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.

Make America Great Again?

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

8:28 

When people hear about what 2015 looked like for me and my family I usually get one response. “Oh my gosh. You lost both of them? So close to each other. I’m sorry.” The shock of all that I’ve been through is one thing but the thing that continues to shock me is that I am still here. Today has officially been a year since my dad left this world. 
When I was younger I remember sitting in the various apartments that my mom brother and I shared. Every night my mom would come home tired from working. We would get our homework done as she would make dinner for us. After eating together at the table, yes we had nightly family meals, we would get ready for bed and my mom would read us a devotional. Before we prayed she would pull out these different color cards that had verses on them that we memorized as a family. 
“Ok guys,” she would start, “what does Romans 8:28 say?” 
“For we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.”
Those who love God. 
Do I love Him? Like really love Him?
Last year has taught me that I do. Beyond the cute go to church with your family, post worship lyrics, and read the latest christian books type of love; I have found that my roots go deep. I have found that they go farther than the “if I don’t get my way then I am leaving.” Nothing in 2015 went my way. My favorite job, I lost. my best friend; she moved. my mind couldn’t be trusted. Anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression, the whole nine yards. And then November 9th, 2015 hit and boom my dad; dead. 54 hours later my grandpa died too. 
Life was winning 2,000 to 0. I was losing and it felt like I was constantly being kicked in the teeth. but something within me, something peered from the deep sorrows of depression and the chaos of anxiety and told me, there is something more. 
All things Work together for good
All things.
Not just some things. 
All.
Before my dad passed away I remember telling my mom that I knew without a doubt that God could heal him on this earth but I also wasn’t going to put all of my eggs in that basket. For some that may sound like I did not fully trust in God’s ability to heal my dad. Some may look at me and say, Shame on you, you should of prayed harder, agreed with the Bible more, fasted more etc. But truth be told I did fully believe God could and would heal him. In fact I believe my dad got the ultimate healing. The healing of the body soul and mind. The healing that never gets re injured or reminded about the reasons they felt hurt in the first place. I knew that even in the hurt and pain, that this situation fell under the umbrella of all things. All things in my life would make me better if I allowed them. All things that happen to me can positively affect the world around me if I spoke from the right perspective. All things would be made good because I loved Him and more importantly, He loves me. All things. 

When my mom was having us remember verses as children she may not have realized the full picture of what would spark in my life, but as I look back I see that this verse has been a core belief in my mind. Even in the hardest days I have known that God would work something good out of it for me. One of the good things that sparked from losing my dad and my grandpa was me seeking help with anxiety that I faced on a daily basis. From those hard dark months I became so hopeless that I couldn’t hide the fears that paralyzed me anymore. grief has a way of knocking your hands off of the things you tirelessly try to suppress. So I gave in. I chose to be weak, but in reality I found how strong God in me was. 
For we know.
How do you know something? 

How do you really truly know? 

Through reading? maybe. 

But the things you truly know are the things you have experienced or keep experiencing.

 I kept experiencing grief last year, but by some miracle I made it through. Was it my strength? Not at all. It couldn’t have been. I felt like an unpredictable ball of fear and turmoil. One night I woke up out of a dead sleep because my heart was racing so fast. I put on my Apple Watch to check my pulse and the numbers read 187 bmp. 187. I rarely reach that when I am running. But this was a regular thing for me during this time. Anxiety attacks and lack of motivation were real demons that I fought relentlessly. Why? During this time I didn’t know. But as I look back I see that everyday I didn’t think I would make it to the next day, I would pray begging God to just take me too. Yet I was still on Earth. Because of Him. He is the one that orders my footsteps. And He stayed with me through it all. He brought friends to my side, songs to my mind, and pictures to my eyes. He was constantly reminded me of His presence. And because of this dark time I can now say I know. 
My story about my dad has been something that has gone beyond me. It has carefully found it’s way to other ears of sons and daughters hurting with pain from the choices their parents have made. It has found it’s way into the hearts and minds of those wondering if things will ever change. It has found it’s way and nestled a seed of hope for those hurting souls. Not because of me, but because of God. He has made the good come through this mess. He will continue to make good come from the messes we humans make. That’s why I can not be paralyzed because of an election, diagnoses, lost job or relationship. 
2015 was a hard year. But even in the lose I have found the things I gained. An even closer relationship with my best friend. Freedom to think and speak up and work and live without anxiety. Happiness in life. Joy in the mourning. And most importantly hope for the future where I will get to praise my God with my dad by my side.
Dear Sojourner,
Come to know that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. He has you. He loves you. Trust Him. 
Love Mo

When Hopes Get Shattered 

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


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

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

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

And he was right.

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

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

God met me there.

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

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

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

But God was still faithful.

God still is faithful.

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

God still gave him his son Isaac.

He fulfilled his promises.

But later He asked Abraham to do the unthinkable.

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

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

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

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

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

No one to blame. 

Just me running ahead of God.

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

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

But He still met me there.

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

So I did.

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

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

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

 What happens when your Isaac?

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

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

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

Dear Sojourner,

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

💛

Mo 

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. 

image

The Journey: The Words that Still Wreck 

Words are one of my favorite things. To be able to write and create a world that began as a simple imagination and then allow someone else to recreate that world simply by reading and imagining is a beautiful thing to me. But too often it too can be a horrific nightmare. My love for words has created both worlds many times during my life. For many seasons I have found myself in this hurricane of words bouncing off the walls of my brain. Words that were spoken out of careless joking that stuck. Words that were spoken out of spite that stabbed. Words that were spoke out of another persons theology that robbed. 

Words that wrecked me. 
“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭

The words that have wrecked me the absolute most didn’t come from a mean spirited person. If you have read my previous blogs you know that my relationship with my dad (click to read more) has been everything but perfect. I grew up with out him. He chose a life of drugs alcohol and other women instead of being with his wife and kids. There was a ton of pain that came from that. A lot of times our relationship was as on again off again as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. We would have a good year and then I would call one time when he had too much to drink or was under the influence of something and would end the conversation with shame and guilt hanging around my neck because of words he spoke. 

Through the years I found myself writing letters of how I felt hoping to release unforgivness for the things he had done and said. I always feared that he would get sick and last year he did. Very sick in fact. 

Love covers a multitude of sins (click to read more about my trip to VA)

Last year I found my self on a plane a few days before my 24th birthday to go see my dad. I remember hoping and praying that while I was in Virginia I would get to see my dad delivered and get to pray with him and see him accept Jesus in his heart. I had huge expectations, but I also knew that regardless I was there to love him, so when I came home and the conversation about God didn’t happen I patiently waited. I tried to keep the relationship on great terms but it was still hard. In June my dad had several more surgeries and different medical things arrive. One day after a surgery my aunt called to tell us that the doctors weren’t expecting him to make it through the the summer. I sobbed that night. To know that death was so close to my dad and he still hadn’t accepted Jesus into his heart seems childish but truth is I know there is life after this and more than anything I want to see my dad after we both pass. I had my doubts though. Some were simply doubting that my dad could change but some went deeper than that. I doubted that God could change him. I doubted that God cared that much about him or me to change his heart. But I prayed. 

I begged God not to take his life until he surrendered it to him. I didn’t talk to my dad for a few weeks because I was scared. 

June 14th, 2015 I was driving, with one of my closest friends, when I called my dad to see how he was doing. His hello was sweeter than it had previously been. As he was telling me that the doctors lifted the previous statement that he would not make it through the summer I could feel the joy through the phone. He continued to tell me that he had a surgery coming up the next week and for the first time he didn’t have fear or worry. “I just can’t be afraid anymore Monique, not when I have Jesus living in my heart.” 

My heart stopped

Did I just hear what I thought?

All I could say was, “that’s cool dad.” He went on to explain how the Chaplin at the hospital came to see him because he heard about how he was close to death and had an amazing amount of joy. The doctors and nurses kept making comments about how much joy he had. His answer was simply, “Jesus is inside of me”. I was completely baffled. Holding back tears I listened to my dad apologize for it taking him so long to get his life together and how he was just so happy that he didn’t die without surrendering his life. 

God is so good. 

Ending the conversation I asked if I could pray with him and he said of course. I was so thankful that God answered my prayers but He wasn’t done. 

Have you ever read that verse in Ephesians that says that God will do more than we could ever think to ask for? It’s found in Ephesians 3

“19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

I simply asked that my dad would see the love that Jesus has for him and would accept it but God knew that I needed more than that. That’s when I got wrecked in the most beautiful way possible. 

“Monique, before you go I want to pray for you.” I heard these words coming through the other end of my phone. As my dad prayed tears rolled down my face. I don’t remember all that he said but I know that my life was forever changed by those simple words. I’ve heard those words from several people in my life but when the one person you have been praying for your whole life speaks those words… It messes you up

God is faithful

The last month I’ve had countless conversations with my dad. I’ve also had countless conversations with my Heavenly Daddy. He reminds me that if He has my ex alcoholic, drug addict, cancer ridden father than he too has me. He’s shown me that through the last 24 years of my life He knew the longing I had as a baby for a father, he saw the tears that fell because all the other kids brought their dads to Father’s Day picnics at school, he knew the pain that stabbed me when I felt I wasn’t good enough to have a dad. He saw it all. Even the seasons of anger and bitterness towards Him and my dad for this life and complications I felt because I didn’t have a dad at home. 

This past Saturday I woke up early to update my dad on my grandpa, who is also in the hospital. I didn’t have a great week mentally. I felt the enemies accusations heavily on my mind. And though I kept running to God it was still hard. My dad could tell. Before I hung up he asked, “Can I pray for you?” Once again I found myself sobbing. Half because of the pain and hurt of the chaotic world around me and half because I was overwhelmed with joy that this was once again happening. 

Dear Sojourners,

First if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but you’ve happened to come across this blog and have read it to the end I want to tell you without having a religious debate there’s something more. There is a God who created you and loves you more than anything. Regardless of what you’ve done, thought, believed, the questions you have, He wants to take all of those things and answer them, redeem them and make your life have more meaning than you’ve ever had. It’s not childish it’s truth. I know people that have claimed to love God have made it look like He is this tyrant that hates people because of their sin but truth is he hates sin because it hurts his children. I can’t give you the answers of why certain things happened or didn’t happen in your life but I know one thing, He will take the ugliest most horrific things and turn them into something beautiful. Will you let Him? Simply believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord confess with your mouth that He rose from the grave and accept His love. That’s it. Let him do the fixing. 

Secondly dear friend that is hurt because it seems like your prayers are never heard. Maybe you found a different outcome to your circumstance and it doesn’t seem fair. Can I encourage you to keep praying. Don’t close that communication with God. Allow Him to heal you as you pour out the anger, sadness, bitterness, and just plain hurt. He can handle you and your emotions. He won’t cast you off. In fact he will kneel beside you and weep too. Then he will stand you up holding your hand and keep journeying forward until one day, whether on earth or in Heaven, you will get the answers you need. 

No matter where you are in your journey know that His love leads you to a hope that doesn’t disappoint. 

Keep journeying dear friends.

Mo Go

PS if you accepting Christ, have any questions, or would like prayer feel free to leave them in the comment section. If you don’t want them public simply put a * and I won’t publicize them but I will pray for you. ☺️
  

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. 

af·ter·math

Aftermath noun. The consequences or after effects of something significant.

Does love have an aftermath?

This time last year, almost to the exact date, I found my self having a relaxing night in my room when my phone rang. Normally phone calls don’t bother me but on my screen showed 3 letters that I was never supposed to see, D A D. I let the call go to voicemail but within 10 seconds my phone rang again showing that my dad was urgently trying to get ahold of me. Believing the worse, I answered the phone expecting to hear my father telling me that someone died or something but instead I got the normal dad that proved once again that I needed to call with my caller ID blocked.

Unconditional Love.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭1-3‬ ESV)

Do you remember a time when you made a huge mistake? Like a really big one? And you were not sure if whoever you wronged would forgive you, God included.

I found myself sitting on my bed last year with my heart extremely hurt by words that were said that would never be remembered by the man that spoke them. The man that was supposed to protect my heart. The man that brought me into this world.

The words stung. Mostly because I cling to words like the air I breathe. Too often someone can say something that makes an amazing day horrific or vice a versa.

As many of you have read in my previous blog (dads) I didn’t talk to my dad for almost a year. This story I am about to tell happened a few days ago. I woke up to go to work and decided to call my dad to see how he’s been since I saw him last month. Since then he’s had another surgery. He tells me that it went good which made me happy but then he goes on to tell me how he has to stay home and go through physical struggles while somewhat helping to take care of my grandma who is in her late 70’s. When I got off of the phone the aftermath hit.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭4-7‬ ESV)

I sat on the same bed and cried. I gave my Daddy my broken heart. This time He held my heart not because of words that hurt me but because of a compassion that gripped me. My heart hurt. In fact it still hurts. It hurts because I’m not near my dad. It hurts because I wish I could help him financially, emotionally, physically. It hurts because I wish things didn’t happen that makes distance be between us. It hurts because I understand God’s grace and he’s trying to grasp it.

It’s crazy how in a year things change drastically. I never would have believed that I would be sitting on my bed crying because of compassion towards my dad. I think through this year I have understood one of God’s greatest gifts to us as his kids; grace.

Grace has allowed me to understand that I am no different than my dad. That Daddy in Heaven still loves us and desires our hearts in the same way. And He is able to not only have immeasurable grace but he’s able to give it.

I hope this holiday you take time to look back on the gifts Daddy has given you. Take time to cherish those you don’t normally get to see. Take time to allow grace and love to rule your hearts and minds. And I believe you will capture a hope that will lead you through this next year.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/515/44656153/files/2014/12/img_4197-0.jpg