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”.

 

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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#messyhairdontcare

You know how Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk when he becomes angry, well I somehow seem to transform into Laney Boggs from ‘She’s All That’ (remember her- super nerdy and awkward) when it comes to the first date.

I definitely don’t consider myself an awkward person, but there is something about a first date that makes me forget that I know how to put complete sentences together, that I know how to communicate without talking nerd, and that I know how to be myself. I don’t know if its nerves, or just me being awkward. Either way, dating is not my thing.

Do I open the door? Does he? Does he pay for dinner? Do I? What do we talk about? What do we do when those awkward silences arise? (because we all know that those awkward silences will find there way into the date one way or another)

And while I simply cannot stand the awkwardness of the first date and the initial getting to know one another- I think there is beauty in it. There is a sweet spot in new relationships that we all wish we could stay in. You know what I am talking about, right? That time when you’re both on your best behavior; when the dates are no longer awkward but are actually extremely fun; when you still haven’t had a disagreement, and when it seems that the romantic possibilities are endless. That stage in the relationship looks so desirable (especially in the romcom movies and my favorite tv drama’s), but eventually things change.

All of the sudden the deep, intimate conversations start happening and you’re a little too close to where you can no longer hide behind your best foot forward any longer. You step out of that sparkly phase and into reality. The reality that not every hair will always be perfectly in place, or that you enjoy sitting around in sweatpants drinking wine out of a mug (that may just be me). Or how about that you have times when you cannot explain why you are emotional, you just are. The reality that you aren’t actually perfect. Its that time when you actually see the other person for who they are (flaws and all). Scary, huh?

It’s one thing if you are rejected because you didn’t try hard enough on the first date or because you wore some crazy outfit on your first date. But if you’re rejected after this point, it tends to hurt much worse. Because you feel rejected for things out of your control, things that are part of who you are. And if you are willing to work past the fear of rejection- something beautiful does sit on the other side (like most things that are utterly terrifying). Think about that moment when that person looks back you, just inches away, when you don’t have every hair in place or are not in a perky mood. They see you for who you are, and they can begin to love you for who you are. Not for who you are pretending to be, but for you. Messy hair and all.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that to find that place (that kind of soul warming connection), I had to be willing to be vulnerable. I know that’s a scary word! I did nor have a good relationship with that word. I had allowed vulnerability to hold me back from so many great things over the years. Being vulnerable is hard, it’s messy, and its most definitely scary. “Vulnerability is that moment when you’re left wide open to the possibility of the sting, hands limp, defenses down. And that is a scary place to be”.

Whether it’s what filter to use on Instagram or how to angle the camera perfectly- we strive for perfection. We live in a world where we are constantly trying to hide our flaws; hiding them beneath perfect lighting and the most artsy selfie. Unfortunately, we will find no satisfaction in that quest for perfection. And there is no courage in that quest; no positive outcome.

We cannot be fully loved if we are not fully known, which leaves us with a very difficult decision. We can either hide and protect ourselves, or we can go with something a bit more daring. I had always chosen the first, even though it ensured that I wouldn’t be loved, it also ensured that I wouldn’t be hurt. But living that way is lonely.

Instead, you can choose (like I have since I learned this hard lesson) to live another way. You can choose to live in the moment, to allow those vulnerable moments to not cause us to run for the hills. We can choose to have to have the courage to be imperfect and to be authentic. To let go of who we think we should be and allow people to really see who we are (even in those places we prefer to keep hidden). It’s only then that we can really be known, and only then that we can be loved in the way that our soul so deeply desires.

Vulnerability is being able to choose hope. To choose the daring hope that someone will see you for who you are, know you for everything you are, and choose to love you because of what they see. Not for the performance or act you play, not for your perfectly curled hair or for your excellent choice of wardrobe, but for you.

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Words From A Single Woman.

When I was a little girl I loved to dream, especially when it came to love and the man who would one day capture my heart. As I continued to grow up I continued to fall more and more in love with the idea of love. I would sit on the swing in the back yard on those warm New York evenings, listening to music, staring up at the beautiful sky, and dreaming of my future. I would dream of a man who would see me, love me, protect me, and fully accept me (flaws and all). I think this was every young girls story. Unfortunately, somewhere between real life and heartbreak, many of us got a bit jaded. And after years of waiting for Mr. Right, it’s easy to give up. Whether it was a heart shattering breakup or years of (what seems like) wasted time with Mr. Wrongs; it felt easier to give up on the idea of love than to risk what could come from it.

It feels so easy to have a sense of hopelessness when it comes to our own personal love story and to assume that love is only a fairytale (something we read about or see in movies). We forget where love originated and what real, true love looks like. And without noticing it we can quickly become impatient while waiting on God to write our love story that we decide to settle.

Despite what our childhood dreams taught us, we learn that love doesn’t always look like a fairytale. We learn that real-life love will probably never look like a Christmas Hallmark  movie (like the one I just finished watching). But that doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful, epic, and so worth the wait. Our desire for that type of love and companionship was placed in our heart when our Creator created us.

If we can fully understand that Christ is pursuing us and that He loves us unconditionally, I don’t think we would continue searching for a man to validate us; we would  know that our identity is in Christ. We won’t have to waste our time dating men who know nothing about pursuing the heart of a woman. We won’t allow a mans acceptance or lack thereof to define us. Our identity is in Christ and we don’t need just any man who looks good or is fun to hang out with, but a godly man who knows how to pursue our heart in a unique way.

A godly woman desires the type of man who sees her for who she is and embraces every part of her, both the beautiful and the ugly; a man who has gone through the hard work of pursuing God’s heart first in search of hers; a man who understands partnership and is brave enough to partner with her. A man who can lead from a place of strength and purity.

Women- that is the type of man you should be looking for.

And it is just as important that a godly woman be the type of woman that a man desires to pursue. One who is simply confident in what she knows she needs, she is realistic in her expectations; she respects her body and her worth, and she is filled with grace, humility, and strength. She fears the Lord, and has a spirit of love flowing through her.

I have known many ladies over the years who are borderline desperate when it comes to the dating scene. They are so consumed with finding a man that it becomes their life quest.They begin to place their identity in their relationship status instead of being a woman worth pursuing. By stepping back and allowing a man to be the pursuer, you are showing your faith in God by giving up control of something you want to hold onto so tightly. It’s just like being blindfolded- you are trusting God and you have no idea what the outcome will be. You don’t know if your heart will end up broken or blessed. (scary, i know!) BUT, the right kind of woman will be able to take the risk and entrust her heart fully to God.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is brave, strong, and emboldened because of who Christ is in her. Not in her own strength and bravery, but in Gods.

Hold out for the one who pursues you, he will be worth it!

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mixed emotions.

The Christmas season is upon us again, which often means our joys and sorrows seem increasingly magnified. If our lives are overflowing with joy and love, well, the string of lights and beautifully decorated Christmas tree seems to energize that happiness. But if we’re treading a path of suffering or unmet longings, it seems that our pain is only increased by the continual reminder of what could have, or should have been. Personally, each year I feel like I have such mixed emotions when it comes to this season.

Being a single woman, Christmas time is both exceptionally sweet and a reminder of what is not. I will not be cuddling up on the couch with a husband with a delicious cup of hot cocoa and White Christmas playing, nor will I be buying my own children matching onesies. However, I will be baking delicious cookies with roommates and have the sweet smell of cinnamon filling the house. I’ll be torn between enjoying my parents and family in New York on Christmas day while simultaneously missing my community in Virginia, the friends who makeup my daily life. Like I said, mixed emotions.

Regardless of how we’re walking through this Christmas season, every point at which life does not measure up will  somehow be exposed (or at least that’s how it will feel). As we venture into this Christmas season we will be deeply disappointed if we compare ourselves to those whose lives are living up to the Christmas ideal. I feel as though setting my hopes on a perfect Hallmark-type Christmas will only leave me feeling alone and unsatisfied. If my focus is solely on the movies and malls and ugly sweater events, I will miss out on intimacy with my Savior (the only one truly is able to fully understand the deepest places of my heart). So, I have told myself that this year I will focus on God working in my life in ways that only He can, instead of focusing on the ‘could haves’ or ‘should haves’ that arise this Christmas season.

As unmet longings and desires seem to be awakened this season, we should remember to spend quiet time in God’s Word. In order to be reminded of the ways that He meets our longings and our desires each and every day. I know for myself, I want to look beyond my own wants while delighting in and helping others throughout this season (and even moving into the 2017 year).

While I intend to hold my nieces and nephew on the couch and watch Hallmark movies with my mom, decorate Christmas cookies, sing with Michael Buble in the kitchen, splurge on peppermint mochas, dine with friends, and perhaps even let myself dream of the unlikely (if not impossible) Hallmark type love story through a movie or two, my hope will not be in these things. My hope will rest in my Lord and Savior. And however cliche this may sound, I will remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. The Christmas ideal (or fantasy) will not be mistaken for my Savior and the reason we celebrate this holiday.