Spiritual Journey Planning Guide

Journey: The act of traveling from one place to another.

I wanted to take time to think about what taking a journey means.  When you go on a journey (or vacation) there are things you do in preparation for that journey.

First you plan it:
-Who am I going to bring?
-What kinds of clothing do I need to pack?
-What do I need to know about the place I will end up?
-How am I going to get there?
-Am I going to make any stops along the way?
-Specifically where should I refuel?
-What questions do I have about the place I am going?

This came to mind to me this morning, because I have had an AMAZING week with Jesus. ¬†I blogged about it in the post He Calls Me Daughter. ¬†I am still feeling the love and grace from my sweet moments with the Lord, but I started to have questions. ¬†Then when I had questions I started to FEEL (remember, feelings will LIE) like maybe I wasn’t as close to God as I was even a couple of days ago. ¬†So, I started thinking and reached out to my cousin and ask that she talk to me. ¬†As I was talking to her, I started to think about the fact that everyone calls Christianity and the walk with the Lord a journey and how true that is!

Each of the questions I presented about an Earthly journey can be applied to a spiritual one. So, without further ado: The Spiritual Journey Planning Guide.

Spiritual Journey

-Who do you bring with you?Think about all of the people in your life who will support you, love you, speak truth to you and show you grace while you are on your journey. Who will REJOICE with you when God has broken you free from a stronghold?!  Then: INVITE THEM.  Stay in contact with them.  Talk to them.  Go to them when you have questions.  Build a Godly relationship with them.

-What kinds of clothing do I need to pack?This one is interesting, but I still feel like it was one that God placed on my heart. ¬†During the week that Jesus really spoke to me, I read the book Every Woman’s Battle. ¬†While there are still some things I am unsure of and wrestling with God over, there were some things I know he spoke to me about. ¬†Specifically about how we present ourselves. Dressing in a way that doesn’t cause our brothers in Christ to stumble. ¬†(I know!! I KNOW! Some of you are probably rolling your eyes. HEAR ME OUT!) ¬†I started to think about it from a SPIRITUAL, SOUL type perspective. ¬†Let’s think of everyone we meet at a soul. ¬†If you¬†go out wearing a shirt that is so low cut people can see a sliver of your nipple, just know that you are causing people to stare, which is ultimately the goal: Attention. ¬†BUT think about it from a spiritual context. ¬†Men are starting, but that turns to lust almost immediately. ¬†Lust has the potential to lead to other things and ultimately distance from God. ¬†How important is it that you wear that shirt now? ¬†I do believe it is our freedom to dress how we please. ¬†I’m not saying wear a burlap sack! PLEASE! Anyone who knows me, knows better!! I am saying, be mindful of the spiritual consequences. *shrugs* That’s all. Soooo, pack clothing for your spiritual journey that you would be comfortable standing in front of Christ in.

-What do I need to know about the place I will end up?How can you share with friends where you are going if you have no idea what that place is really like? ¬†Even as I am typing this God is speaking to me. ¬†How are we to answer friends’ questions about our journey and the destination, when we don’t know the truths ourselves? ¬†Start searching the Bible. ¬†Know what Heaven is promised to be like. ¬†Know what God’s promises are and start answering questions with the excitement I know will come!

-How am I going to get there?On a “regular” journey we have the decision of a car, plane, train etc. ¬†On a spiritual journey, things get a little more complicated. ¬†When I think about how I am going to get to the “end” of my journey, I think less about a mode of transportation and more about the kinds of things my soul needs to run. ¬†In a car, the car needs gas. ¬†The same is true of a plane and a train. ¬†All of the choices for transportation require the vehicle to be fueled in some way. ¬†So, similar to knowing where you will end up, fill your soul with the truths of the Bible. ¬†Other forms of fuel: Praying, TALK TO GOD OUT LOUD, singing worship songs, community with Godly friends, finding a support group, asking questions, reading a biblical story. ¬†Constantly fill your soul with Godly fuel.

-Am I going to make any stops along the way?–What stops do you want to take along your journey? ¬†Is there a forgiveness pit stop on your journey? ¬†Is there a rejoicing pit stop? ¬†Maybe God wants you to take a pit stop to learn how to read the Bible? ¬†Maybe God wants you to take a few days of solitude to privately JUST. SEEK. HIM. ¬†Pray (out loud, verbally) and ask God what stops he would have you take in your journey. ¬†He has BEAUTIFUL things to show you!
-Specifically when should I refuel?–I remember taking vacations with my ex-husband and his family to Florida (if you didn’t know I had an ex-husband, I blogged about the grace God has shown me through this situation in this blog post). ¬†Every trip they stopped at the same gas station to refuel the van. ¬†I believe it was in West Virginia? ¬†Either way, the reasoning was that this was the cheapest gas station along the trip and the further south we went, the more expensive the gas would be. ¬†Even if the van still had half a tank or more, we still stopped there! ¬†Be mindful of where you refuel in your spiritual journey. Don’t wait to refuel when you are completely empty and now you are so far south it is going to be so costly to fill all the way back up. ¬†Keep a watchful eye on your spiritual tank and know that you can refuel even when you still have a lot of fuel left. ¬†Our spiritual tanks are similar to car tanks. ¬†As we take our stops along the journey, it will cost fuel. ¬†What is different is that at every stop, we get filled up and our tanks are able to “runneth over”. ¬†Don’t just fill your tank when it is going empty. ¬†FILL IT WHEN IT’S ALREADY FULL! Let God make your tank so full it is bursting at the seams!
-What questions do I have about the place I am going?–First, know that it is ok to have questions. ¬†It is OK to have doubts. ¬†it is NORMAL. ¬†What you do with these questions is way more important that the fact that you have them. ¬†Know what your questions are and then take them to a reliable source. ¬†If you had questions about a specific vacation, you wouldn’t ask someone who you didn’t trust to know the correct answer. ¬†Gather your questions, and find a TRUSTED source. ¬†Probably one of the people who you decided to take on the journey with you, that is always a good choice. ¬†Also, GO TO GOD. ¬†All day. Every day. ¬†Take your questions to him. Remember to be honest and transparent. ¬†He will bless you.

This entire post was stemmed because I had doubts and was feeling unsure about where to take my questions and through out the time it has taken me to write this blog, I feel like God has spoken directly to me through my writing.  He then has confirmed my thoughts through a Godly cousin and trusted friend.  The doubts I have now seem so far away, but God has also provided the answers that I needed to hear.  I took my questions to a trusted source and God has been faithful to show grace, but still give me the hard answers he requires of me so I may have the best experience on my Spiritual Journey.

Start your journey!  I promise it will be the best vacation you ever take!

He Calls Me Daughter!

This week has been the HARDEST and yet the most blessed week of my entire life. ¬†Have you ever wanted something so badly it physically pained you. ¬†You’ve longed for it. ¬†You’ve fantasized about it. ¬†You’ve spent time planning it. ¬†You’ve even gone as far as to “place an order” with God. (*I’ll take a Tall Dark and Handsome with a side order of kindness, a HUGE dollop of unconditional love and joy sprinkles on top. K thanks.*) ¬†Have you ever experienced a longing that deep?

I have.

Have you ever then decided that you could figure it out all on your own? ¬†You already KNOW what you want. ¬†You’ve only spent your entire life dreaming it all up, so why aren’t you qualified to do it all on your own?! ¬†You know why? ¬†Because this life simply isn’t about you.

**SLAP** (Yes. That was a slap from Jesus.) ¬†Jesus has slapped me in the face this week with that reality, but let me go back to the beginning. ¬†Jesus didn’t slap me at all. ¬†He so gently has guided and directed and whispered and begged for me to talk to him. ¬†God has given me scripture and peace and comfort. ¬†Jesus has met with me in my quiet place and shown me visions of his love. ¬†What I so desperately long for; He so desperately wants to give to me. ¬†When I am seeking him first. ¬†

The past couple of months I have been constantly reminded of the story of the woman in Luke chapter 8 who was very sick and bleeding constantly (12 YEARS of bleeding. ¬†Imagine having a period for 12 years straight. I don’t know if it was period bleeding,but seriously ladies..could you imagine bleeding for TWELVE YEARS?!) Anyway, she believed¬†that Jesus could heal her. ¬†She believed that just touching the bottom of his robe when he walked by would heal her. ¬†When she reached out and touched his robe, Jesus could have done so many things in that moment. ¬†He could have scorned her. ¬†He could have mocked her. ¬†He could have politely told her he was too busy. ¬†How many times in our own lives have we “gently” avoided someone in need because we were on our way to do something. ¬†Jesus was a busy man. ¬†He had an entire human race to save…it LITERALLY doesn’t get any busier than that! In that very second he was actually on his way to save a DEAD GIRL…and you know what Jesus did in those sweet, sweet moments?

DO. YOU. KNOW?!

He looked down at her and he called her “daughter”.

Let. That. Sink. In.

“Daughter”

¬†For me, this speaks to my entire core. ¬†To the deepest parts of my soul. ¬†I have a father who has so many worldly addictions that he has chosen over me time and time again. ¬†Wounds that literally cut to the bone. ¬†And here is a man who wasn’t like on his way to grab a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, but on his way to RAISE A GIRL FROM THE DEAD and he still, still took the time to heal her and call her daughter.

God has been so sweet to me. ¬†So sweet. ¬†Constantly I think I am able to do this thing called life on my own. ¬†I stumble. ¬†I fall. ¬†I make an idiot of myself. ¬†I hurt people around me. ¬†And Jesus shows me grace that I just plain don’t deserve.

The second story God has brought me to just this week is of another woman who is at the feet of Jesus.  She is a well known sinner in the town.  (Go Here to Read the Story) and she finds out that Jesus would be eating at a Pharisees  house.  This woman determines that she has to see Jesus and upon entering the house she falls at his feet, sobs and wets his feet with her tears, then dries them with her hair.  She then puts perfume on his feet.  The entire time these men at dinner are talking about her and scoffing.  Again, Jesus shows this woman compassion.  He sticks up for her against the other men in the room!  And you know what else? He gives her grace.  He forgives her sins.

Jesus has just constantly been reminding me that there is grace at his feet.  That when I humble myself not only is there HEALING, but there is forgiveness.  I cannot adequately convey the overwhelming feeling of unconditional love I have felt this week from a Jesus I thought I had known since I was a child.

So, you ask.  What does this have to do with my original question?

It’s this:

God knows the desires of my heart. ¬†He knows what I want. ¬†He knows what I desire. ¬†And as I have poured out to him this week, he has poured into me. ¬†As I have begged him this week for clarity, he has shown me grace and mercy. ¬†I go to him broken and he has healed me. ¬†I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus is going to give me the desires of my heart and it is because for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I am able to say I’m not afraid to let him have control.

SERIOUSLY I COULD JUST SCREAM HALLELUJAH!!

God knows what he is doing and my job in the meantime is to seek Him first. ¬†In seeking Him I am preparing myself to be the kind of woman who is suitable to be married. ¬†When I think I have it all figured out and attempt to do it on my own accord, I am a FRACTION of the Godly wife God wants to shape me into. ¬†My future husband deserves more than that from me. ¬†Beyond that, marriage isn’t about me anyway! ¬†It is literally a bonding of two people to be a light in the darkness! ¬†Marriage is supposed to represent the church. ¬†Marriage is about honor, and respect and love and (dare I go there) SERVICE to your spouse and more importantly…your GOD. ¬†Lord, forgive me for ever making it about me! ¬†This is so not about me.

This week, I have found comfort and grace.  I have found peace and love.

The following are specific words God gave to me as I was driving home from Graduate school tonight:

It’s not about me.
It’s all about you.
Why can’t I see it?
My days here are few.
Feelings are fragile.
Feelings will lie.
When I am weary,
The truth is my guide.
No longer a sinner,
but I am Christ’s Bride.

God knows my inner most desire.

And, guys:

He calls me DAUGHTER!! ‚̧

Go Now and Leave Your Life of Sin

Some scripture that is speaking pretty clearly to me tonight…

John 8:11–After the woman who was found guilty of committing adultery is brought before Jesus to be stoned.¬† He told them that whoever hadn’t sinned could throw the first stone.¬† Every last man disappeared.¬† Jesus asked her “Has no one condemned you?”¬† When she answers no, this is the sweetest response Jesus could have given.

He says to her, “Then neither do I condemn you.”¬† And then this–This spoke to my very core.

GO NOW AND LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN. 

And that right there is how Jesus works.

Mark 7:6–When Jesus witnesses the Pharisees practicing in rituals before they eat he tells them that they are hypocrites.¬† “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.¬† They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”¬† It’s too easy to fall into this ritualistic behavior and then go into the world looking just like it.¬† I’m guilty.¬† I struggle.¬† There are times no one could tell me apart from anyone else.¬† This spoke to me.¬† I don’t ever want to be guilty of this scripture.¬† I don’t want my worship to be in vain.

Mark 5:34–There is a woman who had been bleeding for many many years.¬† She had spent all of her money and had seen several doctors without any relief.¬† She knew that if she just touched Jesus’ cloak she would be healed.¬† When she touched him and was healed, Jesus wanted to know who touched him.¬† The woman approached him afraid, but she told him everything.¬† His response to her, I can’t explain the feelings it gives me.¬† Mostly because he calls her daughter.¬† “Daughter, your faith has healed you.¬† Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I have several prayers tonight.¬†¬† As I am sorting through all of the messages I received this weekend, I want to hear God’s voice.¬† I want to recognize him talking to me.¬† I also want to have faith that is strong enough that I can be freed from my suffering.¬† I want my faith to be strong enough that I can “Go and leave my life of sin”.

Overwhelmed

In a good way.¬† The past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about being overwhelmed in a bad way.¬† Life has a way of getting in the way of things, ya know?!¬† Well, this week I’ve been studying and praying a lot and I constantly am getting two reminders from the Lord.

1.) Cast ALL your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you

AND

2.) Rejoice!

This morning in church, the first song we sang was Rejoice by Dustin Kensrue. (Video!!)¬† It’s amazing how when God is speaking to you, He will constantly reiterate what He wants you to know.¬† This week God really wanted me to hear that He’s already got it under control.¬† He really wanted me to just rejoice in Him and enjoy everything that He is.¬† He is, He was, and He is to come.¬† Jesus is everlasting.

This morning as we were taking communion, I was rejoicing in the Lord.¬† Thanking Him for everything that He has done for me and continues to do.¬† Thanking him for the strength to face each day.¬† As I closed my eyes to pray, I began to see a vision of Jesus on the cross.¬† I was knelt before the cross and I was handing EVERYTHING over to him.¬† I should preface this by saying that for weeks now, as I’ve prayed I’ve been getting this constant vision of myself literally with both hands palm side up handing Jesus my mother.¬† I am on my knees, my head is bowed, my arms are stretched high above my head with my palms up giving her to Him to care for.¬† I’ve been putting her in Jesus’ capable hands over, and over, and over in my prayers.¬† So today as God was showing me another vision of handing her over, I was knelt before the cross as he’s nailed to it and I am handing EVERYTHING to him.¬† Not just my mom, not just my anxiety, not just my depression, but EVERYTHING.¬† My house, my schooling, my LIFE.¬† I left everything at the cross this morning and I heard scripture in my mind “Surely, He was the Son of God”.

SURELY HE IS THE SON OF GOD!!¬† SURELY!!¬† This morning, my circumstances haven’t changed.¬† It’s like I’ve said a million times, circumstances my not change, but your heart will!¬† And this morning…my heart is changed.¬† Surely, Jesus is the Son of God, and¬† It.¬† Is.¬† Finished.

Your sorrow, your pain, Jesus carried it up the hill.¬† So, rejoice in Him.¬† Be OVERWHELMED with his love and sacrifice for you.¬† He cries with you.¬† He sobs with you.¬† He’s suffered with you.¬† He died FOR you.

Be overwhelmed by him this morning.

I know I am.

Dear Friends, Rejoice

(The few, but the incredibly loved friends that follow along on here!!) REJOICE! When I started this blog it was not for this purpose.¬† I’ve talked about that before in another post.¬† I never thought I would come here exploding from the seams with the exciting things that God has put in my life.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, friends.¬† It’s been a long time, because I’ve been incredibly busy, incredibly anxious, incredibly stressed, and incredibly strapped for time.¬† I have not stopped praising Jesus, though!¬† I want you to know that! I make it a point to start every day with scripture; however, that doesn’t always mean I have awesome days.¬† I’ll be honest. There have been a few ROUGH days the past couple of weeks. (Well the entire summer, which I’ve also mentioned before.)¬†

Here’s the difference though, when I first started this blog, I allowed my circumstances to control me and then I would get on here and say horrible things–some of it humorous, none of it beneficial.¬† But now, I have the love, the confidence, the strength, the comfort and the peace of my loving Lord Jesus Christ!! (can you tell I got a little excited there?! If you could have seen me typing you would have thought my keys were going to skid off my keyboard.) So, I have bad days and I have anxiety and then you know what I do?!

I PRAY. 

I constantly ask Jesus for guidance.  For comfort and peace.

Today church was AMAZING!¬† It was exactly what I needed to hear from God.¬† The first thing said today was from one of the worship leaders.¬† He welcomed everyone and then he said “This week, I’ve been really anxious.¬† I’ve been having a difficult time being content with the circumstances that I’m in and God has really been speaking to me through Philippians chapter 4.” And then he started to read:

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

WOAH!

Hey Jesus, I hear you loud and clear this mornin’!! Thanks for stoppin’ in to speak specifically to the depths of my soul.

I sang my heart out to Jesus today.  I poured my spirit out to him.  I repented for my grumpy spirit, for my confusion and my anxiety.  I praised God for who he is and for his love and his comfort.  I raised my hands high, I stretched them to Heaven praying I would feel his hands touch mine back.  I swayed back and forth and kept thanking Jesus for his power and his love.  In those moments, nothing mattered.

NOTHING MATTERED. Only Jesus.

Friends, my life is hectic.¬† I’m sure a couple of my 30 some followers can relate.¬† Maybe you have some stress.¬† Maybe you have some sorrow.¬† Maybe you are facing something that you JUST. DON’T. SEE. AN. END. TO.

I am too. I am too. And I want you to know something–God wants you to cast ALL your anxiety on him, for he cares for you. 1Peter 4:7

I want you to know something else.  I sat down this afternoon to do some reading and connecting with God.  I decided to start in Philippians, because I wanted to see what the music minister was all excited about. And let me tell YOU something! Before I even got to chapter 4, the Lord jumped out of that Bible and he hit me square in the forehead with just the right words I needed to hear.

Philippians 1:19- For I know that through your prayers
and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ
what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

What we are facing in this life.¬† The trials and the hurt and the pain and the suffering and the anxiety and the worry and the angst. IT WILL BE FOR OUR DELIVERANCE.¬† Our suffering will be rewarded 10 fold. (That’s in the Bible somewhere too. I can’t place exactly where at the moment.)

Before that specific verse Paul is talking and he is saying that “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (verse 12)

That is my prayer today. Everyday.¬† That even in these circumstances.¬† Even in this place in my life where things seem to have no end, no way out, no relief that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.¬† When people ask me how I’m making it, when people say “you are so strong”, when people compliment my actions, I want them to see that it’s not me who’s made it.¬† It’s Jesus living in me.

Friends, (my 30 glorious followers ūüėČ ) Just know. Please just know that the God of the universe loves you.¬† He sees the hurt and the sorrow.¬† He sees the circumstance.¬† And he IS the way out.¬† Your circumstances my not change for awhile, but your heart can change now.¬† Let what you’re going through be an advancement of the gospel.

…And Rejoice!…

All to Him I Owe

Today was an exciting day!¬† It’s SUNDAY!¬† That means it was a time of group celebration about our savior.¬† This morning I walked into church heavy burdened.¬† It’s been a rough week around this house and it’s not been because of my busy schedule.

Families are hard.

People are hard.

Dynamics are harder.

Mental illness is harder yet.

This week I felt like I was treading water pretty hard.  A few days I LITERALLY envisioned myself with water up to my ears; it had covered my mouth and the only way for me to get oxygen was to carefully breath through my nose between splashes of water to the face.  After work a couple nights this week I came home to a broken home.  One broken by the cloud of depression and illness.  As I tried to listen and minister and speak light, I was constantly met with a mind not capable of listening to my advice.  By the end of this week,  I. Was. Exhausted.  Friday night I slept 14 hours.  Then Saturday I took a 3 hour nap, and proceeded to sleep another nine and a half hours that evening.  So this morning, as I walked into church with all of the weight of the past week on my shoulders, I began to sing.

“I hear the savior say, thy strength indeed is small.
Child of weakness watch and pray, find in me your all in all.
Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.” (Jesus Paid it All)

By the second verse, I couldn’t squeak out another note.¬† Tears rolled down my cheeks.¬† I could feel big heavy tears drop onto my chest.¬† My strength is small.¬† I am a child of weakness and I need to watch and pray.¬† Jesus has already paid EVERYTHING for me.¬† I owe him my entire life.

No matter what is happening in my life.  No matter how difficult this home life gets.  No matter how sad I am. No matter how many battles I face.  No matter how many times I find myself crying in the dark before bed.  No matter how many times I plead for her to get better.    No matter how many late nights and exhausted days I have. JESUS PAID IT ALL! It is already finished.

In service this morning Pastor John said, “Too many times we spend our time asking ‘why me?! God, why me?!’ It’s not about that.¬† Good things happen to good and bad people.¬† The difference is how Christians stand tall when it’s raining.”¬† This again brought me to tears.¬† I have chosen to trust in Jesus.¬† I have chosen to take everything a day at a time and look to Jesus when I am at the end of my rope.¬† I have chosen to BELIEVE in the one who paid my debt.¬† This doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen to me.¬† This only means that in times of storm, I have him as my strong hold.

Tonight as I reflected on today and the week that has come to an end I did some reading in Philippians.  I was immediately comforted by a verse I read earlier last week and totally forgot about.

“For I know that through your prayers

and the help given by the spirit of Jesus Christ,

what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Philippians 1:19

Tonight, I am declaring in Jesus Christ that no matter what happens to me in this life, it will be used for my deliverance.

I am declaring that no matter what happens to me in this life, I am choosing to stand knowing that Jesus is my all in all.

I will stand tall even in the darkest moments.

When the tears are falling, I will know that he has collected every tear in his bottle.

He knows my burdens and sorrows.

collected tears copy

Source

.Jesus paid it all and I owe him everything.

The Lord is With You Mighty Warrior

HOLY CRAP. (For lack of a better term.) But really! That statement–“The Lord is with you mighty warrior.”–THAT is what was said to Gideon by an angel.

Let me set the stage for you. Israel is under the oppression of the Midianites, who were pretty strong nasty people, for seven years. The Israelites that were left built shelters in caves and up in the mountains in an effort to protect themselves. 

Here’s Gideon, working in a wheat field trying to get some food for his people, minding his own business and an ANGEL is just legitimately chillin’ in front of him. That ALONE would be enough to straight knock me off my feet. I just know it would. Not only was that angel standing in front of Gideon, then the angel talked and brought a message from God to him. “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.” Woah.

So long story short, God calls Gideon to save Israel from these nasty Midianites and Gideon is pretty scared. He’s like (ok, now I’m paraphrasing here guys.) “uh, you’re sure that you want ME to save all of Israel from these big, scary Midianites?!” and God is like “Am I not sending you?!”-Judges 6:14 (HELLO! Earth to Gideon, I sent an ANGEEELLL!) I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m pretty thankful for a patient God. He could have just as easily been like, “You know what Gideon, I’ve sent an angel from Heaven and you’re still not sure what I want you to do? Ok, welp, I’ll find someone else then.” Aren’t you glad that we aren’t God?!

Moving on with the story. It’s battle time and Gideon has gathered quite a few men (if my math is correct he has like 32,000) and God speaks to him and says (paraphrasing again) “Listen, buddy. You’ve got too many people. I don’t want Israel to think they’ve done something super awesome on their own. I want them to know this was me! Send some men home.”-Judges 7:2-8 By the end of this discussion with God, Gideon is left with 300 hundred men. As in 3-ZERO ZERO! 300. (I’m having a heart attack FOR Gideon right now.) I’ll go ahead and spoil the story for you and let you know that God fulfills his promise and Gideon takes down the Midianites with 300 men.

.Gideon was called. Judges 6:11-16

.Gideon was scared. Judges 6:15

.Gideon asked God for a sign. Judges 6:36-40

.God gave Gideon several signs. Judges 6:36-40

.God fulfilled his promise. Judges 7:15-25

Please get that last part…HE FULFILLED HIS PROMISE!

Aren’t we all a little like Gideon? (and by a little I mean…A LOT!) God calls us to something, and we are flat out petrified. We need a sign. We need proof. We need confirmation.

Maybe he called you to something that looks unattainable. Maybe he called you to something that looks too big to handle. Maybe he called you to something that you had never even considered for your life. Maybe you aren’t even sure it’s God. (That happened to Gideon too, read it here-Judges 6:17.)

I encourage you to pray. I encourage you to read the Bible. I encourage you to talk to GODLY friends and family and ask them to pray. I encourage you to journal and have an open dialogue with God.

I know where you’re at. I’m in the same place right now as I prayerfully consider the callings that God has for my own life.

Now I want to add a little something here: I’m not saying God is calling us all to lead an army and take down a nation. K? But each of us has our own battle. Each of us has our own “Midianite”. Each of us has, or will have, something that God is urging us to do.

And he wants you to know…

“The Lord is with you mighty warrior.”

Raising Our Hands, Getting the Full Affect of Jesus

Remember how a few posts back I said I like to be candid?–Well, this is going to be one of those moments. I would say, for those of you who don’t want to read the following post, please skip it; however, those of you who read these posts I’ve generally sent you a personal link to it. Thus deeming that thought as nothing more than my dream of one day having a million readers. ūüėČ

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

I’ve talked a lot recently about how God has been working in my life and he really REALLY has. What started as a HORRIBLE day when I walked out of the last of my two summer jobs, has turned into the biggest blessing God has given me: TIME TO SPEND WITH HIM. I have had so much time to spend in his word, to spend contemplating who He is, learning various Bible Stories and their historical/ spiritual significance. I’ve spent time thinking and praying about what He wants for my life. At the very start of this whole thing I had to take time to relearn how to pray.

GUYS-this thing doesn’t happen over night. It starts with obedience–which is a little gem of information that my sister Bethany gave to me a couple weeks ago and she was SO RIGHT–and then it slowly grows and transforms into this beautiful relationship. IT’S NOT EASY. Let me repeat that so I don’t mislead anyone (again I’m talking to my invisible million readers) IT. IS. NOT. EASY. It becomes something that you enjoy. It becomes something that you crave. It becomes something that is second nature to you. However, human nature is just one that likes to take charge and figure things out on their own, and it is so easy to forget that you are to listen and wait and think and TRUST that God has something for you.

Any beyond all of that, the deeper you get in Christ, the more he’s like “Hey, give me this sin. Hey, I actually think your life would be more abundant if you decided to let me take care of this. Hmmm, my daughter, I know you are justifying and holding on to this, but I’d like to have that and give you something more.” And guess what?!–THAT ISN’T EASY EITHER!! It becomes easier, but it’s hard to admit to yourself and then to a Holy God that you aren’t perfect…AS IF HE’S SHOCKED! Really, I think it’s more difficult to admit to ourselves that we have failed. No one likes failure.

All of my life I have struggled with the thought of failure. I’ve spent a lot of time being the fixer, the comforter, the answer-giver, the oldest. So, admitting that I don’t have it all figured out is contrary to everything I have lived up until now.

Relationships have always been something I’ve craved. I want to be wanted, I want to be needed, I want to be accepted, I want to feel loved. (Who doesn’t?!) However, a lot of times I have filled this void with incredibly unhealthy things. In my current relationship, Roman and I have really started to dig deeper (or dial in as Pastor John likes to say) into this thing called life, what it means for us, and then how God intended us to live it. With that being said, that has meant some pretty serious changes in our relationship. It’s started with small things–going to church, having spiritual conversations, buying devotionals, asking each other questions about what we want the future to look like and now the BIGGEST change so far, NO. MORE. SEX. (I’m not even going to pretend like that didn’t hurt a little to write.)

God has been speaking to both of us for the past few weeks. Every Sunday we would leave church, I would feel incredibly guilty because of the church I grew up in (I already KNEW the rules!!), Roman would feel confused. He knew what he rule was. He knew what his parents taught him, but still… “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong. I love you.” And to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong either, but things happen over time that shift your belief patterns. Premarital sex is written about in the Bible pretty plainly. There isn’t a lot of leeway given. As God continues to work in your life, you begin to start believing.

Like I said before about this not being easy, IT IS NOT EASY. God created us as sexual beings. Period. We are programmed to want sex. And like everything else in this journey, it starts as obedience and then becomes about a relationship. Glory. Love. Reverence.

Roman and I aren’t “super-Christians”, we don’t have this whole thing figured out, but what we do have is a growing relationship with our God. I spent so much time as a teenager giving all of my time to “avoiding this sin or that sin”. What I have come to learn is that by spending your time with Christ, again it starts with obedience, things begin to fall into place. It’s not perfect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to redirect my thoughts, or force myself to keep reading or doing what I was doing, but the longer I’ve given myself up to God, the more it becomes a joy to see what he’s going to give to me next. It becomes about having a meaningful relationship with Him and the sin part just falls into place. **This doesn’t mean we never again sin!! It just means your mind begins to change, your heart begins to change and things that you NEVER thought you could accomplish being happening just because you stepped out in obedience, which turned into faith, and then turned into a meaningful relationship with Christ.

So, here’s to a sex-free relationship. One that honors God.

P.S.- I always like to include a funny…and I HAVE to include this one. When we started talking about our “new found celibacy”, Roman and I were taking a walk together. He looked over at me and said “I’m going to start raising my hands in church, and you’re going to do it with me so I don’t feel alone.” I chuckled a little bit and said, “Ok, honey.” He continued by saying, “I mean, if I’m giving up the best parts of life, I am SURE gonna get the full affects of Jesus by raising my hands.” –I laughed so hard, I almost peed.

So really, here’s to raising our hands, getting the full affect of Jesus and living with a pure heart.