It Is Well

I started this blog in the spring of this year to help me not only remind myself of what I’ve been learning, but to also help others out there that may be experiencing the same trials.

This was a life-changing year for me. I started the year believing it would end in a certain way, having my plans all laid out. Nothing that I planned in the beginning happened– in fact, the exact opposite happened.

The relationship I was in ended– I definitely didn’t see that coming. It truly broke my heart. And as much as it hurt, and sometimes still does, I am so thankful that it happened. If you ever read this, I told you before, but thank you. By having my heart broken, God had a place to heal me. God is always with us, no matter where we are. But the place where He does the most molding in the lowest places, the darkest places, the broken places. (Psalm 34:18) (2 Corinthians 4:6-15) (John 15)

[“The Unmaking” by Nichole Nordeman resonated strongly with me this year. I recommend you to give it a listen if you’re going through a tough season.]

I always said that I loved God. I always said that He loved me too. But I don’t think I truly knew what His love was until this year. I needed Him, more than any other time before. He loved on me a whole lot extra this year. And I felt His presence an incredible amount this year. And I watched Him move in my life. I am closer to Him than ever before.

He had a wiped blank slate to start with and He has been molding me into the person He created me to be. I can’t wait to continue getting to know her.

He blessed me. I graduated from college. I enjoyed my final semester more than any other semester. I had my own solo exhibition. I grew.

I always enjoy looking back over periods of time. I do it constantly– time amazes me. Change amazes me. God amazes me.

I thank God for pruning me.
I thank God for the wonderful people that have come in and out of my life this year.
I thank God for empowering me.
I thank God for the boldness I gained.
I thank God for increasing my faith.
I thank God for loving me unconditionally.
I thank God for healing what was broken.
I thank God for the memories I will always cherish.
I thank God for the lessons learned.
I thank God for the love I received.
I thank God for the love I gave.
I thank God for my soulmate (I don’t know who you are yet, but I can’t wait to meet you).
I thank God for my family and my friends.
I thank God for protection.
I thank God for making a way for me.
I thank God for all the promises He has in store for me.
I thank God for another year to glorify Him.
I thank God for everything. Every single thing.

Things To Keep In 2018
– Lamentations 3:22 – 24
– Isaiah 54:10
– John 3:16 – 17
– Psalm 86:5
– Jeremiah 1:4 – 5
– Psalm 46:10
– Philippians 4:6 – 7
– John 14:27

Things To Let Go Of In 2018
– Ephesians 4:31 – 32
– 1 Peter 5:7
– Matthew 11:28

Things To Remember: 
– Proverbs 24:16
– 1 John 1:9
– James 3:2
– Philippians 3:12
– Romans 8:28 (personal favorite)

I have no idea where 2018 will take me. And that’s okay. I’m excited to see where He leads me.

With love and grace, thank you for reading along this year. I’ll see you again in 2018.

 

 

 

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Move Mountains

Today, I graduated from college. It has been a long journey, but an amazing one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve cultivated new friendships, grew in who I am, and had some unforgettable experiences. Now, I’m a girl with a degree. I just wanted to stop and take a moment and give God glory for this incredible accomplishment.

Let me start from the beginning.

When I was younger, I wanted to be just like my cousin Scott, who kept a high GPA throughout high school and earned several scholarships for college. My parents told me if I worked hard like he did, I would receive scholarships too. With the strong desire in my heart, I claimed I would do it too. I would go to college and not worry about loans. (I never wanted to be in debt.)

Throughout high school, I didn’t worry about paying for college– somehow I just knew that God would take care of it for me. I worked hard to keep my grades up and I graduated in the top ten percentile. In return, I was blessed with scholarships and grants.

Fast forward four and a half years. I am a college graduate. And I am here, debt free. Never had to take a student loan– not even when I went to England for a study abroad program. Can we just give God a round of applause?

I didn’t get to where I am now on my own. God made a way for me. Family and friends helped me. If it ever seemed like I wouldn’t be able to do something, someone stepped in and lent a hand. Y’all, I have been so so so blessed.

College is something I’ve always had faith in God for. I just knew that He would be looking out for me. It’s kind of funny, to think about. If I can believe in God for something (not having any debt) that so many others can’t even fathom, then why don’t I always have that doubtless faith in other areas of my life? I truly need to work on that.

The music department at my school did a rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” for our commencement ceremony. The lyrics were so fitting. “But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet and move mountains.” “All we need is hope.” With God and a little hope and faith, I was able to move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) How awesome is that?

He sure is a good, good Father.

How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12 HCSB)

With love and grace, let us continue to move mountains.

Through It All

2017 has been an interesting year. The new year is coming so quickly and with it being Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of all that I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for all the people that have been a part of my life this year, even if you’re not any longer. People come and go and they add something to your life. I’ve made new friends and I’m so thankful for them. And I have an amazing family that I’m so blessed to be part of.

I’m thankful for all the new experiences I had. I went camping (like serious camping in the legit woods in a tent), I flew to North Carolina, I quit my job and was able to be a full-time student, and I watched my best friend become a mom. There are many more, but these are just the highlights.

I’m thankful for my Jesus family. There was so much happening in that part of my life than ever before. I’m so thankful for the Eminent Worship services, for the Wednesday night classes that are always on point, and the sisters (and brothers) in Christ that I have and have met. My soul has been so full of God’s love this year.

Most importantly, I’m thankful for the relationship that grew between my Father and I. I’m thankful for the confirmation I’ve been given over and over again from Him. I’m thankful for all the ways He has lead me and loved me this year. I’m thankful for the pruning and for the growth. I’m thankful for the boldness and trust and faith that has increased because of Him. I’m thankful for the sweet whispers of truth just when I needed them most. I am thankful that He loves me and that is never going to change.

Graduation is coming soon. In roughly 22 days, I’ll be walking across the stage, clad in my cap and gown. I have ideas about what is in store, but with God, nothing is impossible. I’m thankful for what is to come. This year has been a wild adventure, one that I wouldn’t take back. I’m excited to see where this journey will continue to take me.

With love and grace, thank you for reading.

 

A Work Of Art Called Love

This semester, I’ve been working on a photography project about signs/experiences from God.

Tonight, after a busy and gray day, I trotted into church, Bible in hand. A few minutes in, I spoke out about how recently, I’ve truly been missing someone. The longing for their presence has been constant and a little disheartening. I’m healing, right? Why am I feeling this way and when will it stop? I ask for a prayer request for myself. Class moves on and my mind eases. At the end, I asked two ladies to share any story they have about a sign or experience they had that they know without a doubt was God. After they shared their stories with me, they both asked me how this project started.

I’ve been thinking about it recently and it all started because I went through a breakup earlier this year. After the breakup, I couldn’t do anything. I was lost. I was searching. I was so sure that he was a part of God’s plan for me– that we should be together. Confused and heartbroken, I started reaching for God– calling out to Him like never before. I was listening to worship music all the time (which, if you knew me, I liked worship music alright, but not much). I was reading devotionals and the Bible and attending church any time the doors were open. I even started going to additional worship events. I wanted to be close to God. I wanted to know what He wanted for me. I thought I knew before, but I only knew what wanted. I didn’t want to make that mistake anymore.

I started learning about Gideon and how he asked God for signs. And I started learning about Ruth and the disciples and how they did whatever God said. “Because you say so, I will.” [Luke 5:5] I became incredibly interested in how God guides. I started questioning if any people I knew may have had a sign from God like Gideon did. And I started having moments myself where God brought me confirmation.

When this semester started, we could pick any topic to photograph. Whatever we picked would be what we spent a whole semester focusing on. I picked signs from God. Literally. I chose to photograph churches and their signs. That did not work out at all. Then I started asking people to tell me their stories and I would make their portrait and record their story– this did not work either. After my second disappointing critique, I spent about three weeks trying to decide if I should even continue. Part of me wanted to keep going, the other part of me just wanted to give up. Finally, I decided to compose a photo based on the story but I still wasn’t sure how to incorporate the actual story. One morning, while preparing for class, the idea came to me. I stepped out of the shower and BAM! it just hit me. I decided to ask people to write their stories in a book. (I know that this idea came from God). So here we go again, third try is the charm, right? Right! This critique went excellent and everybody thought I executed the project well. So that is what I have been doing and where I’m at now.

After I left church tonight, I was driving home, with so much on my mind. Thinking about my breakup and thinking about this project and as I drove, God gave me a thought. If the breakup had not have happened, not only would I not be as close to Him as I am now, but I would not be doing this project. Tears welled up in my eyes and I cried; it was a happy cry! A thankful and praising cry! An understanding cry! The whole reason I was inspired to do this project in the first place was because of my desire to know what God wants for me. Because of everything, I have been able to glorify God and witness to others that I might not have ever attempted to witness to! I’m comforted to know that I am being used in this way. It makes me know that all of my struggle was worth it.

Whenever I start feeling down about the way things ended, I just remind myself that God has a plan. And if I allow Him to, He can use my trials as triumphs for His kingdom.

With love and grace, think about how God has used you.

 

 

 

Faith vs Fear

Lately, I have been seeing how God has allowed me to minister to others without me even realizing that it was Him. Within the past week, two friends have told me that I have made an impression on them in different ways. Hearing that brought tears to my eyes– it awed me. I know that what I did wasn’t me– it was God. I once heard a preacher say, “The bad stuff that I do– that’s me. The good stuff– that’s God.” That’s completely true– I’m not a wonderful person just because I exist and I am. Whatever wonderfulness that comes from me comes from He who is living in me. On my own, I am nothing.

I want God to use me. I want to shine my Light and be the Salt of the Earth. I’ve always been intimidated to do the things that I think I should do, things that I want to do. And for the past few months, if I felt any compelling to do something, I do it. I know that’s the Holy Spirit weighing on my heart and mind.

I’ve let the enemy use fear to disable me too often– I’ve lost so many opportunities before because I was too scared. I know that fear is from the enemy. Fear means false evidence appearing real. But you know what I have that defeats fear? Faith. Fear ain’t in this house.

If I have faith that my Father wants what is best for me in life, that His promises will not be broken, and that He is always working for my good– what do I have to fear?

Fear holds you back. The enemy doesn’t want you to succeed. He wants to stall you and stop you. He wants the exact opposite of what God wants– God wants to prosper you and give you hope! [Jeremiah 29:11]

Fix your eyes on God. When Peter stepped out of that boat, headed towards Jesus, he was able to walk on the water. He had his eyes fixed on Jesus and his faith in Jesus. Then, he took his eyes off of God and let fear creep in, and began to sink.

You and I can walk on water too, if we fix our eyes on God and hold onto our faith in Him.

With love and grace, take His hand and step out of that boat.

Rej[prot]ected

I know what it feels like to fall head-over-heels in love with someone– to believe that God created them specifically for you. I know what having a best friend like you never had before and making plans with them and dreaming about your future and believing that nothing will ever come between the two of you feels like. And I know what it feels like to watch the person you held so dear to your heart walk right out of your life— and the worst part is that there is not one single thing you can do to change their mind.

I know what it feels like to replay everything over in your mind– every single thing. Every happy memory, any sad memory, the end– all of it. Constantly on a loop. As if reliving it over and over again will allow you to go back and change the fact that they are gone. I know what it feels like to cry so hard and so often that a time comes when you can’t even form tears any longer, when your throat hurts from sobbing, when your head is aching and begging you to please just lay down and close your eyes, and when you’re wishing you could just pull your heart out of your chest so that the aching will finally stop. I know what it feels like to want to sleep so you can have relief from the constant thoughts and images flickering through your head and not being able to escape because your dreams are even worse. And then you have to wake up and come to terms with everything all over again.

But do you know what else I know? I know that it will get better. I know that it takes time and sometimes it feels slower than Christmas. I know that your heart will heal– but you have to bring it to God.

We ask why an awful lot– why did this happen to me? Nothing will improve if we spend our time asking why instead of asking what. What am I being prepared for? What is God going to do in my life? What do I need to do to be who He created me to be?

God has someone out there for me and you. I wish it was simple and easy but it isn’t. And if it was, what would the point in living even be? We wouldn’t gain anything or grow into the person we need to be.

Sometimes we get people that are here for a season confused with those that are here for a lifetime. Sometimes we let rejection creep into our hearts and plant bitterness– but you can’t do that. There is protection in rejection. If we truly believe that God has our best interests at heart, that He is good and everything will work out for us believers, then why don’t we see rejection as a blessing? Obviously it hurts and I am in no way saying don’t feel the emotions that come with it. What I am saying is after that time of grieving (and even during) praise God. Thank God. Because whatever happened has a purpose in your life.

We’re like pearls. We have to be wounded to turn into something beautiful.

Even Jesus was rejected– and He did the most beautiful thing of all.

Whatever God removes from your life He will replace with something greater. I know there will be moments where you may doubt or feel the sting of hurt again, but you can’t allow it to consume your life. Yes, you were rejected– but that is not who you are. 

Disappointments are God’s way of saying He has something better in store for you. 

So love on yourself, love on others. Pray for the people that rejected you. Thank God for His protection. Don’t allow this hurt to make you bitter, no matter the circumstances. Keep your heart softened.

With love and grace, embrace the protection.

Lead, Guide, Direct and Protect

Many times we reach out and ask God for guidance. We ask Him to show us His will for us. Yet, we tend to forget our part of this– we have to see and hear His answers and directions. So, we need to ask then for seeing eyes and listening ears. Yet, even still, we can see and hear His signs but ignore or overlook them.

I know sometimes the world gets so in our heads that we aren’t sure which voice is ours and which is the enemy’s and which belongs to the Lord. Pro Tip: God’s voice will always line up with the Word.

One way the Bible shows us how to know what God is telling us is to ask Him for specific signs like Gideon did (Judges 6:36 – 40). And when He gives us answers to these signs it doesn’t hurt to keep asking.

I’ve asked God for signs and He has given them to me. I continued to ask for a while, but then I started ignoring and overlooking His answers and stopped asking altogether for signs. I was asking Him to lead me but I wasn’t allowing myself to be lead. I thought, “Well, these first signs turned out so maybe that was God’s answer and I don’t have to keep asking.” Basically, I did things how I thought it would be best (aka my way). Finally, He showed me a sign that I couldn’t ignore– it was so definite and painful that I knew it was the answer He had been trying to give me all along. Sometimes God has to allow pain if He knows it is going to help get you to where you need to be. 

Do you know what the gift of discernment is? My mom has it and I believe that as I continue to strengthen my relationship with the Holy Spirit that I will also have it and be able to truly recognize it. There are times when I have these feelings and thoughts, in the back of my mind, deep in my heart– and most of the time I have had them for valid reasons. I used to think of myself as crazy for it, but now I realize that it is actually a blessing.

The other day, this thought/feeling kept creeping up in my head. I couldn’t shake it, no matter what I did or how hard I tried or even how much I prayed. I didn’t want it to be true; part of me thought the enemy was trying to mess me up, but the other part of me thought that God was showing me the truth. By the end of the day, the thought that I was hoping would dissipate came to fruition.

It was difficult and painful and honestly humiliating, but after a while, I knew it was what was supposed to happen. I knew that God needed me to experience this for closure. He needed to show me so that I could move on with my life and discover the plans He has for me (and for the other party involved). And sometimes what happens has to happen the way it does because He knows you and how you think and what it takes to get to you see what is for you and what is not for you. (Psalm 139)

I’m still learning how to decipher all the thoughts/feelings/desires that swirl around my mind. I keep asking the Spirit to guide me– to be louder than I am (I can be pretty loud). And now I just have to truly allow myself to be lead. He made me bold to make the decision I had to make. If I allow Him, He can make me bold in my other decisions too.

Everything in life will work out for us if we allow God to direct our paths.

With love and grace, let yourself be lead.

 

A Wretch Like Me

Sometimes, even though we know what we’re doing is wrong, we still choose to do it. We follow the temptations that the enemy lays out– what he dangles in front of us.

I am saved. I have made mistakes. I chose to make those mistakes. I have given in to temptation. I  had felt conviction and I wanted to fight it. And I believe that is why events occurred in my life.

When what meant so much to me was taken away, and I was left with nothing– nothing but God, who will never leave me, I began to realize the mistake I had made. I succumbed to the conviction I had been fighting and I asked my Father to forgive me.

When you go through trials, majority of the time it is to push something out of you (aka prune you). I understand that this needed to be pushed out of me and I am accepting responsibility of what I did. I allowed myself to be lead by the lust of the flesh and I won’t do that again. I know it was wrong; I knew then too, I just didn’t want to see it that way.

I’m waiting for my future husband and in that waiting I want to be obedient and keep any intimacy for marriage.

In addition to that mistake, I’m learning about myself and working on my other flaws. I can be stubborn and prideful and hardheaded. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be humble and kind and submissive and graceful.

I want to be the person God made me to be. I want to be the person my soulmate is looking for, whoever you are. Just know that I am working on me so much right now to be who you need. And I am praying for you.

With love and grace.

Jesus Is A Gardener Too

I struggle with losing people. My biggest fear has always been to lose people that I love. I lost someone this year and I’m not going to lie– it’s been one of the most difficult experiences I have had to deal with.

I have been having to adjust to my life without their presence. It has not been an easy process, but it has been a learning process and a growth process.

Last night in Bible study we talked about John 15. Throughout our life, Jesus prunes us so that we can be more fruitful. Pruning can mean different things for different people; it can mean removing people from your life, places, etc. These people and places can be wonderful and awesome, but they just don’t belong in your life anymore.

My teacher’s husband gave us an example of how Jesus pruned him for his future. When he was younger, before he met his wife, he was engaged to another woman. She was a great woman, Christian, everything he wanted, but he just felt like he needed to ask God if this was right for him. He prayed about it and God gave him a sign that said it wasn’t right so he ended the relationship. He said it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make but if he hadn’t made it he wouldn’t be with his wife now (they’ve been together for about 30 years). And even after he made the decision, he still went through a difficult time. Still, he put his trust in the Lord and God directed him to his wife.

When I heard last night’s message, I knew it was for me. Looking back, I remember sitting there when it felt like everything was falling apart and my world was crashing down around me and every fiber of my being was wanting to fight for what I thought I needed– what I believed to be right for me. However in the midst of everything, this phrase ran through my mind, “Do not fight it.” And so I didn’t. I did say a few words in disagreement, but I didn’t fight what was happening. I just let it happen. I wanted to fight it more than anything in the world. I wanted to beg and plead and just show that I didn’t want this to happen– but I couldn’t. That phrase held me back from doing what every part of me wanted to do.

Do you know what that was? It was the Holy Spirit. I remember that feeling and I thought it was just me being in shock or whatnot. A lot of times we don’t recognize the Holy Spirit; we think that hearing God’s voice means we’re going to hear a booming voice speaking directly to us, but it’s not necessarily so. It can be a small whisper telling you something different than everything you’re feeling. A glimmer of hope or trust or wisdom.

If God is pruning you, you have to allow it. If you don’t allow it, you’re only going to make the process harder. If you sit and embrace it, it will make the experience much easier for you and help bring in the fruit bearing season.

John 15 gives me hope. If God is taking someone or something out of your life, He is doing it because He is going to replace it with what you truly need– what He has in store for you.

With love and grace, embrace your pruning.

Walk By Faith

I made a big decision. I had been thinking about it for a while, with my mind pretty set on it, and I finally chose to make it official this week.

I felt like it was the right choice for me. Then, I had someone attempt to put doubt in my mind and I just wanted to know if this was what is right for my life. All of me believed it was– but I have been wrong before.

So Sunday morning as I was preparing for church, I prayed a little prayer asking God to “send me a sign” and let me know if this decision was right. During the service, Pastor was telling us about a decision in his past that he had made to go to Arizona and learn a trade. He felt as if God wanted him to go there. However, someone very close to him told him that it wasn’t the right decision. Pastor said God told him, “Listen to the Lord.” Right in that moment, my momma elbowed me. I knew then that God had answered my prayer, right there in the midst of the service.

Whenever I told my decision to my boss, I told her the whole story of how I came to it. Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, “You’re not going to believe this, but just now I heard God say, ‘She’s going to walk by faith.'”

I am. I am stepping out of the boat onto the water. I have never done anything like this before and if you asked me a year ago would I do this, my answer would have been no way. I’ve been walking closer to my God lately and I feel like this will be an even greater test of my faith.

I am filled with such excitement and joy I can hardly express it. I’m excited for my faith walk. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) God is a light unto my feet, not a spotlight ahead of me. So I’m going to have hopes and plans, but I know that I will be taking it one step at a time, with God right beside me.