Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! - Psalm 27:14
As a child, my mother would attempt to place me in a chair in the corner for time out. In my adventurous mind, I made the most of this time. Rather than pondering the life lesson I was supposed to be learning, I’m told, I would walk my feet up and down the wall, sing songs to myself and play games in the corner. As infuriating as I’m sure this had to be for my mother, thank goodness she had patience with me! Unfortunately, I usually didn’t learn my lesson because I would distract myself from the situation. To this day, I still don’t like to wait, I find the most of life in the moment I’m in. I usually find a way to enjoy it but I have to be careful I’m not missing out on an opportunity to grow.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4
In my Type A personality, I rush into projects. I research them to death in a short amount of time and dive all in. It rarely occurs to me that I could wait and complete a project at a later date, when the timing might be better. I am an “all in” kind of woman. Due to this wonderful character trait, I certainly deal with some shortcomings. One of those shortcomings is patience and the art of waiting. I’ve often told others, “God rarely shows me what the big picture plan is because He knows if He does I’m going to run as hard and fast towards that plan as possible and I might miss out on the crucial lessons of trusting in Him and equipping along the way.” Having just celebrated Easter, I am reminded of the importance of waiting especially in God’s timing.
God’s sovereignty is something I could spend my entire life researching and delving into. At this point in time, I have come to this conclusion: It is through God’s love for me that He allows these seasons of waiting. These seasons are when I am most malleable as the clay and as the potter He can mold me closer in His image. After a season of waiting I find more freedom than I had before and a deeper understanding of who I am as a believer. God never promised this life would be easy, in fact Jesus often reminded His followers that life would be challenging. As a believer, you are not immune to challenges and shortcomings. The difference is, you have the helper. The Holy Spirit lives in you to help comfort and guide you. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in you! If that’s not something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.- Romans 8:11
If you are in a season of waiting, be encouraged. You are not walking alone. This season does have a purpose and you can come out the other side stronger but you must press into God. He will never leave you nor forsake you, but have you walked away from Him? I do not say these things thinking it is easy to be content in a season of waiting. I have endured terrible seasons of desperately waiting to see God move. However, I am saying God is that big and His power is that mighty. That with Him, you can face whatever season of waiting lies ahead.
Waiting is not a time of inaction but rather waiting is a time of great action. Action in choosing to trust, choosing to dive in to God’s word and choosing to lean on your creator and savior. Waiting isn’t an act of complacency but rather an act of standing firm and enduring spiritual warfare. What will you choose today? The art of waiting is no small feat.
The Bible tells us that God knew you before He knit you together in your mother's womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) Have you ever attempted knitting? I attempted multiple times growing up and it was a disaster! So thankful God is the master of design and creation. Even if you are good at knitting you know the extraneous attention to detail, the careful selection of materials and the attention it requires to knit something together. Can you imagine knitting together the intricacies of the human body and even more so your personality? That’s what God has done and continues to do. We are all the work of God’s hands. Not some of us, not a chosen few, ALL OF US! I could write an entire book on the importance of finding your identity in God alone and the unique type of freedom that provides. Maybe one day I will but today, let’s talk about the basic concept that is so easily overlooked. This foundational truth can alter your perspective of yourself and in turn your existence.
Oh God, our Father we are the clay, You are the potter, we are all the work of your hands. -Isaiah 64:8
You have gifting, talents and abilities that are unique to you. Early on in ministry I would see others with the gift of service. They would gladly wash the dishes after noon lunch and sweep every inch of our building. All while joyfully praising God in their own way. I would feel such a sense of guilt in those moments because that is SO not my gifting. I am not the woman who gleefully walks up to the sink to wash dishes and feels fulfilled after. Seeing the many people in the local church that seemed to be gifted in that way, the historic Bible stories of those humbly serving and the servant leaders I had early on it was a real challenge for me. However, that guilt was not from God. If you are feeling this way, don’t own it.
In Luke 12:7, the Bible says that God knows the number of hairs on your head. I don’t know if you are anything like me but every day when I brush my hair copious amounts of hair come out. In the shower, in my hair brush...everywhere! I don’t even know how many hairs come out, I don’t think I want to know ha. But God does. He cares that much, He is that all knowing. If He knows how many hairs are on your head, don’t you think that He knows your passions and desires! He knows what will fulfill you, the areas of serving others that will inspire you most; in your neighborhood, your career, your classes, in everyday life.
You may be saying God, I’d love to know what that looks like for me, could you fill me in on the secret? We must remember that often times God calls us to obedience before He reveals His plan. So, what step of obedience is He asking of you today? He is calling you to give something specific over to Him. Whether it be your perceived lack of self-worth, the talents you hold back because you are scared of serving in certain capacities or a struggle you need to let go of. Whatever it is, lay it down. Lay it on down and trust that God has something better for you because you are divinely designed to be uniquely you!
*If you are looking to learn more about yourself and how you might enjoy serving, keep an eye out for a new RESOURCES section of the website where a Talents & Gifts Survey will be shared soon!
The idea was originally introduced in the 70’s but has really caught some attention over the last few years. To develop a capsule wardrobe you are supposed to narrow down your clothing items to a few “timeless” pieces, within a similar color palette, to provide multiple mix and match options.
If you know me well, I have never claimed to be a fashionista. In fact I was notoriously known for being a tomboy in my early years. However, over the past few years, I have begun developing my taste and style in clothing. When I first started this process, I still had clothing from High School. (I’ve been out of High School for over 10 years) For all of you that just got nauseous, no worries. I have since gained weight and the fantasy of wearing the same clothes significantly beyond their shelf-life and reasonable style range is far behind me!
Before starting, I set up three questions establishing ground rules that were non-negotiable:
With these guidelines, I was off to the races. Filling garbage bags to donate and, for some of the more stylish pieces, to sell to local consignment stores. I felt like I was doing well. Keep in mind, most of the articles I read encouraged me to keep 35 items or less. Further into this process, it quickly became clear this would be an impossible task.
I’m not sure what climate these authors live in but they definitely aren’t North of the Mason Dixon. Moving into my winter wear, I had to think through how many articles of clothing I would need to wear each day. Let me fill you in on a secret, if you don’t live anywhere near New England, I personally wear a minimum of 9 articles of clothing EVERY DAY! Layering is critical to surviving the winters here. Coming to this realization was a defining moment.
I am a competitive woman! When I came upon the realization this was not entirely feasible, I was quite frustrated. I had been so excited to minimize my belongings and simplify my mornings as all of these writers and friends had encouraged me to do. The ever important lesson I was reminded of, “Don’t class or compare yourselves one person to another”(2 Corinthians 12:10). Ha, seriously though, I had to figure out what worked best for me. What was feasible but healthy.
If you are working towards improving your life, whether it be a capsule wardrobe or something more serious, do not allow yourself to be affected by the failures or successes of others. You are unique your journey is unique. As you work to grow in your life just know that you are not alone. Your path is unique but we share common experiences and One BIG God. We are all in it with you sister! Take one day at a time and trust that the time and efforts you are putting in are worth it.
“Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” - Matthew 16:24-26
The next few days, months, weeks and years God radically transformed my life from religion being a part of my life to my relationship with God being my purpose for living! Daily surrendering my fears, doubts and failures was my primary focus. While celebrating the peace, joy and redemption that flooded into my life, I was fueled by a passion to walk by faith. As a young christian, I was eager to dive into the Bible morning and night. Amazed by the beauty evolving from my growing relationship with God. The redemption that took place was intoxicating.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:13
Despite the miracles God has done in my life, I still struggle through seasons of fear, doubt and complacency. Walking through my daily quiet time as though I were merely eating breakfast, not meeting with The One True King; savior, redeemer and creator.
At times I’m ashamed of how easily I fall into mundane actions, of how I’m distracted by daily life or even ministry related happenings, of how unintentional I can be in my relationships. It doesn’t take long before I notice I’m not loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. It’s in those moments I:
You see, surrendering your life to God, following His leadership and living out His love is not only decided in a single moment but is also a daily decision to surrender your all to Him, to dive deep in to His word and to be real.
Start today, set aside some time and space to get real with God. You can do this in an abundance of ways, I like to do some of the following: simply journal prayer, listen to worship music and take a walk, crack open my Bible and pray for God to move. How do you get real with God? Share in the comments below!
“We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” - Hebrews 6:18.
Today we are going to dive into this verse, and surrounding verses in Hebrews to take a closer look at how this set of verses can radically alter our perceptions, give us peace in the storms of life and the strength to move forward after devastating circumstances. Whether you are a survivor of a traumatic event, an abusive relationship or challenging circumstances, I’m right there with you. As a survivor, in my earlier seasons of healing, I always asked myself if the trauma defined me. In fact, when I hit the bottom of the barrel and walk through a powerful storm in life, I still revisit that question. The difference between my earlier years and now is the truth I have readily embraced that nothing defines me but God.
“Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…” - Hebrews 6:20.
The stage is being set here. God is calling out a specific audience, those that have sought refuge in Him. Are you seeking refuge now? Maybe you have walked through losing a job, a loved one or are fighting addiction, seek refuge in Him today! Be encouraged, God is with you, you are not facing your circumstances on your own. Maybe the trauma you experienced was years ago but the aftermath still occasionally rears its head. Your trauma does not define you. However, it will always be part of you, it has helped shape who you are and the way you choose to face (or run from) those circumstances will continually shape you.
Focus on Your Relationship With God
Even when you are angry with Him, it’s okay to be honest about that in prayer. God knows what you’re thinking, let Him in. For “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”-M.L.K. Jr. Take refuge, be encouraged, hold fast! It’s also important to note that the hope is set before you...then begs the question, what is my hope? Jesus has gone before you. Not only is He your savior but He gets what it’s like to walk this earth. He knows the challenges we face on a daily basis. Jesus can completely empathize with your situation. Hold fast to that hope.
No matter what this life has to offer, if you have a relationship with God through the sacrifice Jesus made, you have hope. You are not bound by your past experiences. No trauma will define you, unless you give it that power. Learn from it, grow from it and give it to God through prayer. Rise up and walk in the freedom you have because Jesus has gone before you.
The shackles that once held you captive are removed, the prison cell door is unlocked and open, now it’s up to you. Will you cast your pain, your despair and your fear to God and walk out of the cell you have been bound by? Things will not instantly be perfect and that’s okay. Often times it’s a daily choice to let go of the hurt. Make that choice daily and walk in freedom.
This time of year is filled with an array of emotions. Some of us have triumphantly walked into the new year with excitement and vigor. While others barely survived the holidays and are eagerly walking into a new season, hoping it will be better than the last. Whether you are the former or the latter I pray that God would move in and through you this year!
Everywhere we look, social media, adds, commercials, etc. We see promotions challenging us to make changes as we kick off the new year, often with specific S.M.A.R.T goals in mind. These goals might sound something like “I plan to lose 20 lbs before the summer begins” or “In this new year I am limiting my time on Netflix to two hrs a day”. Setting goals is a proven way to achieve growth in our lives. However, what if you chose to do something different this year?
My encouragement to you in 2019 is to put your “YES” on the table. Say YES to God, trusting in whatever direction He takes you. Putting your YES on the table means you are releasing control over every area of your life by trusting in God’s sovereignty and His provision. This act of obedience is paramount to living in freedom. It’s biblical, but often we get so caught up in what we think we should be doing or what we think God's plan is, that we miss out.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” - 1 Chronicles 16:11
By saying YES, you are choosing to seek Him first in your life. Say YES to God by giving Him your relationships, finances, work and talents. Freely move as He calls you for His Glory. Letting go of control won’t be easy but you can rest in knowing that God is directing your path. Will you join me in faithfully putting your YES on the table this year? I can’t wait to see what God does through our obedience!
God has been moving in my heart since I was a child to help others through a ministry of sharing life and hope. My journey has been one of many valleys and a few mountain tops. God has literally saved my life on more than one occasion. My experiences have included abuse, failed relationships, low self-esteem, strongholds, and more, you name it I've been there. My mentor often relates my life story to that of Job's. Learning to laugh at myself and the crazy experiences I've walked through has been pertinent to keeping a positive outlook. I'm quite confident sarcasm is a 6th Love Language! Most importantly I've learned how to press into God on a daily basis. No matter where you come from or what you're facing you are not alone. Jesus is standing in the gap for you!
As God has commanded us, let's be strong and courageous. Facing this world is no easy task. You may be thinking you are not strong enough. Remember “God's grace is sufficient for you, for God's power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore boast all the more gladly of your weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon you."(2 Corinthians 12:9). Press into God and He will draw near to you.
Thanks for checking out Pursuing Hope: I look forward to adding more resources and blog posts!