What do you have on?

Sometime last week, I went to the gym for a while before spending time with my fiancé. I did my workout, hit the showers and started getting ready to meet Jonas. I put on the outfit I planned to wear and stood in front of a mirror. I was not feeling it. The way the sweater fell was not flattering and I didn’t look my best. Luckily, I had packed another outfit just in case a scenario like this should arise. Problem solved.

Now, not too long before that, I went through the process of buying my wedding gown. Eeeeek!!!!!! A few of my best friends and myself went together and it was a magical day. The experience was everything I could have hoped for. Although I found a few dresses that I thought were nice, when it was “the one,” I definitely knew. Standing in front of the full-length mirror I felt like the most gorgeous woman on the planet. The dress hugged me in all the right places and I became so excited, anticipating the day that my soon to be husband would get to see me in all my bridal glory.

Reflecting on both of these scenarios, God has highlighted something to me. So much of how we look and feel has to do with put we put on. There are some outfits that do me no justice and there are others that accentuate my God given beauty. There are things I have no business wearing and things that feel like the designer made it with me in mind.

Spiritually, there is a similar principle at work. So much of how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us has to do with what we put on. Check out the following words from Colossians 3:12-14:

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

Simply put there are some mindsets and attitudes that just don’t look good on you. You were never meant to wear bitterness, envy, insecurity, worry, doubt, fear, etc. Those things do nothing to reflect the unique beauty that you were created with. When you put on love (including love for yourself!), humility, faith, confidence in God and his promises, security and trust, it’s a whole different ballgame. Strut your stuff. These things allow for your true identity and beauty to shine forth. They allow us to see ourselves the way God sees us and makes a place for joy to bubble up in us and spill out into all areas of our lives.

The wedding dress…is not unique to me. We were all made for a wedding gown. In Isaiah 62:5, it says, “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” All throughout scripture, we as believers are referred to as the bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5:25, it says that Christ “loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

Precious daughters of God, this is how he sees you. Holy. Clean. Glorious. Flawless. And He rejoices over you. Put aside the clothes that are ill-fitting and put on the bridal attire that you were designed and created for.

Reach.

2018 is in full swing and I am so excited about this year and all the possibilities it brings. Last year was quite the whirlwind for me. There were ups and downs and plot twists, but much growth, progress and joy along the way. I started 2017 dreaming. It didn’t seem like I had much to look forward to at the time. I had hit a slump and lost so much that was so important to me. However, I made a decision early on in the year to stand in faith believing and trusting God for the exceedingly and abundantly more He promised me (Eph. 3:20-21).

My pastor had encouraged us to write dream journals. At first, it was difficult for me to dream at all, as I battled through feelings of hopelessness and depression. But I pressed through, dreaming and praying, until I really started to believe in my heart that my faith declarations would come to pass. The first page of that journal was marked “Get married in 2018,” my biggest life-long dream. Other pages in the journal were marked with things like get a laptop and get a car. Some of them were less tangible. See the beauty for ashes in my life. See restoration. To be reset mind, body and soul. I got the car, the laptop and in June of 2018, I’ll marry my best friend. I totally got to see the beauty for ashes in what was a desperately broken time of my life. I have seen restoration in so many areas and I feel the reset. I don’t walk into 2018 in the same condition that I walked into 2017. Although I saw hardships last year, especially with the death of my brother, and even though there are many dreams I am still praying into, God has taught me the valuable lesson of dreaming with Him and praying in faith no matter what the circumstances might look like.

Today in my devotional time, I read Philippians 3:13: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” This verse might be my anthem for 2018. Paul starts off the verse by putting it out there that no…he has not yet achieved “it.” We all have a different “it.” We all have things we are striving and working towards. We all have suffered at times from weaknesses, failures and limitations that have held us back. We all have regrets and things we wish we would have accomplished by now. But I love the next words of this verse, “But I focus on this one thing.” Our achievements, our failures, and what we have and have not accomplished should not be our focus. According to Paul, there is something far worthier of our attention.

So, what is the one thing? “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Leave the past behind you. And for the record, the past includes everything up to one second ago. Don’t look back anymore. Don’t live your life swallowed up with regrets and reminders of the times you missed the mark. Don’t let what’s behind you hinder you from moving ahead.

Look forward. The Amplified Bible would say “Reach forward.” Look up ahead. And let God tell you what’s ahead. The promises He has written in His word are a good place to start. Despite anything that’s lies behind you, the future ahead of you is bright. Keep reaching forward in hope. Reach in confidence. Reach in trust and reach in faith. Do you hear God whispering to you? “Child, you have a lot to look forward to.”

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It doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect.

I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I like paying attention to the details and getting everything just right. This can work to my advantage at times, as someone who carries out many administrative duties, but it can also get in the way of living in the moment, taking things as they come and being content right where I’m at. Lately, God has been teaching me that not everything has to be perfect to be perfect.

Allow me to explain. My birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year. I’m usually not the type to make a huge deal out of my birthday (although I always love gifts!), but this year I really looked forward to it. I planned to celebrate on the weekend with a special friend of mine. Saturday came and I put on a pretty dress, painted my nails and started curling my hair. The plans ended up needing to be switched around, so that we would celebrate on Sunday instead. Being the (overly) emotional girl that I can be at times, I got real pouty. Not sure why exactly, but I had a vision in my head of how the day would go and this didn’t line up with the perfect day I had envisioned. Despite the fact that my friend had been caught up actually doing something else for me, I still (selfishly, I know) allowed myself to become upset at the minor adjustment to our plans.

Sunday came and I had the best day. I busted out the dress, as well as the curling iron again. I had an amazing time. I received a perfect gift, well thought out and chosen with the utmost care. We ended up getting a bite to eat and meeting another friend to play a game (something I really enjoy doing). It felt like it had been the perfect day. When we made our way back to the house and I said goodbye for the evening, I looked down at my feet only to realize that I had forgotten to change my shoes. The whole night I was sporting my dingy gym sneakers with my pretty pink lace dress. We both had a good laugh at that.

The lesson God was teaching me in that is this. Things don’t always have to be perfect to be perfect. Sometimes getting too caught up in the details can cause you to lose sight of the biggest blessings right in front of you. Things don’t always have to be just right to be amazing. Incredible moments and memories are often birthed in the middle of less than perfect situations. And honestly, perfection is an unrealistic and unfair expectation to set for others, ourselves or our circumstances. And sometimes you can wear the pink dress and sneakers and still be in for a magical night.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. (Ps. 18:32)

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Be Thankful…Always

Be Thankful…Always

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about gratitude.  I love the verse from 1 Thessalonians referenced above.  Always be joyful…be thankful in all.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  But how do we put this into practice?  Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful, but other times we struggle with it.

For me, this will be the first year my family will spend without my brother at the Thanksgiving table.  However, I still find I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season.  We can let our circumstances drive us to the place of fear and despair, or we can allow them to push us towards faith and hope.  The bleaker things look the more aggressive we should be in our pursuit of hope and our stance of faith.  John 10:10 tells us, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” The more the enemy steals from us the more we need to press into the promise of the abundant life God has offered us. Gratitude plays a huge role in this.

The loss of my brother has made me even more grateful for the family members and friends I will have around me this holiday.  Sometimes experiencing loss makes us realize how much we take for granted all the other blessings in our lives.  I am excited for new starts and fresh beginnings.  I am excited to see the stronger Theresa that will come through on the other side of this.  I love that I can know that though weeping may last through the night, joy comes with the morning (Ps. 30:5).

I can be joyful no matter the circumstances, because I know God is good.  I can be thankful through tears and hard days, because I know the one who is holding me.  I receive so much love and blessings from the amazing people He has given me to walk this journey besides me, but nothing beats crawling in the lap of poppa God and allowing His heart to comfort mine.  I’ll never be alone and that is something to be oh so grateful for.

So for anyone out there who might be struggling this holiday season, allow Him to show you His love.  Allow Him to show you His goodness.  Allow Him to show you that no matter what you may be going through, if you set your gaze on Him, you will always have something to be thankful for.

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Don’t Give Up. Just Give it Over.

“But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.”
‭‭ISAIAH‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Last week, I wrote about possessing the promise. We talked about how sometimes you gotta keep circling your walls in prayer until those suckers come crashing down. Today, our subject will be rest. There’s a time for making moves, having a courageous conversations, taking steps, implementing strategies and going forward. But there also comes a time when God just asks us to rest. In both cases, we need huge amounts of faith. It takes faith to make a move but it also takes a lot of faith to know that you’ve made all the moves you can and done all that God has required of you. It takes faith to sit on your hands and wait for God to do what only God can do. And to trust Him that He will do it!

I read an article recently about dating. It was one of those “calm down ladies and let the man pursue you” type articles. There was one point made that really stood out. The author pointed out that at the end of the day, we aren’t waiting on a man (good news, right?). We are waiting on God and God is trustworthy and faithful. Knowing that we are waiting on God makes waiting a little easier to swallow. Men might drag their feet but God? He is always on time.

While we wait, God wants us to be well-rested. Our times of waiting would be totally fruitless if we spent them anxious and worried. And honestly, that type of doubt and fear is a symptom of the fact that we probably don’t have much trust and faith.

We exhibit faith when we are able to wait and rest. Wait and be content. Wait and be happy. Wait and live your life. Never put your life on hold while you wait for your “only ifs”. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So what do you do when you’ve done all you can? Do you give up? Nope. Not at all. You give it over. You remain in the place of faith and hope but you put whatever “it” is in Gods hands. Here’s the thing. Just because we rest, doesn’t mean God does. He’s working on it. But while you rest, He’s also working on you, if you sit still enough and allow Him to do it.

Go ahead. Sit back, put up your feet and relax. God’s got it.

American Beauty

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)

This summer, some friends and I went to the beach to hang out and do some outreach.  I distinctly remember waking up, looking in the mirror and feeling fabulous.  I was rocking it…that is until we got to the beach.  Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by girls in their bikinis.  Girls that I felt were in much better shape than I was.  I immediately began to feel self-conscious and although I started out the day feeling like a cutie, I ended up questioning whether I should go home and put a housecoat on.

Sounds kind of funny, but at some level this is a big thing we deal with as women.  Let’s be honest.  We have the tendency to subject ourselves and others to a really unhealthy level of comparison.  Left unchecked this can lead to a question of our worth, value and the individual beauty God has given us.  In her book Unrivaled, Lisa Bevere states that &God loves us uniquely.&  Each of us are unique, with a beauty all our own.  The beauty of another women does not take away from what God has given us.  We are not in competition, but too often we feel as though we are.

This summer, I learned a valuable lesson about what makes me beautiful.  One day while I was away with YWAM, I decided to take a walk to Mcdonalds to eat some ice cream and work on a message.  I left wearing sweats, no make-up and with my hair a mess.  As I was sitting at a table, a young man, a few years younger than me, came over to ask about what I was writing about.  We struck up a conversation and myself and another YWAMer, who happened to be in the Mcdonalds, began sharing about the love of God.  I shared about my faith and passion for Jesus flowed from my lips and my heart.  The young man’s expression began to change and suddenly he was looking at me as though I was an angel that just stepped out of heaven.  His shift in expression was noticeable and it was evident that he thought I was beautiful, but it was as though he was looking through me.  He started talking about the words we were using to describe God and how their was something so beautiful about the way we spoke of Jesus.  He actually said he couldn’t understand it, but he sensed something so different about us.  As he stared at me, I could tell in his head he was scrambling to figure out what was happening and what it was about us that had him so perplexed.  At the end of the conversation, we were able to lead him to the Lord.

Later, as I was thinking about this, I was struck that past the sweatpants, messy hair and bare face this guy was able to see a beauty in me that had nothing to do with my outward appearance.  What he saw was the heart of the Father in me.  He sensed God’s beautiful love pouring out of me.  Through the experience, God was showing me on another level that as I express His heart, His beauty flows out of me.  This is a beauty that never fades with age.  It’s a beauty that is unique to me, as my expression of it will be different than anyone elses.  My smile, the twinkle in my eye when I speak about things I’m passionate about, my playful prankster princess side, my wild mane of messy curls, my assets and even my imperfections, all add to an individual beauty that’s unique to me.  But at the center of it all is a love that doesn’t come from me.  It comes from my Father.

Let His love flow out of you and let your unique beauty shine.  You were made to shine.

Where your treasure is…

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matt. 6:21)

Recently, God has been speaking to me alot about value…what I value, along with where my value as an individual comes from.  All of that should be wrapped up in Jesus, but if I am honest, I would have to say that there are times when I have allowed other things to slip into the seat of my utmost affections and there have been times when I have allowed people and circumstances to give me feedback about what my value is.  The enemy will always try to distort the messages we receive, leaving us to conclude that we are ultimately not that valuable at all.

This week, a good friend and I were discussing the above verse and what it implies.  This friend pointed out to me that whatever thing you treasure most is the thing you will be most afraid to lose.  That simple truth sunk deep into my heart.  The thing or person I treasure most is the thing I will look to most to affirm me and tell me what I’m worth.  I will work tirelessly and without rest to hold on to my most prized treasure and I will entertain an underlying fear regarding what will happen should I ever lose it.

Ladies and gents, it is a dangerous thing when we allow ourselves to put any person or thing as number one in our lives.  That is a position that belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone.  It is He who defines our identity.  It is He who defines our worth.  The love and affirmation we receive from others will always be conditional.  Even the most awesome people will have their bad days, go through their funks, be loving at moments and less loving at others.  But Jesus stays the same yesterday, today and forever.  He loves us with a love that is everlasting.  We can find rest in security in Christ and Christ alone.

When we allow anything to take the place of Jesus in our lives, the things and the people that were designed to bless us can become more like a curse.  We become consumed.  We become controlled.  We try to control.  We invest all our time and energy trying to maintain something by our own strength that God always meant for us to entrust to Him and do together, with Him in the driver’s seat.  We can become so fearful of losing that we aren’t even free to enjoy and rest in the blessings that God has given us.

When we make Jesus the treasure of our heart, we have the assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  We know that He will be with us always (Matt. 28:20).  He promises that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).  We can put our treasure in God and that is a treasure we never have to have fear of losing.

When we make Jesus our greatest affection, it frees us to love others more.  It frees us to be vulnerable and to build meaningful relationships, even if it means we risk sacrifice and hurt along the way.  When we make Jesus our number one, we anchor ourselves in something so sturdy that even if we should lose something important to us or experience brokenness, we never lose ourselves, our worth or our identity in the process.  We have given our hearts to the Lord to guard and to mend.  Our hope is in His faithfulness.

My Delight.

Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires. (Ps. 37:4)

Recently, I have been doing a lot of study pertaining to our thoughts and the mind.  In a short span of time, I have read Breaking Free by Beth Moore, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer and Heart Made Whole by Christa Gifford.  (All excellent reads!)  God is bringing me through the process of rewiring my brain, in order that old pathways of fear and insecurity can be rerouted in the ways of faith, expectation and unconditional love.

Through this process, God continues to speak to me of His great love for me.  He loves me for the sake of loving me.  I am guilty of coming before God always trying to improve something, change something, do something, but God is showing me over and over again that He simply desires to hang out with me, because He delights in me.  In Psalm 149:4-5, we are told, “For the Lord delights in His people; he crowns the humble with victory.  Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them.  Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.”

This understanding has deepened my level of intimacy with Christ.  Although I continue to study the word, pray and worship, (all necessary, vital and of utmost importance), I also take time to sit with Jesus, to admire the beauty of creation with Him, to go for walks together and to sit in silence, knowing He sits with me.  There have always been painful things in my life I have needed to confront.  There has always been some degree of chaos around me.  The problem is I have too often been guilty of letting the chaos going on around me get inside of me.  Too many times I have allowed circumstances and people to rob my joy.  This knowledge of the God who so immensely enjoys me, empowers me to have a good day no matter what situation I am facing.  I made a decision recently that no matter what goes on around me, I would make the choice to choose joy, even if that means getting away from the crowd to enjoy a sunset with Jesus, after a long stressful day.  It fills my heart with joy, acceptance and belonging to know that He doesn’t require me to come with words, a plan or a course of action.  He just wants me to come with my heart, in whatever shape that it’s in, so He can mend any places it has been torn and give strength to those parts that have been made weak.

I put this to the test the other day.  Due to some circumstances outside of my control, I was up all through the night. I felt angry, worried, exhausted, you name it.  After finally getting some sleep.  I got up and decided in my heart what kind of day I was going to have.  My day would be a good day.  Because I was going to spend it with Jesus.  I got together with a really good friend of mine who asked me what I wanted to do.  Although I really wanted to visit a beautiful park I had heard of and never been to, I told my friend we should go to the orchard that was closeby.  The park was a long drive away and I figured it would be more convenient to go to the orchard instead.  We stopped by the orchard but didn’t stay very long.  My friend said we should leave.  Not thinking too much of it, I got back into the car.  Next thing I knew, we were on a long drive thorugh the country.  I let all my circumstances melt away and began to reflect on God’s goodness and love towards me, as I watched the sun shine through the trees.  I took in all the beauty and allowed myself to let go, relax and rest in Jesus.  I felt Him massaging my heart back to good health and felt truly joyful.  Although I enjoyed the time with my friend, I so enjoyed knowing that Jesus had made that trip with us.  Eventually, the car turned into the very park I had wanted to visit, but had never expressed.  Jesus had used my friend to give me that gift.  Everything about my day perfectly met my heart’s desires.  From the beauty of the park, to the places we stopped on the way home, to the flavor of ice cream I ate, I felt that God had designed it all to show me His love in a special way.  He delighted in being with me throughout the day and setting up these fun surprises.

It tells us in Psalm 37:4  that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  When our delight is God, He gives us more of Himself.  He gives us more of an understanding of who He is, His nature and His heart towards us.  He gives us a greater desire and capacity to know Him better.  The more He becomes our delight the less other things will be able to take away our joy.  When your joy is in the one who will never leave you or forsake you, the one who remains the same yesterday, today and forever, you are undaunted and unshakeable.  And while things won’t always go the way we thought or planned, and while we will have those hard, tough days, this God delights in surprising us.  He takes joy in making our dreams come true, dreams He gave us to begin with.  He loves to draw us to Himself, wooing us and romancing us.  His heart is always to do in our lives more than we can ever dare, ask, think or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

Make Him your delight.  Enjoy Him with every breathe.  Open your eyes to His love notes all around you.  Find yourself in the center of His heart.

Tear the Roof Off

A little over two weeks ago, I began leading a women’s Bible Study for my church based on the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.  The book’s focus is how, as women, we can become more strategic and deliberate about prayer.  It’s a book I enjoyed reading for myself and have been enjoying reading with the ladies at church as well.  In the first chapter of the book, the author points out that many of us don’t pray like we should, because we have lost our passion.  She emphasizes the point that our passion only comes from God to begin with and encourages the reader: “Praying-reaching outward and upward to Him-is the only way that passion comes down.  Even prayers that begin with the blunt edge of willpower, dragging your heart along kicking and screaming can soon begin to shine with the cutting edge of hope, faith and passionate confidence in Christ.”  Passionate confidence in Christ…that’s what I’m after.

Priscilla Shirer challenges the reader with various scriptures.  One scripture caught my eye and I looked it up in several translations, choosing the Message version as my favorite.  The verse was Deuteronomy 30:6: “God, your God, will cut away the thick callouses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.”  God has been speaking to me alot lately about what it means to be free to love God with everything I am.

While I was away in Kona, Hawaii recently, serving at YWAM’s University of the Nations, I woke up one morning with so much heaviness that I could feel it in my body.  I felt very flu-like symptoms, every joint and muscle labored to move and it was a huge challenge just to get out of bed.  Nevertheless, I knew something spiritual was going on, so I managed to get up and get going.  Although I had planned to attend a group outing to the beach, instead I chose to participate in a women’s conference being held on campus.  After the conference, I took advantage of the prayer room to rest and to reflect on what God could possibly be speaking to me through all that had transpired that day.  As I laid spread out on the prayer room floor, I felt the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart.  I felt God was saying that the same weight that I felt in my body that morning was the same weight I have been feeling both mentally and emotionally.  He told me that I had allowed various things to drag me down and that I had been walking around carrying and holding unto things He never intended for me to carry.  God showed me that I had not been living to the 100% potential of who He has called me to be.  The reasons for that are numerous: fear, insecurity, shame over my past, feelings of inadequacy…I had allowed all these things to hold me back.  I had been afraid to step out to far, afraid to take big risks, petrified of making mistakes.  So I held back, keeping myself within parameters I felt were safe.  Now God was telling me it was time to knock the walls down and tear the roof off of the limitations that kept me engaging in life with only half of my heart.

God will cut away the thick callouses on your heart…freeing you to love your God with your whole heart…and live, really live.  That’s what I want…to live…REALLY LIVE!  I have asked God to help me to freely love Him and to truly live.  When I show up somewhere, I want to show up 100%.  I want to be fully present and engaged with each person in front of me and in each task I put my hands to.  I want to live with the kind of passionate confidence in Christ that doesn’t depend on my circumstances, but stirs and grows as it reflects and meditates on the promises God has made in His Word.  Every morning, when my feet hit the floor, I want to carry the confident expectation that God is going to do something amazing that day.  I want to move in my life with such mountain-shaking faith that people and situations around me can’t help but to align themselves with the truth of God.  And when I can’t see the change, when all appears to be the same, I want my bold prayers to touch and move the heart of God, until what I am praying for in the spirit, becomes visible in my natural surroundings.  I want to persist no matter how long it takes, because I am so convinced of God’s power, so undone by His love for me, so aware of His presence and His faithfulness.  I want to drop the lies that have been holding me back like a bad habit and press into the plans and the purposes of God.  It’s time to tear the roof off.

In Luke chapter 5, we find the story of a paralyzed man who is healed by Jesus.  Men came carrying the man on a matt, but they were unable to get inside the place where Jesus was preaching because of the crowd.  Everything was standing in the way of this man getting his healing.  He was paralyzed.  There were literal walls between Him and Jesus.  The crowd was in the way.  So what did these men do?  They tore the roof off.  With persistance and tenacity, they tore down the barriers standing between them and destiny, between them and freedom.

What barriers have been standing in your way?  What lies have you allowed to limit your capacity and keep you living for less than what God designed you for?  It’s time to tear the roof off and to live…really live.

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Blossom

Recently, I returned from a trip to Kona, Hawaii where I served as a part of the Missions Builders Program at Youth with a Mission’s (YWAM) University of the Nations.  For the next several weeks, my blog posts will focus on all that God spoke to my heart during my time there.

One particular night in Kona, as I was lying in bed, I began to fade into that fuzzy place between wakefulness and sleep.  Floating through my head came a stream of images, all of flowers in bloom.  I roused myself awake and asked God what He was saying to me about blossoming.  Over the past several weeks, God has continued to speak to my heart on this topic.

I was led to the following two passages of scripture:

And why worry about your clothing?  Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt. 6:28-34 NLT)

My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies.  I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine.  He browses among the lilies. (Song of Songs 6:2-3)

These passages highlighted such beautiful truths to me about how God’s love towards me provokes my life and my heart to erupt and blossom into the fullness of beauty before my Heavenly bridegroom.  I blossom as I put my trust in Jesus.  The less I worry about the cares of this life and the more I choose to place my focus on Him, the more my heart opens up before Him, the more my character as a woman after His heart develops and the more the path of my life unfolds in accordance with His desires for me.  In Matthew chapter 6, we are compared to the lilies of the field growing, beautifully dressed and wonderfully cared for.  We are reminded of the simple but transformational truth that God loves to watch us grow in the fields He has planted us.  He loves to dress us up and cause us to radiate His beauty.  He delights in the way the sparkle in our eyes and the warmth of our smile can so clearly express and communicate His love.  And His care and concern for us is wonderful.  As we seek God above all else, He promises to provide everything we need to sustain and to bring about more growth in our lives.  He asks us to focus on what it means to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of each moment. As we continue in faith day by day, our lives unfold delicately and delightfully before Him, according to the rhythms of His grace.  As we do this, He is faithful to come into our garden.  He comes to enjoy us, to love us, to be with us.  In this place of intimacy, openness and transparency before Him, He whispers to our tender hearts, “I am yours and you are mine.”

During my time in Kona, the Lord convicted me that I was not living to the 100% potential of who He has called me, fashioned me and created me to be.  I was allowing worry, fear, my past, my weaknesses and my own sense of inadequacy to keep me in a holding pattern of living a life with limits.  I was keeping far too much of my potential locked inside and hidden away from the world.

I recently read the following beautiful quote by Anais Nin: “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.”  I did my research on the author of this quote and while I don’t think I would agree with the majority of her work (as it does not glorify God), I did find the words expressed above to be beautifully articulated.  They express something I have begun to feel stirring from the deepest parts of myself.  Now is that time for me.  The risk of keeping myself locked away, only living to half who God has called me to be, is far greater than the risk of blooming before Him, fully trusting Him and allowing my whole heart to give way to His passion and purposes for my life.

I wonder how many of us are living closed lives, tight in our buds, afraid to open our hearts fully, afraid to fully engage in life, afraid to take risks and afraid of what might happen if we actually trusted God to direct us and guide us in His purposes and plan.  I believe the time has come to blossom.  Invite the King of your heart to step inside your garden.  Find out how wonderfully He cares for you.

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