Grace at His Feet

GOD IS AWESOME.

There are sometimes just not words. Those three words aren’t adequate enough. ¬†He’s more than awesome. ¬†He’s incredible. He’s consistant. He’s undeniable.

For the past few days I’ve been singing the song “It’s All About You, Jesus.” ¬†I’ve realized for about the past week I’ve lost focus. I start to hold on to “my” life tighter than I should. ¬†I start to think I can control how my life is going to go. ¬†This morning, I sat down to relax, not even intending to do devotions honestly. ¬†As I was sitting on my couch, that song came to mind again. ¬†I looked it up on youtube and just started to worship. ¬†I was brought to a place of repentance. It wasn’t harsh. ¬†It wasn’t demeaning. ¬†It was a gentle reminder.

For so long I’ve struggled with failure (I still do). ¬†I don’t like to make mistakes. ¬†I don’t like to do things wrong. ¬†I don’t like to be a “failure”. ¬†I hide my mistakes. ¬†I run from failure. ¬†This pours into my spiritual life as well. ¬†When I make mistakes I’m afraid to go to God. ¬†I sometimes don’t know how to initiate conversation with Him. ¬†I am so thankful for a God who speaks in the ways we are able to listen. ¬†He used music to draw me into repentance. It wasn’t demeaning. ¬†It wasn’t shame. ¬†It. Was. So. Cool.

I started to hear these questions:

Who is this life about?

Who are you living for?

What are you bringing me when you worship?

I just worshiped and repented. ¬†I asked that God search my heart. ¬†I told him that He is what is important to me and that if there was anything in my life that he didn’t want me to have, I would chose him. ¬†It’s a relief when I go back and give it all to him. ¬†I feel my grip on life loosen. ¬†I don’t HAVE to be in control. ¬†I don’t HAVE to worry about every second of every day. ¬†When it’s God’s choice, I’m able to relax.

As I continued to ask for forgiveness, I asked that the Holy Spirit speak to me.

Immediately God gave me a vision.

Jesus was sitting in front of me as I was knelt at his feet. ¬†He reached down to me, put his hands on either side of my face and kissed my forehead. ¬†Then…you know what he did?! Just like he’s done for so many others that come to his feet, He said, “I love you.” (*CUE THE SOBBING*) ¬†He’s gently reminding me. ¬†“There is grace at my feet. Humble yourself. Meet me here. ¬†I love you. ¬†I’m always going to be here. ¬†Come to my feet, Marti. ¬†Let me love you, Marti. Let me kiss your fears away.”

He. Loves. Me. 

It’s not about me. ¬†It’s all about Him. It’s all about Jesus.

I’m glad he brought me to his feet this morning. ‚̧

Maybe God Had A Flat Tire

Today I’ve spent time thinking about what happens when the feelings fade. ¬†I know I’ve talked before about how feelings lie. ¬†That concept was brought to my attention several months ago and I never understood what was meant by it.

Let me try to clear that up (Just as much for myself as for anyone else who randomly stumbles onto this post):

Let’s say you have a friend. (Most of us have at least A friend we can use for this scenario, so it seems a safe bet.) Anyway, you and this friend decide to go to dinner. ¬†You sit down at the restaurant, you order drinks for the two of you and this friend never comes. ¬†10 minutes pass, 15 minutes pass, 20 freakin’ minutes. If you are a friend like I am a friend, you’ve started to get frustrated. You’ve done called them. MORE TIMES THAN YOU SHOULD ADMIT! ¬†You’ve gotten no answer. ¬†You’ve texted and not gotten a response. ¬†Now you’re starting to feel not just mad, but rejected. ¬†You’re starting to feel like perhaps they forgot about you. You wait 30 minutes and FINALLY that stinkin’ friend of yours walks into dinner, hands covered in black grease and sweat dripping off their brow. ¬†

A flat tire…. DANG GONE IT.

So, did the friend reject you? Did the friend forget about you? No. ¬†The friend had a dead cell phone (because isn’t that just classic when you’re going to have car trouble!!) and a flat tire.

The same thing happens in our spiritual walks. (I mean false feelings, although I am sure there is such a think as a spiritual flat tire.) ¬†God is always there. ALWAYS. ¬†There are specific times when God makes himself incredibly known. ¬†He needs you to feel his presence for specific reasons. ¬†Sometimes you’re going through a rough time. ¬†Sometimes you have a decision to make. ¬†Sometimes he knows you need to specifically FEEL his love. ¬†Other times, God is ever present, but we don’t necessarily FEEL things. ¬†That is where faith kicks in. ¬†I think those are specific moments where Christ is really asking us so step out in full faith and follow him not by sight.

He’s asking that we stop groping at the wall and using it as a “feel guide” through life. ¬†For some reason, that vision is really powerful to me. ¬†Rather than living a Christian walk where you are in the dark feeling your way cautiously down the hallway, dragging your feet on the ground to make sure you don’t trip over an unexpected bump, Jesus is begging that we grab his hand. ¬†Step into the light. ¬†And walk in faith.

That requires a lot. ¬†Sometimes that means abandoning some of the truths you’ve believed for WAY TOO LONG. ¬†It means embracing forgiveness and grace. ¬†It means being in a constant state of repentance and reconsideration. ¬†It means being in the word and taking in the things God wants to reveal to you.

Faith. 

Today I was reading Esther and a friend was talking to me about the Bible Study she is currently attending. ¬†They are studying¬†this chapter, and one of the things she’s learned is that this is the only book of the Bible where God is not specifically mentioned. ¬†However, that doesn’t me he isn’t present! The presence of God is all throughout Esther’s life and Mordecai’s (Esther’s cousin) as well. ¬†The importance of coincidences that are too big to be coincidences are ways that we know God is present. ¬†This is true in the book of Esther.

One significant part that stood out to me is that Mordecai (Esther’s cousin¬†who took her in as a child) was to be put to death by Haman, a royal official of King Xerxes. ¬†The NIGHT before Haman is going to hang Mordecai, Xerxes¬†couldn’t sleep. **This is where God starts to work. ¬†Sometimes it’s something as small as not being able to sleep.** Because he couldn’t sleep, he asked that the chronicles, which documented special events of his reign, be brought to him and read out loud. ¬†So, as Xerxes is suffering insomnia, he requests this book to be read (he could have chosen to do ANYTHING else with his time) and as the book is being read to him Mordecai’s name comes up. (You know, the same Mordecai that Haman wants to murder, yeah. Him.) Mordecai had earlier overheard a conversation between guards plotting the death of King Xerxes. ¬†He then sent word to Esther and Esther sent word to the king so that it would be avoided. ¬†This event was documented in the chronicles that are IN THAT MOMENT being read to Xerxes. ¬†Xerxes asks¬†if Mordecai has ever been thanked for his actions and the answer (OBVIOUSLY since Haman is trying to MURDER HIM!) is no. ¬†So!–Literally HOURS before he is to be hanged, Xerxes instructs Haman to show Mordecai the recognition he deserves for saving his life. ¬†(God’s irony is just so perfect sometimes. Literally the dude who was going to murder Mordecai now has to dress him in the best clothing and parade him around the city saying how awesome he is! HA!!)

Needless to say, Mordecai’s life is spared. ¬†The story get’s even better. Xerxes get’s mad he murders Haman and the Jews start kicking some serious butt. ¬†I would tell you the whole story, but maybe if I don’t, you’ll go get in the word yourself. ūüėČ

I specifically share this story to show you that even though the “high” of God’s AWESOME grace has worn off, He is still an awesome God. ¬†One that shows up and takes care of us through “coincidences” even when he is not specifically named. ¬†One that presents himself to us when we actively seek him. ¬†One that gives us gentle reminders as encouragement. ¬†One that is there whether we “feel” him or not.

Sometimes it’s helpful to pull back and see the coincidences in our lives that are more than coincidences.

Sometimes it’s helpful to remind yourself that feelings lie.

*shrugs* Maybe God had a flat tire and a dead cell phone.

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!! ‚̧

It’s Worth It

I wasn’t sure how to start this post, but here it is.¬† The lyrics of the song Come As You Are by Crowder touched the depths of my soul tonight.¬† As I was driving home from graduate class, processing the hour long conversation I had during counseling earlier in the day I began to cry.¬† The kind of tears that are big and fat and turn your cheeks into rushing rivers, those are the kinds of tears I was crying.

Grief.   Utter Sorrow.

I took a few minutes and allowed myself to feel sad.¬† I allowed myself to come as I was and I showed my broken heart to God.¬† I laid down my hurt and I found mercy.¬† My pain isn’t instantly gone, but I just kept telling myself that God knows every tear.¬† I couldn’t make legitimate words, but as the tears fell I thanked God for his ability to decipher tears.¬† I am thankful for a God who is patient.¬† I’ve been fighting so hard.¬† I’ve been telling God how scared I am and he’s still, even in my reluctance and my BLATANT disobedience, been faithful in showing his love to me. Even as I am sobbing driving down the highway, God was wrapping his loving arms around me.¬† The lyrics of this song washed over me and covered me like a warm blanket after playing in the snow too long.¬† I cried harder out of gratitude and just soaked in the lyrics:

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

I never wanted to believe that the people who are closest to me that I love the most may literally be incapable of providing my needs.¬† For a few weeks now we have been talking about how God will meet those needs.¬† How God will provide what I need.¬† How I will find validation in Him.¬† I believe those things.¬† A couple weeks ago Jill told me a story of how God showed her love through the comfort of her pet.¬† I began to think of all of the ways that God has shown me love and I’m making a list.

My Sisters- The love that I feel for each of my sisters is so strong it is something that I will never feel again and for any other people.  This is the kind of fierce love that I can imagine God has for me, except WAY stronger, because his love is perfect.  Also, how much must he love me to GIFT me with them?  They are mine, God gave them to me and I cherish each of them.

My nephew- It is absolutely impossible to not feel the love of God in the little boy.  When he giggles the pure JOY that he brings is just unbelievable.  He has created such a bond with each of us and brought my sisters and I closer.  I know that he has been an absolute gift from God and I am so thankful.

My Cohort- My graduate class is wonderful.¬† Each week we become closer and closer.¬† I love the community and the unity that I feel week after week.¬† The understanding that is provided through these people is a gift.¬† My need to be understood, loved and needed is met through different people within my group.¬† I literally don’t have words for the thankfulness that I feel towards each and every one of them.

My students- Some of my best and worst days are given from my students, but I have learned so much.  I know that each and every one of my students has been a gift in one way or another.  They have taught me things about myself, about the world and about teaching that I will always cherish.  Each and every one of them a gift from God, a God that loves me!

He is a God that understands each of my needs and meets them in very REAL ways.¬† It’s just taken me some time to realize.¬† I don’t understand the love of a parent well enough to understand what love has looked like outside of what I have tried to fill the void with, but as I’ve reflected on Jill’s story about God meeting her needs with the love of her pet, I began to see that NOTHING in my life has been an accident.¬† I don’t understand why my life has been what it has been and I may NEVER understand, but what I AM starting to understand is that God has placed people, and very specific circumstances in my life to meet every need that I have if I am willing to grasp onto it and hold it close.

Tonight, I am brimming.  I brought my broken heart to Him.  I came to him JUST as I was (blubbering, tear stained cheeks and all) and he comforted me.

Maybe you need to hear the song.¬† Maybe you’ve had a tear-streaked-cheek kinda night too.

Come as You Are.

It’s worth it.

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.

Almighty

As a follow up to yesterday’s post (that you can read here), we had a rough night as a family last night.¬† I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts that this summer has been a difficult one for my family and last night was another one of those nights.

 

It involves a grieving mother, too much alcohol, an overbearing-incredibly-sketchy-almost-ex-step-father, a whole lot of anxiety and a whole lot more prayer.

 

Tonight when I opened my devotional I began to read EXACTLY what God wanted me to hear:

“On some days your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives–giving up or relying on Me. Even if you wrongly choose the first alternative, I will not reject you.¬† You can turn to Me at any point, and I will help you crawl our of the mire of discouragement.¬† I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day. Trust Me, by relying on My empowering Presence.” (The devotional is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.)

A night that ended with me knelt at the foot of my mother’s bed praying and sobbing over her as she slept, certainly falls within the characteristics of my “demands seeming far greater than my strength”.¬† Last night, I could have folded under the pressure and given up. I felt sick enough to. The fear was paralyzing enough that I could have, but in the most hopeless of situations, I turned to Jesus and begged. Guys, I begged harder than I’ve ever begged. I prayed and I cried and I prayed and I cried.¬† I allowed God’s empowering Presence to comfort me, I asked Roman for prayer; I asked my sister for prayer. I asked my aunt for prayer. And I allowed God’s Empowerment to Comfort my Soul.¬†Nothing within my situation changed, but what changed was that in those moments when I was pouring everything I had to God, I felt an overwhelming peace. God doesn’t always immediately change your circumstances, but he absolutely will show you how to rely on Him. I am learning this lesson time and time again. It’s a difficult lesson, but I am thankful every step of the journey.

Back to tonight–After reading the short devotion I went to the scripture associated with the excerpt.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…Psalm 42:5-6

I realized in the very moment that I read that scripture, that God was showing me I’m not alone.¬† Spiritual “offness” (like I was feeling during the day yesterday) has happened before, there are cases IN THE BIBLE! I am so thankful for a God who takes time to show us we aren’t alone. I am thankful that when I was searching for answers yesterday and I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, God already knew and he already had a plan.

Tonight, though issues are not completely resolved,

I have peace.

I have faith.

I have a God who is all-knowing.

All powerful and

…..ALMIGHTY!…..

This is not a battle I have to fight, God has already won it. 

Have You Any Right to be Angry?

Jonah 4-4So, how about you?–Do you have any right to be angry? Let me explain a little further. Most everyone knows the story of Jonah and the whale. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and Jonah was like “I don’t think sooo!” and he hops a boat to Tarshish. There is a giant storm that causes sheer panic to set in around the boat. Eventually the men on the boat figure out the storm is caused by Jonah’s disobedience to God, so first they try to row back to shore and drop Jonah off, but the storm gets worse and they are forced to throw him overboard. A big fish (whale) comes and swallows Jonah. Jonah prays in the belly of the whale and 3 days later God causes the fish to vomit him to dry land. THEN Jonah decides he should probably do what God called him to do.

I know I already talked about Gideon in another post, but isn’t it kind of funny that each person who is called in the bible has a different, yet similar reaction to being called. *-PANIC!-* Like Gideon didn’t even believe an angel coming to him, and required constant reassurance. Jonah just flat out took the flight option out of his panic. He was like “Catch ya later God!–I’m totally freaked.”

ANYWAY

Guys. I totally thought the story stopped there. Somewhere in my childhood, somewhere perhaps between nursery class and junior church, chapter 4 was omitted. The chapter where Jonah is mad at God for saving the city of Nineveh. He is MAD that God sent him to the city of Nineveh to preach their doom and that when God saw the people turn from their wicked ways he decided to spare them. He was mad! Mad enough he wanted to die. (*cue the drama* Jonah is a tad dramatic boys and girls.)

I think this is an especially important point to be made. How many times have you been called by God to do something, minister to someone, do a specific job, then the outcome isn’t what you expected and then you’re kind of (or down right) MAD. We are called and whether we admit it or not, we kind of romanticize what the outcome will be.

Ok, Jesus I will totally go and tell all of these people about You and they will come to church and they will give their lives to you and they will bow down and proclaim you as King and then they will go and they will build a church somewhere and bring tons of other people to you and it’s going to be this big wonderful EXTRAVAGANT thing all because you called me to tell them about you.

Uh. Hold on just a second. Who gives us the authority to determine the outcome? And then do we have any right to be angry when the outcome isn’t what we expected it to be?

Here’s what happens with Jonah:

“O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:1-4¬† (A little dramatic, don’t you think? Goodness Jonah, pull yourself together man!!)

And that’s when God says to him: “Have you any right to be angry?”

God uses another circumstance to teach Jonah a lesson. Jonah leaves the city and makes himself a shelter to wait and see what happens to the city. While he is there God makes a vine grow to provide some shade for Jonah and protect him from the heat. He is SERIOUSLY excited about it. Then, when morning comes, God makes a worm eat the vine and it kills it. Jonah is BEYOND upset. (You guys, he wants to die again. I mean, really.) God asked him again “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” Jonah 4:9

AND GET THIS (I mean, seriously Jonah…you’re a little dramatic brother.) He says, “I do. I am angry enough to die.” I just get this vision of a small child reasoning with a parent. I know this behavior may seem just as ridiculous to you, but how many of us…how many times have YOU or I acted this way with God? Like a whining child. As soon as something doesn’t happen precisely the way we intended, we are ready to “die” or to give up, or throw in the towel.

So God gives Jonah, and in the process ME, a little wake up call. He says this:

“You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and it died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Jonah 4:10-11.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –>Are we angry about something that we didn’t tend or make grow?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –>Are we angry about the outcome of something God has called us to do?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –>”Have you any right to be angry?”

I’ll leave you with this. A couple weeks ago Roman had an issue at work and I told him “You have every RIGHT to be angry.” His response to me was “No, I have every REASON to be angry, but I have no RIGHT.”

Take a few minutes today to consider the things that cause you anger. Then consider the thought

Have you any right to be angry?