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Have It All

“In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.” -Luke 14:33

Wow. Where do I begin? Only had two weeks of school and I feel as if I have been studying here for months already. I have never been so loved. Never been so full. So hungry for more. I am surrounded by some of the greatest community here at this school and am continually blessed with some of the most loving, encouraging, and spirit-filled staff members, teachers, and mentors. I could never have imagined this. I definitely didn’t ask for it. But God, in his goodness, provides. Not just what we want, but what we need. What we really need; not just what we think we need.

I could go on and on about what we do here and what I’ve learned so far- but honestly I’m not even sure where to begin. We are instructed by what I believe are some of the wisest and loving humans on the planet. We are brought into the presence of God on a DAILY basis. We are prayed over more than we can even comprehend. And from the moment class begins to the second it ends; I am overwhelmed by the presence and the love and the goodness of God. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Each morning we start with worship and intercession at 8am. We go into the 24/7 house of prayer and meet with God face to face. After an hour in there (which is never long enough) we go into the classroom to have lessons; which are taught by different leaders each day. We also have assigned “small groups” of about 6-8 people that we break into for discussion, encouragement, and prayer; and “mentor groups” (or small, small groups) of 1-2 students and a leader that we go to for deeper accountability and growth. Then one day a week is community day; or team building. It’s all of the year one and year two students together that play games, do bonding activities, and team challenges. I feel like I have already been friends with some of these students for most of my life. We have memorized scripture together, ran around in the rain, and had family meals. I still can’t believe I get to do life this next year with some of the greatest people around; a few of them have moved across the world to be here! We have five international students, and half of our leaders are from Bethel!!! We went to a conference together last week and have already planned two more for this fall. Everyday is an overload of information and spiritual encounter; I haven’t even had time to process it yet. On top of work and a good supply of scripture-based homework; I hit the bed exhausted every night- but oh so full.

On the day before school started; I was journaling about all my emotions and excitement about this upcoming year. The very last line I wrote was “Lord, Have It All.” And that has since become my theme for school. One of my teachers even made me a painting saying just that. I am going into this year just so so open-handed; ready to receive any and everything that He has for me. The song Have It All by Bethel has really come back into mind during this time; and their whole album has been on repeat for me these past few days. (It’s a couple years old now but so dang good!)

Literally in the 2.5 days it has taken me to write this; even more incredible things have happened. I guarantee if I tried to describe every day of school I would have to write 3 blogs for each one. Last night I was even under spiritual attack because of it. We have been going so deep with God and so far into His presence in an experience of Freedom and Joy; We all danced around the room with flags during worship yesterday morning while singing out praises to Him. I have been just in a place of such deep intimacy and it has been INCREDIBLE. But once I got home yesterday and went into work- I just felt this heaviness and darkness and sadness overcome me. I didn’t have a cause for it and I couldn’t shake it. It followed me the whole night; and even as I went to bed I was praying against it. This morning I still felt heavy- and I went into worship just needing to receive. I realized that this was an attack of the enemy and I needed to continue to battle it. As I came in, I knew this spirit could not last in the presence of the Lord, and I was anticipating for the freedom of it to come! My friend Olivia approached me when I came in and asked if I would lead worship with her. At first I wanted to say no, because I knew that I needed to just soak in His presence as I continued this spiritual warfare. But the Lord promised me that this would be good for me; and that even from the stage I could receive His joy and fullness. So I obeyed. Halfway into worship I felt myself take a deep breath of fresh air; as if I was breathing for the first time. I inhaled the Spirit, so deeply, breathing in with it a new level of life. I felt the heaviness, sadness, exhaustion, and darkness fall off me as I continued to praise the giver of life and love. It was the most incredible feeling- I literally inhaled freedom as I shook off these attacks of the enemy, and could worship so much more freely as a result. We even had prayer afterwards and I had two of the greatest girls praying over me as I told them what I had been facing. We also prayed over the class as a whole; because wherever the Lord is working, the devil is attacking as well; and I wasn’t the only one who battled spiritual warfare this week. But I am encouraged by this because I know GOD IS VICTORIOUS and He is doing big things here at HSSM. And we’re just getting started!!!!! Upsetting the devil is the biggest sign that something good is happening.

Since I have been here I have led worship at two churches already! I have never been in a place of so much opportunity and so much growth. I am challenged every day, and surrounded by a loving community most everywhere I turn. I sure miss home a heck of a lot; but God is faithful everywhere He sends us.

This is a picture of all of us after going ziplining (Yes, we did that!) today. These people are my new family and my heart is so dang full.

School

Girls

Sending all of my love back home. I love y’all so so big!!! Missing everyone a little extra, and my heart’s biggest desire is that you could all experience something like this one day. My eyes are being opened to so many sides of God that I’ve never seen before- and THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING! Thanks so much for all of the phone calls, texts, and FaceTime calls! They mean the world. Come visit me sometime so I can show you all of this in person!

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The Mundane Matters

John 14:1, 4- “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me… And you know the way to where I am going.”

I’m sure many of you, especially those back in the WR area are wondering; “How’s PA?” And honestly, it’s taken me such a long time to even write this blog because I felt like there wasn’t anything going on here to tell people about. I almost felt embarrassed by that- Like, “I moved all the way up here and nothing has really happened…?” And although it does seem very uneventful and boring most of the time, I still felt it appropriate to post an update.

Life here is… well… different. Culture shock is real and it is happening. Even without leaving the country there are places that just have such unique atmosphere, climate, population, and density that it can be alarming. Thankfully I knew what I was getting into, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Most of my mornings have been fairly typical; sleeping in, watching some Netflix, reading… I’ve been doing a little extra cooking when it comes to meals which has been both exciting and annoying.

I got a job up here, which I started a couple weeks ago and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m an evening waitress at a little Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant called Bird-In-Hand. Although I have to dress almost COMPLETELY Mennonite, it’s an enjoyable place to work with really good hours. Not to mention the money is great! I get along with all of my coworkers, most of them are actually quite a bit older than me. It was one guys’ birthday last week so we all went out after work to celebrate and it was so nice just getting to know everyone better and doing something outside of the restaurant. Honestly, this job is such a blessing! I never would have seen myself here but God provided and it’s exactly what I needed.

My community is starting to come together as well. Slowly, but surely- God is putting people in my path who I can be intentional and make memories with. I got coffee (actually chai tea) with a girl last week, and today after church I went to lunch with my friend Jana at the cutest little restaurant tucked inside the middle of a college campus. I even got to take care of the worlds’ most adorable dog this Saturday. I am so thankful that the Lord knows my desire for relationship and continues to fill it with exactly what I need.

But the best part of living here has got to be the area. First of all, everything is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t fully describe in words the magnificence of this place. The whole county is tucked between the mountains; filled with rolling hills. Even the 10-minute ride to church quickly transforms to a scenic country drive. Fields, hills, and a view of the mountains follows me just about everywhere I go; and I’m not at all upset about it. Combine that with some worship music in the car and there’s the perfect setting for a praise session. (Believe me, I’ve had plenty of them). But God really displays His love for me in this weather we’ve been experiencing here. Since the first week I came; I’ve woken up to nice, cool mornings, a warm (but not hot or humid) day, and then a breezy, comfortable evening. I’ve been having so so many devotions outside in the mornings because this weather is just too perfect not to enjoy. There has been some rain the past couple days, but that doesn’t diminish this perfect fall climate. Not sure if I have ever experienced temperatures like this on a consistent basis, and I couldn’t be more thankful. My mother even came up to visit for a family wedding and we would put on sweatshirts and walk through the park on some of the most beautiful mornings I have yet to see. I can’t even step outside without smiling because I know God is just pouring out blessing upon blessing to me. Fall has always been my favorite season and this is the first year I will get to experience it in this breathtaking place.

Yes, I am homesick. I miss people often and have probably already gotten on some friends’ nerves with how much I still contact them. Even as I’m writing this, Grace Midtown livestream is playing and almost making me cry. These two weeks have almost felt like two months in some ways just because I feel as if I’m not doing much, and life is very mundane at times. But even in it, I find His goodness. Even sitting and watching tv, I see Him moving. Even in trying to make friends, I am made more aware of His friendship. In missing home, I am reminded that my home is wherever He is; and He is everywhere. And in my loneliness and boredom, I’m comforted with His perfect peace. Each time I feel the fall breeze, or drive on the winding roads through the cornfields, or greet a new table at work, I’m reminded that He called me here. That there is a greater plan in store. That this is home. And when I stop to count my blessings, I realize there are a lot more of them than I may see at first glance.

Also, I’ve finally learned how to get around mostly without a GPS! Any of y’all that know me know how much of a struggle it is for me to find my way around. It took me about 7 days to finally learn the way to work, which is about 20 minutes of nothing but backroads. Slowly starting to feel less like a stranger here, so Praise God for that!

All the Feels

Psalm 39:7- “And now, Oh Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

This is gonna be really raw. Below is an entry that I wrote today in my journal: August 13, 2017.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion today. Last night some of my good friends threw me a going away party and it was so good.. So great just feeling loved by beautiful people. But today I woke up heavy; because with deep love comes deep emotion. Especially when you have to say goodbye. And I don’t know how long it will be till I am here again.

It is more and more obvious that our lives are all on different paths right now. Even the thought of being so far away from my younger sisters makes me want to just cry. Sob. All of it. These people are mine; and as I step away I don’t know if they will come with me. Or at least in the way that I want them to.

I have no idea what I’m walking into- all I can see is what I am stepping out of. I have a loss of appetite, loss of excitement, loss of confidence. I have no desire to see people because I know it will hurt too much to pull away.

Yet in all of this I have an increased desire to run to You. A greater love of your presence. A need, a longing to spend time with you. And in the midst of my hurting and uncertainty; I’m grateful for that. Thankful that missing people makes me crave You more. And that You will always be there. You take this journey with me. In fact, You lead the way: and I just follow You up. Because You are there, I will go also. What it all comes down to is that I want to be closer to You, and that’s what You have called me to. So I am ready. Full embrace.”

And last Sunday I had a similar reaction:

“I’m diving headfirst into the unknown.

It is far. It is deep. It’s scary as heck.

But gosh how freeing.

How refreshing. How exciting

to jump with Jesus into a greater love for Him.

A flood of emotions as I swim.

I might walk, I might sink.

But I’m never letting go of His hand.

I’m ready, Lord. Steady my fall.

Hold my heart. I’m all in.”

August 6

Even when I begin to experience grief and sadness, I rest assured because I know that God works greatest in my weakness. And I am always drawn closer into His arms when I am hurting the most. The journey is exciting; but the transition is difficult. But what must I worry for? My hope is in Him. Always. Not in my friends here, but my future there. Not in my family but in my Father. Not in what I leave behind, but in His consistency wherever I am.

In reading a book the other day I was given some very powerful advice.

“Don’t get so focused on the messy reality that you miss the miracle in the midst of it.”

-Right now my reality is messy.. at least it seems that way. I feel stressed, overwhelmed at times, uncertain of what lies ahead, and saddened about leaving all I’ve ever known. But I am reminded that it was moments like this in the Bible that Jesus came in and did some of his greatest miracles. When everything was out of place- Jesus brought peace and restoration. So even in this time I can be expectant for Him to move. Because Jesus always shows up in our mess to bring His miraculous grace.

There is a song I have always loved called Holy Spirit. The bridge contains the line:

“Let us become more aware of your presence. Let us experience the glory of your goodness.”

I am always always convicted when singing this. My prayer is that God will constantly open my eyes to His presence moving in my life and in the lives of others. He is constantly present and active whether we sense it or not. But I pray that my eyes will be open to what He is doing and how He is working. That is when the miracles happen; right smack dab in the middle of our day to day lives.

“Don’t set into motion what needs to remain still.”

-This one is so good for me. Sometimes I see God’s hand leading me, or feel the promises He has given and I try to jump up and take control. I forget that He is still in control and I don’t have to worry about it. There are times when He tells me to move and to go and do. But other times He shows me the outcome, yet still asks that I wait for His fulfillment. I hope I can continue to trust and obey when I think I know where the road should lead. I don’t want to do anything on my own or outside of His plans. It is easy to sometimes get things moving when in reality God wants us to let them be left alone.

Thank you for letting me be raw and real. Up to this point I have been flooded with so many emotions, but it is important that I embrace all of them. To allow myself to feel both joy and sadness; excitement and grief. Ultimately He is good and He is God; so my soul rests in that. To anyone I have not been able to say goodbye to: I will see you again. Thanks for keeping me in your hearts and prayers. Love you all so big.

Fight, Good Soldier

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” -Ephesians 6:12

Temporary home. Basically the only way to describe what I’m feeling right now. Not here, not there. Someplace right in the middle.

What do you do when you’re exactly where you are supposed to be, but are also waiting on where you know you’re going? I’m here for 6 weeks, but it feels more like 6 days. So much I want to do before I leave for 9 months which may turn into 9 years.. Trying to work, spend time with friends, family, and say my goodbyes all wrapped up into one short summer is definitely not easy. I want to be here, but my heart is already gone. I’m trying to love on all of my people, but at the same time I’m grieving their absence. I’m literally divided into two worlds right now and not sure how to navigate it. I’ve never been here before. It’s unknown and it’s scary.

And I’m vulnerable. Never having a quiet mind for a minute; I’m very susceptible to any and every attack that could be thrown at me. Insecurities, doubts, worries, fears, and questions that I have never dealt with before make their presence well known in my soul. Everywhere I turn I am hit with a new obstacle that I’m not ready for. And my mind takes all the bait and runs wild. The devil knows my triggers and pulls them. He finds my buttons and pushes them. He sees the weaknesses and expands them like a fire fed by fuel. I feel as though I’m drowning at times. I’ll be good for an hour, a day- spend time in my word; throw it all on Jesus and walk in his love. Then I’ll look up the next day or even week and I feel like I’m being crushed again. I’m sensitive, I’m emotional, I’m insecure. I want to live every minute to the fullest but each day I’m hit with the realization that I’m even closer to leaving this place. I can’t start my life in PA until I get there; but I’m also tormented because I feel like I can’t fully live here. The more time I have the harder it will be to leave. And knowing this has even made me lose motivation in some things. It’s harder to go to work because in my mind I’ve already left my job. Harder to be involved with friends because in my head I’m losing them. Harder to spend time with family because it feels like we’re all splitting up. I go back again and again and still have no reassurance from God. He has made the path so clear for this move and I let my heart already live there. When I finally questioned him this week to see where He was, all I heard from Him was “FIGHT”. And I knew exactly what that meant.

All across the Bible, the devil has done some of his hardest attacks when people were closest to their promised land. And this is no exception. Not that Pennsylvania is the end of my road, but it is the place God has been leading and preparing me for.. and the enemy knows that. When I first heard the Lord’s voice to go, the second voice in my spirit was one of doubt and uncertainty. And now that I’m so close to being there; the loudest sound in my ears is often one of insecurity and fear. The devil knows where God is pointing and often that destination is his biggest target. I’m reminded today of how very real and present the enemy is in our lives on earth and how the battle of our hearts and minds never ends on this side of heaven. Yes, the Lord has already won for us; Praise Him for that, but the devil won’t stop trying until Jesus comes back and his earthly kingdom is no more.

Sometimes I even have doubts if I am doing any of this right. If I’m making the best use of my time here or if these last few weeks have been pointless. The only thing I am confident in is that God says, “Well done”. I have a friend Melody up in Pennsylvania who is incredible and talented and I’m so thankful for her. She just came out with her own EP recently and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect in my own life. So often on my shuffle, her song Faithful comes on; and the Lord speaks through it every dang time. These are the lyrics:

 

\\ “Faithful daughter, Faithful son

Oh I have seen how you’ve pressed on

It’s not been easy, but you’ve worked hard

And you have pleased me by your heart //

\\ I’ve seen the tiny, tiny victories

But I count them as big battles won

On the mountain high, Or the stormy sea

Still you won’t let go of me //

\\ Oh I’ve seen how you’ve never given up

I have seen how you’ve kept pressing on

I hope you know just how much you are loved

And that I will never leave you on this journey you go through //

\\ I know it’s hard, Keep going forward

And in the end you’ll hear me say //

\\ Well done faithful servant

Well done faithful friend

At last you have finished

Now rest in my embrace.” //

-Faithful, Melody Joy Asper

 

So deep. So powerful. So true. That’s how God sees me. Regardless of my circumstances. He watches me fight and stand even when it feels impossible. And He is pleased. This song is a comfort to me in the midst of this battlefield. He says of me, “Well done”. He tells me to keep standing and keep fighting because I am on His side and I’m guaranteed the victory. I may not have all the armor or the training but I am a soldier of the Lord and I will battle with Him. He provides exactly what I need whenever I may need it. The devil can be relentless but my God is undefeated.

All that being said, I covet your prayers as I transition into this move. And I always appreciate any encouragement you feel prompted to give. Whether on facebook, text, phone call, or just a hug; the Lord uses people like you every day to help people like me. In the midst of these temporary struggles I’m still filled with excitement and hope for what God has called me to. I know great things are in store and I wait with anticipation as He leads me.

When Uncertainty Lingers

John 17:17- “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

So for the last 2 weeks I have been up in Pennsylvania visiting my family, doing some wedding planning with my cousin, and looking for jobs in the area. Since this is where I will be living this next year, I’m very thankful I got to spend some time familiarizing myself with the city. I could go into so much detail about the school up here and how tangible the spirit was from the moment I walked into the room. I have already spent several hours in the place where I will have prayer and worship each day before class. I have been prophesied over, prayed with, and encouraged by some of the greatest warriors of the kingdom I have ever met. But even in the  midst of such spiritual overflow, I can find myself feeling weak, discouraged, and insecure. Why?

Well, for the past 3 days I have been propped up on the couch icing and elevating my badly sprained ankle; the unfortunate result of my first (and last) solo run in the park. As I sat cooped up with endless amounts of junk food and netflix for my only companions, enjoying the remainder of my trip seemed virtually impossible. Doing anything spiritual was the last thing on my mind, and I had begun to wish that I was back at home; doubting that there was anything I could possibly get from this. Episodes of The Office rolled by like miles on a back road, and the longer I sat; the worse I began to feel. Insecurities popped into my head and stayed there, growing ever so slightly with the passing hours and days. Doubts rose up, and instead of addressing and combating them, I left them there- content to sit in my growing misery. Lies surfaced; but instead of tossing them, I allowed them to sit until I started to believe them. Hurts that had been forgotten started to sting again. Emotions grew, and anger became visible in me. Even hopelessness was tangible at times. Yet still I sat. Still I remained. Discontent but doing nothing to change it. I knew I needed to get in the Word but made excuses. Afterall, I was hurt. I needed to rest and heal. I couldn’t be expected to dig into scripture at a time like this.

With the words “Be still” written on my shirt, I continued to sit in my insecurity; hoping that my binge watching would eventually help me laugh my way into a lighter mood.  Finally, I got tired of letting myself be miserable without at least trying to combat it. Not really knowing what to read or where to begin, I prayed a forceful prayer that God would come in and help me fight off these insecurities that seemed to  be eating me alive from within. I put on the only song I could think of at the time; “Reckless Love” by Steffany Gretzinger. Without the strength to sing I just let the words echo over me as I sat with Him; speaking whatever came to my mind in the hopes it would become a beautiful prayer on the way out. Then I remembered the words spoken over me just a few days earlier: “God is singing over you. He is dancing over your heart, and He wants you to know this.” So with those melodies still echoing in my mind, I took out my phone and also started playing “King of my Heart”. A very completely different song, with a very similar cry. I let the chords from both pieces wash over me, sitting in the middle of heavenly melodies. It was virtually impossible to sing one or the other; but that wasn’t the point. I sat there, saturated; literally captured between the two songs, letting the music penetrate my head and my heart. God didn’t ask me to sing to Him, He wanted to pour His words over me. It was no longer a band playing, but the Lord of All weaving a melody of truth into my soul. I couldn’t explain that moment if I tried. But it was beautiful, and it was what my heart needed all along. Not another laugh, another bag of chips, another show to entertain me. No. I needed time with the one who knows me and speaks truth over me. The one who can take all my fears and lies and replace them with His complete goodness and love. The one who encourages like no one can. I didn’t need another distraction, I needed to be brought back to the  one my heart was made for.

As I sat in that room completely overwhelmed, I began looking up truths in the Word to speak over myself and rebuke the insecurities and pain. The line in the song “There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie You won’t tear down, coming after me!” rang in my ears as I frantically google searched scriptures of my worth.

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved.” -Ephesians 1:6

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2:10

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs- Heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”  -Romans 8:17

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.” -Philippians 1:6

Then He gave me these truths to speak over myself:

I AM GOOD ENOUGH.

I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH.

I AM NOT THE PROBLEM IN MY LIFE.

I AM LOVED.

As I read and repeated these I allowed Him to remove the ideas of who I thought I was to be replaced by who He knows I am and has called me to be. I went to bed that night with a heart abandoned and woke up the next morning feeling so alive and loved. Yes, my ankle still hurt. No, I still couldn’t run and was forced to rest and ice it. But when my focus was in the right place, my circumstances seemed a whole lot brighter.

No, netflix isn’t bad and I completely condone those nights of junk food and movies. But if you find yourself with too much idle time, make sure you know how to spend it. I let my situation get the best of me, and leaving your thoughts unattended and unguarded is a recipe for disaster. Take some time for yourself to rest and relax; but don’t forget to give God the chance to say what you need to hear. Your mind will always have something to tell you, and what you allow yourself to think on will dictate the emotions and condition of your heart. Uncertainty grows when we give it room to roam. Don’t let yourself be captured by your insecurity and anger. Don’t let your hurt control your hope. Go to God and let His truth be louder than the lies.

 

Filled with the Fullness

Ephesians 3:19- “…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Y’all. God is so good! Just in these past few weeks since my last blog He has done so much! In me, to me, and through me. I am just now beginning to realize the incredible way He is working everything in my life for His glory and my blessing.

A few weeks ago I went to a Bethel concert. Although I was completely stoked about this opportunity, I had no idea how this night would change me forever. First of all, I was given a free ticket, when I originally wasn’t going to be able to go. I knew in my heart that the Lord had something great in store for me to receive there (He always does). And although I could write pages and pages of what the Lord showed me at Bethel; I will have to condense it down to this: God told me that He was doing a work in my life. A good work. He was taking everything old and filled with the stain of the world and replacing them with His plans for me, which were new and holy and good. Right away, this resonated within my soul, and I was filled with Joy! But the biggest thing that God did at Bethel didn’t happen at Bethel. Well, I’m sure it did; but I didn’t begin to realize or see it’s effect until the next day, even several days later. Yes, God is bringing new things into my life out of the old; and I am thrilled to see this begin falling into place. But what happened that night is that He FILLED me. God filled me, in a way that I have never experienced before. I left that night with a fullness that I am only now beginning to unpack and it is absolutely beautiful.

Now, you may be thinking that this is just another “Jesus High” experience. And believe me, I was too. I have been to just as many church camp experiences as the next guy, and each one of them has been incredible- touching my heart in a unique way. But this was different. This wasn’t a temporary Spirit High that would slowly fade out. No; this was a physical filling of God into my soul that I can’t begin to explain if I tried. It consumes me into overflow that I can’t help but to pour out. It seeps into and out of everything that I do, say, breathe, and think. And I’m still in shock. “Why hasn’t this worn off by now?” “When will my spirit-high go back down?” “What even happened??” And although I can’t understand it, I believe it. That night changed me. Well, Jesus changed me. And the result is one that I will never forget.

I am full. So full. Full of love to give even when nobody shows love to me. Full of worship to pour out endlessly in praises at His feet. Full of hope for the future, and peace for today. Full of joy. Full of Him. I am constantly seeing His face in all that I do. Every day He pours out endless blessings on me that I could never deserve. Of course, I still have hard times and bad days. But the difference now is that even on my worst days, I view everything through a place of joy- with an eternal perspective. Knowing that this day; even this life, is temporary and doesn’t hold any comparison to the glorious perfection of eternity. Even when I am low, I don’t stay there because I’m quickly reminded of how beautiful He is, and how greatly He guides my life.

My sister recently came home from her trip around the world and it has been such a huge blessing! His mercies never cease to amaze me. At the beginning of this year the Lord gave me a word that this year would be one of “Joy and Promise” both for me and for the community around me. I held onto it, but never fully began to see the meaning of it until now. Not only am I filled with an eternal joy that isn’t determined by emotions or circumstances or people; but I now have come to a deeper understanding of the promises He has given and how He is fulfilling them through each passing day. Not only future promises, but present ones. Big and small. I am living them out and walking in them in ways I never could have imagined. He has promised comfort and proven to be a comfort to me. He promised peace and gave me His spirit. He promised restoration in relationships and I am already beginning to see the fruit of that- watching pieces fall into place in ways that only He could orchestrate. He has given me vivid dreams and visions of a future that has already been designed; and allows me to place my hope in His faithfulness to construct it. This is only the beginning of all that’s to come. I have so much anticipation for this next season He has called me to. I hold an expectancy and excitement that is simply unexplainable, and I know without the slightest doubt that God has big big things in store for me! I KNOW He will move. He already has! And it is simply incredible to live in this place.

On top of this (yes, there’s more!) I have been in a completely and totally divine romance. God has opened my eyes to the most beautiful pursuit of all: His deep pursuit of the depths of my heart. His total pursuit of me. Intimacy in its truest form. He is romancing me in the purest way possible, and every day I am more and more aware of it. How He chases my heart. How He pours all of Himself out to me and asks that I do the same. How He lavishes blessing upon blessing upon me- More than I can contain. How my heart wants nothing else but just absolutely more of Him. I am my true self, and He loves me just like that. It’s the kind of romance where your lover is all you can think about, all you can smile about, all you can talk about. I feel like a princess because I AM HIS BRIDE. And I have never understood this so fully. It is a love that no matter what kind of day I have, what my week has been like, or what problems I’ve been dealing with, He is constant. And my heart is stilled. Nothing can shake me because my spirit is set. My focus is on Him and nothing else can compare. All the things that fight for my attention are thrown out and forgotten when I look upon His face. Fears that used to consume my thoughts are suddenly a fleeting vapor in my mind that fade quickly into memory. I can’t explain it. I barely understand it. But God is romancing my heart in the absolute realest way.

I am reading this book by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited. And let me tell you; It is incredible. I recommend it for any woman wanting to live a life of fullness; which is probably all of us. There is a quote that says, “We have to tell our minds to live loved.” At first, I didn’t see what this meant. ‘How could I do this, what did it look like?’ But now I am seeing; Living loved isn’t just for someone who is dating or engaged or married to the most incredible man in the world. No. Living loved is living your whole life from the position that God is love and He is in love with you. All of you. Not just the pretty pieces or the exciting things. He made you. He knows you. And He loves you. When I start to realize this is when I can walk each day in confidence and joy no matter what life throws at me. I can fully trust in ALL that He has promised to me, even when the fulfillment of it seems impossible. And I can constantly have joy and love towards others, although I may never feel loved from them in return. When you are in love, nothing else matters. You have eyes for one man only. And that is what this is; The ultimate romance, the deepest intimacy, the truest love. Jesus’ pursuit of your heart will be the greatest love you will ever know. Hold to it, cherish it, press into it. It will change your life. You will see His blessings in every day. You will know who you are and will learn to love yourself, despite what the world may say. You will live loved through every moment of every day and nothing can shake you. You will rest in all of His promises because they are true.

A good song that I have been dwelling on lately is called Your Promises by Elevation. The best line is one that goes:

“Doesn’t matter what I feel * Doesn’t matter what I see * My hope will always be in your Promises to Me.”

And that’s the reality. His promises are ALWAYS true; no matter how messed up everything is, nothing can keep Him from coming through and being faithful.

Lysa said something else that completely described everything I have been saying.

“People do affect us. But the peace of our souls is tethered to all that God is… the fact that God will work everything for good is a completely predictable promise.”

– Yes, girl, yes.

Letting God Speak

… For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” Romans 8:26

Sometimes I just can’t talk to God.

There. I said it.

But it’s true. Sometimes my prayer life is dry. This can be frustrating, especially when you want to pray, you feel like you should pray, but you just can’t. You don’t have the words.

I think if we are honest, most of us have been here before. And believe me, it is VERY hard to admit. Saying you don’t have it all together can be extremely difficult and even embarrassing. It is just an understood thing that every Christian prays all the time, right? And it makes it that much more frustrating when we hit seasons where we feel weak in this area, we feel guilty, like there is something wrong with us and God must surely be upset with us. We have hit a ‘prayer rut’- and what’s worse is that we have made ourselves miserable by thinking we are terrible humans because of it. I have been here, and it is utterly exhausting.

These past few weeks have been trying, to say the least. I am constantly asking God what He is doing, and why He has to do it in what seems the hardest and most confusing ways. I have kind of been wrestling with this, and some days are definitely harder than others.

-He gives me things that I don’t think I want and takes away things I’m convinced that I  need.   // He gives me coworkers that are hard to get along with, and He takes away the young adults group that I had with some of my closest friends. He takes away my comfort and He gives me difficulty. He gives me confusion and takes my security.

And although in my mind these all seem like bad things that are detrimental to the “American Dream” or a Perfect Fairytale Ending; that isn’t how life is. And that isn’t how God intends our life on earth to be. We have an eternity of perfection awaiting us when we get up to Heaven someday, but here, we are living in a fallen world.

How do you pray when you’re not even sure how you feel? Part of me wants to praise Him because I know that His plans are greater than mine, that He is for me, and that all of this is for my good. While the other part of me is angry, hurting, and confused. My life doesn’t make sense, and I want to blame God for it. I believe that He knows best but is purposely making my life worse, refining me, and causing me pain.

The Word says, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” [Job 1:21] If there is any scripture you can take literally, take this one. At face value it is the truest statement you may ever hear. And it is hard. Especially when the things He gives seem to hurt you, and the things He takes seem to break you. How do we deal with that? Go back to Job. The first part of the verse is the piece we always quote. But read what’s after that. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised!” Did you read that right? We are supposed to PRAISE Him.

Even when the Lord gives me something that I think is bad, or takes away something that I think is good; Even when the Lord gives me something that I have prayed for and thought that I needed- then takes that same thing away…. Even then, I praise Him. Without knowing what to say, think, or feel; we praise Him because HE IS GOOD, and all that He does is for OUR GOOD. [Romans 8.28] Especially when we don’t understand.

I saw a quote recently that went something like, “Every good and perfect gift is from above; if God doesn’t give it to you, then it must not be good and perfect.”

Talk about hard to swallow, as if we know our life better than God does. But it is still almost impossible for me to pray to Him when I don’t understand what He’s doing. What do I ask for? What do I say? I want to be honest with Him, but I also want to give Him the glory and honor he deserves. So, I don’t. You read that right. I don’t pray. Instead I get into my word, or sit in silence. I ask Him to speak to me. To comfort my hurting heart. To fill my mind with His truths and remind me that He is working in my life and that HE LOVES ME. All that He does is done in love. And when it is hard for me to see or believe that, I just let Him whisper it over me and to me and around me until it is all I can feel. Even in my hurt and confusion, I am showered with His love and His voice that speaks life into me. And that is what I need. That is what fills me. That is what heals and sustains and grows me. And then I praise Him. Sometimes with songs and words and sometimes just in the silence of my heart. Because even when I don’t know what He is doing, I know He is for me. So I trust and rest in that.

The song Ever Be by Bethel is so opportune in times like these. (If you have never heard this you need to stop what you are doing and listen to it right now. It will change your life.) It reminds me that even when there is nothing else I can say, even in my pain and confusion, He is still worthy to be praised. And my soul will still praise Him. When I can’t find the words to pray, I sing them instead. Or I read them over myself. Psalms is a great book for this as well.

And I don’t have to feel guilty or shamed when I simply can’t talk to God. When I don’t have the words and I’m not sure what to say to Him. Because when Jesus came down and left us His spirit, we gained direct access to the Father, and our Spirits are now filled with His. And when we don’t have the words to say or the prayers to pray; Jesus is sitting in heaven praying for us and over us- INTERCEDING on our behalf to the Father. Because of this spirit inside of us, we are being covered in constant prayer by the greatest intercessor to ever live. So we sit, and we allow HIS prayer to cover us and seep into us, and we dwell on what He has to say to our hurting hearts. And He reveals His love to us in His word as we read. Then He puts a song in our hearts to sing praise to Him, and one day before we know it, we have found our prayer again.