1800 Peanuts

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

Never would have imagined.

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

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

“Are you done?” Todd asked

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

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

I looked over. Our friends were still eating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, that’d be great.” I responded.

“Yeah? Ok great!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Adventure Awaits

Sometimes adventure is found in the waiting. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So celebrate because you made it to the gym. 

Celebrate because you chose healthy relationships. 

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

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

Take the pressure off. Your dreams will happen. 

Take the pressure off. You’re not alone. 

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

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

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
  

The Journey: Who Are You Waiting For?

“Our soul’s history with God is frequently the history of the “passing of the hero.” Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was worth died—I gave up on everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? Or—I saw the Lord?

It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. ‘In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee.’ Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.”

-Oswald Chambers

For those who are waiting for that dream position who is it that you envision will “give” you that? Who is the hero you are ever so patiently waiting for? A specific person? A company? A ministry? Or are you envisioning your Creator giving it to you?

This last week I received an email that I have been waiting on regarding an opportunity to go and work at one of the churches that I look up to. Since I have been on this journey of discovering God’s greatness inside of me, I have envisioned that in order for me to be back in full time ministry I have to get the training that I need. This specific ministry and Pastor had helped me through books and podcasts. The future looked promising if I went there. But the email was being sent to let me know that I wasn’t accepted to the program I had thought would save me from this wilderness.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

We are so tempted to take our lives into our own hands. To make everything happen without waiting on God. Too often we knock doors down that were closed so that we can have what we want when we want it. There is a balance. We don’t need to sit around expecting God to bring every little thing to use and at times have to move or even continue where we are at in faith, but we also need to learn to allow Him to bring our contentment in the season of waiting.

He is the One who will ultimately bring the vision.

Today as I was reading I came across this quote by Oswald Chambers and was convicted. As I thought about who would one day give me the opportunity to be in full time ministry, to be a wife, a mom, amazing writer etc. I realized all of those dreams were reliant on a person instead of the One who gave me the dreams to begin with.

Here’s the challenge that I have found; if for some reason you lost the most important person in your life, would you still be able to dream? Would you believe that you are still called? Or would you go through a season, like I did in the last 2 months, of believing that your calling is invalid because someone is no longer by your side?

We must get to the belief that regardless of the people, companies, or ministries that accept us we are great simply because we are made in God’s image. When we believe we are accepted by the Creator of the Universe and He has huge plans for us, we don’t have to strive to prove people wrong. We also don’t have to put pressure on people to stay in our lives. We can simply enjoy a real relationship with those that God has gifted us with. Sure there may be grieving when someone leaves which is healthy but devastation doesn’t need to pour down.

When you have a chance look up Elisabeth Elliot. Her story of finding love in her 1st husband the missionary Jim Elliot is how I want to live my life. To be so anchored in love for God to see the love of your life be murdered by tribal people and then go back to those same people, not for revenge but to share the gospel with them is astounding. May we love each other with honor and grace knowing that seasons may make our relationships look different. May we be thankful to God for the moments we have working in areas that we’ve dreamed of knowing that they may be memories one day. And may we look to our Father  as our hero,” 10  the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

P.s. It’s so funny how God will show you something that adds to something you just experienced! Check out this bloggers devotions on the same subject. I just got more freedom. :] When Uzziah Died over at the amazing Two Rivers Blog. 

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Panama 

2 years ago I signed up for my very first over seas missions trip. It was the first year that I was working with the U Matter Internship and we were going to Panama. I remember turning in money that had been donated and applying to get my passport. I was so excited. This trip was special because Carlos, one of our teammates and one of my spiritual brothers, is from there and we were going to work with his sister and in the community he grew up in. Weeks later I got called into a meeting to be informed that we would not be going to Panama that year. I knew that Carlos was crushed. I don’t really remember being super upset.  Instead of flying to Panama that summer we drove  to San Fransisco to work with City Impact. 

Here’s a few facts about who I was 2 years ago:
My relationship with my dad was constantly up and down. I had huge anxieties that I would end up living a life like him or worse. 

I did not allow men into my life. There were guys around me but I never allowed them to be true brothers or father figures because they always hurt me, left me, or would end up being men that would act like they had integrity and would prove later that they were far from the character they portrayed.

I was scared. Almost everything scared me. In that my confidence in God and in myself was extremely low. I didn’t believe that I had life changing things to say. I didn’t believe that God wanted to use me because I had messed up too many times. 

All in all I believed I was disqualified. 

In the past two years I have seen the Monique that everyone knew completely shift into the woman that chooses to know who she is. San Francisco killed a lot of fears that had to do with substance abuse and the choices people make regarding that lifestyle. Though the fears of becoming like my dad didn’t fully subside my understanding of the fact that he has made choices to be in the spot he is in now started to grow. I finished college which was a huge accomplishment for me. It added confidence. I now saw that I could literally do hard things. And I could do them better than I thought. I went through a period of time of trusting different guys. Getting my hopes let down but rising up again in Guatemala. I see now why God needed that to be my first overseas trip. God kept it small. Allowing me to only really know one person who happened to be Grant. Guatemala changed my life. Simply because God took my heart of stone and made it flesh. He brought another man into my life that would help me learn what a fathers love looks like. God gave me strength to finish a half marathon with my pastors by my side. 

And finally God gave me the strength to go to see my dad when I had a long year. He gave me the love to pour out. He gave me the support to know that I was doing a good thing. 

Now two years later I am on a plane with 6 of the original people plus 7 others going to Panama!!!! Knowing that God had us wait so that he could add others is such a great feeling. Through this journey to Panama not one person on the team ever had to ask for money send out support letters or anything. God provided every last dime for us to go. He has shielded us from random attacks and has provided for us when we get knocked down. 

I expect God to move in ways that I’ve never seen. I expect a hope to ignite Panama that people will go there to become hopeful again. I expect to see dreams come true, reclaim lost dreams and dream new dreams. I’m excited for this trip.