It isn’t over yet…

Here I am at the start of another year, another decade, and taking stock of all that God has done.  This was written last spring, when I didn’t know what the rest of 2019 held.  However, it all still holds up as truth, for my every day. 

I am so uncomfortable with mystery, to not have an answer to the question of what’s next.  I don’t know what to do with loose ends. Because the reality is that my story is not a Hallmark movie.  There isn’t a neat tidy ending that all makes sense right now.  

pawel-franke-MU644OOrmCU-unsplash
Photo by Pawel Franke on Unsplash

I don’t know the end.  I don’t know how God is going to wrap up this tale of the last 6 months of my life. I don’t know what he is going to do with these loose ends…the parts that are still floating out there looking for a landing zone.

Honestly, I told Him that I don’t get it.  Why would he lead me to this spot and not actually let there be the ending that made sense.  I write this on a day when it doesn’t make sense. There are still unanswered questions and parts of mystery.

Today is not the end, though.  It isn’t the final day, there isn’t a deadline to my story.  I long for there to be a time when it all makes sense, the waiting is over and I get my answers to the questions that have been lingering.  

I want to be able to have the answer for people when they ask about what’s next for me.  I want to know the path that is up ahead. There is assurance in that. Assurance in the plan, the next step…but is that actually faith?

Faith comes not by seeing what is next but in trusting in the one that designed, planned for the next step.  It feels cliche to say it, that God knows what’s next, and if I trust him, I don’t have to know.

matt-power-TpHmEoVSmfQ-unsplash
Photo by Matt Power on Unsplash

When the waiting is prolonged, when the mystery feels like it lasts forever. When everything feels shaking and falling apart, when you are used to having the answers, to be the strong and steady person with a plan.  When others look to you to have a plan, or when there is no one else in your life to have a plan, it’s just you, not knowing is scary. It is unsettling. 

God leads us there, to that spot that makes us feel unsettled.  We can’t get too comfortable in this world, too assured at what’s next, trusting in ourselves and our lives.  That isn’t faith.  Sometimes God leads us to the unknown, to trust in the One that is known. To increase our faith, to expand our trust in Him. 

The irony of all this, is that I prayed that God would increase my trust in him.  I prayed that he would help me trust him more. And now, here I am 6 months later, still in a spot where I have no choice but to trust in Him to work it out.  

And so many days it sucks.  The tears flow easily and the frustrated words are loud in my head and in my car when I am by myself. 

But would I want it any other way. No.

Do I trust anyone else to point me in the direction I should go? No. 

Sitting in the mystery, sitting in the unknown, is the space where God can meet us.  Where we get to experience his comfort, joy, grace, and compassion in more ways that we could know.

I am becoming more aware of the little ways that God encourages me in the middle of a waiting season.  I am becoming more aware of the ways that I run away and hide in my angst, and how much he still accepts me again and again.  I see the places that community surrounds me and encourages me in the middle of a space that I didn’t expect to be.

You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

–Psalm 77:14-20

daniil-silantev-SDoMyyylpnc-unsplash
Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

Let us not forget that He is the God that makes the waters tremble.  Even when we feel like we are in the deep water, in the unknown, in the way through the sea, God is not surprised or shocked or afraid.  He is God over the waters.  He is in control, and we can trust him or flail around and exhaust ourselves fighting the sea.

So often, I fight it.  I swim against the way that God wants me to or I am drowning in despair because I can’t do this on my own.

I so desperately and pridefully think I can do it on my own.  How gracious and kind He is to humble me and remind me that I am not alone, and I actually can’t make my way through the sea on my own.  He is with me.

Now 6 months later as I read these words, what I was experiencing then, I am so thankful. So thankful that God continues to bring me to the place to trust Him again and again. So thankful that I kept walking through the waters.

Friends, He, who makes the waters tremble and shake, is with you.  Not because of anything you have done, but because He loves you.

He loves you so much, that he isn’t going to leave you in the waters, but help you through them. Maybe not an immediate rescue, but with a life jacket, a swim partner, or strong current.  To bring you where he wants you to be.

Feet Like Deer

There are days when it feels like walking a tightrope.  Lean either direction and we will fall over. Maybe fall over and not get back up.  The tension feels unbearable. We can’t please anyone, we are failing in whatever way possible.

When it feels hard and impossible, when the hill or mountain in front of us feels insurmountable, we come face to face with our own limitations.

galen-crout-fItRJ7AHak8-unsplash

We know that there is no way that we ourselves can accomplish or tackle what we face each day.  It’s daunting to live the human experience, and to do it with any measure of success on our own.  

Whether it is getting that baby to sleep, to go on that date after a heartbreak, to complete that huge project at work, to finish the degree while working full time, or even to fold that laundry on your guest bed.

We are faced with situations in life that we aren’t able to overcome, we just don’t have it in us.  Especially if we try to do it alone.

I don’t know about you but when I get to these moments, I just want rescue.  I want God to make the situation to go away, I want to it to be easier. I get tired of facing the impossible all the time.

Why can’t my 6th hour just stop talking?  Why can’t I just find the one? Why can’t my toddler just obey the first time I ask?  Why can’t my spouse change their mind about this thing? Why can’t I get that promotion?

We would love to have that mountain flattened out into a valley or the issue resolved so that life is just a little easier.  We want the easy way out. 

However, sometimes, God doesn’t crumble that mountain.  He doesn’t vanquish our enemy before the battle. He doesn’t promise the easy life at all.  In fact he tells us that we will have trials. We will face suffering. We will face struggles.  Some as a result of our own sin and some because of the broken world.  

But God does promise to be with us. He does promise his presence and help in the time of need.

For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip. -Psalm 18:31–36 (ESV)

In Psalm 18, it says that he equips us with strength and makes our feet like deer and secures us in the heights.   He doesn’t always take us from the heights of those mountains we are in, but helps us be secure and abilities to navigate the heights.  

scott-carroll-favQn8WgRyk-unsplash

I spent the last 8 months of my life navigating some difficult terrain.  God was leading me out of the job I had for the last 4 years and the district I had been working in for the last 10.  But it didn’t work out the way I had planned. I had a lot of time to question my ability to actually get to where God had for me.  I questioned that this step was the right one to take. I questioned whether I had heard God right.  

And don’t get me wrong, I stumbled, cried in my office a lot, and even wrestled with doubt all the time.  But God didn’t let me go. He kept me in that spot, and he showed up in my friends, my family, and even some middle school students.  

Honestly, I couldn’t understand why didn’t just work out the details quicker.  It would have made a lot of sense, right. 

Now on the other side of things, I see a little bit of what God was doing.  How he was drawing me near to trust him. How he wanted to make sure I knew that it was Him working out the details.  He gave me the space before answering the prayer to move toward him and continue in trust.  

Don’t get me wrong, there is some of the story that just doesn’t seem clear, that I will someday ask God to explain.  

Now, reading this you might think, “well you can write this because it all worked out.” True, my situation looks different than it did 8 months ago, but there are other things in my life that God hasn’t worked out, other ways that my prayers haven’t been answered and longings still unmet.  I think on this side of heaven there will always be those things.

Friends, I write this because I need to be reminded that God hasn’t forgotten me.  So much of the last probably 2-3 years of my life, I felt that way.  I felt forgotten and alone in my situation.  And I there will probably another time in my life that I feel the same way again.  Maybe you feel that, maybe you don’t, but God is moving and working in ways we won’t ever comprehend and we can trust him.

paul-gilmore-U8MMsGmFAAU-unsplash

And that is the sweet spot, walking in trust when the answer or path isn’t clear.  That part of the journey is actually sweeter than the other side.  The times I had no other choice to cry out and ask him to help me through the high places.  Experiencing his presence and work was and still is one of the ways that continues to build my trust in Him.  

 

 

1- Photo by Galen Crout on Unsplash

2- Photo by Scott Carroll on Unsplash

3- Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

A God Who Sees

Sitting in the pew, alone at the evening service, I had come into the weekend tired and worn out.  Looking for a place of rest. Often I attend church not out of obligation but out a need for grounding before the week starts.  This weekend was no different, but it was a special one. Mother’s Day. A day when children make pancakes for a breakfast in bed, where flowers are bought and the unspoken sacrifice of mothers are acknowledged.

andrew-seaman-649001-unsplash.jpg

A day of celebration for some, a day of grief for others.

I find myself around mothers a lot.  I know a lot more about breastfeeding and child raising that I ever thought I would as a single woman.  Most of my very best friends have 2-3 children and we often hang out after bedtime or on a weekend morning when they can get away.

In my seat, on this evening, something broke. The emotions were ready at the surface.  And it stemmed from struggling to put into words how much a day like this did to stoke the flame of a life I desire to have. 

We sang these words, that dug deep in my heart and I tried to push them away, “There is a God who sees, just right where you are.”  When I think about the fact that God sees me, the tears flow quickly because in this moment, I feel unseen, I feel forgotten.  

Many times I think I am supposed to just keep going, be thankful for my blessings and keep living.  But I also feel that this ache and longing are just permanent roommates that I will live with forever.  The silent struggle of longing is a constant unwanted friend. 

As I sat in that pew, I tried hard to disguise the tears, slowly wiping my eyes so that no one around me would notice. I tried to hide the sniffles and the hot mess I was slowly becoming. I didn’t want the pity, I didn’t want to explain why in this moment, the pain was bubbling towards the surface.  I didn’t want to be another single girl crying about her lack of a husband and children.

In the pain, it’s lonely.  Especially if we try to hide it.  It’s exhausting to disguise something that hurts.  If you are trying to hide a limp, you sometimes end up hurting everywhere else, because you are compensating for the bad leg. It’s often better to do the things necessary to heal or rest so you don’t injure something else in the process.

In many ways, I am afraid to admit that I really want this thing, motherhood.  Because there have been other things that I have wanted for years and I didn’t get.  Years of wanting something, praying about it, because that is what good church folk do. But this prayer it hasn’t been answered.  This turns into tears of praying that God would take away this dream, that it wouldn’t be on my mind or heart. That I wouldn’t feel so distraught at the turn of every year when nothing has changed.

Then I wonder is it wrong to still want it when the prayer has not been answered?  Even when it is painful to long, to want. Is it wrong to still desire this thing that is in my heart? We often pray that God takes away the pain, takes away the longing. Because it would just be easier if we didn’t want it as much, right?

However, I think if the longing wasn’t there, we would be missing something.  We would be missing what happens between us and God when we long and pray and come before him.  On this side of heaven, we will always be in wanting, longing, for something that this world cannot provide.  

michael-domanic-110442-unsplash.jpg

To be honest, the words that I typed at the beginning of this post were written a year ago. I couldn’t post them. I couldn’t admit that I was in pain because I was still in sitting in a painful longing.  I was in a spot that I couldn’t have imagined 5 years ago. Sharing them now is a little bit easier, because God has revealed himself in my longing and pain. There are still moments that the pain is acute and so overwhelming that I have begged God to take away the longing, the desire for a different life than I lead now.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
And set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord,.
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
Who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie.

– Psalm 40: 1-4

But He has given me a new song to sing, a new dream in my heart. He has given me glimpses of joy that I would have missed if my life were different.  He has given me a different picture of what motherhood and family looks like. He has surprised me in ways that I didn’t think were possible.

The longer I am on this journey with the Lord, God is gracious to expand my view of him. He isn’t a God that is transactional. We don’t pray, live good lives and he gives us stuff we want.  His desire for us is bigger than that. He wants to be with us, to be near us so much so that our suffering, our longing, our wanting, is all a part of his timing and plan.  It brings us so much closer to his heart. In the moment it can feel cruel and so unloving of God. But He is a father, a heavenly father, desiring for our eternal good more than our momentary fleeting happiness.

What is even better than in the middle of our suffering, pain, and longing, he doesn’t leave us to deal with it on our own.  He is right there beside us, he is with us, to comfort, to love, to care for our aching hearts.

So friends, I don’t know where this lands with you today, whether Mother’s day is a great day, a hard day, or heartbreaking day, but as someone who experiences a wide spectrum of feelings on this day, God sees you.  He sees you right where you are at, he sees your aching heart, your joyous heart, your longing heart, your grieving heart.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Photo by Michael Domanic on Unsplash

Throne

As children we play pretend princess, sending younger siblings to serve us juice and crackers, fanning us as we sit on a throne of pillows and blankets in our make believe castles.  Twirling in our dresses, making the neighbor kids into our subjects, and ruling our empires of the backyard with delight and imagination. It quickly dissolves once one kid questions our authority, but for a moment, we get the taste of the power and the throne.

No one has to tell us that this type of position is better. No one has to teach a child to order other people around.  No one has to tell us that a tantrum in a middle of a store is going to get us what we want.

william-krause-741173-unsplash

The idea of a throne, ruling, and reigning is entrenched into our DNA.  We are born with a desire for power or control, but also with the need for worship, the need to be lead by someone or something.  

We often question how people get themselves into bad relationships, pyramid schemes, a terrible job or even cults.  It’s because, unchecked, we are looking for something to lead us somewhere. We are looking for someone to tell us who we are and where we belong.It’s in us.  And maybe not everyone gets sucked into a cult, but it could be way less extreme than that.

There is a throne of our heart, and we are constantly trying out all kinds of things to put in that place. There is a place of control, reign, ideals, values, that drives us to act and live out as we do.

And this isn’t surprising, humanity has been this way for a long time. Throughout the old testament, you see the rejection of God as the true ruler, King over their hearts.

After God led his people out of Egypt, slavery and through the wilderness.  He gave them the promised land. But they weren’t happy, the strayed away, they followed after other gods.  He provided them Judges and Priests to try to bring them back, but when the Judges and Priests either died or didn’t follow after God.  They cried for a King, like all the other nations. They were warned what an earthly king would do.

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” -1 Samuel 8:6–9

Friends, let’s be honest.  We aren’t more evolved or better than those in the Old Testament world.  We are quick to run from idol to idol. We can even church those idols up and lie to ourselves that they really aren’t idols or all that bad.  We may not have altars with foreign bronze or gold statues in our houses.  We don’t go to a temple and offer burnt sacrifices.

s-o-c-i-a-l-c-u-t-1300639-unsplash

But we lay ourselves out on the altar of social media presence and notoriety.  We put up white fences and shiplap. We sacrifice time for financial security, entertainment and independence.  We step up onto the throne worshiping self-empowerment and heroism. When set up our lives to celebrate things and experiences like festivals and feasting driving us to live for the present moment more than anything else.  We chase after relationships and false loves, giving our hearts to things that will crumble under the pressure of the crown.

We reject God’s authority when it gets too uncomfortable, or means that we are vulnerable to lose everything we worked hard to attain.  We reject God’s reign of our lives when it means having a hard conversation. We reject God as King when get that ring on our finger, worshipping the gift instead of the giver.

Friends, may I even plead that we struggle with God as king, because it literally means that we are more lost than we thought.  We are more helpless and inadequate than we want to admit. No one wants to feel weak. And when God rules and reigns in our life as the true King, we have to face the facts.  We are in desperate need.

But it really is good news.  

Such good news.

ashton-mullins-138190-unsplashI need to hear that it’s not up to me.  The crown is too heavy. The pressure is too much. I can barely handle keeping my kitchen clean, let alone being sovereign over my days.  

In our current day, so many more people are struggling with anxiety, depression, unhappiness, than statistics will ever show.  We can’t keep up. But we don’t have to. No, our Father in heaven, sent Jesus as the true and better King, to establish his reign and rule here on earth as it is in heaven.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdomto establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”  -Isaiah 9:6–7

It’s on his shoulder and he will uphold it.  We don’t have to.  We can live in peace and rest because He is on the throne.  He came, bore a crown of thorns, not just to sit on a golden throne here on earth, the throne of our hearts forever.

 

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Danger in the Hustle

“Hustle hard” rings as the anthem of this generation.  “Make your life what you want it to be. ” “Be your own hero.” Good intentions or not, this anthem is all over the place these days.  Kings and queens of this generation are writing books, hosting conferences and podcasts and preaching daily through insta-stories that “you are standing in your own way to success.” 

Yes, discipline and grit are great qualities to have in your life.  But to what end. To build a life on your own efforts and capabilities?  To work toward that American dream? To be the queen of your own kingdom? But we see, “kingdoms” fall all the time, so we know that it is a lie that we are sold since birth.  

The funny thing is that I am really good at hustle.  I am really good at building a schedule full of activity and making things happen.  However at some point that system stopped working for me. Being capable and maybe a little stubborn, ended with me dragging myself out of bed and trying to white knuckle through the day. 

Because, those qualities that helped me lose 90 lbs and run 4 half marathons, while getting 2 masters degrees, didn’t actually fix what was broken.

emma-simpson-153970-unsplash

On the other side of a decade of doing that, I find myself clinging to a shred of the vision that I once had for my life.  And honestly, at 23, I was just excited to have a job and live near all my friends. I never really thought what 10 years later would look like.  

I spent a lot of that time, pushing forward, living under guilt and shame… manipulating myself into thinking if I just lived more disciplined, more self controlled, more busy, my life would mean so much more.

Now, at the beginning of a new decade, I sit wondering, what IS IT really that I am living for?  What is the thing that is going to drive me forward, get me out of bed every day? Let’s be honest, that is what we ALL ask ourselves on some level every day, what is the point? Who are we sacrificing our time, energy, and life for?  Whose agenda are we trying to accomplish on a daily basis?

See, I have had this nagging feeling that I was trying to settle for the American dream (a happy, content, safe life, building up financial security, and building up a career), which might be the worst thing that could happen for me.  Those things in of themselves are not bad things, but not ultimate things. 

Now, I am not saying that hard work is bad.   I am not saying that you don’t suffer or benefit from good choices in life.  But there is something underneath this message that I think weighs heavier on our souls.  Hustle will only take us so far and deludes us into thinking that we are sovereign over our own life in the end.  Hustle is a drug that we take to try to distract ourselves from having to trust in our heavenly Father.

In college, in studying ancient Orators, such as Plato and Aristotle, I came across idea that human beings were constantly searching after the divine, because human beings were mortals split from a divine being and were were constantly searching for the other half.

greg-rakozy-38802-unsplash

My heart, my body, my soul, and my mind crave more.  I wasn’t made for this earth and as much as I hustle and work hard, if I am doing it to make a more comfortable home on this earth, I will always feel a little like I am trying to settle into an alien home.

“Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” – Heb. 11:12-13

In the midst of this restlessness, my mind has been my own worst enemy, hurt and pain from the past is resurfacing, calling out for healing, that I have long ignored or pushed aside to survive.  But now, as I push in to the restlessness my brain is crying “Danger Danger” often causing me to shrink back, to escape to numb myself from these feelings. I am heading towards the more for which He has for me and my flesh senses that there isn’t certainty or safety.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Can I risk my safety, can I stop hustling,  and trust that God is good?  Can I trust this restlessness to move me towards good things and not toward danger?  This is the hard part, because I can’t hustle my way out of it.  I can’t make a to do list and check things off and think it settles the restlessness.  This is a matter of trust and patience. 

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! -Psalm 31:24

We don’t like to wait, we don’t like to be still.  Even though it is instructed many times in scripture.  We want to make things happen on our own.  We want to hustle hard to make our life in the way that we think is best.  We dream and plan from our own strength and vision.

Friends, go ahead and hustle but also sometimes wait on and have courage in the Lord.  Remember that a life based on patience and trust in God is a life full of an eternal contentment that can’t be obtained in hustle or working hard, but given in grace and mercy that we don’t deserve, but because he loves us in an abundant unrelenting way.

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

 

Invited to the Party

Simply laughing, letting yourself in to the present moment, like you opened the door to the party that is happening all around you.  To lay down the weights you have been carrying, and let your shoulders drop in comfort and relaxation, feels strange but sweet.

Joy sparks joy, producing a lightness, both in level of gravity and brightness.  The bright light causing the darkness to scatter away like critters in a dark room.  

Joy gives way to breath and clarity and deep belief and faith.

priscilla-du-preez-229302-unsplash.jpg

I write a lot of about struggles and hard things, perhaps because I am trying to find the words that accurately describe where I spend a lot of my head space.  However, in this year of seeking out the abundance of God, I want to also name the places of joy in my life. Seeking to laugh and step into a space of gladness.  To experience the fullness of joy that God promises in his presence.

I wrestle to stay in the glad things, to remain there.  Maybe I feel some happiness at the surface but it feels fleeting.  Maybe I see it as superficial and irrelevant when there are bigger things happening.  However, finding what brings you joy, finding ways that God delights YOUR heart is so essential.  

It is a part of discovering who God made you to be, just as much as figuring out your talents and your calling.  It is just as important as digging into your past and present memories or struggles.

Joy in the Lord, is about experiencing all of who God is….God is full of gladness.  

ethan-hoover-738116-unsplash.jpg

You can see that in how Jesus loved children, how he enjoyed the company of many different kinds of people.  He hung out with twelve dudes, they had have cracked a joke or two, right? All over the Psalms it talks about gladness.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. – Psalm 16-9

What does it look like when your whole being rejoices? Think about David dancing or celebrating.  David sang and wrote poems, not just when things were hard but he was glad in the Lord. Think about the celebrating that Elizabeth did when she figured out she was expecting after years of barrenness in Matthew. 

I used to think having joy was all about having everything go super great, that life was just as you expected, and every day was perfect. It was about being happy and content. But if that is all that having joy is, then I miss out on the deep joy of seeing the good in a day that is really crappy.

I miss out on the deep laughter that can come after a dark day.  I would miss out on the joy of smiling with tears in your eyes after praying with a friend.  I would miss out on community surrounding you when life isn’t at all what you expected.

By expecting life’s joy to be a certain way, you miss out on the unexpected.  God showing up in ways you didn’t know that you needed.

That is often how God shows up, in the unexpected and unasked for ways.  We didn’t even know that we needed to ask for that friend or extra $5 in our pocket.  We didn’t ask for that affirmation at work or that encouraging conversation at the grocery store.  We didn’t know that we needed to slow down and having a sick toddler actually provided that.

These days, for me that looks like running into a friend in a coffee shop. It means a sweet text from a dear friend, or even extra space to be with God on a Friday night.  Or spending my weekday evening giggling with middle school girls.  And even though life doesn’t look at all what I expected, God shows up to bring me into his joy.

I just have to choose to see it.  I have to slow down and name it. I have look behind the curtain of “this isn’t what I wanted” and step into the joy party.  

joshua-coleman-654602-unsplash.jpg

Being in the joy, changes me.  It changes my heart reflexes. I am quicker to see it.  Maybe it’s like any other muscle that needs to get stronger, maybe I need to do more reps like I do with my core and hamstrings.  

So friends, where is it that you can see the joy in your life today?

I hope that you take a moment and counting the joys, the places of gladness, how often you smile.  And let it change bring brightness and lightness to your heart. 

Picture Credits:

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Abundance

Sitting in silence, just God and I, without the noise of life, of traffic, of busy, I have the courage to ask, “What do you want from me this year, God? What is it that this year holds for me? Where would you have me go from this spot that I am in with you?”

It feels scary to ask these questions in light of the year that I just had.

max-saeling-802354-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

In the last year, God broke apart knots of pain in my life.  At times, I felt undone and completely broken. He uncovered things that needed to be brought into the light. Honestly, at times, it felt awful and probably like someone doing surgery.  I had started the year with an expectant hopeful heart that 2018 would be a different year. That God would make all things new or better.

Except, it didn’t feel like that.  Something needed to be different and I was ready to do anything it took for it to change.  And God did just that.

But by bringing me through a valley of pain.  He opened the eyes of my heart to the junk in there, and not all of it self inflicted.  He dug up things of the past, helped me face them and began the healing process. He awaken dormant places, he jump started places of lifelessness and renewed hope that had been lost.

Standing on this side of last year, I can honestly say, I am still expectant.  I am still staring down winter months but with hope. I am not in the same spot that I was in the last year and now, I am longing to see this God that didn’t let me remain in pain work mighty to bring me to Himself.

galina-n-189483-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

This isn’t to brag or proclaim how God is going to give me all the things on my prayer list, which He is fully capable of doing, but because I believe with every fiber of my being, that I am just scratching the surface of understanding who this God is that I trust.

If I were to call this a resolution, it would be that I resolve to find out.  I resolve to lean in, to dig deeper and be present with God to find out what happens when I trust Him and I run after what He is made and called me to do.  To fully believe and trust in the abundance that He has already given me in himself.

Often when we think of the word Abundance, we conjure up images of store houses of gold or food or the extravagance of the western world.  Perhaps to being able to order whatever we want from Amazon and put all the Target Dollar Spot items in our cart. 

God certainly promises to take care of us, but what I believe is that he cares more about is our hearts and souls.

We might always feel like we are lacking on this side of heaven.  Waiting for something to actually fill us, waiting to be full of joy and happiness. I have found in thinking about all that God has to offer, that whatever it is, it is in abundance.  He is abounding in love, grace, mercy, strength, power, wisdom, and so much more.

Searching the scriptures, I came across many verses with the word “abundance” but one that I think I will cling to this year is..

“But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” -Lamentations 3:32

It feels fitting after last year, to expect to learn about how much God loves me. And He does love me. I pray that I would sit in, reflect on, live out of the fact that He loves me far beyond anything I can comprehend.

So friends, I don’t know where this hits you, but I want to encourage you that if you ended the previous year with a longing or ache in your heart, if you feel like you have been through the wringer and then some, remember that God offers you an abundance. Not of more stuff, but of himself.

He created you, he knows you, loves you and offers all of himself FOR you.  

We already have that in Him. We don’t have to go searching, we don’t have to tidy up our stuff or lives, we don’t have to clean up our diet or go on a media fast, or do a juice cleanse.  None of that is actually going to earn you more of Him. He has already give all of Himself, life and death, for us. All we have to do is step into that abundance, receive it and live out of it.

christian-chen-492254-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Christian Chen on Unsplash

I pray that your year, like mine, would be one of discovering and deepening knowledge of who God is, that your eyes are opened to what He has for you, that you would stop hustling to be better for God and truly know His “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever kind of love.” (Jesus StoryBook Bible)