Guest Post: Hope from Hope for the Animals

I am SUPER excited about today’s guest blogger! She holds a special place in my heart, as she is my youngest sister.  She is mature beyond her years and I love seeing her grow and serving God alongside her.  Recently, God downloaded a word into her about her identity, and it is so powerful! She let me post it today because she believes that this word is not just for her; it’s for all Christians.  This is who God says we are! After you’re done reading, please be sure to check out her blog, which is all about making sure pets are receiving proper care.  She does lots of research to post every week, and is passionate in her love for animals.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Hope from Hope for the Animals”

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Guest Post: Elizabeth Foil of Lace Devotion Ministries

Lace Devotion is a ministry for teenage girls run by Elizabeth Foil, whom I had the pleasure of meeting about a month ago.  A mutual friend introduced us as we have similar passions for blogging, and today she is the guest blogger! Please be sure to make her feel welcome and check out her website and Instagram! *Her website is being revamped and it will re-launch next week, so be sure to check it out then! In the meantime, read the post she was so gracious to share with us to get a taste of her ministry.* Continue reading “Guest Post: Elizabeth Foil of Lace Devotion Ministries”

It Will Happen

Time escaped me this week and I’m writing this post last minute, so please forgive me if it’s not as long as normal. 🙂

Recently I had been having a series of dreams about something that I sensed God was trying to tell me was going to happen. I saw an opportunity later that week for what I had seen in my dreams to happen, and I got excited about it. As I waited to see if it would pan out, I began to doubt that God had spoken that to me. Continue reading “It Will Happen”

Growing Pains

I was talking with my best friend recently and we were discussing how there is often suffering in the midst of God’s goodness in our lives.  It made me think of when I was growing up; I got pretty tall pretty quickly, and my legs and back would just ache and ache and ache.  The thing is, though, whenever I would tell a doctor or parent about it, their response was always, “You’re in a growth spurt.”  Never once did anyone tell me, “You’re in a pain spurt.”  No one exclusively focused on the pain; everyone acknowledged  what was really going on: I was growing.

I think the same thing happens in our spiritual lives, except we focus on the wrong thing.  I think oftentimes we are growing, and that involves some aches and pains and stretch marks, but instead of talking about what’s really happening–we are growing–all we ever talk about is we are hurting.  The pain is not the circumstance.  Growth is the circumstance.  Pain is simply a symptom of the circumstance.  Yes, the pain is real, but SO IS THE GROWTH. Focusing on the growth doesn’t make the pain go away, of course, but it shows its purpose.  We are not suffering for nothing.  We are aching because we are growing.

Romans 8:22-25 NLT

“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved.  (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.  But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”

Running the Race

Hebrews 12:1-3 NLT

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

I want to live out this verse.  So many times, God will tell me to do something, and I’ll step up and do it, no matter how hard it is, if I know I have clearly heard from God, I’ll do what He says.  The thing is, as soon as its done, I’m like “Whew, that was terribly hard; I can’t believe I did that–that was all God’s strength.  There’s no way I could have done that on my own.” etc etc and I’ll spend so much time looking back at what God’s done and what He has said that I am not looking ahead to the next thing.  I stop and pant and “catch my breath” spiritually, forgetting that it is His breath in my lungs, His joy as my strength, and His blood my heart is beating.

I want to set aside every weight holding me down, especially sin that trips me up.  I want to forget the former things and see the new things God is ready for me to do.  I don’t want to jog along spiritually–I want to RUN.  And if you want the same, let me remind you as I remind myself that it is not our strength that upholds us, our actions that save us.  It is His breath in our lungs as we run, and we can only run if our eyes are set forward on Jesus, our end goal.  He is our example, our aim.  May we set our minds and hearts on Him and all He endured, and may we receive and run in the strength that He has given us.  May we disregard our shame and embrace the identity and cleansing that Christ died for us to have!  May we boldly approach the throne of grace, for we are more than conquerors because of Him who loves us.

Abandonment

For so long I have seen “abandonment” as something negative, something to be feared, an action that is taken because of a passivity to take the desired action.  A passivity in love, a passivity in care, a passivity in devotion.  All of these I have seen as leading causes to abandonment.

Abandonment is painful, yes, but recently God has been showing me how necessary it is to our walk with Him.  In order to wholeheartedly follow Him, we must evict everything else that takes up space in our heart.  God wants to own the real estate of our hearts, but we rent it out to lesser things.  God can’t inhabit the places of our hearts that we have allowed to become occupied by worry, fear, doubt, tradition, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, lust, comfort, wanting to go our own way, and more.

In order for God to own all of us, we must abandon everything else.  This abandonment is a painfully positive thing.  An active choice.  This abandonment is trading everything lesser for the One that is GREATER.  This abandonment is letting go but is also taking hold.

For me, abandonment has meant counting all else as loss that I might gain Christ.  Abandonment has meant abandoning myself and embracing Him.  It has meant ending harmful, parasitic relationships, leaving a job and career I had been trying to build for myself, and doing whatever God tells me to do, whenever He tells me to do it.

The effect has been akin to that of going on a zipline over a beautiful landscape instead of trudging through it on foot.  The journey (and the view) is so much greater and faster and more overwhelming and incredibly amazing on the zipline than from the little viewpoint you have on the ground.  It involves a lot of trust to take that first step off the solid platform, but the ride is so much more exciting as you realize you’re just as secure in the ropes as on the platform.  You’re still being held, but you are also moving.  You’re not stuck where you are and you realize what a beautiful sensation the wind in your hair is and how weightless you feel.  Nothing is holding you down any longer; instead, you are held up.

It’s a beautiful thing.  It’s terrifying at first, but it’s a bigger regret to stay on the platform than it is to step out into all God has for you.

It means leaving where you were behind you, but where you’re going is so much better.  I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She had a life planned out for her, but God came in and changed not only the direction of her life, but the whole world.  People thought she was crazy.  People thought she was lying.  People wanted to kill her.  But what do we remember and celebrate? Her humility in abandoning her plans for her life over to God and His plans.

Maybe what God is telling you to abandon in order to follow Him sounds crazy to everyone around you.  Let me remind you that God is the One who knows where He wants to take you.  God is the One who will catch you and hold you when you take that first step (and all the ones after it).  Don’t stay where you are if God is telling you to move.  On the flip side, don’t move when God is telling you to stay.  Abandon your plans, your heart, and your ways to Him; He will direct your paths.

He’s got this.  He’s got you.  And He will never fail you.

Called By Name

Isaiah 43:1 “But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.  O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.'”

Have you ever felt like you and life just don’t get along? I had a day last week where every single thing I touched, I dropped.  All morning long.  A bowl of hair gel went flying across the floor and splatted everywhere, a towel slipped out of my hand as I was swinging my arms back and forth and flew all the way to the other side of the room, and more.  It seemed like everything I touched ended up on the floor.  It was comical, embarrassing, and frustrating.  I felt like I just couldn’t win.

Even on a less humorous side, last week I was weary.  I didn’t feel at peace with a lot of big things coming up in life; I’m a senior and as graduation approaches, I have a lot of well-meaning people ask me what I want to do with my life.  I had a plan, a job, an answer…but I all I felt was dread.  I felt like I was wrestling with an opponent that I couldn’t see, couldn’t name, couldn’t pin-point.  Something just felt “off”.

For weeks, I have been feeling this and have really been trying to think through my plans and what I want to do, but it wasn’t until those uncertainties really pressed in on me last week that I started praying about it.  I wanted to know what plans God wanted me to follow, because I know He was sure about His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11), even as I was unsure about my own plans.  I knew if I asked Him, He said He would answer me, and would tell me great and mighty things that I didn’t know (Jeremiah 33:3).  So I asked Him, and boy, did He give me an answer!

I went to a ladies’ retreat over the weekend, and really heard His voice there.  A lady that I didn’t even know prophesied over me, telling me that in this season I needed to walk in my shoes of peace, and that I would be a person who ran for the Kingdom of God, a person whose ministry would impact many.

Not even four months before that, I had visited Bethel Church’s location in Atlanta. The speaker there asked if anyone in the room had the name “Anna”.  No one responded, so she asked if anyone had “Anna” as part of their name.  It took a moment for me to remember that my middle name was Susanna, because I go by my first name Callie.  That night, the speaker spoke pretty much the exact same prophecy over me.  I must admit, as much as I was awed about what she’d spoken (it matched what other people that knew me had told me), I was a little offended that God didn’t use my first name.   He had told her that the prophecy was for someone who had Anna as a part of their name instead of that the prophecy was for someone named Callie.  Why didn’t God use my first name? I know He knows my name; He knows how many hairs are on my head (Matthew 10:30).

When I connected that the two ladies had spoken the same thing over me, I felt God saying “Baby girl, I KNOW YOUR NAME.  Don’t think for a moment that I have forgotten you.  That night at Bethel, it wasn’t that I didn’t know your name, it was that I have names for you that you have yet to walk in.  My son paid for a new identity for you, and just as there are songs I sing and dance over you (Zephaniah 3:17), there are names I speak over you that you don’t even know about yet.  You may be called Callie now, but there is more for you.  I have a new identity for you, and I can’t wait for you to discover and walk in it.”

Wow.  Talk about a perspective shift! I went from feeling forgotten to feeling cherished.  God had reminded me that the moment I had made a decision to give Him my life, my heart, and my everything, I had taken on His name.  I had become the Bride of Christ.  I had a new name, just like a girl takes on her husband’s name when they marry.  God had names for me that I didn’t even know yet.

Isaiah 43:1 wouldn’t get out of my head this past weekend.  God speaks to both Jacob’s former name, the one he had before he wrestled all night long, and to his new name Israel.  God reminds him that not only did he create him–his first name–but He also formed him into what He wanted him to be–his new identity.  Then God speaks these incredible words to him, “Do not be afraid,” which to me parallels to walking in shoes of peace, “for I have ransomed you.” To ransom means that someone pays a price to get another person out of where they are and into freedom.  That’s what God did for us: He paid a price–His own Son–to get us out of where we were–dead in our sins–and into where God wanted us to be–restored to righteousness beside Him.  The verse continues, “I have called you by name,” which jumped out at me after hearing God tell me that He has new names for me.  God is calling you.  God is calling you out of where you are and into His plans for you.  And God is calling you by a name that He has for you, not names like “broken”, “hurt”, “addict”, “suicidal”, “depressed”, “uncertain”, or “not enough”.  And what’s more, God continues, saying “You are mine”.

I love the thought of being God’s.  Of living from the names He has for me instead of the ones I call myself.  I love that first, He reminds us that He created us and He is forming us, and that He tells us to not be afraid because He has already paid the price to set us free.  He knows our name, and He calls us.  He wants us.  He wants you.

As for my uncertain plans? God reminded me of the passions He’d put into my heart from an early age, and I plan to pursue them: writing, speaking, ministering–even though it doesn’t make sense.  I have a job, I’m about to graduate college, and I want to only do what God wants me to do, nothing more, nothing less.  If He says “Come and talk with me”, I want my heart to respond “Lord, I am coming” (Psalm 27:8).  When He calls me by name, I want to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).

 

 

Just Keep Asking

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

That has been the verse I’ve clung to and been guided by for the past year or so, but with every new challenge comes a fresh perspective on it.

CALL TO ME. That’s how the verse starts off, but a lot of times I skip right over that part and wait for God to tell me great and mighty things that I don’t know. But God doesn’t reveal things we aren’t seeking out. He waits for us to make that step, to ask Him for His plan before we chase our own.

So often I will ask God what His will is, for wisdom for the situation I’m in, and He will give it to me. He will illuminate the next step for me and I’ll take it, even if it’s scary.

But then, after I take that next step, I’ll stop. I’ll forgot to ask God again what’s next. I’ll stop and take a break, forgetting that this is a race where I have to keep taking the next step if I’m going to get anywhere. And with each step I have to ask God which direction it’s supposed to be in. And with each step He is faithful to give me a glimpse of the great and mighty things that He has for me.

I just have to keep asking, and listen, because God always answers.