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

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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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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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

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.