Through the Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Sojourners,

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

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

Joy for the Season

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.

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.