Not Today

Hello sweet friends,

I have to be honest with y’all. The enemy has truly been attacking me. Initially, I didn’t realize that it was the enemy. I was so upset– he got me so upset that I had an anxiety attack! I woke up so anxious still the following morning. It was rough, very rough. And it all came after a beautiful night of worship. So when I woke up the next morning, I wanted to believe it was all a dream. But like most of life, it was real and unable to be wished away.

I forced myself out of bed and into the car, driving around and blasting worship music. Worshipping our Heavenly Father is my favorite and also what helps me the most when I’m hurting or upset. It’s also when I hear God the clearest talking to me.

Anyways, as I said, I was so upset and I was trying to work through my emotions. I finally pulled my car over to the side of the road and collapsed into sobs. Not even one minute in, my phone started ringing and it was my Bible study teacher calling. Isn’t God’s timing perfect? Just when I needed uplifting the most, the best person for the job called me and lifted me up. She talked to me about how she believed Satan was attacking me. He used my biggest weakness against me– relationships.

Why was he attacking me? Because he knows I’m going to do something awesome for God this summer. He knows God has a wonderful plan for me and he wants to stop it. The night before, at the Revival, the message was about roadblocks and how Satan tries to put up roadblocks to stop us from reaching our destiny. When God started giving me this realization and helping me to put this altogether, I became angered with Satan and it made me worship God even LOUDER. Satan wants one thing– to steal your joy. But my joy comes from the Lord.

It’s not easy, but being a believer doesn’t mean life will be easy. Being a believer means that even though life is hard, we aren’t alone. And everything will turn out good. My favorite verse says, “And we know all things work together for good for those who love God and seek first Him and His righteousness.” [Romans 8:28]

I took what Satan tried to harm me with and used it to glorify God. I chose love and joy and forgiveness. I could’ve played the victim or truly used how my flesh felt I was being wronged as an excuse to be hateful or spiteful or whatnot. But I prayed to the Holy Spirit and asked Him to be LOUDER than my feelings. I asked Him to lead, guide, direct and protect me.

Not today, Satan. Not any day. You won’t steal my joy! You won’t stop me from reaching my destiny! I am more pumped than ever for this summer! All Satan did was fuel my fire for the Lord!

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Seed To Sequoia

Y’all I have the most amazing news! I just want to scream it from the rooftops! I was hired to be a staff member at an awesome ministry!

I am so overwhelmed and thrilled. I found out about an hour ago. I keep crying– flowing tears of joy and thankfulness!

I graduated in December and I haven’t had luck with any of the jobs that I’ve applied for (and I’ve applied for a bunch). I’ve been interviewed a few times but haven’t had any callbacks. (These were all jobs related to my degree.) I wasn’t sure if this was the path for me just yet.

In the midst of all this, however, I had applied for this ministry position. Back in September of 2017, I started feeling like maybe I needed to go out and participate in the Great Commission– to be a Fisher of Men, to spread God’s Word and love around. I kept thinking about it for a few months, but I wasn’t sure exactly which way to go. In January, a new friend of mine posted about this opportunity, asking for us to reach out if we were interested. I went back and forth about it for about a week or so, nervous to reach out. Finally, with a few seconds of boldness that only comes from the Good Lord, I sent her a message. Within the next few days, we met up and discussed it and I applied. All I could do from that point was wait and pray.

I prayed about this over and over. I asked God that if this was His will for me and my life, that I would be chosen. Earlier in March, I received a message from the director asking me to set up an interview. I picked the soonest times and two days later interviewed. He said I would hear from him again soon. Everything sounded promising but still, not definite. Waited again.

Almost two weeks had passed without a word until earlier. I was lying in bed, trying to go to sleep early because I wanted to go to the gym in the morning. My phone buzzed, text message buzz (most people don’t text me late at night) and I rolled over to check it. It was my sweet friend asking me to check Facebook (where I would be informed that I was, in fact, hired). I flung my quilt off and flew to my mom’s room to tell her, scaring my dozing cats in the process. I started crying. And I still am.

I don’t know about you, but when I get that confirmation from God about something in my life, I feel so incredibly overwhelmed– but in a beautiful way. I just feel filled with love and hope and excitement. I asked God for this. I asked Him to show me His will in this area (and all others, still waiting on those) but specifically, in this moment, this opportunity. And He did. I’m so honored and just unbelieving that I will be doing this– and doing it for Him!

When I talked about obedience, I told you I thought I would have exciting news soon. Well, here it is. I waited. I went through my 40 {plus a few) days. I don’t think I can relay exactly how I feel right now. Blessed. Overwhelmingly blessed.

My message to you sweet friends is not to give up. This could be day 7 or day 40. Keep on walking. Keep on praying. Keep on trusting in our Heavenly Father. He will direct your steps but you have to keep your feet moving.

I’m so excited for this new season and opportunity. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you thank you thank you.

Sunday Is Coming

It’s Good Friday y’all, but Sunday is coming!

When Jesus was crucified, the whole world was covered in darkness. Everyone felt hopeless and heartbroken. The devil was smiling, believing he had won. Little did he know, Sunday was coming.

Our Savior rose on that Sunday, many years ago. He conquered death, hell, and the grave. He sacrificed Himself, His life, so that we could be free and have our own lives. He gave His life for love– He loves us so incredibly greater than we could ever fathom.

We all go through tough times; through heartache and disappointment. There are days when everything seems dark and hopeless. There are days when it may feel like the enemy has won. What we have to do during these moments is take a step back and remind ourselves that Sunday is coming. Remember that Jesus is victorious and so are we.

Last year, three days before Easter, a personal trial began. The significance of Easter and how it can be applied to our lives never resonated with me so strongly as it did then. After being surrounded by darkness, the light would return. After feeling overwhelmingly defeated, victory would come. It was Friday, but Sunday was coming.

No matter what trials we go through, Sunday will always come. Always. Hold onto that beautiful hope and knowledge that we will overcome because He overcame for us.

It’s Friday y’all, but Sunday is coming.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.