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. ☺️
  

Words Matter

At the end of our lives what if it wasn’t just what we did that mattered but what we said.

In today’s world we talk a lot. Whether it’s through our fingers and a device or through the words that come out of our vocal chords. Those things we say under our breath when we are frustrated. The sarcasm we spew at that one person that seems to be the butt of everyone’s joke. The things we say about ourselves when we fail.

Words.

They seem to be an abundance when things are negative but lost when something more captures us.

I’ve found myself on this journey with people lately. This journey where things are said about us, brought up to us, said around us and it ultimately bothers us.

Why?

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. “(‭Matthew‬ ‭12‬:‭34‬ ESV)

It’s becoming more prevalent to see people speak whatever it is that’s on their mind. We try to harness and tell people that they shouldn’t say certain things. We have to label words as bad. profane. obscene. mean. gossip. But the issue isn’t words. The issue is found much deeper than what is said; it’s found in the core of who we are. Deep down its more than a mouth issue but it’s a heart issue.

I was sitting in church the other week and my pastor was speaking on the fear of God. I promise this is totally relevant just bare with me. As he spoke on what it ultimately means to fear God he brought up a point that pretty much changed my perception of who I am as a child of God.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate”. (‭Psalm‬ ‭127‬:‭3-5‬ ESV)

In the biblical times the gates were places where people met kind of like a courtroom today. If a man was facing accusations you would not find him defending himself, but you would find his children. Children were the weapons. The words they spoke directed where they would hit. Their fathers reputation. Or their father’s enemies.

Arrows.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (‭Proverbs‬ ‭18‬:‭21‬ MSG)

One of our team members Carlos Johnson always says, “the world doesn’t read the bible; they read Christians.” We as God’s children are arrows. His quiver is full of them. And the world knows it. The question is with the words we speak because of the things in our hearts, are we allowing the bow to launch us towards the enemies of our God or towards the heart of our God?

Jesus takes what comes out of our mouths seriously because the words we speak create worlds for people. We have the opportunity multiple times throughout the day to make someone’s day better or worse by the things we say because words matter. More than that we have an opportunity to either honor God or bring pain to His heart. The things we say about His children don’t just hurt the children but they hurt the Father.

Now we have all been there. Things said about us that has launched an arrow straight through our hearts. But there’s hope. When you make God your refuge and the arrows are flying, He leaves a promise that will not be moved.

“You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,” (‭Psalm‬ ‭91‬:‭5‬ ESV)

You don’t have to fear those accusations. The false adversaries that say things about you. You don’t have to fear them. Instead run. Run to God and allow Him to be your refuge so that you will not grow bitter but instead you will learn to use your words to bring glory and honor to your Father.

The words you use to encourage yourself when you mess up matter. The words you use to bring someone else up matter. The words you say through your fingers and that device matter. The words you use when you’re frustrated matter. Because words matter.