fear.

“for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4

I think one of the biggest tools that the Enemy uses to distract us from our calling is fear.  Fear of letting people down, fear of the road ahead, fear of making the wrong decision, or fear of not being able to get our way. We love complete control (or at least I do) and so to not have complete control is one of the most terrifying feelings.

When I was in High School I always dreamed of writing. I wanted to be on the New York Times Bestsellers list. I wanted to write to help people grow closer to the Lord. I wanted to make a difference, and be able to impact the lives of Gods children through my words and my experiences, but it is fear that has always hindered me from pursuing that. Thoughts of “am I good enough?”, “would people even read what I have to say?”, “maybe the Lord could use someone else who is better with words”, “what if people hate what I have to say”…all those thoughts would run through my mind until I would eventually give up. Time and time again my writings would be deleted due to fear. Fear of rejection, fear of letting the Lord down, fear of being laughed at or told I wasn’t good enough. Fear had pretty much consumed me when it came to writing // even now I have wondered if this blog post even matters.

So each time I sit down to write on this blog I have to focus my heart and mind. Without that focus I become so easily distracted, discouraged, and I slowly allow fear to creep in- and if I am not careful I end up deleting the post, closing my laptop, and walk away feeling defeated.

That’s the thing about fear. Fear plays into our insecurities and will make us lose focus of our victory. As children of God we already have victory, but we are so good at allowing ourselves to walk away feeling defeated. Ephesians 6:13 “therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand”. The Enemy won’t wait for us to get our act together before he chooses to attack; he will start his attack when he believes that we are most vulnerable.

Recently, as in a couple weekends ago, I went to my first Needtobreathe concert. It more honestly more amazing than I was even anticipating (and I had pretty high expectations). Anyway, it was during their song ‘Testify’ that I realized that living in fear was not where the Lord wants His children to live- He wants us to “come to the fountain to be satisfied“. We each have a testimony, we each have a story that can be used to pour His truth into others lives, to encourage, and to show the world a glimpse of His love. It is when we allow ourselves to let go of fear and allow ourselves to live in His peace and love that we are reminded of our victory in Christ. One of the verses says,wave after wave, as deep calls to deep. Oh, I’ll reveal my mystery. As soon as you start to let go“. It is when we are able to let go and surrender our lives to the Lord that we will be satisfied and will find ourselves walking in victory.

The lyrics to the song Testify are so powerful. It says “Give me your heart, Give me your song, Sing it with all your might, Come to the fountain and you can be satisfied. There is a peace, there is a love you can get lost inside. Come to the fountain and Let me hear you testify // Into the wild, Canyons of youth. Oh, there’s a world to fall into. Weightless we’ll dance like kids on the moon“. I think when we are able to surrender our fears, our securities, and our need of control- we are able to live satisfied. I am not saying life will be easy sailing- there will definitely be hard winds ahead, but in those storms we will rest knowing that we have victory through Christ; that those distractions are just tactics being used by the Enemy to distract us from out calling.

Like I said earlier, as I sit here writing this post, the negative thoughts are attempting to creep in. However, whether one person is impacted by my words or hundreds- I write because I truly believe the Lord can use me and use my words to encourage others. I have no idea what your story is or what the Lord may be calling you to, but I encourage you to let go. Let go of the fears that are holding you back, push past the distractions, and surrender your insecurities to the Lord. The Enemy only has as much power as you give him in your life.

rest.

Brokenness seems to be trending within our culture. I see and speak to so many men and women who feel broken, who cannot escape their past hurts, feel defeated, and who have lost all hope of joy and happiness. Sometimes the cards we are dealt feel unfair, and in those moments we feel alone and overwhelmed. Brokenness is no joke; it causes us to feel doubt, to feel guilty, our insecurities arise, we lose our joy, and we lose our focus.

I’ve been there. (I think most of us have at one point or another). Whether we were heart broken after a divorce or  hard breakup, or one of our parents walked out on us and left a void in our lives. The list of how brokenness can apply to our lives can seem endless at times. The feeling of brokenness can cause us to lose hope and trust in the Lord and in His goodness if we are unable to find Him in the midst of it.

Let me tell you about a time in my journey ; a time when I had to come face-to-face with feelings of brokenness. I was once engaged. I was young, just graduated college, and everything seemed to be working out exactly as I had always planned; ever since I was a young girl. I felt like I was on top of the world and that nothing could possibly go wrong. Wedding plans were falling into place, my fiance would be back from Afghanistan within a couple months, I was working on my Masters, and we were ready to start our life together. I was walking on my “perfect” timeline and everything was was falling into place just like I had planned…or so I believed. It appeared that everything was going as scheduled, except a large part of me felt out of place. The feelings of discontentment and doubt were so intense that it would leave me in tears. I had no idea why I was feeling this way; my life was going just as I wanted, but I started to doubt my timeline and doubt my feelings.

I remember one night just feeling the need to come to the feet of Jesus;  to just sit and listen. It was in that time of prayer and silence that it hit me, and it hit me hard! I was living out the timeline and the path I wanted for myself; I neglected to align myself with Gods timeline for my life.

The days and months following that night were definitely hard. God revealed to me that night that the man I was engaged to, the man I was planning to spend the rest of my life with was not the man He had for me to marry. It was such a strong feeling; it was overwhelming.  The doubt within my heart started to make sense over the next couple days as I grew closer to the Lord and the plans that He had for me. I prayed and pleaded for God to change His mind, but He knew He had something greater planned for both myself and the man I was engaged to. After a month of prayer, I ended up calling off my engagement. I went down a road of confusion, brokenness, and unhappiness. Even though I had peace in walking away from that relationship- I allowed my joy to falter. It was hard for me to let go of my timeline, and as the days passed my timeline seemed to slowly diminish into the past.

My “brokenness” in that period of my life was due to my lack of faith, my lack of security, and my lack of joy. I learned that when we go through times of what feels like brokenness- it’s actually a time of molding, shaping, and growing. Jesus calls us to come to Him for healing, to just sit at His feet, and have faith. He will heal the pain and allow us to grow stronger than we had been. He is the only One who can take all those pieces that are shattered all over and mold it back into a beautiful masterpiece. One that is complete in Him, and one that is more beautiful than anything we could have dreamed (or put on some timeline).

James is one of my favorite books of the Bible. For whatever reason, God woke me up at 3:30am to spend time with me this morning- and He brought me back to the book of James. While trials are hard, and the brokenness of this world is hard- we should never consider ourselves to be broken especially when we call God, the Creator, our Heavenly Father. We are complete in Him. It is in those moments of drawing closer to Him that we are able to see the joy in the brokenness.

James 1:2-3 says “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. God wants to make us complete and perfect in Him, not in our desire for perfection or in our timelines of how our lives ‘should’ play out.  It was in my brokenness that I realized that God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves, He steps onto the battleground with us ready to face whatever lies ahead.

After calling off my engagement, I had to spend months refocusing, and resting on Psalm 51:10. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”. David understood. He knew that trying to live out our own timeline and lives without God will only lead to brokenness. Like David, we need to ask God to cleanse us from the inside out. To rid ourselves of life’s expectations and to clear out our hearts for new thoughts and desires; ones that align with the Lord of our lives.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my 30 years of life is that when trials come (and ohh they will come), is that God is stretching us and molding us into a better version of ourselves.

breathe.

“He will be our peace” Micah 5:5

I am the kind of woman who loves to have control. I am very particular of the different situations I put myself in; I guard my heart (maybe a little too much), and I allow my introvert[ism] to be an excuse more than I probably should. I had my own safety bubble where I had complete control and honestly, I loved my little safety bubble. I was safe and I thought I was happy. While I thought that my bubble was helping me to avoid pain….the Lord knew that it was hindering me more than it was keeping me safe. So of course the Lord decided to room me with an extrovert, shake the ground I was standing on, and pressing me to be more intentional in relationships. 

Now, of course I tried to run in every other direction other than the one He had for me. I fought it. I was afraid. Afraid of being vulnerable with others, afraid to let go of control, and afraid of the unknown road ahead. Trust, like many other emotions, don’t necessarily come easy to me. I had been hurt so badly by people who I loved; people I trusted. It honestly seemed easier to not trust than to trust at all (crazy as that may sound, it made sense to me at that time in my life). 

I had a lot of acquaintances, continued to pencil in my agenda how I wanted my life to play out, and was an expert at keeping people at arms length. I was content- or at least I thought I was. The Lord knew that what I really needed was real relationships, that I needed to learn to be vulnerable with others, and to let go of the need to be in control. 

John 16:33 “these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

I was trying so hard to keep the world out, to keep my heart protected, and to keep my life “in order”. My life was a constant roller coaster. I was constantly going up and down; never knowing what loop or fall would lie ahead. When the Lord started to remind me of His peace, I realized that life doesn’t have to be such a crazy ride. Yes, we will have some ups and downs, but we don’t have to be afraid of the twists and turns. We don’t have to anticipate the feeling of failure- because through Christ we have VICTORY. We can live in absolute peace knowing that the Lord is holding us in His hands.

Life is meant to be lived full of love, joy, cheerfulness, and peace. 

I can be stubborn at times (most who know me, know this), but I was tired. Tired of being afraid, tired of trying to control EVERYTHING. I decided that it would not come naturally for me, so I chose  daily to surrender it all to the Lord. My worries, my relationships, my career path, my fears; my life. Through His grace, I have never felt more alive that I have over the past couple months. 

I was terrified of being intentional in my relationships, but I now have a community of other believers and finding a joy in it that I did not know existed. We hold each other accountable, pray for one another, and in the midst of how guarded I can be this is where I feel the most safe. A place where I  can be vulnerable and open with others.

I think we can often become comfortable where we are. 

We dream about being able to change, about making a difference, 

but we do nothing about it. 

We are too afraid. 

Well friends, I am here to encourage you. 

Step out of your bubble, out of your comfort zone. 

You can definitely make a difference. 

You can live your life FULL of peace, love, and cheerfulness. 

You don’t have to be afraid. 

Allow God to be your peace!