Her.

22 05 2012

I have been thinking of this lady lately.

Maybe it’s because I saw her a few weeks ago and all of a sudden, there was this interaction of questions, hugs and seeing her eyes that were naturally flowing again. I love her eyes. Gentle and loving. Deep compassion is seen through them.

We laid awake chatting away in the dark on a blowup mattress. She summed up our time together quite well here.

As we laid there in the dark, I told her that one day I hope to be like her. (At least I think it was then.) Not just like her, but kind of like her, in a ‘Dre way’.

She is a woman that is trusted by many many others. She has wisdom like crazy. She has lived life and has so much experience in so many things. She has an incredible network of people (which is my thing for sure). She is visiting people all over, all the time (even if a big chunk is her big family). She makes time for people. She connects well with people, anyone at that matter.

When you meet her, you think you’ve known her all your life. She’s so intentionalShe is genuine and gentle but direct in her approach. She is incredible at asking questions, even if they are flying at you like spitting bullets.

But I love that she just wants to know you. I love her heart and that she doesn’t hold her self back. She just cares for people, and cares to love them with where they are. I know she’s not perfect, but she is absolutely amazing, and I know it’s not because of her, but it’s because she has lived a life devoted to Jesus and God is blessing her greatly in her pursuit of Him. He entrusts many with those who are faithful with little.

I love her love for the gospel and how she always, always brings anything and everything back to the gospel.

I think He has grown the people who connect with her, because she has been so good at entrusting those people and their situations and trying to point them back to Jesus.

Darcie, you are an absolutely beautiful woman, and I love you. I have thought of you often as I miss you, even if I do drive around town with yours and John’s super cute picture on my dashboard. I love y’all so much. Thank you for loving and investing in me. You truly are such a precious precious person to me. (And so is Mr. John Newton). ha.

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Open.

21 03 2012

There’s something deep inside me that keeps trying to open up. It is unexplainable yet painful. Sometimes I feel that my heart is so raw, you could see it. Pain can run so deep, it feels unending; completely hopeless.

But I trust in my Savior. The healer of all, the one who has endured far far more and deeper pains than any of us will ever know. I am thankful he bore the nails for me. And it seems so far fetched sometimes to remind myself of the gospel. To remind myself that His pain and suffering were greater. But when I do think of that…

I can breathe. I can breathe knowing He has been there. He understands. He cares. Even when I feel like no one else can understand or care, I know that he does, and that is all the matters. There is no point in trying so hard to explain what is inside to people. It only makes this process harder…. I just need to trust that He will do the healing in His timing. For it will come from Him & only Him. No other person or thing can heal me, and that is such a hard reality to accept. But the sooner I do, the far less heartache I will have.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10





Run.

13 01 2012

This week, with all that I am learning and being challenged in, there is something built in me that naturally, sinfully, wants to do the opposite.

Run.

I look back at my ‘spiritual’ journey, times of when I thought it began to when it really began are very different. Either way, I think I was still on a spiritual journey… wrestling it out until it was made clear. During most of my journey, all I would do was run. Run far from God, and try to run from myself. I had moments of surrender and self-pity and ask God to forgive me if He was able. But no matter what, I always chose to continue to run.

Run far
and fast
from Him.

A year ago, I actually began the process of running, and training for a half marathon. It actually became something that I really enjoyed. I was doing something that I had never cared about, or thought I could do. A friend of mine started helping me out, and really pushed me beyond my limits. It was awesome. The crazy thing is though, when you begin to grow so well in one area, there is this natural tendency or pull to drag you from it, or to just slightly twist your thinking, your view. And if you aren’t careful, it can become bad if not, sinful. For me it was through pride. I had never thought much about myself, but once I started to run, I started to use that to build myself up. In a way, that was really good for me, but then I took it to far. I ran with it. I showed off that I had run 9 miles that morning or night. I flaunted the fact that I had lost so much weight and could now tan in a two-piece bikini everyday and not be ashamed. I thought of myself superior than my friends in this area, just because I could do something they could not.

As they always say, pride comes before the fall.

And it did. Indeed.

Two weeks before my half, I was running my nine mile route; I would begin on this incredibly steep hill, and end my last mile on it. As I was almost finished with my ninth mile, I was running down this hill and…. I have no idea what happened, but my knee gave out. I did not break or tear anything, I just messed something up. I could barely walk home I was in so freaking much pain. I couldn’t run for months, and it was the hardest thing to go to the LiveStrong Half Marathon in Austin and watch these thousands of people run, knowing I was supposed to be doing that too. I was so angry with myself. It killed the pride that was inside of me, and goodbye $135.00. ha. I truly deserved it.

The last few weeks, I have been itching to run again. I will be walking outside and I just want to take off. I just want my legs to go go go and go until I can’t move. I wonder if my physical desire to run has any sort of parallel with my spiritual walk because I feel that inside my heart as well.

Even in the midst of all the challenges that seems to be stirring inside of my heart, I equally feel this tug, this pull that seems to be growing to run. To just get away, and just be alone.  I begin thinking too much, and when I get overwhelmed I like to run from God, because I cannot think through anything. I get so consumed in my own thinking, I can never stay afloat, and it proves my lack of trust in the Lord. I do not trust Him enough with my thoughts or feelings. I’m just not quite sure if He can handle them, or if He even really cares.

I honestly think it’s the enemy. There are certain areas of my heart that have been shared with a very (very) few close friends, and as they continue to ask me about those pieces, those struggles and fears, I see that I just want to run away. Part of me ‘running’ in my spiritual life is to isolate; to close off from people (that know me very well) until I can suppress everything deep enough to where I can hold it together when the questions are asked.

But I can’t. I can’t quit now. I can’t give up. I gotta keep moving. Not only moving, but I need to get up and run to Jesus! I am being pulled and pushed away with my natural and sinful nature, but Christ has redeemed me and saved me from my flesh! And that should be all the reason to get up and keep running and fighting towards Him! I feel like I get pushed and knocked around more than others, and a lot of times it is with my own thoughts and battles within my heart, but it is worth it. This life may be a non-stop battle (that is how it has felt most of the time), and I think I envy and get jealous of so many people not having to fight out their own demons so often. But I suppose this is the road I’m called on, and if it is, then, I want to run it well. I want to continue to get up eight times if I’m knocked down 7.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

I will choose to get up.
I will choose to continue to run;
Towards the Cross.
I will choose to continue to fight my flesh.
I will choose to apply the gospel,
Because everything else will vanish in it.
All that I endure is nothing;
Compared to what Jesus did…





Apathy, excuse the soap-box.

10 01 2012

(This post is super-long and random.)

I got off work super early today. Thankful that I made some pocket change. I tend to focus on how much more I need. I just paid $157 on student loans on Friday, then received a bill the other day for $71.00 and received two today; one for $467.00 and one for $701.00. For real?

Therefore, my world is being run by the mundane life. The day in and day out of just trying to keep my head above water as I need to pay all this school debt off; six years of stress and (somewhat) hard work, with no degree to show for it. Six years of friendships in different cities. Six years of trials that typical young college people go through. Six years of many tears and wandering lonely roads as I search for answers and truth and the meaning to life. Six years of walking through a wilderness… and through that wilderness, my last year was the most stretching. Juggling 24 credit-hours (and however only 12 would be accounted for), working 30 hours a week and fighting the depths of my soul in a very real spiritual battle of salvation. Oh how I would not have traded those six years of wandering, and especially that last years super intense battle for anything. Now that I am where I am. I had to go through that. I had to walk through that in order to get to this rich season. I now have six years of seeing the Lord’s hand and faithfulness and absolute and utter grace poured out endlessly over my life. Time and time again, He was just wooing me to Him, it just took some time for my eyes and heart to be open and receptive.

But now, I have to choose to continue to believe and fight even though the battle for my soul has been won. Christ has saved me, and given me new life! What an incredible joy that is! I sometimes wondered how Christians could be so joy-less and passion-less when they had been saved, and they have the greatest person fighting for and with them. He has given everything we need if we would just stop being lazy and apathetic and take our focus off of ourselves and onto Christ! If we would only read His Word; the truth! If only we could read those words and have them contineously sink deeper and deeper into the core of our being… letting it be the truth that is pulsing through our veins and truly being the beat in our hearts. His truth brings life, and far too often we forget and don’t care. I forget.

And here I am. A believer. Apathetic. Lazy. Bored.

I get caught up on how my life should look. How I thought it would look at this age. I would be either engaged (not married, that is age 25) and planning for a wedding. I would also somehow be on the mission field in some way. Either already packed up and gone or in the process of packing up. I thought I’d be living in some crazy little hut in the bush of Africa or do some type of mission work where I had very little to live off of, cause that is what super-Christians do right?

Hmmmm. No.

Somehow, somewhere, I think as children, we think super Christians are the ones who surrender their lives completely and head off to other countries and help poor people. Or they go off to some seminary and become some sort of pastor.

But God hasn’t called me to either of those. It was quite clear during those four day sin the bush of Africa; I am not called to live in a little hut for the rest of my life. I highly respect and definitely admire those who are called to that way of life. And those who actually do it. I am by no means bashing missionaries or pastors. We are the body, and we all make up very unique and different parts of the body. I am all for it! As long as the gospel is being shared; that is, every part of the gospel. Not just the ‘let-me-make-you-feel-good-that-someone-loves-you-and-has-plans-like-Jeremiah-29:11’ but also sharing that we are born sinners. We are born with an evil in our hearts, and that we.are.no.good.without.Christ. Yes, if that is being shared I am for it! And if discipleship is happening, and leaders are raising up the younger generation, you bet I am for that. I just so long for the day when God’s glory completely floods this earth. I have no idea how that will look. Seems like his glory and wrath will all be intertwined… my thoughts just simply cannot begin to fathom that day… anyway…

What has He ‘called’ me to? I have no stinking idea. I have been asking for years, for some sort of clarity. Some sort of passion or love for some cause or people group or something; anything! But that is also something else I think we as young people get caught up in as well. It is how we are taught. Maybe not all church-kids, but a lot of us. We have been taught/ continue to teach kids to ‘listen to God’s voice. What’s your calling? What’s your gift? Where are you going to serve? What ministry will you be a part of? How much money will you give?

It is all about us and what we will do. I think we need direction and goals in our lives for sure. That is one area I lack big time. I am not a very determined or goal oriented or even motivated type of person. I float more on the apathetic boat. Whatever comes my way, whatever door opens without me having to life a finger is the one I’ll choose.

But I think we need to stop looking high and low for our calling. I think our calling as a believer is quite clear and simple.

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the ends of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

That’s it! We all have a calling. Those of us who Jesus has saved. Those of us who claim to be believers, but tend to float down the mediocre stream. We will be judged one day, and we will be weighed justly. I think we spend so much time searching and trying to hear some ‘special’ calling and… well I think this is quite huge! Granted, I think God definitely specifies our calling into categories such as pastors, missionaries, worship pastors, teachers, children’s ministers etc.

But this is the bottom line of each of those callings. You do not have to be a person in one of the above categories. He calls any and every believer to do this! That means students, moms, dads, garbage truck drivers, nannys, servers, bank tellers etc.

I think when you choose to look at Christ, He will make those paths clear.

I was challenged the other day by a friend of mine in high school. I lived with his family after I graduated high school for a summer. For almost six years I spend many holidays with them and made many trips to go back and see them. I have grown to love these four kids deeply as my own siblings. The oldest kid is in high school, my buddy Carson. He is in high school and has a passion to be serving the Lord and allowing Christ to have the glory for all the blessings and even the hard times in his life. It is so incredibly refreshing and challenging seeing his faith and how passionate he is about sharing it! The other day he said this… “I’m sick of everybody bein so down all the time! Honestly it shows just where God is in your life… Because if youre constantly complaining, or worrying, or bein negative all the time, obviously God’s not in the highest place he deserves in your life. Yeah I know crap happens…But seriously if Christ is truly your life, then NOTHING should bring you down b/c you can always rejoice in the facet that youre saved by a loving King. So while everybody else is worrying, complaining, and bitter, I’m gonna rejoice, cuz I know just who my God is, regardless of circumstances. **Psalm 146***”

Man! if that doesn’t challenge you, then I don’t know what will! God has been rocking my boat of apathy quite a bit lately, and He definitely did when I read this. The last month and a half I decided to sail away on this boat simply out of frustration. Frustration that I just want some answers. For some reason I felt (still sometimes feel) like I deserve them. I need them. I want closure. I want to be fixed, healed, whatever. I sorta-kinda gave up. I threw in the towel and hailed my white flag of surrender, and that only made things worse. It only drew me deeper and deeper into the waters of sin and disbelief.

Uhhh, self-centered? Just a tad bit. Melodramatic? Why yes, yes indeed. I can be good at that.

I shifted my focus. I took my eyes off of Christ and focused on what hurt inside. But Christ asks us to fix our eyes on Him! And HE will make our paths straight! If I would stop trying so hard to figure out what I will be doing in the future; what to do this summer, or if I need a new job, or what to do to make more money, or find a man, cause that’ll surely make me happy; or find some sort of far-off ministry to jump into because doing what I’m doing is nothing… if I would just stop thinking these things and just… go back to the basics; truth, I think my life would be far less stressful and have a lot more purpose and meaning.

I am in desperate need of a reminder of the basics:

-God has saved me. What an incredibly amazing thing! Seriously!
-I need to root my heart back into the soil of thanksgiving.
My life is a gift. His son was given to save my life; that is a gift. Every breathe I take is an undeserved gift of grace.
-He has given everything I need to endure this life through the Holy Spirit and the Word.
-I do have a calling on my life! he calls me to bring Him all the glory and to be a vessel willing to be a light and help bring lost people to His kingdom! It can only happen through Christ!

I love that when I go through hardships now, rather than a year ago, I am quicker at realizing what is going on. I know a little better how my heart works. My weak points; my triggers and the places that are too slippery to walk. I know what makes me want to instantly give up and quit. All my life I have been a quitter. Sports, music, friendships-anything really, I just quit. I rarely could be in anything for more than a year. I gave up really easily. Not only that, but then I just run. I quit and then get angry (another big sinful habit) that I quit, and run our of anger, frustration. I give up so easily, but that is why I am loving this book called ‘Relentless’ by John Bevere. I am being challenged to persevere. To run the race, and run it well!

Even though I feel like I already quite over a month ago… Christ is once again saying to me… Talitha Koum… get up… little girl GET UP! Step out of that sinking boat of apathy and follow me. As soon as you stand, look at ME, and nowhere else. When your eyes are fixed on me, I will guide you. Learn to trust Me… believe Me. Do not allow the whirlwinds of doubt, confusion or fear affect you. You are mind, and I will guide you… but you have got to choose to look at me, no matter the cost…

Talitha Koum…Talitha Koum…

And I respond with a shaky, yes. Yes. I will get up, and I will choose to look at Christ. Even though right now it hurts. It hurts to look at the cross because the tears of shame sting as they run down. The first of sin is the stinch that surrounds me… I am covered in it. The wounds that selfishness and bitterness are gaping open. The sleepless nights of un-forgiveness and bitterness are the dark shadows under my eyes… and I drag my beaten down and broken heart on the ground behind me…

But… yes, I may have caused all these things, but one step towards Christ and He can wash it all away. He catches those tears in his scars, and I am reminded He took all of this. All of this junk that I carry into the shadows of the cross; He has already taken it. All of this that I continue to meddle in even when I know it is wrong, He took… And yet,

He still believes in me.
He still chose me.
He still wants me.
He still loves me.

And…

I. Am. Still. His.





Speak.

17 12 2011

These may not all go together, but I like ‘Em anyway.

This is what the LORD Almighty says:

“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.
They keep saying to those who despise me,
‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, ‘No harm will come to you.
But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?
See, the storm of the LORD
will burst out in wrath,
a whirlwind swirling down
on the heads of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand it clearly.
I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
they would have proclaimed my words to my people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.
-Jeremiah 23:16-22

“If I have walked with falsehood
or my foot has hurried after deceit—
let God weigh me in honest scales
and he will know that I am blameless—
if my steps have turned from the path,
if my heart has been led by my eyes,
or if my hands have been defiled,
then may others eat what I have sown,
and may my crops be uprooted.”
-Job 31:5-8

“Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods[b]?[c]
Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the LORD.

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety.”
-Psalm 4

“Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.”
-Proverbs 30:8

“I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.”
-Psalm 119:163

And I am now reaping why we must test the spirits as it asks us to in 1 John. I am thankful for this opportunity to truly trust in the Lord, but I’m not gonna lie…

It hurts.

This has been an emotional few days as I think ( I hope this is God) the Lord is showing me who He is, and is not. It is hard to explain this fully, but I just hope I can trust the Lord with my heart…. easier said than done, but there is no better place for my heart to be than in the center of His scarred hands, the gospel…





Repentance.

27 11 2011

For those of you who don’t know me well enough. I used to be quite the hater. And I still can be at times. But ever since I listened to that one sermon, my life is radically changing. It is almost a little weird. So many times I step back and look at my thinking/thought process and wonder “Is this for real? Am I really beginning to truly think and act like this? Am I really excited about the gospel like this?”

And I am. I am so very excited to be sharing to anyone who cares to listen about what God is doing in my life, and the lives around me. I am so excited to share the good news that God saved me and He can do the same for you!

So in this time, this season, I tend to be drawn to sermons teaching about things that I did not agree with before. Or, things that I did not want to hear or be taught, because I know… once you hear something taught or pointed out in scripture you are no longer ignorant! I used to play that card a lot. I knew if someone pointed out Biblically, why I was doing something wrong, or how it was sinful, I knew I would be held accountable for that. I think that is a lot of why I used to look for pastors who did the whole prosperity gospel type of thing. Just tell me what I want to hear, and what will make me feel good, and not convict me, and I’ll be okay. I did not want to be held accountable for the real commandments and words of truth. Oh, but I so crave that now! I need it. I want to know.

But sometimes, when you are convicted, it just isn’t that fun. Not that it is bad, but you are left so challenged, it is almost overwhelming. Last night was one of those times. Something I will be looking over, chewing on for a while. I listened to a guy preach on a sermon called “The Fruit of Biblical Repentance”. Ah. Repentance. I used to hate that word. I did not like how it sounded. It just sounded bad and… “too spiritual” or something. I don’t really know. Maybe it sounded to harsh for my ears. It would bring that whole thing where I couldn’t be ignorant about it if I learned too much. well this guy David Pugh, totally brought it in his sermon. I REALLY recommend you listen to it!

The main points I will share, but will not go into detail, because I prefer and would rather you listen to it, so you cannot be ignorant in this area. (: haha.

Based off of II Corinthians 7:4-11

-Repentance: a change of mind, total direction. In the Bible, you see obedience following repentance. There is a change, a fruit.
-The Bible says our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful.
-Defining and distinguishing between a worldly repentance and a Biblical Repentance (this part was so eye-opening for me!)
-Three fruits of Biblical Repentance
-Invites correction
-Posses godly sorrow
-Eager Obedience that follows
-A lot of times in ‘repentance’ people feel a sorrow over what they did. But, there is also a different between worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow.
-Worldly sorrow: is feeling sorry for something you did that backfires on you. Reflects of a proud/fearful ego. Pride will always regret making a fool of himself and fear will always regret acts that jeopardize comfort and safety. Feeling sorry for something you have done is no sign of virtue. The focus on worldly sorrow is focused on consequences, embarrassment, self-pity. We think that is repentance but it is not.
-Godly sorrow: Reflects of a conscience that has wounded God’s ego, not its own. So the focus is the uncomfortable feeling of guilt when the Word of God shows you what you have done is sin and thus has brought reproach on God’s name. Godly sorrow is the regret of a God saturated heart, not a world saturated heart. First and foremost a Godly sorrow is grieved because it has detracted from the glory of God and you have grieved God himself such that you need to run to Christ as your advocate.
-Just a mere sense of guilt does not mean it is Biblical repentance. A desire just to escape sins consequences is just showing self-love and self-interest.

So, if that looks interesting at all ( which I hope it does!) I really encourage you to listen to it! If you go to the audio messages on the link of this church, go to page 7 at the bottom, and look for the Fruit of Biblical Repentance by David Pugh. So so good. I would love to hear any comments if you have any if you decide to check it out!

Be convicted, challenged and so incredibly encouraged that there are people out there preaching such amazing solid truth, and not just the prosperity gospel to just make you feel good.





Be All There…

23 11 2011

“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot

This is one of my life mantras. One of my favorite quotes that I am reminded of from time to time. Having been a ‘cross-culture kid’, it is hard to just be in one place. My sophomore year of high school was the first time in 7 years to go to the same school with the same kids. I have friends all over the world. I want to be so much a part of so many people’s lives daily, but it seems my closest friends live so far away.

I am learning however, that it is okay to still be a part of their lives whether it is once every few months of catching up through email, or talking on the phone once a week. I am where God has put me, and I want to give myself here. I am learning to not necessarily move on, but in a sense move on, quicker than I used to. It is harder to give of myself in new places, because it means building new friends, having to allow people to learn about who I am, where I come from etc etc. Sometimes it just seems like far too much work, so I would rather just be alone because I do not always feel like working.

But as every past place I have lived, I have found amazing people. I have found good friends, and now they are/ were a part of my journey. I want to learn to be so thankful for those friendships, and that God has allowed me the privilege of meeting those people no matter how short or long my season with them living directly in my daily life or not.

I want to look at life through gratitude and not regret. I want to be thankful for the many many blessings that I have been given, because I have tended to look at life in such a negative way.

Learning to be humble about the little things in life, because it is such an awesome way to remind myself of the gospel. The gospel that tells me I am nothing without Christ. Any good that is found in me, is because of Him that is within me. Any good that I receive is from Him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17a. And when I realize that I am thankful for everything, the good and the bad, that makes me realize how much I cannot live this life without Him, and when I am thanking (or trying to thank) Him for absolutely everything, I am humbly being reminded it is not about me. How awesome is that!

So thankful for His grace upon my life. For His blessings that seem to be pouring out right now and thankful that I am able to see that He is the one giving them to me! It is not because I am an awesome person or anything, but it is simply because He can! He is so gracious to us!

I want to pour my life out into the people of Canton that I can. I want to love my far-away friends and I am thankful that I still can, but I want to learn to serve the people where I am as well.





Trees. Winter. Joy.

9 11 2011

If you know me or either of my sisters, you will know that the three of us share a special love for trees. I know it is kind of a random thing that the three of us share this weird love for, but it is really nice. There is something about the idea of trees. The fact that they can be planted, or grown naturally. The idea that after years and years of different seasons, they still seem to (well, most trees) grow so mighty and big. I love the idea that trees have so many limbs and trees all produce something different and unique. The pine needles are different from a magnolia tree. Some trees grow fruits and others money pine cones. ha.

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with someone, and it was feeling much like a winter season in my life. Honestly, all the way up till this point, I can honestly sit here and say that I feel my entire life has been nothing but a winter or rather desert season. Much of that desert time, I had hallucinations (figuratively speaking), of good things and good ‘words’ from the Lord. But hallucinations is what I really think they were. I think God spoke things to me for sure, but now that I am truly seeking the Lord and the gospel truly makes sense to me, all that I had before really was nothing compared to the truth I stand upon now. Not to discredit the spiritual journey before this season and the teachings and spiritual experiences from growing up. God was working then in my life just as He is working now in my life. I am not here to discredit my past churches or teachers or people who have walked along side me and with me through this life. Christ is really showing how all of that is being brought in full circle, whether I saw it then or not. So I am deeply thankful for all who have walked and encouraged me on my journey and the Lord is making more clearer my spiritual experiences and showing me how those experiences have now worked in my life. The good and the bad ones.

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Ahem, sorry. Back to trees. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with someone during a hard time. She told me, “Did you know that during winter is when trees actually grow their roots the deepest. And that is what you are doing right now during this winter season. God is just allowing you to grow your roots deeper in Him baby….” That idea has stuck with me since.

As I am now living in the North, winter is literally on its way (it is supposed to snow tomorrow). I have never been a fan of the cold or snow. But Christ is showing me to run with it! Embrace this life! Embrace all seasons for it is Him that is with me. He is allowing every season, every circumstance to come my way. The good and the bad. The joys and defeats, it is all in His hands. As long as I am placed in the center of His will, there is no other place I would rather be.

Since moving up North, I feel like this has been a spiritually small winter. But God knew what He was doing bringing in this cold front. It has been a very lonely few months because I have yet to find a body of the like-minded. I have met a few Christians here and there, but schedules just do not permit the type of investment that I want. I feel like I really do not really have a lot of friends but like two, and I am actually pretty content with that.

I did not see it the first two months of living here, but… I can see so clearly why the Lord brought me up here. At first, I kept thinking it was me who brought me up here. I made the super random and kind of abrupt decision to move, but really God did it. If I didn’t move up North, I wouldn’t have been brought into this super lonely season. During this time, is where I found God in the most… amazing way. If I hadn’t hit the bottom of my dependence on man, rather than on God, I would have never turned to God. The Lord had started teaching me a lot at the start of the summer, to not depend on man. Which has been a huge weakness my whole life. I find a person or two who begin to invest in me, and I turn into …. like a leech! And I just stick to them, wanting to have them ‘fix me’ or love me or something. So being up north, I didn’t have anyone to do that. God wanted to make sure I got this lesson… this lesson to focus my eyes on Him and the gospel. To look to Him for everything and anything that I need in this life. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

The lonely season came. My dependence on man was basically gone because I was alone. God shows up, and the reality of the gospel sinks in. My dependence on Christ is all I need. This might be a slight winter, but I am excited about it. I call it a ‘winter’ season just for the lack of friendships, and the lack of having a church home and the body to invest in, and to serve in. But other than that, this has been the best winter ever. My relationship with God is becoming so deep and rich. This is a rich rich season. I am left alone with my Bible and podcasts all the time! There is nothing better to really spend my time doing. God is speaking like crazy to my heart through the teaching of pastors in other states who are truly preaching His word and the Biblical knowledge is awesome that God is allowing me to understand now that my eyes and ears and heart are open to Him and His truth. I may not have a ton of friends, but I am feeling pretty content in that because, Christ is all I need. Christ is all I want. He is my joy, my satisfaction. He is more than anything in this world that I want. Just like in Ecclesiastes when Solomon says “I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine-my heart still guiding me with wisdom-and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

King Solomon had done it all, yet it was all in vain. It meant nothing. God has begun this lesson in my heart and begun to stir this idea, and transformation in my thinking that honestly, all that I can gain in this life, is meaningless unless it is Christ that I am gaining. I will lose my life in order to gain the eternal life. I want to live with the eternal perspective. The perspective that I can have everything taken away, but my joy is complete in Him, and I will not waiver in my faith just because all the temporary stuff is lost or taken from me.

I do not want to spend my entire life chasing after meaningless things. I spent 24 years doing that. I spent 24 years living a mediocre Christian life. Walking around calling myself a Christian, but the fruits were rare and few. My life did not exemplify Christ too often.

Look at the season you are in. Whether it is a good and happy one right now, or whether it is challenging and exhausting. Take hope in the cross. Take hope in Jesus that He knows. He is right there walking you through that season whether He feels near or not, He is. Sometimes the Lord chooses to be silent to grow our faith, but do not allow the silence to make your faith diminish. Take heart in Christ, and choose to have joy. If you truly believe in the Lord, then your contentment should be in Him, and not your circumstances. Good or bad. Your joy shouldn’t be based on whether your life is peaches and cream right now, or it shouldn’t be sucked dry because you’re feeling a bit defeated. One of my favorite Bible verses is “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:10-11

Choose joy, whatever the circumstance. I am really learning that my joy is rooted more through my thanksgiving and praise to God. It humbles me to realize that He knows what He is doing. I am choosing joy on my lonely days. I am choosing joy when I want to move back to Texas. I am choosing joy when I feel defeated. I am choosing joy when I fall before the Lord and repent of my sins and accept His forgiveness for the billionth time. I am choosing joy when I do not feel I have the strength or want to encourage others. I am choosing joy when I fall on my face and ask for help. I am choosing joy when my words feel like they aren’t even hitting past the ceiling. I am choosing joy when I do not feel God anywhere close. I choose joy when my doubts begin to creep in. I choose joy when God answers the prayers that I didn’t even think He heard. I am choosing joy when my friends are being encouraged, stretched and growing in their faith and trust in God. I am choosing joy when God encourages me through His word. I am choosing joy when the Holy Spirit is at work helping guide me through this life. I am choosing joy when I think about how this life isn’t eternal, but my life found in Him is eternal. I am choosing joy when I can encourage my friends around me who are losing sight of Him during these hard days. I choose joy during the good bad and ugly.

Another favorite verse of mine says “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to Him.” John 14:21…

God says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

I choose joy, because it is commanded in the Bible. Those who seek the Lord’s commandments and who are seeking to obey Christ, are the ones who are showing their love for Him. I do not do this to ‘check’ off of some list or out of obligation.I do it because I am beginning to desire to learn what God commands and expects from me, because I am a follower of Him, and I want to honor and obey Him because He says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:1-3

I. Choose. Christ.

I. Choose. Joy.

Joy is something that is given to us, but no everyone chooses to receive and learn to discipline themselves with joy. So I challenge you, to choose joy. No, I am not happy all the time, and I have bad days and moments of anger and throw fits of rage and discouragement, but at the end of the day, I hope and my prayer is that my joy is still found in Christ. At the end of the day, that I choose not to go to bed with anger or with an unsettled heart that is harboring bitterness and sin. I want to live my life to the fullest, and I can only do that when I am looking towards Christ…

My joy is breathed through His grace. His grace is given with every single breathe I take…

During this winter season, my heart is finding its roots through His word. Deep in His word. My foundation is finally becoming solid. I can stand on my two feet only because Christ has allowed that, and because He is the foundation.

And I will close with my two favorite Bible verses (uh oh. If you know me, every pair of shoes that I have are my favorite, and every song on the radio is my favorite. It looks like every Bible verse is becoming my favorite. ha).

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. he is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the streams and does not fear when heat comes for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8

^ That verse brings tears to my eyes, I am so thankful the Lord saved me, opened my eyes and has planted me in the soil of his word! This scripture is so true and dear to me, because I can see that my life was like the beginning of this verse for 24 years, but when I began to truly put my hope in Christ, the second half became my life. So thankful!

and

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1: 1-3





Remember…

28 10 2011

When I lived in Africa, I heard a quote that has stuck with me for so long… “Remembering brings revival to your own heart.” The way the quote was used was to remember the good things God has done in your life. The blessings He has given you, the dark times He has brought you out of… When I look at it now, with this new perspective, it’s kind of selfish to remember those kinds of things. If I ever share this quote, it is to remember something more greater than the good things in life that were given to me. The things to make me keep moving forward, just because a promise here or there was fulfilled. Do not get me wrong, I think it is important to remember the little things that God has given us, but I think the greatest thing that we should constantly remind ourselves of is… the story of the gospel!

In the book of Mark, Jesus is foretelling, prophesying in so many stories about claiming to be Christ, and that God has sent Him to die, for our sins. To drink the cup which would mean, drinking all of God’s wrath against mankind, for our selfish, evil, sinful hearts so that we can drink the cup of blessing… which eventually means we will be living in eternity glorifying the One who sent His Son. The One who gave the greatest blessing of all, for you, and me. The One who was so amazing that He created the earth and all the intricate details within the universe, The One who we will one day, ALL stand before , and either He will know us, or He will say that He does not know us and will send us to eternal damnation. All because we were too worried about having to live this selfish life and see how we could succeed instead of looking at the truth of it all, and humble ourselves, and fall to our knees and confess to the Lord, why YES! YES! I am a sinner, and I have no good in me Lord, but YOU, You are only good, and because of YOU living in me, I am good… because of His death, HE made me good. I was not good on my own, and I still am not good, because my flesh fights with my soul moment by moment, and it’s moment by moment I have to humble myself before Christ, and say Jesus, please, help me! I cannot live this life without YOU.

Tonight, as I sit with a hot cup of coffee, my amazing study Bible, and my ipod that can set the perfect mood for writing and studying the Word, Christ is reminding me of His goodness… I just finished a letter to a friend, that I pray will come to know Christ in a true, genuine way. I shared and explained some scriptures like Matthew 7:21-23 which was the set of verses that rocked my faith to the core of my soul, knowing that I wasn’t truly a believer without Christ. That living this mediocre Christianity by just going to church, throwing around the church lingo like ‘God bless you,’ and ‘I’ll pray for you’ and ‘God is good (only when things go my way that is) just isn’t enough. God very clearly showed me that those things will not be getting me into heaven! What will get me into heaven will be the reality that God has his wrath that is being stored up, and it will go out on this earth one day, and it will be the most justified day of judgement; and if you are not willing to humble yourselves before The One who created you, who knows every sin, every single evil and perverted thought that you’ve had, then yes, you will be given the wrath of God. Just because you may be slain in the spirit, or because you shake on the ground or talk in tongues, doesn’t mean you’re truly a believer. People can slap Jesus stickers on anything they want, but as the Bible says…”The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. I say that, not to bash the Charismatic side of Christianity, I am not here to say I agree or disagree with those things, but I want you to look at scripture and examine your heart. Matthew 7:21-23 says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” If that verse doesn’t make you sit back and truly think about whether you’re just doing things just because you think it’s ‘good’, or if you’ve truly surrendered your life, and Jesus is the out pour of your heart, then I don’t know what else can rock your world. A few verses leading up to that set of verses even says…“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:7-8

After reading these verses, and explaining how Jesus opened my heart and eyes to see the truth in these scriptures, my heart is just bursting at the seams with thanksgiving and praise that Christ has come! Not only that He has saved me, but that He has finally opened my eyes to the depths of His work and love. The depths of my sin and that I desperately need a Savior! I think lately, just thinking about the gospel, I get very emotional. I’ve never been one to be emotional over the gospel because I didn’t truly get it. It was just a story that happened back then, and yeah it was good I guess, but I didn’t know why. But I just long for the day that I will be united with my King. My love and gratitude is so shallow compared to what Christ has done for me! The smallest thing I can do is to simply give my life to Christ… and give all of it to Him! I want my life to be an out pour of gratitude for what He has done for me, and not only be an out pour but to share that with others! I get emotional when I share it, because I can see it in people’s eyes when I share this new reality and perspective, people just don’t get it. The blank stare in the eyes, yet the slight smile, says they’re happy and they just do not know how to respond to the foreign language I am speaking… The only thing I can really share is scripture, and I just pray, and hope that the truth I share through scripture will only come alive and speak to these people’s hearts just like it has mine! I long to share the gospel, and see people’s lives transformed because of Christ! My heart just breaks for those who are trying to fill their lives with this stuff that is just so completely unsatisfying and worthless! There is greater joy out there than the American dream of having the perfect family with 4.5 kids, the white picket fence, the job that pays the bills and pays for two vacation cruises a year… there’s so much more than trying to find a fulfilling life in drugs and alcohol, work, or school…

That joy come through absolutely nothing but Christ! “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:10-11

Jesus, I am so humbled right now, and thank you that this week you have done nothing but continue to remind me of the gospel and what you’ve done for me. You have put me in my place time after time, and I pray that my life will be an out pour of all that you are! Jesus may my life reflect your goodness and grace that you bestow on all who choose to recognize their sinfulness and choose life through Your Son by falling at the mercy of Your feet, repenting of their lives and accepting Your grace that is so undeserved! Thank you for your gift of life, and that I can lose mine, to only gain it all!

Remembering brings revival to your own heart… Remembering His Son, and the free, undeserved gift brings far more than just revival to my heart…





The Gospel Take 1.

25 10 2011

This may sound crazy to those of you who have not walked closely with me the last year and a half. But this week, the gospel finally clicked for me. It finally makes sense to me, in a whole new way!

Yes, I was raised in the church, in a good Christian family, in a good church with a very unique and awesome youth group. Since I have been in college, I have been fighting my faith out. For the longest time, I went along with what I was raised, but over the years, after many different experiences all across the board on the different perspectives and theological views of Christianity, I was confused and just didn’t know what I believed. “…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:14

The last year and a half in San Antonio, God so graciously placed me in this little church, that did nothing but take me in and present me the gospel time after time after time again. These people challenged me in my everyday walk and way I lived my life. The first nine months were more of a season of spiritually just fighting out all the different perspectives and questions I had. This church was very patient and loving while walking with me through my season of doubt.

Most of my time there, I could not understand why they cared so much about the gospel, and why they talked about it all the time. I just thought it was a big group of Bible thumping people, but something deeper inside me was drawn to their way of living. I was constantly told that I needed to be reminded of the gospel day after day, moment by moment, and honestly, it annoyed me more than anything…

The last year and a half, layer by layer, the Lord has been so gently peeling away the questions and doubts, and breaking down walls that have been built up over the years of anger and bitterness. I had built my own prison of being a “victim” and God has so graciously opened my eyes to that, and broken that perspective!

This last week I started listening to podcasts because I do not attend church right now because of work. A friend of mine sent a link to a pastor, Erik Raymond she listens to. So one night I randomly picked one that had an interesting title. It was called Christ’s agony, our joy. I liked the contrast in the title, so I listened… if you get a chance, please check out that podcast, it seriously changed my life in a weird way.

Basically, he presented the gospel and for some reason, it totally made sense to me! I never focused on much except the physical aspect of Christ’s death. I never thought much about the spiritual aspect of the cross (crazy, i know. Thats kind of the big deal here.) The whole idea of the ‘hour in the cup’, seriously was nothing but a poetic line in the Bible. I didn’t understand the meaning of what the cup actually stood for. I truly believe Jesus met me in a very real way that night, and I have had an unspeakable joy in my heart. I am also so glad that that ‘Jesus moment’ came through because of scripture. No questions or doubts can be raised, because it was straight out of the Bible what I was hearing and reading and soaking into the foundation of my heart. It wasn’t some super- out there crazy experience, it was simply reading the word, or rather hear it being read and explained to me.

The last year and a half God has been slowly and gently working in my heart. Breaking away those experiences that had slapped a ‘Jesus’ sticker on them, and left me super confused and with no foundation. He has been chipping away the unforgiveness and anger in my heart, and pointing out some deeply rooted heart issues and sins that I danced around.

I am so thankful that the Lord has been working so much in my heart this last year, and truly revealing Himself through scripture and not an experience that had the approval stamped ‘Jesus’. I believe that what the Bible says is nothing but truth, and I am beginning to see the goodness and richness of His Word. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified. in truth.” John 17:16-20

I am thankful for the patience and prayers of so many people in my life, I am blown away by the overwhelming amount of love that has been shown to me the last few years. It’s amazing how God works, I don’t understand it, but I am so glad I’m not in charge.

And I will end with my favorite verse. “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.”