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.”

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: 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. ☺️
  

I Prayed for You 

They say that life comes in seasons. There are times of long joyful sunny days that fade into perfect nights like summer and times of incredible growth and warmth like spring.  These are the seasons where God is everywhere. When singing and thanking Him is inevitable. When we dance before Him and go to sleep with a smile on our faces. 

If there are great seasons then there must also be not so great seasons. You know those seasons where you find yourself doubting more than thanking. Those seasons when you don’t know what’s going on but the growth is slower and the fruit starts dying. Fall isn’t that bad but things just seem off. It’s the calm before the winter  strom.  

I’ve tried to write this blog several times in the last month and a half. To say that these last two months have been hard would be an understatement. From coming home from traveling for most of the month of March I was excited to be back home and have some family time but right when things seemed to slow down is the right time for a spiritual earthquake to happen. 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” 

 Winter comes when family members make choices that devastate you, close ones are dying, you’re forgetting who you are and Who God is. No matter what  seeds you plant it feels like something  everything is preventing them from growing. Life then throws fears, circumstances, waves of anxiety, and you find yourself waking up in knots of dread and despair. You question your very identity. You wonder what’s wrong. God’s voice isn’t as loud as it’s been previously. You feel like you’re coming undone or worse being sifted. 

Sifted: v. to go through especially to sort out what is useful or valuable. 

The last two months I’ve felt sifted. I’ve found myself question of my God is really as good as He says? Yes. He is. But maybe it’s me. I’ve done something to take away value so now he’s sifting me, removing me from those that are more valuable. I’ve felt doomed. Seeing people I love and respect go down paths they never wanted to left me feeling like I was doomed to become someone I didn’t want to be. Like I would wake up one day a bad person. That it was fate, inevitable. I was born to be doomed. There are other people that just weren’t born with the same doom destination as I was but I just had to accept the sifting … Ever been there? 

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” 

As much as these thoughts swirled screamed and demanded my attention there was another thought.

Hope. 

At the beginning of this year I felt that God was going to take me through this journey of reclaiming ground that I once surrendered to the enemy. This reminder sparked something that fueled me to start fighting. I realized that in these moments I believed that God was the loving Father and everything else the Bible says he is, to everyone else but he wasn’t that to me. I had believed lies for so long that God just had bad things for me because that’s what I deserved. My heart broke when I realized that when I agreed with these lies I was calling the only one who has been pure truth, love, satisfaction in my life a liar. To believe that he wanted me sifted because he was done, fed up, tired of me was to believe that everything he has ever said was a lie. I was done with self pity. So I stood up and started fighting, believing that Jesus was fighting with me. 

When you fight you have to have a weapon, not just protection

About a week ago I was walking in target with my mom and I just started crying. I remember telling my mom that through everything that has been going on, I’ve seen my greatest dream fade to my greatest fear. I found myself being afraid of something that I had desired for so long because I didn’t want to mess it up. I was once again scared that I was doomed in everything that I would try. Afraid that God wasn’t on my side. That’s when I remembered Simon. 

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭31-32‬ NLT)

It’s so true, satan asks to do things to us to prove to God that we are not as faithful, loving, pure, righteous, etc. he demands to have us. Too often this is at the forefront of our mind. We worry that God has lifted his hand and given us over to satan’s tactics forever. We forget that 1. satan has to ask permission from God. We see this repeatedly in the Bible. Look at Job: Satan went to God first before he took Job’s possessions and struck him with sickness. Even in Revelation 12 we see that the accuser of our brothers (satan) accuses us day and night before our God. 2. Jesus prays for us! Oh the comfort and joy found in the simple words, “I have prayed for you”. Not only do we have a Holy Spirit inside of us who knows what we need in the moments that we don’t even know but we have a savior who takes time to pray for us. How can I continue to believe that I am doomed and God is done when Jesus took time to pray for me? 

What do you need to reclaim? What are you choosing to believe about God that is not in His character? How are you choosing to fight for a new perspective? Choose to believe that God loves you so much that he sent his son to save you, give you grace, and pray for you. God loves you so much that he gave you his spirit to guide you and know you better than yourself so that he too could pray for you. You are in good hands. Your name is on the most important prayer list. Regardless of the past or the present you will thrive because though the enemy has demanded you, Jesus has prayed for you so that your faith will not fail and once you turn back to him you will strengthen those around you. 

  
Check out Revelation 12, Luke 22, John 17