"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
How much of our waking hours do you think we spend thinking about circumstances beyond our control? I don't have any scientific numbers to back this up, but I know that for most of us, thoughts about what is going on around us, or worrying about what is ahead of us, takes up a great amount of time in our brains on a daily basis.
What's funny about these thought patterns is that they never really accomplish anything. Think about a time when you played a situation out in your head. When it happened in real life, did it look like anything you thought it would? Probably not. The truth of the matter is, life often happens way differently than we could ever think it would.
So instead of entertaining ideas in our minds that emotionally drain us and make our wheels of worry spin out of control, let's think of what a better use of our time could be.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray continually. Other translations of this verse tell us to pray always. I wonder what would happen to our fear and worry if instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong, or trying to brace ourselves for everything we're expecting to go wrong, we instead fill that time with prayer.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul also tells us, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." When I read this, I don't see how worry fits into any of those categories, but I do see how Jesus fits into those categories.
We don't need any fancy words to pray, or be in any certain place at any certain time. God hears our cries from anywhere. He knows how anxious our hearts can get, but He also knows that if we bring our concerns to Him, He will prove to be faithful. God is not capable of failing us as His children. Let us be more intentional about where our thoughts go, and when we find them starting to wander, let us bring them back to Him.
Until Next Time,
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." - Isaiah 26:3
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” // Psalm 23:4
I don’t think it goes without saying how we are truly in one of the most, if not the most, difficult season our country and our world has faced in a very, very long time. I’ve been just like the rest of you these past few weeks: Glued to the news and social media feeds, left shocked and heartbroken by the things going on around us. People have lost their jobs. Small business owners have lost their dreams. Many of lost access to health insurance, and many have lost access to their own health.
COVID-19 has gone through quite the transition, at least here in America. We all kind of went from joking about it with memes, to finding the toilet paper aisles empty, to now staying inside and hearing the death toll could reach up to 240 million people in America alone. As I’ve sat and thought the past few days, so many possibilities have crossed my mind. We truly don’t know what the next few days, weeks, or months bring. We are truly in uncharted territory. And as much as I’d love to comfort us all by saying God knew this was coming and that He is in control (because both of those things are true), I think God is giving us a little more substance to anchor our souls in today–because you know as much as I do, we need an anchor for our soul now more than ever.
Today is Palm Sunday and marks the start of Holy Week. Easter is my favorite holiday, even over Christmas. The emotions of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday are days I look forward to all year. I can’t help but notice the timing of the Easter season this year, and how it collides directly with what could possibly be the worst week America has seen thus far in the amount of lives that will be lost, and the amount of cases that will be reported. It seems so interesting to me that one week in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago started off just like many of our weeks did before this whole thing happened: celebratory, joyous, excited for the future. But every day that Jerusalem moved closer to Passover, the more tense the air got, the more fuel that was added to the fire against Jesus, and finally it all accumulated in the darkest day of humankind: the day Jesus died.
The last month has felt somewhat like an elongated Holy Week. Most of us started off March pretty great. Then it got darker. And darker. And darker.
At the time I’m writing this, we have lost more than 8,000 lives in America due to the Coronavirus. And by the end of this week–by the time we are observing Good Friday–we could–and probably will–lose thousands more.
Isn’t it something that the week we will be observing the One death that paid our sins once and for all will be happening simultaneously along the world’s worst pandemic in nearly 100 years? Every day that we get closer to remembering Jesus’ death, we will be watching people die all around us. And how many people will we lose that very Friday as we reflect on Jesus’ death?
All this to say this: We are in the darkest valley right now. I’ve read Psalm 23 over and over and over again since this year started, and today I read verses 4-6 in a little bit of a different light, and I wanted to share that with you. The verses are as follows, bolded words are mine:
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
We will walk through dark valleys–that’s guaranteed, and everyone in the Bible did. David did, and as he details this in the above verses, there are some things we can take away from it. As we walk through the darkest valley right now, here’s what God is doing, and here’s what we can hold on to:
What happened on the worst day in history didn’t stay that way. Jesus died, but He didn’t stay dead. Sunday did come. Resurrection did come. Eternal life did come. We may be in the darkest valley now, but this won’t last forever. Because bad days never have the final say. Death never has the final says. Valleys never have the final say.
Resurrection has the final say. God has the final say. So let’s hang on. Sunday is coming.
But for those who might not make it to Easter Sunday this year, can we pray for them? The reality is so many people are questioning their own mortality in these times, and there’s never been a more opportune time to tell others about the hope and the life that Jesus freely offers to anyone who calls on His name (Romans 10:9-10). Pray for your friends and family. For healthcare workers, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. For those who’s eternities are hanging in the balance as they await the next week. God is still doing miracles. And we need salvation to flood this country. That will be my prayer this week: That the blood poured out on Calvary’s tree 2,000 years ago would flood America anew this Holy Week and Easter season. It’s not too late for anyone. Let’s do all we can to bring this message to those who need it, before it does become too late.
Thank you for being here during these trying times. If you ever need someone to talk to or pray for you, please feel free to reach out. Comments below are always welcome, as are DM’s on my socials. Remember, we are all in this together, and I’m loving and praying for you all. Please stay home, stay safe, and be wise.
Until Next Time,
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” // Psalm 73:26
Hey guys! I hope you’ve been having a great start to 2020! It’s been a minute since I’ve released a blog, but I’m going to try and be back with new blogs every week again!
If you read any of the blogs I put out towards the end of last year, you know that I experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment in 2019. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the hurt and reality of all my disappointments had really taken it’s toll on me. I started to question God, and I just plain didn’t understand why nothing that I wanted or had been praying for was happening. I could feel my heart starting to harden, and I knew I was in trouble.
I say all that to say this: out of my own experience, and the experiences of others around me, I know that hurt and pain and suffering is real. So many people wrestling with God–let alone His goodness–when times of trials come. But here’s the thing–sometimes the advice we get or the comfort others give (that comes from well intentions, no doubt) isn’t what we need in those moments. What we need is REAL HOPE for REAL HURT. That’s what I want to talk about the next couple weeks.
We’re not talking about Romans 8:28–though that’s a great verse, and is certainly true.
We’re not talking about– “Everything happens for a reason”, though I believe that’s also true.
We’re not talking about– “It’ll happen, just have to wait”.
We’re talking about:
Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.
That’s where I was, and that is where so many of you are right now. So we’ll start here.
Recently I was reading Luke 8 in my Bible, and was reading the story of when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and a really bad storm kicked up. These guys were in danger. The Bible goes so far as to say they were in “great danger”. Panicked, they rushed to Jesus, scared for their lives (literally), and they say, ““Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (vs. 24).
So Jesus gets up and literally commands the winds and the waves to calm. And they do. When the storm subsided and all was calm, Jesus turned to His panicked disciples and says this: “Where is your faith?”
This hit me so hard when I read this. As almost Jesus Himself was saying these words directly to me. “Where is your faith?”
This got me thinking about where my faith actually was. I could say it was in God. But was it?
I think that’s where so many of us are right now. The winds are roaring and the waves are swamping our lives and we are drowning–just like the disciples. They knew where to turn, but I don’t know if they fully grasped Who they were turning to. If they had, would their reaction have been the same? Would panic have overtaken them? Or would they have remained calmly confident?
Honestly, I’m not sure. Fear is a human emotion, and if we were in a boat about to go under, I would surely be panicked. But in the midst of that panic, I have to wonder if there would there be an underlying peace because we knew Who is in our boat.
So I want to leave us with that question today. “Where is your faith?” Could it be that your faith is actually in yourself? Have you been putting everything all on your shoulders? Or maybe your faith is in someone else. Or something else. Honestly take a look at what you’re putting your faith in.
Next week, we’re going to talk about the components of the One we put our faith in. What makes Him trustworthy? Why can I choose to put my faith in Him? Let’s talk about it. I want you to experience the real hope of Jesus. Because that’s where healing and real hope comes from.
Until Next Time,
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” // Psalm 90:12
Happy Last Monday of the DECADE!! This is the second blog that I put out this week, because not only is it the last few days of the year, but also of the decade. And if you know me at all, you know I love to reflect on what I’ve learned and am fascinated by how time defines things.
The 2010’s decade has been an interesting one for me. I spent more years out of school than I did in, (which didn’t occur to me until I thought about writing this blog. Seems like I spent more time in school than not!), and a lot happened this decade.
When I think about a span of ten years, I think about how much happens in that time. How much our lives change. The next ten years have the possibility to bring us the most unbelievable joys, the best surprises, and discovering more of our Creator. But before we jump into 2020, I want to take a look back at the 2010’s. Without further ado, here are the top 10 lessons I learned from the past 10 years.
Until Next Time,
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” // Psalm 142:3
This weekend, in the midst of last minute shopping, holiday get-togethers, and baking cookies, we welcomed in the First Day of Winter. The day, also known as the winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year in North America. For some, the First Day of Winter is welcome–it brings with it snow, cold, and the holiday season. For others, the First Day of Winter is equivalent to the season of the shortest days, the darkest nights, and the coldest temperatures.
What’s interesting is we often equate winter to seasons in our own life that consist of darkness, pain, and suffering. Seasons where we find ourselves alone, surrounded by pain, and where there is no relief from suffering in sight.
If you look back on your life, do you remember a day that ushered in a season of winter? Is there something you would’ve done to change that “First Day of your Winter”. If you’d only known to avoid that person, steer clear of that place, hold on to that loved one a little tighter, maybe winter wouldn’t have come. Or at least wouldn’t last this long.
As we wind down 2019, I want to encourage you, whether you find yourselves in the middle of winter, the start of winter, of are just longing to avoid winter: God sees you. He has a plan. And He knows exactly what He’s doing. When your world starts freezing over, the snow starts falling, and you haven’t seen the sun in days, here are 3 things you can do to not only survive, but thrive in winter, based on Micah 7:7, which says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”
The same will be true in your life. Winter can be tough, but if you let God have His way, He’ll use it for something beautiful.
And soon enough, spring will come.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Savior’s birth–our ultimate hope–this Christmas season.
Until Next Time,
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” // Psalm 68:5
Happy Sunday! I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season as we draw nearer to Christmas Day! This year has absolutely flown by, and before we know it, 2020 will be here.
If you’ve been reading my blogs or following my social media updates these past couple months, you’ll know that I’ve been on the struggle bus. In the aftermath of an unfolding of events, it seems like I have been wading in waters so deep, and they just keep getting deeper. It didn’t dawn on me what my problem was until last night, and that’s what I want to share with you today.
If you don’t know, I’ve never had a father in my life. My dad lives with his family in South Carolina (I’m in Wisco), and I was raised by my mom, with the help of my grandma from time to time. This never bothered me. Ever. I loved being raised by my mom — I didn’t even know what I’d do if I had a dad in my life. The concept was so foreign to me that the older I got, the thought of having a dad was basically eradicated from my mind. You mean to tell me that people live with a mom … and a dad?
I’ve often said that I would’ve had my upbringing any other way. That my father not being in my life was God’s way of protecting me (and in a lot of ways, due to the circumstance, it was). God has always been enough for me — the only Father I needed.
Until the raging waters of the ocean seemed to all sweep in against me recently.
Do you know the statistics of children who are raised without fathers? Children in fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of high school, more are likely to commit a crime, go to prison, face childhood obesity, and use drugs and alcohol. And in teen girls raised in fatherless homes, they are 7 times more likely to get pregnant than those who do have fathers in the home.
Think about that. If these are the statistics, it makes me think that God has ordained fathers to play a particular role in a child’s life. One of a protector, of a provider, and to give their children a sense of approval, worth and direction.
I don’t know what your childhood looked like or what your relationship with your father is, but something tells me if your relationship with your father is fractured, broken, or absent, there is something deep in your heart — if you know it or not — that’s empty.
I didn’t know that I was missing male affection until I recently received it from someone. It wasn’t overly done, and it wasn’t inappropriate, but it was enough to make me realize that I was missing a male figure in my life to comfort me, to hold me when I cry, to tell me I look beautiful, and to make me feel safe. Accepted. Okay.
And I think this is the very reason that those in fatherless homes find themselves at a higher rate of damaging behavior. We’re all looking for something. We all feel a void left by our fathers. Something that God made the human heart to need. Because of the broken world we live in, our relationships with our fathers are broken, too. Know, if you find yourself here today, it’s not supposed to be this way.
But here’s the good news — God is described in Scripture over and over and over again as our Father. As what? Our Father. Isn’t it interesting that of all the things God could be described as, He is described so frequently as this? Jesus referred to God as His Father time and time again. So if Jesus’ relationship with God was like one with a Father, and if Israel’s relationship with God was like a Father, and if we are called sons and daughters of God, then maybe God is trying to make a point here. Maybe He’s trying to get our attention and say: I am your ultimate Father. Your Heavenly Father.
God created us in the womb before we even knew Him (Psalm 139:13-14). He knit us together perfectly to reflect His image — to carry His Name. Just like we look like our earthly father and carry his name. He gathers up every tear we shed and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is present when we need a shoulder to cry on. His arms are open wide when we’re lost and running home (Luke 15:11-31). Psalm 68:5 tells us He’s the Father to the Fatherless. He’s the defender of those who don’t have one (Psalm 10:14). He’s the provider when our earthly provider falls short (Matthew 6:26). He tells us that we’re precious, and that we are enough in Him (Isaiah 43:4, Deuteronomy 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9).
No matter where you find yourself today–if you have the best relationship with your dad, or if you’re feeling the void today, know that you have an unbroken, perfect relationship with your Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
Let your confidence come from your relationship with God, your Father, today. Seek Him, and you’ll be found by Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Run to Him, and be held in His arms. He is a good, good Father. And He’s waiting you to come home today.
Lord, thank You for being my heavenly Father. Thank You when this world leaves me broken and empty, You are there, and You are enough. Heal the void in my heart caused by the lack of an earthly Father. Fill it up so that it overflows with You and Your perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Until next time,
P.S. — If you want more on this topic, check out Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken. He also has a sermon serious on Youtube by the same title.
Statistics provided are from https://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” // James 1:2-4
Happy Sunday! (+ Thanksgiving Week!)
Last week we talked about seasons of hurt, and how God is not only present in our hurt, but can relate to our situation. This week, let’s talk about reasons God sometimes allows seasons of pain and hurt, and maybe we can get a good perspective change on how to handle and go through life’s trials.
Take a moment today to reflect on seasons of hardship and hurt in your life. How have you seen God work in those seasons? If you’re going through one right now, ask God to show you what He wants to, and ask Him to open your heart for all He wants to do in you through this season.
Until Next Time
“Come, follow me.” // Matthew 4:19
Hey all! Happy Sunday! Well, summer is in full swing and I’m enjoying all things sunshine, sweet tea, and summer festivities. While it’s insane to think summer is almost halfway over (for us, anyways. Our summers are so short), I’m savoring and enjoying every moment of this amazing season.
One summery thing I did recently was attend Lifest, which is the largest Christian music festival in the country — and it’s less than two hours from my house! I’ve never been, but always wanted to attend. So last week I made a last minute decision to go with a friend, and I am so glad I did! One of my favorite bands was playing, and I knew I couldn’t miss it.
An interesting thing happened while I was there, though. I found myself in a place I’ve never been, and I had absolutely no idea how anything worked, where anything was, and was completely helpless to help myself. Usually circumstances like this freak me out, but not this one. The friend I was attending the festival with was a pro. She attends the festival every day of the three day event, and she’s been going for years. She knew where everything was, down to where she parked her car (which was a complete maze and almost a half mile walk from the main stage). But I found that in this situation where I was completely helpless, I was calm because I was being guided by someone who knew the ins and outs of what they were doing, where they were, and where they were going.
Life is a lot like this. We can get freaked out over circumstances where we can’t see the way ahead – and understandably so. But it’s in these moments that we have to remember Who we go with, and Who goes before us. God knows eternity past to eternity future. Nothing surprises Him, and He is always on His throne. He existed, taking care of His people and planet, before we were born. He is still being faithful now.
Jesus gives us a simple invitation to follow Him. This has to be one of the simplest commands in all of Scripture, yet it’s one we have the hardest time doing. We like control, we like to know all the answers. But the truth is, there is no safer place we can be than to just release that control and follow Jesus who not only knows the way, but IS the way.
Following Jesus takes childlike faith. The older I get, the more I realize why Jesus wants us to be like little children (Matthew 18:3). Little children can chase life with wonder, their hearts are carefree. And even though life often tries to steal these things from us, when we follow our heavenly Father, we are free to be like a little child. When our heart trusts Him and submits to following Him, peace, joy, and childlike wonder will develop. And nothing is better than following the God who has the best in mind for us and finding things we’ve lost along the way.
The way to true life is to lose it (Matthew 16:24-26). A faith worth having is worth a life worth losing. It’s then we can follow Jesus wholeheartedly. And it’s there we’ll find everything we’ve been made for.
This week, try loosening the grips on your life and instead follow where Jesus leads, and see what happens to your heart, emotions, and life. And if we do, someday we might just change the world. ❤
Until next time,
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” // 1 John 4:18
Happy Sunday! This week we’re continuing our series on God’s love in celebration of February, Valentine’s Day, love. You know, all that good stuff.
Something that is crippling in our day and age is fear. Fear, anxiety, depression … all the things. I’ve struggled with this myself, but I’ve learned a lot through it. And one of the things I’ve learned is that if we truly believe God, if we truly take Him at His word, there is nothing to fear.
Now, before I continue, I understand that there are serious conditions that make this subject rather complicated. Please know that this post is not insensitive to that, and this is certainly not medical advice. However, I believe (as an anxiety sufferer myself) that there is nothing more powerful, more healing, and more freeing than believing and standing in the power of God’s promises.
We’re told in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love drives out fear”. When I read this, I wondered why, if this were true, fear was still penetrating my heart. But when I read on, the verse tells us why. “Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
When we fear, it’s usually because we aren’t trusting God for who He says He is in some aspect. Here’s a list of reasons, based in who God is, we have no reason to fear:
Because of God’s love, we don’t have to fear. And if we believe that and live like it’s true, someday we might just change the world ❤
Until Next Time,
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left,that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” // Joshua 1:5b-9
When you hear the word brave, what do you think of? Or who do you think of? Maybe you think of a personal hero, or maybe a historical leader, or maybe something simple like a superhero. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday, and as I’ve been going about my week, bravery has been something that’s been prevalent. And when I stop to think on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I see that bravery was something prevalent in his.
It takes guts to be brave. To stand up when everyone sits down. To speak when everyone wants to stay quiet. But it also takes bravery to do small things, sometimes the things God wants you to do. And depending on your personality, even the smallest things in life can demand every brave bone in your body.
A lot of people view being scared as a weakness. We want to be viewed as strong, put together. I know I do. But the truth is none of us are going to be strong all the time. And it’s in our areas of weakness that God comes in and makes us strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
In today’s Scripture passage, we see Joshua receiving something like a pep talk from God. Moses had just died on the edge of the Promised Land and God was putting Joshua in charge. It was going to be his job to lead the people in, to fight the wars with the residents already residing in the land, and to follow God’s commandments just as He laid out. And here’s the cool thing about the Bible — the Bible doesn’t hide or ignore the fact that some of our favorite heroes — the ones did great things — were scared at times. In Joshua 1 alone, God tells Joshua not to be afraid 4 times. God knew this wasn’t going to be easy for him, and He didn’t ignore the fact that Joshua needed a courage booster. And that same God doesn’t ignore that fact in our lives today.
God knows what scares us. He knows what gets our heart racing, our brow sweating. But He also knows that His presence is sufficient for those things. He knows what’s on the other side of the those things is worth your racing heart and your sweating brow. He knows that you’ll never experience Him sitting around, comfortable in your pajamas all day like you would out in the wilderness of life with Him being your strength and comfort every step of the way.
So this week, think about what scares you. Has God asked you to do something that you don’t feel adequate enough for? Maybe you don’t think you can do it. Moses felt that way, too. But God gave Him the promise, the simple phrase of, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). And He whispers that same promise into your scary places. This week, be brave. Call on God as many times as you need. Run to His arms for refuge. And let Him walk with you every step of the way. He is faithful and your bravery is beautiful. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than a child of God taking hold of her Father’s hand and trusting Him every step of the way.
So be brave … and someday we might just change the world ❤
Until next time,
P.S.! I have a challenge for you! Try reading Joshua 1:1-9 every day this week, preferably in the morning. This will encourage your spirit and empower you to be brave as you walk through your day with the Lord. I’ve done it in the past, and it really does help!