To: Fear

Fear.

You’ve been in my life for long enough.  You flip my stomach and spin my head.  You drown my hope and blind my eyes.  You blur my vision of my destiny and choke me with your lies.

I’m done with you.

Continue reading “To: Fear”

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Mom

Mom.  A name that means so many different things to so many different people.  For some, it invokes feelings of nostalgia, for some, resentment, for others, gratitude, but mostly, I think, a healthy respect.

Moms do a lot.  From morning sickness to childbirth, their strengths are tested and their limits pushed physically and emotionally before they are even able to hold their child in their arms.  Then their patience is tested in sleepless nights and endless messes, tantrums and play-doh in the carpet. Continue reading “Mom”

Thank You: A Letter to My Mentor

I learned so much from you in so little time, and I don’t know that you were even actively teaching.  You were living your faith and any teaching of it was a bonus.  I caught it instead of being taught it.  That’s the kind of life I aspire to live: one so full of faith it seeps out of my very pores and inspires those around me to do the scary things God calls us to.  To step out of comfort zones.  To walk in faith when it looks crazy, when it doesn’t make sense.  To let go of what people think and say about you and cling wholeheartedly to what God says about you.  To have a joy that surpasses all understanding and circumstances.  To have a peace that guides you.  To dream big dreams and follow the dreams God places in our hearts.  To trust that God will provide for what He calls us to do.

I have learned so much from you.  Your faith inspires me in mine.  Keep on shining, keep on following, keep on radiating.  I love you.

A Letter to My Best Friend

I see your pain.  And I know if I, being only human, can see your pain, our God surely does too.

I know you.  I know how you’ve fought before and know you’ll fight again.  I know the God we serve and know we surely will win.

I’ve loved you for thirteen years (and counting), but God has loved you since the beginning of time.

My heart breaks at the troubles you’ve had, and I know yours has too, so I thank God He is The One Holding You.

I wish I could make everything better.  I’m not strong enough to carry your burdens but I can drag them to the feet of Jesus and meet you there.

That is what I love about you.  No matter what we have been through, we bring each other back to the Mighty One Who Saves.  We tune our ears to the songs He sings over us.  We sing His praises with our hearts bleeding and our tears falling, our breaths shaking and desperation calling.

We know, This is not The End.  This is the start of Something New, Something Bold, Something We Do Not Yet Behold.  It is the approaching footsteps of God coming through, coming to rescue me and you.  It is the shift in the atmosphere, the Voice of God saying, “I AM.  HERE.”

It is the beating of angels’ wings; Heaven’s Armies all surround us.  The glory of God in the cloud, coming down.  It is not near; it is HERE.  It encamps among us, seeps into us.  It is the Mighty Rushing Wind; it is the River of Life around the bend.

It is us asking, “God, what are You doing here?”

It is Him responding, “Just draw near.”

It is His breath we are breathing, His life we are embracing.  His blood running through our veins, His heart we are chasing.  To do so alongside you is something invaluable to me, all the things you help me see that show me I am not my own.  Thanks to you, I have grown.

So in this time when you are hurt, I beg you to never forget your worth.  Look back at your battle scars and trust that God has not gone off far.

He is here, He is now, He is forever.  He has not left you and He will never.

So in all the things you have to do, take comfort that I AM is in you.

Thank you, Billy Graham

Billy Graham passed away yesterday and so instead of a “normal” blog post of a review or devotional, I just wanted to take a moment to honor him. I want to say thank you, Billy Graham, for all the work you did to expand the kingdom of God and bring it to earth. Because of you, at least one if not more of my grandparents are/will be in heaven. Because of you, God entered my family tree and my family is my spiritual family also. Thank you for that priceless gift that was ultimately from God but which by your words, my family accepted. My life, generations later, would not be the same were it not for your faithful service to God. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to meeting you one day when I get to Heaven.

Keep On Keepin’ On: A Letter to a Sister in Christ

I saw the pain in your eyes that day.  You ask me now what that looked like, but there is no one word to describe it.  Fear? Defeat? Agony? Weariness? Hopelessness? Evidence of your pain leaked only from the windows to your soul; every other entrance had been shut down and sealed off.  You were past the point of reaching for help.  Past the point of acknowledging the hope of a rescue.  You were ready to give up.

In fact, I think you already had.

You were trudging along because that’s what is done, but if you fell you wouldn’t have cared to get up again.  It was too hard.  Believe me, I understand.  The road gets so rough you forgot what life was like before your pain.  I had just gotten off that same road, and when God told me to go right back on it to get you, well, my first response wasn’t a “Yes, Lord”!

But how could I not share that there was an end to the road? To share hope was a privilege, yes, but to get to you meant I had to re-live some of the same moments I had just gotten out of.

The verse that I had clung to when I was where you were was Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh without fear of the future.” I loved that verse because I was nowhere near achieving it, but knew I could get there because God was the one in charge of clothing me.  To have strength and be dignified were far from what I felt, and the thought of being able to laugh without fear that I would just be sad again was nearly mythical, it was such a foreign concept.  Yet I clung to the hope that one day I could be like the woman the verse was talking about.

I didn’t realize at that time that in order to be clothed in strength, you may have to revisit some of your weakest moments.  In order to be dignified you have to be humbled.  And in order to laugh without fear of the future you have to conquer your past.

When I reached out to help you heal, I didn’t realize how much healing God was going to do in me.  It was the furthest thing from easy.  It was the furthest thing from painless.  Yet it was one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced.

The thought of my hardship being redeemed was laughable to me.  How could even God ever turn it around for good? I could see absolutely nothing good in it, but to see you make it through to the other side was a victory for me too.  It was a redemption for me, to know that my past was not wasted.  To think that God used my story in yours.

So now, as you’ve moved from one hard place to another, let me remind you to think back on where you were.  By the grace of God you’ve come this far, and He will lead you Home.  He’s not giving up on you now! He hasn’t brought you this far to leave you now! You lift your eyes to the Author and Finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before Him, the thought of you being in Heaven with Him, endured the cross, despising its shame, so that one day you may be seated with Him in Heaven.

No part of your story is wasted.  God will work everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Perhaps these seasons of hardships have actually been seasons of preparing you for your destiny? What if God is strategically positioning you in the home that you’re in so that you can stand up and speak (maybe even without being called upon, like Esther) a message that will save those you love? Maybe you’ve been prepared and placed where you are for such a time as this? Maybe this is your time to declare that you are not backing down now.  You are standing up to fight on this spiritual battlefield, and in the name of Jesus you are taking back what the enemy has stolen from you: childhood innocence, years of your life, peace, sound sleep, and more! Today is the day to tell the devil, not today satan! I AM in me makes me enough.  I AM has clothed me in strength to fight and in the dignity to lift my head up again.  I can laugh without fear of my future because God has purchased my past and holds my future in His hands.  He has done the same for you.  No shame or fear can hold you back!

Fix your thoughts on things above (Phil. 4:8)! Keep your head up, and if one day it droops again, remember that God is the lifter of your head (Ps. 3:3) and the strength of your heart (Ps. 73:26).

 

Full Circle: A Letter to My Mentor

Thank you.

Those two simple words could never adequately reflect the depths of my gratitude to you.  I doubt anything ever could.

I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I would not be the same person if you had not come into my life.  I wonder if I would be here at all.  You were one of the few people whose eyes I looked into during that season of my life.

I was so worn.  So weary.  So tired.  But also so afraid.  I was afraid of letting anyone in because I was afraid of having to let them go.  I was too weary to cry for help, and most days too hopeless to lift my head and look around for it.

I would never wish those times on anybody, but I also would not trade them for the world.  They have made me into who I am today, but if it wasn’t for you (and the grace of God) I don’t know that I would have made it to today.

Thank you for listening to God and reaching out to me.  Thank you for inviting me into your home and showing me love.  I needed it so desperately.  To look into your kids’ faces and see how much they loved me, to be accepted and loved, unconditionally and fearlessly, was a precious gift.

I am eternally grateful for the time spent with you and your family.  I learned so much and was so refreshed by time away from my house.  There was a peace and a joy that I experienced with your family that gave my heart strength to keep going.

Saying “see you later” when you moved away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because it felt so much like “goodbye”.  And in a way, it was.  It was “goodbye” to sleepovers and park days, to random drop-in visits and to swinging on your front porch.  It was goodbye to being 10 minutes away, because it became over 10 hours away.  It was goodbye to the little things that meant everything.

There’s no denying that’s one of the most brutal goodbye’s I’ve ever said, but out of it I said a lot of new hellos.  They were scary hello’s, no doubt, but they were hello’s just the same.  They were hello’s to finding God’s love in places other than exclusively your family.  Those hello’s made me look for God, and when I did, I found Him in the most unlikely of places.

I found Him in people I didn’t even like.  I found Him in the new.  The new people that needed me to love them just as much as I had needed you to love me.  I didn’t like those people because they reminded me so much of me and what I went through, but as I came to realize that it meant what I went through wasn’t wasted, I also came to love them.

As I loved these people and helped them through their trials (which were eerily similar to mine!), I came to find out that one of them lived one street down from where you had moved from.

It was as if God was saying that not only did my heartache come full circle to heal someone else’s heartache, it was the next street onward.  Forward progress.  I wasn’t stuck in my pain and in missing you, but moving forward.

I still miss you like crazy.  It’ll sneak up on me at times and make me cry.  But I wanted to say thank you for being such a big part of my life, and thank you for following God when He told you it was time to move on.  I’m not the same without you, and I’m so thankful for the times we were together nearly everyday.  Now as we are apart, I’m thankful again, because it taught me to pick myself back up and love again.

God used you to give me hope, love, and life, and now I’m passing those things on to others too.  Thank you for your example to me.  I love you.

 

PS. Now that girl, the one that lives one street down from where you did, is rising up and loving fearlessly too.  She’s ministering to a group of girls and leading them in a study about living loved and overcoming rejection.  What God started with you loving me is still going as girls in my community are learning both how much they are loved by God and how to love others.

What God Spoke to Me One Silent Night

*This is something God spoke to me late one night when I couldn’t sleep that I’ve shared with several people and wanted to share with you.  Because He spoke it to me, there are adjectives/pet names that are feminine, but I have put a unisex counterpart in parenthesis next to most of them because I want males to be able to relate also.  So if something is specifically a female name, adjust it to your gender. 🙂 Enjoy.*

 

I wandered alone

Clinging to things not my own

Placing my worth in them

Painting my future with brushes of past

Thinking that love would never last

Jumping from sin to sin

Thinking this was the end

But You

You think different thoughts toward me

Thoughts of peace and mercy

Thoughts to calm my soul

With plans to make me whole

Yes, You

You and Your thoughts towards me

Are good and slo-o-owly,

I will see

What You truly think of me

I turned Your temple

Into a place for me

But now I see

What You’re making me

A voice

Calling out into the void

Come, all who are weak

Come, rest before Me

Come, see what I do

Come, for I make all things new

And I am re-shaping you

Before you were hard clay

Until you gave everything that day

Now I will make you new

Because that is what I do

I siphon out the fear

I draw you near

I tell you I am enough

Even when your edges are rough

Sometimes I have to break you

To uniquely make you

Into what only I can see

But {BELOVED} baby girl, you’ve got to trust Me

I hold you tenderly

I hold you tenderly

I hold you tenderly

I hold you tenderly

You may not believe Me

But wait and see

I know what I’m doing

I’m shaping you like Me

Your design will be rare

People will turn and stare,

Asking how you become so strong

When it’s because you clung to Me all along

For that is the only way

You must learn to pray

Not my will, but Yours

Let go of all the impurities

You will not need them where I AM taking you

For I AM drawing you out

To a new place

A deep place

A place where My grace becomes all you see

Yes, then you will know you are in Me

For the plans I have for you are good

You will prosper

I am drawing you out,

Drawing you away,

From all the things telling you to stay

Oh lovely {CHILD} daughter and Bride

It is for You I died

You may have to go through the fire

But I will be with you

You may have to walk on deep waters

But I will be with you

You may be led to green pastures

But I will be with you

For I AM. And always will be. Surrender to Me;

It will open your destiny.

You cannot yet see the blessings that I have in store

Yet I will heap more and more.

For I AM with you

I will guide you

I have always led you

I will never leave you

Make Me your first choice

Listen above the noise

You will find that I speak

Have you been listening?

I know your flesh is weak

That’s okay

Surrender it to Me

I can handle it

I can hold it

I can take it

I have it

But I left it at the cross

Why have you picked it up again?

I love you

I will never leave you

I will hold you

I have you

I went to the cross for you

The stars praise My Name

I hold you in My hand

I’ve got you

You can stop holding on now

I’m not letting go

This is My job

I can do it

I’ve been in the restoration business since the beginning of time.

I’ve been building things in your life that you have yet to see, just as you cannot tell how a builder is going to fill in the empty spaces in the structure of a house.

I have plans to fill you.

I have not forgotten you.

I know you by name.

I love you. I am waiting for you. I have waited since the beginning of time–before that–to have a relationship with you. But there is not much time to wait now. You must decide. Who will you serve?

I have laid down everything for you. What will you do for Me? Will you turn your face back to Me, Beloved? I still care about you.

I saw everything you did. I watched as you were unfaithful to Me. Over and over one thousand times. But I have forgiven you. I have not forgotten you. I still have big plans for you. Come here so I can tell you about them.

I want you to know that I have not rejected you. And I have a plan to use every single crack in you to shine my glory through. If you keep trying to peer through those cracks and let that be all you ever see, you’ll never see the big picture. Come sit in My lap so I can show you how you look.

Do you see yourself in that mirror? In that red dress? That’s not how I see you. I see you in white. When My love comes in you, all of the red is drained–leeched–from you. And I clothe you in white. That’s redemption. I paid for you with My life. And I would do it again for you, but I don’t have to. No, I covered it all the first time. Don’t you believe Me?

Rest now, Beloved. I will not overwhelm you. I love you. I am singing over you as you sleep tonight. I’ve got you covered: with My feathers and My grace. Sleep well; I won’t let you go. I’m your anchor.