Puzzles, Missing Pieces and the Bigger Picture

Lately, I have been reflecting on how my life is similar to a puzzle.  Weird, I know, but hear me out.  One thing I am extremely confident of is  that God knows everything from the beginning to the end of my life.  If he were to be blindfolded, He could put together all the pieces of my life without even needing to pause.  I know that He can and will lead me from where I am now to all that He has planned for my future.

This should be enough for me.  Here’s the problem I have.  It seems that at various moments of my life God has given me glimpses into the future He has planned for me.  He has placed before me pieces of the puzzle.  It could be in the form of a burning desire in my heart or a dream I have.  It could be through words that have been spoken over me and confirmed on various occasions.  Whatever it is, I know it’s a piece of the puzzle.  So, like any good toddler would do, I mistakenly assume that the 5 or ten pieces that are before me represent the entire picture.  I try to piece them together on my own.  I look at the missing gaps in the picture and try to jam pieces where they don’t belong.  If I had a pair of scissors, I would probably cut off the edges until the pieces could pass for the right ones.  Can anyone relate to this?

Here’s what God is teaching me through all of this: I’m not old enough to put together this puzzle on my own.  On the side of the box printed somewhere, I’m sure it says parental supervision required.  God never intended for me to try to put any of this together on my own.  His desire is to sit with me and day by day put each piece in it’s intended spot, as I marvel at the work of His hands.  God has a method and a strategy for putting our puzzles together.  Some days you have to put the middle pieces aside so that you can work on the border.  Other days, you work on the blue pieces and the next day on the green ones.  God has a purpose in what seems to us like madness.

One day we will look back at our lives and realize that God’s bigger picture for us was far greater than anything we could have come up with on our own.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

photo credit

 

Shedding the Light on Fear

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I’m afraid of spiders.  Not so much the small ones anymore, but definitely anything medium sized and up.  Anything with hair or anything even remotely resembling a baby tarantula is enough to provoke a blood curdling scream that would be sure to wake up the whole Northeast.  I remember one week while I was living with my parents, I had a series of nightmares.  I kept dreaming there was a huge spider on the wall right above my head where I was sleeping.  I yelled for my dad to come kill it.  He came to my rescue.  He searched and searched but no spider was to be found.  The next night he simply yelled back,  “Did you try turning on the light?”  Once I did, I realized that my fears had only been imagined and that dad’s services weren’t needed.

We all struggle with fear in one way or another.  We fear the unknown.  We fear being misunderstood.  We fear rejection and never achieving a sense of belonging.  We fear the future.   We fear that our dreams will never come true.  We fear losing the people that we love.  The list goes on and on.  Our fears can wreak havoc on our minds if we will let them, causing us to succumb to anxiety and robbing us of our peace.  Fear can blind us and make us lose sight of the blessings we have right in front of us.  Fear can paralyze us and keep us from moving forward.  Fear can prevent us from growing in the manner and at the rate that God desires us to.  Fear attacks our trust in God calling His goodness into question.

The truth is that there is alot of scary stuff that goes down in our lives.  I, myself, have faced more situations that I couldn’t see a way out of than I can count.  But the beautiful thing is that I have come out of each of those scenarios an overcomer.  Not in my own strength, but by the power of Jesus.  You see Jesus never wants  us to allow our fears to keep us from moving forward into all that He has planned for us.  Picture yourself standing at the edge of a river with your toes just barely touching the water.  The waves are choppy and rough.  There is no way you will make it across by swimming.  Just a short distance away is a boat.  You get in and now you are able to make it safely across.  Jesus is the boat in this situation.  He is the way for you to make it through.  He is the one who will keep you and protect you, enabling you to get to the other side.

God takes us by the hand, in even the scariest of situations.  He uses the hard times to mold us, to shape us, to strengthen us, all the while never letting go of our hand. He makes us overcomers.  We taste His victory every time, by His grace, that we jump over a hurdle that life presents us with.  Each time we become a little more resilient.

You see when I turned on the light in my room, in the story I shared above, I realized that I had nothing to fear.  When you bring your worries and fears into the light of God’s presence, you will see that you also have nothing to fear because God is always with you.  Today He says to you, “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

 

Learning to Click the Block and Unfollow Buttons in your Day to Day Life

It’s no secret to anyone how important social media has become in our world.  Social media helps us to achieve a sense of connection with family and friends, even those we don’t see on a regular basis.  Facebook, twitter and instagram apps help us to stay on top of what’s going on in the personal lives of old and new friends alike.  The danger of social media is that it carries the potential of connecting us with negativity and drama.  Have you ever had the experience of having an otherwise great day tarnished by a post that came through on your newsfeed?

Recently, I have learned the beauty of the unfollow button.  I like most of you am well-connected to social media outlets.  Lately, some of the things coming through my feed are disturbing.  Things that others have “liked” have exposed me to things that are unnecessary.  It was becoming a daily occurrence to find articles of a sexual nature popping up in my feed.  At other times, I have been consistently reminded that the people I love and care about are (still) making choices that have hurt, scarred and wounded me.  This has left me at times feeling overwhelmed by negativity and questioning the power of my prayers.  I have learned that the unfollow button is a useful tool that still allows me to remain connected to the people I care about without following the rabbit trail of all the drama unfolding in their lives.  I don’t need to be affected by what other’s choose to view and share with the world.  I am in control of what comes through my feed.

This has got me thinking in deep ways about how I control my personal life.  There have been times when I have allowed myself to be consumed by situations that have dragged me down.  In an attempt to control my circumstances, I have invested all of my time and energy into trying to change and fix negative situations.  This has left me exposed and vulnerable.  As a result, I have allowed myself to be hurt unnecessarily.  I am learning that it is okay to click unfollow on negativity in my life.  It is okay to be “friends” with someone without following the newsfeed of drama on a daily basis.  It is okay to distance myself from those scenarios that have impacted me in a damaging way, so that God can speak His love and His truth into my heart.

Sometimes it will be necessary to detach yourself from a situation completely by clicking the block button, in order that the person or circumstance in question has no attachment to you at all.  Ladies, you know full well that sometimes you need to block the creepers.  But I think in most situations, just clicking unfollow will suffice.  The beauty of unfollowing negativity is that the person doesn’t need to know you have made that decision.  It is a private choice to guard your heart and your mind against things that can weigh you down.  This is a private choice that I am making in my life outside of social media as well.  I can’t allow what others are saying or doing to affect my ability to perceive all the joy and beauty in my life and to move forward in all that God has for me.  I can’t allow others to determine my own sense of value and worthiness.  I just can’t.

My choice to “unfollow” stems from a desire to subscribe to the thoughts of Jesus and to the words He has spoken not only over me, but over my loved ones as well.  I choose to follow His promises of hope, love and joy.  When I step away from the negativity in my life, I can more readily see God’s goodness, His provision and His hand at work in even the most hopeless looking situations.  I can’t allow myself to tag my thoughts on my circumstances as #nofilter anymore.  I choose to view everything through the filter of His love.  When I look at things from the angle of His grace, I am able to smile and hold my head high, even when what is being shared around me reflects brokenness and despair.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

 

Broken

 

Have you ever had a wound reopened?  So not fun.  We all have been broken by situations before.  We have all been hurt or let down by people.  We get past it.  We move on.  We heal and we grow.  But then there are those times when out of nowhere a memory resurfaces.  Someone makes a comment or you see a picture and all the feelings come rushing back.  Wound opened.  Salt applied.  Ouch.

This week has been one of those weeks for me.  I realized that the overwhelming feeling I suffer from when this happens is disappointment.  Disappointment in myself.  I feel disappointed that I’m still hurt, as if I don’t have a reason to be.  I’m disappointed that the pain still exists and that I’m not as over the situation as I thought.  The lie the enemy tries to whisper in my ear is that God is disappointed in me too, as if God is standing to the side waiting for me to get my act together so that He can lead me to the next thing in my life.

So my natural response tends to be to try to do everything in my might to care for my own heart.  I try not thinking about things.  I try blocking things from my mind.  I pray apologetic prayers, all the while harboring a lingering fear that somehow I am messing things up because I can’t seem to move past my brokenness.

This week God spoke to me.  I was praying and asking the Lord what He wanted me to do about my brokenness.  Clear as day, He spoke to my heart, “All I want you to do is to receive my love.”  I saw an image of myself lying on a hospital bed, wounded.  But the Lord was my doctor.  It hit me and I finally understood that just like you wouldn’t expect a wounded patient to get up and start doing things to get over their woundedness, God doesn’t expect that from me either.  Just like you wouldn’t blame a patient for being wounded by another, God doesn’t blame me for being broken by the actions of others.  And just like the best thing for a wounded patient is bed rest, the best thing that I can do in my brokenness is to rest in God’s love.  I saw myself connected to an IV and it dawned to me that the IV represented a constant flow of God’s love coursing through my veins.  He wanted me to be aware that He sees my heart.  He knows what I’m going through and that it is He who heals, He who restores and He that brings wholeness.

The Lord is my heart surgeon.

I suspect that I’m not the only one who has experienced brokenness and reopened wounds.  If that’s you, I want you to stop every effort you are making to heal your own heart.  Take a time out and recognize that today God desires that you give all your brokenness to Him.  Recognize today that God wants to embrace you and hold you tight.  Allow Him to mend your heart and put the pieces back together.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18

On Untangling Knots

I’ve heard it said that girls are complicated.  I’ve heard it said that while guys compartmentalize their thoughts and emotions that a girl’s mind is more comparable to a bowl of spaghetti, each thought representing a strand that’s interconnected and tangled up in several other strands.  I am learning that this is  true of me.

If you read my blog often, you will see a common theme.  One of my biggest issues in life is that I feel the need to understand and to know where I am in life and where I am going.  I want to have all my ducks lined up in a row and if I don’t feel I have this sense of control over my own life, it makes me very uncomfortable.  This sentiment carries over to the realm of my emotions.  I feel I know how I should feel in a given situation and what my outlook should be.  The problem is that my emotions seem to have a mind of their own and don’t always pay attention to the commands of my brain.

Lately, I have been bothered by situations in my life that represent something like a tangled ball of yarn.  I don’t know how to think, how to feel and even how to pray about these situations because they are complex and confusing.  Everything is connected and intertwined and I can’t touch one situation without it touching on another area of my life.

Guys.  God spoke to me this week about this…through the radio!!!  Over the past couple of days prior to this breakthrough moment, I had been praying about this subject and having conversations about it with some very close friends.  Each time I spoke or prayed I used the language of tangled knots.  So there I was pulling up to my house.  I had parked my car and turned it off,  but the radio was still going.  I had stopped to glance down at my phone when I heard a woman’s voice say: “Have you ever been in a situation that was so tangled and knotted  that you felt like you didn’t know how to think, how to feel, or how to pray?”  She had my attention.  She continued, “God wants you to know that He’s the one that untangles your knots, not you.  All He wants you to do is to wait and to trust Him.  He is the MESSiah.  The God that turns our MESS into a MESSage of hope and love.”

I was floored.  Those simple words cut right to my heart and I felt a sense of peace rush over me, as I realized that God cares about all of my knots and He works diligently to unravel them.  God doesn’t want us to waste our time worrying about things that are out of our control.  All He wants us to do is place what’s tangled in His hands, so that we can pursue all the bright and beautiful things that He has for us today.  In the meantime, God is working behind the scenes in every moment making every mess into a message.  Sometimes it just takes a little time and perspective for us to be able to see it.  Someday we will look back in awe and wonder as we reflect on the brilliant masterpiece God has made of our lives, using even our messes to aid in the process.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecc. 3:11)

Stop Waiting and Start Living

Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. -Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I think we put too many parameters around our own happiness.  Alot of us whether consciously or unconsciously live our lives day to day with this common thought floating around in our minds: I’ll be happier when _____________ happens.  Fill in the blank.  For each person, it’s something different.  I’ll be happier when I’m married.  I’ll be happier when I have my own home.  I’ll be happier when I have more friends.  I’ll be happier when I make more money.  Society has taught us that these things are the mark of a happy and successful person.  When did we decide to allow society to define our happiness?  Life is not one size fits all.  No one’s story is the same.  I refuse to allow these things to dictate my sense of joy and being content.  I’m single.  I live with six roommates.  I can always use more money.  But guess what?  I am living my life like it’s golden.

Just recently, I started a new job.  I love the women that I work with.  Several of them are in relationships and have children.  When I tell them I am single with no kids, they tell me I’m living the dream.  They tell me not to rush and to take my time, because I’ll wish I had this time back.  It’s all about perspective.

I love the way that Kay Warren defines joy.  She says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  The truth is that you decide how happy you are going to be.  No one can determine your attitude but you.  You don’t have to allow your circumstances to rob you of happiness.

In Eph. 5:16, we are advised to make the most of every opportunity.  Stop waiting and start living!  Choose to see the beauty in every moment that you are in.  Choose to focus on all the blessings in your life and the many things you have to be thankful for.  Choose to go on adventures.  Choose to try new things.  Smile, laugh, enjoy the outdoors and a good cup of coffee among good friends.  Life is about so much more than what society considers to be the milestones of success.

Recognize that God is with you in each moment that you are in.  It is God that determines the course of your life and the next step.  He has your best interest in mind and He loves you more than you can possibly understand or wrap your head around.  Choose to trust Him with the big picture items and enjoy each small moment of happiness that you are in.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6

A Living Memorial

Monday I wrote about what happened in Joshua chapter 1 when the Israelites were on the edge of their promised land.  Today, we are going to address what happened when they actually crossed the Jordan.  In Joshua chapter 3, Joshua commands the Levitical priests to lead the people of Israel across the river, as they lift up the Ark of the Covenant.  When the priests feet touch the river, the flow of water is cut off and the river stands up like a wall, enabling the people to cross over by the town of Jericho.

God has done it again!  In a great display of love and affection towards His chosen people, He pulls off a miracle of great proportions, so that the Israelites may step into their promised land.  I love what happens in chapter 4.  Joshua commands 12 men, who have been selected from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, to pick up a stone from the middle of the Jordan where the Ark of the Covenant is being lifted up.  These stones are to be used to build a memorial to all that God has done for His people.  Joshua declares, “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?  Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’  These stones will stand as a memorial among  the people of Israel forever” (Josh. 4:6-7).

God has been speaking to me about building memorials in my own life.  There have been several times that God has come to my rescue, drawing me out of what seemed to be an impossible situation and placing my feet on solid ground.  There is one particular time in my life that seems to stand out more than any other.  It was the summer before my junior year of high school.  I was under a severe amount of stress.  My best friend at the time was hospitalized and admitted into a residential program because of various attempts she had made to commit suicide.  I had stuff going on in my family as well and a ton of summer homework I was trying to plow through.  The stress became more than I could handle and I snapped.  I ended up having a severe nervous breakdown that landed me in the hospital.  The circumstances were so severe that I was diagnosed and put on heavy medication.  My family was told by the doctors that I wouldn’t be able to function normally and would likely have to be on medication for the rest of my life.  It was the darkest season of my life.

Throughout this period of time, I had friends and family praying for me and I clung to Jesus firmly.  The medication I was on made me depressed and lethargic and zapped all the life out of me and I reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore.  After a couple months, we asked the doctors to decrease my dosages with the goal of getting off the meds, but they refused.  They said that decreasing my dosages even a little was too risky.  So in a move of faith, I took myself off my medication completely.  What happened amazes me even to this day.  Not only did I return to being myself, but I finished off high school graduating the salutatorian of my class, earning myself a full scholarship to college.  God had taken me by the hand and saw to it that I crossed over my Jordan. It’s been ten years and I have never gone back to that dark place since.

I have other stories of times God has pulled through for me in incredible ways and I’m sure you have stories and testimonies of your own.  Like Joshua and the Israelites, we need to set up memorials and monuments to these moments, so that when we find ourselves in troubled times again can we can build up our faith and put our trust in the Lord.  Make it a point to write these moments down and to share them with others.

More than anything, I want to be a living memorial of God’s goodness.  I want to be a living and breathing monument that declares the promises and goodness of God to the hurting and the broken.  In 2 Cor. 3:2, Paul says of the Corinthian church, “Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.”  Today what I want you to know is that your life is a letter that declares God’s love to those around you.  Let others read your story and rejoice in the goodness of God.

At the Edge of the Promised Land

 

This post is about fear, obedience to God and crossing over into the promised land.  Recently, I was reading up on Joshua.  Joshua was the man that God chose to bring Israel into the promised land after they had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  40 years prior, the Israelites had an opportunity to cross into the promised land, but they refused to because of fear.  Out of the 12 spies sent to go and check out the land, only Joshua and Caleb returned with a faith-filled report.  The other 10 lacked trust and confidence in God.  Because of the disobedience of the Israelites, the nation was sent to wander around the wilderness for 40 years.  But at the opening of the book of Joshua, we find the Israelites right back at the edge of their promised land.

I find this concept so interesting because I feel like so many of us are right at the edge of our promised land.  I feel like God has territory for us to take and things for us to accomplish by His strength, and we have to decide whether we are going to take the steps required to cross over into all that God has for us.  You may have made decisions in the past that caused you to succumb to fear rather than to move forward in the plan of God for your life.  The decision is yours as to whether you’ll let fear get the best of you again or if you’ll grasp tightly to the Lord in bold faith and confidence.

We can learn alot from Joshua.  God hands Joshua the keys to success when He tells Him: “Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Josh. 1:7).  God makes it clear that the key to success is faith-filled obedience to Him.  God breaks it down even further than that.  If our desire is to obey Him, than we must know His Word.  His Word is our manual and our life support; if we live a lifestyle of trusting in God and walking in obedience to His Word, we can’t go wrong.  Will it be hard?  Yes.  Will it be challenging?  Absolutely.  Will there be times you want to give up?  You betcha.  But will you make it the other side?  Yes, you most certainly will.

There is one more thing I want to say to those who are  at the edge of their promised land.  Don’t be afraid!  That’s one of those things that’s easy to say, but not necessarily easy to do.  I recognize that.  But the reality is that no fear you face, no obstacle standing in your way, no trouble you encounter is bigger than Jesus and He promises to be with you every step of the way.  He promises to never leave your side.  He won’t leave you alone at the edge of your promised land.  As He says to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).

Life Lessons Madea Has Taught Me About Love, Trust and Letting Go

https://youtu.be/OsB7SCUMkY0

In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of learning when to let go and how to let go.  I don’t know about you, but this is an area of my life that requires constant attention and improvement.  I don’t always do letting go well.  The thing is I love people hard.  I want to keep people.  But I have found that in order to truly love people, you have to give them freedom.  Freedom to think for themselves, freedom to make their own choices, freedom to figure things out and the freedom to walk out of your life, if they so choose to.

In the video posted above, Madea provides some words of wisdom.  She talks about the importance of allowing people to choose to walk away.  As counterintuitive as it seems, it requires more love to allow someone to leave you behind and to do their own thing than it does to control and manipulate a situation to keep a person around as long as possible.

Madea categorizes people using a tree analogy.  Some are like leaves.  They blow in and out of your life.  They are here today and gone tomorrow.  Some are like branches.  They stick around for a while, but eventually when life gets hard or circumstances change the relationship bends until it breaks.  But some people are like roots.  These are the people you can go deep with.  They are there in the sunshine and the storm.  They provide a sense of stability and belonging.  Only the test of time will tell us which people belong in which category.

In my own life, I strive to be a root in my relationship with others.  I want to be there through thick and through thin.  I want my relationships with people to stand the test of time.  This mindset can be a blessing and a curse.  This mindset carries with it the expectation that others desire for you to be a root in their lives and to be a root in yours, but the truth is not everyone does.  As much as it sucks to admit, I am learning that this is okay.  Some relationships are only meant to last for a season.  You learn to cherish those people while you have them, to learn what you can through the process and when it comes time to let go, you look back with fond memories on all the times you shared.

I used to identify with Peyton from One Tree Hill.  For those not familiar with the show, her slogan in life was “People always leave.”  I’ve experienced a bit of that.  It’s hard.  It hurts.  The temptation would be for me to change my approach to relationships.  To keep myself closed off and to only allow people to get so close.  After all, wouldn’t that make the leaving process much easier?  By the grace of God, I can say that even through all the pain I’ve experienced and the all the times I’ve seen relationships fade out, my desire is still to be a root for others.  My desire is to be able to trust God and His love enough that I can give others the freedom to walk away if they want to without becoming hardened or jaded.

I recognize that this is easier said than done.  However, with all this talk of trees and roots, I can’t help but to be reminded of the fact that who I am rooted in, Jesus Christ, enables me to love people to this degree.  In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  See in our relationship with Jesus, He is the root and we are the branches.  When we are detached from the vine, we wither up and die, physically and spiritually, as a result of being separated from our life source.  However, when we choose to remain connected to Jesus, we receive the life and love that we need, enabling us to thrive.  Not only do we receive this life and love, but our connection to the root allows us to share true life and love with others.  We can handle the rejection of someone walking away, because we know that we are rooted in one who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7)

Why is God so Good to Me?

The Lord appeared to Him from far away.  I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued by faithfulness to you. Jer. 31:3

Recently, I was chatting with one of my best friends about life and all the good things going on for both of us, when she looked up and wondered out loud, “Why is God so Good to Me?”  I’m a thinker and a processer, so that question has stuck with me for the past several days.  The most obvious answer to this question is because God loves you!  However, if you carry out the implications of that you can’t help but to wonder about those who suffer, doesn’t God love them too?  He absolutely does.

The basic Gospel message tells us that everything that God does, He does out of love for us and out of a desire to have a relationship with us.  Even when our sin cut us off from Him, Jesus sacrificed His own life, in order that someday we could know Him personally.  God wants us to know Him in the same way that we know our spouses or know our best friends.  He wants to be the one we turn to in times of joy and sorrow.  He wants us to pour out the contents of our hearts before Him after a rough day.  He wants us to experience His love first hand.  He doesn’t want us to be satisfied with a second-hand knowledge of Him.  He wants true intimacy with us.  Every blessing and good thing we have in our lives points back at this truth.  God loves us.

However, there is a tension that exists because the world we live in is not perfect.  God, in His love, did not create robots and therefore each human being has their own free will.  Unfortunately, we don’t always use our free will to noble ends, which creates a lot of havoc and chaos in the world we live in.  This is why we see evil and suffering in the world.

I’ve experienced that tension in my own life.  I’ve fallen victim to the “free-will chaos.”  As a young girl, I experienced abuse, which has impacted me in far deeper ways than I probably even know.  I’ve watched loved ones damage themselves in acts of self-destruction, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.  I was more aware of the evil that exists in the world than any girl needs to be at 4 or 5 years old.  However, from a young age, my circumstances drove me right into the arms of my heavenly Father.  At my weakest point, I relied on Jesus to be my strength.  I learned to depend on Him and to trust Him to pull me through some of my darkest times.  God used my parents, as well as other godly men and women in my life, to support me, to love on me and to pull me through.  I believe that God’s heart broke to see what I went through.  He would have never chosen that for me, but in His infinite grace and goodness He used that situation to cause me to lean on Him, to grow closer to Him and to become the strong and resilient woman that I am today.  He uses every situation, even the ones the enemy intended for our destruction, for our good.  He is the God that turns every negative circumstance on it’s head, making our mess a message of His love to the world.

Because of what I went through, I have learned that the most important thing I can do is to trust God, regardless of my circumstances, in good times and in bad.  Over the years, I have been blessed in so many ways that I too can look at my life and say, “God, why are you so good to me?”  Others, see the hand of God working in my life and at times have gotten the impression that everything comes easy for me.  It’s not true.  I have just learned that there are blessings to be found in everything, even in trials.

The bottom line is this: No matter where you are at in life, God loves you and desires a relationship with you.  If you are in a season of blessing, you have God to thank for all the good things in your life.  If you are experiencing hardship and suffering, you can be assured that it is God’s desire to use those circumstances for your benefit and to take you by the hand and lead you out into the better and brighter things He has for your future.  You can trust Him.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.  But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13