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To be honest, I don’t really know where this is about to go. Typically, when I write, a thought pops into my mind and I think about it for a few days before typing it out when it feels right. But right now, I just feel the need to write.

About what? I don’t really know. Why? Because I have been following the lead of my Creator for long enough to know when He is working something out within me. For what reason? I don’t know yet. Sometimes I never find the answer to that last question, but I’m kind of amazed by that. Amazed  by the idea that these words have power beyond my understanding. That by taking the time to just let the Lord do His thing through me, I could be used to bring glory to the God of all creation…somehow.

Let me be very clear, in my own right I am not worthy. I am not worthy of any clever phrase or well-structured sentence credited to my name (not many of those here, I’m afraid…grammar was never my strongest subject) .  I am not worthy to even think the name of Yahweh.

But y’all. God is. He is worthy of so much more than these words can express. He is worthy of every ounce of praise we shout and every prayer we pray, spoken or not. He is worthy of more glory and adoration than I could ever give.

Because He is God. Redeemer of the lost. Healer of the sick. Helper of the poor. Savior of the world. Creator of all things. Restorer of the broken. Sustainer of sanity. Pursuer of hearts. Answerer of prayers. Provider of needs. Father to the fatherless. Planner of futures. Worker of miracles. Friend to the lonely. Sovereign in all situations. Shelter for the weak. Bearer of heavy loads. King of all kings. Transformer of hearts and lives… and this is only scratching the surface because my human brain cannot comprehend all that He is. These are just the glimpses of Himself He has graciously allowed me to see.

So this is it. Maybe you’re still not sold on this whole “God thing.” Maybe you’ve never experienced the Lord in your own life. Maybe you’ve heard all about it but you want to know Him personally. Maybe you needed to be reminded of one of these attributes. Maybe you have another you’d like to add the the list.

Whatever your case is, bring it to God.

Please. I may have only seen glimpses, but I know that He is worthy of your time and capable of handling your circumstances, whatever they may be.

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when the fear comes…

Today is March 3, 2019.

On this day last year, life was good. I was happy, I was healthy, I was working.  The Lord had just brought me out of a season of waiting and feeling “stuck” (see “The Desert Place post if you don’t believe me), and I was excited about His working in my life.

Today, I reflect on that day and I’m honestly brought to tears by what I didn’t know then. I didn’t know that in 9 short days life as I knew it would be turned upside down.  I didn’t know that I was about to be brought to the end of my strength, my sanity, and frankly my ability to live. I didn’t know that over the next few months I was going to find myself closer to the Lord of my heart than ever before out of pure desperation to grasp the one thing I knew would stay steady.

I didn’t know.  Because it hadn’t happened yet.

So today, I have to admit that the point behind me writing this is that I am finding fear creeping into my heart.  Fear is reminding me of how oblivious I was to the pain that was so near to making its presence known, and fear is telling me that it can happen again.

As the 1 year mark gets closer and closer on my calendar, I find myself in crippling moments when the fear of my headache returning overwhelms me. It terrifies me.  It reminds me of the miserable pain and whispers to me that I couldn’t survive that again. And y’all, the limits of my humanity agree with the fear. I don’t think I could survive that again.

But God.

I could honestly stop writing there because God is the only word I need to keep speaking over myself. I need to be reminded of God.

I need to be reminded of God’s past faithfulness, of His right-now presence, of His future promises.

I need to be reminded of the love story He has written to me, of the sacrificial and unconditional love He has shown me by saving my doubting soul.

I need to be reminded that even when I want to let go and give in to the fear, He holds on to my heart and whispers truth. Even when I’m paralyzed by fear and don’t think I can take another step into the unknown, He sustains me…and carries me if need be.

I need to be reminded of His  grace. The kind of grace that gets me through the day when the day seems like it just won’t end.

I need to be reminded that time and time again He has rescued me from fear and provided a shelter for me in Himself, and He will continue to do so until I’m home with Him where fear cannot find me.

I need to be reminded of the peace that is found only in Him. The peace that goes beyond my circumstances and remains steadfast in the chaos.

I needed to be reminded of the purpose behind the pain. The pain was real, but I cannot express the incredible joy I have found in His presence or the unending gratitude that fills my heart each day at the thought of His provision during the fiasco that was my life in 2018.

When I think about enduring any kind of pain like that again, my humanness shouts that I could not survive it again. But God. God is reminding me of Himself. He carried me through once before and if the pain comes again, the Lord will carry me, once again.


 

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord. He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you…The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
-Psalm 91:1-7,14-16

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new year, same God

For the past few years, I have sworn off New Year’s resolutions.  Not because I think they’re a bad idea, but because someone once told me to pick one word. Not a list, but one single word that will define your new year, because it’s much easier to keep up with one word than a whole list of resolutions.

In 2017, my word was peace.  In a year where I would leave the USA for the first time, start a job, finish my exams, and manage to get my Masters degree, peace was just what I needed.  And I found it…and then lost it (my fault)…and then found it again.

Through it all, the biggest thing I learned was that peace, true peace that comes only from God, is really just a whisper away.  It’s amazing and it’s completely insane and I don’t think I could ever explain it well enough to do it justice, but there is something so incredible and so humbling about being  able to literally say the name of Jesus and feel a peace in your soul that tells you He is there. He has always been there.

Even in the struggles and the moments where it seems like you take one hit after another, the peace that can be found in the presence of the Holy Spirit remains steadfast.  The key is not God giving His peace to you because He did that long, long ago. You have to accept it. You have to choose it. You have to trust Him.

Thinking of this new year and what my word would be for 2018, I began praying…because as much as I like to think otherwise I really don’t know anything about what this next year will hold, but God does. He’s already laid out each day with more care and more love than I could ever deserve. And that’s when I was reminded of part of a devotion I read a few months back:

“Linger with me.” 

So as I continued praying about what my word should be, it was as if God kept reminding me of this little sentence and then one word started popping up…

Abide: to wait for…to accept without objection…to remain stable…to continue in a place…to conform to…to dwell…to stay or live somewhere...

In 2018, I want to wait for my Jesus and for His perfect timing. I want to “stand still and see the great thing the Lord is about to do before my eyes.” (1 Samuel 12:16, Psalm 27:13-14, Psalm 130:5)

I want to believe and trust with all my heart that God is exactly who He says He is. I want to accept without objection that freedom and forgiveness and grace can be found through Christ because of a love too great to understand. (John 3:16-17, Romans 8:2, 1 John 4:10)

I want to remain in His love, to dwell in the shelter of the Most High God, to linger in His presence, to rest in His promises, and to seek his peace and hope and joy in every moment. (Psalm 91:1, Romans 8:28, John 15:9, Ephesians 3:16-19)

I want to live the life He has called me to live, becoming more and more like Him with each passing day. (Ephesians 2: 10, Romans 12:2)

In a life full of brokenness and uncertainty and so much darkness, I want to abide in the One who shines so brightly the darkness disappears.  The One who redeems and restores the broken. The One who speaks life and shows grace to every child He created. The One whose power is unmatched and whose presence is as steadfast as His love.

I want to abide in God–reverently, wholeheartedly, intentionally–as He so lovingly and faithfully abides in me.


“Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:4

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full

To be completely honest, the majority of this post has been written in moments of insecurity. In moments where I don’t feel like I’m enough. In moments where I feel like I don’t measure up to the unspoken standards in my life. In moments that I struggle with doubting my potential and whether I can live up to the expectations of people or (more importantly) the plans of God.

So why would I think it’s a good idea to publish all these moments and reveal that as much as I like to pretend to have it all together, I really, really don’t? Maybe it’s because I’ve lost my mind (real possibility), or maybe it’s because I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles with insecurity.

But y’all the biggest reason I want to write this is because this is life. Sometimes life is great and everything works out exactly the way you want it to, but other times life can absolutely kick you in the rear end…and then kick you one more time just to be sure you felt it.  It’s with this in mind that I need to remind myself (and anyone willing to read this) that even in the dark corner of insecurity and comparison and uncertainty, there is God.

“For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” – Colossians 2:9-10

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19 

So with these verses, here’s what I’ve been reminding myself of:

Because God is full, I can be too–not by my own abilities, but by His.

Because He is faithfull.
Because He is wonderfull.
Because He is all-powerfull.
Because He is mercifull.
Because He is full of hope and joy and love and patience and kindness and goodness, I can be too.

To clarify: He is full, 100% complete, lacking nothing, needing nothing.  And He is mine.  He is my God, my Savior, my Lord, my Comforter, my Guide, my Maker.  In His fullness there is no room for insecurity and no desire for comparison.  God has made every effort to pursue my heart and pour Himself into me so that I could experience the fullness of Him who stopped at nothing–not even death–to make me His own.

God, in all His fullness, chooses me.  He wants me and calls me His beloved and His child.  He offers to fill me with all of Himself–His love, His grace, His strength, His presence– knowing all too well that I am not even worthy of a drop of His sweat.  Knowing that I will never in my own power be deserving enough to call on His name, He calls mine.  Hallelujah.  There is nothing more powerfully secure than this.


ps- if you have similar struggles, say these words to yourself as if you had written them. Lift up your cup (aka-your heart), watch Him fill it up, and then watch it overflow with all that He is.

 

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Expecting the Expected

“No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute.”

How would life look if we lived in a constant state of expectancy?  If we made an effort to look for God’s presence and His fingerprints each and every day of our lives?  Because this is something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now, I didn’t want to just pose the question. I wanted to see it through and share the result, and let me tell y’all that there are results (praise Jesus).  So for the past week, my goal has been to “live in a constant state of holy expectancy.”  I wanted to seek the Lord first, depend on His promises, and expect that He will reveal Himself (in His way and in His time) in even the smallest moments…

*side notes- I only go through 5 days because if I did any more than that y’all would get tired of reading this post. (because God is good & I could go on and on about this topic)*


Day 1: Intent and attitude.  It’s only been one day, but it quickly became clear to me that holy expectancy begins with intent and attitude.  I must be intentional in seeking the Lord and expecting Him to do great things in my life.  My attitude must be one of humility and awe.  I must realize that I have no good thing apart from God, and I must believe in all that He is and was and will be.

Day 2: It’s day two, and y’all I’m kind of already shocked.  No shining lights from heaven or visits in the middle of the night from an angel, but I can honestly say that I cannot remember even a moment where an anxious thought held me captive.  This isn’t to say I didn’t have an anxious thought (the enemy knows my struggles well), but these thoughts didn’t linger and steal my peace.  This may not sound like a big revelation or victory, but for someone who has often struggled with worry/anxiety, there is no other explanation for the unhindered joy I’ve felt than God himself.

Day 3: The only word I can use to describe this day is joy.  Pure, not circumstantial, carefree joy, and it. feels. GREAT!  There is something so powerful about seeking the Lord’s presence and believing that He will be found each time I turn my eyes His way.  My day may have had a few bumps, but even with the bumps I found myself overflowing with joy with the help of this reminder of the greatness of our God and His love for me (and you):

“There is nothing that can ever separate us from Your love.  No life, no death, of this I am convinced: You, My God, are greater still.”  -The Greatness of our God, Hillsong United

Simple and to the point but so, so good to hear time and time again.

Day 4: Today was not my best.  Nothing ‘bad’ happened, but my mind was not Christ-focused for much of the day.  I let my focus slip, until I got in my car to drive home from work…sitting on the interstate, surrounded by people, with road rage building in my veins, I was gently reminded (shout-out to the K-Love radio station) that more than being loved by God, I am renewed, I am cleansed, I am restored, and I am free to dive into the depths of His love for me.  His love expresses itself in grace the moment my thoughts turn back to Him. The road rage that quickly rang through my mind can be even more quickly replaced with thankfulness at the reminder of God’s grace for sinners like me.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the purpose of me working on holy expectancy.  He is working, even when I am slipping.

Day 5: Today I wanted to focus on what “holy expectancy” was all about… Walking by faith and expecting God to show up in all moments, not just in the moments we most clearly see our need for Him.  Believing that promises made thousands of years ago still remain  (Romans 8:28).  Waking up with the knowledge that you will one day literally stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords and hear Him graciously welcome you home (John 10:27-29).  Believing that the Almighty, all-powerful God is exactly who he says he is (Revelation 1:8, Psalm 95:1-7).


With these things in mind, holy expectancy simply put is believing that God will do God things.  He has split the seas, healed the sick, raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, freed his people, and the list goes on.  He is God, and He will do great things, but if we are not tuned into Him we will miss His fingerprints and the blessing that comes in recognizing His presence and power over our lives.  This past week has truly been eye-opening, and if you (like me) haven’t really put much thought into this concept of expectancy until now, I encourage you do so.  However that looks for you, please take a step in faith and expect the Most High God to do things that only He can do.

If you listen, He will speak.

“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do right before your eyes!” – 1 Samuel 12:16

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Remember

It seems as if lately God has been calling me to remember Him…and it’s sad how often I really do need the reminder he places on my heart.  I think this forgetfulness is something a lot of us struggle with, and so I share the reminders I have needed over the years with the hope that anyone willing to read finds the reminder they might need tonight:

“Remember my love.” Romans 8: 38-39, 1 John 4:9-10
God’s love exists without condition, without exception, and without end.

“Remember my grace.”  Romans 3:23-24, John 1:16
We make mistakes, but God (thankfully) welcomes us home with open arms time and time again.

“Remember me before you stumble.”  Psalm 37:24
He may catch you, or He may use that to raise you higher than before. Either way, He is good.

“Remember my presence.” Acts 17:27-28, Psalm 23:4
Even when He seems distant, He is closer than you know.  Our King is ever-present.

“Remember my pursuit of your heart.” Psalm 23:5-6
God wants your whole heart, brokenness and all.  He wants you.

“Remember my promises and hold tight to them.”  Hebrews 10:23
In the mountain-top moments and the deepest valleys.

“Remember my wisdom.” James 1:5
Seek Him.  For guidance, for clarity, for all things.

“Remember my plan.” Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 29:11
His plan for your life is good and pleasing and perfect, and it has been designed for you and you alone.

“Remember my sovereignty.” Colossians 1:15-17, Psalm 33:6-9
When life gets messy (and it will), God is in control.

“Remember my goodness.” James 1:17, Psalm 119:68
There is no good thing apart from Jesus, and in Him goodness can be found in every situation.

“Remember my sacrifice.” Romans 8:1-4
Jesus left a perfect home to come humbly into a broken and hopeless world to pay the debt of our sin and make us children of God and co-heirs with Christ.

“Remember my strength.” Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:29-31
When you are weak, He is strong.  When you are strong, He is stronger still.

“Remember that I am for you.” Psalm 16:8, Psalm 68:19
Every step you take, He takes with you.  Cheering you on, lifting you up, carrying you through every day and watching over you every night.

“Remember my peace.” John 14:27
A peace that is available in all moments and all seasons of life that cannot be taken from you by this world.

“Remember me…”  Isaiah 48:12
He is the Almighty God.  The great I Am.  He is unchanging, never-failing, ever-present, and so much more.

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chase grace

We all have people in our lives who inspire us. People who teach us, guide us, encourage us, and love us.  We can all point to a person in our past, and hopefully our present, who showed us by the way they walk through life what it means to chase grace.

The person who showed, not by words, but by actions what it means to pursue the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

The person who teaches you that there is peace to be found in the midst of war and there is something to love about every heart and every person whose heart is beating.

The person who proves that even on the darkest night there is light and there is hope and there is joy.

The person who showed you how to forgive when anger was the much easier option.

The person who is unrelenting in their drive to show compassion in a world where hate and divisiveness seem to take precedence…

My hope is that as you read this, someone comes into your mind.  Your person.  The one who taught you these things, showed you the love of Christ, and led you into a relationship with the One who intentionally molded every piece of you.

Go be that person.

Think about how different your life would be without that person.  The person who demonstrated what it means to follow Christ.  Whether their guidance was known to them or not, they impacted your life simply by living the life God meant for them to live.

In the same way, you may never know the lives you touch or the impact you make on someone’s walk with Jesus, but I think that’s absolutely beautiful.  We don’t live for God in order to be praised by other people, we live for God because we have been transformed by his presence in our lives and want desperately to share the unchanging love he offers to everyone around us.  The impact we, as followers of Christ, have on someone stems only from our God’s ability to break through into that person’s heart and make himself known.

I say all this to make this one point: You can be the very person you look to as an example of what it looks like to follow Christ because you know the very same joy.

The God that captured their heart and set them on their journey to forever chase His grace is the same God who has in turn captured yours.  Whether the person you are thinking of knows the impact they had on your faith or not, God used them to bring you to Him.  He used their obedience in living for Him to bring another soul back home…And He can use you to do the same.

You can be that person.  Live your faith loud, love unceasingly, be compassionate, and run unashamed toward the One who met you wherever you were when your own journey began.  You never know who might be watching.

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