“The Best is Yet to Come.”

They enter in, some smiling, some confused, some nervous. It is the first day, they all look freshly showered in new clothes and shoes, anticipating a day of rules and expectations.  Some not so excited, because school is hard, not a fun place for them. 

That was the quote I had on the my QOTD board for the first day of school.  I wanted my students desperately to cling to the fact that they can hope and dream.  In fact they should.   
They are young, they have so much life left to live.  I want them to dream about the maybes and the possibilities to come before them. 
But you know what….I need that to, I need to hope and dream. 

Even though life isn’t what I expected it to be at this point, I need to hope and dream of the possibilities. 

 God is not finished with me yet.
There is so much life left to live.  Even when I am 85, I want to have that hope too.  That until my dying breath, God is not done sanctifying and using me in the lives of those around me. 
We all know those people who talk about their glory days, whether it be high school or college.  They talk about those days as if it were the best ever. They never seem to think anything better can happen to them.  They live in the past, reliving those days over and over again and seem to be unsatisfied with the present and the future. They don’t enjoy the life they have now and they aren’t really hoping for anything better to happen in the future.
We don’t want to have that perspective, because the best is yet to come.  God promises us that, in his Son and his second coming. 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.(Philippians 1:6 ESV)
However, for now we are still here.  And when we live with the hope of something better, not in a idealistic way, but in the humble hopeful anticipation, we live life with a zeal and joy that is unmatched.  We live facing each day with excitement of what God can do in that day.  We live our days with joy that God can still use us. 
It is so easy to think that after we left the “prime” of our life that God can’t use us. 
But let’s look at Moses, he was used as an old man, the father of the nations. 
Sarah still gave birth after her child bearing days had passed. 
God still used Joesph even though he was sold, in prison, and lived many years in struggle.
Ruth lost her husband, and she was apart of the lineage of Jesus.
David was just a simple shepherd, turned great king, but also a sinner and God still used him.
Peter denied Jesus three times, and he still was used in mighty ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways 
 and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
(Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
All over the bible, you see stories of the sinners, the downtrodden, the hopeless, the destitute, the ordinary people, who are past their prime, unlikely to do anything, but God uses them the most. 

To me, that is the most encouraging, even when I think my story is over, it isn’t.  The best is yet to come.  

So friend, I say to you, the best is yet to come!  Don’t fear, give up or give in, the best is yet to come.  

(*The picture is a print from a shop on Etsy.  You should buy it. http://www.etsy.com/shop/decodezign)

On Repeat

I have been listening to this song on repeat for several weeks.  I blare it in my care, I listen to in my earbuds as I work out.  I play it in my classroom as I set up for my upcoming school year. 
I listen to the chorus, to the verses and let them soak down to the trenches of my soul.
And let me tell you, I need these lyrics, like a balm to my wounded bleeding soul. I need to hear these words over and over again.  I need them everyday.

I stand before You now
The greatness of Your renown
I’ve heard of the majesty and wonder of You
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us, You are not against us
Champion of Heaven,
You made a way for all to enter in

I’ve heard You calling my name
I’ve heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the Love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises You’ve made

I need the reminder that He is the source of my strength and courage. Everyday. Everyday I need it. 
A year ago, I drug myself back to school, figuratively kicking and screaming the whole way.  I didn’t want to do it all over again.  I didn’t want to climb the mountain of changes and challenges that stood before me.  My life seemed so disappointing and not at all that I wanted it to be.  I was angry, sad, and depressed.  
Now, coming into this school year, I feel so much more hopeful.  Not because of anything I have done, I didn’t just decide one day that life wasn’t disappointing.  I didn’t just wake up one day not depressed or anxious anymore.  However, I did stop believing the lie that I had to figure it out and do it on my own. 
I stopped letting fear dictate my decisions, my emotions, and my reactions to what life threw at me. 
I went back to the beginning, to the truth from the One who Loves me.  
I let his truth start soaking into my soul again.  When I began doing that, it was as if the whole world began to open up again.  Anything was possible. All was not lost.  God began revealing all that he was doing in my life and those around me. 

It made me braver in my prayers and voicing my hopes and desires.  It made me dream a little bigger and bravely give over those dreams to the Lord.  It freed me from placing my hopes in my circumstances and in him who controls them. 

When you let the love of the one who KNOWS you best, who CREATED you, who has your life in his hands, soak to the depth of your soul, it makes you brave, it makes you able to bare the hard things. 
Friends, it doesn’t make those hard things less hard or less painful, but it gives you strength and power.  Hegives you strength and power, that you won’t have on your own.  He gives you a hope that doesn’t rest on the outcome of those hard things.  He gives you a hope secure.
He is the source of hope, strength, power, and courage when we have none left.  He is the one we can look to at all times to work on our behalf. 
That’s why I am listening to this song, over and over.  So that, THAT truth, that HE makes me brave, will be an anthem to my weary soul, when things inevitably get tough, when I will surely be anxious and fearful.

Do dreams come true?

Would this be the year that everything changes? Would I be put into the class with the cute boy I liked?  Would everything be different this year?  Would I suddenly become popular?
Before the first day of school, I eagerly anticipated the possibilities.  
I had a very vivid imagination and I would spend the night before dreaming about all the things that could possibly happen.  I would suddenly have the courage to stand up to bullies, I would have the guts to talk to my crush.  Perhaps this year I would find that best friend. (You know the one that acts like your house is their house, the one that you can say so much to with a look.)
However, things never seemed to pan out the way we imagine they would.
Life isn’t the romantic comedy that we thought we were starring in or a sitcom with a laugh track. 
As we get older we face the harsh reality everyday.  We experiencedisappointments, failed hopes, and desires unmet. We encounter hard things, impossible things, and failures.
If you are anything like me over time after years of disappointments, you stop dreaming, and stop hoping.  You jump on the cynical and bitter train.  You start to fear the first days, you start to fear what will happen next. You are waiting for the other hammer to drop.
None of your hopes and dreams have come true and you begin to fear that they never will. 
As I write this, I am struck by the fact that this perspective is contrary to the what God says about our hopes and dreams.  He knows us better than we know ourselves and none of this, none of our heartaches are lost on him. 
So if you are sitting on the disappointed bandwagon like me, let me give you a new anthem for your soul.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Even in our suffering and disappointment God has a purpose in it. 
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,  for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
Though failures happen, he isn’t done with us yet.  He has not given up on us, and even our dashed hopes are known by him. 
You, the beautiful soul reading this, were stitched together by our Father the creator.  He made you with a plan in mind.
He isn’t like us with good intentions and no follow through.  His plans will come to fruition in his own perfect timing.
As you work through those disappointments and long lived desires of your heart, remember that you have not been left on this earth to bear these things alone or lightly.  Delight in him and allow him to shape new dreams.  
What are your new dreams? What disappointments do you need to let go of?
photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc 


“You will never be able to eat whatever you want. You are a food addict.”

Harsh words that I needed to hear again and face up to. Even though it is hard to swallow and even harder to come to grips with.  Food will always be a problem for me, everyday

Those words were prompted by a year of excuses and denying my reality.

About a year and half ago, I returned from an epic trip to Australia with my family. Before I even went on the trip, I was carrying a few pounds after completing my 3rd Half marathon.  (I wasn’t running the miles but still eating the same amount of food.) So returned from my trip, I tried my best to get rid of those pounds, which I did, but they came back.

Slowly, after a few disappointments and a busy grad school semester, I mentally gave up. 

Last summer, between moving and a foot injury, some of those precious pounds that I worked and sweat off a couple of years ago began coming back.  Then in the midst of depression and hopelessness I spiraled.
At the start of the year, I realized that I had stopped hoping and dreaming about what could happen next.  Let’s be honest, in my mind I had thought that getting skinny was my best hope for good things in my future. 

I had thought getting skinny would fix anxiety, procrastination, relationships, and my own fears.

It didn’t.  It didn’t fix any of that, in fact it made all those things much more complicated.  I am still learning that.   

I also am still learning, like in life, there is never a point of arrival where things are over and you can live happy and content in that arrival place.

(Maybe this is the record that will be on repeat until the day I die. Maybe this is the one anthem that will be sung to my heart again and again.)

In the midst of that conversation, the hard reality hit me, I will never be one of those people that can eat whatever they want and not gain weight.  I will never be one of those people that doesn’t have to work out.  I will have to work hard for every pound and every calorie.

In the same way a alcoholic or a drug addict or a hoarder has to face up to the truth of their situation in order to heal, I have to do the same.  And I have to do so every day. 

But let me get spiritual on you, this is the reality of our souls as well.  We are sin addicts. At the core of who we are, we are sinners. We want to worship at the idol of ME. We feed that idol when we deny the reality of our sin nature.  When we down play the severity, when we chalk it up to circumstances or blame other people.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

The part that makes this easier to bear, is the fact that God hasn’t left us in the street with a needle stuck in our arm.  The second part of the the passage gives us hope.

BUT God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)

When I think about this truth, and the reality of where I am at with my physical battle, I am hopeful.  If God is able to save my soul from the trappings of a great addiction, how much greater will he be able to help me in the battle against these physical addictions.

I don’t write this because I have finished the race, but because I am still running it.  I might be getting lost, backtracking, and stumbling.
I write this as a reminder to look to him who hasn’t left me to run this alone.
I write this to encourage myself to keep going.
I write this because all is not lost, but rather saved by his grace and mercy!