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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

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

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

Mindblown. 

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

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

The pit. 

Alone. 

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

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

The pit. 

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

 Truth is you don’t. 

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

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

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

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

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭6:16-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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

He did the same thing with Joseph. 

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

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

Dear Sojourners,

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

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

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

A New Days Rise

Intentions. 

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

Perspective. 

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

Intentional

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

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

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

Shifting Perspective

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29:11

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time stay alive 

❤️ mo