gravity.

 

“Yet I trust in this moment You’re with me somehow and You’ve always been faithful. So Lord even now, when all that I can sing is a broken hallelujah, when my only offering is shattered praise, still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins. I will worship You and give You thanks, even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah.” -Mandisa

If you have been present with me at all through the last three months, you will know that 2017 has not been easy for me thus far. It has truly been a difficult season, but I am so thankful that I serve such a faithful God and that He has placed such wonderful and patient people to walk with me through this season.

Last December, before Christmas, I fell into what I felt was a desert place. I felt trapped in a desert place spiritually..but not only did I feel like I was in a dark desert place spiritually, I was also in a creative desert and for me that is a special kind of hell because art has always been my therapy, my shalom, my freedom, my oasis, my escape. This was literally the first time in my entire life that I was in a place where I was unable to create anything..it was frustrating for me to even draw doodles on my notes during class. I was leaving class crying most days because I was so lost and confused that I wasn’t able to create anything for weeks because anytime I tried to paint anything, my mind would go completely black and I would forget everything I had ever learned about art and I then I would have nothing to paint, so I would just sit and just cry.

There was one night that had nothing to paint, but I knew I needed  to paint…I stared at a blank canvas for 45 minutes that February night and just cried. As I stared at the blank canvas, I finally saw a sunset in my mind and so I painted that.. After I painted the sunset, I saw a cactus in my mind, so I painted a few of those cute and awkward little things. And I ended up painting this desert place:

desert painting

Though I was able to paint this, I was still in my “spiritual desert,” but as I was reminded that week through the amazing girls in my small group, the desert seasons in life tend to be seasons for refining and preparingWhile I was still unable to feel the presence of God, while I had no song to sing, while I had no prayer to pray, and while I had no picture to paint, I knew that I would make it. Because even though this desert seemed so desolate, I knew there was not a place where I would go that He had not already been. And while I this desert season got a lot more dark and difficult, I was surrounded by amazing people who refused to let me walk the dark and desolate journey alone and for that, I am so incredibly grateful. 

Now, the point of this blog is obviously in the title, “gravity” and I promise that I will get to that and you will understand why this blog is titled what it is, but first, I want to define a few terms (if you know me, this should not surprise you at all).

Gravity (noun):

  • the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass. For most purposes Newton’s laws of gravity apply, with minor modifications to take the general theory of relativity into account.
  • extreme or alarming importance; seriousness.
  • synonyms: seriousness, importance, significance, weight, consequence, magnitude, etc.

Both of these definitions are important to know.

Steadfast (adjective):

  • resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.
  • synonyms: loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid, etc.

On February 15, in probably the darkest part of my desert, we did an “African Bible Study” for our chapel service and we focused on Titus 2:7-8. In this Bible study, we read these verses in multiple translations and gosh I am so glad that we did.

Someone read out of the NIV:

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Someone read out of the ESV:

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Not much of a difference…

But then my roommate read out of the KJV, and this is what rocked my world and reminded me that I would be okay in my desert place:

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

…did you catch that? Because I asked her to read it again so that I could be sure I heard her correctly and that my sleepless nights weren’t getting the best of me. And when she read it again, I heard “gravity” again and then my mind went twelve thousand directions (give or take a few).

But before I get too far down that rabbit trail, allow me to back up ten minutes, because I was journaling during worship that day and this is what I wrote:

life sucks. it is utterly horrible and dark and desolate at this moment in my existence. these worship songs keep talking about God’s “goodness” and how “wonderful and powerful” He is. if He really is so good and wonderful and powerful, why is he keeping Himself from me? why can’t i find Him?r why is this so difficult? right now, i see no goodness in Him. i feel so alone and abandoned. they say Mother Teresa didn’t experience God during the last 20-30 years of her life, but i’m not her. there is no way that i can keep seeking God if i can’t feel Him or see Him. why am i in this place?

This was my journal ten minutes prior to hearing this Titus passage in the KJV. This was ten minutes prior to being reminded that everything would be okay. This journal entry was truly the dark before the dawn.

After meditating on the different translations, we were supposed to pick a word or phrase that stuck out to us. obviously the word I chose was “gravity.” This stuck out to me because it seemed like a silly translation at first. But as I was meditating on the word itself, I found my hope and that is the true purpose of this blog. After meditating on this word and what it meant to me, I journaled this:

As my classes lately have been full of the transcendence and immanence of God, this word strikes me in such a deep way. The fact that the God who spoke the earth into motion, the God who breathes galaxies into existence, the God who is vast beyond any human comprehension, the God who created the universe with such precision, creativity, and perfect order, the God whose power is so strong, made itself weak blows my freaking mind. This God is so vast and mysterious, yet so incredibly personal, thus proving His immanence. The fact that the God of such power humbled Himself and put on flesh for my benefit, doesn’t seem possible. As the Creator of the world, and all of the precision and intricacy that it requires, He is also the God behind the gravity I was taught about in school growing up. The science behind how we stay physically grounded on earth comes from our concept of gravity. Most people typically don’t question gravity a whole lot. We accept the idea pretty easily, though, there are a select few who spend their live studying it and the effects it has on humanity. Anyway, the point is

WE. DON’T. FEEL. GRAVITY. 

We accept that it is there, it holds us to the earth; but we don’t question it when we don’t feel it.

SO WHY DO WE QUESTION GOD WHEN WE DON’T FEEL HIM????
WE DON’T YELL AT GRAVITY WHEN WE DON’T FEEL IT.

How is this fair to God?

Why do we accept the creation but question the Creator? 

*insert mic drop here* hah. but really.

Seriously though. I had this insane “come to Jesus moment” while sitting on the floor in the sanctuary at Haviland Friends Church during chapel on February 15, 2017. God rocked my world and reminded me that it was okay that I don’t always feel Him, because even when I cannot feel Him, He is still there. He never left and He never plans to leave.

God is steadfast.

Gravity is steadfast.

Yes, I am finally on the second definition. Steadfast. Words captivate me. They always have and I am sure they always will. Word studies are truly my favorite kind of study. God is the source of gravity in my life, in all aspects: physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally.

Over the last month or so, the word “steadfast” has been burning hard in my head because of James 1:3

for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness

When I came across these beautiful words, they brought comfort. Though I was still in my desert place, I knew that God was still faithful, that He was steadfast. Just as I rise everyday and rely on the steadfastness of gravity, the Lord proves His steadfastness every single day through His faithfulness. I was reminded that this desert place was refining my steadfastness and there was something so beautiful about that reality and my prayer quickly became the words of David:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

I am finally at a place where I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I have been reminded time and time again that this season was not in vain, there was/is a purpose for this season. While it has been incredibly frustrating and confusing, I have already experienced benefits of it. I know that the best is yet to come and I am so excited for those things, but I am also thankful for the experiences through the last few months. Something I heard that stuck out to me recently was:

It’s not the amount of faith you have, it is the fact that you have faith at all, it is the object of your faith that sees you through.

It wasn’t a vast amount of faith that helped me through this desert season. No, the reason I made it through was simply in the reality that I never completely lost my faith, even though it was an intense battle and some days, I thought I was losing it.

Tonight, as I write, I pray that the overwhelming peace I found while being enthralled with the concept of gravity finds you as well. My specific prayer for you is found in Philippians 4:7-

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

gravity

Be Lifted High as my Kingdoms Fall

A little over four months ago I posted my most recent blog titled “Thy Will be Done” and the day after I posted it, I knew that my next blog would be about humility but over time I’ve learned it’s impossible to talk about humility without addressing pride…so I have been putting this off, ironically because of pride, because I knew if I wrote this, I would have to shed light on the pride I battle with in my life and I haven’t been ready to do that. But I think I have put it off long enough.

I am currently reading a book titled A Friend in Me by Pamela Havey Lau that I highly recommend to all women and that I will be referencing multiple times in this blog. In this book she is addressing relationships, not romantic ones, but the mentor relationships that a lot of people lack, specifically women. I am only a few chapters in and this book is rocking my world because for as long as I can remember I have been very independent. I don’t like to rely on people, I like to just do life by myself and when there’s a problem, I figure out how to handle it.

A few years ago, God began to reveal to me that He created us for community. That we aren’t supposed to do it alone. And, as the very hard headed person that I am, I still continued to try to do it on my own. At the beginning of my walk with God, I had a few pretty amazing people invest in me and try to mentor me and I didn’t really know how to let them do it, so I kind of retracted from them to figure it out on my own..and to be completely honest, that was one of the biggest disservices I have ever done to myself. Choosing to try to learn how to live an authentic, safe, practical, intimate, and conversational life with Christ on my own was the silliest idea I have ever had.

In her book, Pau says this about close relationships:

I believe that God wants people close. Whether it is a man to his wife or a daughter to her mother or a friend to friend, God created us for relationships. Closeness in the family is a demonstration of the Trinity, the love of God the Father, the bond with Jesus, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. (page 27)

It is impossible to walk with Jesus intimately and not rely on others.
We were created for community.
We were created to build each other up.
We were created to suffer with one another.
We were created to walk with each other.
We were created to love each other.
We weren’t created to walk alone.

The church is a body for a reason. There are many people in the body of Christ just as we each have many body parts. Each body part has its own function just as each person has their own gifts and talents that they contribute to help everyone else grow closer to Jesus.

 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

2 Corinthians 12:12-31

I have always viewed vulnerability as an act of humility, because it is incredibly difficult to be vulnerable with someone, to open yourself up and bear your soul to someone. It takes a lot of humility to show someone where you are hurting or where you are struggling.

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

Madeleine :L’Engle

When I started school at Barclay two and a half years ago, God placed a fiery redhead in my life to teach me vulnerability and the importance of relationship and to this day, she is my best friend and I learn new things from her every time we talk.

I had always had a very hard time opening up to people but Victorya very quickly became someone I could confide in. She was my “safe haven” as Pau describes in her book. From the moment we met, Victorya was determined, humble and flexible in meeting me exactly where I was without trying to change me or judge me. She simply gave me a safe place to talk about the desires of my heart whether pleasing to God or not, and she has always pointed me back to Jesus.

“We live in a media-saturated world where women of all ages seem more connected than ever before. Our problem is we outwardly appear to be close to other women when in fact women feel more isolated than ever. Consequently, many young women want mentors, guides, and role models to whom they can bring their accomplishments and failures to feel affirmed, mutually respected, and understood.” (page 39)

Here’s the thing. My relationship with Victorya is one where I have always felt affirmed, respected, and understood. She may not have experienced all of my experiences, but she understood that she didn’t understand fully and there has been so much freedom in that for me. I never feel less than when I bring my struggles to Victorya. She reminds me that I am enough as I am and that Jesus still loves me and calls me His own. She is constantly building me up and encouraging me and I would not be where I am today without her wisdom and love.

“Jesus is a brilliant example of what it means to be a safe haven for others.” (page 39)

I think that we struggle to confide in Jesus because we forget how fully human He was two thousand years ago. We are more likely to confide in the people around us because they are tangible. But we also struggle to confide in the people around us because we are often too prideful to let our guard down and be honest with someone. Because of this, we put ourselves in the stupid position where we don’t confide in Jesus because we forget how real He is and we don’t confide in anyone else because of pride. We get stuck trying to do it on our own and we aren’t created to do it on our own so we burnout.

Vulnerability is a heart issue.

People cannot be vulnerable with you if you aren’t vulnerable with them because they don’t feel safe. Being vulnerable first shows humility. Quit keeping people at the perimeter of your lives. Let them in.

I think Lauren Daigle says it best in her song Once and For All:

O Help me to lay it down
Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down

O let this be where I die
My Lord with thee crucified
Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall
Once and for all, once and for all

Lord, help us to lay our pride down and be vulnerable with You and with those around us. Help us to remember that You created us to be open and transparent with people because that is how community is built. Be lifted high as we crucify our pride, as we lay our pride down to be what others need. Because as we show others our hope, we will find what we need. Thank you for the people who you have placed in my life who teach me humility and vulnerability.

May I never forget on my very best day that I need Jesus just as desperately as I did on my very worst day. May I never forget when I am most prideful that I need people almost as desperately as I need Jesus.

We aren’t supposed to walk this life alone. God brings specific people into your life for specific reasons. Whether you are supposed to invest in them or they in you, don’t push them away when they come. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your life becoming deeper and more invested in Jesus. Let your life be transformed by vulnerability.

Thy Will be Done

“I’m so confused, I know I heard You loud and clear.”

This song lyric perfectly describes my life in this exact moment and I don’t quite know how I feel about that, to be honest. Over the last couple of weeks a plethora of things have changed in my life and those who are close to me have heard all about the changes, big and small, multiple times. Just a short taste of the big ones: I moved back into the dorms, I quit two jobs, I dropped a class and there are a lot of things that have changed in my heart, soul, and mind.

For the last month or so Hillary Scott’s song, Thy Will has basically been on repeat in my heart. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a conversation with God…well, by conversation I mean this is how it actually went:

  • I asked God what He wanted me to do.
  • God told me what to do.
  • I asked if He was sure because I thought had a “better” idea.
  • I tried hard to negotiate.
  • I failed in my attempt at negotiation.
  • I did what He told me to do in the first place even though it was incredibly rough

So here’s the thing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did what God was calling me to do. But in this particular moment, I am so incredibly confused. I feel like I made the wrong choice. Some moments, I feel like I am on a dead end road and that I need to turn around; but then I hear God’s still small voice reminding me that I am on the right path. It is so hard to not lose my faith in moments of questioning and doubt.

So what do I do?

Literally every single time I try to pray recently, it all ends with the same four words, “Thy will be done.” I genuinely feel like Hillary Scott read my mind and she wrote a song based on my thoughts. There seem to be more moments of struggling and doubt than there are of faith and trust and admitting that is incredibly hard, but it is reality.

Here are the lyrics to the song “Thy Will”:

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Good news you have in store

So, thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord

Literally, this song is the cry of my heart and I know He see me and He hears me, but sometimes in moments like this particular one, I feel alone. But in the dark moments, I try to pray and honestly the only thing I feel is hurt and frustration and the only words that come to me are “Thy will be done.” Yes, this is what the song says, but this is also the reality of my life.

I know that God loves me and that He is for me and because of that, nothing in this world can stand against me. I know that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. I know that God has chosen me and that He has a plan for my life. I know all of these things. But in these moments, all of that knowledge literally does nothing for me. So in the moments of not feeling Him and not knowing what to do, I will simply continue to do the only thing I am capable of: pray this prayer.

Thy will be done.

thy will.jpg
I painted this a few nights ago and it was so therapeutic. 

 

Are You All In?

I was reading an article the other day that completely rocked my world.  Literally every part of my life. Oh, and by “the other day” I really mean a couple of weeks ago. And it was really only one sentence that rocked me, not the article as a whole, so I want to share that sentence and how it impacted my life. Because for the last couple of weeks, this has been on my mind every single day. So please bear with me as I attempt to transform the mass chaos that is my mind into coherent thoughts.

To seek means “to crave, to pursue, to make sacrifices to get, to go after with all of your strength and all of your heart.”

If you know me, you know how easily I get stuck on small, seemingly insignificant words and how they rock my world. This word, seek, definitely rocked my world and I hope that these words help make it rock yours as well. Honestly, before I read this whenever the word seek was used, I always just thought it was a simpler way to say “to look for.” So I never really understood the real emphasis that a lot of Scripture urges us to do. When I first read this sentence, my mind works in references so I immediately thought of the different verses that say something along the lines of “when you seek Him, He will be found by you,” and then I was like wait.. Where is that reference? Deuteronomy? Chronicles? Psalms? Isaiah? Jeremiah? Is it in the Gospels? So I pulled out my trusty concordance to look it up.. Turns out my mind went to the right place…well, places I guess. But there were so many more (nearly one hundred) references to the word “seek” than I anticipated…and that exhaustive list didn’t even include the words seeking or sought, just seek.

So what do I make of this multitude of Scripture? Well, I went through the list and looked up every reference because I desperately wanted to know what God’s word said about the word seek. I wrote down the ones that were focused on seeking the Lord, I didn’t write the ones that talked about “seek your enemy” or something irrelevant to where my mind was focused. In writing out all of the references that were focused on seeking the Lord, I wrote out seventy Scriptures… Seventy! Now, I know that in reference to the entire Bible, seventy Scriptures is not that big of a deal, but when talking about one little four-letter word, seventy Scriptures is very significant, to me anyway. But, back to the question at the start of this paragraph. “What do I make of this multitude of Scripture?” Well, I have been asking myself that very question for the last two and a half weeks. I came across a lot of Scripture that challenged me to really seek God, but what does that even mean??? I felt incompetent. I felt like I really didn’t know what it meant to seek the Lord.

I put off starting this blog for a week after I read that sentence and looked up all of the Scripture…And then when I finally started it, I had a title and three sentences written and then I was stuck. I didn’t know what else to say, or  I guess, write. So I stopped. I turned off my computer and gave up. But then, I went to church on Sunday and all the sudden, I knew what to say, I knew what I was going to blog about. I knew because Jesus, the One who has been relentlessly pursuing my heart since the very beginning of time, He knows how to woo my heart and He did just that again on Sunday morning at church and it was so beautiful. I hope that the words He spoke to me bring a fire to your soul as they did to mine, because I started this blog two and a half weeks ago and now I am going to finish it.

To seek means “to crave, to pursue, to make sacrifices to get, to go after with all of your strength and all of your heart.”

Crave: (v.)

-to have a very strong desire for something; to yearn for something

Pursue: (v.)

-to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time; to try to get or do (something) over a period of time

Sacrifice: (n.)

-the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

Crave, Pursue, Sacrifice

These are all very powerful words, these words each have very strong definitions in my opinion, definitions that put an urgency in my soul, an urgency to seek the Lord. To yearn, to be dedicated over a period of time, to give up something that is important. I think all of these things are crucial when it comes to seeking the Lord wholeheartedly, to really be genuine in seeking the Lord. To yearn after the Lord, to be dedicated and faithful in your pursuit of Him just as He has always been faithful, and to be willing to sacrifice your time to seek Him; there is beauty in these things. Absolute beauty that most people do not understand. In my experience, when I really seek God to be intimate with Him, the more intimate I grow with Him, the more intimate I long to be. This idea takes my mind to Psalm 42, deep calls to deep.

Psalm 42: Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

I think I have learned a lot about seeking the Lord from this Psalm alone than the entire Bible, and it doesn’t even use the word “seek.” I think that seeking the Lord looks different for every individual.The more you seek Him and find Him, the more you want to seek Him and find Him. Just as when you get a new boyfriend or girlfriend you want to spend more and more time to get to know them. That is Jesus. The more time you spend with Jesus getting to know Him, the more time you will want to. And honestly, the more time you spend with Him, the easier it is to spend more time with Him.

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher

Seeking the Lord is this song, in my opinion. Rising to the Lord in the midst of temptation is seeking Him. Falling on Him is seeking Him. The only way that He can be your hope and strength is if you have already sought Him!

I started reading another book today, I think I’m currently reading at least 6 different books, but I don’t really know. But anyway, the author wrote something that really spoke to me and I thought it seemed fitting for this blog.

I began to delve into the truths of Scripture. As I read and learned more and more of what Jesus said, I liked the lifestyle I saw around me less and less. I began to realize that God wanted more from me, and I wanted more of Him. He began to grow in me a desire to live intentionally, and different from anyone I had ever known.

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

I reread this passage at least five times while sitting there. I had to keep rereading it because I felt such a connection with the author because I feel the same way. The more I seek the Lord, the more discontent I am with anything else because any moment that isn’t submersed in His presence seems mediocre in comparison.

He is calling me to seek Him.
He is calling me to live in such a way that I have never witnessed anyone else before.
He is calling me to be intentional.
He is calling me to be different.
He is calling me to come closer.

And I, I am craving more and more of Him.
I find myself pursuing Him more diligently.
I find myself falling deeper in love with Him with every fiber of my being: heart, soul, mind, and strength.

So what does it really mean to seek God? Honestly, I don’t have an answer for this.
But for me, it is simple. Just turn to Him.

But you have to be all in.You can’t be half way.

You have to be relentless.
You have you crave it.
You have to pursue it.
You have to go after it with all of your heart.
You have to go after it with all of your soul.
You have to go after it with all of your mind.
You have you go after it with all of your strength.

Almost a month ago the Lord called me to refocus, to shut down my social media and seek Him. So that is what I did. He called me to do this before the word seek even rocked my world. How crazy cool is that? Taking a break from social media genuinely did help me refocus. What is it that you are letting distract you from seeking the Lord? For me, I was seeking social media more than I was my Savior.

These are just a few of the Scriptures that really stuck out to me in my search:

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

Psalm 22:26

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Psalm 27:8

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:13-14

 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Hosea 3:5

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10

They should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

Acts 17:27

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Seek Him.

So I ask you what the Lord asked me, the four simple words He spoke to me over and over on Sunday at church:

.

.

.

.

Are you all in?

You See my Light and Accept my Darkness

To those who saw me through rock bottom,

First off, I love you; I love every one of your beautiful souls.

For as long as I can remember, I have been the “strong one” for every one around me. I was the one everyone came to when they needed someone and for a really long time I felt like a last resort, but recently I have come to feel honored that they trusted me enough to open up to me in the midst of adversity. I never realized how hard it was, then, because I was used to holding everything in. But over the course of the last year, I have been learning how much strength it actually takes to open up and be transparent with anyone…I think the hardest part is admitting to yourself that you are not okay.

Through the course of my life, I have experienced a lot of things. But I kept them all inside. I was a very closed off person and eventually, being closed off made me a very angry and depressed person. But I was able to mask it incredibly well, so most people knew me as the one who was always smiling and always happy. No one ever knew of my internal darkness, all they knew was my light. Very few people were ever able to break down the walls that I had built over the years. But about eight months ago, all of that changed. Life became more overwhelming than ever. It was no longer easy to keep the raging war inside. Life became incredibly overwhelming. I broke. I broke hard. I was facing the deepest pit of hell that I have ever experienced in my life and there was absolutely no escape. It just kept getting darker and scarier.

The pit of hell I was in was so horrible. It was impacting every part of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I wasn’t sleeping. I was staying up late because every time I fell asleep, my sleep was consumed with nightmares, wake up in a cold sweat, crying, paralyzing nightmares. I was unable to focus on my school work, it is a miracle that I passed last fall semester with mostly A’s. My emotional state was so unstable that I am not really sure how I still have friends. My spiritual life was not where it should have been but I know that the place I was spiritually before hitting rock bottom, is one of the main reasons I was able make it through. But honestly, I think the biggest reason that I made it through was because of my safety net, because of those who were constantly surrounding me and standing in my corner, holding me up when I couldn’t do it for myself.

I know that I was not a fun person to be around at all. I was miserable. I was moody. I was angry. I was hurting. I was distant. I was pushing everyone away. I was broken.

So, thank you. Thank you all for everything you did for me.

Thank you for fighting back when I pushed you away. I needed people and I didn’t know it. I was hurting so bad that I didn’t want to burden you with my brokenness, but you didn’t care. You were more than willing to bear my cross when I was unable to do so.

Thank you for pulling me out of bed. V, this is mostly to you. Thank you for making sure I didn’t seclude myself to our room and avoid all of humanity. Thank you for being there to make sure I didn’t live in my bed and that I showered and changed clothes, because being clean actually helps your mental state.

Thank you for reminding me that I would never be alone. Really, thank you. As must as I pushed y’all away, thank you for never making me stand alone. When I couldn’t stand by myself, you guys surrounded me and held me up and I am eternally grateful for that.

Thank you for loving me a little louder. Every text, tweet, letter, hug, smile and every other little gesture helped me so much more than you know. If you aren’t aware, words of affirmation is my number one love language. So all of those little things made me feel like I could keep pressing on.

Thank you for wiping my tears. You held my hand while I cried. You held me while I cried. You wiped the tears off my face. But you let me cry, never once did you try to talk me down or tell me I needed to stop crying. You just let me cry because there is healing in tears.

Thank you for loving me when I didn’t even like me. The fact that you loved me unconditionally even when I was hateful and angry astounds me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You knew that how I was acting wasn’t who I was and you were being patient with me.

Thank you for reminding me to be thankful. You continually reminded me to stop and breathe, to just be. You reminded me that the grief softened me and the heartache made me wise and that the suffering brought me strength. That despite everything, I was still growing.

Thank you for being patient with my participation in school. This is for all of my professors. You were so understanding in what I was going through. You were patient with me. You let me come to your office to cry, to sit in silence, to talk. You encouraged me. You prayed for and with me. You didn’t fail me for missing so many classes. Thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that my life is like art. That it didn’t have to look nice and pretty, because in reality, it’s not supposed to always be that way. It’s supposed to make you feel something, it’s supposed to inspire you, it’s supposed to challenge you, it’s supposed to help you grow, it’s supposed to change you.

Thank you for fighting for me. I fell down. I fell straight to the bottom. I was unable to get back up. But you fought. You fought for me. Day and night. For months. You will never be able to comprehend what this meant to me.

Thank you for having a gentle spirit. In the midst of my anxiety, you are the reason that I was able to calm down. You always knew what to say, when to say it and how to respond to me to help calm me down.

Thank you for reminding me daily that you love me. When you are broken, it’s hard to believe you are loved and it is even harder to feel that love when you know. Thank you for not only telling me daily that you loved me, but for actually showing me.

Thank you for being present. You were silent when I needed someone’s presence. You listened when I needed to talk. You made me laugh when I needed to smile, and I know that was not easy at all. You were available at 3 in the morning when I needed someone. You skipped class if I needed someone. You prayed for me. You pointed me back to Scripture. You stood in for me. You never left my side.

Thank you for believing in me. Some of you knew everything that I was facing, some of you knew some of the things I was facing, and some of you knew nothing that I was facing. But you all had one thing in common: you believed in me. You had more faith in me than I had in myself. You knew that I would make it. You were all in my corner cheering me on from day one and that means more to me than you know. You believed in me and you never stopped.

Thank you for walking through the fire with me. You never stopped walking. You were always willing to fight. Having someone willingly face hell with me made it seem a little less dark. You were compassionate.

Thank you for seeing my light. You knew who I was before the breakdown and you continued to see that light in my soul when I couldn’t even see it in myself. You saw that the fire in me was brighter than the one I was facing and you knew that I would be okay, but that it would take time. I always knew that I would be okay eventually, but you always reminded me that it was the time in between that mattered most. What I did between “now and eventually” is what was important, it’s what was going to get me to the eventually that mattered.

Thank you for accepting my darkness. Just as you knew of my light, you accepted me in my most vulnerable state. You didn’t run when my darkness began to show. You didn’t run when I pushed you away from my darkness, so thank you for that. We all have a darkness deep inside us, we are all scared to let anyone into the darkness. But when it wants to be released, there is nothing we can do about it. We can try hard to keep hiding it and to push people away from it, but one way or another, the darkness in us has a way of breaking through everything to make itself known.You never once labeled me as broken, even though I was. You never labeled me as any of the things I labeled myself as. You accepted my darkness, but you didn’t let it define me, so thank you. Thank you for loving me despite my darkness.

Because you live and breathe
Because you make me believe in myself when nobody else can help
Because you live, my world has twice as many stars in the sky

Because of everything you did, my darkness was bearable, my struggles were a little easier, my life was a little brighter.You are all amazing. I know that I would not have walked out of the darkness without everyone of  you, my safety net. I am so thankful for every single one of you, you know who you are. I love you.

You Found Your Mister, but I Still Need my Sister

To my sister getting married,

You are the strongest person I know.
You are the bravest person I know.
You are the boldest person I know.
You are the goofiest person I know.

I used to fear that when you got married we wouldn’t be as close anymore for some reason. Maybe because I watched out family not stay in contact with any extended family and we didn’t really know mom’s side of the family, maybe something else made me think that; but with Lance, I know that you won’t be kept from me. I know that we won’t grow apart. I know that I will still be able to call you at 3 in the morning when a crisis hits and there won’t be an issue. I know that your door is always open to me and I am so grateful for that. I know that I will always have you. I know that even though we will no longer share the same name, we will always have an unbreakable bond…and I’ll always have a playlist full of songs to turn to that remind me of you when I am homesick. I know that there are still an endless amount of memories to be made. But I also know that now we have another person that will be a part of those new memories. I am so thankful to have you both in my life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I know that you found your mister, but I’ll still always need my sister.

Well, it is finally here. Your wedding is in 3 days. When did this happen? I remember being kiddos just like it was yesterday. I remember playing barbies and dress up and house with you (I, of course, was always the baby). I remember spending the night at the Murray’s house and at the Lujan’s house with you because you were friends with their older sisters. I remember watching hours and hours of Disney channel with you. I remember being super annoyed that we had to sit in the same bus seat together in Turpin because of assigned seating…but I also remember a few years later where we had our unspoken assigned seat with each other… Riding the bus was never quite the same after you graduated. I remember when we got our super nintendo and we spent hours upon hours playing that thing. I remember that one time I accidentally erased all of the data on Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (I’m still really sorry about that). I remember sitting after school and watching you beat Donkey Kong Country in its entirety in one night…Again and again. I remember feeling like the coolest kid because my older sister always let me hang out with her and her friends (even if it was because mom made you take me along). I remember watching and memorizing Slappy and the Stinkers on roadtrips to Colorado. I remember wanting a myspace because you had one…and I remember creating an account behind mom’s back.. oops. But then I added her as a friend. I remember doing the same thing with Facebook. I remember that summer we didn’t have cable so we drove mom nuts listening to the radio all. day. every. single. day….and all night. We knew every commercial, we knew every song. I remember when you first started to really love cupcakes and baking. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving mornings just to watch the Macy’s Day Parade. I remember summer walks and water fights. I remember laughing until our bellies hurt. I remember Sharon Christmas parades. I remember midnight snacks of fruit loops and pickles. I remember taking pictures of/with the park Christmas lights every year (and that one night that made baby Jesus never light up again). I remember being asked all the time by strangers what it was like to be twins. I remember following in your footsteps and joining forensics and drama club in high school. I remember singing freecreditreport commercials over and over. I remember listening to you practice your flute for hours upon hours (you can play for me anytime, I love listening). I remember quoting the Hangover until it was annoying…what do tigers dream of when they take a little tiger snooze? Really though, do tigers dream? I remember learning to love music and laughter and cheese and food and board games and color from you. I remember stargazing. I remember back roads. I remember learning that dirt road therapy is some of the best therapy.

But I also remember the hard things. I remember how you were my escape, I don’t think I ever said it while growing up, but thank you for that. Thank you for teaching me how to release my frustration, anger and anxiety in a healthy way (like running instead of punching things, my knuckles thank you). I remember always having you by my side in the midst of everything we faced.  I remember when you left for college. My first day of high school, you moved out and I cried like a baby. That was a horrible day. I remember all of the funerals we had to attend that year as well. I remember when grandpa died right before my junior year and you were the only one who knew where I went.. You didn’t even have to think abut it. You just came and held me while I cried. You were my rock, so thank you. I remember the really hard times…I remember always looking up to you during those times because I wanted to know how to respond and you always seemed so strong and put together for mom, but I know that it was hard on you. I remember not having you home through all of my high school events like prom and others dances, forensics meets and plays. But the times you were there with me were so special and I will never forget those moments. I remember missing you at 3 AM when I was heartbroken. I remember missing you at 3 AM when I was homesick, because home isn’t a place, it’s people and you are my people. You are my person.

I remember thinking that your past boyfriends were never good enough for you. And I remember when you started dating Lance. I remember how ironic I thought it was because I always thought he was a good one when y’all were in high school, I remember we went to his high school graduation and you gave him peanut butter m&ms (don’t ask me how I remember that). I remember how I still had my doubts about him because I didn’t really know him that well and you deserve everything good and beautiful this life has to offer but you haven’t always had that and I wasn’t sure if he was capable of giving you that. But then. But then things changed. I remember how things got really hard about a year and a half ago and he was there every step of  the way. I remember watching him at your side. I remember watching him sit next to your hospital bed. I remember watching him never give up on you and never question staying with you. I remember watching him love you unconditionally during the hardest of times. I remember watching him be strong for you. I remember watching him be scared. I remember that watching him be brave helped me be brave. I remember knowing that Thanksgiving that I would get to watch that kind of love for the rest of my life. And then…then he showed me a picture of the ring.

You have been my number one mentor and role model for as long as I can remember. I watched you like a hawk to know how I should respond in the midst of conflict and about the decisions I should make. I watched you to know what was right and wrong. I watched you through the highs and lows in life. I always watched you. I wanted to be like you. You were and always will be an amazing role model. I remember being able to come to you for anything and everything, knowing you would never pass judgment. But here’s to new beginnings. Now I have two amazing role models: you and Lance. You chose an amazing man to stand by your side. A man that will love you unconditionally, a man that is the epitome of patience, kindness, and humor. A man that I will look to when I make decisions about my future husband. A man that is respectable. A man that is protective. A man that will be an incredible husband and father. A man that I am proud to call my brother.

I have no doubt in my mind that you two were meant for each other. You complement each other in ways I never imagined possible. I can’t wait to watch you grow old together because I know that he will take care of you through every high and low that life has to offer. And I know that he will stop at nothing to make you happy.

I wish you nothing but love and beauty in this marriage. I love you both so much. Thank you both for everything you have done for me and everything that you will do for me. Thank you for being my favorite humans in all of existence (yes, Lance, you too). Thank you for being the best big sister a girl could ask for. Thank you for always standing in my corner. Thank you for allowing me to stand up next to you on your big day, it’s truly an honor.

– Chip

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Unveil Why We’re Made

My mind is currently chaos.
If you know me, you are probably thinking…isn’t it always chaos?
But really, my mind the last few day has been even more chaotic than normal.
So, here is my best attempt at crafting chaotic thoughts to coherent thoughts.

The mass chaos that I call my mind has recently been focused on my God-given gifts and talents. What they are, how they are currently playing into my life and how they will continue to play into my life in the future. Recently, I completed a short Bible study focused on exploring your gifts, it was a simple 4 day study that really caused me to stop and think. This is actually really good for me, because it is really easy for me to just go, go, go and not stop to really process what God is trying to speak to me.

Usually, there is a time in your life when you finally realize what it is that you want to do and why. It is very likely that the passions you have came about from one experience or maybe even a set of experiences. Maybe you experienced something traumatic and you want to be sure that tragedy does not happen to you or anyone else ever again. Possibly, something really good happened and you realized that you want as many people to experience that goodness as possible. Or something else might have been the cause of realizing what you want to do with your life. For some, there might be one defining moment when they realized the calling placed on their life; for others, it might be a blur of different moments that one day they realized signified a call on their life. Either way, we all have a calling in life and at some point, we will realize it.

For me, my calling was always pretty obvious, I think. It just took awhile for me to accept it. From the Bible study that I did, we focused on three different people in the Old Testament and on the development of their gifts: Moses, Esther, and Hosea.

For Moses, I think he realized it when he killed the Egyptian. He knew something needed to be done and he acted on his flesh rather than asking God what he should do. However, after that action, instead of continuing on a path of self-destruction, God took Moses to a new place. A place where he spent nearly 40 years as a shepherd. A place where he spent time developing his gifts and his calling became more clear. A place away from the people whom he was called to serve. Like I wrote about in my last blog, there are two types of waiting: patient and passionate. When Moses knew of his calling and ran from the traumatic situation of killing an Egyptian, he had two options. He could have waited patiently for God to lead him back to his people, and not really done anything to prepare, or he could have passionately sought the Lord and prepared his heart for what God had in store. There is a difference between being passive and active. As Christians, I honestly believe that we are called to be active waiters. Yes, I know. This sounds contradicting, because we are told to be patient and wait upon the Lord. But all too often, we forget the verses that call us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. If we know our calling but are doing nothing to pursue it, what are we really doing? We are just being patient, we’re just being passive. I believe that God is calling us to be active and passionate waiters. He longs for us to be intentional with Him.We see that all things happen for the good of those who love the Lord, that includes the times that we do not hear or feel God. He. Is. Still. There. And ultimately, we will see His glory through the situations. Look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers sold him into slavery, but he rose to power to save many people.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Genesis 50:20

I’m sure that in the 40 years that Moses was away from his people, he felt that he was wasting time by not leading the people out of slavery and I’m sure that was incredibly frustrating. Ultimately, we see that in stories like Moses that situations tend to ignite passion but the disciplines are what sustain the passion. Honestly, it is not our timeline that matters. Things will never happen in the time that we plan them unless if our timeline miraculously lines up with the timeline of God. Here’s the beautiful truth. God’s timing is perfect. He is continually orchestrating events in your life. He is always providing and always working things out for your benefit. Think of Zacchaeus for a minute.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:1-10

What I really hope you caught in this passage is God’s provision. THE TREE ZACCHAEUS CLIMBED WAS PLANTED LONG BEFORE HE WAS THERE. JESUS WAS SPEAKING NEAR THAT TREE BECAUSE HE KNEW ZACCHAEUS WOULD BE THERE. How cool is it when you think about that? God is orchestrating everything in such a beautiful way that even the little needs in your life are met.

So awhile back, I watched a movie and out of the entire movie, only one line stuck out to me:

“You should not fear dying, you should fear the death of what you have been entrusted with.”

Here’s what I have learned about God. If you remain silent and do not act on something that He is calling you to do, He will raise up someone else to do what you have been called to do…Hopefully? That is terrifying to me. How could I willing choose to let someone else take the blessing God intended for me? There have been multiple times where I have not been obedient in something that I know I was very clearly called to do, and I heard later stories of someone else stepping in and I was grateful. And then there were instances where I feared no one else stepped in and I felt so convicted afterwards for not being bold and courageous and just stepping out as God was calling me to.

Imagine for a second if Esther had chosen to remain silent and not act. What would have happened? God would have raised up someone to step in in her position. But what would have happened to Esther? Nothing. Would we know the story today? Would the story of Esther doing nothing have made it into Scripture? Probably not.

Esther led others by her influence, not by her status. I believe that she had a gentle spirit and a compassionate heart and that is why things played out the way that they did. In the midst of her gentleness and compassion, I also believe that she was a very bold and courageous, God-fearing woman.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

So here’s the reality that I think we, as humans, forget a little too often: God isn’t telling us to start something new by ourselves. The weight of the Kingdom does not rest on our shoulders. God is simply calling us to come alongside what He is already doing. He created each of us with unique and special gifts and talents to be able to do wonderful things. But ultimately, if we decide that we don’t want to take part, there is always someone else He will use….but why take that chance?? The Creator of the universe is calling you to come alongside and be a part of what He is already doing. How cool is that? He wants to use you. Esther allowed God to use her. Esther had the privilege of being used by God in the most tremendous of ways… And He’s longing to use you as well. Why pass up an opportunity like that? If He is calling you to move, move. If He is calling you to be still, be still. If He is calling you to pray, pray. If He is calling you to serve, serve. It’s not that hard, so tell me why we make it so difficult?

No matter where you are in life right this very minute, God is calling you to join Him in what He is doing. Are you going to? He has entrusted you with the truth of eternal life, with the gift of salvation. Are you going to be selfish and greedy and keep that to yourself? Or are you going to join in with what God is already doing and share that beautiful truth with others? The choice is ultimately yours. Fear the death of what you have been entrusted with.

You have a gift. You have a talent. You have unsaved people in your life. Stop passively and patiently waiting. Be passionate and proactive. Start praying for the person God has placed on your heart. Start praying for the ministry you want to start or be a part of. Start praying for your future ministry. Start praying for your future spouse, your future family. Do. It. Now. Start now. Stop making excuses. Get off your lazy butt and stop complaining that nothing is changing. Do something. Be the change that you want to see in the world.

My brother wrote a new song the other day and I feel like some of the lyrics are fitting for this:

Hold me Jesus
Take all these pieces
Don’t stop until Your work is done

He’s doing a work so tremendous in you… Well He’s trying. He needs you to work with Him. He wants to use you. He wants to work in you and through you. Let Him.

“Look among the nations, and see;
    wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
    that you would not believe if told.”

Habakkuk 1:5

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about my takeaway from the book of Hosea. The story of Hosea is one of my favorites from the Bible, because it seems to be such an accurate representation of my life. I have turned from God so many times, but every single time, He has continued His relentless pursuit of my heart. He has loved me with an everlasting love.

I think when God calls us somewhere, initially we are excited. We are excited to do God’s work for God’s glory… But usually a little ways into the process we are supposed to do something that doesn’t seem so glamorous and immediately we’re like “Whoa! Hold up. You want me to do what exactly? Okay, now God, I agreed to go and serve people, but I didn’t agree to deal with the grumpy and mean ones. I didn’t realize you were calling me to be seen with the prostitutes. I didn’t know that this plan included cleaning up after people.”

We are happy that God wants to use us in his plan, but the moment it looks different than what we think it should, we retract. We suddenly don’t want to be a part of God’s plan for the situation. We are willing to be used by God only if it is convenient to us. And honestly, that is complete and utter garbage; that makes us so shallow. I’m not even sure if we should claim to be a follower of Christ if we aren’t finding greatness and humility in serving one another.

Hosea, a prophet, was called by God to marry a prostitute. Wait, what? Yes. That is what happened. A prophet and a prostitute. A beautiful story of relentless and unconditional love. A story that reflects your life and the love that the God of the universe has lavished upon you. Throughout the entire story, we never see Hosea flinch at the thought of loving Gomer unconditionally. We never see him give up from start to finish, from the alter, to the marriage, to the public square, to the auction block, we see that his love for her is pure and unconditional, just like God’s love for us.

Despite all of the frustration that I am sure Hosea faced, he always chose trusting God over giving up. Hosea saw the need for reconciliation between Israel and God, just as Moses saw a need to rescue his people hundreds of years before, just as I see a need to walk with women through life, just as you see a need to fulfill your calling. God invited Hosea to deepen his passion for reconciliation by having him live it out in a marriage with Gomer, just as I am sure He is calling you do live in such a  way that your passion is deepened.

As Christians, when God calls us to do something, we tend to expect the end result immediately, forgetting all the while that we have to actually put in effort to get to the end result. We all want change but none of us seem to actually want to work for it and quite honestly, it is pathetic.

“Hell works the hardest on God’s saints. The most worthy souls will be tested with the most pressure and the highest heat, but heaven will not desert them.”

-William L Watkinson

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

So what is the point of all of this?
Yea, that is actually a really good question.

There are some questions that I have floating around in my mind that I want to share. These are questions that have really caused me to stop and think this last week and I hope that they also challenge you in some way.

  • You have a calling, you have a passion. Are you currently in a place where you can act on that? If not, what can you do to cultivate that passion, to better prepare yourself and your heart?
  • Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In this process, He will speak to you. It’s not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. When He speaks to you, are you going to be open to hearing it? Are you going to be prepared for what He is saying? What passionately and actively on the Lord. Do not be passive and patient while you wait.
  • Is the pursuit of your passion interfering with the preparation God wants to begin in you?
  • Where is the nearest place that you can live out your passion? The nearest place where you can begin to live out the dream God has given you?
  • What is God calling you to give up? What is the most unimaginable thing that God could ask of you? Are you humble enough to lay it all down?
  • Is there anyone in your sphere of influence who would benefit you spiritually? Anyone who could mentor you?
  • Mother Teresa said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.” Which do you find yourself expressing more consistently to God – your need for clarity (“what do I do?”) or your expression of trust (“I’ll follow you”)?

I hope that these questions challenged you as they challenged me, as they are still challenging me.

Recently, I was introduced to Lauren Daigle’s new song, Wordless. This song is exactly what I have been feeling with all that God has been doing in my life.

Oh You move me, and I cant defy it
You consume me, and I can’t describe it
I am speechless, but I can’t keep quiet
And I am wordless, but I can’t stay silent

It is like she read my mind and put my feelings into a song. God has been transforming my life at such a drastic rate over the last eight months and it is astounding.  He has moved me and my entire perspective on life has been transformed; His love consumes every fiber of my being and it’s indescribable; it is leaving me speechless, but I can’t stay quiet about it; it is leaving me wordless, but I absolutely cannot stay silent about it.

“The world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.”

John R. Rice

The time is coming when we will not be able to take our Christianity as casually as we do now. We need to step up, stop being comfortable Christians.

“…and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

“for a time such as this”

What a beautiful picture. Your past was preparation for your now. Your now is a preparation for your future. “Bloom where you are planted because every season has an end.” Be thankful for this season of preparation.

Pentecost Sunday was just a couple of days ago. Reading through Acts 2, I was reminded of something that I haven’t thought about for quite sometime.. Our Comforter, our Counselor, our Advocate, our Teacher, our Witness, our Intercessor, or Guide is here. He is here. He is here yesterday, today and always. He unveils why we were made. If He hasn’t yet, He soon will. Just trust, dear one.

Unveil why we’re made, O Lord.

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Passion is Better than Patience

I finished my second year of college about a week and a half ago and it has been a big relief. I can finally take a step back and breathe, just be. To be honest, I don’t really know where this blog is headed, I just felt the need to blog. During the course of the last year of my life, I faced some of the deepest, darkest pits of hell that I have ever experienced, but I have also faced some of the highest mountaintops that I have ever been on. I have learned more about myself in the last six months than I learned in twenty years. God has taken me (and I believe He is still taking me) through a refining, restoring and redeeming process. It has been brutal, but so beautiful.

I want to share some of the things He has been (and is still) teaching me through the last year:

  • I learned the beauty of people standing in for you. You are surrounded by humans. Take advantage of that. Most people genuinely care and here’s a newsflash- most people are not out to get you. Growing up the way I did, in the environment that I did, trust issues were instilled deep in who I was. It has always been very hard for me to trust anyone, but slowly, God is working on my heart with that. In the midst of the last six months, I have learned to trust people again. I was blessed beyond belief while walking through a fiery time with some amazing  and compassionate individuals who were willing to walk with me. People who were willing to let me cry at 3 in the morning when I needed it; people who were willing to do anything to get my mind off of whatever was going on. God blessed me with what I like to call my safety net. I had a core group of people that knew the horrible details of the fire I was facing and I had an even bigger group of people who knew something was up, but they didn’t know what and they were standing in my corner praying and cheering the entire time. I had an amazing support system in the midst of my fire and it astounds me that God knew I would need each and every one of them for a specific purpose and He prepared the way for me to walk through. When I was unable to take another step, these people helped me walk, they interceded for me when I was unable to do so myself, they stood for me, they prayed for me, they held my hands and caught my tears. God blessed me with a beautiful safety net of people who helped me through the darkest part of my life. So thank you. If you prayed for me in the last six months, if you interceded for me, I felt it. I assure you, your prayers were not prayed in vain.I felt every one of them. When I felt weak, I knew someone was always praying because as soon as I thought I couldn’t keep going, I would feel strengthened again in a way that was only possible by intercession. So thank you. All of you, thank you for being wonderful.
  • I learned the value and importance of being selfish. I know, I know, this probably sounds really bad. But I learned the good aspects of selfishness. I learned how crucial it is to take time to work on yourself. My entire life, I have always put everyone else before me. I have always aimed to be a selfless person, but after awhile, it becomes detrimental if you are not careful. If you want to adequately help others get healthy, you must first help yourself get healthy. You must be selfish to get healthy. Sometimes it is necessary to choose to do things that restore you and help you get better and that. is. okay. This is a lesson I am still working on, but learning to say “no” so that I can work on myself has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Thank you, Josh, for pounding in my head the importance of taking care of myself.
  • I learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of humility. Admitting that you need help is a step in the right direction. However, admitting you need help and actually seeking out help are two entirely different things. When you proactively seek help and act on it, you will find healing and restoration. People always seem to claim they want change, but no one ever seems to act on it. You can say that you want change and healing all you want, but unless if you are proactive about healing, you will never experience it. The reason that I have found for most people avoid asking for help is because of a pride issue. The first step into the Kingdom of God is a step of humility and every step after that is just another step of humility. This reality helped me find freedom this year. Praise God for that freedom. Praise God for humility.
  • I learned that all counselors are not bad people. For a really long time, the idea of counseling was always accompanied with a negative connotation. The experiences I had with counseling were always horrible growing up and so any time someone brought up the idea of counseling, I would immediately shut down. However, when it is God’s will, it will happen one way or another. I started attending counseling in the beginning of November and attended for six months. In that six months, I found freedom. My whole perspective of counseling was transformed and so was my entire life. I learned so much about myself and I found healing through counseling.
  • I learned how to communicate. This might seem really insignificant, but in my life, this is a milestone. Growing up, I was never taught how to adequately communicate. Yes, I could carry on conversations, but that isn’t the communication I am talking about. In my life, I was taught from the master how to be passive aggressive. I never knew how to communicate my problems so that I could work through them. I was taught how to bottle everything up and keep it to myself. But through counseling paired with a couple different classes I took this year, I learned skills to help me communicate better. This is an area that I am still working on, but progress is progress.
  • I learned what it is to be healthy. Honestly, this was probably the biggest lesson for me in the last year. If you know my story, you know that I was in constant survival mode pretty much my entire life. After being in counseling for about 5 months, I started to experience this weird, new feeling and for the life of me, I could not figure out what it was. Finally, I was in a class and someone said something about when a person is in survival mode for so long, they do not understand being healthy when they finally can be….and it hit me, right there in class. I had this crazy exciting revelation: I was healthy, mentally and emotionally speaking. That is the feeling I couldn’t place. I didn’t know what it was to be healthy, but it was amazing. This is something that I am still learning and it is wonderful. Not only have I experienced mental and emotional healing in the last year, I also experienced physical healing and it was a straight miracle. God healed me of a progressive disease last summer AND I was finally able to donate blood a couple of months ago. Both were miraculous milestones in my life.
  • I learned that passionate waiting is better than patient waiting. When God appears to be silent to you, He’s really not. He’s calling you to seek His heart, just as he does when you can hear Him speaking. I learned that in the “silent” times, it is far better to to be passionate about God than it is to be patient with God. Yes, patience is key. But here’s the thing, my understanding of being patient means simply waiting and not taking any action. During the quiet times of life, that is when you should be pressing in and seeking God’s face more passionately than ever before. Don’t just hang out and wait for God to move. You must be proactive in seeking God to be prepared for when He does move. The silent times are the best times of preparation in my opinion.
    • Patience (noun):

      the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
    • Passion (noun):
      a very strong feeling about a person or thing; a strong and barely controllable emotion.

  • I learned that it is okay to say “no.” Hey. You are not obligated to say “yes” every single time someone asks you to do something. A year ago, I thought saying yes to everything was in fact a good thing. But I have learned that more often than not, less is more. When you have less on your plate, you can accomplish those tasks more diligently. if you truly want God to overwhelm your soul you absolutely must underwhelm your schedule. If you don’t do it, someone else will, I promise.
  • I learned the importance of having something that restores your soul. Art has always been my escape. It has been my freedom, my release. When I am creating something, I am experiencing God’s peace and His presence. It’s inevitable and it’s beautiful. When I feel empty and burnt-out, I know that I need to get back in touch with God and for me, art is what I need to do. Find the something that lets Him restore your soul.
  • I learned the importance of prayer. Through every high and low that I have faced over the last year, I have learned the importance of having a personal prayer life and the importance of having people who will intercede in prayer for you. As previously mentioned, I have an amazing support system of prayer warriors standing in my corner. People who were standing in, interceding for me when I was unable to do so for myself. I learned that having a personal prayer life will see you through some of the darkest times in life and it is such a beautiful reality when you are facing darkness to know that you’re simply words away from the One who created your heart and causes it to beat every moment.
  • I learned how to praise during the storm. This was probably one of the harder lessons to learn, but definitely one of the most beneficial. There is something so mysteriously beautiful and comforting in being able to focus on God’s goodness in the midst of adversity. When you are facing trials, it is easy to blame God for letting bad things happen, but really, believing that He will see you through the trial is what is most important.
  • I learned the importance of journaling. Good things, bad things, big things, small things, happy things, sad things, weird things, funny things, heartbreaking things, heartwarming things, monumental things, insignificant things. Journaling all things is important because it gives you the ability to look back and see how far you have come.
  • I learned the beauty of the catching small things. All too often, we tend to wish away time. We have the mindset of “just getting through” things rather than stopping, just being present, and seeking out the beauty in the midst of the adversity. God is continuously trying to show us new things, but we are so focused on our to-do lists rather than Him.
  • I learned to not wish away the trials. There is beauty in brokenness, you just have to be willing to look for it. You face what you face, when you face it, how you face it all for a reason. It is incredibly hard to see in the midst of it usually, but there is a reason for it. You just have to have a faith so deep that it transcends your weariness. The adversity will not last forever, growth and beauty will come from the ashes.
  • I learned the importance of Scripture. Something else I knew but was reminded of-Scripture can help with anything. Literally. I’ve heard people say this a lot, but I didn’t really see the reality behind it until recently. The Bible is such a powerful book; there is such a wide variety of emotion and heart cries that come from it. The people who wrote the Bible experienced real life. I think all too often as Christians, we feel alone walking through the trials and storms of life when really, if we remembered that the people of the Bible were real people we would not feel as alone as we often do. If we remembered that people like David, who was deemed a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer, I personally think that we would feel more confident about running to God in the midst of our mistakes. If we remembered that David also ran from his trials rather than facing them with God’s strength, I think that we would be more willing to face our battles head on. The book of Psalms really helped get me through a lot the last year. I just kept rereading them because it’s the only thing I felt that I was able to read for the most part and I feel as though I learned so much from them.
  • I learned the significance of rest. Yes. Contrary to popular belief, it is acceptable to rest, it’s encouraged even. The God of the universe set aside a day specifically for rest so that we wouldn’t burn out… but we are busybodies. We always seem to need something to do. Honor the Sabbath. It’s crucial.
  • I learned the beauty of corporate worship. When you are unable to stand in for yourself, there is immense beauty in witnessing others standing in for you. There is also amazing humility when you are able to witness others standing in, interceding on your behalf.
  • I learned the excitement of wonder. I am convinced that being awestruck is one of the greatest experiences in the world. When God blows your mind with something simple or complex, rest in that. Wrestle with it. Take advantage of those moment. Make note of every tiny detail and then when the moment has passed, go back and replay it in your mind. Let Him fill you with wonder.
  • I learned that there is healing in transparency. We all claim to want transparency, but we never know how to respond when we receive it. But here’s the thing, there is immense healing in being transparent with your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you can share your story, you experience healing, a healing that only transparency can bring.
  • I learned that there is healing in laughter. Smiling through the pain isn’t being fake. It’s recognizing that there is still good in the world even if you are unable to see the good in your world. Remember that. It’s transformational.
  • I learned that there is healing in presence. When someone is present with you in the midst of adversity, there is nothing else quite like it.
  • I learned that there is beauty in the unknown. My future. My ministry. My family. My life. Learning to trust God is one of the hardest and most rewarding things that anyone could every learn. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” -Corrie ten Boom. There’s beauty in knowing that I don’t have to have it all planned out, that God is the One who is in charge.

I am oh, so thankful for a God who loves me where I am but loves me so much He won’t allow me to stay there. I am thankful for a God who loves and pursues me relentlessly. I am thankful for the beautiful souls I have standing in my corning praying and cheering for me always. I am thankful for healing. I am thankful for learning new things. I am thankful for rest, redemption, and restoration. I am thankful for people. I am thankful for those who are called to help others find healing. I am thankful for laughter, for beauty, for brokenness, for pain, and for joy. I am thankful for the last year of my life, for the growth, change, and healing that took place. I am thankful for transparency. I am thankful for new opportunities. I am thankful for humility. I am thankful for rest and silence. I am thankful for stillness. I am thankful for strength. I am thankful for my Bible journal. I am thankful for the unknown.

Today, I am thankful for life.

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This blog is extra sporadic.
This blog is the reality of my life recently.
If you read almost 3,000 words just to know what’s in my head, I applaud you.

Here’s to the next year of my life and a continued refining process.
Here’s to learning new lessons.
Here’s to experiencing new things.
Here’s to finding God in a new way.

May I Be Just Like a Child

Yesterday in class, I had a professor ask what stood out to us from the weekend of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. At first, nothing came to mind, and this was really frustrating for me because if you know me at all, you know that I always have something. But the longer I sat on it, the more God reminded me what really rocked my world over the weekend and I want to share it with you.

So recently, I have been in a weird place. Not necessarily a good or a bad place, but a weird one. In counseling the other day, we were trying to pinpoint what exactly I have been feeling and I think I finally realized that I’m content. Content in where I am in life, in my relationships with friends and family, in my relationship with God. But I’m not comfortable with being content. While talking to my brother earlier about this, he said something that really stuck out to me, “When you have been a wreck for 4-5 months, it is hard to accept being content in being okay.” This spoke volumes to me because I genuinely think that this is what I have been feeling. For quite awhile I was in a pretty dark place and I have been working super, super hard to get out of it, to heal from all of the hell that I was walking through. For months, the norm for me has been working hard on myself. The norm has been hell, messy, a wreck. So to finally be in a place where things are good in most areas of my life, it is super weird for me, and I am still struggling to accept that I’m okay finally.

Over the course of the last few weeks, the song “Wonder” by Bethel has been appearing in my life very frequently. So frequently in fact, that it has become the cry of my heart.

May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Cause You are beautiful in all Your ways

As this song has been on repeat in my heart lately, I’ve been constantly crying out to God that I will never lose my wonder. That I will never grow content simply knowing about Him, but that I am like a child in having to experience it myself. Think about this for a second: you can tell a child countless times not to touch the stove because it is hot, but they are bound to touch it at some point to see for themselves. That is how I want to be with God. I refuse to be content with just the knowledge of God but I insist on experiencing His presence; I want to be like a child, testing what I have been told. I need to experience it myself.

While this song was playing in my head during church on Sunday, I truly experienced what the song says; I was wide eyed and mystified, like a child staring at the beauty of my King and the reason for writing this blog is exactly why I was filled with awe and wonder. At church something was said that most people probably didn’t catch because it was not the main point of the sermon, but it was the main point for me and for some reason, I still can’t wrap my mind around it. I am still wrestling with a simple statement. Something so simple that we all already know, but most of us probably have never really “got” it. I bet that by now you are wondering what I am talking about. GOOD. That was my goal, to make you curious. I hope that in a few moments when you read what rocked my world, that you will be wide eyed, gazing at your King just as I was and still am.

When my professor asked yesterday what word or phrase stuck out over the weekend, I didn’t have an answer initially, but after wrestling for awhile I came up with a simple four letter word that rocked my world.

time.

Time. Yes, the idea of time is still rocking me to my core. I’m still gazing wide-eyed, full of wonder at my King thinking about time. I hope that you are still reading this because you are wondering why this is rocking me to my core. Please, please let me elaborate. Also, bear with me as I stumble through words trying to find the right one to convey the message that I am attempting to convey because at this moment, I am very scatterbrained and wrecked trying to form coherent thoughts.

Time. The concept of time is a strange thing. We are always wishing for more time, more time to complete the homework assignment, more time to have with friends and family, more time so we can get our lives together, more time to live; as humans we just want more time to be and do. But here is the thing, time is a man-made concept. We run on seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, etc. For as long as we have been alive, we all have the same understanding of time. Babies to toddlers to children to teenagers to adults, etc. We all go through the same phases, we all have the same amount of time in each day. We all hate that good times end and that bad times seem to drag on. But really, what is time?

Time from what? Time to what?

In school, we all learn history. We are all taught to memorize dates. Dates according to what, though? Dates according to Jesus. This is what was said at church that rocked me: “Every email and text that we send references the death and resurrection of Christ.” Whaaaaaaat?

Everything around me stopped and immediately I was filled with wonder. And I couldn’t help but smile. The God of the universe still loves to use the tiny little details of life to blow my mind and it is so, to such a great extent, wonderful.

Here’s the thing. People are always referencing Jesus whether they realize it or not. Even atheists, who claim that God has never been, they reference His Son’s death. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The calendar is counting up from something. Time is moving forward, we are constantly moving further from Christ’s life on earth and time is always changing.

In history, we are taught two different types of dating time: BC and AD. Before Christ walked the earth and after His death. Even people who claim that God doesn’t exist live in a world with time based on the life of Jesus. How incredible is that?

I genuinely have no idea if anyone else will be as fascinated by this as I am, but I hope that there is someone because this is still rocking my face off. Words can’t begin to express what I’m feeling about this. The God of the Universe never ceases to blow my mind and fill me with wonder. He is always, always showing me something new, causing me to fall deeper in love with Him and it is such a beautiful experience. Currently, words from a song that one of my role models wrote are flooding my mind,

You are glorious, You are beautiful, You are more than we could ever know. And Your majesty shines on all things, I won’t hesitate to dance before Your throne.

These words are my heart’s cry currently. He is glorious. He is beautiful. He is more than I could ever know. His majesty shines on all things. I don’t want to hesitate to dance before His throne, because who knows what He wants to show me next? I don’t want to miss it because I chose to hesitate to come before His throne. I don’t want to miss the beauty of being awestruck by something so simple because I hesitated. I don’t want to miss His glory because I hesitated to receive the blessings He sent me, because it isn’t enough to just know of the blessings. I have to make the deliberate decision to receive His gifts.

IT. IS. NOT. ENOUGH. TO. JUST. KNOW.

EXPERIENCE GOD FOR YOURSELF.

I am begging you. Test what you know. Refuse to settle for just knowledge.
Seek God’s face.
Experience His glory.

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I did this today during chapel because the concept of time and the resurrection has me running wide eyed and mystified after God at full speed and it is a beautiful, beautiful run.

 

Clear the Stage

Normally before posting a blog, I wrestle with it for awhile before I actually decide to post it, but tonight, it’s a little different. In the last hour or so I have had seemingly a billion thoughts running through my mind. There are currently so many things that I feel led to share, so please oh please bear with me as I try to do the impossible and create coherent sentences of the mass chaos I call my mind.

I had the privilege yesterday to do one of my favorite things: listen to my pastor at home preach. And oh, it was such a beautiful message of refocusing our minds and clearing the stage.

Let’s go back in time a couple of years, shall we? My senior year of high school, I fell away from God for awhile. And then one night, I happened to stumble across a video of a girl dancing to Jimmy Needham’s “Clear the Stage” with amazing passion and I fell in love with the song, the passion of video sparked something in me and most importantly, I re-fell in love with God that night.

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PS- I did this sketch my senior year of high school right after I found this song. 🙂

Anyways, so yesterday, I walked into church and this song was playing on repeat before the service started and immediately, my heart and soul were reminiscing in God’s love and grace because this song holds such a sweet place in my heart.

At the beginning of service, my pastor challenged us to clear our stage. He challenged us as Easter is upon us to clear our stage. To get back to the basics. Stop trying to pretty up the Gospel to make it a “feel good” sermon. I saw a quote by Phillip Anthony Mitchell yesterday that said, “Preach the truth whether it fills up a room or clears it out.” And I thought that fit perfectly with the “clear the stage” mentality. Stop caring what others think and preach the real Gospel, not some sugar-coated version of it.

We need to step up and quit idolizing everything. Quit idolizing the Bible over the God of the Bible. Quit idolizing worship over WHO we were created to worship. Quit idolizing good sermons and preachers over Who they should point to. Quit idolizing feel-good sermons over convicting sermons. We’re good at listening to sermons, but how good are we at actually taking the convictions and applying what we “learn” to our lives and changing what we do?

As Easter is approaching, I know you’ll probably be bombarded with the story of the crucifixion over and over, and yes, that’s good. It’s good to be reminded of what Christ willingly endured for us to be able to live. But more importantly, what are we going to do with that information? With that story, the Gospel, the Good News?

Mark 16:15 says, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.'”

We’re called to share the Gospel. It’s that simple.

Revelation 12:11 says, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by the words of their testimony…

Here’s the thing, the “blood of the Lamb” is the story of the Gospel, the “words of their testimony” is the story of YOU.

This rocks my world. I can overcome by two stories: His and mine. But really, it’s just one story – HIS. Because my story is a part of His and that absolutely blows my mind.

Awhile ago my sister, Bethany, said something that absolutely rocked my socks off and I want to share it with you because I feel like it fits well with my sporadic thoughts tonight: “When you braid Scripture into your own testimony, it shows the places where God was working in your life despite the circumstances you faced.”

Isn’t that such a crazy cool thought? When you tell your story, lives are changed and healing takes place.

Part of my devotion this morning said this:

I want to take a moment to encourage you about something. So often there is one thing holding us back from telling our stories – loyalty. Parents struggle to join their children in the fight for the truth because it is too painful for them to hear what happened on their watch. They agonize over what they did wrong, allowed to happen, didn’t address, or covered up.

But what they may not realize is their sons and daughters have been carrying wounds, some for fifty or sixty years, and are losing their marriages, drinking themselves to death, abusing prescription drugs, road raging, addicted to porn, food, shopping or control because the secrets and lies have been left unaddressed.

It would be too painful for my family if I told the truth, we’ve thought to ourselves. But not nearly as painful as it has been holding it in all these years. We must never let another person’s protection come before our own journey toward healing. God is in charge of protecting them, not us.

In the book “Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamott says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Living our lives to protect others is a burden we ought not to carry. It increases our shame, blurs reality, and will cause us to stumble through life without the sure footing we need to take ourselves up the mountain.

You don’t have to name names, and you may want to consider whether or not telling your story to certain family members will bring injury or insult upon yourself. If it could, tell a therapist or close friend instead.

Telling our stories is how we authenticate who we really are. When we deny them and keep the lies hidden away – lies we’ve been asked (or expected) to keep, we find ourselves living someone else’s story. And living someone else’s story is like putting on their underwear. It’s foul. Not only do you have their stink on you but also you carry a toxic shame that will cripple your effectiveness as a child of God.

When we live inside of a lie for years, that lie becomes our reality and so it may take some time to unravel things – to dig things up and find the truth. Maybe it feels as if this thing is over so why dredge it back up? After all, it’s not as if the images are even clear anymore – they’re fuzzy at best. Listen, you need to know that what’s on the other side of that window has the power to dismember your life as you know it. It does. And if you doubt what happened, wondering if it really mattered, let the pain be your litmus test. Where pain is present, a wound exists.

You don’t need to be ashamed of your story any more, because your story has value in the kingdom of God. And as you come clean – as you tell the truth, God will begin to partner with you to see it used for his glory; to call others out of their hiding places and into the light where Jesus can get his hands on every ruined thing in their lives. This is when we will see “…all things work together for good.”

In less than a week, we will be celebrating Easter, celebrating His bloodshed so we can live. We will be celebrating His story and our story. We need to clear the stage of our hearts and just get back to the simplicity of it all. Sharing stories: His and ours.

Clear The Stage
Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews and all the decorations, too
Until the congregation’s few, then have revival
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you’re broken for your sins, you can’t be social
Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful

‘Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song

Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

‘Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song

We must not worship something that’s not even worth it
Clear the stage, make some space for the one who deserves it

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol

‘Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to

And we can sing all we want to
And we can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong
Worship is more than a song

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols

Clear out all of the sugar-coated crap and fill it with the raw, uncut versions of the stories. Quit idolizing everything but God. Do you remember the Ten Commandments? More specifically the first two commandments?

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

Exodus 20:3-6

Here’s my charge to you tonight, share your story with someone. Share His story. They are one in the same. Your story is part of His story and it is oh, so wonderful and beautiful when you let the two braid together and become intertwined. When you begin to view your story and mistakes as a picture of God’s grace and redemption, it becomes a lot easier to share it. Your past mistakes and the horrible things that may have happened to you do. not. define. you. Only your identity in Christ defines you and you are oh so priceless in His sight. 

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Revelation 12:11 – Clear the stage and overcome. Go back to the basics.