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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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

Your Ministry

I never realized that I could minister to others through my own experiences. I always thought of someone who “ministers” as a preacher or pastor. I didn’t realize that I– little imperfect me— could also minister. In Bible study, however, I have come to discover that yes, I can do just that.

We all have ministries of our own, we may not know it. Our experiences, our trials, what we overcome, can allow us to help someone else who is experiencing similar issues. As you go through life, you will discover your ministry. You may have several different ones, or one huge one.

Twice in the past two months I have been able to minister to people. People that reached out to me, unprompted and a bit surprising; I was able to help them. Had I not just been through a similar experience, I wouldn’t have had the words to say to encourage them. It was during those moments that I felt more aligned with God than I had before. Even in the pain, I felt joy inside of me. It was affirmation for me! I was able to comfort another using what I had learned through the Word. (I was so excited I just wanted to run and tell everybody!)

Trials are not fun experiences. Yet, they do something amazing– they allow you to become the person that God created you to be. They help you witness to others the glory and grace of God. They help you lead others closer to Him. (Matthew 5:13 – 16) You just have to allow them– you have to be willing to grow. 

With love and grace, enjoy your weekend.

Healing

Each day I ask God to heal my heart, soul, body and mind.

This past month or so has not been an easy one for me. I’ve had a great deal of heartache, confusion, and endless questions that I’m too afraid to ask. I’ve been working on growing through what I’m going through.

Some days are easier than others. I’ve been listening to worship music each morning, and periodically throughout my day when I’m feeling a bit low. I’ve been reading several devotionals and have also started a book that I should have started months ago. I’m working on renewing my mind to be more Christ-centered and less self-centered.

As I stated, I’ve been asking God for His healing. I’ve been told that healing is yours if you take it. It’s a decision. By this, I don’t mean you decide one day, “I’m healed” and never have trouble again– you do. But each time that feeling or thought pops in your mind, you have to cast it back into the sea.

In the beginning, I wanted to complain and I did. “Why did this happen to me? Where did I go wrong?” Yet, we should not complain. (Philippians 2:14 – 16) We know not what He is doing for us.

God delivered His people from the slavery in Egypt and was bringing them to the Promised Land, but do you know what they did? They complained. He was working wonders for them– yet they complained. And they didn’t get to see the Promised Land.

God has done so much for us and is doing for us and will do for us. We may not see it, but we have to trust and know that He is God. Appreciate how God has blessed you, despite your heartaches.

What if your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

You can complain or you can pray, but you cannot do both. 

With love and grace, be blessed.

Understanding God’s Ways

Understanding– that’s a phrase we seem to have trouble with more often than not. I know that I struggle to understand many things. Life is not clear cut; if you use the Bible as your instruction manual, it can be way easier. Yet, we seem to get caught up in our human lives and stuck inside our human minds, unable to step away and take a different look at the situation. We have to do that, otherwise we won’t overcome our trials. If you’re trying to make it through a difficult time or experience without God– you’re going to fail.

Simon Peter knew this. When Jesus told him to put the net into the water, after they had repeatedly done so, Simon did just that. “Because you say so, I will.” (Luke 5:5 NIV)
God tests your faith. When nothing you’ve tried has worked, when you’ve exhausted all your options, maybe it’s time to stop and ask God what He would do. You have to be willing to listen– it is your choice to listen to the right voice. You will know which one is right based on what you’re told. God would only ask you to do something good– never anything bad.

If you use the story (Luke 5:1 – 11), you can see that God works in three main ways.

  1. He uses the common for the uncommon. (Look for Him in your day-to-day lives and you will notice His works.)
  2. He will move you out of the security (shallows) to the risks (deep). The blessings and the trials are both part of the same “sea” of life. You can’t have one without the other.
  3. He allows you to go through one experience to teach you another. Those men became “fishers” of men.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We have to put God first in all aspects of life. We have to seek Him; read and study the Word. God loves us; He has promised to supply all our needs, He cares about every individual concern of ours.

I know it can be hard to understand what is happening or why it is happening, but I have been leaning on the belief and knowledge that God has everything planned out for me. As confusing and painful as my experience may be, I know inside that God is doing what is best for me. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

With love and grace, have a good day lovelies.