My Future Is In God’s Hands.

It can be so hard to trust God with my future because I have no idea what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely trust God in so many OTHER areas, but when it comes to my future- I struggle. I don’t think I am alone in this. Anyway, the other day I was thinking about the fact that I would be turning 31 soon and was really struggling to trust God with my future, but more specifically my love life.

I decided to set out on a ‘Trusting God’ Mission. I wanted to trust God MORE and I wanted to completely surrender to Him my future (and my love life). I had no idea what this journey would look like, where it would take me, or the emotional roller coaster I was about to embark on, but I was excited. Excited to see what truths He would reveal to me. While trusting God with my future was one of the hardest things for me to do, I was tired. Tired of trying to do it all. Tired of thinking that my plan for my future was somehow better than God’s plan for my future.

When I began to think about my future, and why it was so hard for me to completely entrust it to God, my mind immediately started listing off all my “what if’s”.

“What if I never get married?”

“What if my best friend moves away?” 

“What if God calls me to do something I’m not good at?”

“What if…?”

“What if…?”

“What if…?”

Worrying about the “what if’s” can be the biggest enemy to our peace and our joy. I know this first hand and it’s definitely no fun. In fact, I have several “what if’s” in my life right now. Life is full of unknowns and unfortunately I don’t think that will ever change. But instead of fretting and worrying over my future, I’ve come to understand some amazing truths that have given me the confidence to totally trust God. (yes, even with my love life).

God brought me to the book of Genesis, and it was there that He encouraged my spirit. It was from an unlikely place in the Bible and from an unlikely man.  I came across a familiar story of a man who was facing a lot of “what if” questions, just like me. And you know what? This man was also struggling to trust God with His future. (God certainly has a sense of humor).

The story about about Abraham. At the age of 75 God told Abraham to pack up his stuff, move away from his family and friends, and live in a completely foreign land. Crazy, I know! But what is even more crazy to me than God asking him to do this, is that Abraham actually did a pretty good job at trusting God and obeying Him. The Bible says, “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” (Gen. 12:4a).

I think at this point it was easy for Abraham to trust God. Life seemed to be going exactly as planned. Plus, he was probably super excited about God’s promise: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great…” (Gen. 12:2). So off he went.

Not bad if you ask me!

Lets fast forward a little- it’s now that we begin to see Abraham struggling to trust God and His promise. He starts asking some “what if” questions about his future. Abraham is getting older and so is his wife. She’ s getting to the age where having children might be physically impossible for her. (this is not looking too good).

So what does Abraham do, he starts to question God. In Genesis 15, Abraham starts reminding God that he is still childless. (as if He didn’t know). I’m sure Abraham was like “Hello, God? Did you forget about me? Did you forget about Your promise? I kind of need a son if I’m going to have all those descendants you mentioned…”He was worried about his future. Let’s be real, I think most of us would have been. Abraham started losing faith in God. At this point, Abraham’s wife also began to lose faith in God. So they decide to take matters into their own hands. You know the story (Ishmael, lots of drama, etc.).

Now lets fast forward even more, at this point it’s been 24 years since God’s initial promise with Abraham, and guess what? Abraham still does not have his son. He is 99 years old- and I am sure he’s about to have a panic attack thinking about being a father at the age of 99. He is worried. He is old. His wife is old. But God sees the worry in Abraham’s heart and reminds him of the promise. Genesis 17:6 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you”.

Abraham was struggling to see the big picture. He couldn’t see down the road of his life and that worried him. He couldn’t imagine that nations and kings would come from him, considering the circumstances! He struggled with trust. Just like me and you often times do. Abraham had no idea how his future would pan out. The amazing thing is, God did.

What Abraham forgot – and what we too often forget – is that God sees the bigger picture. That He holds our future in His hands. God knew that nations and kings would come from Abraham. He just needed Abraham to trust Him. Just like He desires us to trust Him.

I love this story. It’s an amazing reminder to me to trust God with my future, no matter the circumstances. Life will be confusing, my circumstances will seem impossible at times, my future may continue to be unknown to me. But God is in complete control and regardless of how “uncertain” your future may seem, God is faithful.

We all have those “Abraham moments” in our lives, when we lose sight of God’s faithfulness. However, we can learn from Abraham’s life. We can learn the importance of trusting God with our future and yes, that even includes my love life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

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And These Four Words, “Thy Will Be Done”.

I love country music. And I love worship music. So when Hillary Scott, the lead vocalist from one of my favorite country bands (Lady Antebellum), released the song ‘Thy Will’ from her album Love Remains, I immediately fell in love with it. As I listened to the words of that song I couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion. It felt like that song had been written for me and about me. Now of course it wasn’t, but it honestly felt like it had. Every word, every verse of that song resembled exactly what I was feeling when it came to a tough season in my life.

This song was written as an open prayer to God expressing her trust in Him despite the difficult situation she encountered. While I am certain that Hillary Scott and I didn’t face the same situation, the emotions she describes feeling (so beautifully I might add) matched perfectly the emotions I had felt and would sometimes still feel.

Let me break this song down for you, as I also allow you to see a glimpse of my journey.

(I am about to be extremely vulnerable with y’all, so bear with me)

Verse 1: “I’m so confused. I know I heard You loud and clear. So, I followed through, somehow I ended up here. I don’t wanna think. I may never understand, that my broken heart is a part of Your plan. When I try to pray, all I’ve got is hurt and these four words: Thy will be done…

Years ago I was engaged to be married. Some of you may know that about me, while others of you may not. After months of feeling doubt about my upcoming wedding, I decided to call it off. It was no easy decision, and no easy process getting to that decision. I knew after weeks of seeking the Lord in prayer that I was about to marry a man who was NOT who the Lord intended for me to marry. This wasn’t ‘cold feet’, I knew that marrying the man I was engaged to was not the Lords will. It was my own will for my life. I finally (very stubbornly I may add) chose to walk in obedience- so I called off the wedding, the engagement, and the relationship. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. This man was my best friend, my first love, and someone I cared for so deeply- so knowing I was going to break his heart broke mine. I was so tremendously confused. I knew that I had heard the Lord loud and clear. But my heart broke. I honestly couldn’t understand how all this pain and heartache could possibly be a part of the Lords plan. I cried out so many nights to God out of confusion, out of uncertainty, and out of pain. There were times I couldn’t even find the words to say, but I tried and if I couldn’t, I just sat at His feet in silence (minus all the sniffling from me crying). But through all the hurt I was feeling and all the pain I knew I caused, I also knew I was walking in obedience to the Lord and so my prayer continued to be “thy will be done”.

Verse 2: “I know You’re good, but this don’t feel good right now. And I know You think of things I could never think about. It’s hard to count it all joy, distracted by the noise, just trying to make sense of all Your promises. Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that You’re God and I am not. So, Thy will be done…Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, Thy will be done…”

Wow! I couldn’t have said it any better, even if I tried (and I have tried, I am a blogger). Anyway. I absolutely love that verse of the song. Despite listening to the Lord, knowing that He is good, and trusting in His will for my life- it didn’t take away from the pain I was feeling. None of what happened felt good. My heart ached. Not only for what I was feeling emotionally, but for this man whose heart I just broke. It was so hard to find joy in that season of my life (and even sometimes now). I can get so distracted by the noise, by people asking me why I’m still single or when I plan to settle down. I try to make sense of my feelings. It’s so hard to be the first engaged out of my college group of friends, but somehow end up being the last one married. I had to stop and remind myself that God is God, and I am not. And let’s be real, I still have to remind myself of that on a regular basis.

Verse 3: “I know You see me. I know you hear me, Lord. Your plans are for me, goodness You have in store. I know You hear me. I know You see me, Lord. Your plans are for me, good news You have in store. So, thy will be done…”

In that season of heartache, of loneliness, and uncertainty- God had to remind me so many times that He saw me, that He heard me, and that He was with me. There were so many days where He had to calm my anxious heart and revealed to me that while I didn’t know the details of my future, I could trust what He had in store. Walking in obedience to Him wasn’t easy and it didn’t feel good. But it was in remembering His goodness that I found an indescribable peace throughout that season of my life. The Lord knew my heart, He knew my desires, and He knew my pain. And in all of my mess, He had a plan for me.

There are times when I still find myself clinging to that truth. There are still times when I question that season of my life and the decisions I made. The pain was real and the heartache was real, but so is what the Lord taught me. He taught me of His goodness, of what walking in obedience to Him looked like, and that He will use those difficult seasons in our lives to mold us into a beautiful masterpiece.

My prayer (for myself and for you) is that no matter what trial or difficult season we find ourselves in, that our prayer will be “Thy will be done”.

* **

We are not tossed and tattered by the will of some god who is distant or uncaring. When we face a difficult season in our lives, we don’t have to face it alone. We may wrestle with the will of God at times, I know I do. We may be confused by what we’re facing and what we’re feeling, but we can be sure of one thing- that God loves us and will bring us through whatever situation we find ourselves. Luke 22:42 “yet not my will, but Yours be done”.

 

Plug Into Your Joy.

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“…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Sometimes I think I’m Superwoman. I try to do it all. I tend to just keep moving until I pretty much just keel over. Well last week wasn’t much different. It was a long week, so walking into church Sunday just felt like another thing to mark off my to-do list. I had been running on caffeine and no sleep. My mind felt overly exhausted, and I had no expectations to be able to take away from the sermon what I am sure the Lord wanted me to. I was running on fumes. And unfortunately when I’m running on empty, I’m a complete mess!

I was feeling exhausted, irritable, I was probably insensitive and stubborn, frustrated. Not at all characteristics of Christ or the woman I strive to be each day. I have fallen into trying to be Superwoman for years, it almost just feels like second nature to attempt to do it all. I’ve learned over the years that more often than not the reason I end up feeling so exhausted and empty is because I stop plugging into my Power Source. It shows me that I didn’t make time to spend time in the Word, that I didn’t set aside quiet time with God, and that I didn’t get refilled spiritually. And when I don’t plug into God, I’m bound to start running on fumes (which isn’t good for anyone).

It is so essential to spend daily time in God’s presence if we’re going to live with the joy of the Lord. The more intimate our personal relationship with Him becomes, the better our fruit will be. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.  Those are definitely all fruits that I want to be growing; not exhaustion, irritability, stubbornness, or insensitivity. 

God wants us to stay joyful even in the midst of the difficulties we face in life, because His joy is our strength. It’s the fruit of joy that strengthens us to go through whatever we have to deal with and make it to the end result. Plugging into His strength is so important, it allows the fruits of the Spirit to grow within us and our lives.

So what happens when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed (because we all have those mornings). The mornings when we feel low, irritated, discouraged or frustrated. That’s when we need to plug into God. If we aren’t living with the joy of the Lord, we need to examine the root of our fruit. We need to be spending more time with God, studying the Word, doing what He tells us to do by His grace, and soon our joy and strength will return.

The key is to lean on Jesus. He has the ability and strength you need.

 

Ladies, Don’t Get Lost In His Mixed Messages.

There was a time when I spent months waiting, and wondering, and hoping for a relationship to move to forward, I spent so much time trying to figure out what the heck his mixed messages were trying to tell me, and hoping beyond hope for a happy ending.

There were so many questions that seemed to replay over and over in my mind:

  • If he doesn’t like me, why would he flirt with me so much?
  • If he does like me, then why no commitment?
  • I’ve prayed over and over again, “God, if we’re not supposed to be together, take away my feelings for him.” But God hasn’t. Is that supposed to be telling me something?
  • If this isn’t supposed to happen, then why do so many of our friends tell me how perfect we are together?

I felt like a detective, I was piecing together all these different clues. It all felt so complicated, and so entirely uncertain. I looked at relationships around me wondering how the heck they made it happen. I wondered how they figured out the whole puzzle to such a stunning result.

 I decided to ask my close friends about their relationships and how their husbands pursued them. I wanted more insight. They told me how they each started talking in the beginning of their relationships, how their husbands were friendly and kind, how they pursued them. They told me the different stories about how they became ‘official’ (yes, we are even talking Facebook official). It was so simple! Their husbands met them, got to know them, liked them, pursued them, asked them out. My friends didn’t have to make it happen, or pin down their husbands, or decode what they were thinking, because they told them. Plain and simple!

After listening to their wonderful stories and talking through my track record with these amazing ladies, I decided that I needed to change some things up, because clearly my way wasn’t working for me. I made a decision that I wouldn’t give my heart away again until it was truly asked for. I realized the importance of Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” and allowing a man to pursue me correctly. And until a man told me how he felt, showed me how he felt, and made a commitment to me, I decided that mixed messages just weren’t enough anymore.

***

Everyone’s story is different. But in every story, if the relationship is going to happen, there’s a point when the man has to make his intentions clear,  when he has to make a commitment and follow through with it. And until that point, we can’t give our hearts away.

Now, this is hard because we are such lovers. We have such huge hearts. We want to love and care for and connect with people. And I love this about us. But if we aren’t careful, this gets us in trouble. It lands us in positions where we’re fully invested when we maybe shouldn’t be, hurting, and feeling powerless as we wait for him to make the next move.

I know y’all have all the hope in the world that this guy is going to get it together, realize what he has, and run to you like he absolutely should. And maybe he will. But here’s the deal, until that happens, until he comes to you telling you how much he likes you and asking you to be his girlfriend (committed, exclusive, and public)- he has no business being in your heart.

He cannot have you (or your heart) until he is willing to pursue you and commit to you, in the way you deserve. And so that’s what I hope you hold out for because that’s what it should take to catch an amazing woman like you.

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It May Be Time To Get a New Name Tag

There’s a verse from Song of Solomon that I read a couple months ago and it has gotten stuck in my head and in my heart. So, I decided to write about it (that’s what bloggers do, right?). It’s verse 2:4, “He has brought me to His banquet hall, and His banner over me is love”.

I love everything about that.

I love imagining what that looks like. I just imagine God walking me into this elegantly decorated banquet hall filled with flowers and white table clothes draping over the long tables as He holds a gorgeous banner high over my head that tells everyone at the banquet that I am His. “His banner over me is love.” Love is my name tag. Love is how I’m known. It’s how the world will recognize me.

I want that to be my story, and I deeply want that to be yours. 

Unfortunately, more often than not, we are standing under banners that say drastically different things. I have a strong feeling that “love” is probably not at the top of that list.

The other morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to make a list. A list of what words I was actually allowing to define me. What words I was wearing around like a name tag. The words that I had come to believe about myself. And as I began writing, tears began to fill my eyes. The words were devastating.

The list looked something like this:

I am…

  • A lot of work
  • Not worth the effort
  • Unlovable
  • Somebody’s last choice
  • Awkward
  • Insecure

Can you picture me walking into a networking event with these words Sharpied on my chest? “Hi, my name is Awkward,” As absurd as that sounds, that’s exactly what I had been doing! I was going into friendships, relationships, introductions, meetings, experiences, moments, with these words scrawled on my heart.

The truth is, that the longer we wear those names around, the harder they are to get off.

So that morning, for the first time in my whole life, I began to question the things I had always believed about myself. I began to sort through the words I had trusted for so long. I picked them up one by one and started to examine them. It wasn’t easy, and it definitely wasn’t fun. I wondered where those thoughts/ideas about myself started and why I had allowed them to live there for so long. And as I was scuffle through all these different emotions and labels, I began to wonder what EXACTLY God said about me. I was desperately hoping that His name tags would look much more like love than mine did. And so I decided to find out.

I spent hours that morning combing through the Bible looking for the words God uses to define us. And it was on that day that I realized that NOTHING I had believed about myself was actually true. I had been living under a banner of lies. 

God said I was chosen, that I was enough, perfectly and wonderfully made, that there was no flaw in me. I had read so many of these same verses before, but that day they meant so much more to me. I scribbled them down as fast as my hand would write.

After hours of shifting through the Bible to find who God said I was,  I had my list! A list of words that God uses to define us. I realized that if I wanted to think differently about myself, I was going to have to get a new name tag, because mine would no longer work for me. I was going to have to replace the thoughts I had believed for sooo long. The lies that I had gotten so use to believing.

I decided to actually create new name tags. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually walk around with a name tag saying “Hi, my name is Enough”, but I took sticky notes and decided to decorate my agenda with them. I needed to be reminded each day of the things He said were true about me. And over time I began to wear those names proudly.

I felt more confident.

 

Every so often, I still hear those old names used again in my mind. And every so often when I’m tired, or overwhelmed, or extra emotional, they creep back in. But those instances have become less and less frequent. And today, more than ever, I can see that banner over my head, the banner that says “love.”

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Insecurity Is Not Our Friend

Insecurities…I am NOT a fan of them!  Yet I feel like they plague my life.

Insecurity seems to inevitably attack women, which is completely understandable when we live in a world that tells us that beauty is happiness.  We unfortunately live in a world that displays half naked pictures of women everywhere we look, even commercials are no longer safe.  It’s all around us. Even though it’s  all fake, we find ourselves falling into their trap.  The list of “I wish” begins and feels like it never ends. “I wish I was skinnier, I wish I could gain more weight, I wish my eyes were farther apart, I wish I didn’t look like a boy, I wish my nose would be smaller, I wish my chest was bigger, I wish I was more outgoing, etc.

It can feel constant, unless you are willing to take control. 

I have had many battles with insecurities over the years, but I have also had major victories. It wasn’t an easy journey, but the Lord taught me how to rely on who He says I am. I am realizing how beautiful I am in the Lord’s eyes, but there are still those days that come along and crash it all down again.  It’s a constant battle.  It’s finding the will to think differently and to not allow yourself to conform to this world. (easier said than done, I know).

Romans 12:2 // “don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”.

We need to tell ourselves that Scripture over and over and over; again and again and again.  Everyone struggles with different insecurities.  Whether it’s material possessions, outward beauty, comparing, money, and each one is a trap from Satan.  Even as I sit here and write this I kind of feel like a hypocrite, because I too so easily fall into these insecurities.  It’s a constant renewing of the mind, it’s a fight, a battle in the unseen world.  Our battle is against the darkness, Satan’s attempt of pulling us down in our darkest hours. It’s in those moments we need to cling to Ephesians 6:11 which tells us to “put on the FULL armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes”.

So today I am more so writing this post more for myself than necessarily for anyone else. I needed to find strength today. But I do think we could all benefit from reminding ourselves of these truths that we know, but so easily drift away from.

I pray that any of you who are dealing with some of these same issues are able to focus on His Word and who God says you are. Write it down and put it in a visible place to remind yourself that you and will overcome the battles with insecurity. Let’s battle these insecurities together!

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the world we live in…

Sometimes I love this world we live in and other times I despise it.

I love God’s beauty when I look outside at the Blue Ridge Mountains, I love the giggles I hear coming out of my nieces and nephews mouths, I love the people that hold me up, support me, and love me regardless.  I love the fact that I can use my gifts to create, explore, and challenge myself. I love the church family that the Lord has surrounded me with to point me toward Christ each day. I love a lot of it because it’s all I know.

But yet I despise it.  I despise that there is hurt and suffering. I despise that there is bondage.  I despise that there is such deep sin, and struggles. I despise that I have to shield my heart from so much EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I despise that moral issues are being re-written and that we live in a feel good society. I despise that Satan is attacking marriages like none other.  My heart aches for no more struggles and no more pain.

Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”

This week has been an extremely exhausting week; mentally, emotionally, physically. And yes, it’s only Thursday! I sat in bed crying last night, unsure of all the emotions I was feeling. But through all the mascara running down my face, I opened His Word and allowed God to begin His work. It ended up being a night where there was little sleep, but a whole lot of rest (if that even makes sense). I stayed up just soaking in all that I could from Him and His Word. The Lord and I hashed out some things, as I had to come face to face with some tough realities. But it was in that intimate time with the Lord that He reminded me that although there is bad in this world, there is still good.

He reminded me that He created us to be the good. To PRAY without ceasing, to LOVE the broken, to LIVE lives that reflect Him, and to REACH people one relationship at a time! And there is was again…hope. The thing that felt to have slipped away in all the hustle and bustle of the weeks frantics. Hope that I can be that light that so many are struggling to see. Hope that I can encourage others to follow His rules.  To live by His standards.  To be life changers wherever they end up. Hope that even in this world of ups and downs there is an unrelenting amount of good.

And in my late night conversation with the Lord, I was encouraged to step up. My life needs to look different from the things I so deeply despise.  My life can be an example of the blessings that come from having a Savior, running to Him during the hurt and struggles instead of from Him. Praying for Jesus to free those I love, to crush the enemy who fights to destroy, and love the brokenhearted in order to shine light into their lives. My life needs to be a reflection of who my Savior is.

So yeah.  That’s my heart today.  

It’s been a bit heavy lately. But I needed to challenge myself to step back and realize that although at times it looks and feels hopeless, the Lord uses the weak. And so today is a new day, still filled with the same trials as yesterday, but today holds a new hope in my heart and a new outlook on what it means to follow after Jesus.

 Romans 8: 37-39  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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