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

  

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Good Friday

Death hurts. Heaven doesn’t have visiting hours. No one is exempt of it. Death happens. It brings pain. When Jesus does there was pain. He experienced pain beyond words. His family started the grief process. His followers were confused. Crushed. 

They killed Him. 

At least that’s what it looked like but truth is that Jesus gave His spirit up. No one took it from Him. He gave. 

Let’s remember who has the authority even in the midst of evil, fear, pain. Even though He died Friday Sunday is coming. 

  

I Won’t be Back

It’s been four months. Four months since I got the call to say goodbye to my dad. 4 months since I waited to hear that final breath from my grandpa. 4 months since both of their battles with cancer came to a close. Death and grief have brought a lot of things in and out of me. Weakness, anxiety, fear, sorrow, lies, truth, strength, faith and h o p e. The weirdest thing that it’s brought is longing

When I was growing up there was a lot of talk about Jesus coming back. People constantly talked about the end days, we always had to watch the newest Left Behind like movie. For me this produced fear. I felt like I had to take notes on how to survive if I got left behind. There were times when I would wake up from a nap and not know where my brother or mom were. I would immediately panic thinking I was left. There were times when I would lose my mom in a store and think Jesus took her from me. I hated to be alone because to me Heaven seemed scary  and the end times were terrifying. I remember getting older and looking forward to a trip or something and praying, ” Jesus I know it would be good for you to come back but please wait until after I go to Disneyland.” I know. I was that kid. While growing up the end seemed terrifying and unwelcomed, it’s the one thing I long for now. 

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Groaning. This last year I’ve felt my spirit groan on several occasions.  There have been battles upon battles. Sorrow upon sorrow. Fight after fight. I think that’s why grieving feels so long for me. Grieving is something that’s been happening for almost a year now. Grieving the loss of character in someone close to me, grieving the moving of a community I loved, grieving the loss of face to face relationships with people that mean the world to me, then grieving the loss of two men in my family. I can’t  count how many times I’ve whispered, thought, screamed, cried, begged God to just take me away from this earth. 

Though I don’t want to end my life, I had come to a point where I didn’t care if I ever got married, had kids, go to Disneyland, got the dog I want, travel to beautiful places, etc. I just wanted to go to Heaven. 

This mindset doesn’t help the good or the bad days. It creates a numb careless heart. In the way that your love is turned off and you’re set in coast mode. Dreamless. Believing that God won’t keep His promises. Believing nothing matters here. 

 There is a point where Jesus should be your sole desire but we can’t continue to give up the abundant life He came and died for us to live. (John 10:10). God sent His son because He loved the world. (John 3:16). He gave us life for a reason. Jesus didn’t just die so we get to go to Heaven. He died so we could live even on Earth. 

Today as I was driving I was listening to the Lusko family talk about their daughter Lenya that suddenly passed away days before Christmas. I’ve been reading his book Through the eyes of a Lion and it’s incredible. Grief is grief but I can’t imagine losing someone suddenly, especially when that person is a child. As I was driving and listening to this message they were talking about the hope that Heaven produces. Knowing that they would see their daughter again kept them going. That’s when something clicked. 

God gave me life. He breathed into me and knows how many breaths are in me. 

The longing to go to Heaven can be so miserable because no matter how much money, resources, how fit you are, how much education you have nothing lets you go until it is time for you to. But it’s only miserable if that is your focus. Yes even creation is groaning for that day but we’ve been given more than just a groan, we’ve been given hope.  

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Though I am longing to go to a place where I can’t go yet, I know that I’m in a place now where I will never come back to. And that dear Sojourners is what makes my time on earth mean something. 

Dear Soujourners,

I don’t know what you’re currently going through. And to be honest I can’t promise that it will get better but I do know as you continuously fix your eyes on Christ you get more hopeful. True the deaths of my dad and grandpa don’t knock me down like they did 4 months ago, sure I’m not depressed because my friends moved, and yes that person that I thought was too far gone has slowly come back to Christ and those things make life better but they don’t make what I really want come. That longing will always be there but when I fix my eyes on the sweet face of Jesus hope rises. Truth comes. And that makes life better even when it doesn’t feel better. Since I can’t control when I leave this earth I’m choosing to do something about what my time on earth looks like, because one day when I’ve made it back home I won’t ever be able to come back to earth. Because of that I choose to get up again. Everytime I fall into hopelessness I choose to try to hope again, to love again, fight again. Rise again. 

Let hope rise in you. Pick up your head and know the battle isn’t nor has it ever been yours, it’s His. You’re on the winning side. So will you choose to rise again? You only get one time on this earth.  

  

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.   
  

Dalmatian Sensation

This may be a shocker to some but I LOVE puppies and kid movies! There’s nothing better than snuggling up with your puppy on the couch and watching your favorite movie from when you were a kid (or in my case one of your favorites).  One of the many favorites is 101 Dalmatians. A few months ago I found out that this movie came out in 1961, which was a big deal because my mom was born that year. I did a little bit more research, because I was bored probably waiting in line for coffee, and saw that it came out the day before my moms birthday! How cool is that!? 

I know you’re probably thinking where are you going Mo? But just stick with me. I was talking to my brother earlier today and he reminded me that when we were kids our dad bought us 101 Dalmatians on VHS and my grandparents  bought us the stuffed animals. For those of you that don’t know in Novemeber I lost both my dad and my grandpa to cancer. 

The worst part of grieving for me is the memories that have been lost. Too often I try my best to remember times I had with them yet my memory of them feels so distant. Sometimes I get frustrated with my self because it seems wrong to not be able to remember someone who you knew your whole life. It makes sense for my dad in some ways since I wasn’t with him consistently but my grandpa had been in my life and I saw him several times through out the week for the past 20 years. Condemnation eats at me for not cherishing moments with them both. 

I guess that’s why knowing that my dad gave me the movie that I’ve loved since a little girl is so important. And knowing that I remember a stuffed animal that is long gone but I loved so dearly even though I didn’t remember that my grandpa had a hand in giving that to me makes my sets my mind at ease. 

So this post is probably more for me but know that God cares about the dumb little desires. Truth is that if God woke up and saw 101 of His children running around the city lost He would search for everyone of the. He would even go after the one. That’s what He did and still does with me. He has relentlessly gone after me. He cares about those silly movies you watch and the stuffed animals that are filling the landfill. None of these things advance His Kingdom yet He cares because He loves us so much. 

Happy Biryhday 101 Dalmatians. You’ll forever be my favorite and a grand reminder of how much my God cares about me. 

““See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:10, 12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 Dear Sojourner,

I don’t know where you are with your relationship with God but if you feel lost know that He knows where to find you. He’s going after you. He cares so much. He sees you. And he loves you 100%. He hasn’t forgotten about you. 

It’s kind of like when Cruel la De vial comes to see the puppies and they don’t have spots and is disgusted by them but in Roger and Anita’s eyes they were perfect. They knew they would get their spots. They could see the puppies for who they’d be not for who they are. That’s how God sees you. He sees the things that bother you now, that you struggle with, he sees your lack of holiness yet He calls you holy. He calls you blameless. 

For those of you that have been walking with God and it seems like he’s preoccupied blessing, healing, and freeing everyone else know that His love has been and continues to be lavished upon you. Your not the old dog that gets pushed aside when a puppy comes. You’re loved by the Father in ways that are specific to you. I asked God to show me those ways today and He did! I hope you ask Him to do the same for you. He’s been waiting to show you all of the ways He loves you today. 

Keep journeying dear friends. 

  

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❤️

 

Good Grief 

Grief is a funny thing. I’ve been told that everyone grieves differently. Before this year the only thing I had grieved that I had to say a complete goodbye to has been pets. I remember my dog Levi dying 5 years ago and I was completely depressed. Most of my friends didn’t understand why I was so upset but I had said goodbye to something that held thousands of memories. I shared secrets with my dog. He was one that grew up with me. Knowing the way I handled the grief of my dog I knew that whenever I lost a person by death I would be shattered. 

On Monday my dad died. 

When I first found out about my dad I was sitting on the couch in my grandparents house eyes closed as tight as possible with tears streaming down and thinking “I just can’t open my eyes. I can’t.”

” He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4

 My dad battled an ugly war of cancer for a year. Surgeries and the pain were unbearable. But at the same time in the last year he learned how to live fully. Before he died he accepted Jesus into his heart which was a prayer answered. There was great sorrow that filled my heart but at the same time there was unending joy knowing that while I was weeping my dad was rejoicing in the full glory of God. In a lot of ways I had a peace that surpassed all understanding. There’s was no fear, no regrets of I wish I forgave, no anger towards God for taking him home. There was peace. Peace, joy, and sorrow. 

I went to bible study the next day and people were asking how I was. The whole time I was thinking that people probably thought I was bottling things in because I wasn’t sad I was excited. But this brought a ton of shame in that moment. I started fearing that I wasn’t dealing with my dad’s death and that weeks from now I would snap. The fear of being a bad person came back to try and take me captive to its long list of lies. As I analyzed on how bad I was doing at grieving God gently  reminded me that there is no bad grieving. 

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Though my dad left this earth and I’ll never hear his voice or be able to visit him, I am rejoicing that he was lost on this Earth but before his breaths ran out he confessed Jesus as His Lord and Savior and he isn’t burning in hell! He’s in the full presence of our Daddy! That makes me rejoice. 

But what happens when death is persistent? What happens when it feels like you’re losing more?

 Two days after my dad went to Heaven my Grandpa who’s been there for me, lives next door, and has seen me become who I am today also died. 

No one could’ve ever told me that I would lose two family members on different sides of the States to cancer the same week. 

Heavy. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My hearts been heavy. But God’s grace has been so strong. 

This past week has been hard to say the least but you know what’s cool? God takes the darkest things like death to create hope, goodness, peace, and even joy! Don’t believe me? Here’s one more story from this week. 

Before my grandpa died he was in a care home recovering from a fall and from cancer. He was diagnosed in July and was released from this earth 4 months later. During the past 4 months I’ve had several opp of unities to pray with him. He’s been walking with Christ for decades so it was always accepted. I prayed bold prayers. Prayers of healing that he would have decades added to his life, that he would be better than before. And I believed them all. As the months went on my grandpa started calling me his prayer warrior. In my flesh this scared me because what if he didn’t get healed, but God kept prompting me to pray and my grandpa never let me leave without praying first. After he passed my mom who is a teacher, needed to get some plans together for the next week when her substitute came in. Her sub was a young Hispanic girl named Lorena. We got into a conversation with her about how my mom and I lost my dad and grandpa to cancer and she’d be out the next week. Lorena eventually asked how we dealt with different things because her 20 year old cousin was just diagnosed. As she spoke hopelessness was all over her face. The Holy Spirit prompted my heart to pray with her. So I told her well we will be praying for you. Not what God said. So He prompted me again. Inside I was not ok because I didn’t know what she believed, I didn’t know what to say, my prayers for my grandpa didn’t get answered the way most people would’ve been ok with. But He reminded me, “You’re my prayer warrior.” So I asked, “can we pray for you now?” 

Dear Soujorner,

I don’t know what circumstances you’re facing as you read this blog. You’re faith could be so thin and your fears could be overwhelming but know that God is with you and He’s FOR you. There’s no good grief of bad grief. There grief and it hits you in the most inconvenient places, and tells you it will never leave. It makes you lose words and tell you that you’ll turn into the ugliest version of yourself. That’s not true. Truth is grief is a feeling not a future. 

I pray as your life goes through the valleys and mountains:

“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor? He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking. I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭51:12-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  

The Journey: I Just Can’t 

““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

God’s grace these last 3-4 months has been everywhere. To simply say that He has carried me is an understatement. He has literally held my heart together in the hardest season I’ve ever faced. Last Sunday a lot of things hit me. For a minute grieving was what needed to be done and so that’s what I did. 

Grief doesn’t care where you are or who you’re around it will come and not back down until you give in and for a moment let your heart hurt. 

I don’t think I’ve been too open with what exactly is going on with my family and personal life right now but as you’ve read in the blogs about my dad, theres a few in the archives, he had bladder cancer and it’s taken a turn for the worse spreading to other organs and causing him to be in horrific pain. I tried to talk to him this weekend but he wasn’t coherent. There’s nothing that I want more than to be able to be in Virginia by his side but I can’t be. I’m here on the other side of the US. Speaking of being here, my grandpa was sent home this week on hospice because cancer has taken over his bones. To see my once lively, always fixing things, kid in a 76  year old mans body, stuck to a bed, weak and exhausted is hard. 

Why? Why does sorrow come in like a flood?

 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:1-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My mom and I were talking the other day and she said, ” I just don’t get it. I don’t understand where God is in all of this.” In that moment God started to remind her that He was in the moment that we got approved to love in the house RIGHT next door to my grandparents 13 years ago. He was in the moment that my aunt moved in. He was in the moment where I get to take a break  from a life of outside ministry. He was in a moment where siblings and cousins and children got their lives together so that they could have the opportunity to be all there. He was in those previous moments. Years before tragedy struck working and orchestrating things so that when today arrived we would be ready. 

Talk about the grace of God. 

I’ve had two main conversations, that I remember, where the other person has looked at me and said something along the lines of, you are a woman of character or you’re handling all of this so well. The only thing I can say back is I’m trying. That’s all. God is doing everything in me and helping me deal with what’s around me. Truth is I’m not handling it even the slightest on my own. God has been 100% with me through this season. 

Written 11/4/2015 update coming soon

His and Hers

I’ve always heard the saying there are plenty of fish in the sea. But what happens when the sea water becomes murky and toxic because of the litter in the filth that the outside world is pouring into it? The fish have to become affected by it right? In this dirty world there’s so much toxicity that is poured into the minds of young adults. Both men and women. People who are trying to maintain purity. Did you get that? People who are trying to maintain purity. There are still people who are trying. There are still men are choosing not to take advantage of women; who are choosing to have standards above what the world is telling them to be. There are still women, insecure as they may be, that choose not to cave in to what the world is telling them they have to obtain so that they can have a good guy. I pray that this blog helps you understand how you can choose to have character in the midst of a toxic world. Purity is so much more than virginity. Purity is of the mind and of the heart. You can physically be a virgin but have the dirtiest mind in the world. You can not think about sexual things but have a mouth that spews toxicity. So how do we become people of character? Let’s look back on this beautiful relationship between Solomon and the woman whom his soul loved. 
His Name

“Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you.”
‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

From the beginning this woman says that Solomon has a name. When I first read this it was kind a like of course he has a name. What kind of person doesn’t have a name? But I came across a podcast about how this woman wasn’t saying that he had a name but she saying that he had character. He was a good man. Though Solomon was extremely handsome what truly attracted this woman was the fact that his character outshined his physical appearance. 

Regardless of what people of told you about your appearance in your masculinity, the thing that is going to keep a good woman is character. Choosing to be man of God. What does that really mean? A man of truth, a  man of honor, a man of your word, a man who is faithful and loyal, a man who listens he doesn’t want to just fix everyone but allows others to journey through the process of healing and chooses to love and have grace through the rough times. The truth is you don’t need a girl to become this man. Start with yourself. You and God. Allow Him to love you like the perfect Daddy He is. Then allow Him to bring brothers in your life that you can love too. That’s how you choose character over culture. 

Her Standards

“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! 

  To be lovely

Do you have a favorite word that describes beauty? A lot of times people use the word pretty to describe something that is appealing to the eyes. But what about when it’s simply breathtakingly gorgeous? I think if we could have a heart to heart over coffee with this woman in Song of Solomon we would find that the word she loved to describe beautiful things would’ve been lovely. 

How was she able to boldly say to the man that she liked a lot that she had insecurities but she was lovely? This woman knew that though there were things about her outer appearance that she wasn’t fond of but her character on the inside was stunning. Because she chose to be a woman of character she knew that there were things she should and should not do. She knew that she must not only protect herself but also the one who her soul loved. 

His Pursuit

The book of Song of Solomon begins with the woman speaking. She is pouring out her soul in regards to how she feels about Solomon. Though this book doesn’t start with how Solomon pursued this woman, we can clearly see that he did. There is a relationship that has been ongoing and as the book progresses we see that Solomon is everything but a passive player. In fact, who Solomon was, was like medicine to her soul. Did you catch that earlier? 

The Bible says, “Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth;” Wow! And the other thing is that Solomon was known for this. He was a good brother BUT when he pursued the one He was attracted too he made it known that his affection was for her. He didn’t leave things hidden and uncertain. He made sure she knew that there was more than brotherly love for her. He pursued her heart to the point where she was able to trust him enough to say, “Here are my insecurities!” 

This isn’t meant to be taken as you are supposed to fix the girl you’re interested in, instead it shows that a man of character who pursues a girl in the right way can help ease those insecurities by reminding them of truth. 

You’re never meant save any one but you can always swim with them towards the Savior. 

Her Pursuit

“Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?”

I know I’ve written a blog about this before but once again I see the fact that a woman in a Bible chose to pursue man. It may not be the way that we think of pursuing but I think it’s smart to mention that after this relationship has built up a respect and a trust the woman has to start taking steps towards the man too. 

She wanted to be where he was. To see him even if it was in the middle of the most insecure days. She set it all aside and asked, “where will you be at noon?” Not at midnight when the sun isn’t shining and it’s easy to hide things but at noon. She even says, “for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?” The veiled women were prostitutes in those days. She chose to say that she wanted to be far from a woman that seduced him to get him to stay. Though there were insecurities she was very secure in two truths. 1. This was a man of character and she could trust him. 2. She could not trust her insecurities. 

Trusting your insecurities will always make you do things that you never wanted to do to earn a love that was never there. 



If you’re in the talks of dating and you keep finding yourself holding back from this guy that has proven to you that he is a good guy (and trusted mature Christians in your life agree) and that you can trust him I would take a minute and ask yourself why is it that you keep holding back? Pray about it. Choose not to trust your insecurities and hide. Go boldly into the light with your character and ask, “where will you be at noon?”

His Response 

If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.”
‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:5-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I feel like Solomon is kinda saying, “I know you know where I’ll be, but I will tell you how to find me because I want to spend time with you too.” He knows that she’s seen him with his flock but he chooses to be intentional with what she’s asking because he doesn’t want to play games. He doesn’t want her to wonder if he thinks about her, or likes her. He wants her to know that she can follow his flock! Then he addresses her insecurities about her appearance and says, “I think you’re the most beautiful creature on earth!” He continues to pursue her through it all. 

To be honest sometimes us girls get a little crazy. Our tendency to overthink can make us not even know what’s going on. But sometimes we just need to talk and process. We have fears because of past experiences. We don’t think we are enough because we’ve fallen. As we continue to learn how to renew our minds and get new perspectives, we know we can trust the relationships that let us be vulnerable. Knowing that we can go to you as a brother or if the relationship is deeper as a boyfriend or husband means that we know you won’t judge us but you’ll remind us that we have Christ, is so assuring. But also knowing that you desire our relationship, honor us as people, and think our insecurities are junk cultivates more and more trust and honor. 

If you’re in a relationship with a girl and you realize she assumes or goes back to fear take a moment and ask her why and then listen and respond. Responding means telling her truth that God says. Pray for her and encourage her to continue on this journey of healing and restoration of those insecurities. 

Dear Soujorner

As you journey through singleness or dating I would challenge you to choose to be a person of character. 
As women we are told that we should be completely independent or overly dependent on a man. When we have these mindsets it shuts down the purpose of relationships. We have to find the balance. The balance is found in character. Choosing to be a woman who says, “yeah I’m insecure in these areas, but I am not only working on it through vulnerability and exchanging lies for truth but I am also choosing to still do what it right.” Choose to not be like the veiled women of our culture, hiding in shame and covering up their insecurities in sex and vanity. Choose to say yes to the future you will have with your husband one day by saying no to cheap insecurity fixes that only last a moment but leave wounds a lot longer. Choose to wait. To not be bored with singleness and accept this season. Choose to become the one you’re looking for is looking for, as Andy Stanley would say. 
Guys, we need men of character. Our world needs you to be a brother to the brotherless, a protector, and leader. But above all our world needs you to know that you are a Son of God and that is all that matters. From that realization God will form your character and you will slowly but surely become who He’s always known was in there. Keep choosing character over culture. 

Keep journeying dear friends

❤️ Mo

  

Good Guys are Extinct

I was recently at the gym and put on  Apple radio as I was getting ready to run. For those of you who don’t know me I am probably the worst person to keep up with music. Songs can be on the radio for months and I will have just discovered it anywhere from six months to a year later. The only exception is with Taylor Swift 😆. Anyways I am running to a pumped station only to find my heart was extremely sad by a message that is constantly asking for my attention. In no way is this post meant to condemn single ladies for feeling this way or is this post meant to give single gents an excuse. In fact I hope that God shows you through this post, and the ones to follow,  that the pressure is off. The pressure of finding the spouse to fill lacks that only God can, so that you can have healthy relationships.

As a single lady (que Beyoncé, if that’s still relevant haha)  I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught in the conversation, said it myself, read articles,  and combatted the lie that there are no good guys in the world. Though there are facts that seem to back up this statement, truth is it breaks my heart and I believe it breaks God’s heart too.

“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions?”

‭‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1:5-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Song of Solomon is a beautiful love story of two people. From the beginning of this book both the man and the woman are people of character. I have studied this book countless times and am always blown away by the fact that this relationship was everything but perfect. Even though these were both people of character they had insecurities conflict messy moments and a whole lot of unconditional love. I think we can draw a lot from this book as we approach our relationships and the pursuit of the marriage that we want to have one day.

The facts are the facts. <<<
he facts are that there are alarming numbers of men are incarcerated, haven't grown up with a positive male figure in their lives, or living other lifestyles that get rid of the desire to be in a relationship with a woman. Those are the facts but my question to you is since when did God ever work based on facts?  When was he ever limited based on what the circumstances were in the world? The answer is never. He has never been limited by the things that are going on in the world. He has never been limited by your circumstances or my circumstances. So to say that God has run out of godly man is kind of an insult to our Daddy and our brothers in Christ who are trying.

Ladies<<<
he times that I have heard or said the statement that "there are no good guys in the world" usually comes from one of two states of the heart.  1.) a heart that is afraid  or 2.) a heart that has been hurt. In fact all of the times that I can think of that have come from one of those two roots, which tells me that the issue isn’t that there are no good men in the world but that the perspective of your heart needs to be challenged.  In Song of Solomon the woman speaks about both of these.

“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. “<<<
uring this time and in this culture having dark skin was something that wasn't beautiful; pale and white was what was considered beautiful. As the Woman speaks she's very honest with the fact that she doesn't even like people to look at her. I know that we can all relate to days like this; when our insecurities are so high that we don't even want to get out of bed let alone be around people. It feels like her insecurities are oozing out of her and are plain to see just like the color of her skin.  It's clear to see that this woman is facing the same questions that we face today. Am I enough? Am I beautiful? Do people see me the way that I see myself? Will I ever captivate a man's heart? She gets it! But we can learn so much from how she deals with her insecurities. Before we get to that though we still need to address the fact that sometimes our hearts speak out mean things because were hurting.

"My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!"

This woman also knew what it was to be hurt by people. She expresses how her brothers (whether literal brothers or men of the town) made her keep their vineyards. She was left to do what men were called to do at that time and it marked her.

Some times we say that there's a lack of something because we've put ourselves in relationships  and positions where we should've never been in the first place. We choose to date guys that our friends don't approve of and instead of letting go of the unhealthy relationship we let go of the healthy relationships, only to find ourselves wallowing back to our healthy friends letting them know that they were right. Sometimes we’re in a relationship and then realize that things are not as good as we thought  and instead of choosing to talk about those things we choose to ignore the warnings because we don’t want to be alone. I mean relationships take a lot of work and a lot of time and who wants to throwaway months or even years of work when we can either fix them or adjust and compromise our standards to become lower, right?

Truth is if we truly took time to get to know the guy we dated and chose not to leave community but allow people into our relationships more than we probably would be able to walk away from the wrong person a lot sooner and embrace the healthy person when the time comes.

Sometimes you’re hurting because all of your friends have dates and you’re stuck at home on a Friday night.  You put yourself around people, and do all the right things but you just haven’t met the one whom your soul loves yet.  It’s OK to know that you haven’t been on a date since you were in high school or maybe you’ve never been on one but that never makes you worthless. The hope I would hold onto is that you’re hidden for purpose. God has someone specifically for you. Never feel sorry for protecting your heart  and becoming the woman of God that He has intended you to become.

Being honest whatever the hurt is sometimes it is rooted in the facts that men haven’t lived up to be who we believe they are supposed to be to us. They haven’t protected, led, fixed, been patient. We have daddy wounds, but this woman responds in two ways first she doesn’t end her sentence with, “I’m dark.” She ends it with ” I’m lovely.” Where did she come to the conclusion? That she was lovely but she didn’t measure up to the world’s standards of beauty? She found that truth in Truth Himself. God.

In order to deal with the very real hurts from our dads, ex boyfriends, uncles, abusers, brothers, or fill in the _____________ we HAVE TO BRING THEM BEFORE GOD. He is the only one who will forever heal, restore, protect, and love our hearts. Everyone else is simply learning how to. <<<
have so much to say on this topic but ladies start here. Let's start with ourselves. Dealing with the hurt and fear from life. Truth is no man will ever be able to fix you. They can help pray for you, guide you to resources, and help you process but even your husband will fail you at times. God is the only one who remains. He is good and oh so faithful to heal even if the healing hurts trust Him right now.

Gents<<

I hoped to write more but post will end up being a series. At this point though I want you to know that those of you that are trying in pursuing God you’re doing a good job. Sometimes us girls can overreact and say things because we are hurting. In fact I think just as human beings when we’re hurting we make these huge general statements. Have Grace on us please? When you hear one of your sisters in Christ say that there’s no good guys know that it’s coming from the heart that is broken. The best thing you can do is choose to be a man of character.

Dear Sojourner,

I want to challenge you in this next week to take some time and examine your heart. Regardless of where you are on your walk with God and where you are on the desiring scale of being married, sit deal with things that feel like they’re lacking or hurting still. Allow Jesus to fill those voids. Be completely honest. He can handle the things you think you feel. He’s not scared. Thoough it feels like it sometimes the end all goal is not marriage but the end all goal is to love Jesus fully and finish this race called life with character that was birthed through faith, perseverance  and a hope in Jesus Christ that doesn’t ever disappoint. Let’s choose to go after the life He intends us to live.

Until next time keep journeying.

Mo< a href=”https://wheremogoes.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/img_0726-0.jpg”&gt;<<
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The Journey: Comforting Yet Crushing  

To lose things that are precious to you is a hard thing. I once bought a $2.50 deer head necklace from forever 21 and ended up losing it. When I realized I lost it I was so sad. You would’ve thought that necklace cost me $250. I never did find that necklace…

In the Christian world you often hear people say that God takes things away because He wants to give you something better, but what happens when the something better doesn’t come? What happens in the in between moments. The waiting for the better to finally arrive. Most times our mindset is against God. We look at whatever it is we lost; a job, a possession, someone you loved, and we believe that God took it from us because He is against us. That He’s crushing our hearts. 

That mentality is wrong in so many ways.

Instead of believing that God is against us, we should take on the mindset that He is with us.

He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. 

Psalm 23:3-4

In Psalm 23 is says that God is our guide through right paths. Have you ever had to play those ice breaker games where you and another person have to get through a course but one of you is blindfolded? Those games are the worse! You have to truly listen. Usually the “guide” is far and the blind partner has to follow their voice. It would be so much easier if the guide was right next to the blind person. The Bible states that we are going through an obstacle course called life, but as God’s children we have been given a guide who isn’t on the other side of our circumstances but is walking through them with us!!!! He walks with us through the valleys. He never leaves us to journey through it alone. Because He is with us we don’t have to fear the darkest days.

I was recently at a service where they were talking about the rod and the staff. I have heard this verse repeated and talked about numerous times but I had never realized how contradicting the verse, “Your rod and staff, they comfort me” was. If you ponder on this thought for a moment you realize that a rod and staff aren’t exactly soft sweats, homemade mac n cheese, warm vanilla comfort. A rod was something used to count and protect sheep from predators. A staff was used for the shepherd to not only lean on but also to help guide them back if they veered off. Psalm 23 paints a picture of a God that not only disciplines us but protects and guides us to where we need to be. We can no longer believe in good times or hard times that God is against us. We must fight the temptation to accuse Him of leaving us.

Leaving is the last thing He would ever want to do, and He can’t because He is connected to us.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:1-2

I got messed up by two simple truths this week: 1. We are connected to Jesus and 2. God prunes us to make us grow more.

The fact that we are connected to Jesus is a HUGE thing especially when we are in a wilderness season. Think about it, if you were a vine and one of your branches was cut off, would you feel it? I believe you totally would. Think about when you get the smallest paper cut on one of your fingers, it can be the worse pain. I have been blown away by the fact that I am connected to Jesus, and He took the pain that I feel. He took that pain in the fullness and died for it. In the moments where consequences are facing you because of choices you made or when the darkness of life feels like it’s consuming you, lift up your head dear friend, Jesus knows how you feel. He is with you and most importantly He is connected to you. Because of the cross He has experienced the ultimate pain for our sin and circumstances. Thank God! Sometimes the pain of life is so bad, I cannot imagine another ounce of pain being added. I am so thankful for a Savior that took all of it and chooses to still walk through life with me!

That is only half of John 15. The second half is that sometimes God doesn’t cut things out of our lives because we were doing a bad job, but He prunes us so that we can GROW more!!!! We cannot believe that God just wants to take everything away so He can be entertained. He prunes us back, knowing that it may hurt, but it’s to make us more. When we are cut back from our resources we have to rely on the source of life, when we rely on the source we are able to grow and be more fruitful. What an amazing God we have!

Dear Sojourners,

I pray that God shifts your mindset on Him everyday. There is so much that we learn as we grow up, but life with God is found in the undoing of the knowledge we’ve learned and embracing the  beautiful relationship that Jesus came to die for. He wanted you that bad. If you’re going through a rough season I want to challenge you to do a few things, read Psalm 23 and John 15. Be honest with God (If you need help I included a prayer at the bottom). Your honesty doesn’t scare Him. And lastly check out this song that has helped me through the last two weeks of life. I hope it ministers to you. Yes seasons like this hurt but know that He’s crushing things out of you that hinder you and He’s comforting you all the way. Take comfort it that truth. 

Valleys and Mountains by Lauren Estrada

Keep journeying dear friends

Dear God,

I don’t understand a lot of things but in this season I don’t understand why you would allow so much to happen at once. I don’t understand why you would allow my world to fall apart. I don’t understand why you would strip away all that I hold dear in a matter of a moment. I don’t understand why such extreme brokenness had to hit your servant, but I will not walk away. I refuse to believe that you are anything less than faithful. I choose to believe that tomorrow will always prove that today was worth it. That this season is necessary. That You never left or abandoned me. Instead of focusing on my circumstances I choose to say, “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.”‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:31-36‬ ‭ESV‬‬ You have walked me through valleys before and I know that you are walking me through one now.

I love you and I trust you,

your child
  

The Journey: No One Else 

Sustain. Sufficient. Enough.

Have you ever had a strong craving for a food and tried to fulfill it with other foods only to find yourself stuffed but still wanting the food you originally craved? I’m really bad with craving specific foods. One of my biggest cravings is usually for chocolate chip cookies, but not like chips ahoy, more like home made soft but crunchy on the edges. Yes it’s that bad.

 Years ago I went to San Francisco for the first time and experienced the Gheridelli Factory. I was in HEAVEN. at Gheridelli they have colossal chocolate chip cookies. The first time I was there I bought one. For the next month no other cookie would do and driving 6 hours just to fulfill a craving wasn’t logical. By the end of summer I had been back and stocked up, ok I bought a few, because I knew I wouldn’t be back for a while. 

As I look back on this week I have noticed that this isn’t just a pattern physically but a lot of times this is a pattern spiritually too. 

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve come to realized that my soul tends to crave certain things; I long to hear affirming words, I long to have intimacy with people and see that they still choose me, I long to be loved unconditionally. But unfortunately I’ve gotten used to seeking to get those needs met through friends, parents, mentors etc.  For a long time I thought there was nothing wrong with that, until this week came and I found myself extremely sad and wanting to run away. Going to my phone I typed out a text to a friend asking her to pray for me. Then I realized, I hadn’t even prayed myself. 

“The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As I sat in my room looking at the text I was convicted. I realized that I was trying to satisfy a soul craving with a human encounter. I’ve done this many times. 

I find it’s interesting that the word sacrifice means to surrender possession to a god or another divine being. Though most of us no longer sacrifice things physically I found that I often surrender parts of my heart to beings. Like the author of Psalm 16 I found that my sorrows were multiplying. Why? Because I had people set up as other gods in my life. God gently reminded me of the purpose of this wilderness season, “To believe that you are great simply because I made you, not because of anything that you do or anyone that you’re associated with. Just because I made you.” 

In this season I’m finding that Life is made up of many moments. Those moments have been given to us so we can make choices, choices that either fill our soul cravings or allow them to stay unfilled. 

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm‬ ‭16:5-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In no way am I saying that friends, godly counsel, asking for help etc is wrong but when we are stressed out and our desire to talk to a person is constantly stronger than our desire is to talk to God we are trying to eat something that won’t fully satisfy the craving. When we feel unloved, unworthy, and not important and choose to allow likes on social media to fill a craving that God’s truth and love are supposed to fill, we aren’t fully satisfying the craving. 

Toward the end of summer, the year that I discovered those amazing cookies, I was talking to a friend who was working on getting healthy. We got into this talk about sugar and he challenged me to give up chocolate chip cookies for 2 months and choose a better alternative. Though I didn’t want to I chose to accept his challenge. Those 2 months were tough but as I chose other things I found that the desire for chocolate chip cookies subsided and I started to desire healthier foods. 

Just like my body craved sugar but later was craving healthy things, sometimes we are so used to satisfying our soul cravings with things that aren’t enough and we have to choose to allow Him to satisfy those cravings. Over time as we continue to run to him we realize we are deficient of something, our desires will change because we will see that He knows the best way to fill those needs. Allow Him to become the one you desire. 

Dear Sojourner,

As you go along your journey I pray that God would show you areas that He wants to be your portion. Areas that have been surrendered to others in your life. Areas where you’ve tried to satisfy the craving with doing things or talking to other people and finding that it helped momentarily but you weren’t satisfied. As you choose to allow the One who created you to satisfy those cravings may you find yourself saying,“Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”‭Psalm‬ ‭16:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

Keep journeying dear friends 

❤️Mo