Hearing God in the Quiet

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

Work and life can become so busy and overwhelming. The other day I felt the Lord nudging me towards spending some time alone with him, a time of solitude, but you know how that goes—things were BUSY. And loud. And moving fast. I can get really comfortable with that fast pace because busyness covers a bunch of stuff.

We’re all sprinting from one thing to another—running around in a frenzy, stacking our calendars—the busyness can become an escape. And it’s easy to excuse our disconnect with God by falling back on how much there is to do!, which makes this all so sneaky. I am guilty of this. But I made the time to get away and I’m so thankful I did.

Silence allows all that noise and chatter that’s deep in our souls to surface.

I didn’t even realize some of the fears and anxieties I was using busyness to shove back down until I unplugged for a time. I began journaling about all the things I sometimes make my refuge: relationships, social media, financial security, personal devices, entertainment, my career (false security)… It took the quiet to reveal my fears and the quiet to reveal the Lord’s remedy for those fears.

And while I’m still working through them, they’re out in the open before the Lord now, as opposed to being covered up by a packed schedule.

The Lord LOVES when we set aside time to seek Him.

I’ve been spending time in various parts of the Old Testament recently and am reminded continually that God desires His people to love Him with their heart, soul, strength and mind. For me, stepping away from the normal routine, daily relationships and too many iPhone checks was a way of showing God that I love Him. That He is worth my attention and affection. I went into that time with the Lord truly expectant to spend time in His Presence, even if I wasn’t sure what to expect. And as I journaled and meditated on Scripture, I sensed His pleasure.

It is so important to spend some time of solitude with the Lord, even if it’s for an hour or two. We just have to make a plan and stick to it. Set aside the time to pray, read Scripture, worship and journal what the Holy Spirit reveals to us. Find the quiet. Make the quiet.

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remembering who you are.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

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“you’re prettier in pictures than you are in person”

Those nine words would define me for the an entire decade.

On a blind date in college, those words attached to me like a sticky name tag. One that I chose to wear for years. “Hello, my name is Cait, I am not pretty enough.”

For years, whenever I thought about my body or my looks, I flashed back to those ugly words. I sadly believed those words to my inner core- that I was not pretty in person- and that ultimately I was not yet pretty enough.

So lets fast forward ten years…the women’s ministry at my church started reading a book called ‘Fervent’ by Priscilla Shirer. One of the chapters is titled “Your Identity: Remembering Who You Are”. I knew it was going to be a tough chapter, but lets just say- I didn’t make it through any page of that chapter without sobbing (I resorted back to my ugly cry). Anyway, as I was soaking in the chapter- the words spoken to me all those years ago came rushing to the forefront of my mind. And there I was- listening to those words on repeat in my mind and feeling completely defeated and insecure.

I immediately put the book down, not wanting to read one more word, and without even thinking about it I began dwelling on those nine words- were those words true? still? was that why at thirty-one I was still single? was I still not pretty enough?

With a reluctant heart I picked the book back up and continued reading- even though I knew it would just be easier to keep the book closed, turn on some Netflix, and not deal with this emotional, spiritual battle.

I had allowed those words from a stranger, who I would never speak to again, to have tremendous power over my life. And coming face-to-face with the enemy on the battlefield did not seem like something I was ready to fight on a Monday night. But it was then that Ephesians 6:11 came to mind, “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. And so I decided to suit up.

I had allowed the enemy to devalue my strength for YEARS, to magnify my insecurities until they completely dominated how I saw myself, disabling and disarming me from being who God created me to be, and living in the truth that in Christ I am enough.

And the enemy wanted me to live in a state of defeat. My defenses down. My resolve weak. Surrendering to an army of insecurities instead of courageously thriving in the sophisticated security of my identity in Christ. But no longer. Not me. Not ever.

Friends, you are so valuable and so loved. Those things that you count as weaknesses and flaws, those things that the enemy is hell-bent on accentuating are not more powerful than the strength you have in Christ. Don’t allow painful words from your past, insecurities, lies from the enemy, or past hurts to have any power in your life. It will only leave you feeling handicapped (trust me, I know this WAYY to well). You are loved by God, endowed with His Spirit, you are His, and in Him you are ENOUGH.

Ezekiel 16:10-13 “I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head...You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.”

LOVE THAT!!! We are exceedingly beautiful and we advanced to royalty!!

 

Life Lesson Learned While Playing With Play-Doh.

Yes, I learned a life lesson while playing with play-doh. Here is what I learned:

First, play-doh is extremely entertaining to children. It can keep them occupied for hours.

Secondly, it can seriously get stuck all up in your nails for days.

And thirdly, I need to be more like play-doh.

I get the honor of babysitting my best friends son while she is busy making brides look stunning on their wedding days. Recently while I was babysitting, her son asked if we could play with play-doh together. I was super excited, like kid in a candy store excited. I always loved playing with play-doh as a kid, so of course I wanted to play.  It was while I was attempting to make different creations out of play-doh for him, I was overcome by emotion. Side note: I definitely failed at making them look anything like what he wanted. However, I realized that just as he was asking me to mold things for a purpose, God desperately wants to mold His children and shape them for His purpose.

potter-wheel

I was reminded of Isaiah 64:8.  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand”. 

I   L O V E   T H A T !

Play-doh is very similar to clay.  Both can be molded, shaped, and both can dry out.

I once took a pottery class where I learned all the ins and outs of making pottery. I’m not going to lie, I’m extremely uncoordinated, so my experience was an epic fail at the beginning. I definitely knew why becoming a potter and making pottery was not my calling; nor was making cars and tractors out of play-doh for a two year old.

The instructor of this class had to teach me how to handle the clay. He told me there were two important things to remember, that I needed to keep the clay wet during the process and that I needed to keep the clay centered on  the wheel. If the clay is not centered on the wheel, it will eventually tear apart before I would even have time to finish the process. And it’s only when the clay has enough water and is centered on the wheel that the molding process can begin.

If we want God to mold and shape our lives, then we need to be in His Word daily so that we can become shapeable and not dry out. And we need to be properly centered in Jesus Christ before God will be able to start molding and shaping us.

When we try to live our lives in our own strength, away from Christs leading, and not centered on Him- our lives will eventually fall apart. Just as the clay would if not centered on that wheel.

We all have experienced lives ups and downs at one point or another. We are going to feel pressure, especially when being shaped. Think about the clay, it definitely feels the weight of the potters hands when they are adding pressure to make the desired shape. Think about the play-doh, you have to apply pressure in order to create the shape you desire. Now think about your life, it is through life’s trials that God is able to stretch you and shape you.

God is able to mold us, transform us, and sanctify us when we are open to His will for our lives.And He will mold us and make us the vessel of honor that He desires for us to be. “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work2 Timothy 2:20-21.

Just as the clay (or in my case play-doh) needs to fully trust the creator, we need to fully trust in our Maker.

PS…I love how God can speak to our spirits in the most simplest of moments. It was in playing with the play-doh that He reminded me of His greatness, His power, and His love for me. Look for God throughout the day- He is there!

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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”.

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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”.

 

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.

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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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