what economics and opportunity costs taught me about Jesus

I’m in my second semester of economics at FSU. Micro and Macro have been two of my favorite courses so far. One of the biggest concepts hammered into my head is the term ‘opportunity cost.’

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My professor makes it a point to always make sure the definition is clear. “The opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative you give up when you make a decision to do something.” The golden rule of economics is just that: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There is always an oppoturinty cost, and there is always something you have to give up. You make your decision when you weigh how great the opportunity cost is. Essentially, you ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up, and what do I have to give up, to do this?” You cannot simply evaluate a choice based on what you’re going to gain. You have to look at what you’re going to lose.

Today my brain ran to an analogy. Funny how sometimes you connect little dots and all of the suddenly there’s an image and you don’t know how you haven’t seen it before.

Deciding to follow Jesus is just that, it is a decision. It requires an act of your will. It’s a daily decision. I believe you make it once. I believe He makes you His forever. But I believe that there are smaller choices that we face every day: will I follow Him, or will I follow the world?

If I follow Him, there’s a pretty big opportunity cost. There are a lot of things I have to say no to, myself being one of them. That opportunity cost involves turning away from good things to let Him show me the best. I have to give up living only for pleasure. I have to give up what people might think of me. I have to give up fitting in with the rest of our culture. I have to give up personal gain and advantage. I’m called to give up comfort and ease and safety. I might have to give up relationships. I might have to give up career opportunities that don’t bring Him glory. I have to give up part of “my” day. I have to give up myself and my “right” to my life. That’s a big opportunity cost.

Then I started thinking about what it would mean to follow the world. I might gain popularity, applause, approval, wealth, comfort, ease, temporary happiness, boys, more friends, and an easier lifestyle. But the blindfold fell from my eyes when I realized what the opportunity cost would actually be. I would give up the fullness of the presence of the LIVING GOD. I would trade my joy for a temporary satisfaction. I would give up peace, strength, purpose, and passion. I would exchange the power of the King of the World for power over people and their opinions of me. I might gain attention from boys but I would lose the gaze of the Creator of my Soul. I might climb the ladder of success but my heart would sink under the weight of it’s guilt and paralyzing shame. I might build the largest house ever built by man and yet it would never be filled with the genuine love of God. I might experience the “freedom” of believing it all means nothing but at the end of the day I would lose any spark in my soul without knowing that I have a purpose.

I am not prepared to give all of that up. What Jesus Christ gives me cannot compare to anything this world could ever promise. He is the only One who can satisfy my soul.

Weigh your own opportunity cost. I’ve never been so thankful for my salvation. Trust me, following Christ is an “economical” decision.

how to study the Bible for yourself: my quiet time routine

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Since I have started my blog, the single most asked question I get through Instagram or email is “how do you study the Bible?” So here it is. It’s nothing fancy or extravagant. I’ll share with you some of the tools I use and others I find helpful.

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First-let’s get real. Life gets busy and sometimes quiet time can tend to slide to the back burner. I have found, however, that when I schedule my day around my time with The Lord, no matter how busy I may be, instead of scheduling my time with the Lord around my day, I find myself refreshed, renewed, and strengthened. Let’s also be real about what it all looks like. My quiet time isn’t typically perfectly pictured with coffee and a journal and the lighting looking just right. No, most mornings I’m in my closet with verses taped on the walls studying in there with absolutely nothing to distract me because I’m like a little kid-if I don’t eliminate every distraction I don’t get anywhere. Pretty Instagram and blog pictures are great and all but the real stuff looks a little different.

All I can accomplish in one day doesn’t compare to time spent with my King, because it’s in that time that I find the strength to live each day. He’s the one who has given every breath, and I have found that giving back the first part of my day draws me closer to Him and sets my heart straight. Your mind might be more focused at night, or in the middle of the day, find the time where you can give The Lord as much of your attention and focus and energy as possible-bring Him the best part of your day. It’s not a chore-it’s an incredible privilege. When you start to see it as the best part of your day, His Word comes alive in new ways.

This world isn’t easy on you and it isn’t easy to get through a single day without being distracted about 500 times. So fix it in your mind that no matter how small the amount of time may be, spend it with Him. It may be five minutes, or fifty, but it all matters. Don’t let your enemy convince you that because you can’t sit down and spend an hour in the Word, you shouldn’t spend ten minutes. Quality matters over quantity. There isn’t a time of day that’s “right.” There isn’t an exact plan that is universal and should always be followed. But there is room for grace, and God sees our small little attempts to get to know Him and blesses them. Come running to Him every. single. day. Even if it’s a childlike crawling to His feet for a few minutes-don’t let one day pass that you don’t come to Him to find the sustaining power you need.

So join me today as I walk you through what my mornings look like. Yours may be entirely different-and that’s ok-we’re pressing on to know the same King, but our journeys will look different.

The first thing I do when I open the Word to study is pray. Typically my Bible study in the morning involves praying through the Word. I’ve found for me that I need to audibly “preach” to myself in the mornings–that’s why I spend them in my closet. It has to be just me and the Lord so I can talk to Him out loud. You might find you write your prayers better, or that the quiet front porch where you can just be silent is the spot for you. Find that spot. Find what works–and then pursue Him like crazy.

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I learned a little acronym from one of John Piper’s book, “IOUS,” that has stuck with me and I usually find myself praying through it as I begin to open the Word.

I-Incline my heart to long for you, Lord. Give me a desire to know you more and to make your name known.

O-Open. Lord God open my eyes to behold your Word! Open my eyes to see new things and to learn new truths.

U-Unite. Unite my heart to fear your name. Join my mind to my body so that I would live out the Word that I study today.

S-Satisfy. Oh Lord satisfy my heart in you alone! Not in anything this world has to offer, but in your truth and by your Holy Spirit, through your Word today.

Then I read through a passage and typically go verse by verse. Lately I’ve been studying Hosea using a study by Kristin Schmucker. What I love about this study is that it offers some commentary while also allowing you to soak up the Word and study it for yourself. In a passage I’m going through, I’ll typically pick a few verses that stand out to me and write them in my “Be Still” journal-another great tool from Kristin Schmucker. I’ll go through those few verses and paraphrase what the author is saying and how the Holy Spirit is speaking through them.

Next I’ll look up cross references for these passages. Often times this leads me to many other verses that are related. If you don’t have a study Bible a concordance is also great for this. Ask yourself questions about the setting of the passage. Look for and pick out similarities between the people in the story and yourself. Identify with them. Don’t rush through it. Soak it in. Put yourself in their shoes and walk through the journey with them. Then ask the Lord how he would have you apply this to your life.

Don’t end your time with Him without learning one thing you can carry with you through the day.

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It’s not fancy. It’s just a verse-by-verse walk through, writing down things that stick out to me and truths I want to press into my heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide and rely on Him. I truly believe He meets our weakness in an incredibly unique way when we open the Word.

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I usually finish out my time with The Lord in prayer. Sometimes I’ll also pick a Bible verse from my study to memorize using this cool memory trick. One of the greatest resources I’ve found for constructing a powerful prayer strategy is the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. If you haven’t read it-you should! {Also read this if you’re looking for some book suggestions}

love & grace,

M

exchange the unknown future for a known love

What is it about all that we think we want, all that God wants, and how the two collide?

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It’s a painful collision. When what we had planned is dashed against the rocks of His strength and goodness. When our plans collide with the sovereignty of an all-powerful God.

There’s a thing about disappointments and broken dreams and dashed expectations. They hurt. Often times, they cause us to doubt our God. We build up all that we think we want and want for our lives–and then the weight of reality wrecks us: we’re not in the place we would expect.

It’s not the school we had expected.

Or the church, or the person, or the friend.

It’s not the ideal job, or the perfect relationship-

but really, it’s absolutely opposite of all we expected.

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The unexpected has captivated me lately. (maybe that’s why 90% of my blog posts revolve around this topic 😉 ) Why God lets it happen, why our hopes in certain things are wrecked, and why we come to the place where with all our hearts, we’re pleading with our God and asking “God, what are you doing?”

Our doubt is fed by dashed expectations.

We let ourselves believe that God is not good. We may deny it-but why are our hearts confused? Why are we not overflowing with His joy? Why are we not EXCITED for LIFE?

Maybe it’s this:

we haven’t fed our emotions with the truth. The truth of God’s goodness. We haven’t preached it to our fading hearts each morning as we should. We haven’t soaked it in and let it consume all that we are.

You’re emotions take what you feed them. So feed them the truth. Start now, today:

God is good.

His plans are good.

Because God is good, what He is doing in your life is GOOD. When it hurts, when it’s confusing. It is good.

My circumstances will never be perfect,

but my God will always be.

Preach that to your heart every morning when you wake up. It may be the last thing you feel right now, but I promise, when His grace wrecks you, it all breaks through in a beautiful, overwhelming joy.

We’ll soak it in and by believing the goodness of our God, our entire perspective on life will be changed.

Our perspective on trials will never be the same.

Our perspective on the unknown will be altered.

“In the breaking of every habit, someone wills it first and feels it later”

-beth moore

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My greatest fear used to be not knowing. Not knowing what tomorrow would hold, not knowing if I would get what I want, not knowing if I would experience my definition of living.

Why is it that I think I know what would bring me the greatest joy, when my God has been preparing the deepest joy possible for me since before I was born, if I would only surrender?

It’s been a beautiful wrecking of grace that has showed me: I don’t actually want what I think I want, unless it’s what God wants for me.

It’s been a beautiful wrecking of grace that has showed me: wrapping my heart up in fear of the future is actually me crying out, “God, I want your job.”

But I’ve been liberated. I don’t have to be God. I don’t have to do His job. I am His daughter. Liberated. Freed. Excited.

And now my greatest fear today is this:

wasting my life because I’m wallowing in what I want and why God isn’t giving it to me–instead of searching God’s Word so my heart can explode with joy at the incredibly perfect plans He has for me.

This is it, this is what I want to live for-

I long for what He wants for me.

There is no fear of the future in my heart, but unbridled excitement, anticipation that God’s incredible plans for me have already begun.

I’m going to chase down what He wants for me-because I don’t want my plans anymore. I’m surrendered to a God who has better things in store

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Join me in destroying your fear of the unknown, by believing what is known:

My God is good and all His ways are perfect. 

(( say it to your heart ))

Exchange the unknown future for His known love.

love & grace,

m

the beautiful is coming

Maybe you’re in the ugly today.

An ugly situation that you wish you could change. A heart you want God to revive. You just want flowers and spring but your heart is caught in the dead of winter.

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Deuteronomy 8 doesn’t just promise that God has a purpose in the unexpected, it promises even more. { read part one here }

This has unexpectedly become one of my favorite chapters in Scripture. Let me tell you, that once you begin to study God’s Word, once the Holy Spirit begins to speak to you and come alive through the pages of The Word, you get hooked. It’s become this way with the chapter I’m reading, I can’t put it down. I can’t rush through it because I don’t want to. I think there is enough truth and promises in this chapter to read it every day and never get tired of it.

So here’s part two.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. -Deuteronomy 8:7-14

After the promise of holy in the hard at the beginning of the chapter, God promises to bring His people to a beautiful season.

If I had to guess I would imagine that you’re either walking through a season that is difficult, or have at some point in your life.

The beautiful thing about our God is that He promises redemption for every season. Although your heart has been bowed low in this valley, God is redeeming that unexpected challenge, and bringing you up to a good place. A full place. A satisfying place.

This land he is bringing you into-it is not mediocre. It is no less than the most glorious season you could imagine. Because in your darkness He is bringing the incredible light of His goodness. A rich land. Where your soul’s joy will abound. A land where you will be given diamonds-the good things you longed for and thought you could manufacture up on your own.

The rubble will be exchanged for rubies.

The dirty pebbles you held onto and thought so beautiful-the ones who didn’t want to let go-they’ll fall from your hands as Jesus places in your palms the most beautiful pearls. This place and this new season of beauty will still hold hard days and confusing emotions, but you will be satisfied.

Trust that Jesus is bringing a beautiful season in your life, even if you are in the dark today. Trust that His light will come bursting forth. Trust that He hasn’t given up on you, even if you feel like giving up, or even if you have. You may be finished, you may be tired, you may be bored of who you are and where you are but He is not.

You will come to be satisfied because of where you have been, and where you have walked. Because you will have learned that any hint of goodness is from the Lord, and is a gift. You will have learned that apart from His strength you can’t put your feet on the floor and get out of bed each morning.

 

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nicaragua mission bracelet // purchase H E R E

Because of where you have been, you will bless the Lord for where He is bringing you.

You shall eat and be full because you have been brought to the place where you know who gives the food and His face is the only face you see.

This doesn’t promise that you will be brought by the Lord to the scenario in your life you’ve always wanted. Often King Jesus loves us far too much to give us what we want. He gives us what He wants and slowly tunes our hearts until His will is our fullest, most vibrant desire.

When you have been brought to this season of joy, don’t make the mistake of thinking once again that you can do it on your own. Don’t look back constantly, but when you do, do it to remember how faithful God has been. Do it to surrender the future because you know God has brought you this far.

Unless you are continually fighting to find your joy in Jesus Christ alone, you will always be pulled back to wandering in the wilderness, no matter what season God brings you to.

So when this season comes and the blessings come, don’t set your heart on the given, but on the Giver. The beautiful is coming-even if you don’t see it today. The greatest thing about our Jesus is the hope that He gives us, that even if the beautiful never comes in this life, it will be full and complete when we are with our Savior together.

for you, if you’ve met the unexpected

Five little verses.

Five little verses is all that it took for God to shake me, speak to me, show me, a truth I know I’ll never let go.

Five little verses=one big truth.

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It’s Deuteronomy 8:2-6.

 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing Him.

God brought the Israelites to an unexpected place. An unexpected waiting. He brought them to this place in their lives so that the genuineness of their faith would be proven. Isn’t that just like our God, to give us what we do not understand so that the strong roots of our faith would sink down and grow firmly rooted in the sovereignty of our Almighty God.

Isn’t it like our God to bring us out to wander in the wilderness for forty years-or however long He would have us wait-to teach us that He is sufficient to sequester every longing of our heart and to fill every hunger.

And even when The Lord leads His children to unexpected trials, the solution and healing He brings is also different than we would expect. God “fed them with manna which they did not know.” His solution to the trial He had brought to His children was the only sufficient solution. Because His ways are so much greater, they are hardly what we expect.

God lets us feel the emptiness of everything so that we might know the fullness of Him. He loves us way too much to let us be content with temporary satisfaction.

So whether God has you in a season of waiting for 40 years, or 4 months, He is always faithful to provide. The Israelites never went hungry. In His hand is all you need to be content in whatever place you are right now.

Pain and waiting teach our hearts to find fulfillment, healing, comfort, and complete satisfaction in God alone. God disciplines us for our good. God brings us through pain for our good. In our limited minds, we see good as being today. But our God sees good as something far greater.

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He lets us know loss, so that He might become our greatest gain. Loss of a job. Loss of a friend. Loss of a person. Loss of our expectations. So that we might find our all in Him, and not the trinkets of the world that are quick to grab our attention and even quicker to fade away.

Let us not think for a moment, that Our God-who holds the stars in their galaxies and breathes life into all that lives and moves and has its being-doens’t know what He is doing in our lives. It is something beautiful.

This resting and trusting in His plan summons us to obedience. We obey because in the season we do not understand or did not expect, He is working in us a peculiar glory that we will get only because of what we have walked through. Fearing God, obeying Him, resting in what He is doing and surrendering our hearts to Him, this is our greatest good. Because He loves us so perfectly, and the moment we believe we would be happier in different circumstances is the moment we have ceased to believe that His love is perfect for us.

 

enough + enough

she sat down and breathed deep. her heart and mind needed clarity, a place of quiet, peace.

she felt the trap of comparison slowly pulling the life out of her, and she was tired. after all, it’s exhausting work trying to be someone you’re not. It’s exhausting work placing a standard upon yourself you weren’t even made to match. It’s hard to pretend to be someone you’re not. It feels impossible to breathe when you’ve convinced yourself you have to fit the mold that squeezes who you are out of you.

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she let her head rest agains the grass and looked up. there are times in our lives when we feel incredibly small and insignificant; this was one. so many things had begun to feel empty in her life and her heart, unclear and confusing. the enemy had begun to tell her that if something in her life was not as clear as day it was wrong– when really she needed to see that Jesus trumps clarity.

Jesus trumps confusion.

Jesus trumps suffering.

Jesus trumps feelings of worthlessness.

Not because he removes confusion and suffering and feelings of worthlessness but because He is greater than them.

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I want to plead with this girl–because it’s me. yet lately in my soul there seems to be no greater distance between what I know and what I feel. but girl, if this is you, keep seeking Jesus. keep pressing into him on the days and throughout the weeks when you don’t feel like it. seek first his kingdom, his righteousness, his glory. seek to serve and realize it’s not about you, and your feelings of emptiness will fade.

I’d tell her that if you are not living as the person King Jesus created you to be, no one else will do it for you. you are small, but so far from worthless. your heart and your story are completely unique to you, no one else can take your place. don’t despise openness, honesty, and vulnerability. It may be hard, but learning to be open is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. let the world see your brokenness, and in your weakness, let the world see the greatness of your God.

and that other girl who seems to have everything together–she’s hurting too. we’re all broken, and to pretend we don’t face struggles each day is to miss out on knowing the great strength of our God. If you could do it all, you wouldn’t know the joy of prayer and the presence of God. If you had everything perfectly together the sweetness of surrender would be distant from your heart. you were made for purpose, not perfection.

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change comes softly and slowly. stop trying to be someone you’re not and stop wearing yourself out because you haven’t grown to be the person you long to be. you are enough. let his song of pleasure over you delight your heart. you are held.

she looked up into the clear night and pulled the blanket around her. and slowly she began to whisper to her own heart that the One who hung the stars holds her tight. she didn’t have to fight who she was and wish she was someone else, she was free. and in freedom we find the joy of surrender, of giving all of our heart to Jesus. whisper it to your heart, “you are enough.

because you are truly enough.

the thing about dreams

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she stood at the edge of the water, looking out. looking in front of her, at what was coming. she saw each stair-where it was leading. she knew the next step, and that made her feel secure.

it made her feel comfortable.

she opened her journal to write but all she could do was grasp the pen with an adamantine grip. control’s riveting power was becoming her idol and her heart was beginning to long to know tomorrow instead of longing to know her King.

she was a hopeless romantic with a bucket list full of dreams. she didn’t say much. she had her faults, but she didn’t hide them. her journal was chock full of ideas and dreams and inspiration and beauty. her soul was deep, too deep to be understood by so many who settled for shallow.

and lately all she could think about was tomorrow. today didn’t seem to be enough to keep her soul captivated, or enough to fill her with joy. she saw joy as a “someday”, a state she would reach when what she wanted came to be true.

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but in the midst of the confusion of her heart, the King of heaven took her on a journey. a journey of not-knowing her future, so she could know her God. a journey of learning to see that this moment is enough, and her God is more than enough.

it was hard and it took a long time. day after day of waking up and realizing that she was created to live in the present, not so consumed with her hopes for tomorrow.

and in time she came to learn his love as greater than all her hopes and dreams. the waiting was blessed. because she learned that when she wanted something so bad, she had to surrender. to surrender and know that Jesus had something better. she saw how God works in mysterious ways, and one beautiful thing she learned: her King is always faithful, He will have His way. and in the center of His will she found purest joy.

she realized that joy isn’t someday, it’s today.

she learned that contentment isn’t tomorrow, it’s right now.

she believed He was faithful, faithful to give her joy and dreams too glorious to imagine herself.

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see that’s the thing about our dreams: they’re not truly dreams until their given to Jesus. when they become surrendered, and no longer ours, they become more beautiful than we could ever know.

don’t just dream. bring those dreams to Jesus. and watch them take flight and soar to beautiful heights on the wings of His love.

so today let your heart beat to the beautiful rhythm of his grace. refuse to fit in and be average. refuse to let the world suppress your beauty and define and validate your soul. live for your King Jesus and show His love wherever you go, whoever you meet. get outside yourself, your dreams, your desires, and know this: He’ll fulfill your dreams in a way that might surprise you.