Well that was RADICAL...


I've missed you. Did you miss me? Yeah? YAY! 
I've taken quite the break from writing because honestly, I haven't had much to say. I mean, don't get me wrong, I talk all of the time! But have you ever had that feeling? That you're in a routine of doing life and just at a steady pace, not knowing where to go next. I mean, trust me, I have plans for my life and the life I plan on having with Josh, but we have a lot of things to tackle before we get there. We have been together 2 1/2 years and I promise you, we don't ever stop growing as a couple, but we have a lot to tackle individually and as a team in terms of finances, our faith, and our careers. It can be stressful, but I am so blessed to have such a faithful and strong other half.

Don't get me wrong, A LOT of blessings have happened. Many friends and family members have gotten married and engaged. Josh & I have gone to A LOT of weddings in the past 8 months. I've started working for my fabulous friend Analisa with Analisa Joy Photography as her office manager. If you don't know who she is, you must know ASAP. Check out her talented work here. She is such a joy (see what I did there?) to work for and I couldn't ask for a better boss! Big changes have happened for Josh as well as he makes his transition into Real Estate. God has blessed him immensely already and we are so thankful! So yes, if you take a step back, our lives have been pretty amazing lately. But again, I just haven't felt like I had any life changing words for you all. And then, we started reading this book at bible study...

About a month ago, I was out to lunch with some of our friends that attend our bible study, discussing what our future as a community group looked like. I remember thinking, "Am I equipped to make these kinds of decisions? What do I have to contribute?" The truth is, I was there because I've missed only a handful of bible studies in the past couple of years and have made this community group a priority and act of routine. When I miss a Wednesday night with these God seeking people, my week is thrown off. I look forward to the nights we get to invest in each other and lift each other up. We pray that God be present in our big decisions and life changing moments that happen here. At our lunch, Brayden, a natural leader at our bible study and seminary student, suggested we dive into this book Radical by David Platt. I used to be a big reader in high school but haven't read much since the Twilight series, besides the Bible. Pathetic, I know. I was SO excited to dive into a book! And a book centered around Jesus? SIGN ME UP!

What I did not expect was to be crying by the end of the first chapter. THE FIRST CHAPTER, you guys. I have never in my life felt so confused, convicted, and critical of myself. I know the intentions aren't to make you feel this way necessarily, but it's written to challenge you. Mission accomplished. I am always looking for ways to learn more about Christianity as a whole, the bible, and the Lord and knew this book would be a great chance to do so! But really, how was my ENTIRE world and faith rocked in just 21 pages. I sat for about 10 minutes and let myself process what I had just read. Plain and simple, I have not been following Jesus the way I have always wanted to. For those of you that have read this book, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you that haven't, do yourself a favor and get this book! Find out what God wants from you and what you can do in your life to live for Him.

{To give you some insight and not completely leave you hanging, here are a few lines I highlighted.}

-"But I found myself becoming uneasy. For one thing, my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to. More like a minichurch, really. Jesus Christ-the youngest mini church pastor in history."

-"Followers of Christ are not guaranteed that even their basic need of shelter will be met."

-"We are giving into the dangerous temptations to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with."

-"We will evaluate where true security and safety are found in this world, and in the end we will determine not to waste our lives on anything but uncompromising, unconditional abandonment to a gracious, loving Savior who invites us to take radical risk and promises us radical reward."

To summarize a bit, in this chapter Platt touches on the book of Luke. He shares the stories of individuals that wanted to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus had some bold words for them, to say the least. Luke 14:26 reads,"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple." Jesus isn't saying hate your family. He is saying love me so much that it looks like you hate your family. Love me so much that you would be willing to carry your own cross to follow me. CARRY YOUR OWN CROSS. Let that set in. Jesus is saying, if you follow me, you will probably die. But the reward you will gain is eternal life in heaven. Christianity is NOT easy. This is not the "easy way out of things." Christianity is hard. People WILL question you and you may question yourself. You must give up everything to follow Jesus. You give him total and complete control of your life. This is what I was taking away from just a quick read.

After reading this chapter, I realized that I have never fully grasped this understanding. I rushed over to Josh's house and told him everything my heart was feeling. If Jesus came to me yesterday and said, "Riley, come with me. You can't say goodbye to Josh, your parents, your family, and your friends. Oh, and by the way, you will probably die along this journey" would I go? I would hesitate, that's for sure. I would question Jesus. I would probably deny him and convince him to let me say goodbye to everyone before I make any decisions. For those of you that don't know my story very well, I didn't grow up with a faith. I didn't know much about God. I knew he was the big man upstairs and someone I prayed to when a boy didn't like me or I wanted to make the cheerleading squad. You think i'm kidding? I totally prayed about that! Anyways, I am constantly learning what it means to be a Christian. I am constantly wanting to learn what Jesus Christ can do in my life and my life moving forward. I have hit a point of closing my eyes and soaking in worship music, going to church every Sunday, and crying almost every time I pray. I never thought I would be here. I feel God in every fiber of my being, but that doesn't necessarily mean I would give up EVERYTHING to follow him. I love my job, my home, my car, my clothes, my boyfriend, my family, my friends. I FEEL Jesus but do I really KNOW him? I feel his presence, but do I really have the relationship I want with him?

Would I go? My answer today is YES. I am not ashamed to say that I wasn't there just under 24 hours ago; that my mind wasn't there. You mean I can't say goodbye to the people I love most in this world and I will probably die? YES. That is exactly what he meant. But why should I be afraid? Josh would totally go! When I said this to him he laughed and shook his head "yes." He loves Jesus way more than me and would follow him in a heartbeat. Why am I not there? I want to be there! I thought I fully trusted, but why am I hesitating? To say I had a light bulb moment is an understatement. Time and time again in the bible, Jesus promises eternal life for anyone that follows him and gives their lives up to him. From this moment on, I promise to carry my cross. I promise to follow Jesus passionately and love him unconditionally. I promise to love Jesus more than my family, my friends, Josh, & myself. I am not ashamed of where I've been and i'm not embarrassed of my realization. I have very much loved Jesus the past couple of years, that I know for sure. But I have not loved him as deeply as I should have. I have not known him the way I have wanted to. I have not trusted him whole-heartedly. This book is rocking my world and we are on CHAPTER ONE

I want to pray a prayer for those of you that may be feeling what I was and am still working through. Yes, I have chosen to start a new path with Jesus, but it's going to be HARD. That is the cold hard truth. Just as Brayden said last night, I don't want to sensor my faith anymore. If you feel you've been having to sensor your faith, causing you to not fully follow or seek Jesus, first, I suggest you get this book. Second, let me pray for you:

"Heavenly father, I just love you. You have completely shown yourself to me the past couple days and I couldn't be more grateful. You've clearly brought this book into my life and our bible study for a reason. Thank you for using Brayden and my other friends to deliver your word and your love for us. You heard how many of us have been rocked by these words and I just pray you continue to show us that feeling as we pursue you through this book. I thank you for being so willing to show us tough love. I thank you for being a true Father. God, I pray that you be with the person reading this right now. If they have been seeking you in the slightest Lord, I pray that you show yourself to them now and forever. I pray that they feel your love and know you are there for them. That you want to know them and guide them into eternal life with you. I pray that you lift them up and ease any pain they may be feeling. Help them let go of their struggles and put faith in you. I pray you continue to guide me in that very same way. Thank you for being the unwavering God that you are. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen."



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