I still need God... even when life is easy.
I slept over eight hours last night… and I still need God to give me strength and patience as I handle conflict among my students.
My students listened so well today… and I still need God to give me the right words to say to encourage them.
My students walked into the classroom and piled me with hugs… and I still need God to help me give them the love they deserve.
I got countless “I love you” today… and I still need God to wrap His arms around me and tell me that He loves me, too.
I was called “Mrs. Dagher” today… and I still need God to remind me of His faithfulness during my season of waiting for my husband.
I went outside into the warm sun today and felt the refreshing breeze brush over my face… and I still need God to remind me how my heart feels when I spend quality time with Him. Like a fresh breeze. A refreshment for my soul.
I paid off my car within six months of getting it just last week… and I still need God to teach me more about the ways in which He has abundantly blessed me financially this year.
Stephen accepted his dream job with Samaritan’s purse… and I still need God to take my hand and lead me straight to the job that I will soon call my own.
I waited and waited to hear back on the overseas apprenticeship and we were rerouted at the last second… and I still need God to remind me that He was working behind the scenes when I couldn’t see it.
We are traveling to North Carolina this weekend to see our new house… and I still need God to remind me that our home is to be a community of growth and fellowship, not a home for closed doors and selfishness.
I am having to quit and permanently leave my most favorite job to move ten hours away to a community that I don’t know one single person in… and I still need God to comfort me in all my sad goodbyes and exciting hellos.
I am struggling with my PCOS and my hormones are completely off-track… and I still need God to prepare my body to be a wonderful and healthy mama someday.
My bathroom was flooded when I woke up this morning… and I still need God to bring the right person in to fix it who is knowledgeable about broken pipes, as I couldn’t be there to help because of school.
Almost everything in my bathroom was ruined and my renters insurance won’t cover it… and I still need God to remind me that material things are only temporary, but eternal life is forever.
When life is beautiful, we still need God to remind us of His precious blessings.
When life is painful, we still need God to wrap our hearts in His grace and love.
I still need God.
“May I never forget, on my best day, that I need God as desperately as I did on my worst day.”
“‘Lord, help!’ they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor. Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.”
Oh Lord, I know you have a plan for me. For us. For this.
Battling waves of frustration, I wait. Oh Jesus, if you say your promises hold firm, why does it seem like they vanish in the thick of when I need them the most? For years, I sat in unfaithfulness waiting for a faithful God to show up and spent so much time wishing that I could trust in God when my story laid completely unfinished. Don’t we all? I grieved the loss of hopes and dreams and I grieved the loss of trusting in a faithful God when I was once again left hanging. There is essential groundwork for God's abundant goodness and we must not take it lightly, as I was doing.
When does waiting NOT feel like a burden? Exhausted prayers, weary knees, and a diligent countdown for a simple “Yes” from our Jesus. These seasons force us to face our deepest insecurities in a raw, honest way.
In my frustration, I find myself throwing so many questions at God, “Why?” “When?” “How?” and so forth. God doesn’t owe us any sort of explanation, but in some twisted and sinful way, we believe He does.
So the true question that decides the tone of our waiting is, “Is Jesus trustworthy?” My Bible tells me He is and so do fancy-looking faith magazines, but do I truly believe in my heart that He is?
Sweet friend, there is nothing more true. There is sweetness in His sometimes-hidden grace and yes, He is trustworthy even in those foggy seasons, too. In our desperate need for deliverance, He delivers, just maybe not in the way we thought He would.
Tick tock on the clock. I think we are all waiting for something, aren’t we? Maybe you are waiting for answers from a medical scan, maybe you are waiting for your dream job, a relationship to be healed, waiting for the blessing of a child, a financial breakthrough, or maybe you are waiting for healing. The list could go on and on and on. Whatever it may be that you are waiting for, I know it is frustrating and grueling. In fact, I am in the thick of the waiting room right now for an answer and man, it is hard! And crazy enough, our lives, as followers of Jesus, require an immense amount of waiting and trusting!
I was sitting on my bed last night in my time with the Lord and one phrase kept coming to my mind, “My absolute best for you requires much time and preparation. Time on my clock, not yours.” That is NOT what I wanted to hear, Lord! Have you heard this quiet voice in you, too?
Sometimes I think God’s clock is off… sometimes I feel like the second hand is really the hour hand and so forth. Not sure about you, but running on God’s clock feels much like running a marathon. If God is all-powerful, why would it take THIS MUCH time for Him to complete His promise? That is a question I have wrestled over for as long as I can remember. I have waited for desperate healing in health situations and relationships, I have waited to move overseas for missionary work, I have waited for wonderful jobs that God has provided, and the list could go on and on and on. Waiting is actually the best thing for us. The Word of God proves that to be true over and over again.
I always come back to the story of Abraham. If anyone was a waiting expert, Abraham would be the guy for the job! We see the promise so clearly in front of us that God would give him countless descendants. He was growing older and older and still, not one single child. A barren wife with no direction at hand questioning the faithfulness of God. Talk about a waiting room! The promise of God is evident to us, yet couldn’t be seen or understood by them in the thick of the moment. In hindsight, after reading the passage, we can see how God was working behind the scenes. Don’t you wish that a book could be written for us that tells us what God was doing behind the scenes in the thick of our pain and frustration?
Genesis 17: 1-22 says,
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” When He had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
I don’t think we will ever truly understand why it takes so long for all the puzzle pieces to fit together or for the answers to be answered that we so desperately ask Jesus for.
Sweet friend, above all else, it is essential that we trust our sovereign Jesus. Knowing that in all things, He is faithful in every single moment— easy seasons and hard. Even when we don’t see any movement on His side of the promise, there is always movement that we can do on ours to bring Him glory through the waiting. The waiting room, though frustrating, is not actually a bad place to be. In fact, we find that it is one of the most fruitful places that we can be.
Oh Lord, take me deeper through my waiting. Take me deeper through the process of quitting my job and moving 10 hours away to another state with my husband. Take me deeper through the process of pursuing missionary work. Take me deeper, Jesus. Deeper than my feet could ever wander. It is only you that I desire.
We have made such a terrible mistake. Our hurried hearts search for God in shallow ways when all we want to do is get out. When are we ever going to learn to soak in these precious, yet tough, seasons of life? When are we ever going to use these seasons to not just lean on God, but lean into Him?
Are you in the waiting room, too? My goodness, sweet friend, don’t just sit there! You will end up in a hard and desperate place with no way to be set free. Be intentional. Wait with eyes that are focusing on Jesus instead of your circumstance. Go out to coffee with a friend. Volunteer at a church. Start a Bible study with your neighbors. Whatever being “intentional” looks like in your own life, pursue those things faithfully. They will keep you from drowning.
But really, deep down, do we want Jesus or just the answer?
In this season of waiting, let’s change the words of our prayers. Not necessarily praying for the answers alone, but thanking God for His sufficiency and sovereignty in our lives. Thanking Him for His never-ending grace and deliverance when we are hurting. Though we feel like the aimless Israelites in the desert sometimes, we are never truly lost when we are following the Savior, though the path He sometimes chooses for us is nothing short of a cause for confusion.
Waiting is a holy assignment. Are you ready to take it on? Are you laying the groundwork for God's abundant goodness?
Oh Lord, I know you have a plan for me. For us. For this.
Two years ago, I sat anxiously in my state board exam chair just waiting for my test results to come through on the screen. I was a scared college senior anxiously awaiting the exciting future God had for me. This future depended on this test. Not just one test, but five. I had already passed four of them, but I had one to go. Little did I know, it would take six tries to pass that test, all five of the previous missed by only one point. All of which had to be taken a month apart from each other.
I received a phone call on a Monday morning. Conveniently, two hours after I got my wisdom teeth out. Here it was— the job I had been praying for all year long calling for an interview. Perfect timing, Lord! Just when I was barely able to talk with gauze in my mouth! I got in my car a few days later and drove all the way out to Indianapolis for the interview that I had been dreaming of all year. I walked in with my carefully constructed portfolio and shared what God put on my heart. Raw and honest thoughts.
I didn’t have my license in hand. I hadn’t passed my test. The biggest requirement.
The one thing I asked the Lord for would be that I would pass this test and get my license before THIS interview!
God was LATE.
Sure enough, just a few days later, I received another phone call. The second of my top two schools calling for an interview. This happened time and time again.
Once again, I didn’t have my license in hand. I hadn’t passed my test.
God was LATE.
My dream job was offered to me and I took it. I took it with no license in hand. It was embarrassing. It was a leap of faith that I had to take. No license, no job. God felt late. Really late.
John 11:25-37 says,
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “And is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
In this story, doesn’t it seem like Jesus was late to heal Lazarus? Lazarus was dead! Yet here Jesus was… performing a miracle right in front of their very own eyes! Hearts broken, a body healed.
But Jesus waited… and waited… and waited.
Isn’t this the way our own lives are sometimes? We want so much control over our lives that we forget whose timeline we are running on. I passed my test the day after I accepted the job. Waiting for that 220 seemed like an endless road. Seeing the 219 five times in a row broke my heart more than you could ever imagine. Everything I wanted was dangling in front of me and I thought that by getting the 220, everything was going to fall into place. Sure enough, God arranged the pieces to fall together perfectly, but with a 219 instead. I was so stuck in my own frustration that I couldn’t see the work God was doing right in front of my very eyes. I didn’t want to see it. I chose not to look.
This time of waiting was what God used to cultivate within me a patient and trustful heart. He surely knew I would need that patient heart now! Don’t get me wrong— this time of waiting for Stephen and I has been even harder. I know God cares for my heart and what He says and does is what I know to be true. I know this season of waiting is not being wasted.
God’s love is raw and deep and is not reliant on my timeline, though sometimes I wish it was!
In full transparency, this year has been full of waiting. Waiting for marriage, waiting to move, waiting for our dream job, waiting… waiting… waiting and the list could go on and on. One thing I do know is this— God is never late, though I know it seems like He almost always is. I hate to admit it, but I kind of squandered those moments of waiting with God. I sat there in my anxiety instead of actively giving God the glory, coming to Him with a thankful heart, and serving Him in the waiting.
My sweet friend, how are you going to use this season of waiting?
Psalm 112:7 says, "They do not fear bad news; they confidently and steadfastly trust in the Lord to care for them."
God crushes us. Intentionally. Sheesh, cheerful thought, huh? I promise I am getting somewhere with this... and it's a promise of hope. What a paradox! We are Abba's children, aren't we? Why do we suffer? Isaiah 53:10 says, "Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand."
I have actually been thinking about this a lot recently. At face value, it seems like God is a Goliath. Doesn't it? As a ministry leader, I have been asked this question a million and ten times. To be fully transparent, I don't believe we can ever understand what God does and why, but what we do know is that our suffering produces more fruit than without. What would happen in the strongest of storms if our roots weren't deep and we didn't have grit? We would tumble over with just the weakest wind and be ripped out!
Have you ever given thought to the fact that God, in His full glory, even crushed His own son? It's inevitable. That is the most beautiful part about His love-- that the crushing is never wasted and it always has a purpose. Not a malicious purpose! We also can be confident in the fact that Jesus is our advocate because He surely understands the crushing and suffering. Though it hurts in the middle, the end result is worth it. Haven't we all seen this in our lives? Zechariah 13:9 says, "And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as God is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people' and they will say, 'The Lord is my God.'" I know for me, there are so many times that when I sit down to read my Bible, verses just speak so heavily on my heart and this has always been a verse that has done that for me. Don't we go through excruciating hills and valleys just as the Bible characters did?
Please don't misunderstand me, there is a God out there who sees the finish line. Not just where you are right now, but sees where you are after the fire and crushing. Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that so filled with hope? God shouts in our pain and we are awakened with His mighty roar. Wow! Can we be content within this? When I think of God, I don't think of the word "careful." I think of the words "wild," "free," and sometimes even "reckless," in a good way, of course. Sometimes wrathful, always just, and never oscillate.
What does it mean for God to not be careful? What does it mean to love a so-called "reckless" God? What does it mean to yield to His mighty hand when we are being crushed on every single side? Being crushed on every single side means that you will be blessed on every single side as a result. Praise God!
I know He sees me and sees right through my fragile heart. I know He sees you and sees through your fragile heart, as well. When these storms come and we are crushed, we build grit that will sustain us through the next storm and even the next after that. There is intention in the crushing and though it may not seem beautiful in that season, keep holding on! As much as we sometimes want it to, our fragile hearts aren't taken into consideration when it comes to God working in and through us. The One living in us is the One who will carry us through every single battle.
God is our Fearless Warrior. He is our source of all power and strength. He is not weak nor is He fragile. He doesn't break. Would we ever trust a God who does?
We always hear that God will never give us something we can't handle. Truthfully, I think this is the biggest lie that us Christians believe. Where in the Word does it say that God holds back because of our weakness? Where in the Word does it say that God doesn't give us some impossible tasks so that His power may be known in us? The brutal fact is this-- our God is all-powerful and the cost of loving someone with that amount of power doesn't just include allowing Him to do amazing things in and through us, but also gives Him the power to crush us. Just as grapes are crushed for new wine, I believe sometimes God does that with us, too. Isn't that raw and brutal?
We know through scripture that our hands could never encompass the might that our God has and truthfully, I know it was intentional by Him. He cannot be held back by anything. Shouldn't that provide rest in our souls that the One within us is never moved by the destruction of this world? Not even with all this political stuff, all the disease, and even all the poverty? Don't mistake me-- God is brokenhearted for those who cannot fight for themselves and His heart is moved for the orphans and widows, as His Word says. God is brokenhearted from the sin we catch ourselves falling into daily oh so very easily. If our hearts weren't so marred, maybe our eyes could see the world in the same way. Wouldn't it be beautiful if everyone could see the world as He does?
Don't you think He wants the best for us? I sure do. But don't you also see that His best for us doesn't always see eye to eye with what we think is best? Even in the holding periods, as many of us are in including myself, how could His best be in the waiting? It is not a contradiction of His promise, but just simply a waiting time, a postponement, of His beautiful promise to come. Remember that fire He set within you so many years ago before the waiting? Yes, that is still burning in you. We just need to choose to see and feel it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you find it again, sweet friend. When you love someone deeply, you don't just give them the power to make you feel on top of the world, but you give them the power to destroy you. Yes, even in the crushing, His joy will find you there.
So my question to you is this-- are you going to yield to His mighty hand? Are you going to accept the crushing and the stretching so that He may be glorified through you? Will you choose to be crushed so that He can hack away at your heart? Perhaps, in these grueling, most uninvited times of needed patience, we can bravely let the hand of God crush us. Instead of waiting quietly for this time to pass, we can use this time to be vulnerable with one another to help grow and stretch our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even in this waiting and crushing of our hearts, we can even joyfully welcome it knowing that God is sovereign over our struggle. Maybe we can make the most out of the uninvited and crushing seasons if our eyes stay on Him. This could be me and this could be you.
Will you make the most out of the crushing?
It is 12:02 AM and I know for a fact that I should be conked out on my leafy-printed pillow. 5 AM is calling my name and I am going to sleep right through it if I stay up any longer! But here I am, once again, awakened by the heart and thoughts of my Savior. My mind is filled with weighted thoughts and sorrowful prayers and I pray that your heart is feeling those, too.
It was my 6th grade year when I heard my pastor pray one of the strongest, boldest, and rawest prayers I have ever heard, "Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours." I always have heard songs with those lyrics, but I never heard it before as a desperate plea of a weary heart. I was floored and it was the most beautiful moment.
I remember the rawness of that prayer so vividly in my heart and ever since, I have made the choice to pray that simple prayer each day. There are no words to describe how much sorrow and compassion that simple prayer has brought into my life since I began praying that prayer several years ago. Imagine how brokenhearted God is for our nation right now. Imagine how brokenhearted we are right now, too, because of it. Hatred is at every corner just lurking to devour us. Oh God, we crave for you to consume us. By His grace and faithfulness, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of brokenness and I have found a fiery compassion in my heart for the reconciliation of it. It was God who I found in the middle of the sorrow and there is no other heart more beautiful than His. So deep. So compassionate. So strong.
I challenge you to start praying that bold prayer daily as well. I pray that through this courageous and trusting prayer, God opens your eyes to a world that so desperately needs a healing Savior in a whole new way. There is power in your prayers no matter how afraid you are to even let the words fall from your mouth. I am afraid each day to pray those words of boldness because God takes those words by their horns and runs full-throttle with them. Sweet friend, do not let the gravity of your words through prayer take away your courage to say them to the Almighty.
We need a reminder that it is an all-powerful God who has promised us a life of fruitfulness after the pruning of our leaves, and that He hears even the most silent, tear-filled courageous prayers of our hearts. In our world today, hope is a strong rebellion. Our prayers for reconciliation and to see His goodness in our labyrinth of worry are ever-so-present right now. The promise still stands that when we sit in shame for the brokenness of our nation, He may not heal our land, but He will fill our pots with the Living Water. The promise still stands in the midst of poverty and death... no matter how hard it is to see. Sit in that brokenness and choose to see the healing of our Savior.
Sweet friend, this uproar is a call to be proactive. Don't shrink down in your seat in fear, but allow Jesus to give you the courage you need to speak life into the hearts of a broken world. This is a call to bring us to our knees and plea in our raw and weary voices, "Oh Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours."
This is a battle that is not ours to fight alone, but a battle that must be fought on our scraped knees at the foot of the cross, just begging our King for reconciliation.
I am learning slowly that it is okay to be a mess in front of Him. He doesn't care if our thoughts are halfway across the world or so knotted that we can't even come up with the words to say. He doesn't care if we sit quietly and listen, soaking in all the strength He offers in that very moment. It is okay to cry and yell for justice because justice is at the center of His heart, too. He fights for those who cannot fight for themselves and calls us, as His children, to do the same. Wow. That is a calling in itself.
It is okay to come to Him with sky-high dreams because He isn't afraid of those words. In fact, I believe He is honored because there is nothing that our God loves more than to deliver us and to take us on dangerous adventures with Him. Maybe those sky-high dreams don't make sense to your family or friends. I have experienced this first-hand. Keep holding on to these precious dreams of yours.
I believe it is God's plan for me to serve Him on the front lines in the heart of poverty and plant my roots there with Stephen. I want to be a missionary and work with those who have faced the most traumatic and heartbreaking lives and hold and treasure them like they are my own. I want to plant a school, one day, that gives a rich and in-depth education to the little ones who cannot fight and provide for themselves. I want to document those moments as a journalist and eventually have a series of books specifically focused on what God has done on the mission field through our ministry there. Not about Stephen and I, but about our God. I have those God-sized dreams, too. I understand. I am scared and even slightly embarrassed to even say them, too. This is the first time I have ever laid it all out for you and to be honest, to some, none of it will make sense because who wants to leave a life of comfortability for cold showers and skin-diseased children? Not many. It doesn't seem to make sense, does it?
If you walk away with anything from this blog post, walk away with knowing that our bold prayers and dreams are only a mustard seed in the eyes of our Creator. He is ready for you to speak them. He is ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.
We always ask God where He is in our greatest time of need and the question we should be asking is, "Where are we in our greatest time of need?" Are we sitting at the foot of the cross coming to Him with bold prayers for our own lives and for healing for our nation? Or are we simply praying just for our meals? Are we investing in fellowship with other believers or are we choosing to stay home alone?
My sweet friend, this is not the time to grow weary, though I know we feel exhausted. This is the time that we need to love more fiercely than we ever have before. Our world needs more love and strength than it ever has in the past. God is not moved or shaken by the rawness of our world. He is not surprised by the condition of our hearts. He is brokenhearted for us. Can't you see? It is Him who goes before us and paves the way for healing and it is Him who buries us in songs of deliverance. This is our time. Say those heavy words to Him!
One day, we will look straight into the eyes of Jesus and finally understand why God sent us into the world. When it all boils down, we will realize that all the riches and bling of this world was nothing compared to the joy of loving and serving Jesus fearlessly. When it all comes crashing down, will you remember your Creator? Will you boldly pray on your knees for our nation and for your own God-sized dreams? We so desperately need healing.
Oh Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours.
If I could give you anything right now, I would choose to give you a giant hug and tell you that everything will be alright. I would stand by your side, let your ears hear my beating heart and know that there is a purpose for your life. I promise you... everything will be okay.
I wish I could crawl into your head and inspire you to pursue your dreams, though you are still young and afraid. Over time, you will go through some of the hardest seasons of your life. You will endure through a hard season of sickness, a few heartbreaking breakups, overseas missions, several college acceptance letters, your first few teaching jobs, a writing career, and way more. God will show Himself to you in the most amazing and unique ways. Ways that are unique and catered to you.
I see you...
In the days where eating a candy bar seemed like the end-all. The days where all you can think of is a 4 mile run and an hour of p90x after a 2 hour volleyball practice. You are not defined by a scale, but your body is a reflection of Him. You are made perfect in His image. Take care of your body, the right way. Eat healthy food (with a cheat day once a week, of course!), exercise like a normal person, and invest in good sleeping habits.
You are finally old enough to go out on your first date, right after homecoming, actually! You will meet a boy who was only at your school for a short time and fall into him so naively. I saw you standing at his bedroom door as he packed his bags to move to Florida just a few days later. You were blindsided... I saw your worry and I saw your tears. I saw how you felt when your first boyfriend moved 23 hours away with such short notice. But once again-- you will be alright. Boyfriends come and boyfriends go. This is something I wish you knew-- though boyfriends come and go, life moves on. It will be okay. Heartbreaks will come, but you will grow and you will bloom. You will use that heartbreak to motivate you to do some pretty amazing things. You will spend a significant amount of time in other countries and experience the fullness of God in the thick of brokenness and poverty. You will fall in love with the God of the front lines and will grow a fiery passion to serve Him overseas and will meet just the perfect man, your husband, to do that with.
I remember the first time you received your first college acceptance letter. You will open it up and will cry with mom... because this is when you realized that God's plan for you was about to unfold. It was scary, but you were fine. I remember you packing up all your stuff. Mountains high of stuff that only a first-semester freshman would need. You walked into college with a broken heart because saying goodbye to your family was the hardest thing EVER. It will be okay. Just trust the process.
Today is college graduation day. The day you have been waiting for all of senior year. But first-- you will have to pass your state board exams and go through several interviews to get your first full-time post-college teaching job. You will be offered every one of the jobs you interviewed for except one. The one you truly worked hard for, but it just wasn't in God's plan and you just have to move forward in joy.
You will move into your first official classroom of your own and decorate it with bright-colored world maps and pictures of missionaries and their adventures. You will pray for all your children by name and feel the weight of their burdens just as heavy as your own. Just remember-- through it all, that God is your strength in time of need. You will then publish your first two books and continue to write for the ministry you will start.
Sweet girl, the God who brought you to it will bring you through it... every single time. Keep your chin up. God will give you all the tools you need to fight through each day. God has told you the truth of who you are. You are beautiful simply because you were made by Him. Nobody else's opinions matter... just His. You are held in the palm of His hand.
I am unbelievably proud of you.
Your Future Self
I would be completely lying to you if I said that I consider it a joy to take out my trash. I don't like touching my trash can that has sticky residue on it from yesterday's dinner clean-up, I don't like walking it all the way down the street to the complex dumpster in the freezing cold, and I don't like my bag breaking and my trash spilling out on the street with my neighbor on accident running it over. Hahaha! How embarrassing. Don't worry, that only has happened once, but I wanted to crawl under a rock and never come back out! I still can't look my neighbor in the eyes!
I am getting somewhere with this... I promise!
Philippians 3:13-14 says,
Brothers (sisters in this case!), I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Isn't it true that it is easier just to keep our junk inside? That carrying it outside is the more inconvenient route to take? I believe it is. But let me tell you-- there is nothing WORSE than that rotten food smell in your house! Right?!
They don't come into my house and take out the trash for me. It's a deliberate choice that I have to make. It is a deliberate choice that we all have to make! Are you going to take out your own spiritual trash today to have a fresh new start with Jesus? Or are you going to sit in your home with a large pile of trash, just collecting it until you can no longer handle the smell?
With all the unknowns of 2021, we are pretty scarred from 2020. Let's be honest here. Are we keeping in our trash from 2020, or are we accepting it and moving forward? Are we choosing to see 2020 as a gift from God and 2021 a fresh new start for us? Or struggling to find healing and motivation to keep moving forward?
In this time of anxiety for a world so full of brokenness, I pray that we can step forward in courage and get rid of our trash of the past. It is a new year, a new opportunity to soak in all the sweetness of Jesus, and a new chance to learn from Him that isolation doesn't have to mean loneliness. Reach out to your neighbor, call a friend, and share in their joy and sorrow.
Isn't that what Jesus did? Don't you think that He sometimes felt alone? That He felt like the only one who truly cared about leaving everything behind and following His Father? I think He did. Don't you?
Isn't it beautiful that our Savior knows the same feeling as we felt this past year? The crushing compassion of a broken world with eyes that choose to see the best in people and trusting that they will be healed and made new? Can we choose to have the eyes of Jesus, too?
Here is what I am choosing to challenge myself on today--
Don't let 2020 sit in my house piled high with anxiety and frustration. Take it out, give it to Jesus, and believe in the hope and immense blessing of a new year. 2020 brought many blessings-- extra time with family, a refresh on our lack of energy, and unexplainable strength that couldn't come from any other than Jesus.
What a blessing it is to be living in the hardest time this world has ever been through!
Oh girl, you were BORN for this.
Oh Lord, our raspy voices long for you.
Awaiting the hope of a Savior for a broken world, their raspy voices were finally put to rest.
The scandalous entrance of a sweet little babe, the Messiah was finally here. Born into the ordinary, He brought Himself low for us.
An unconventional Christmas. A King born on the floor of a stable.
The town was enraged. Joseph’s heart shattered into a million pieces. A virgin birth. Tension.
A soft knock of a weary family on a late, late night. “Sorry, there is no room for you in the inn, but there is room in the stable behind.”
The screaming of a painful birth. Heaven held its breath.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
This verse applies to our very own Savior. Profound.
The weary mama with a raspy voice laid her heart down in full surrender because God calls us to do hard things with joy— for young Mary, this meant bearing the weight of the world through the love of God’s Son.
The plan of God unfolding. The promise. The gap between us and God— destroyed.
For He will come again, but until then, keep fighting for hope in this broken world we call our home.
James 3 NIV says,
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
If anything is convicting for me as a teacher, this is it. This topic hits really close to home because for me, having a tame tongue is something I really struggled with growing up. There is nothing more that I want to do than to yell at the person who cuts me off on the road or insults my family. Harsh words are all around us, and sadly, they sometimes come out of my mouth. Isn’t it true that just the smallest flame can set the whole forest on fire? Isn’t it true that just one word out of our mouths can be remembered forever?
To the girl on my volleyball team who cussed out my dad, the coach, behind his back, to the high school teacher who cornered me and screamed, to the man at the Indiana State Board Licensing Exam Center who laughed at me when he saw my result of a failed test, I forgive you. It pained me to not fight back. It’s hard to forgive and move forward when words hurt so deeply.
These situations taught me something— something very valuable and important. Our tongues can destroy. They can hurt multiple people at once and reflect the true condition of our hearts. Isn’t it beautiful to stay silent when someone expects you to fight back? Isn’t it restoring when we don’t retaliate when every part of us wants to? Our tongues are the hardest to tame, impossible actually. There is only one person who can heal and tame the sinful human tongue— our Savior.
My friend, the tongue is evil and mostly known for destroying. Our words hold more weight than we can ever imagine. As a writer, I have learned that through these glass walls in which I live, every word I say and write holds weight. Our words either bring others to Jesus or cause them to sink. With the same tongue, we lift up the name of Jesus and hurt others in ways we don’t fully understand. Social media has allowed us to sit behind a screen and tear others to shreds on the other side. This has become our world. When has that ever brought life to any situation? When has it ever been okay to treat others like dirt?
There is something valuable about staying silent when you are expected to be enraged. There is a God before us that faces the battle of hurtful words every day, yet He is still patient, forgiving, and just.
Let’s all be like Jesus— receiving harsh words, yet keeping our eyes on our heavenly home. Let’s all be like Jesus— looking to our Father for strength when our hearts are wounded from words. Let’s all be like Jesus— walking on the same streets as sinners like you and I and loving anyway.
I am thankful for the Holy Spirit in me who helps my tongue lead others to Jesus. I am thankful for my Father who claims my identity and reminds me of it daily. I am thankful for my Jesus and how, if the value of an item is decided based off of its price, He paid the highest for me.
Sweet friend, let that sink in.
My sweet friend,
It has been quite some time since I have written, but I am so excited to fill my paper with ink once again. I have said this before and will proclaim it as long as my hands can write— there are seasons where writing is needed and seasons where listening is even more so. Sweet friend, this season of my life has been the sweetest. I have been filled to the brim with joy.
During this time of listening, I have learned to treasure the fall. I have seen the leaves turn and rip off their branches and I have seen trees turn from colors to bare. I have seen it all in this season. Isn’t it beautiful how even when creation dies, our world is once again filled with colors? The colors that fade away in the coldness and don’t come back till spring?
In the middle of the moments in my life where my words are dry and few, I pray that even so, creation captivates your heart as it has done for me these last few months. And when your heart sits in the dryness of the winter cracked roots, the Living Water acts like a spring of life beneath filling your roots with strength.
The most beautiful part of fall is that the trees are preparing for the storms… the winter storms. The storms that rip all their leaves off and leave their trunks frail and weary. But even then, they will sing praises to their Creator in hopes of a new spring to come. They will rejoice in the ripping of their leaves because it is Him who clothes them with new leaves.
Because, as you know, joy comes in the morning. And even in the frigid winters where it seems like our roots are frozen, there is hope of a new spring to come. Keep moving forward, sweet friend. The sun is yet to come!
Oh Lord, make all things new!
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
Psalm 23 GW says, “The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.”
This chapter in Psalms resonates very deeply in my soul because I am tired. Really, really tired.
Yesterday, during our normal Psalm readings of the day, we came across Psalm 23. So often, in the morning, my mind is focused on school. It is focused on everything that I have to do throughout the day, what time certain things are, and what my evening looks like after school.
There are many times in my life when God just really catches me off guard, and this time He did. But what better way to do so than right in the thick of my chaos and exhaustion?
In the NIV version of this verse, the author talks about how God makes us lie down in green pastures. It makes my soul sing knowing that even when life is crazy and we don’t set aside time to rest, He does. He does so for us in our place. He prepares a place and time for us to rest— even if it means forcing us to do so.
Isn’t that beautiful to think about?
That God, in everything that He has to do everyday, prepares a place and a time for us to rest?
I am so thankful that this coming week is that for me. I feel as if at any moment, I could fall apart. I could crash in my own exhaustion. Have you ever seen those funny Barbie teacher memes with the messy hair and smeared makeup? Yes— that is me! I am a firm believer that there is no tired like teacher tired!
I pray that during this time, your soul is finding time to rest. Allow God to lead you beside still waters and lie with you in green pastures.
Take a seat and rest, Sister. There is hope for your weary soul!
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!