embrace your season.

Sometimes life has a mind of its own. I am loving and learning how to embrace it!

I had a plan for my life- and as many of you can probably guess, it did not turn out like I had planned. I mean lets be honest, do any of our lives truly turn out like WE planned? My guess is no. Over the years I have learned the importance of being able to embrace that life doesn’t always go as planned. And I like the unplanned seasons (well, least I am learning to). But I do love seeing how God uses those unplanned seasons.

When I was a senior in college, I had plans for what my future would look like! I planned to get married by the age of 23 and finish my Masters by 24. And everything was going PERFECTLY as planned, until it wasn’t. My fiance and I called off the wedding and I withdrew from my classes after the first semester of graduate school. It has been about 9 years since my timeline took a hit. However, as I sit here starting my orientation for my Masters in Social Work, I feel so grateful for the journey God took me on to get where I am. It was definitely a rocky, off-road type of journey, but I am thankful for it and all the lessons that I was able to learn along the way.

Seasons of life are inevitable. They will come and go, some lasting longer than others; some wanted and some unwanted; some exciting and some terrifying. But I encourage you to live in each season and to allow yourself to learn ALL that God has for you in those seasons. Regardless of what lies before us, how we choose to look at and think about those seasons will determine whether or not we walk through them with peace, hope and joy, or with heartache, anxiety and fear.

When we intentionally choose to believe that God’s seasons for us are good, we can step into it with courage, bravery, a positive attitude and an unsinkable faith. Letting go of our own timelines and expectations frees up our hearts to embrace what God has for us.

I’ve learned that I find more peace when I let go of the clutter and focus on the joy of being a faithful steward of the season God has brought me into.

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remove the mask.

Today at church I was reminded of a time in my life when I felt so much shame over decisions in my past. And I realized that we can give shame way too much control in our lives. If we allow it, shame has the power to make us feel unworthy and steal our joy.

I remember when I chose to open up about my past to one of my closest friends, someone I completely trusted- let’s just say, I quickly regretted it!!! I immediately felt their judgement, rejection, and disappointment in me. And it hurt. It was the worst feeling. It felt like a sandbag weighing on my heart. I felt so embarrassed, ashamed, and the need to hide my past. And so I did, for many years. I allowed my shame and my fear to control so many areas of my life, including my relationships with others. I was so worried that if anyone knew my past that that’s how they would define me. That they wouldn’t be able to distinguish my past from the person I have become.

My pastor today stated that “many of us wear a mask because we are afraid to be judged and condemned”. And immediately my heart broke for those who felt that way, because I was one of those people for SO long. Trapped in an endless cycle of isolation, shame, and sin. And having no idea how to stop that cycle.

We hide in our shame and fear because we don’t want to feel the weight of others judgement and rejection. I prayed for years to be surrounded by people who I could do life with. And He brought me to my current community group. They are amazing Christians who are living out their faith and who extend God’s grace and love. And THAT is the gospel. That is how we are called to love one another. Not with our expectations placed upon their shoulders, but with His grace and His love.

When we truly turn over our past and the shame we feel from our past to Jesus, we receive His compassion and a NEW life. Because the truth is that we are fully knownandfully loved!! It can be a HARD concept to grasp, I know.

I encourage you to take off that mask!

Don’t be ashamed to tell your story—the whole story, not just the edited version. Don’t be afraid like I was- it literally consumed years of my life. Be honest about what you’ve been through. We need to hear one anothers stories to remind each other what our God is capable of carrying us through. We need to remind each other of God’s faithfulness, of His unconditional love, and of what it looks like to do life with other believers.

We need to share the brokenness so we can share the redemption.He can make us new, and better, and whole again, and that’s a story worth being proud of.

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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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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.