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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From the Breaking Point to the Breakthrough

Do you ever have those perfect storm moments in life?  Those moments when everything seems to come crashing down all at once?  I have experienced several of those moments over the course of my life.  God reminded me recently of one particular time I struggled through a perfect storm.  I came home one night and crawled into my bed.  As I tossed and turned through the night, in the middle ground between sleep and consciousness, I remember this one thought playing on loop in my mind: From the breaking point to the breakthrough, from the breaking point to the breakthrough, from the breaking point to the breakthrough.  I know that was the whisper of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my heart.  I certainly didn’t feel anything remotely like breakthrough was happening, but I was aware that I had reached my breaking point.

Although I surely hate the breaking point seasons of life, there is a lesson God is repeatedly teaching me: Breaking is good and God wants us broken.  It is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.  I have learned that God wants to break my self-will and my self-reliance.  He wants to bring me to the point of recognizing my limitations and realizing that the weight is too much to carry on my own.  He wants to get me to the place that I am willing to admit that I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t have it all together and that I have more questions than answers.  He wants to expose my faulty patterns of thinking and relating to my circumstances and make me aware of the holding patterns that have kept me in bondage.

In my brokenness, I am able to truly humble myself before my creator.  I am able to surrender the reigns of control to my heavenly Father.  I am able to lay down my agenda and my own will, to fully pursue and follow His purpose and plan for my life.  When the Lord strips me bear of every false comfort and causes me to look at myself for who I truly am, I am able to recognize my need for my Savior to govern and watch over every single area of my life.  When I am broken, I am able to lay down my pride and be honest before God and others, regarding my true heart condition.

This place of brokenness, honesty and humility is the breeding ground for breakthrough.  God breaks us of every chain that has held us back and hindered us.  He breaks every curse and strategy of the enemy.  He breaks every branch that is not bearing fruit, in order that we can thrive, grow and flourish in ways unimaginable.

Brokenness is a tool that God uses.  Unfortunately, the enemy uses it to.  He has a way of distorting our perceptions, so that all we see in our brokenness is pain.  When all we see is our pain, our brokenness feels dark.  It feels ugly.  It feels forever.  It feels like an end.  It is not.  If we allow it to, our brokenness will be the point through which God shines most brightly in our life.  He will bring beauty out of the ashes.  And what feels like an end will only be the beginning of the amazing work God plans to do in and through you.

If you will allow it, God will use your perfect storm moments in life to display His perfect power in the midst of your biggest weaknesses.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

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A Season of Hope and Expectation

At one point several months ago, I was talking with a friend about seasons of waiting. All of us can relate to the feeling of waiting on God for answers to prayers that as of yet, go unanswered, or at least as far as we can tell.  These seasons can be long and painful.  Wrestling with physical and emotional pain, unmet longings and unfulfilled dreams for prolonged periods of time can wear on us and challenge our faith.

As my friend and I prayed for one another, I began to think about Christmas.  Christmas comes every year on December 25th.  The actual celebration of Christmas is a one day event.  However, we celebrate Christmas beginning the day after Thanksgiving and throughout all of December.  Before we ever open or exchange any gifts, we prepare for more than an entire month.  We go shopping.  We decorate.  We bake cookies.  We sing carols.  We celebrate in anticipation of the moment when Christmas morning will finally arrive.  How different would this time be if instead of celebrating, we spent our time complaining that we couldn’t open our gifts yet?  What if we spent our time doubting that there would even be a gift with our name on it under the tree?  It would certainly dampen our excitement and expectation.

I know that God is challenging me to view my seasons of waiting as seasons of celebration.  We are told in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  If I’m truthful, I spend too much time complaining in my seasons of waiting, rather than rejoicing in what is to come.  I lose sight of the fact that I serve a good God, who gives good gifts.  What He has for me is good.  He has a hope and a future for me that are good.  He works all things out for my good.  I don’t have to question that what He has in store is, in fact, good!  The gifts may not come on my time schedule and they might not come in the wrapping paper I would have picked out, but I can be assured that my Father in heaven knows how to pick out gifts that are perfectly suited and right for me.  The gifts He blesses me with are better than anything I would have picked out for myself.  And what’s more, He knows the best timing and the best manner to present me with the gifts He has for me.  I have often heard it said that it’s all about the presentation.  I think of a marriage proposal.  I think about the planning and consideration that a man goes through when he proposes to the girl he loves.  He considers the date, the setting, the atmosphere, the audience, the ring.  All of these details work together to make the proposal of marriage even more special.  How much more does our heavenly Father consider the perfect timing and manner in which to present us with the special blessings he has for us?

I am challenged to mark my season of waiting as a season of hope and expectation.  I have my mind made up to celebrate all season long.  This is no time to give in to doubt and fear.  I want to usher in the new thing God is doing with an attitude of rejoicing, because I can know with confidence that my blessings are on the way.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

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On Snowstorms and Springtime

For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create dry rivers in the wasteland. (Isa. 43:19)

The first day of spring this year fell on March 20th.  I am the kind of person who loathes winter.  People have tried to explain to me the benefits of winter, but to me it’s dark, cold, snowy and wet and I don’t like it.  Give me spring, summer or fall and I’ll be fine, but something in me dies a little when winter comes around. (Okay, so maybe that’s a bit overdramatic, but you get the picture).  That’s why I was personally insulted and offended when just shy of a week before the first day of spring, my little corner of New England was hit with a snowstorm.  Not even right.  In theory, I understood that the arrival of the snowstorm didn’t mean that spring wasn’t still coming.  It may have taken a little longer to reach those warmer temperatures, but spring weather was inevitably coming nonetheless.  I just needed patience.

When it comes to our lives, we don’t have calendars and timelines to tell us when the hard seasons of life are going to give way to seasons of joy and blessing.  But we do have faith and we do have hope.  I learned something from the snowstorm.  That snowstorm came a week before the day that marked the beginning of spring.  The storms we experience in life lie to us.  They speak discouragement to our hearts and try to make us believe that storms last forever.  What they don’t tell us is that our spring, the new thing God is doing, a shifting of seasons, could literally be right around the corner.  The presence of the storm doesn’t mean our breakthrough isn’t coming.  I believe that our breakthrough is coming much sooner than we think.

Every once in a while, I reflect on my history with the Lord.  Without exception, the greatest trials and difficulties that I have overcome have brought me to the greatest blessings in my life.  All of those situations had a few things in common.  I could never seem to figure out how to get out of my circumstances and into the breakthrough.  Things always seemed to be at their absolute worst.  And there were always a lot of voices (both internally and externally) attempting to rob me of my hope.  Each time I have found myself in this pit, God has put together for me what I could never figure out on my own.  He has turned what seemed to be the absolute worst around for my ultimate good.  And He has proven over and over again that no matter what anyone says, there is always always always hope.

Don’t lose heart in the storm.  New things are coming.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)
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Demolition or Restoration

Demolition or Restoration?

A couple of weeks before the start of 2017, I was praying about some circumstances on my way to work.  It was one of those fervent, desperate types of prayers.  I looked over and saw right in front of me a big white truck, upon which was written, “Restoration. Recovery.  Reconstruction.”  I felt in my spirit that God was saying that this is the work he is doing in my life and in my circumstances.  Over the next couple of weeks, my excitement and anticipation grew as I began to hear many confirming words that 2017 is to be a year of restoration, a year of recovery and a year of rebuilding.  Every word brought me greater hope and confidence that my life was on the mend!  Everything was coming together.

What actually happened in the months that followed was not something I was prepared for.  Instead of coming together, things in every aspect of life seemed to unravel and began falling apart.  My life was stripped bare and I found myself alone with the Lord.  Standing in the mess of a pile of broken pieces, I asked God, “What is happening in my life?”  Did I not hear you correctly?  Wasn’t this supposed to be my year of restoration?  I was determined to continue trusting God’s process, even though I honestly couldn’t make sense of my world or what was going on around me.

Around the same time, I started watching the show Fixer Upper.  Chip and Joanna Gaines are a wonderful couple with their own home remodeling and renovation business.  In each episode, they help prospective buyers pick out their own fixer upper home and in the weeks that follow, the Gaines couple transform something once run-down into something breathtakingly beautiful.  I noticed something though.  The first step of the remodeling process always involves demolition.  Walls are torn down.  Floors are broken apart to reveal what’s rotting and decaying underneath.  Structures are gutted, in order that new ones can be formed.  I realized that what feels like life crumbling apart is really only the first step in the restoration process.  God is not going to build something new on a foundation that is faulty.  He won’t build something new without first exposing and removing what is rotten underneath.  As it says in Mark 2:22, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost.  New wine calls for new wineskins.”

If you find yourself in a season where life seems to be falling apart, is it possible that God is building a new foundation?  Could it be that things are falling apart so that God could put your life back together?  Rest assured. When God restores things in our lives, He makes them better than new!  No matter what stage of the process we find ourselves in, we can know that God’s will is to always bring about restoration in our lives.

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
    Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
17 Soon your descendants will come back,
    and all who are trying to destroy you will go away.
18 Look around you and see,
    for all your children will come back to you.
As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
    “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.

19 “Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land
    will soon be crowded with your people.
Your enemies who enslaved you
    will be far away.
20 The generations born in exile will return and say,
    ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’
21 Then you will think to yourself,
    ‘Who has given me all these descendants?
For most of my children were killed,
    and the rest were carried away into exile.
I was left here all alone.
    Where did all these people come from?
Who bore these children?
    Who raised them for me?’”

22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
    “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations.
They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms;
    they will bring your daughters on their shoulders.
23 Kings and queens will serve you
    and care for all your needs.
They will bow to the earth before you
    and lick the dust from your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.
    Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.” (Isa. 49:16-23)

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