Deserts of snow.

Deserts and snow make no sense together, I know. Essentially, they are complete opposites. But I find myself feeling deep within a valley dry and alone. Yet, I look outside right now, staring at the snow, and there’s such a peace. I was out this morning shoveling the snow from the driveway and there were birds chirping. The sound of spring, yet in the deepest of winter. All of these things that don’t seem to go together…

As I sat here watching the snow quietly fall with nothing but the sound of those birds outside I began to cry. To weep. Im not sure what the reason was besides just a release of a number of emotions. Mostly frustration and confusion, some anger, some joy. I tried to pray but admitted to God that my mind felt so confused and I had no words to pray. I sat in the quiet, crying, but knowing full well God was with me. And He reminded me of the words to the song “Come to Me.”

And as I listened to it, the tears became the set of thankfulness and joy.

“I am the Lord your God, I go before you now

I stand beside you, I’m all around you

Though you feel I’m far away, I’m closer than your breath

I am with you, more than you know”

So just know, dear friend, whatever the state of your mind, your reality, your past or your future – He is standing beside you, He is all around you. Be at peace in His presence.

Who you are.

I am working on the “renewing of my mind,” per all the scripture (Romans 12:2, ) telling me to renew my mind, as I am a new creation.

Well, if someone wants to tell me how one goes about this, I’d be grateful. I still haven’t figured it out, but I have started the process of learning who God is.

And well, because I am created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), I can better learn who I am, and maybe what I should be thinking about, and maybe this will give me some insight into the renewing of my mind.

Tired yet? I sure am.

Here’s a helpful sermon by my boy Pipes (John Piper… is that offensive? I just feel like you and I are tight). Check it out for some help on the renewing of your mind.

But that’s not what this post is about – I don’t understand it enough yet to write about it.

This is about WHO GOD IS.

Because, brothers and sisters, when you know who God is, you can learn who YOU are!

AH! Is that not exciting? We were made in HIS image! To be like him!

I am very much into recreating quotes onto canvas to hang on the wall. But to do that, I have to look at an image, because I am not the best of artists on my own.

Here are some ideas on some of the attributes, or characteristics of God (via Challies):

bb008731752675cc1bc3455d41c8e0e7.jpg

Those are good, and worth learning about. I also love the book The Attributes of God, by A.W. Tozer.

 

But when I think how I want to model myself in the image of God, I think of things like these:

  • unconditionally lover
  • seeker of justice
  • creative
  • beautiful
  • peaceful
  • strong
  • patient
  • humble
  • trustworthy
  • consistent
  • forgiving

What one attribute of God could you work on for yourself this week?

I’m going to work on “patient.”

You are not Your Circumstance

At #shereadstruth right now we are reading the story of Ruth (and Naomi).

Today we are reminded how

Naomi’s circumstances were indeed awful. She’d buried her husband, lost two sons and said goodbye to a daughter-in-law. She had no hope of a grandchild, no path of provision. “I went away full,” she said, “and the Lord has brought me back empty” (v. 21). Yet, there was no fist-shaking at heaven. No renouncing her faith. Naomi acknowledges God without blaming Him. She believed God was sovereign, even in her tragedy.

 

She still believed He was sovereign.

 

I think this is part of why I have been M.I.A. here on the blog.

I’ve felt unworthy of writing anything, just in a low place spiritually.

But, lately God has reminded me of who He is, and who that makes me.

shereads

It doesn’t matter what are circumstances, what stupid thing we just did, what stupid thing we did years ago. We are renamed when we are His children. We are new, we are beautiful. We can continue to sing praises because despite how the world might try to name us because of our circumstances, He is still calling us beloved, redeemed, and precious. He is still calling us His child.

And He will never stop.

 

Joshua – Be Strong, Be Courageous!

She Reads Truth is doing something new for Lent – every Friday the reader’s share their own thoughts on a certain passage of scripture. This is my response for the week. 

This week, we are reflecting on Joshua 1:8-9.

Let me start by saying, all of this must have been very providentially, as if God really wanted to teach me something. The same morning I read that the passage this week for #shesharestruth, I also started listening to a podcast series from Oak Hills Church (home of our boy, Max Lucado!) The series is called “Glory Days” and it is all about Joshua, how fitting. Here’s a list of the series so you can go watch for yourself:

So, those are all the sermons so far, and they cover more than just verses 8 and 9 from chapter 1. But Lucado talks a lot about who Joshua is and where he is coming from, what he is coming from, and where he is being called to in the future. I think knowing the context of a verse is important, no matter what passage you’re looking at.

Using my study Bible, I also gathered information about Joshua (the book AND the person) that I found informative:

  • Joshua was chosen as Moses’ successor,
  • The book outlines Joshua’s leadership of the Israelites,
  • Joshua was a military leader and a strong spiritual influence,
  • He was submissive to God, and was obedient to his call,
  • The book displays Joshua’s obedience.
  • (and Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down)

Verses 1-9 of the first chapter of the Joshua are the Lord’s Charge to Joshua. Joshua should’ve been mourning the loss of a great leader, Moses, but instead God asks him to RISE UP and lead the people of Israel.

Joshua obeys.

God calls Joshua to be strong and courageous and to lead the people and Joshua accepts. Then, the important part for us this week, God says,

Study This Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

God taught Joshua how to be obedient, strong, and courageous, and successfully carry out His plan:

  1. Be strong, be courageous – it’s not going to be easy.
  2. Obey the law God has given.
  3. Constantly read the word God has given, think about, dwell on it, claim it, etc.

We too need to do those things, with whatever it is God is calling us to do.

We move forward without fear, for if God is for us, who can be against us?

We obey His commands (especially in what He is currently calling us to do, that which is requiring we have faith and courage).

We read His written word to us, we dwell on it, and we let it direct us as we are strong and courageous in obedience.

 madewithOver

Are you ready? What is God calling you to do – big, small, easy, difficult?

 

image is from my brother! Follow him @an_idiot_abroad on Instagram!

Matter of the heart? (sin series)

I have been writing and thinking about sin for the past week…

I addressed some black and white sins listed in the Bible and I reminded you (and myself) that God loved me before I could do anything to win or lose His affections – it’s not about my works.

Today I want to address your heart. My heart.

When I started thinking about my reoccurring battle with particular sins awhile back, I always equated my level of struggle with a particular sin with how much I loved God. For example, I’d think things like, “wow, I did that 4 times this week, I must not really love God. Who am I kidding.” Or even things like, “You can’t stop doing that, it’s who you are, so really you don’t love God, you love that sin.” I was so discouraged by my thoughts – by the enemies lies – about the state of my heart. I felt like I was pursuing God with all that I am at times, yet I still continued to struggle with particular sins. I still struggle with the same sins but I also feel like I’m pursuing God more than ever in my life previously. 

That’s when God started speaking to me, the other night at church. He whispered quietly to my tired heart,

“I know you so well – I created you. I know where you are tempted and how you have failed. I see it each time. And I love you just as much in that moment as the moments you are shouting My praises. There is nothing you can do to make Me love you more. You are my beloved.”

That is something I told myself so many times before – that God loves me no matter what I do, yada, yada. But to feel Him whisper that to me in my hurt, in my disappointment, in my shame. Oh my heart was broken with gratitude for the mercy and grace of my Savior and God.

madewithOver

I think most of us can quote the verse about being saved through faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-10). But do we understand how just as we cannot earn our salvation, we cannot earn the love of God?

Think about it for just a minute. Wherever you are.

God loves you:

despite your jealousy of your neighbor…

despite the lie you told to your spouse…

despite the number of drinks you had…

despite the images you viewed online…

despite the debt you’re in…

despite the hatred you have toward your coworker…

despite your filth…

despite your selfishness..

despite your bad attitude…

despite the words you said in anger…

despite the last time you went to church…

despite the last time you talked to Him.

HE. LOVES. YOU… JUST AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW.

It blows my mind. For more about sin, grace, mercy, and God’s love for you, see below!

You are loved, friends. Walk peacefully in that truth today.

For more:

photo credit to my brother, Daniel. Follow him on instagram @ an_idiot_abroad

Let it go.

present

God asks Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:1, “How long will you mourn what I have rejected.”

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

How long will you live in a season that has been rejected?

How long will you dwell on an issue from the past, today?

How long will you wish you had done something different?

How are you holding yourself back by holding onto the plan you had that didn’t work out?

WHERE ARE YOU STUCK?

How long will you allow the imagination of what might have been rob you of the possibility of what God knows can be?

– Steven Furtick

peace

 

This is the Church.

I told you about the time I spent in the hospital and how I started having a lot of doubts and fears, how I didn’t know what God was up to.

Here is where the good news comes in! I finally learned what is meant by being the body of Christ, by being the Church rather than going to church.

49091a762a0c613016c353d6f876ed21

Oh friends, hear this.

I came home from the hospital still full of doubts and fears and unsure what God was up to. I spent the next days in a chair, watching TV and sleeping, not eating and then finally giving up on praying, as well.

I remember either stating out loud or maybe just in my head, “I can’t do this anymore.” I couldn’t pray anymore to a God I felt was gone, and when my body was failing miserably and I was full of confusion. Now, I know people have it much worse than myself, I lived with some who had been through worse and made it out stronger. But, this was the first time I personally had gone through this type of trial. I didn’t know what to do or expect. And out of fear, doubt, and frustration I gave up. I still believed in God but I didn’t want to pray anymore and I stopped reading the Bible.

And then, I got a card from someone who knew my mother but I had never met. She told me she was praying for me.

This is the church, this is the body. One part will fight for the other because all parts are needed. 

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, thengifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

Who needs your gift right now? What I realized during my time of weakness was that one purpose of the body of Christ is to carry each other when they are unable to fight on their own. I couldn’t keep on praying so someone picked me up and carried me, by praying on my behalf.

What is a spiritual gift you have? How can you use it to help someone else?

This is the Church. This is the body of Christ.

Before I knew what it meant to “be the Church”

church

source

Here’s the back story:

A few years ago I got really sick. Like, crawling-on-the-floor-near-passing-out-in-pain fluish sick. I thought I had the flu or something but it turned out to be a lot worse. At the time I was living with my parent’s and working full time at the nearby Air Force Base while in my first year of my master’s program. It was a busy time, I wasn’t prepared to get sick. I went to work not feeling well and by the time we had our 9 am staff meeting, my boss sent me home, knowing full-well I wasn’t leaving on my own. I got sick in my car during the 10 minute drive home. This was a Wednesday. I stayed home from work the rest of the week but refused to go to the doctor because I just thought it was some kind of bug I had caught and it’d be gone soon.

Saturday, I remember waking up feeling pretty okay. I was determined to leave the house since I hadn’t been out since Wednesday, and decided I’d go walk around the grocery store or Target – anywhere just to get out. I started to run a bath and remember replying to a friend’s text that I was feeling pretty well. Then, I’m not sure what happened but the pain got i n t e n s e. I laid outside the bathroom on the carpet reeling in pain. I crawled to my parent’s bedside table to use their phone to find out where they were. This was it, I couldn’t stay how I was, I needed medical help. My parents didn’t answer and I had no idea where they were. I rolled around the floor in what I only could assume was the pain one feels during childbirth contractions (honestly, I have no idea, I’ve never had a baby). In perfect timing, my parents walked through the front door down the hallway to see me lying on the floor like a crazy person. My mom called my doctor who told her to take me to the hospital.

hospial

To the ER I went, not sure how I’d be able to sit even remotely normal for any extended amount of time. Luckily, when I walked through the door the nurses were frightened by my ghostly pale body and new I needed immediate help. I began to have fluids pumped through my body and warm blanket upon warm blanket put on top of me. They did some tests or something but weren’t sure what was wrong. Soon they were telling me I needed surgery. I cried and panicked and then had some more tests and they told me I’d have to wait, no surgery right now. They thought my appendix may have burst; and then they didn’t; and then I think they had no idea what was wrong. I spent the night without being allowed to eat or drink. My family came back in the morning and then were sent home in the afternoon after no promise of any surgery or any real change in my state.

About 5 minutes after they left they were called back because I was indeed having surgery. I remember laying on the pre-op table doing my best not to cry in fear. The nurse was not apathetic, I don’t think she cared how scared I was.I remember it seeming so cold and so white. Typically cold and white (as in snow) seems peaceful and pure. Not at this time. At this time cold and white seemed frightening and even mocking, laughing at my fear of the unknown.

When surgery was over what I remember most was the people I was told had come to visit. It was dark and I was in and out of sleep/consciousness. But my parents told me such-and-such was here to see me, and so-and-so had stopped by while I was in surgery.

And then I spent a day or two in my hospital room before going home.

Friends, the people who sent flowers, cards, gifts and those who came to see me broke my heart in appreciation. It was beautiful.

But, I was not feeling beautiful. My body felt so weird, so unlike myself. I had these wounds I didn’t know, my body was tired and confused from the anesthesia and the air that had been in my body for the laparoscopic tools to do their job. I was in a strange room, in a hospital gown, unable to do much for myself. I’ll spare you other details. I remember one night, in the late hours I wasn’t able to sleep, I sent a text to a friend who himself was fighting cancer, a friend only a year older than me.

I asked him how he did it. He had it so much worse, but from what I saw he was so positive.

I have no idea how he responded, all I remember was I was giving up. I didn’t feel like myself and was so lost and confused. They took part of my body but didn’t know what caused the problem. I kept praying for peace, strength, and health but felt instead confusion, weakness and more ill than ever before.

 

faith

 

My health had definitely failed. My spirit was at it’s weakest.

I’ll tell you more how I learned to keep God the strength of my heart.

I’ve Stopped Praying for Self-Control.

For almost 10 years now I have battled with the same sins, the same struggles, the same issues in my life. They rise from insecurities, from doubts, from fear.

Big or small, there are seasons where these struggles seem less and I am able to walk peacefully throughout life without much battle. Then there are times where I feel like I’m on a kid’s floaty raft in the middle of the raging Pacific ocean.

So, for these 10 years off struggling, I’ve been praying for God to give me self-control.

Today, I decided to stop praying for self-control.

Notice how the phrase starts with the word “self.” I was asking God to help me do something on my own. I thought by praying I was asking for God’s help and hoping he would then be a part of it, so I was relying on him.  But, when I started praying for self-control again recently, I was deeply convicted about what I was praying for.

I am not saying self-control is a bad thing.  It is a fruit of the Spirit! I teach my clients about self-control all the time. We need it, and I believe God does help us with self-control. But, I believe what he first wants is for us to give something over to him and to rely on HIS STRENGTH to get us through and move us on. In his time, by his ways, and then build within us the control to rely on him and the strengths he has built within us through the process.

sc

Are there areas you struggle with on a consistent basis? Have you given them to God and learned to call on him first when the battle rages? Start there, let him show you his power and build the strengths you need to fight.

Lies.

There have been lies you have believed in your past, and there may be lies you are believing right now.

In her book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge writes about the lies she had to address from her past, that were hindering her in her quest to become better, in her attempts to overcome issues with food and overeating. She recalls a certain idealic childhood but when she prayed for God to help her change, she realized there were parts of her childhood she had forgot to remember. While praying that I’d realize things from my past I failed to remember or to attribute to my current situation, I was a bit frustrated. I looked back and prayed over my memories of my childhood and could not remember many negative things. What am I supposed to be forgiving, then? What am I supposed to be remembering and re-evaluating so that I can move on today and get over these hurdles that hold me back?

chapters

My lies began in high school. I started to believe lies about where I gained my worth – other people, especially men. And men were letting me down left and right. Men were breaking my heart and ending relationships with me, starting in high school, peaking in college and continuing after graduation. Every time a relationship ended subconsciously I was believing I was not good enough for them, that it was all something I did or didn’t do that ended the relationship. I realized, no matter what I thought of them or how much I knew (or didn’t know) I shouldn’t be a part of that relationship, I let their words and their actions dictate my worth.

I am so glad God brought me to that realization. I let go a whole waterfall of tears. I was shocked to realize the extent of the lies I had believed and how they still affect me today, years and years later.

At various times, I think I knew this, I was conscious of the fact that I look to others for my worth. But I don’t know that I was ever aware of exactly how much this spoke to my current worth.

So, I’m on a new journey – going through the painful process of asking God to reveal lies I have believed while also teaching me he Truth.

enemies lies