Joy For the Season Part II

I recently posted the blog “Joy for the Season”. This blog had been sitting in my notes section of my phone for months. When I was going through my notes I felt I should go ahead and post it. Never would I have thought I’d wrote a part 2. It was just a blog. Nothing deep. An update on life in a lot of ways. Looking back I’ve grown from that mentality. I’m not angry with God. I don’t view His protection as a prison. Well I hope I don’t start to again.

What happens when you think your healing hinders you?

I know that’s a weird question. Last night I experienced an incredible moment of seeing how far I have grown from the person I was a year ago. I had a conversation with someone else that was going through similar things. This friendship between us had just started and I was excited to help them see that there is another side. I was excited to help them see that there is healing and that not all people are scared of those rough seasons. I was excited because this friendship held promises of new things.

I felt peace.

It felt good.

Things were right.

Until they called back. I don’t remember the entire conversation. I talked in slow motion as they quickly told me how things wouldn’t work for us.

Click.

Done.

I shouldn’t have shared.

I’m too much for people.

God let you go through that and you’ll never engage in healthy relationships because of it.

I guess a better question is can your healing hinder you?

Lies. I know but they feel like truth.

I dont know why I’m writing this. It’s literally fresher than a cow that just got slaughtered.

I guess I want to communicate to you friends, and more importantly to myself that I’m not too much. That my story, even the ugly parts, are good because I’ve allowed healing in. Full complete healing. I want to remember that this isn’t punishment it’s not a prison. Maybe it’s protection. Maybe it’s just what it is in this moment.

I’ve been listening to the song “I won’t Forget” by Brian Johnson. In bridge he sings, “You came in the night and tore down the walls, you held my broken heart, when all I could see lay ruined and scarred, your light shattered the dark.” I love this because it reminds me of all He did. He saved me in that season. And He’s walking with me now.

I feel challenged to not forget. To not write off my story because God did the miraculous. And if He used it to encourage this person only He knows. If He used it to shut a door because we weren’t right for each other, then ok.

I trust Him.

So here’s to another season. A season where the promises felt closer than ever. Here’s another season where I get to choose joy. Fully and completely.

This I do know. The darkness I experienced has been shattered. There are remains but I refuse to pick them up. Instead I will pick up joy.

Advertisements

8:28 

When people hear about what 2015 looked like for me and my family I usually get one response. “Oh my gosh. You lost both of them? So close to each other. I’m sorry.” The shock of all that I’ve been through is one thing but the thing that continues to shock me is that I am still here. Today has officially been a year since my dad left this world. 
When I was younger I remember sitting in the various apartments that my mom brother and I shared. Every night my mom would come home tired from working. We would get our homework done as she would make dinner for us. After eating together at the table, yes we had nightly family meals, we would get ready for bed and my mom would read us a devotional. Before we prayed she would pull out these different color cards that had verses on them that we memorized as a family. 
“Ok guys,” she would start, “what does Romans 8:28 say?” 
“For we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.”
Those who love God. 
Do I love Him? Like really love Him?
Last year has taught me that I do. Beyond the cute go to church with your family, post worship lyrics, and read the latest christian books type of love; I have found that my roots go deep. I have found that they go farther than the “if I don’t get my way then I am leaving.” Nothing in 2015 went my way. My favorite job, I lost. my best friend; she moved. my mind couldn’t be trusted. Anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression, the whole nine yards. And then November 9th, 2015 hit and boom my dad; dead. 54 hours later my grandpa died too. 
Life was winning 2,000 to 0. I was losing and it felt like I was constantly being kicked in the teeth. but something within me, something peered from the deep sorrows of depression and the chaos of anxiety and told me, there is something more. 
All things Work together for good
All things.
Not just some things. 
All.
Before my dad passed away I remember telling my mom that I knew without a doubt that God could heal him on this earth but I also wasn’t going to put all of my eggs in that basket. For some that may sound like I did not fully trust in God’s ability to heal my dad. Some may look at me and say, Shame on you, you should of prayed harder, agreed with the Bible more, fasted more etc. But truth be told I did fully believe God could and would heal him. In fact I believe my dad got the ultimate healing. The healing of the body soul and mind. The healing that never gets re injured or reminded about the reasons they felt hurt in the first place. I knew that even in the hurt and pain, that this situation fell under the umbrella of all things. All things in my life would make me better if I allowed them. All things that happen to me can positively affect the world around me if I spoke from the right perspective. All things would be made good because I loved Him and more importantly, He loves me. All things. 

When my mom was having us remember verses as children she may not have realized the full picture of what would spark in my life, but as I look back I see that this verse has been a core belief in my mind. Even in the hardest days I have known that God would work something good out of it for me. One of the good things that sparked from losing my dad and my grandpa was me seeking help with anxiety that I faced on a daily basis. From those hard dark months I became so hopeless that I couldn’t hide the fears that paralyzed me anymore. grief has a way of knocking your hands off of the things you tirelessly try to suppress. So I gave in. I chose to be weak, but in reality I found how strong God in me was. 
For we know.
How do you know something? 

How do you really truly know? 

Through reading? maybe. 

But the things you truly know are the things you have experienced or keep experiencing.

 I kept experiencing grief last year, but by some miracle I made it through. Was it my strength? Not at all. It couldn’t have been. I felt like an unpredictable ball of fear and turmoil. One night I woke up out of a dead sleep because my heart was racing so fast. I put on my Apple Watch to check my pulse and the numbers read 187 bmp. 187. I rarely reach that when I am running. But this was a regular thing for me during this time. Anxiety attacks and lack of motivation were real demons that I fought relentlessly. Why? During this time I didn’t know. But as I look back I see that everyday I didn’t think I would make it to the next day, I would pray begging God to just take me too. Yet I was still on Earth. Because of Him. He is the one that orders my footsteps. And He stayed with me through it all. He brought friends to my side, songs to my mind, and pictures to my eyes. He was constantly reminded me of His presence. And because of this dark time I can now say I know. 
My story about my dad has been something that has gone beyond me. It has carefully found it’s way to other ears of sons and daughters hurting with pain from the choices their parents have made. It has found it’s way into the hearts and minds of those wondering if things will ever change. It has found it’s way and nestled a seed of hope for those hurting souls. Not because of me, but because of God. He has made the good come through this mess. He will continue to make good come from the messes we humans make. That’s why I can not be paralyzed because of an election, diagnoses, lost job or relationship. 
2015 was a hard year. But even in the lose I have found the things I gained. An even closer relationship with my best friend. Freedom to think and speak up and work and live without anxiety. Happiness in life. Joy in the mourning. And most importantly hope for the future where I will get to praise my God with my dad by my side.
Dear Sojourner,
Come to know that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. He has you. He loves you. Trust Him. 
Love Mo

Dear Christians,

“May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!”‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

In this last week so much has happened that has been utterly heart breaking. The fact that people have lost their lives is hard. We are seeing senseless acts of killing. People traveling to kill others. Lives ending too soon. A child dying  because of a freak accident. It’s a hard time. 

Sadly the hardest part of this time is the lack of empathy for each other. This week has proven that we have become a culture of judgement and judgement is breeding hate. 

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.

I was recently listening to a series by Jennie Allen called chase. She was talking about how we all have sinned. And it’s not ever about how bad the sin is but it’s always about the worth and value of the one we’ve offended. 

If you lie to your mom you might get in trouble but the consequences for lying to your mom verses lying to the court are completely different because the court holds a higher authority. The same is with God. When we lie or choose to say rude and mean things we are offending the Creator of this world. When we choose to look at pornography, sleep around, _______ (fill in the blank with the sins that you don’t want to talk about) we are offending the same creator. 

Maturity is marked by how well we love and get along with all people. To believe that Jesus didn’t love people that were not clean in the eyes of the religious people is to not believe the true Jesus. Look at the woman at the well, the countless people that He cast demons out of, the woman caught in the act of adultry. He loved them. He knew the timing that they needed truth. He knew when to call them up. But first He loved. 

He’s done the same for you. He chose to create you knowing that you’d mess up. But too often we label sins higher or uglier than each other. The truth is there is no level of sin. Sin is sin. It’s all the same. 

Maturity is marked by how much you love not how much you know. Maturity is marked by how much you allow God to move in your heart not how much you tell others what they need to do. Maturity is found in asking God what He wants us to say not what our flesh wants to spew. 

In this time we as Christians need to take a second. Shut our mouths. And allow God to mature us. To move us with compassion. 

Death is death. It hurts. 

Dear Parents that lost your child,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry this world is placing judgement on you. I’m sorry you lost your baby too soon. Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t know the outcome. You’re not a bad parent. 

Dear people that lost loved ones,

God is close to the broken hearted. I’m sorry people say mean things and show you a hateful God. Truth is He loves you. He loved your loved one that was taken away. His love is evident in the fact that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for our sins. I pray that you find the loving God that is even now with you. The one who knit you together in your mothers womb. The one who is with you always. 

Dear Christians,

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬

If He’s Good why’d He let that Happen?

“And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.”‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:15-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Once again Joseph found himself alone, looking for his brothers. They were never where they were supposed to be. They didn’t do what was right. Once again he found himself wandering. Tired. Frustrated. Isolated. But he still went. He obeyed his father and went to find his brothers. 

This was a daily thing. Joseph was highly favored by his Father Jacob. Joseph was a young man of character. Earlier in Genesis it says, “ Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve read this story a billion times but for the first time it occurred to me that Joseph would see his brothers doing wrong and would go back and tell his father what they did. This isn’t just little brother tattle tales type of thing. Joseph constantly witnessed his brothers doing wrong. I’m stuck on this in all of the best ways. In order for someone to know that people are doing wrong they must know the difference. Not just know the difference but believe in the differences. Joseph had to have seen his brothers neglect the flock, fool around too much or even choose a life of sin and but he didn’t join them. If he joined them his life would’ve been so much easier but instead he chose to be a young man of character. He chose to be hated by his brothers. Not just one of them, no all 10 of them. They didn’t just ignore him, they couldn’t even speak a kind word to him. Ever. But he chose his character. His character was brighter than the coat his father made for him. His character was his most valued possession. 

But his character was also the thing that cost him the most in his life.

I was at a coffee shop with one of my close friends and we were talking about this idea that Joseph would go back and tell on his brothers. As you continue to read this story you find that Joseph’s brothers abandon him into a pit. My friend looks at me and says, “I wonder how many times Joseph felt like he was in a pit before he ever was physically there.”

Mindblown. 

A lot of times we read about these humans in the Bible as if we have no experience being humans. 

When my friend said this I thought about my own battle. Since I was young, character has been something that was constantly instilled in me. When I graduated high school and went on to college the potential of having bad character was always on my mind. It has  caused more sleepless nights and fearful days. My senior year in college didn’t help. I was assigned books to read that were nothing about human depravity. I spent times weeping over the fact that people used their imagination to dream up nightmares. Creating more fear in this already dark world. 

The pit. 

Alone. 

Feeling like there is no one  that had been faced with intense darkness and made it out unscathed. 

I was once told that people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.

The pit. 

How do you get out of the pit without it affecting you?

 Truth is you don’t. 

No one will ever make it out of this world without it affecting them. So the real question is how will you allow it to affect you.  Will you choose to believe you only have the great potential to be evil. You will only be just like your alcoholic mother? Your angry father? Your bitter sister? Your impure past? Just cycle through brokenness? Or will you choose to do what Joseph did?
One of the things Joseph chose was his character. He chose to believe he was fully loved by his father on Earth and his Father in Heaven. He chose his character. 

He chose to obey his father. He went after his brothers. He chose to know what was right and pleasing in God’s sight. He went to Dothan. 

Dothan is mentioned in the bible 2 times. This time in Genesis right before Joseph and again in 2 Kings 6:13 when Elisha and his servant find themselves surrounded by their enemies. In this situation Elisha’s servant is afraid but Elisha is calm. 

“He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.”

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭6:16-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here God allowed Elisha and his servant to see that as they walked with God, God protected them to the point of attacking what was attacking them. 

He did the same thing with Joseph. 

“They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”‭Genesis‬ ‭37:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

He allowed his brothers to attack him by selling him but He knew that He would attack the very thing that attacked Joseph. God knew that through Joseph’s brothers hate He could save generations. God knew what He put in Joseph was enough. And Joseph trusted God. 

Dear Sojourners,

I dont know what battle you face daily. Whether insecurity floods your heart and mind or fear steals your light. But I know that if you love God, you have an enemy and he hates you. He wants nothing more than to shut you up. He will make the darkness feel more powerful than it is. But there’s two sides to every coin. Know that whatever pit the enemy is setting up for you to be attacked in, God has placed character in you that will only get stronger when you stay connected to Him. He wants to overwhelm what overwhelms you. He wants to demolish what threatened you. He wants to obliterate very lie spoken over and about you. He wants to kill every once of darkness that sets itself up against you. But most importantly He wants the hateful things that have been done or said to you to bring you to Him. His word says that He uses everything for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28). Been abandoned? He will use it for your good. Been abused? He will use it for your good. Been rejected? He will use it for your good. Blatantly sinned? Repent, and He will use it for your good. No matter what. Every pit the enemy has set up whether you chose it or you were pushed into it, God will use it. 

And to that person who said, ” people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.” You are right. We do as people have a great potential for evil; without God. 

How else did Joseph choose his character above avoiding the pit? For that you’ll have to come back next week. Until then keep focused on the One who matters.
❤️ Mo
  

A New Days Rise

Intentions. 

He carefully walked towards the edge of the ship. His legs reminded him that he wasn’t as steady as he used to be. The frigid air stiffened his nostrils. He steadied himself with the railing in front of him. The cold air quickly proved  he wasn’t dreaming. The majestic glacier that seemed so close was really there. Not wanted to miss a moment his hands felt for his camera. Slowly he raised it up to his eye. Looking through the peep hole the massive glacier perfectly fit through his camera lens. To think that the lense could make something that big small enough to capture was mind blowing. These things are really nifty he thought. Click. He couldn’t help but grin. Proud that he captured a moment.

Perspective. 

Writing has been hard lately. More like creating has been hard.  Its been hard writing blogs because I feel like nothing is changing yet everything has changed. It’s hard to continue to live life when death has come so close. The stories I want to share seem too personal. Too fresh. It hurts sharing because sharing this seasons leaves proof that it happened. My dad and grandpa are gone. I can’t call them. I won’t see them. The last memory of them both is nothing but breathing. The anxiety and depression thickened the air daily. The dark thoughts stayed too long. The beliefs were grim. The hope was hard to find. It’s a season I don’t want to remember yet I dare not forget. 

Intentional

The season leading up to losing them I remember telling God that I was refusing to have one perspective on both of their situations. I knew that God could heal them in an instant but I also knew that healing could come through being released from this earth. I didn’t want to lose either of them and be bitter because of my own perspective so I intentionally believed whatever happened would be for the best. 

Sometimes I forget that I’m not the only intentional one in my relationship with God. I think a lot of times I look at Him as removed from my life. I mean I was lucky enough to be created but I’m not the next presidential candidate or anything big so He can just allow life to happen to me, right?

At the beginning of this year my grandma was discussing with my mom and aunt that she would like to go on a cruise. Late last year we were supposed to go as a family but with my grandpa getting sick we decided to cancel it. As they talked about destinations and costs my imagination went wild with the possibilities. Mountains, greenery, and somewhere cold. Hmm Alaska! I immediately told them that we should go to Alaska. After some talk and phone calls we decided that we would go to Alaska this June. Excitement is an understatement. I am stoked! It was cool to see that God knew that desire of my heart and he gave it to me. 

Shifting Perspective

A few months back my grandma gave me one of my grandpas old cameras. I went out and got a battery for it and started to take a few pictures. Having a camera that my grandpa once looked throu was like looking through his eyes. I took a few shots before the camera stopped working and made this long sound. I knew that sound. I hadn’t heard it in years but it was the sound of the film running out. That meant there were pictures on the film before I snapped the 3 I took. Which meant the pictures on the camera were pictures my grandpa took. 

I have never been so nervous to send something off. As I stood in line at Walmart I thought about the possibilities of what was on the film. Not wanting to get my hopes up I told myself that it could be anything. Even tons of pictures of his thumb or something silly. But regardless of what it was it would be from his perspective. I walked up to the register and filled out the paperwork to send the film in. As I slipped it in the enveloped I prayed that it wouldn’t get lost in the mail. The lady kindly told me that it would take 7 days before I would get it back. A whole week. 

I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans of good and not evil. Plans to give you a future and a hope. 

Jeremiah 29:11

In June of 2008 my grandpa and grandma went to Alaska. They enjoyed their trip to the fullest. And because of the mystery film I got to see pictures that had been waiting 8 years to be developed!

To ever believe that God isn’t intentional and I am not worth His love and time, is to not know God. To think that God cares about me to the point that he would inspire my grandpa on his vacation to take pictures and not develop the film knowing that he would pass away later, put it on my heart to want to go to Alaska, speak to me about perspective while prompting my grandma to give me a camera full of my grandpas actual captured perspective on Alaska is absolutely astounding! 
Dear Soujourners,

The bible says that God cares about the sparrows and cares about you even more (Matthew 6). It says that He withholds no good thing  from those who love Him. He loves us so much that his son died for us, went to hell, and rose again. Jesus went through the pressure of living a perfect life to pay a price he didn’t deserve. No matter if it’s a good season or a rough one know that God is intentionally setting you up to see His faithfulness. Allow Him to prompt you to live this abundant life. Go on walks. Snap pictures. Write songs and sing them. Speak kindly. SMILE. In hard seasons be vulnerable. Journal. Confront lies. No matter what. In life in death choose to be confidently covered by His great love. He is for you. He loves you. You literally complete Him. He’s nothing but intentionally working things for your good even when you mess up…on purpose! 

There’s a song called Stay Alive. I’ve probably wrote about it. But there’s a verse in that song that says,”There is a truth and it’s on our side Dawn is coming Open your eyes Look into the sun as the new days rise And I will wait for you tonight You’re here forever and you’re by my side I’ve been waiting all my life To feel your heart as it’s keeping time We’ll do whatever just to stay alive”

Know that the Truth is on your side. Listen to Him. Open your eyes and look at the new days rise. 

Until next time stay alive 

❤️ mo

  

Perfectly Imperfect: God Wants More than Your Messy Bun

Messy buns are one of the best trends out there but at the same time they are the worse. I was recently waiting in line to go to the bathroom at a theme park and there were two young ladies in front of me. They were the epitome of grunge hipsters. Messy buns and all. They carried a confidence about them that I found myself wishing I had yet when they turned the corner and saw the mirror I saw that they too care about what their “mess” looked like. Eyes glued to the mirror, arms up quickly fixing and pulling and fluffing their buns until one says to the other,”ehh it’ll do,” while she still fixed her hair. 

There are times when God calls you into the dark valley. Into the mess you’ve made. The days, months, years of fear have piled up by the time you choose to take that next step, you’re facing a giant of irrational possibilities. For so long you’ve fixed, pulled, and fluffed your mess by trying to do the fix your mess yourself. Doing everything but the thing that tugs your heart and makes you afraid.  You’ve been told that this would be the thing that defeats you. The thing that makes you lose everything. Your reputation, your dreams, your friends, yourself. It could be a conversation, choosing to stay in a job, go back to school, getting out of habits, letting go of unhealthy people. Letting go of control. Things that hurt yet you feel the hurt isn’t that bad. You start finding yourself saying, “ehh it’ll do” yet still hope for a change in your mindset or situation. 

When God calls us to walk through the dark valley know that it’s always to show us and our enemies the truth of who He is and who He made us to be. He’s tired of us walking around scared of the what if. The things the enemy has played over and over in our minds relentlessly until we start to believe his voice is in congruent of our Father’s voice. 

What if I’m honest and get rejected, what if I leave the job to pursue my dreams and I fail, what if I stay in this place and get stuck, the list goes on. 

This time last year I was reading the book Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. One of the chapters dealt with the fear of what if. I walked away from reading that book with a new way to challenge fears. Take a moment and think about what you fear the most. Now ask yourself if that thing you fear happened would God still be God? Would that thing knock Him off of His throne? Would His hands be tied and not have a way to save you?

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To be completely honest I’ve been stuck in fear to the point that I have believed that my fears were bigger than my God. Fear has taken over my mind to the point that I haven’t known the difference between God’s voice and the enemies voice. Nights had become the time where my heart would race and sweat would pour. Fear kept me up. Fear stole hours on end that I can never get back. Fear of things that never happened. 

I will not fear. 

I’ve wasted too much time believing I’m too messy for God to handle. I’ve tried saying that I will not fear yet fear is what consumed me, making the darkness a whole lot darker. Sometimes to the point of believing all I could be was hopeless. That is until I remembered I’m not alone in the darkness. 

“for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve been told by numerous people to imagine the thing you fear the most and see where Jesus is. For me the fear has been that I would wake up and be a horrible person one day. That I wouldn’t be good. Though I intentionally make specific choices this fear has messed with me majority of my life in many different ways. But one day I was so tired of the enemy using my imagination as his personal horror film festival. So I sat in my room and imagined my fear and said, “Jesus where are you?” That’s when Jesus showed me that the irrational fear wasn’t the true fear. The fear was greater. 

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I was afraid of Him leaving me. 

One night I woke up terrified and I texted my accountability partners and simply told them I was fighting. They replied “where is Jesus?” Like a light beaming in the darkness I realized that He was still there.  

In the dark valley He is with me. When I awake He is with me. When I walk away from Him even then He knows exactly where I am. 

In Isaiah 41 it says “you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When I realized that God would not abandon me I realized I didn’t have to walk around with a mindset of hating the way I looked spiritually yet saying hopelessly, “it’ll do.” People always say to embrace your mess; accept it. But I’ve realized that stopping at embracing my mess is stopping short. Truth is we must continue and embrace not only our mess but true restoration and change happens when we embrace what He has done even in the midst of our mess.

Dear Soujorner,

Take a second and think about this, God went to the ends of the earth, to the part where you were banished to save you. Jesus went to great lengths to save you. He was forsaken by His Father so you wouldn’t have to be. He went to hell so you wouldn’t have to. He loved you enough to be the one God turned from. I pray that as you embrace your mess you don’t stop there, but you continue until you embrace what He has done in spite of you mess. No matter how dark, how messy, ugly, scary, hopeless, or hurt you are know that God has already has the solution to heal and grow you, Jesus. 

Like it says in Philippians 3:9 Our goal is not to gain righteousness based on the law, that’s too much pressure. We will never obtain perfection. But our goal is that we obtain righteousness that comes through faith. A righteousness that depends on God. 

God wants more than a confidence found in you proven by wearing your hair in a messy bun; He wants you to have a confidence in Him that He can take even your messiest of beliefs and still hold onto you like the precious child you are to Him. 

  

Buried Treasure

 “Pour it out” He gently lifted His hands showing me He’d catch whatever was of value from the heavy bucket I had been carrying. 

“But– it’s so full. I don’t want it to be empty again. This is who I am.” I protested 

“Yes it is full but what is it full of. Pour it out. You’ll find what’s really buried inside.”

“But, I don’t want to lose anything else. I’ve lost so much. This is all I have left.” I held the bucket even tighter. 

“Trust me.”

I had nothing else to say. Every excuse was rebutdtaled. He had proven Himself faithful, comforting and loving. Especially in the last few months. His gentle face was one that I had become accustomed to. I sought for so long to see it and finally I stood face to face with Him. He was nothing I had imagined and yet everything I had dreamed of and desired. He had been there. I could trust Him. I would trust Him. 

I lifted the heavy bucket and poured its contents into His hands. Thousands of grains of sands sifted through His fingers. Each one a belief I had that was shown to be a lie. 

“Stop here.” He abruptly said. “What do you see.” 

All of the sand finally drifted through His hands and there laid a gold lion head. 

My heart cracked. “That’s for..” I couldn’t finish my sentence 

“COURAGE” He said. 

“But I don’t feel courageous.” 

“But you ARE. Keep pouring” He gently prompted. 

By now the hot tears were flowing from my face. I felt for the bucket and started pouring again until He told me to stop. The sand flowed through His hands. 

What was so heavy in my hands was like feathers in His. 

Again the sand left His hands and there in His hand laid the lions head and now the clearest of diamonds I had ever seen. 

I knew what that was for. Purity. 

“But that’s the last thing I am!” I yelled

“Not in my eyes. Keeping pouring.”

 The bucket was getting lighter. I could feels things moving around in the sand. I poured. This time I felt something fall out of the bucket and into His hand. I stopped. 

“A paper?” I questioned 

“Read it.” 

Was once abandoned now Adopted

But why? Why would You who have everything see me as adopted?!”

“Because you are. Come on you have a little left”

I poured again and saw a glimmer catch the light of His face and fall from the bucket into His hand. I stopped. 

There laid in His hand the most beautiful crown. 

“Righteous. I call you righteous.”

I sank to my knees. 

“Daughter, this is what I call you. This is what I see. When I look at you I see the beautiful creation I made. I see the courage I grafted in your heart, and the purity intertwined to your soul. I see remember the day that I adopted you and the joy that sprang up in my heart. I see the righteousness I’ve called you to. No matter what people have said through their words or actions this is who you are. Yes your bucket was once full but the unbeliefs hid the very identity you possess. Continue to pour them into my hands  anything that comes against what I have said about you. I made you and I have the authority to tell you what is in you.”

Dear Soujorner,

If you poured out all of your beliefs into God’s hands and allowed Him to sift through the sand and the treasure what would be found? I guarantee you’d be surprised that He’s not waiting for you to come to Him so He can angrily shake His finger in your face. The bible says that it’s the kindness of our father that draws us to repentance. That His thoughts about us our precious and innumerable. He’s not waiting for you to fall asleep so He can pack up and leave you. You are the apple of His eye. So will you pour every belief you have into His hands. There is a beautiful treasure buried under all of that sand the world has handed us.   
  

Graced Grief 

It’s been two months. Two months of chaotic thinking, anxiety, grief, darkness. Two months since I said goodbye. Two months since grief has been an everyday process. Two months of learning how to live without a father and grandfather. Two months of battles. Two months of hugs. Two months of waking up randomly and crying. Two months of talking and trusting and relying. Two long months. 

2015 was the hardest year of my life. The last 2 months wrapped it up in one giant word. GRIEF. there was so much grieving in the last year. And to be completely honest it is continuing. Losing two people has been enough but even before all of this there was grieving that I didn’t know what to do with from my own lack of trust in God and seeing others close to me go through hard times. The death of my dad and grandpa were just the cherry on top. 

This last week God has challenged me to start looking at grief through His eyes. In this season I am learning how to not see God as a being who has a stiff arm and soured look on His face when I come into His presence. He’s taught me that He is embracing me in this season. In the grief of realizing the unbelief I’ve cuddled up next to through out my life. In the grief of losing relationships, saying goodbye to passions and communities, and holding my grandpas hand as he took his last breath. He is embracing me. 

One of my favorite stories in scripture is found in Matthew chapter 14. 

“Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it—ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus. When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:3-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

When people say that God knows how we feel they truly mean it. Jesus walked this earth and had a real life human experience. He experienced loss and pain. He experienced grief. But this part of His life shows me more than just His grief but it also reminds me of God’s Grace. 



“When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.” But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.” “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:13-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Jesus just found out that His cousin died. Not only was this a part of His earthly family but John was the one that prepared the way for Jesus. Out of everyone Jesus was around John the baptize understood what Jesus was going through to some degree. He too had been looked down upon and was responsible with a very high calling. I’m sure when Jesus heard that John had died, it hit him in the core of his body. Though the Bible doesn’t give us details of Jesus’ pain it does say that He tried to get by Himself but was met by a crowd of needy people. Many times in life I’ve tried to deal with a sudden set of emotions while dealing with others.

 This summer I said goodbye to a part of my life that I loved. Within hours of saying goodbye to an amazing set of people I was woken up with news that my grandpa had fallen. With a head full of questions I had to push through the crowd of circumstances that now encompassed me. Chaos. I’m sure Jesus felt chaotic. there were so many things out of control yet He was able to address the needs of the crowds around Him. How? Grace. Jesus stayed focused on the Father and He knew that if the Father was calling Him to heal the crowds that His Father would provide rest. 

Though this last year was full of grief I have to say it was fuller of God’s grace. I don’t deserve to have a faithful God. A God who believes in me when I don’t believe Him. A God that’s so gentle and patient when I want to hold on to old ways of thinking. I don’t deserve His peace of mind or strength but that’s the grace of God. I don’t deserve it and can’t arrive so that I do.  He freely gives His grace to those who love Him and for that I am forever grateful. 

Dear Soujourners,

I don’t know where you are in your journey as you read this but I pray that if you need to experience God’s grace that your eyes would be open to it. And if things are brighter for you today I pray that you would rely on God to help you extend grace to those around you. I pray that no matter what 2016 holds we would reach the end and see God’s graceful hand guiding us along the way and our steps becoming more secure on His path because His grace has found us just as we are. 

Until next time,

Monique❤️