1800 Peanuts

I had been so worried about being safe, yet here I was with two guys I had never met, waiting for my college pastors to show up to what was Todd and I’s first date.

Never would have imagined.

Looking back now I am astounded at how peaceful and confident I felt.

Todd introduced me to his broken armed friend and we waited for my two to arrive. From the get go I noticed two things, 1. Todd looked straight into my eyes when we talked. He was a man of eye contact, and I didn’t feel weird looking back at him. and 2. He was straight forward.

“Are you done?” Todd asked

“Uhh yeah. I’ll take the rest home.” I replied.

“Ok good. Let’s get out of here,” Todd got up and threw our trash away.

I looked over. Our friends were still eating.

“Let’s walk outside.” He saw me hesitate, “Oh they can catch up. I just want to walk.”

I didn’t look for permission, I just went and followed him.

Our friends ended up catching up but it was obvious that Todd’s focus was on me.

We walked and Todd and I talked about all types of things. We were open. Friends. It was nice.

Like any good date we ended up at an ice cream shop.

“What kind of ice cream do you want?” Todd asked.

I looked around. “I’ll take the chocolate one, but you should know I’m extremely allergic to peanuts. Like I can’t be around them.”

Todd looked at me. “Really? Like how allergic?”

“Like I’ll stop breathing if I’m even around it. I have an Epi-pen in my bag.”

“Oh ok.” He looked really serious. “So no peanuts. Ok”

He paid for my ice cream and we sat near our friends. Naturally peanut reaction stories came up. We talked. Laughed.

“So,” Todd looked over at me. “I had a lot of fun. I’d like to hang out with you again. Would you like that?”

“Yeah, that’d be great.” I responded.

“Yeah? Ok great!”

Todd looked over at our friends, “guys, we decided we want to see each other again!”

Our friends were excited. We took a selfie and said our good byes.

Our next few dates Todd came to my area. We’d go to dinner hang and talk. A few weeks after our first date I decided to drive down to his area for the day. I was welcomed into his home with open arms. Met his family.

Todd went to grab something from his room before we were heading to lunch.

His mom looked at me with a smile and said, “You know Todd told me about your allergy. I got took out all of the peanut candy from our dish.”

“Aww thanks,” I smiled. “I really appreciate it.”

His mom looked back at me and said, “He hasn’t eaten peanuts since he came back from you guys’ first date.”

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September

“Hey Monique, How are you?”

I nervously laughed and said, “Good, Todd. How are you?”

“I’m good too. I was just talking to my grandma about you. This is crazy that you called.”

His grandma? How sweet is that?

His smooth calm voice had a way of easing my nerves. We laughed a few times and started asking the real questions. You know like what’s your favorite color and all the soul mate stuff.

I walked away from that conversation excited. He wanted to keep talking. I wanted to know more about him.

Talking on the phone meant that we no longer had to message through Christian Mingle. I could hear his voice, see how he texted. I didn’t have to wait for an email and log on.

I still go back to the days where I did not know who this guy was. When I was simply moving off of preconceived ideas of who I thought he was. The feelings of not knowing still come. I spent too many hours looking for blogs, vlogs, testimonials, on if online relationships truly lasted. The fear that he would not be genuine and authentic were in the back of my mind. Yet there was a peace that stayed present with me through every step. I mean we weren’t going to be running down the aisle within the year, right? we had plenty of time. At least I thought we did.

Within a day, Todd was ready to move forward. We soon got to FaceTime during my lunch break. It was the weirdest yet greatest thing. To be able to see the human being that the words and voice had been this whole time. Facetiming brought on a new level. It made things more real. There was a man behind the messages. A man that was interested in me, and I very much so in him. Even through Todd’s steady forward motions, if I was uncomfortable, I would speak up and he respected that. Because of that, I respected him.

He then told me to think about meeting face to face. This terrified me in some ways, because 1. my family would think I was crazy for meeting up with a man that I met online and 2. because the more memories I made with him, the more hurt could be invested. But his green eyes and calm voice assured me that it could be exactly how I wanted. Friends, no friends, local, meeting halfway whatever. So I tested him, in some ways.

To be honest all of my friends were pregnant at the time and the ones I truly felt comfortable with, were my college pastors, which the husband happened to be a cop, but I left that part out.

Telling my mom was surprisingly ok. I decided to let her know a day before Todd was coming down *yikes*. She wasn’t thrilled at first but as I told her of how Todd came from another Assembly of God, how my best friend and mentor had been guiding me through this time, and how he knew the area because he kind of grew up in the valley, she calmed down, and was actually, dare I say, excited? TO the point of wanting to help me find an outfit and go to the mall. :O This excited me because my prayer is to be wise and I know that with a lot of things, the people around us that know and love us deeply can help point us in a wise direction.

Thursday came. I did not hear much from him that day until he told me that he was running late, thanks to the 405.

I drove a familiar uncharted rode. I didn’t know how this would end, but I was excited. Parking my car I exhaled, prayed, and turned my car off. The windy chill of the air hit my ankles, I should have worn socks. There was a confidence that was built in every stride. In fact I forgot that the whole point of bringing my pastors was because I wanted to stay safe with meeting someone from a website.

Todd was sitting down outside of the restaurant wearing a dark navy button up with anchors on it. That was my guy. Calm. Cool. Collected.

 

 

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Through the Darkness

Two years ago I️ woke up to what would intensify an incredibly hard season. Trying to formulate the words of see you later to my dad was difficult. Seeing the pain from my brother was heartbreaking. The anxiety and grief was becoming a beast I️ couldn’t face alone.

I️ remember hoping that I’d never lose a close family member or friend until I was married, so that I️ could be comforted by my spouse. Yet 2 years ago I️ was single and faced 2 great deaths. This is something I’m thankful for. The road I️ was on seemed to head to more sadness, but the hand that held mine was sure.

It may sound crazy but there are days I️ miss that season. When you trust God and can’t find even a hint of satisfaction on anything else but Him His presence and faithfulness are so evident.

People often say I’m strong yet I️ feel so weak. The strength they see is something that is beyond me. When I️ chose to forgive my dad I️ had to rely on God. When I️ hasn’t seen my dad in 9 years and I️ chose to go see him because he was dying, I️ had to rely on God. When I️ had to see not only him but my grandpa die in the same week, I️ had to rely on God.

Even in the darkest seasons. The ones where anxiety seems to rule and depression greets you in the morning. In seasons where bitterness encases your heart. When it’s hard to forgive. The secret is found in going through those valid feelings with God. The natural thing we do is try to fix it ourselves. Yet God wants us to go with and through.

I️ know I️ wouldn’t have made it through all of the without Him. Every prayer from every person doesn’t go unnoticed. Even today I’m thankful for each prayer for my family during that season. I️ know there are more times than I️ can count that they carried me through.

Dear Sojourners,

Forgiveness is possible. Redemption is real. Guidance from Our Daddy is necessary.

Dad I️ know you’re enjoying heaven. I️ miss you but thankfully one day, we will be united again.

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.

Joy for the Season

The desires of our heart have a way of making us impatient. Waiting can be so hard, so what do we do while we wait? This past year I’ve found my self I desiring things, some silly, yet they represented so much of my heart. And when I couldn’t get it, I did what ever mature 26 year old Christian does, I threw fits. I’ve told God I was done talking to him, was angry at the people around me, and bitter towards the ones I serve. This past year has been a mess. And I was ok with staying that way.

My mind goes back to one particular moment. In the midst of this cycle, I knew I should do one thing. Text my best friend and ask for prayer. Though I didn’t want to talk to God, I also knew my perspective was skewed.

As I talked to her I realized the lie I was believing.

Sometimes God’s protection feels more like a prison than provision. Sometimes His will feels horrible.

As I asked to her about this Jesus started talking to me about the time He was in the garden.

“Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”

Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?””

Matthew 26:36-39 MSG

Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross. He plunged in agonizing sorrow. He said, “This sorrow is crushing the life out.” He desperately sought God, hoping to find another way to save us. I’m sure thoughts and temptations invaded His mind, making it hard to think yet He pursued. He knew there was no escaping this. The promise in a sense was a prison. In order to save the human race, He must die a unthinkable death. Jesus was messed up.

In this situation I stayed grumpy for a few days. Realizing the lie I believed wasn’t enough this time, because it didn’t change. I know that no matter what, if I want to remain in God’s will I must go through this season that I am in. The constant going. The grading. The testing. The writing, work that I frankly didn’t care about. I was in it. I have avoided it, but He’s always brought me back.

Plowing through life emotionless is never worth it. To be alive is to be engaged. To be able to offer hope to those around you you must be alive. Choosing to do what you’ve been called to isn’t about simply doing it while you let your heart die. It’s about answering the call and finding ways to allow your heart to live deeper. Wider. Expand. Let more people in. Give more love out. To live this way is not possible when your perspective is to trudge through life not connecting.

When I finally let go of what I believed my life should look like and held onto the hand of the one guiding is when I found love for the calling. To be in the same physical place yet an eternity away from where I was spiritually astounds me. My mindset was bratty last year, yet God still blessed me. He still called me. And He gave me the joy for the season.

Dear Monique,

Dear Monique,

I hope today you see that you can do anything. I hope you see that the things that make you feel afraid, dont need to hold you back. I hope you see, that God speaks to you. That you don’t just randomly have thoughts, but God drops things in your heart, that are bigger than the words you have to say. I hope you see that you can speak to a large body of people. I hope today you realize that even in the darkest days, you know where your anchor holds. I hope you realize that God has had you

I hope today you realize that even in the darkest days, you know where your anchor holds. I hope you realize that God has had you since the beginning of time. I hope you realize that He has you now in this moment. That He cares about every single part of your heart. I hope you realize that His timing is the best. It’s sudden. It’s bigger than you could ask think or imagine. I hope you realize that your life is not unscripted. It’s written, planned out. Thoughtfully considered.

I hope today you know that you are loved. I hope you know that the Creator of the Universe loves you so much. I hope you know that you are surrounded by people who love you. People who see the soul of who you hope to be. I hope you know that you are becoming her. You are. The qualities you hope to possess are vibrantly blooming.

Dear Monique,

I hope you stay faithful. I hope your heart continues to burn when the wrong thing happens. I hope it continues to scream because of the injustices. I hope your heart continues you push you to keep going, to make that difference you so desperately desire. I hope you choose to keep fear out of your mind. I hope you keep chasing perspectives. I hope you keep speaking hope. I hope you choose to be everything that your Father has called you to be. Go after those dreams. Don’t be mediocre. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. You are enough. You have enough. Always give enough.

Love,

Me

Make America Great Again?

I wasnt going to post anything about the recent election, but I found myself in a church in LA today and what the pastor said really got me thinking. Before you stop reading, know that you will not find who I voted for and how you should have done the same thing. You wont find my opinion on the rising issues and what I “know” will fix them.
What you will find is a view that I have not seen before and it starts years ago. It starts in a nation that was in turmoil. One of their advisors were dying and the two that were the potentials of taking his place were corrupt. The nation had lost it’s hope. The ones they were supposed to  trust in were corrupt.
They were lost and abandoned.
Or was that just their perspective?
Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 1 Samuel 8:3-6
There are 2 sides to every coin and two parts to every story.
“7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7-9
Why was God upset? Everyone else had a leader to trust in and be guided by.
God was upset because He was supposed to be their leader. The one they trusted in. The one that guided them. But God, being a God of love and allowing His people to make choices even if it will hurt themselves and Him, He gave them their way.
10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18
Hmm sound familiar?
Just in case let’s break it down:
Take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horseman and to run before his chariots. Didn’t the Israelites want a king so that the king would go before them and fight for them? Another question. Isn’t that what God says He does for us?  Ok, I am going back. God is telling them this king will make them fight for him. He won’t protect them but he will use their sons to fight for him.
he will appoint for himself commanders. The king is the one that will pick the commanders, not  you.
some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.; He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. You will work for his government and will give to him what you work for.
will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants…The king will also take a part of your earnings. In modern day terms TAXES. Also, it’s important to remember that God already asked for a tenth, so now we are to tithe and give the leadership what they demand. Just tithing would’ve been better huh?
Here’s my point:
I find it odd that we celebrate and argue until we break down the souls of people over a human leader when God didn’t want a human leader at all. The original design EVEN after the fall was that God would lead the people, yet the people demanded a king.  God wanted to go before His people, protect them. He wanted to guide them. To judge them with His truth and mercy. But even after being warned of all this would bring they chose a person over the creator.
And here we are today.
 
I think we are still doing the same thing when we put our hope and fears in the Oval Office. The true fix to our problems is not found on this side of Heaven. In fact, the problems we so often complain about are a result of us wanting a human leader. They are the result of trusting in a man over God. So maybe just maybe our problem is humanity and our need to ignore God and pursue our ways. Maybe we don’t need to put our hope, fear, trust, or anything in people. But in God. Be hopeful because the cliche is true, the best leader is still on the throne and while we will continue to live through the repercussions of demanding a human leader we won’t have to stay here for eternity. There is better. 
Just a thought.

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

When Hopes Get Shattered 

I wrote this, this past summer after realizing that I had to let of a relationship. I hope that if you’re single that this posts give you hope and reminds you to trust our God. Love you friends 💛


After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6

A few years back I found myself in the face of yet another moment of rejection. I remember just feeling like hopes were once again shattered and dreams would never come true. It was utterly depressing.

I walked into my friend’s office  and he looked at me and said, “Monique you need to go somewhere and just be with God.”

And he was right.

He told me that he didn’t want to see me until the weekend was over.  So the next day I hopped in my little Hyundai and drove 45 minutes to this  State Park. I didn’t really have a plan except for to read my Bible and journal. When I got there it was cold and I was alone in the middle of trees and lizards and bugs.

So I wrote and I talked to God I gave my heart and my desires.

God met me there.

I asked Him how I was going to get through this. I asked Him why there were things that I believed that He was giving me only to take them away. Why people chose to be passive with my heart?  Why relationships weren’t the way that I wanted them? I got down to the root of even questioning why I had to constantly face rejection and why this is something that I was born into.

He reminded me of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham had been promised a son and even in the moments of him questioning if God was going to fulfill that promise there were times when he decided to take it into his own hands, like I had also done.

“2And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.” Genesis 16:2-4

But God was still faithful.

God still is faithful.

“1The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.” Genesis 21:1-2

God still gave him his son Isaac.

He fulfilled his promises.

But later He asked Abraham to do the unthinkable.

 “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis22:1-2

To sacrifice the very thing that He had promised him. To let go of the very thing that Abraham wanted the most.

I felt like God was asking me to do the same thing. To bind the very thing I have desired since I was a little girl and offer it as a sacrifice to Him.

So I picked up a stick. And for the longest time that stick stayed in my car.  I chose to believe that if God asked me to sacrifice and to let go of the very thing that I wanted most; not only that I wanted but the very thing that I believed He had promised , that I would choose to do that because I love God more.

Today I found myself at almost the same exact situation.  Projected hopes shattered, dreams and expectations not met, falling in love with the idea of a relationship but turning a blind eye to the reality of the relationship. To be honest it was a place where I put myself. 

No one to blame. 

Just me running ahead of God.

And so I went to go clear my mind. I went and traveled. I chose to do something that I love and hopefully get close to God.

As I was heading home I decided that I would stop at that park again and sit down and journal. I didn’t expect God to give me anything about this season that I’m in but more so I chose to work on dreams that were in my control right now.

But He still met me there.

As I was walking to my car I felt like I should go back to the spot where I had sat down and picked up a stick. 

So I did.

I felt a gentle prompting to remember what I did then and to do it again. So I  picked up a stick and once again He reminded me of Abraham and Isaac.

I rolled my eyes and told Him, “I know God. I need to sacrifice this desire again.”

Before I could continue, a different question hit my soul. 

 What happens when your Isaac?

 What happens when it feels like he’s binding you to sticks and raising a knife over your heart? What happens and it feels like He’s killing everything inside of you? What happens when you don’t feel like He’s being good to you yet everyone else is getting the very thing you desire?  Do you trust him?

 I’ve  never realized the perspective of Isaac before today. There are so many moments  when He’s doing things that feel like rejection but in those moments we have to choose to trust the heart of the Father. Isaac knew that his father loved him very much. Yet I wonder what questions ran through his head as he was being laid on the altar. I wonder what things he started to  remember about his father.  I wonder if he questioned  his father’s love for him. Why would he sit there and sacrifice his son to a God? But in Abraham’s trust in God and Isaac’s trust in his father God provided. The promise was still fulfilled. Isaac didn’t die that day.

So here I am driving home realizing that I can trust the heart of my Father. Realizing that even in the seasons where it feels like He has ripped everything away and the promise still hasn’t come, I can surrender myself to Him. I can choose to lay myself on the altar knowing that there are going to be things that He cuts away from me to make me better. Even while I’m in the fire He’s not allowing me to be burned but He’s allowing me to be refined.  To be able to scrape away the impurities that have settled in my heart for too long.

Dear Sojourner,

I know that when promises aren’t fulfilled the enemy is right there to speak lies of rejection. I know that sometimes it feels like God doesn’t care. But even in rejection, even in praying for unfulfilled promises choose to look back. To see how far He has brought you. And with that perspective you can choose to trust Him no matter what. Know that even in rejection God is thinking about your protection. 

💛

Mo 

Search My Heart

There’s so many answers offered when you ask the question why not?

For someone who is an over thinker (like I am) the endless solutions create anxiety self doubt and criticism in my mind. I’m not enough is a normal voice that sounds off. Believing I must do more or lose more then the desires of my heart will come. But what happens when you’ve done all you can do and there’s no hint of the desire fulfilled?

What happens when you’ve served and sacrificed yet things end?

What happens when you’ve given God your all, stayed faithful and instead of gaining relationships you lose them?

What usually happens for me is criticism. I begin to analyze and dissect the motives of my heart until there’s nothing left to show. Until my heart and mind are reduced to puddles on the floor. I rehash and replay looking for every ounce of bad that was in me. Looking for why God has rejected me from the chosen ones that get what I desire.

Criticism has taken me to some dark places because it has been rooted in fear.

For too long I’ve believed that I must criticize myself relentlessly instead of trusting God. I’ve believed that He asks me to examine my heart and mind, but today I felt like He was asking me, “Monique, did I ask you to search your own heart, or is that My job?”

To be completely honest I don’t know the Bible cover to cover to say that we are not to look at our hearts and make changes but heres what I have searched and found so far.

In Psalm 139 David talks about how God knows him intricately, fully. To remember that God is always with us even to the point of knowing and being where we are when we try to run and hide from Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. David realizes this and ends his prayer with

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

Then in Jeremiah we read that God tells the prophet that no one can understand the heart except Him,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind…” Jeremiah 17:9

I think there is a lot we can learn from these two passages. In Psalms we see that David humbled himself and asked God to do the searching. To try his thoughts and lead him in the right way. I think when we see that God is the one that searches our hearts and leads us our response should be to trust His leading. To lean on His understanding because He knows better than we do.

In Jeremiah God says that He is the one who examines and tests the heart and mind. He looks at our motives and does something about them. What does He do? I believe that He will bring things up to our minds about the way we think or the motives we have, not to shame us, but to show us a better way.

God has given us His Spirit. I think too often I believe that God is frustrated with me and has left me to figure out my own motives. Like we are playing this awful game of guessing if my motives were wrong and which motives were bad or worse or good and pure. I sit back and judge myself over and over and over again. But I am starting to believe that He hasn’t called us to do that. The Holy Spirit is the one who is in us and He will show us what we need to work on. Thats what conviction is. Its simply seeing that we sinned because He shows us, we repent and humble ourselves, ask Him where to go and go.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

God is in the business of exchanging. He wants to always take the old ugly mindsets and exchange them for something better. Instead of dissecting I need to ask Him to do the searching. But we can’t exchange the things that are ugly for new things unless we go to Him. He’s not asking us to clean ourselves up first. If so, Jesus’ death would have been pointless. He’s calling us to come just as we are. Messy. Broken. Hurt. Not even sure of what we really want. And in His hands He is holding a new heart.

He wants to give us new heart.

I need to remember to ask for a new heart more often instead of dissecting mine. To allow Him to clean and make it whole again. I need to believe more about the competence of God instead of the capability of myself. I need  to trade my scape for a sword. Not just any sword but the sword of the Spirit. The word of God. Thats where I learn to know Him and His character. From there the Holy Spirit can do His job and show me the things I need to work on in the moment. From there I can lean and trust on His understanding as He sets my path straight.

Dear Sojourners,

As you go through your journey I hope that the Holy Spirit’s voice becomes the voice you listen to more than your mentor, leader, pastor, author, parent etc. I hope you choose to elevate what He is saying above what circumstances say. I hope that you find yourself seeking His will above your own. And in the times when it’s tough, choose to humble yourself and ask Him to search your heart and give you a new heart towards that person or circumstance. Remember dear friends, He has you. He loves you.

Keep journeying dear friends. Until next time,

Mo

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Constant Surrender

Want to know what’s really hard? being all there.
“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!”‭‭ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12‬ ‭MSG‬

In life we go through times of fog. Seasons of not understating the circumstances we are facing. When I can’t see through this fog I find it easy to run to my imagination to escape the lack of knowing and create a world where I can control. Fantasy.

I was talking to my best friend last week about the difference between fantasy and dreaming. She was sharing how she believes that God created us as dreamers yet we settle to live in fantasy.

Fantasy arises when we don’t like reality so we create a world in our mind that feels better but isn’t because it’s not real. Dreams are things that too start in the imagination but are achievable. They are things you can put action to. Things you can choose to do.

Right now the circumstance I want to escape from is singleness. I know, I know you’re probably  thinking, “Really? Our nation is going down, people are dying, being sold as sex slaves, abuse is at an all time high, there are bigger things to want to escape from! And you’re biggest struggle is being single?!” Okay you might not be thinking that but the voice of criticism in me says that daily.

I’ve been wrestling with the belief that God doesn’t want to give me marriage. I think that He looks down at me as I struggle and sometimes (especially recently) grieve the fact that I don’t have that life long best friend to come home to. To dream with. To serve God beside. To just be with. I think God is once again up there throwing His hands in the air saying, “Really, Monique?”

But then I look at the choices I have made over the past 7 years. Choices of getting emotionally healthy, saying no to guys I know aren’t worth my time, and removing my heart from situations that cause hope to fade. I see people choosing to live in unhealth yet have the thing I want most.

So why am I desiring marriage if I feel that God is against me?  Why have I chosen to do these things? Because I dream of having a GREAT marriage. I dream of being married to the same man for the rest of my life. I dream of us serving God relentlessly together. I dream of our story inspiring those around us and seeing the God within us constantly working in and through us. I dream of those things so I choose to achieve those things.

And God put that in me. So He’s not against that dream.

He created the unique desire for me to be a wife. He sculpted and molded my very DNA with that desire. Not matter how many marriages I’ve seen ripped apart by addictions, affairs, petty drama, I still believe in marriage. I still believe that it is possible to have a marriage where a man and a woman are pursuing God together. I choose to believe that. And if God put it in me I believe He has it for me.

As I was talking to God about this, I felt Him saying that we need to stop treating singleness as if its a problem that needs to be fixed and look at it as what it is. A season to enjoy. People have told me that it’s when they stop looking their spouse comes. Or when they started pursuing God 100%, but often times that’s discouraging. Why? Because I’ve done those things and he’s still not here. I’ve served and pursued. I’ve taken seasons of not focusing on marriage or “looking”.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave you?

It leaves us to surrender it to Him constantly.

Surrender comes when we choose to trust that God put the strong desire to be married in our heart when He made us, and trusting His timing to bring it when He wants to.

It’s found in the belief that He won’t put something in us that He’s not going to provide for, grow, and ultimately use for His Kingdom.

Surrender is found in laying down our agendas for someone else’s journey.

Surrender is found in letting go of building someone up in our heads to make us feel better.

Surrender is found in allowing God to continue to use us.

Surrender is found in not doing things (leading someone on, texting them, talking about them to your friends, etc) simply because we’re lonely and want to feel better about ourselves.

Dear Sojourner,

To those that are in hopes of finding that person to walk along side you, trust God. I’m not going to tell you those little cliche things because frankly I am tired of hearing them myself. But at the end of the day what people mean when they say those things is to trust Him. Building trust in Him is the best thing you can do in e v e r y season. Marriage will not satisfy every part of us. We will still need God. Instead of over focusing on the things you don’t have in this season choose to see things from the perspective of what you do have. If you have people in your life that are married ask them questions don’t feel disqualified because someone isn’t in your life. Marriage isn’t arrival. It is a season.

To those that are married, can I give you some advice? Pray for the singles around you. Share your journey with them. Show them things they can do now that will prepare them to be the best spouse they can be. But don’t forget how it felt when you too wanted that person by your side. Sometimes we make things feel small and forget how big the struggle was for us. Don’t shrink the feelings down but encourage those around you to trust God and see things from a new perspective.

No matter where you are on the relationship spectrum, trusting in Him and seeing His faithful character is a common thread in life. And one day we will look back and see that even in the fog He was there. Even in the fog He was leading us closer to Him. Through every season, circumstance, joy and trial He is doing something to bring you to a closer understanding of who He is and that dear friends is worth it all.

Keep journeying.

Adventure Awaits

Sometimes adventure is found in the waiting. 

In the times where answers are not clear and passions continue to burn.

It’s found in the choice of writing one more line even when you don’t feel enough.

It’s found in the letting go of expectations, daydreams, pressures you put on yourself and others.

It’s found in the trusting.
Adventure doesn’t always look like mountains to climb or new places and new faces.
Sometimes it’s found in the staying instead of leaving. 

Sometimes it’s simply in the waiting. 
Adventure isn’t always found in the random times full of new experiences. It is always found when a journey takes you to places where your perspective can’t stay the same. 

Truth is we are all on a grand adventure called life. It may not have billions of Instagram post worthy moments that cause thousands to follow you but your life should never be compared to those around you. Your life is just that. YOURS. 

So celebrate because you made it to the gym. 

Celebrate because you chose healthy relationships. 

Celebrate because you haven’t gone down the same negative cycles that those before you are stuck in. 

Celebrate because you are fully and perfectly loved by the being who created love itself. 

Take the pressure off. Your dreams will happen. 

Take the pressure off. You’re not alone. 

Take the pressure off. That person won’t satisfy you. But God will. 

Seek after His heart and I promise you your perspectives will change and you’ll find yourself living the abundant life He promised. 

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