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faith

Encouragement, Inspiration

Remaining Faithful While You Wait on God

Have you ever been in a season of waiting in your life?  You know the place.  Like, that awkward in-between of not knowing what is coming next but knowing things will change.  That place of “limbo” where you are waiting on something great, but maybe going through something bad.  Maybe you’re waiting for something you love to become successful (a business venture, a blog, a passion). . . Maybe you’re waiting on a career move or a job promotion.  Maybe you’re waiting on love and your future spouse.  Maybe you’re waiting on a baby.  Maybe you’re waiting on a prayer to be answered, a friend to come your way, or a relationship to be restored. . .

Maybe you are waiting on God and it is a struggle to remain faithful.  Maybe you are having a hard time trusting that He sees the bigger picture, that He holds the future, and that He has good plans for you.

Friends, I’ve been in that place.  I’m there right now, actually.  My family will be moving in 6 months or less and we currently have no idea where we are going.  The unknown is looming so close ahead of us.  It would be so very easy for me to succumb to anxiety and frustration, but I know that won’t help.  Because the truth is, God knows what is going to happen.  He knows where we are moving and where we will live; because, His plans for me are good.  What I want is to learn to be faithful in this time of waiting-faithful to God and His timing and control over my life.  I want to trust Him more.  I want to experience peace, even though there should be a bit of panic; and assurance, even though there should be a bit of doubt.

Many times when we find ourselves waiting, we feel like God abandoned us, forgot about us, or left us on our own.  Because we don’t see the end in sight, or because we haven’t received immediate gratification, or because the unknown is confusing us, we think God must have overlooked our needs and prayers.  God is slowly teaching me, though, that there is so much beauty in the waiting!

It is in the waiting that we gain courage.  It is in the waiting that we become brave.  It is in the waiting that we grow and learn and change and develop.  Maybe it is in the waiting that God is preparing us for our moment in the sun. . . Maybe what we are going through now is preparing us for what we will deal with later.  I love Psalm 37:34 when it says wait passionately!  Wow!  God wants us to find passion in the NOW, and He urges us not to leave the path.  It might be tempting to try to find our own way when God has us waiting, but friends, that path is leading you right where you need to be-into the light, into the sun, and into goodness.

So as I wait to find out where my family will be moving, while I wait for my little blog to do big things, while I wait for my husband’s career to advance, while I wait for things my heart desires to become a reality, I am choosing to find passion right here, right now.  I am going to passionately wait and diligently seek the face of God.  The closer I get to Him, the more my desires will become aligned with His.

Are you in a season of waiting?  Has God just saw you through to the other side and into the light?  Feel free to leave your story in the comments!  Let’s encourage each other through the waiting!

Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, New Year

Living New: Embracing 2017

There is just something about the start of a new year. . .  Maybe it is the feeling of positivity that is swirling around or the idea of getting a “do-over.”  Whatever it is, it is nice and fresh and new and exciting.  I am not one to make resolutions.  I just don’t feel the need to.  I guess because resolutions seem to be so temporary.  But I love setting goals and having aspirations for the new year.

Before moving forward, I think it is important to take a look back and reflect on the year past.  2016.  2016 will be a year that I never forget.  It saw the birth of our baby girl-the greatest blessing of my life so far.  There were so many incredible highs, and there were also quite a few lows.  2016 was a year of change and discovery and newness and amazing-ness and struggles and weakness. . .  There was so much bottled up in those 12 months.  Giving birth to my sweet baby, dealing with postpartum hormones, battling postpartum anxiety, struggling in my personal relationship with God, accepting that our family and closest friends were a thousand miles away from our new little family, adjusting to motherhood, becoming a SAHM, learning SO MUCH about my marriage, starting this blog. . . 2016 was a whirlwind!  I’m looking back at 2016 thankful for what I learned; I learned so much about myself.  And now, I’m going to carry those lessons learned with me into this new year.

When I sat down to think about what my goals were going to be for this year, I wanted to choose a word for the year.  A word I could carry with me throughout the year to motivate me and inspire me, and to remind me of my goals.  I thought this would be really hard to come up with, but the first word that stuck out to me and kept coming up was EMBRACE.

EMBRACE (verb):  To take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly;  To avail oneself of, to adopt, to welcome, to seize.

I think this word held special meaning for me; because, in 2016, I did a lot of running and a lot of ‘backing down’. . . I got comfortable living timidly and running from and fighting the hard stuff.  This year I want to embrace all that gets placed in front of me.  I want to embrace the journey.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace the change.  Embrace the surprises.  Embrace the beauty.  Embrace the love.  Embrace THE NOW.

On January 1st, I opened my Bible app praying that God would lead me to a passage of hope and promise, and this was the verse of the day:

I felt God speaking to me so clearly, that what happened in 2016 is nothing compared to what He will do in 2017.  He is working on something new in me right now!  Friend, if you think you are waiting on God, think again.  He is waiting on YOU!  He has already begun a work in you.  Maybe 2016 just didn’t feel like “your year.”  Maybe it was full of heartache and struggles and trials.  Or maybe it was the best year of your life, and you don’t know how any other could top it.  Let me tell you, God loves making things new.  He creates beauty out of ashes.  He makes paths in the wilderness.  He makes rivers in dry wastelands.  He is waiting for you to live new!  Whatever goals and dreams you have for 2017, He wants to lead you to them.  He wants to give you the desires of your heart.  And friends, the path to our goals is not going to be easy.  That path through the wilderness. . .well, it might be dry and bumpy sometimes but its leading you to where you want to go.  So embrace the journey, not just the destination.  Embrace the struggle.  Embrace what you will learn along the way.

This year, I am committed to LIVING NEW and loving well and embracing ‘the now.’  I am holding onto the promises of God’s goodness in my life, I am praying over my goals and dreams, I am living in the freedom that God gives me to live and love, and I am trying to bless others along the way.

I’d love to hear from you!  How are you living new in 2017?  What are your goals and resolutions?  Do you have an inspiring word to live by this year?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Encouragement

Freedom Over Fear

FEAR (n): an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

FREEDOM (n): the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

Fear.  It is something we all have experienced at one time or another; but some of us, on a different level than others.  For me, fear has been a personal struggle of mine for as long as I can remember.  When I was around 8 years old, my family moved into an old, Victorian style house.  It was one of the ones with tall doors and lots of rooms.  I remember that my bedroom was connected to the attic.  And it wasn’t just a drop door or a crawl space to the attic, it was a regular door to a full-size, unfinished, creepy-looking attic.  I was the youngest in the family, with 3 older brothers, so I got this room all to myself.  Every single night, I would be so scared that something was going to come out of that attic!  Of course nothing did, but the fear I felt as a small child was real-even though there was no real danger.  Ever since then, I can pinpoint a pattern of fear in my life.  It is my greatest spiritual struggle, and I constantly am being reminded of God’s faithfulness through this struggle.

In the world we live in, filled with so much  uncertainty, violence and heartbreak, sometimes it is hard to feel safe.  Sometimes it is hard to feel free.  Sometimes it is hard to live life without a sense of fear; because, it seems our safety has been compromised.  Because it feels like no matter how hard we try to block out the fact that there is a big, creepy door to a dark attic looming in the corner of our bedroom, it is still there and we cannot change that fact.  And the truth is, we can’t change all the factors in our world, in our environment, in our jobs, in our families, in our relationships that scare us, but we can; however, change how we respond to these fearful encounters.

for-god-has-not-given-us-the-spirit-of

The truth, my friends, is that God offers us a way out of a fear.  He offers us freedom!  You see, fear can be crippling, debilitating. . . Fear can cause you to live a timid life-unwilling to take risks, missing out on opportunities, living half-heartedly for fear of what living fully might bring.  God did not create us to live in fear, nor did He desire for us to ‘live safely.’  He designed us to live freely and fully-embracing all the goodness life has to offer.  He welcomes us to live in the overflow of His spirit and His unchanging nature.

for-the-lord-is-the-spirit-and-wherever-the-spirit-of-the-lord-isthere-is-freedom

When I feel afraid or when my thoughts are overtaking my actions, I remind myself that fear is not of God.  God supplies me with power and love and a sound mind.  You know, when I was 8 years old and scared of that attic door, I never opened it.  My mind created all these images of what might be behind the door, but I didn’t want to open it and find out what was really there.  But one day, one of my older brothers held my hand and pushed the door open and made me look.  (I don’t think he was trying to be ‘nice,’ per se, but it actually helped me!)  You see, he made me confront my fears and what I found was an old attic with dusty wooden rafters and no monsters. . .

I think God is a lot like this.  Maybe He holds your hand and draws you closer to your fears and helps you overcome them.  Maybe He is holding your hand and drawing you into the middle of stormy waters. . . But friend, He is not trying to drown you.  He is encouraging you to conquer your fears, to hold tight to Him, to walk in freedom, to become brave.  Bethel Music has a worship song that I just love that says:

you-call-me-out-beyond-the-shoreinto-the-wavesno-fear-can-hinder-now-thepromises-you-madeno-fear-can-hinder-now-thelove-that-made-a-way

I am so thankful that God’s love and promises to me has made a way for me to overcome my fear.  My battle with fear is a daily one.  It is constantly reminding myself that God is in control, that my life is in His hands, that He only wants good for me, and that He has not created fear but freedom.  When I live in these truths, my life is so much more full.  So friend, if you’re anxious about an upcoming move, if you’re nervous about whether to accept that “crazy” different job offer, if you’re unsure whether you are parenting “the right way,” if you’re worried about standing out among your friends and coworkers, if you’re scared of failing at whatever it may be-give it to God!  Give your fears and concerns over to Him and live in the freedom of God’s grace!

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” Psalms 112:7-8

sean (1)

Encouragement, Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: When You Face Troubled Waters

I wanted to start a little series on my blog called “Monday Motivation.”  (I know today is now Tuesday, but my computer has been on the fritz and I have to buy a new one!) My Monday Motivation series will feature a short, hopefully inspirational post about what I am learning in my quiet time with God.  It is kind of like a daily devotional!  I know that sometimes Mondays are hard, the start of a new week, the end of the weekend.  But Mondays are just that-a fresh start!  So this is to help your Monday get off on the right foot!

When troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested,
your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

None of us want to experience trouble, am I right?  None of us want to go through hard times.  It’s challenging, uncomfortable, difficult, hard. . . But to God, experiencing trouble is a lot like conditioning for a sport.  I’m sure we all have been watching the Olympics lately (Go #TeamUSA !).  We all know that those athletes didn’t just go out on their fields or arenas and just perform at the level we see, right?  Absolutely not!  They spent hours, days, weeks, and YEARS preparing for this ultimate challenge.  They spent this time conditioning their bodies-preparing it, getting it ready for the biggest event of their life.

If you have ever played a sport, you know that conditioning is not fun.  It is not fun, but it is absolutely necessary.  Conditioning is long and tiring and hard, but it develops endurance!  Without it, you would likely be unprepared and fail when the time of competition comes because you wouldn’t have the endurance necessary to complete the task.  Proper conditioning will go above and beyond what you will actually face.

In life, sometimes troubles come our way-our faith is tested, our resolve is shaken, our strength is weakened. . . While it is easy to think that troubles happen to make us fail, they happen to make us stronger.  Trouble comes to bolster our confidence in what God has done, to reveal the strength of our faith, to grow our resolve, to absolve our doubt. . . To cleanse us, to perfect us, to make us whole and complete, to give us the opportunity to experience great joy.

God sometimes takes us into troubled waters-
not to drown us,
but to cleanse us.
-Unknown

It is in the midst of trouble that our true selves our revealed to us.  When we are tested and pushed to the limits of what we think we are capable of handling, that is when we usually find another ounce or two of courage, motivation, inner strength, stamina, and the ability to go on.  Or if we find we are at the end of ourselves, that we have nothing left to give, that we are in over our heads, that we have no more strength to move on, let yourself be washed in the flood of God’s grace, love and protection that promises to make you whole and complete-even in your troubles.

When you face troubled waters, God will not let you drown, He will not leave you broken.  He will cleanse you, care for you, grow you, and make you complete.  Don’t be scared to face the waves today!

sean (1)

Uncategorized

Clarity in the Midst of Confusion

Silver Linings

I am sure you have heard the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”  The saying seems to suggest that despite negative circumstances that may appear dark and cloudy, there is positivity and clarity that can be found in the form of sunshine and light.  Having experienced my fair share of ups and downs in life, in faith, in marriage, in friendships, in work, in education, and really every facet of life–I have found that you truly can find clarity in the midst of confusion.  In fact, I think it is in the darkest nights that we become most enlightened, or on the cloudiest of days that we truly recognize the sun.

I believe that life is the most unique ride any of us will travel.  It is full of highs and lows, mountains and valleys, darkness and light.  We each travel our own path and experience these at different times.  For me, I was recently going through a valley–confused about where my life was headed, feeling not content with my work situation, wondering if the degree I was pursuing was what I was supposed to do, and questioning whether my God cared. . . Let me just say this–valleys are a struggle for me.  I am the type of person who wants to plan out my life.  I want to know every detail and have it organized in perfect place.  I like things to be done in my timing.  I guess you could call me a “control-freak.”  It is just really hard for me to relinquish control of “my” life and my plans to someone else.

What I have realized though, is that the valley is when God is trying to remind me that I cannot manage my life on my own.  I cannot be content within myself if I am not content where God has placed me.  I think the valley is God’s way of pushing us to see the light.  It is easy to think that God is “punishing” us with things aren’t going the way we want, but God doesn’t work like that.  A friend once told me, “I know that God is my loving Father, not a “dead-beat dad”, “alcoholic father”, or absentee, or punisher.  We are His daughters and are seated in heavenly places through Christ.  We are covered in His precious blood.”  Because God is a loving Father, He wants to pour out blessings on our lives.

I used to think that God’s blessings were somehow dependent on what I did–whether I was good or bad, but that is not the case.  God’s blessings are dependent on His love for us, and what He accomplished through the cross.  “Every good gift and every prefect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)  Because of God’s unchanging nature and His constant love for us, He blesses us.

When I opened up myself to the idea that God wants to bless me, not punish me, and that it was all about Him and not me, the blessings He began to pour into my life have overwhelmed me!  The Bible says, “I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10b, NLT)  I know what it is like to live life in darkness–surrounded by negativity and sadness and confusion–but if you can just remember that God is not the author of confusion, nor the creator of darkness, but a loving Father ready to bless you and provide you with clarity and contentment, that valley won’t seem as bad or as long, the mountain top will be just around the corner, the light will be right at the end of that tunnel, and the sun breaking behind the clouds.