so long and say, “Okay God even if it doesn’t work out I trust you to take care of me”. And you know what? He did. He was faithful to me and He never left me alone. The Lord had a perfect plan for me, but it took me jumping into the unknown for that plan to be fulfilled. I had no idea what coming to A&M would look like for me, or if things would even work out here at all, but wow has He been good to me. This past year of my life has been filled with more unknown and fear than I would have ever asked for, but it has also been filled with more fruit and more beauty than I could have ever imagined. And yes there were times when I was let down and things didn’t work out, but He has taught my feet to dance upon disappointment. I’ve learned that fear doesn’t come from God. It even says it over and over in the bible.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand” -Isaiah 41:10

“For God gave us not a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and self control” -2 Timothy 1:7

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” -1 John 4:18

So even though fear still creeps its way into certain aspects of my life, I’ve made a conscious decision to not let it stop me from being faithful. My purpose as a follower of Christ is to go and make disciples, and I can’t do that if I’m scared to share my story. No matter how messy or broken my path to redemption was it paints a beautiful picture of the gospel, and who am I not to share that? I can’t be willing to go and love people differently if I’m afraid of being awkward or vulnerable. We are not called to live in fear, we are told to clothe ourselves with courage. So I will not let fear dictate my life, because there is a story that desperately needs to be told. The truth is that Jesus has already won the fight against fear, and He invites us all to step into that victory with Him. Even if our worst fears are confirmed, He will always be there to pick up the pieces of our broken plans. So now I’m challenged to run towards that fear armed with the truth of Jesus Christ. In The Lord we find courage, and if you ask Him He will give you the bravery to do things you never thought were possible. The sweetest things in life are so worth fighting through the fear for.

Here I am Lord, send me

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“Here I am Lord, send me” This is what Isaiah answered when The Lord asked “But who will go for us?”. Here I am send me. This prayer has constantly been on my lips through out the past few weeks. Hey Jesus, I know I’m not the most qualified but send me anyways. I have felt like my heart has been tugged on in a variety of ways the past few weeks to go to the nations and tell them about Jesus. But, I’m in college and I will be for the next few years, so at this point it just isn’t realistic for me to go running off to the other side of the world. Lately I’ve become frustrated because I keep getting this desire put on my heart, and I know that I can’t tangibly go in the way I want to. Then last night when I was at Breakaway (a student ministry at A&M) they addressed the exact turmoil that had been playing out in my heart, and the answer was so simple I can’t believe I didn’t see it.  I was totally missing the point. The mission isn’t just on the other side of the world, it is right in front of us. This caused me to ask myself the question, do I have this desire to go because I want to glorify myself or because I want to glorify God? Jesus calls us to love on the people around us every single day, and I know that once my heart is ready to truly serve selflessly and only to glorify the King of Kings, then He will allow me to go. We serve such an intentional God and it is with intention He gives us opportunity for ministry. I’m at the most incredible college and there is opportunity for service and mission all around me, I just have to look for it. I was pretty frustrated with the fact that I was going to be home for Spring Break this year instead of on a mission trip like my heart so desperately desired to be, but sometimes serving isn’t glamorous. Sometimes it isn’t instaworthy. And sometimes, it isn’t cool. I’m going home for Spring Break but there is so much opportunity there for me to love on people and tell them what Jesus has been doing in my heart the past few weeks. There is so much opportunity to learn how to serve with the intention to glorify God and not myself. Some of the most important people in my life live in Spring, Texas so what better place to start than there. Sometimes it’s hard to see opportunities for ministry when they’re presented in the everyday and the ordinary, but wow how good is God that He gives us the chance to start at home with the people that we love. Lately The Lord has been teaching me a lot about how to love people who are different than me. I’m sitting here wanting to go love people on the other side of the world who are different than me, but what about the people I’m already surrounded by that are different than me? I am so thankful for how sweetly Jesus teaches me lessons and how patient He is with my wandering heart. He is sovereign and always has perfect timing.

“Only those who long to broadcast His glory to the nations have the right to stay.”

-Floyd McClung

And if not….

IMG_0058Jesus has rocked my world the past few weeks. I wrote in my first post how God had wrecked my plans and built new ones so much sweeter than I could have ever imagined. Well, I once again found myself trying to live my life according to my plan instead of His. As humans it’s our nature to make plans. We plan what we are going to eat for lunch. We plan what we are going to do next weekend. We even plan where we are going to be a year from now. Plans are a GOOD thing… as long you don’t become too attached to them. I like plans because I feel like they give me purpose, but The Lord has shown me again and again that sometimes the very best things in life are the things we don’t see coming. It wasn’t part of my plan to end up at A&M, but here I am and I’ve never felt more confident that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. One of the most beautiful and frustrating things about God is that He doesn’t share with us the whole plan. He gives us the next step, but we don’t see the end result until He intends for us to. In Luke chapter 8 Jesus is on his way to heal Jarius’s daughter, but instead of going straight there He stops to heal a woman who has spent the past twelve years of her life bleeding. She was bleeding and miserable every single day for twelve years, and Jesus heals her simply because she touches Him. By the time Jesus arrives at Jarius’s house it in pronounced that the young girl is already dead. The people there all believe that their plans are ruined. But then a miracle happens. Jesus raises Jarius’s daughter from the dead. He says simply “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well” Luke 8: 47-48. Despite those doubting Him He performs a beautiful miracle in each of their lives. The little girl is alive again. How incredible is it that Jesus can take something tragic that feels like the end of the world and turn it into something beautiful. He is so good. I am constantly humbled by a God who’s plans are so much more incredible than I could ever imagine. “Do not fear, only believe.” While that is easier said than done, Jesus is teaching me more every day about trusting Him recklessly, fully, and with total abandon. He has repeatedly proved to me that His way is so much better than mine. Yet, I still find myself so frustrated when things don’t go how I imagined, hoped, and prayed they would. But wow, as I look back on the past year of my life I could not be more thankful for the way The Lord protected my heart from the things I thought I wanted. We can make all the plans we want, but ultimately making plans to trust in God are the only ones we can be sure of.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”

Proverbs 19:21