life changes, but God’s faithfulness does not.

This year has been a year full of change and transitions, none of which are easy.

I turned yet another year older. I started my Masters in Social Work after taking a 9 year break. I took on more responsibility at work, which bumped me up to about 50 hours a week. I moved out of living with my roommate, who I had lived with for 7 years. And I had hit my heaviest weight EVER and decided it was time to tackle weight loss.

I have always heard that the only thing guaranteed in this life is change, and we all know that to be true. But that doesn’t make dealing with unwanted or difficult changes or new seasons of life any less trying. However, instead of surrendering to pouting (which I definitely wanted to do), I decided to intentionally dedicated myself to praying and positive thinking, reminding myself daily that although life changes, God’s faithfulness never does.

I have learned throughout this season that when we dwell on God’s faithfulness and let it nourish our hearts, our faith and trust in Him grows. When we focus on doing good things, our attention and thoughts won’t stay fixated on the changes we don’t like. Instead of allowing our minds to wish things were like they used to be or feeling discouraged or upset over a hard season of life, we can place our trust in Him and live with peace and joy, not stress and distress.

 “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Being delighted in the Lord, which can be hard for me to grasp at times, means that our hearts find peace and fulfillment in Him, REGARDLESS of the season of life we are in or the changes we’re facing.  When we look back to see how God has been faithful and trustworthy in the past, we can better trust He will be faithful in the future.

With each day this year, I continually sought God’s peace and joy to fill my life. I have prayed over and over for new opportunities and for Him to guide me in this season of life. I asked Him to take away the loneliness and purposelessness that I allowed to creep into my life. I desired for Him to fill my life with people and purpose. And to trust in His plans for my future, instead of doubting Him.

This morning I was spending time with the Lord and praising Him for His faithfulness. It was then that I began to see His faithfulness and answered prayers over the past couple months. My friendships were blossoming, and new friends came into my life as well. My church community group continually helped me to feel loved, wanted, supported, included and less alone when I was struggling with feelings of loneliness. New doors opened for me, which not only gave me new purpose, but also new direction and excitement. And I watched God provide and protect me in this season.

God has allowed every season of our life and those seasons may include trials and changes. We can either fight change or we can trust God has a plan and purpose for it.  We can allow our trust in God’s faithfulness to be the foundation for joyful living. We can change the way we think about change.

fall yall

Finding the Friendships You Deserve.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17b-18)
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Last month, I was feeling so insecure and discouraged about friendships. I ended up calling one of my best friends in tears, feeling so vulnerable and in need of advice.

I had been feeling like as soon as I would get close to a friend, we would grow apart. Or that they would find other, cooler, more fun friends and suddenly vibes were weird.  I honestly couldn’t figure out if something was wrong with me or if I did something to screw up friendships. I’d look online and see pictures of cliques and feel even more isolated. I would hang out with friends and watch groups of girls taking selfies, but usually would be the one taking the photo. It would hurt, it would make me feel insecure, and discouraged.

There have been times in my life that I would try to bend and contort myself in whatever way I could just to fit into a group. But no matter how many times I tried to bend and contort, it never really seemed to work.

Friends, if you are struggling to feel like you belong or if you’re having trouble with friendships, I just want to encourage you.  God did not design you the way He did just for you to bend and contort His design to fit into some group or clique it wasn’t designed to be a part of. And you’re not weird or strange and there’s nothing wrong with you if you grow apart from women you have cared about for awhile.

Because you know what? All things are redeemable. And at the end of the day, God delivers who you need, right when you need them, to stand by your side. Some of the girls I honestly thought would be life-long friends (maybe even in my wedding one day) have been some of the friendships that drifted apart. Some of the girls I thought I would grow apart from years ago are the same girls that have invited me to be a part of their special wedding day. And often, those  friendships that continue to build and last throughout the years are not friendships you can fake. They’re disorganized and crazy and a little bit messy — but they’re real. They take time to build.

I think, sometimes, we avoid friendships that require much of us because we are afraid of the risk. When we’ve been hurt or walked all over, we begin to close up and control our environments. I mean, who wants to be hurt again? Trust me, there’s wisdom in guarding our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in isolation. Though isolating can be tempting to do when friendships haven’t gone our way in the past, there’s a problem with that logic. The truth is, the greatest satisfaction comes from the greatest sacrifice.

Although I haven’t solved the friendship puzzle, I do know that REAL friendships can empower us and bring out the best of who we are.  Real friends won’t judge you for your messy hair days, they encourage you, challenge you, make you better, push you closer to Jesus, support your dreams, they love you through the hard times, and they pray for you. Life is so much better, and easier, and certainly more fun when we walk through it together. I am so grateful for authentic friendships. For raw, real, tough but gentle love.

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Is a Less Hectic Life Possible?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

For the past couple years, I took pride in being overly busy. Between the needs of  work, friends, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule felt chaotic and I felt like I was going crazy, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.”

Friends and coworkers would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond “I guess I’m just wired that way.” I know, it’s a humble brag- not something I am proud of. But I honestly thought it to be true. Maybe I was wired differently. Maybe I could handle more than others. Sadly, my heart enjoyed the recognition of all the work I was able to accomplish and I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.

But, at the end of the day when it was time to relax, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that I haven’t done it all, that there was more to do. My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all the things that I am able to accomplish; not all the things left undone. But I do. Its there staring me in the face.

Perhaps I’m not alone in this feeling. Perhaps you feel it too? That no matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is that you weren’t able to finish all the tasks. That long to-do list keeps you up at night. You sit there thinking of all the things yet to accomplish and mark off the to-do list.

It’s not all the undone work, but those everyday tasks like cleaning the house, laundry, making a menu for the week, and paying bills. But there’s even more. There are the dreams that seem too far out of reach. Like taking a vacation. Or making the time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.

Recently my ulcers started to act up more often than usual, and I slipped back into losing large amounts of sleep each night. A couple weeks ago, as I was sitting on the couch, I found it hard to breathe and anxiety arose, but there was no apparent threat- just a lot of stress. The looming deadlines, the demanding work load, and mounting emails beckoned. My life felt completely out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind.

The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle. Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem. I committed to almost everyone and everything.

In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle.  Before I could live the less hectic life that I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork myself.

Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. And before we realize it, life has stolen from us what’s best…room to breathe, time to focus, and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities. The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s (even though I believed that to be the case for far too long). Tasks and commitments only satisfy us from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. However, Jesus’ satisfies us from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, His purpose and His peace.

This is no easy change- and I know it won’t just happen overnight. But each day I am learning to trim my responsibilities so I can experience the abundant life that Jesus promised. Jesus promises a less hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.

  “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!”   Psalm 29:11

GLYNNIS WHITWER

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”.

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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.

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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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