Psalm 61 Says:
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.
I sat in my room last night and repeated this chapter to myself countless times. I sat in the presence of my Creator and found peace in His words to me. Isn’t it powerful knowing that we can find shelter in One Most High, that we can rest under the shadow of His wings and find healing where healing is needed?
For as long as we shall live, may we dwell in His presence and be protected by His hand. We can rest in knowing that even when our hearts grow faint, we can kneel the cross any hour, any minute, and any second.
This season of life has been one of the best I have ever lived through. Last year, I was left weak and empty-handed. I was exhausted and even now, I struggle to find words to describe the condition of my worn heart. I was left with a tainted view of the life of a teacher and struggled to pick myself back up when all that was left was a heart searching for deep healing.
This year, I have found God in this community. I am slowly learning what a community looks like and what it truly means to live in relationship with one another. My heart is joyful and once again and God has filled my heart with a new song.
The caged bird once again sings and it is He who filled my heart with a joyful song.
In this season of life, I pray that your heart is finding healing. That even when you are learning lessons the hard way or even pleading for healing for your worn heart, that you lean on your community and relationships both with others and the Father.
There is something beautiful about change. And this time, I am treasuring every single sweet moment.
My sweet friend,
Through this pandemic, please know that hope is knocking at our door. We only need to open it.
God is redeeming His people, even in the midst of our confusion. God is strengthening us, even when we feel weak. God is bringing families together and providing ways for our needs to be met in the midst of isolation.
But I would be lying if I said that it isn’t lonely.
I have seen those who are relationally-centered struggling in the midst of isolation and feeling hopelessly alone because not even the people closest to your heart can be near.
What would it be like to be a leper? What would it be like to be shunned by society because you are diseased? I think Jesus knows this all too well. I believe that Jesus walks with the hurting when no one else will walk with them. I believe that Jesus touches the skin of the diseased and does not fear the result. I believe that Jesus poured water over the feet of sinners and did not fear what others thought of Him.
Isn’t it encouraging to know that God isn’t afraid to be near to us when we are diseased? That even when we feel alone, we truly aren’t? That even though our hearts are lonely, He is still at our side? Isn't it beautiful to know that our transparency is welcomed by the Creator? Never leaving, never forgetting. There is hope that walks next to the hurting and that hope is our sweet Jesus.
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
What was lost was now found. What once was sick was now healed. What once was a struggling man was now a man full of strength. What once was a man who was shunned by society was now accepted and loved for who he was. What once was hopeless was now filled with an abundance of hope.
My sweet friend, I don’t believe that God is done yet. I don’t believe He ever will be. I am ready for God to heal our nation. I am ready for God to heal our lonely hearts.
Take off your worn-down sandals, sit before your Savior, and be healed.
In what way is God healing you today?
The story of Ruth is enchanting. It has everything from adventure to romance even to mystery. Ruth may have been beautiful to the eye and a woman of strength, but it was because of her unwavering courage and inspiring faith that caused Boaz to be drawn to her. We see God's plan for the redemption of women through her unwavering spirit! God wanted to show us something powerful, so He created Ruth.
But there was something deeper. She was after more than just a Kinsman Redeemer when she showed up on the fields of Boaz. She was after hope and holiness. She was after new adventure and leaving behind the old for the new.
Sometimes, actually most times, life takes an unexpected turn and we are expected to accept it without a fight. We are expected to trust in the Lord when all is stripped away. When walking on this unknown territory, what is most important? What is going to sustain us?
What do we need to leave behind to make room for God in our souls?
Let's Look at the story of Ruth. Ruth lost her husband and Naomi lost both her husband and her two sons. Naomi was burdened beyond belief. We can see that in the way she pleads to the Lord. She was filled to the brim with grief. What was going to sustain them? So they had to make a tough decision... what were they going to do and what were they to leave behind?
Everything. Absolutely everything. They left behind their whole lives. Two homes full of blood, sweat, and tears.
Ruth came with Naomi... and left everything behind. Could you imagine how painful that must have been?
As Christians, we are constantly in a tug-o-war. We are fighting between worldly, fleshly desires and Heavenly desires. And unfortunately, we find that the worldly desires often take priority over the Heavenly. I know for me, unfortunately, they so often do. Ultimately, what are we after? Are we after holiness through relationship with God? Or are we after temporary fulfillment?
What am I going to leave behind?
Sometimes God calls us to leave behind our homes and move across the world and sometimes He calls us to leave our toxic relationships. Whatever you leave behind you, I pray that God is at the center. That your motive is to bring the most glory to God through your painful sacrifice.
Like Ruth, I pray that we never turn back when God calls us to step away. She made a vow to God and nothing was going to get in her way to stop her. And God didn't hesitate to honor that!
Is God asking you to leave something behind?
Ruth 3: 11 GW
Don't be afraid, my daughter. I will do whatever you say. The whole town knows that you are a woman who has strength of character.
My sweet friend,
I was so sad when God closed the door on Africa. I had always dreamed of moving to Uganda after graduation and serving the Lord there long-term. My heart longed for Africa. To be completely honest, it still does. My heart skips a beat even now thinking about serving God on the front lines with sweet orphans in my arms. But God said no.
Come fall of this past year and I was offered the chance to go to both Uganda and Kenya. Not only go there to travel, but for my ministry to work alongside another ministry to care for special needs children and orphans. Not only that, but to have the privilege of documenting my trip for them as a journalist. But God said no.
But why "No," God? If you have given me this desire, why is your answer always "No?"
Isn't this how we all feel sometimes?
I was floored each and every time God said "No." Not that I didn't believe that He had the authority to do that, but because my intentions of serving Him were going ahead of the season in which He wanted me to stay in.
Obedience is hard... especially when everything you have dreamed of is being crushed under the foot of God. I always thought that grieving was strictly about feeling deeply the death of others, but it is so much more. Grieving sometimes means laying down our own desires at the foot of the cross and hanging on by the thread of Jesus' robe. It may even mean repeating the phrase, "Jesus, I trust you." when we barely have any breath left in us.
Are you grieving today? Are you grieving the loss of the desires that you so believed were placed in the palm of your hand by the Life-Giver?
Me, too. My heart beats for Africa and I fully believe that it always will. But I have to raise my hands in praise anyway. Because that is what God commands of me to do. It's all about meeting God in the here and now and fully trusting Him with our futures. But why is that so hard?
The Bible is completely filled to the brim with obedience to God. Just think... what do you think would have happened if Noah didn't build the ark or if Joshua didn't command the sun to stand still? What would have happened if David didn't pick up that stone or if Jonah would have just gone to Nineveh as God commanded? What would have happened if Esther gave in to her fear or if Moses didn't lift his staff to part the sea? My friend, more importantly, what if Jesus chose the easy way out?
Well, let me tell you.
The entire human race would have drowned.
Joshua's whole army would have been destroyed.
Goliath would still be standing.
Jonah wouldn't have been swallowed by a fish.
The king would have been killed.
The Israelites would have been caught by Pharaohs army.
All of our eternity would be spent in the hands of our destroyer.
Disaster, sweet friend! Absolute chaos.
Let's talk about obedience and why it is important.
In fact, I believe that it is the most important thing in our relationship with God.
The thing is this... God didn't always appear as a burning bush or in a cloud of fire. So often, God showed up in a quiet voice that started in the hearts of our Bible fav's. He started out in the quiet whispers in the wind and the minds of those fast asleep.
Being obedient to God means knowing His character and knowing that the deep waters we find ourselves in is nothing compared to the victory that was paid for us on that cross we all know so well.
Obedience means loving the Father and loving the process. It means accepting struggle and rejoicing in it too. It means finding hope when you are not at all where you planned on being and packing your bags when God calls you to somewhere else. It means taking one step at a time because obedience is not a suggestion... it is a command.
Will you choose obedience?
Or will you choose the easy way out?
It was about 8:00 pm when my horse instructor and I found ourselves stranded in the middle of the forest with no cell phone service or direction at hand.
We were lost. Like really lost. Miles and miles and miles away from our campsite.
It felt like a hopeless cause. It was dark, we were hungry, and couldn't even find any horse trail signs to lead us back.
Finally, we dropped the reins and trusted the horses to lead us back home. And they did. But not to our home... to someone else's. What does one do really late at night at the front door of someones home on the back of a horse? Knock? Try to hack into their wifi to find signal for your GPS?
It was not where we imagined we would be. In fact, who would have thought that there would be a home in the middle of nowhere in the forest???
I found myself comparing myself to the Israelites... wandering in the desert with no direction at hand and just praying that God would show me where to go. But how often do we find ourselves begging God to show us the right path and find ourselves frustrated, confused, and defeated because the path He leads us to is not at all what we had expected.
This is real life, Sister.
We will find this over and over and over again in our own lives. But why here, Lord? Why not there? Literally, why not any other path?!
But sometimes God chooses the hard path for us. The path of health issues and loss. The path of confusion and frustration. And we have to be okay with that.
Oh Lord, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Oh, how real this has become to me from sitting in the saddle. If only I could have the courage to drop the reins and allow God to take me where He sees fit... even if it is not where I thought I would ever be.
Oh Lord, please forgive our wandering hearts. Please give us courage to trust you with the ground our feet walk on.
And I promise you, Sister, God will never move you without a purpose.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
"But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.
Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, 'Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she said.'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"
There is a rawness in His love.
You, Sister, do not have to fight for a spot at the table. You do not have to prove yourself to God or pretend to be more "put together" than you are. The table is offered to you and to me. He is welcoming you in, my friend. There is nothing more that He wants to do than to take your weary heart and show you what His love can offer. Broken pieces fitting together once again and forgiveness that you never, ever imagined you could be given. That's the way God works... and it is the most beautiful, redeeming part of loving a God who is not held back by the frailty and boundaries of earthly love.
He sees you. He loves you. He died for you... because He knew that you were worth it. There comes a time in life where we have to accept God's love for ourselves. I know, it seems unreal. How could God, in all His glory, love me? How could He love someone who hurts Him daily and gives in to worldly desires so quickly?
But that is the way God is. When we know God's heart, we begin to understand the gravity of His love... because we surely do not deserve it. We should have been hung on that cross and we should have hung there forever because our sin leaves a pretty heavy stain on us.
Jesus essentially told the people to put their stones down. Let that sink in. An adulterous woman... a woman who used her body to bring pleasure to men unwedded. But you know what? There is forgiveness in His eyes. There is always forgiveness when are willing to let God heal us.
When everyone left, Jesus stayed. That almost makes me cry! When everyone else leaves you, it is Jesus who stays... He fights for you.
Jesus didn't let her off the hook, though. Notice the very special and intentional words that He used at the end... "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Sister, lay it down. I will lay it down, too. Lay down your sin and lay down worldly desires... there is so much more to life than to soak in our sin.
There is a freedom that is awaiting you. Your sin no longer has a hold on you because you are the daughter of the One Most High! You are not held back by the chains that hold you hostage because God is your strength and portion forever. It's your turn now... the ball is in your court.
Are you going to answer the call?
"When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.' Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.' 'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered.
'Bring them here to me,' He said. And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children."
You see, Sister, when did we ever stop believing that God would provide?
I know for me, it's hard sometimes in the thick of my circumstances to believe that God will provide... and I am almost quite confident that you have felt this, too.
For example, a few weeks ago, my car almost caught on fire. It was an absolute disaster! I was on my way home to my parents house for the summer and when I was about ten minutes away from home, I smelled smoke and looked down at my temperature gauge. It was past the "H!" Oh my goodness. I was in a car FULL of stuff to take home for the summer and my car would catch fire NOW? Terrible timing, Lord! It's frustrating when He doesn't work on our timing, right? I understand that so very well.
Especially after everything with the new job, new apartment, etc... why now, Lord? Why do I now have to buy a new car when I am just trying adjust to the new normal?
But God didn't calm the storm, He calmed me instead.
Dealership after dealership, nothing worked out. It was very frustrating to say the least! We talked with countless salesmen, traveled far and wide, and even used some harsh words with a few who tried to pull a fast one on us.
I thought I would never find one... nothing was working out. But God had a different plan... as He always does.
He provided a car at the most surprising time. One that was absolutely perfect for me. Praise the Lord!
I think of the miracle that He did in front of His disciples and I just couldn't imagine being there, seeing that, experiencing a miracle right before my eyes. Little did the disciples know, Jesus had something so much better than they thought ever possible. They only had a few loaves and fish, but Jesus had more in store for them. He multiplied the blessing.
Isn't that what God so often does in our own lives?
God is not afraid of the things we deem impossible. He runs freely on His own time and is not held back by our weakness or insecurity. God is more than enough to satisfy our every need. He provided a car for me. He provided a job for me. But most importantly, He provided me with joy in the process. When all seems to be falling apart, God is just maneuvering our pieces to fit together even more perfectly.
Keep hanging on, Sister. God is here, right now, with you, in the midst of your circumstances. He will provide for you and He is more than enough to satisfy your needs! You are walking on the path of righteousness and fruitfulness and the God of abundance walks with you... and that is the most powerful blessing of all.
Psalm 91: 1-16 ESV
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, 'My Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 'Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.'
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
When God calls you to be brave, what verse do you always find your way back to?
For me, Psalm 91 is a staple for when it comes to having courage.
It is comforting to know that when we remain in the house of the Lord, we can rest under His wings. He is our Protector and our Foundation. He is our Deliverer and our Refuge. He is always faithful and is our Dwelling Place forever. We can rest in hope knowing that He never, ever will abandon us nor leave our side.
Because the Spirit is in me and the Lord is at my side, I will choose to not be afraid. I will choose to walk through the valley of death because I know that I am always victorious with the Mighty Warrior at my side.
What choice are you going to make?
Are you going to choose to sit in your fear and anxiety or are you going to dance in freedom that Jesus offers to us? Are you going to walk on this holy ground with confidence or crumble and be uprooted when the storms come?
They say that God's will is in the middle of the storm. I don't think I have heard anything more true! His will is sometimes found when we are at our absolute weakest and in the most painful seasons of our lives. His will is found when we almost can't believe the path He is taking us on. His will is found when our loved ones die and when He prunes our leaves. There is a purpose for your pain, Sister, but there is also a purpose for the joy and courage He gives even in those times. They will be your compass and your lifeline.
Peter, in the Bible, I am sure was shaking with fear when Jesus called him to walk on the waves. When he reached the water, he began to sink because he was afraid. When Jesus calls us to walk on the water, we must be brave! We will sink if we are not.
Are you going to stay in the boat? Or are you going to walk on the waves to Jesus?
Are you going to choose courage?
"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.' The disciples came to him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of Heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
'But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
The parable of the sower is my absolutely favorite parable!
As we can see, the different types of soil are the different types of people who hear the Word of God. They differ in their abilities to grow seeds. The hard ground represents those who have hardened hearts toward scripture and have no roots to keep them steady. The rocky soil represents the person who knows the Word, but is not rooted. When storms come, the roots are ripped out by the wind. The thorny soil represents the person who knows the Word, but struggles with pride and sin and cannot withstand the storm. But the fertile soil represents the person who carries the Word of God as they as carry their cross daily. It bears more fruit than all the other soils because it is rich and rooted in the fertile land.
So my question to you is... which soil are you?
Are you the fertile soil? Are you connected to the vine and getting the nutrients your soul needs from the roots?
I have learned to live with hands held high in surrender. Because I fall into the category of the other soils often.
I have known the pain of the rocky soil.
But God is doing something big in my life and He is doing something big in yours, too.
Be the fertile soil, Sister. Be a tree of life that bears much fruit. Even when winter comes and the Sower prunes your leaves, you stay strong and tall because it is He who gives you strength to stand.
1 John 15:5-8
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
Each person is going through their own battle. Not the same battle as yours, but a different, special and unique battle that God only has for them.
How often do we look at others and criticize their faults when we are so blind to our own?
Elementary school was one for the books for me. I lived in the wake of school bullies and kids who stole my lunch money. But it doesn't end there. I fought back. Every single time. I didn't let them tear me down and I didn't give them grace in the moment. I didn't forgive them or love them well.
And that is where I went wrong.
I judged how they treated me and others and I refused to see the fault in how I was treating them, too. I refused to see that the fruits of the Spirit were not be portrayed well in my actions.
God surely was not honored by that and I am fully aware.
There is a time and place for confrontation in love and a time in place for rawness and honesty, but when we are living in the same sin, we need to take a step back and do a heart check.
My mom used to tell me often that I needed a "heart check," which meant that I needed to check my motives and fix whatever I was doing. Quickly.
Isn't this kind of what God says to us, too? God gives us the strength to check our hearts and gives us the Holy Spirit to convict us of our selfishness.
Run with that conviction, Sister. Time is ticking and we desperately need forgiveness!
Run with grace in your heart for those facing the battles you are unaware of and love them unconditionally even when you are mistreated. It is one of the hardest things to do, but the Holy Spirit will give you the tools you need to love well. Even through the sorrow of giving up your own desire for revenge.
Live in that conviction, Sister. I am living in it, too.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven."
The parables of Jesus are iconic. They are known and studied by thousands and thousands all around the world. In fact, the parable of the lamp is used four times in the Bible, which means that it is an important one to God.
Let's dive in.
You know all of those times that we shy away from truth? The times when our friends are making wrong choices and we do them anyway to "fit in?"
I remember those days. Those were my high school days... though I never smoked or had sex, it was surely a temptation. It surrounded me. Every. Single. Day.
It was hard for me. I just wanted to be loved by others and when that was the only way to be loved by them, I had to choose to walk the other way. It was a hard choice to make. I just wanted to be loved by others.
I remember in high school, our Bible class did a whole study on the parables of Jesus. This one caught my attention because it was something that my heart deeply struggled with.
We are the light. God never intended for us to hide it. God never intended for our hearts to go astray and follow the ways of the world. He created us to shine our light in front of others so that they, too, can see the glory of God through us.
I think of Romans 12:2 that says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may know God's perfect and pleasing will for your life."
Wow. Powerful. God calls us to some pretty big things. Scary things. Doing the right thing is often scary, you know?
But I am going to dive in more personally. YOU are the light. God never intended for YOU to hide it. God never intended for YOUR heart to go astray and follow the ways of the world. He created YOU to shine YOUR light in front of others so that they, too, can see the glory of God through YOU.
I filled my name in there, too, and sometimes it hurts because I fall short daily. Do you?
Do you remember a few weeks ago when our world was booming with injustice? Yes, this injustice has lived in our wake for years and years and years. It haunts us.
It is your time to stand up, Sister. It is your time to fight for injustice. Not in a violent manner, but a manner of respect with eternity in your heart. Let's honor Jesus with our call to stand up for injustice. Respectfully and in a holy way.
Be the light. Be the one who points others to Jesus. Walk in truth and never turn back.
If you are anything like me right now, you are most likely feeling behind in life.
Is your social media filled to the brim with wedding pictures, engagements, and pregnancy announcements? Yes, mine too.
Yes, I know. I am engaged. I have found the one whom my soul loves, but that does not mean that I don't feel behind sometimes.
This is my second year out of college and I am not married. This is my second year of bachelorette living and I still haven't perfected the dinner table.
But you know what? That is okay.
This time that you are running on does not belong to you. This time belongs to God. His time over mine because mine runs off of my own desires and His runs off of His. Isn't it more important to chase after His as His desires are only to keep us safe and on track?
You are not behind.
It may seem like it. Maybe your social media is flooding with white dresses and ultrasounds, but please hear me, Sister.
There is a time and season for everything under Heaven and God has you in the palm of His hand. Maybe frozen in time, I know.
The Bible is full of people who waited on God. Even some for hundreds of years. Even then, God held those situations. And they trusted in Him.
His ways are always higher than ours and we must always remember that.
Keep holding on, love. His timing over ours.
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not grow faint.
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
In our perspective, the word "helper" is often frowned upon. I get it. It kind of seems like we are insignificant and only created to support our husbands and give up our desires in doing so. Like the only place suited for us is in the kitchen or doing laundry. This is a lie from Satan himself and even God would admit that.
But did you also know that the Hebrew word for "helper" is actually "ezer?" The word "ezer" is used twenty times in the Old Testament. It is used as a reference for assisting in dangerous situations and is also used to show us the character of the Almighty.
Ezer describes God. It shows who He truly is: our protector and rescuer in times of danger. He is our helper (our ezer) and our warrior who fights for us.
It is not that the word "helper" means that a woman was created only to cook and clean, but rather, a woman created to be a warrior and walk in confidence and truth. She is source of strength either independently or a source of strength to her husband and family. She is to fight for what she believes in and fight with grit.
Being a "helper" is often misunderstood and that truly breaks my heart. It forces women to give up their value in sight of the stereotype.
Because we were made in His image, we were given a warrior type of grit. We were given the strength to run with God at His speed.
The movie "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is a prime example of this. Aslan, the Biblical representation of Jesus, was well-respected, walked in fierceness and grace, and lived without fear. We see, through Aslan, the character of God. God is NOT our assistant or an option for protection. He gives you and I the strength to complete the tasks set before us when we make Him our priority.
You have been given an incredible gift from God; the ability to hold strong to your beliefs, the wisdom to discern truth, and the boldness to love fearlessly. There is a warrior in you, Sister. Just as God intentionally put Eve in the garden to be an ezer for Adam, He intentionally put you exactly where He sees best fit. To be a strong ally with courage and strength.
He created you to walk in hope and truth. He created you to walk in freedom and wildness. He created you to be a warrior woman after His own heart. Chasing Him with endurance and vigor.
Are you ready to embrace your title as an ezer?
I’ve been living in the south for the last several months, so I feel like that gives me permission to use that phrase I guess ;)
Oh Sister, I am so thankful for the goodness of God!
I haven’t written in a hot minute, but I am so glad to finally, once again, put my thoughts on paper (well, keyboard!)! Sometimes life just gets a little crazy. There are seasons where journals are filled and then seasons of silence, and I am so sorry, but this season has been one of them!
It’s been a challenge for me lately to pick apart all the moving pieces, which is why I have been a-wall these last few months. It’s not that I don’t care, but that sometimes we have to take the time to step back for a hot minute and process. Believe it or not, being a writer sometimes means taking some time off to recharge. So thankful to finally be back!
I could spend all the time in the world talking about the boldness of God moving me to a different season of life so quickly or how looking back at my classroom for the very last time was an experience I will never forget. I could write about it all!
But for now, as I get back into the rhythm of writing, I just wanted to simply say thank you. Thank you for the love and constant grace you have shown me! Thank you for the texts and messages of “how are you?” and “I miss you!” The Esther Project community has shown me what the Church truly looks like (Church with a capital C)!
So… with that being said… I thought it would be suited to send out a life update!
Here it goes…
In less than two short months, I will pack up all my belongings and move to a different city (not very far from where I am currently). I will also be at a different school, though I have the utmost respect for the school I was at! I will be driving a new car (as mine bit the dust the other day) and will be planning a wedding (AND YES, I DID SAY YES TO THE DRESS TODAY!) all in one short summer!
I would have never believed you if you had told me that God would call me on another path! It was a big turnaround in such a small amount of time. Less than 2 weeks ago, I thought I all had it figured out, but turns out, I most definitely did not! Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus just to take Him at His Word!
This last week, I (and a few other very important people in my life) spent a very long time packing up and cleaning my first-grade classroom. A classroom full of joy and memories. A classroom full of tears and sorrow. A classroom full of support and strength. The classroom that I have grown to adore!
When all said and done, I looked back at my room for the last time, and I saw my classroom completely and wholly laced with grace. I saw God in His most gentle and compassionate form next to me. Not taking away the rawness of the situation, but entering into it. When God calls you to step forward in obedience, it is commanded… not suggested.
“So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take.”
I am thankful for a God who fights for me, stays with me, and leads me even on the rocky terrain! But here I am, in the thick of change and sadness (quite honestly), and learning to accept His hidden blessings with joy!
Thank you, Lord, for seeing the big picture when I see the small. All the details that I see in the present, He sees to be fit for the future.
This was a big week for me. I made my final decision! With three job offers with all fabulous schools, I have chosen the one where I can teach about Jesus freely! Is there anything more important?
So… here we are! God has laced this job with grace and paved the entire way for me to walk through. God has been teaching me over and over again about His goodness… and it is such a BEAUTIFUL thing! Hip hip hooray!!
Thank you all for checking in. I love to see The Esther Project community growing and thriving. Thank you for all you do! You are such a gift and encouragement to me!
More posts to come!
Sweet Sister, the front line of obedience is the place where there is no other option but for us to fight fiercely. Our front lines could be within the precious walls of a classroom or office as it is for me, or it could be the front lines of war, torment, and disease in a land far from everything we have ever known.
Whatever front line God has called you to, I pray that you stand firm in courage and strength. I pray that even through your Spiritual battle, God is teaching your heart to rest in the shadow of His wings and trust Him fearlessly in the midst of life’s biggest battles.
We look at the people standing on the far away front lines with wide eyes and quite frankly, forget that there is a Spiritual battle on this broken land we call our “home.” We are meant to feel crushing compassion and conviction for a hurting world that was meant for fullness and fruitfulness.
And what I know is this— this, my sweet Sister, is love. Being on the front line means seeing brokenness in its fullest and choosing to love anyway. It is finding hope in the cracks of the sidewalks and not forgetting that they, too, are fighting the soul-crushing battle of sin and death. It means leaving your pride at the door and following the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit no matter how crazy it seems… letting Him lead you in the fearless pursuit of servanthood. I have lived the life of the front line and I have seen God perform miracles… especially within the minds and hearts of my little ones.
The front line is a gift. It means experiencing the rawness of God’s protection and hand of guidance no matter what season He has you in. It means knowing that no matter where God has placed you, there is no room in your soul for fear because you are in fierce pursuit of holiness and fullness. It also means being content even in the face of danger and affliction because you know that God’s faithfulness covers you through every war that is waged within and around you. But if your life is like mine, a ministry within the walls of a classroom or office, it looks a little different. The front lines of the mundane are dangerously convicting. We see at face value our brokenness in its fullest and just pray to the God of the Universe to forgive our reluctant hearts.
But isn’t there a craving to forgo our mundane for an adventure immersed in the sovereignty of God? Isn’t there a craving deep in our bones to see God as our fierce Defender and Warrior on the field of adventure?
The front line, ultimately, is God’s call to obedience.
God called Jonah to the front line of Nineveh, present day Iraq, to heal the hearts of many. But what was the first thing he did? He ran from God. The story always makes me laugh because we can see so clearly that God wants nothing to do with our shenanigans. God is serious about obedience even when we are not. When Jonah told the people in the boat that he was running from God, they threw him into the water to calm the raging seas. When he landed in the water, the Lord sent a big fish to swallow him. When he was in the belly of the fish, he realized what he had done… isn’t that what happens to us? Don’t we realize the heaviness of obedience when we are caught in the middle of our disobedience? Can’t we see that God’s call to the front line requires sacrificial obedience? That His call to the front line cannot be hindered by human weakness, but rather is made known through His sovereign, and sometimes absurd, ways?
The ministry God laid at your feet, in the here and now, wherever He has placed you, is just waiting for your obedience.
The enemy will attack the front liners, so be prepared. But take heart, for He has overcome the world.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
They killed my Jesus.
How could they kill my Jesus? How could they kill the only one who fills my breathless lungs with life and leaves the ninety-nine to rescue me?
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine plus the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? and when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not repent.
Make yourself at home, sit before the cross, and let's grieve the loss of our Savior.
The cross taught us about the gravity of our sin.
It was not the nails nor the soldiers that held our sweet Jesus to the cross. It was you. It was me. It was our mistakes. It was our pain. It was our selfishness. It was our wandering hearts. It was every lie we have ever spoken and every person we have held above Jesus. It was every moment we thought we were better and more important than others and reacted with unjustified anger. It was every time we looked past those in need and craved the better that others had. It was every time we chose ourselves over Jesus.
It was me who should have been bound to that cross. It was me who Jesus looked at with merciful eyes and chose to show love in the most excruciating way. It was me who He looked at and saw a future that I could not even see for myself. It was me who He chose to fill with ground-breaking, veil-tearing hope. Oh, how abandoned my sweet Jesus felt on that cross. Screams of anguish and redemptive pain. Screams of surrender and sorrow. Screams of I love you's.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up His spirit. At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open.
In a sense, the cross of unhindered self-sacrifice is the most profound and painful to carry. There is a timeless hope in knowing that the weight of the cross we carry is never heavier than the cross our Jesus carried for us. The hill of Calvary has become our place of excruciating redemption. The place in which God's awaited promise was firmly established. The place in which God stood victorious as the light demolished the darkness and our guilt and shame were stained with blood. The sacred veil tore in half, and in the most glorifying and excruciating way, the wrath of God was satisfied and the barrier between human weakness and unexplainable strength was crushed under the foot of the Almighty. It was the only time in history where Heaven held its breath for a miracle. And in that very moment, the torn body of Jesus held the weight of a soul-crushing, sinful world on His shoulders.
Lay it down, Sister, the cost was too high to not. Lay down your broken pieces and burning desires at the foot of the cross with full surrender and sacrifice. He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought peace to us was on Him, and by His wounds, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Loving recklessly until it hurts is the weight we hold as followers of Jesus. But we know that even when the world hates us, it hated Jesus first. We know, through Him, that not only are we forgiven, but that pain was the way in which God chose to show His unhindered love for us.
I pray that we see this season as a time to mourn and grieve the death of our Savior. That we realize we are nothing apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus. Every wound on His body was a wound that was meant for mine.
So we know, from what He has done, that He is not finished with us yet. His love and sacrifice does not end on the cross. It carries us with each and every breath we take. His sacrifice on the cross was not just something that happened a long, long time ago, but rather carries us through the conviction of our sinful hearts and sets us free from the chains that hold us captive. He took upon Himself the most horrific death for the sake of our reconciliation.
It is the hope of the cross that holds us fast.
The story does not end on the cross. If Jesus was held by the grip of death, we would never be able to see the other side. When we were alone in our sorrow, He ran out of that grave!
"Long before you woke up this morning and long after you go to sleep tonight, the Spirit of God was circling you with songs of deliverance. He has been circling you since the day you were conceived, and He will circle you until the day you die. He is praying hard for you with ultrasonic groans that cannot be formulated into words, and those unutterable intercessions should fill you with an unspeakable confidence."
-The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson
You are the daughter of the Risen King. You were chosen and hold value in the Kingdom of God. Jesus needs you to run out of that grave, too. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?!
I walked out on the back overlook on a brisk 5am morning in heart of the mountains.
The sky filled with the roaring power and majesty of our Creator and the fresh, brisk air of a new spring arriving.
The stillness of our earth sent me to a place of wholeness and redemption within this chaotic world we call our home.
We lay our heads down to the call of a symphony and while we were sleeping, He was singing songs of deliverance over us.
The trees swayed to the rhythm of the nighttime wind current and the whole earth stood still in the silence of a God busy at work.
And while we were sleeping, He was singing songs of deliverance over us.
The voice of the Lord splits the wood of the sequoias and cracks the earth's core. The barren wilderness once again sings its freedom song in expectation of the Messiah to come again.
I stood out on the overlook with a heart full of gratitude praising the Lord for the stillness of His presence.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me rest.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Isn’t it profound that we are embracing the lifestyle of God right now?
Isn’t it profound that even through this time of sickness, He hasn’t surrendered His authority?
He hasn’t laid down His sword.
He alone is my strength.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust in Him.
This was my Psalm reading for the day and it got me thinking of how often we dim the strength of God within us.
Call it like it is— tornados, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, pandemics— we have seen it all! But you know what? So has God. He does not promise that it will not come. He promises that we can find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Buried deep in His wings. Even in pain and affliction. During times like these, I find myself shifting through the pages of my tattered Bible. No, I am not afraid that I will get sick. Though, I am afraid that those I love will. My friends, my family, my sweet little ones. Why does it seem like during these times in our lives we crumble as if the strength of God is not holding us together?
I am thankful for my tattered Bible—the most powerful weapon to be used. I am thankful that in seasons of wilderness and abundance, I can shift through these pages to quench my thirst for Jesus. I am thankful for the verses on these pages that quiet my soul and remind me that God has not surrendered His control. I can dwell on the verses that make it abundantly clear that I am nothing apart from the Almighty. My soul aches for fullness in Jesus.
My table is set. I am choosing to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty no matter what rages on around me. Even in pandemics. Even in the unknowns of tomorrow.
He alone is my strength.
Sweet girl, we can still know peace without knowing what tomorrow holds. We can still know peace because tomorrow lies in the hands of the Almighty.
Isn’t it comforting to know that God makes decisions based on how far His strength can carry us?
He sits among us in this time of suffering and sickness, but there is nothing more that He wants to do than to untangle our web of weakness.
And at the end of the day, what really matters is that our eyes are on Jesus.
Lean in, my child.
I repeat this phrase over and over again. Daily.
Lean in, my child.
Truth is taken away from us in sight of fear, anxiety, and weakness. We so often find ourselves in these episodes of self-pity that we forget that God is our Helper. God is our Healer. God is our Redeemer and is breathing life into our lungs.
Lean in, my child.
Lord, help us to hear your voice today in the craziness of our lives. I pray that you are present in even in the deepest, most hidden corners of our hearts where all are afraid to go. Please, oh Lord, hover over us when it feels as if our world is crashing down.
Lean in, my child.
With His love, He will calm all fear in you (Zephaniah 3:17). With His love, He is able to part the seas and breathe new life into all creation. Relying on God requires us to deny ourselves daily and to sit at the foot of the cross and be real and raw with Jesus.
Lean in, my child.
You are in the thick of the battle, Sister.
The world is caving in to sickness and destruction and maybe you are hanging on by a thread. But let this truth sink deep into this worried heart of yours: God is here.
Lean in, my child.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Maybe you have cancer or lost a child. Maybe you are struggling in your singleness or fight the battle of depression. Maybe your body doesn’t work like it used to or you lost so much by something out of your control.
Lean in, my child.
There is a place I know where the flowers and trees awaken from their slumber. A place where the fresh colors of new life cloud over the dullness of the cloudy expanse. That place is here, right now. A place where the woods come back to life and God breathes life into all creation once again.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
It was 57 degrees out this afternoon and I could totally get used to wearing my springtime jacket!
Oh springtime, I am totally a fan!!!
The sun was out, the trees were starting to bloom with life, and I forgot, just for a second, that the winter had drained all life from the trees.
It was one of those March days where the sun is sinks deep into your skin and the warm wind brushes through your hair. It was a day of hope! A hope for a new season. A hope for spring.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
Change is beautiful. Even the springtime thinks so!
When I think of spring, I always come back to the verse in Revelation (21:5) that says, “He is making all things new.” He is healing us in this season.
Even the deepest of roots are confident in God’s plan to renew their strength. So why shouldn't we?
Sorrow walks hand-in-hand with new blooms and it is so beautiful to finally see how God uses one season to strengthen another. Because you know what? I don’t think the magic of spring would be half as beautiful without winter.
There is something about this beautiful season that heals our weary hearts. There is something so reassuring with knowing that there is hope within tomorrow-- that God’s goodness is present with each new sunrise and that new life follows the old.
Just know, even in winter when everything loses life, there is something hopeful and exuberant about the changing of seasons. Flowers come to life. Colors fill the earth and animals come out of hiding. Birds begin to chirp and the fresh breeze blows through our hair.
I pray, sister, that God awakens your heart with the hope of a new, fresh season.
If winter has enough courage to bloom after a season of sorrow, then who says we are incapable of doing the same?
Oh, what plans God has for you and I in this coming season! There is such joy in new beginnings!
Blossom by blossom, spring finds its way into our hearts and our caged bird song begins to sing again.
Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.
The God who give me life gives life to you too, sister.
Let us wake up every single morning with joy for another day to breathe in the life of God.
I praise you, Lord, for we are wonderfully and fearfully made by you! We are given the tools to serve you well and I pray that you fill our lungs with life.
Darkness surrounds us, Lord, and that sure makes it hard to keep our heads above the water, but you, oh Lord, are able to wipe away our every tear, lead us to the foot of the cross, and help us lay down our baggage and surrender it to you.
My friend, please lay down your hurt and pick up your baggage. It is time to take it to the cross and lay it at the feet of Jesus. It is time to no longer hold on to the grip of sin and death and run freely in the God who gives you life.
I encourage you to not only bring your baggage and lay it at the cross, but leave it there.
I struggle with this so much! I live with this constant desire to be perfect (as we all do I am sure). I am a perfectionist and I am extremely hard on myself. There is no freedom in this! There is no wiggle room for grace! It is a process and God is constantly teaching my heart to be content with who He created me to be.
God says that I am enough and I am washed clean by the precious blood of Jesus. God says that He will fearlessly fight for me and that His mercy and grace is new every single morning. He will strengthen my feet to run freely on the heights and give me rest for my weary soul. He will comfort me all the days of my life and will deliver me in times of trouble. He will awake my soul and give me the joy that is only found in His web of grace.
God has overcome the world already even when darkness surrounds us. His steadfast love will guide us to our knees in surrender and though that process is so painful, it leads us to paths of abundance and harvest. Keep hanging on, sister!
I will run with the God who gives me life and I pray that you will, too.
For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.
Thank you, Lord, for breathing life into our weary souls.
Over the past few weeks, many of you have asked me to share some life updates.
So here it goes--
I have been preparing for the harvest for a long time-- and it is finally here.
Earlier this year, every day ended in tears. I would go to bed tangled in a web of worry, wake up feeling frustrated, and the cycle just kept going. I was exhausted 24/7 and my job was hard. Just ask any first-year teacher. Even if you are in the best school, which I am, nothing takes away the exhaustion and emotional baggage that you carry for your kids. It's a blessing and a curse to feel things so deeply.
When I think of this year, the verse that comes to mind is a verse in Psalm that says, “You have turned my mourning into dancing: you have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
This is my life anthem.
This past year has been a season of sowing. A season of tending the crops. A season of allowing God to prune the bad fruits to make room for the good. It will be a season that I look back on and smile because I have seen God in His rawest and fiercest form. I have seen the wind raging around me and His quiet voice keeping me still. I have seen the roaring waves when all odds were against me and His feet on the water coming to save.
I spend my days exhausted, but filled to the brim with hope because I know that He is steadfast. Don't get me wrong-- I face challenges on a daily basis, but His joy is greater.
I asked God to take away my struggle, but He didn’t. I ask God to perform a miracle, yet He stayed silent and still.
Please understand me, sister, just because He is silent and still does not mean that He is not there. He is alive and well in you.
So perhaps that’s what this season was all about-- turning my mourning into dancing and trusting Him through the unknowns. Learning to embrace the heaviness of a broken world and how to be wild and free in a world that seeks to tame.
Perhaps this season was all about learning to let go and learning how to tend a garden. Learning how to let the Sower do His job.
I pray that God is using whatever you are going through to prune the bad fruits to make room for the good, teaching you how to let go, and turning your mourning into dancing.
The season of harvest is here. Keep tending the garden.
It has been one of those weeks where I have had to bring out my old Bible. You know that Bible you haven't seen since high school and carried you through seasons of finding yourself and finding God in sticky mud? The Bible that has everything under the sun highlighted and noted? Yes-- that one.
This week, it has been my lifeline.
Jesus Walks on the Water: Matthew 14
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
My heart is heavy because I am Peter. I really pray that you are, too. I pray that you have taken a step out onto the water and sunk. I pray that you have realized that you are not enough alone. I pray that you can see your weakness plain as day and your desperate need for God so clearly.
You are not enough alone. You are only enough when Jesus is your lifeline.
During my time this week in my "old Bible", I have spent a significant amount of time reading in the book of Zechariah. Though I have read the Bible three times through (and a million chapters in segments) since, I always find myself drawn to the grit and rawness of my torn apart Bible. I see the verses "let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built" and "so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong." It was God, my friends... it was He who reached down from the Heavens to say "you, my child, are chosen. You were chosen from the beginning of time to do the great and mighty work I have for you... but that fear does not belong in the dwelling place of my Spirit."
Why, oh Lord, am I so afraid?
I think of Peter and how he began to sink when he saw the wind. How he stepped out on the water and as soon as his foot slipped, he panicked and said "Lord, save me!" Jesus gripped onto His hand and He drew him out of the engulfing waters.
There are going to be times, my friends, when God will tell you to "come." Times when God will wreck us from the inside out and break down all the barriers we have built to show us why we are not enough alone. Too many people are afraid of this statement, but I am not... I will scream it from the mountain tops.
You and I are not enough. We cannot save ourselves, we cannot strengthen ourselves. We cannot keep ourselves afloat.
Only Jesus can.
The God of the universe cuts a channel for the rain and clears a path for the roaring storms. He sends rain to the deserted lands where no man steps foot and cares for the wildflowers that no eyes have ever even seen. He gives orders to the morning and places every animal and human where they belong in this world.
It is your God who arms you with strength and makes your way not perfect, but worth it. It is your God who roughens our feet to walk freely on the rocky terrain and trains our hands for the battle. The battle against flesh and blood. The battle against fear, anxiety, weakness, and pain. He arms us with strength and commands us with burning fire in His eyes "you must be brave and come to me on crashing waves." Confidence and authority spilling out like the most dangerous and life-threatening bodies of water. Our confident commander who richly refines us through fire is calling YOU to step out of the boat.
I pray that you are listening.
I will praise you, oh Lord, for you counsel me even when I do not want it nor deserve it. Your Spirit awakens me in the dead of night and sets my soul on fire. He prepares the way before me and surrounds me all the days of my life. In you, oh Lord, we take refuge. In you, oh Lord, we hide in the shadow of your wings.
Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise and your foundations with lapis lazuli."
Awake, my God, I need thee every hour.
My sweet Sister,
As the new year rings in, I am sure that your entire feed is all about New Year goals of exercise and healthy eating, one-second-a-day videos, and pictures of family gatherings and giant meals together.
I just want to remind you that it's okay to lay low right now. It's okay to breathe.
Sister, please listen to me. It is okay to not make life-altering decisions today. It's okay to think more about how far you have come this year than setting goals that are mountain high. It's okay to think about the things you fought so hard to overcome or that relationship you fought so hard for and lost. It's okay to remember the messy-- to remember how even in the midst of it all, God didn't care that it was messy. He cared that you were looking at Him dead in the eyes and refusing to break the stare. Even if you were hanging on by a thread.
You do not need to know what lies ahead because you know that God is already there!
He has seen you tremble in fear, collapse in sadness, and praise Him from the highest of mountain tops this year. I pray that you never forget the sorrow and joy you endured through. It's important to remember as it was God's goodness that carried you through.
If I could leave you with one final thought for 2019, I would say that the goodness of God is a real thing. It says in scripture that in all things, we know that God is good to those who love Him. He is good in the mundane, during times of failure and victory, and when our busy schedules are swirling above our heads.
This year, I pray that you are able to find joy in the every day. Not because our lives are always steady and perfect, but because we know that God is.
I hope this year, you are brave enough to take the first step. That you are brave enough to keep going when taking "one step at a time" is gut-wrenching. I pray that you are able to see your true worth not within the eyes of men, but God. Not your worth that comes from a number in your bank account or on a scale, but your worth that is found only as a daughter of the Most High. That you are able to move past the opinions of others who do not know nor care about the full story and are able to stop pretending to be someone different and run in the freedom that only comes through the sacrifice on the rugged cross.
I pray that you are able to see the goodness of God in the land of the living and see His mighty power even in the mundane.
Sister, it is okay to be still right now.
My sweet sister,
My eyes filled with tears as I gazed upon the lit candle that was gently placed in my hand. There was magic in that moment.
This truly was a magical Christmas.
The wind blew through my hair as my dad carried me into Forest Park Church on the Christmas of 2003. There is nothing special about that date because all the memories tend to run together.
I remember sitting on the edge of the stage as grandpa preached the good news that the Savior had been born. We saw a king in grandpa... he wasn't just "grandpa," he was our superhero. He was our steadfast and fearless leader.
I think of how we would order pizza and open up our Christmas Eve present-- always cozy Christmas jammies. And how we would watch a Christmas movie and eat yummy treats before bed.
I think of how we would wake up in a scramble to jump on mom and dad while they were sleeping (until high school when they would have to wake us up. Haha!) and how we would eat the most delicious food that grandma made. Precious memories.
Then, everything changed.
Grandpa passed away from cancer, grandma went into a nursing home, their house went to a wonderful relative, and that was when all the special Christmas magic became nothing short of a passing memory. It wasn't the presents that made Christmas magical. It was family. It was our time together. It was our time spent digging into the Word of how the Immanuel divided history.
Christmas is either a time of great joy or a time of deep sorrow. I find myself longing for the Savior and longing for reconciliation within our nation and each other. There is magic within the sorrow, my friends... and it is beautiful!
But God is doing something new!
There is magic in that, too.
The spirit of the Lord gives hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He gives joy in the sorrow and life to those who seek.
My voice is raspy, my friends. And I fully believe that God intended for it to be that way.
No raspy voice, no healing.
Oh Lord, heal our raspy voices that long for hope.
I think of my raspy voice and how raspy theirs must have been too. A world with no hope. Generations and ages longing and crying for a Savior. "Oh come, oh come, Immanuel!"
Our yearnings finally satisfied.
My voice is raspy, and I hope yours is too.
"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast."
1 Peter 5:10