When we feel vindicated in our actions and lost in our prayers

God never fails to provide me an opportunity to learn, even in the mundane.

Today, like any other day, my kids and I got home and the first thing they want is something to drink immediately followed by snack. My youngest will ask for a brownie every single time (literally every time, y’all), and every time I tell her the same thing.

“Not a brownie until after supper, Gracie; what else do you want?”

She knows  that brownie is waiting for her behind those big sliding barn doors in our kitchen; she also knows she is not getting it right then, but she has to try it anyway.

Do you every find yourself repetitively  asking God for the same things over and over? Mayyybbee not the same things, but You know, the ‘something’s gotta give’ type things, the ‘aren’t you God, don’t you know I need this’ kind of things.

I’ve given Jesus a lot of tears, y’all. Tears shed for much the same purpose or principle.

over. and. over.

You see, I know God. I know that He is true to His promises; and I know that His promises are reserved for those who earnestly seek Him.

This means I know that my brownie is back there somewhere. Somewhere, behind this door or that one, awaits my deliverance, my promise from God as one of His children and even though I know I will not have it until it is the right time, until God is ready to give it to me, I’m going to ask anyway. Like that little blonde beauty seeking what appeals her senses, I too, am seeking what I believe will fill my soul.

and here I am rolling my eyes at my daughter; It’s  like an ‘I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I’ type things. I just had to smile to myself today when she said “but mamaaaaa, when” because God whispered me a spiritual nah-nah-na-boo-boo in my ear.

Let me pause to tell you this spiritual stirring occurred Tuesday of this week… I knew then that there was more so I jotted what’s above down and I’ve been just waiting for the rest.

Not exactly where I thought He was taking it but nonetheless here it is:

what I believe will fill me.

Raise your hand if you already know what’s wrong! (Eye roll here)

This morning my husband and I were laying in bed discussing (him listening to me discuss with me) an ongoing situation that has been just building building building problem- you know- those things that won’t go away. He smiles and tells me it’s going to be okay, and I leave the house thinking HA! Dang right it is. Because we’re gonna… And Facebook tells me I’ve got some memories today.

Oooohhh do I.

March 1st of last year, Jesus was revealing to me that I didn’t have to be anybody but His. The rest didn’t matter. The past didn’t matter. What people thought didn’t matter. He had a promise for me and it is good. Just follow me.

In this passage, God has changed Jacobs name from he grabs his heel to Israel, and honorable name and man of God.

Jesus had changed my name too.

Fast forward to March this year, a year later, and He has shown me something entirely different on these very same pages. Look up to the top left corner to the text that is half cut out.

“The safest place is God’s will”

In the story of Rachel and Leah, when Rachel finally got what she had been asking for, she found nothing but sorrow.

She and her sister Leah were in a constant competition- so much that Rachel named her last son Ben-On meaning son of trouble.

Do you ever feel like you are in a constant battle with something? With someone?

Do you pray over and over for something particular and just silence?

You are fighting… against God and with Satan.

No matter the circumstance, the safest place to be is still in the center of Gods will. If it’s not His character, it’s also not His plan.

In this story, these sisters were offering their servants to Jacob in a contest to who could have the most babies. They were trying to beat God to the blessings and Jacob, well he just did what he was told.

Poor Jacob, even though that was a custom for that time does not make it right. Even if some things are socially acceptable in our time… doesn’t mean it’s right.

Then those girls. They just couldn’t wait. Trusting God when nothing seems to be happening is so hard isn’t it? Not as difficult as some of the consequences we create for ourselves trying to rush it all.

God has a plan. And God is God. Our disobedience will never derail His plan for our lives, but it can greatly affect how we end up experiencing it.

When you just feel like you need something right now, you can’t wait- that’s Satan. Would God rush it?

When you know you can tell that person just how you feel because they sure didn’t mind telling you- that’s Satan. Would Jesus be ugly?

When someone else has made you feel less than, made you feel hurt, made you feel well just flat out mad- and you just need to tell them how wrong they are.. you know, pick up and throw some stones of your own- that’s Satan. Would Jesus bring up all of our wrongs to hurt our feelings?

When you feel.

What I felt.

Y’all, your feelings will never give you full and accurate information. There’s always more to the story than how it made you feel.

It’s Satan. Anything not of the character of God is a characteristic of Satan. period.

And anything you feel outside of what scripture says is acceptable.. that’s Satan too.

I’ll say it again- anything that is outside of Gods character is also outside his plan…

What’s that mean? For me it meant girl just Hush and wait.

Patience is the hardest to have when you need it the most.

Always, always resist the temptation to think that God has forgotten about you.

“The lord is on my side; I will not fear for what can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by test you may discern what is the will of God: what is true, honorable, and right” Romans 12:2

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you” Exodus 14:13

“You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalms 119:57

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23

We are not here to point fingers, we are not here to point fingers back. We weren’t placed here to be wonderful wives or bad ones; good mothers or bad ones, to be successful or not, to have nice homes or not, or perfect jobs or not.

We were created for two things- to ask God for forgiveness and spend the rest of our lives listening to Him.

It’s the little things- the things we think we can do on our own strength- that get us down- not the big things we know only God can do.

He’s in control of the brownie y’all- not us.

Be still in your feelings, be confident in your prayers. Despair will cast you down, keeping you from standing. Fear will tell you to retreat, and impatience will tell you to do something now.

We don’t have to be anything but His, and He grows the rest. In his time you are the good wife. In his time you are the good mother. In his time you have the perfect job. In His time you have your cozy home. I know this because God makes no mistake and if we wait for His time and His plan it’s the absolute perfect plan because he’s given us the perfect Son delivering to us a flawless promise.

Be two things- sorry and saved- then let God be God because well it’s right there.

“Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” 2 Peter 1:4

He has given us a promise so that we can act right and escape this awful place causing us to feel awful things.

Father,

We know you have planned all things, the best possible things for us, God. Let us know that you are with us, even on the days that it feels like you’re not. We are not forgotten and we are heard. Give us the strength God to wait on your time in a way that represents your nature, Father, and the patience to fight our feelings and that need of a surface response to protect them and instead produce an internal sense of security from the promise you’ve given that says it’s already taken care of. Let us let you be You God.

Amen

Philippians 3:17-21; The Three Tricks of Satan

“But how are we supposed to just change? you know, after God?”

Well, a day at a time, of course, but I try and think of it like this: what if, for that one day, a new christian was following your example? Would you be more conscience, then, of your behavior?

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set of earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious bod, by the power that enable him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:17-21

and what if I’m the example?

what if you are?

no one is perfect here, so we’re not pointing fingers. but Paul is saying here, “be careful- these people- they’re enemies of the cross, even those that are dressed to appear otherwise.”

What he is saying is that these people are destructive, self-serving, and even find a sense of pride in the very same things that one should be ashamed of.

The guy that brags about the number of girls he has slept with; the girl that thinks it’s cool that she can out drink the boys.

Paul is saying be careful and Jesus flat says no.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in life- is not of God but of world.” 1st John 2:15-16

you cannot love both.

There are some Christians that believe that since God is forgiveness, our souls can be saved and it just doesn’t matter what our bodies do; they’re wrong.

There are also Christians that believe that worldliness is limited to external behavior- you know, the people we hang out with, the places we go, the activities we enjoy and partake in, and y’all…. they’re also wrong.

Arguably even more wrong, even though that isn’t a thing, because they’re just dressing up the ugly underneath. Wordliness begins in the heart and is characterized by three attitudes: 1- desires of the flesh, preoccupation of gratifying physical desires 2- desire of the eyes, craving and accumulating things; idolizing materialism, even if on the inside and 3- pride of life- an obsession of status and importance.

The serpent tempted Eve with these things. (see genesis 3:6)

The devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness with these things. (see matthew 4:1-11)

and you better bet Satan is enticing you in these very same ways.

Even unintentionally, we’re so worried with our busy week that our minds wander on Sunday morning when the preacher speaks a sermon our hearts desperately need. We’re so preoccupied with planning our children’s activities, trying to maneuver how we can possibly shuffle all of these things into one elf-sized day, that we make no room for intentional prayer, maybe not even prayer at all. I’ve been guilty. And then all those activities that we’ve spilled over our calendars are leaking down the sides of what’s left of a mother when Thursday rolls around, and let’s be honest- there’s no time, certainly no energy, left for intimate time with Jesus and His word.

Satan is sifting through our lives, our schedules, and uncovering all of our leaks, our frailties and he is not only finding our holes, y’all, he is expanding them in a way that allows flaw to pour when flaw before, was just a trickle here and there.

As people of this world, we prioritize this world.

Again, I’m not blaming because Lord knows I am not perfect either..

Not perfect, but blameless.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

but this perfect? your own personalized portion of unperfect blamelessness… only comes from Jesus.

who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” philippians 3:21

Earlier in verse 18 of the text is says “I tell you with tears in my eyes.”

Paul cried.

Paul, the same man that was beaten on many occasions without a tear. Paul, the man that overcome so many obstacles quite literally running for his life so many times, again, without a tear. Paul, the man that sang praises to God while locked in a first century prison…. yet he cries for this people.

Why?

Because Paul knows that while all of this circumstance he has endured is temporary- a life of sin and unrepentance is not.

We cannot be both. Our conduct must match our citizenship and our character turn away from our culture.

what if, for that one day, a new christian was following your example?

Or maybe I should ask it this way: What if you knew Jesus were coming tomorrow? What would you change first? Your shoes or your heart?

It’s never going to be about things, about people, about status- when that day comes it’s only and always going to be about Him, your heart and how it knows Jesus.

Hugs,

Philippians 3:12-16 The Spectators Sport

“Almighty God, in this hour of quiet I seek communion with you. I want to turn away from the worry and fever of today’s work, from the world’s jarring noises, from the praise and blame of other people, from the confused thoughts and fantasies of my own heart, and instead seek the quietness of your presence.”- John Baillie

As I sat in bed this morning, I read these words. They interupted my routine of my normal mundane Sunday morning- praise music, bibles, and an outward time of prayer before church….Just wow. If only we could all take it here every day.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ has made me His own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God, Christ Jesus. Let those who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:12-16

Paul says look guys, I’m not standing up here speaking to you like this because I’ve got it all figured out. I know I am not perfect, but I am trying. I press on.

I think it is important for us all to realize that even though Christ’s work for us is perfect, The Holy Spirit inside is us is not perfect. It’s progressive. Everyday as we are worked on more and more, His presence over our lives increases and consequentially our decisions are also cultivated more according to His will and purpose.

but Paul pressed.

1st Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Press, Fight, Take Hold.

Verbage, y’all. These are actions. I think people think that Christianity is a passive religion that advocates waiting for God to act, to reveal things, make better things, fix things all while we just sit.

Be still and know, right?

And how do you think you may know God? Seek and find, knock and I will answer, listen and obey. What are all of these things? They are all instructions from Jesus, himself, and are all a call for action.

This is not a spectators sport, guys. It’s actually not a sport at all. This isn’t a game. While we are not children anymore, this is also greater than our adult life- it’s life life- the always life, forever life, the life were choosing in our insignificant lives, in these inconsequential details or these tiny years that will feel like days when they’re standing next to our eternity, y’all, what we do, or don’t do RIGHT NOW, is forever.

Forever and it’s like sometimes we are just sitting, waiting, and for what? It’s storming right past us. Our time is so small here. Of all the promises were offered as Christians from our Father, time here is not one of them. There is absolutely absolutely no time for passivity.

Press on, Fight, Take hold of…. and then don’t look back Paul says.

As Chrisitans we’ve all asked for a new life at some point right? and what is a new life when we’re not living renewed? It’s wasted blood, and while the blood is limitless and unending- it’s not any less sacred.

I laughed once to myself when my husband and I moved into our first home as a family of seven. His nana bought us plastic placemats because she just couldn’t stand the thought of my new ones getting dirty…

I laughed because I had never bought anything with the intentions of not using it. I’m also realistic. Five kids and one spaghetti Tuesday and of course the newness is gone… but I still wanted them used.. even stained they would be beautiful.

I’m no different. I want to be used, my life. I want it worn and obviously tattered and worked for a cause- not one like protecting a table from spaghetti, but one that helps protect souls.

I didn’t name this ministry Mess and Mercy for nothing.

Messy means unperfect, frayed, and sometimes even convoluted. It’s a place of stains, of shadow, and of error and then there’s mercy… the place of freedom from all of those things.

Don’t look back.

Luke 9 verse 62 says this: “Jesus replied, ” no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of Christ.”

God says anyone can come, but no one need look back. You cannot live an old life of intentional sin and claim a new one.

To grab hold of a plow for straight rows, only to look back while driving forward, does nothing but set yourself up for failure. It is trying enough to walk a path of purposeful precision while keeping your eye on the destination, let alone walk towards it without any visibility of the terminus.

We can’t get there looking the wrong way, and we can’t get there just looking.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

You see? It’s more than a prayer. It’s a belief so deep, a love and relationship so deep, that is compels us forward, upward, Paul said, into change, into action towards the life to which we were called.

and if you believe otherwise- if you believe it takes less than that- Paul said God would will reveal that also to you.

“Only let us hold on to what we have obtained.” v.16 NLT

Press on, fight, take hold… don’t look back, not at the mistakes of your past, and not at anything behind you, but should you find yourself in error, back engulfed in sin, when your new placemat finds it’s first stain since it’s new purchase, then we have to hold on to what we have been given- Mercy in our Messes– dust off and continue forward into action. I’ve never known a washing machine to clean up anything with the help of detergent without a little spin and work of its own. Jesus’s gift is even more purifying, but the only thing worse than spilled milk is wasted blood.

love yall,

Why Does This Keep Happening? The Answer.

“I do not understand. Why are things still just the way they have been? Why do we have to do this over and over?”

I know I have asked myself these same two questions an infinate amount of times. Even with the answers before me, I will likely ask them again.

I have to believe that I am not the only one that fights these same said battles over and over. Things you’ve dealt with, prayed over, laid at the feet of Jesus, forgiven, and even prayed over again that just keep. coming. back. up.

Psalm chapter 12:

“save, oh lord, for the godly one is gone, for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor, with flattering lips, and a double heart they speak……. because the poor are plundered, because the needy cry, I will now arise, says the Lord.  I will place him in the safety for which he longs.  The words of the lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O lord will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.  On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

If I were to ask you who is the single most ruler of this world you would say?

Growing up in the bible belt, most all of us would presume the answer is Jesus, but that is not so.

The Godly one is gone; Jesus has left this Earth, and the faithful have vanished from the children of man. Man is Adam and Adam equates sin to which we are all born unto. Satan is the ruler of Earth. He even tempts Jesus in Matthew 4- Jesus come on over here, you see all of this on top of this mountain. I will give all of this to you if only you will bow and worship me.

David goes on to describe this people, those that only say what people want to hear. Even in the church, or maybe especially, there are those who always have just the right answer for any occasion but speak with no truth or transparency of heart- a double heart at that. Two hearts; one for Sundays and another for all the other days of the week.

And so what’s wrong with these people? These recurring things in our lives that show up time after time after time?

2 Corinthians 4:4 says it perfectly. “In their case the god of this world (satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.

The scripture in this psalm lays it out, but maybe you just need some help dissecting it to fully understand its principality.

“On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted amongst the children of man.”

On every side– completely surrounding not only every circumstance but also every corner.

vileness– nasty, offensive, awful, and unsavory

exalted-  placed at a high or powerful level.

Yall, even as Godly people, we must never forget we live in an evil world. A world that exalts or gives power to all of these awful, potentially destructive, things. We, even believers, make the mistake of subconsciously giving such things POWER over our lives.

We have, maybe not as Christians but as a people, have a created a world that seeks pleasure in sinful entertainment that we find so enticing… until it directly affects our own personal lives.

sex. gossip. addiction. infidelity. betrayal. fatality. tragedy.

These are all topics that we enjoy sharing with our friends or find even sanctifying to be the first one to “get the news” and why Y’all? for what? I don’t know when we saw fit to enjoy in the failure of someone else, to make of a catastrophe some type of commodity in the midst of some of the most vulnerable and unavoidably transparent aspects of peoples lives.

but we have.

it is absolutely imperative that we realized that even though our spirits are safe in heaven, our very alive bodies are here. in this place. that has made these things acceptable.

wicked reigns, guys. Here evil, reigns.

All of these little tests. The walls that you run into over and over, that’s not God y’all. That’s Satan. God desires nothing but the best for His people.

Colossians 1 verse 13 says that God has rescued us from the darkness of this world and has assigned us a seat in heaven.

Praise Jesus, We have saved seats, but y’all not until we get there.

It says that His word is pure- refined, grounded. that means that it has been tested, studied, criticized. it is without impurity or flaw even after it has been sifted through and it remains standing.

yet we give evil the authority over our lives?

sounds crazy doesnt it?

Even to choose exalt Christ in our lives, does not mean the elimination of evil.

Even with a word precious and pure, people will still prefer those same things that will bury them.

but God says that because, indicating when, those are plundered, when the needy cry Then I will rise.

plundered. laid flat and bare. needy. crying. and I’m coming.

It wasn’t until I suffered without Christ, that I realized just how much joy there was to suffering with Him.

The next time you want to question the reappearing wall in front of you, ask yourself which god would set it before you- the one of this world, or The One.

You see, Satan may in fact rule this world, as the scripture says, but Jesus… He won it.

God, as much as I would like my actions to matter, on the days that I am full of doubt, I’m so glad they don’t. Thank you for an unfailing victory over all evil, even my own. Thank you, God, for you.

Amen.

Philippians 3:9-12 Our Portion, Our Place

“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ. the righteousness from God depends on faith. that i may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings becoming like him in his death. that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect but i press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus had made me his own. ” Philippians 3:9-12

I’ve read this scripture. Re-read this scripture. Then read it again.

I’ve studied it to try and find something applicable because it’s been my experience that it’s what helps my readers the most.

I’m sorry, tonight I do not have a fancy story, but the context of this passage is greater than anything I could possibly say.

What do you think about when you hear the word righteousness? royalty? a man in a red velvet cloak and an unattractive beard, maybe? I don’t know but righteousness is simply put as a way of life that is all about doing the right thing.

Paul is saying I can’t do  everything right myself, not even if I follow all of the rules. In fact the only way I can be perfect is through faith (complete trust and confidence in something) in Jesus.

And faith is a contingent thing- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share his sufferings becoming like Him in His death.

to know: to not just recognize God. to know is defined as a developed relationship through meeting and spending time with someone.

power: gosh power is so much y’all. Power is the ability to do; it’s the capacity to direct or influence behavior; it is a right to authority; its literal physical strength.

that we may share in suffering: share is a part or portion of a larger amount.

God is big. He is strong. He is perfect, compassionate, Almighty authority, ultimate perfection and to know Him is to share in all of those good things, really know Him- not recognized by a parable you heard in Sunday service or a the familiar picture of a textiled mosaic of the glass church window, but to know know Him because you have, in very physcial form, met and spent time with him. He shares all of His glory, all of these wonderful things, and in return we too must share- just a piece of the greater, actually the greatest, suffering that has already been endured.

But we’re selfish- with our time, with our hearts. Our expectations are big and our efforts minimal.

We’re too busy or too tired. We make excuse after excuse about the lack of investment in our relationship with Jesus.

but gosh do I love paul.

He goes on to say I’m going to do whatever it takes to be saved from my self. I know I’m not perfect, I know I never will be… but I’m going to keep moving forward, everyday, making it the best I can, making perfection my own because God? He has made me His own.

I just have to believe Paul was one of Jesus’s favorites, my husband swears it was Peter. >insert eye roll< but Paul never had a good life guys. He literally struggled his entire time as a Christian. In acts 20 Paul is talking to people and says y’all know how I’ve lived- serving the lord with humility, and tears, and trials. I didn’t shrink down to telling you anything because it was uncomfortable, I taught you publicly- fully. I’m fixing to go to Jerusalem because that is what God asked. All I know about this journey is what God has told me and that is that it will be full of hard times and imprisonment, but I don’t care. My life means nothing to me. All I want is that I may finish my course, my ministry and purpose, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. That’s it. That’s all I want.

Sometimes, often, we obscure what the gospel is. Jesus is eternal safety in temporary trial. Jesus is love and He is correction, He is captivating and captive all at the same time, and we just want to pick Him apart, keep the convenient pieces. We want His protection but not the things that place us in positions requiring us to be protected. We want Him to love us without consequence, and we’re even in awe of Him, of all that He is, and yet we still don’t want the responsibility that comes with that kind of adoration. We don’t want to be held down to a life of restrictions- we’re so worried about what we will have to give up to follow Jesus.. and so we set Him aside. We make him just a resource when we “need” it. God isn’t the generator for when the power goes out, He is the literal power. He’s all of those things in that definition and we take it for-granted.

It breaks my heart.

The Lord had prepared Paul for what I would call some of the worst vacations ever. Visit here, but you’re going to jail. Visit over here too, but you will be beat to blood. When you recover let’s walk over there, but be quiet because they are already looking to kill you. And Paul said yes every time.

And He doesn’t even ask that of you and I. All he asks is Believe in me, believe that you can trust me, believe that I will take care of you. Know me. Develop a relationship with me. I know sometimes it will be hard but the best news is you will only have a small portion of the pain because for every thing you do wrong, big or small, I have already suffered for.

That promise. I am love. Captivating. Compassionate. Perfection. Perfector. Safety. Forever. I was, I am, and I will be- always.

Let us press on every day to pour just a little more of ourselves out- Give just a little. Then a little more. Sit your phone down. Turn your TV off. Set aside an extra circular and let’s show up for Him because He saved us. Saves us every day.

I want nothing more in this life than to be unraveled. Spun out of myself and into my purpose, trusting will full confidence that even if it’s through my own tears- God will make something beautiful out of my life…. and something pretty out of yours too. Let us receive our portion and fall into our place.

Hugs,

The valleys and asking God why

A year ago today, I was saved.

I have never been brave enough to tell the story of my salvation; I have just always stressed how life changing it was. Life saving, really.

Sometimes we find ourselves in these places in life where not so much makes sense. You can’t see how anything in front of you can be fixed and how nothing behind could ever bring good.

Why did God take my father?

Why did God not help my mom quit drinking?

Why did my house burn down?

Why did all of this happen so close together?

I asked this God guy a million questions growing up.

Faith is a funny thing for those that do not understand it. We live in a tangible world so naturally we only believe the things we see, the things we can touch, what is directly in front of us.

This very day a year ago, I sat in a valley of my life that could have very easily been detrimental to the lives of my husband, my children, and even my eternity. I sat there broken hearted because I only saw what sat in front of me that one particular day.

I didn’t understand why God had allowed all of these things to happen. The problem was, though, that I didn’t understand God.

Job chapter 37 says “listen to this, stop and consider God’s wonders.  Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightening flash? Do you know how the clouds hand poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?” v.14-16

The chapter goes on to say, “We cannot imagine the power of The Almighty; but even though he is just and righteous, He does not destroy us.  No wonder people everywhere fear Him. All who are wise show Him reverence.” v. 23-24

There are things that we do not know. There are things we aren’t supposed to and only one thing we are.

Salvation is free. It is the one decision we can make in our lives and know the ultimate outcome.

but what about all of our other choices?

What about our Time. Mistakes. Life. Those things aren’t ours to know.

Do you think the drunk driver would have drove knowing in 30 minutes he or she would have been pulled over and taken to jail for DUI?

What about the teen mom? Would she have had unprotected sex knowing it would result in a child sophomore year?

What if i has know that on my wedding day that the picture me and my ex-husband posed for would only hold sentiment to my children one day because that marriage would fail?

I mean what if?

We know drinking and driving is illegal. We know that premarital sex sometimes causes a premarital pregnancy, and that unfortunately some marriages end in divorce. That does not mean that we believe it will happen to us.

Valleys.

Often we do not understand them until were standing on the peak of it’s mountain, until we’ve finally made it back to the top. Oh THIS is why I had to go through that. I get it now.

Good things come from bad times. The drunk driver was arrested this time so the next time doesn’t end in a wreck killing all of those involved. The teen mom grows up faster- learns early how to be an adult that makes decisions based on consequence- learns how to put others before herself. It makes her a stronger person, an even stronger mother. And divorce? it usually teaches man and woman how to be better spouses in their next relationship, about compromise and service.

What the devil intended for evil, God intended for good Genesis 50:20 teaches us.

Ezekiel tells a story of a man being lead through water. First to water that was ankle-deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and finally to a river that could not be crossed alone.

“Then He asked, “Son of man, do you see this? and then he led him back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me This water flows toward the eastern regions and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the dead sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. there will be large numbers of fish because this water flows there and makes the salty water fresh. so where the river flows everything will live. … fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. every month they will bear fruit because water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” chapter 47

Like these waters, when Jesus melts us even in the most bitter and salty areas of our lives, we are made fresh. Sometimes it takes Him leading us into currents that we cannot conquer to trust in something greater than ourselves. It’s where the water is highest that love and comfort overflows. Every person that chooses to drown in the waters of sanctuary will live on the river of eternity.

If you every find yourself in a place like I did, just stop. Consider Gods wonders, the scripture says. Let the water rush over you, correct you, cleanse you, and know that no, you just don’t know and find rest in the fact that you don’t have to. Be thankful that even when you can’t see through the clouds there is a perfector, the Almighty, piecing together a promise, a rainbow, on the other side of your storm, on the top of your mountain.

Had I given up on my mountain, I would have missed out on the view at the top. Looking back over the last year, it has certainly been one of the hardest climbs of my life. It has also been one of the best. There has been nothing greater than the cleansing correction of my Father and the promise that came when I did not die with this world, but only died to myself.

My pastor said it best last night when he said in this life God doesn’t want our success, He only wants our surrender. Had my life gone just as I had planned, I may not have ever known a life on the other side. I would have lived in the sun and never known how free it felt to dance in the rain.

Let us all see that this world operates with remarkable order and wisdom. If He has planned the perfect path of every cloud, He has also prepared the perfect one for you. Just because we are not in the perfect place does not mean we are not in the middle of a perfect plan. Wade the waters and simply trust God, and when they get too deep, know that our God walks on water and He has the entire world in the palm of His hands. He does all these other things marvelously well and know that you, too- this, too, is already worked out ahead of time- all according to perfect time and order.

Father,

I do not always understand, and the things that I feel I do, I do not always like. Sometimes the water feels too deep and this life, too much, but i know that in this life my tears are counted and so are the hairs of my head. For every one detail I can see ahead of me, there are infinite reasons there that I cannot. I’ll never ask again that you take anything from me, instead please give me the faith to know it is good, strength to climb over it, and wisdom to learn the lessons on my way up. Thank you God for these opportunities. Thank you, God, for You. -Amen

Hugs sweet friends,

And walk.

A friend of mine brought up a woman’s name in causal conversation several weeks ago.  “I think you know her,” she said, “well I KNOW she knows you.”

My heart sank.

Here we go again, more talk I said to myself.

I thought about it most of the day, not what was said or even who said it. I thought about its impact. How much power those six little words carried.

Don’t you hate those things you’d probably be better off not even knowing, but you just have to know anyway?

Why did I want to know what “who knew me” said? More importantly.. why did it matter?

The most important thing we need to realize about the past is that it’s over.

My mama tells me over and over, “Katie you have to stop living your life based on what people think.” She still tells me that.

I walk around with this fear that one of my bad days, my off days- someone will see the “Bible Girl” and I will misrepresent Jesus, that my attitude will move people away from Him. Since we cannot possibly share all of the good news with every single person we encounter, one of the biggest parts of your testimony is how you live your life.

Not how it was lived.

I love the gospels because it tells of the miracles of Jesus throughout His ministry here on Earth.

There is newness with Jesus; the person that didn’t get it all right has a funeral to go to. Its own. In John chapter 5, there’s a story about a man who had been “invalid” for 38 years.  When Jesus saw that he had been in this condition so long He asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”

The invalid man replied that he had no one to help him. He said, “every time I try someone else gets in my way.”

Jesus replied to the man, “Rise, get up and walk.”

Rise. To move from a lower position to a higher one.

Get up. Don’t do it sitting down. Literally get on your feet.

Walk. To move forward, even at a slow pace, setting one foot in front of the other usually with a destination.

Who the people of this town thought as an “invalid” Jesus saw as purpose.

Everyone that knew this man saw him after he encountered Jesus and they were amazed and then believed.

That is what is powerful.

Not what someone said.

Not what you wished you were.

Not what is over.

What is new. That’s where it counts.

This time last year I was making a scary transition into a new life fighting an old name. My “and walk” was more like a “and crawled” because I afraid of a different life.

I was scared of what people would say; what they would think; what friends I’d lose because Lord knows I already didn’t have many.

I laughed at God the first time He spoke to me, when I first received my call to ministry.

It’s even crazier looking back at it a year later, because God knew exactly what I needed to “rise.” He knew exactly what it took for me to move forward one foot in front of the other.

The best part of “and walk” is it’s pace. While it isn’t a bad idea to run towards the cross, if you’re that out of shape just take your time. Just walk. One little step at a time.. just move.

Don’t let what is already over stop you from something that is now, something that could be even better tomorrow.

It’s scary, but the higher your rise- the easier it gets.

Hugs,

Philippians 3:7-8: The Life I planned for; The Life I Didn’t get.

I’m one of those ‘have-to-have’ it all tucked away kind-of girls. I wish I weren’t; I hate that about myself, but I just am. I would bet I am one of the messiest organized people you have ever crossed paths with.

Starting an unexpected new season in my life, things have been a little more shaken up than normal and so have my nerves. I’ve looked through next month’s calendar 100 times, and will do it again.

Have any of y’all been just worn out by planning, twisting, forcing all the right pieces in what feels like a too small puzzle?

I had my life planned perfectly, even more calculated than the color coded blocks of my over-sized planner. I didn’t grow up the best. I never wanted for anything, but my home life certainly could have stood some major adjustments. Without details, I had planned a different life, something different than I had. I had this idea of what my perfect life would look like.

I would be married, cute house, cuter kids, lots of friends with also cute kids that would play on a well landscaped lawn on Saturdays when I had a day off from my perfect job. There would be a dog, okay two dogs, and basically always sunshine. Don’t ask me how the perfect grass got watered in this dream without rain because I haven’t thought that through.

“All things are full of exhaustion; a man can not complete it.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing;  What has been is what will be and what has been done is what will be done….. and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:8-9

I’m getting to the point, hang in there. Apply just a little context here, and we’re moving on.

Under the sun is a theme in this book of the bible, and has nothing to do with the weather. Under the sun means the world we can see; a materialistic world with no eternal perspective.

NOW, imagine me, sitting here, looking at this calendar book of mine with these colored up pages that represent little of what I had planned on.

In blue and red, I have marked my second husband’s work days. My first marriage failed. My new (because we just bought it) not new house needs unexpected repairs. While my kids are cute, they represent multiple colors on my book- all five of them, Dad’s house this day, mom’s house that one, a holiday here for this kid, oh and yay! Looks like we have them all for that one. Purple is the color of my daughter’s dance class.  Yellow is my step-daughters church program.

I have few friends in a not-so-new but certainly not home town, no baby play dates, and I feel like I have more jobs than I do socks right now. My dog is well… kind of perfect, but my lawn is full of leaves all from the storms that blow in when the sun hides.

Two completely different pictures, right?

But then there’s this:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:7-8

There was a time that I had what I wanted, what I had planned. I married a guy that gave me the parade proposal, had two beautiful children, built a home that even had good grass because, well, sod. All of my new town girls liked all my Instagram pictures and commented things on my Facebook posts, there was a potential for friendships and play dates. There was no dog, but there was more than that missing from the puzzle.

It was so sunny, y’all. I had that life under the sun and I was weary. Like the man in Ecclesiastes, I could not complete it, could not be satisfied. It was like I tried and tried to get this or do that and it was still so empty. And why? because it was so bright. It was a life full of things I could see for now, and one with none of the things I could feel forever.

Now I have absolutely no idea why the life I planned unraveled into the life I live in. I don’t. Maybe had I stepped out of a life in the sun and into the kingdom, things would have been different. That is not for me to say, but I know that girl with all of those big and bright plans was meant to be scorched by that heat that her own sun packed- and I am so so grateful she was burned down just as she was.

It’s one of those beauty from ashes kind-of thing. God often uses our brokenness to reveal His beauty.

And gosh is He beautiful, are His renovations beautiful.

You see, when I lost all of those things, I was left with the One person Ive always had but never knew. I came to Jesus because basically there was nothing else.

I would lose all over again, knowing what there was to gain in having nothing and everything all at the same time.

Paul said in Philippians 3 verses 7 and 8, look I count it all gone. I don’t even care. Everything else “under the sun” is garbage because EVERYTHING else is less when compared to the infinite value of Jesus.

Paul is right.

I love those red and navy dots. They provide for my family when they are present in those dated squares, and when they’re not that means I get to enjoy my husband wrapped up in bed with me if only for one night before the next red dot appears. I love all 100 of those little baby fingers and toes with every piece of me, together all at once or separate, on the holidays or not. My new-not new home will free up some time for me to pursue my passion for spreading the word and for that, me and my daughter danced in the rain that fell from my closet ceiling last week when it rained. I have very very few friends in my home-but-not home town, but they are literally some of the very best, and those leaves? I love them. Watching them fall to the ground, I am so full of hope because I know that, like me, those dead leaves will get a second chance and then a third and so on, to revive themselves when this season is over because with Jesus, you don’t run out of chances; you don’t run out of love.

Sunny days are beautiful. The things you can see are beautiful but trust me when I tell you with tears in my eyes that there is nothing absolutely nothing more precious than what you cannot see, but can always feel.

The question never concerns the presence of God. He is always there. The question is whether or not God matters.

The very biggest hugs,

Philippians 3:1-6: The Real Christian

“Furthermore, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.  Watch out for those dogs, those evil-doers, those mutilators of the flesh.  For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh- though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If someone else has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee, as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Philippians 3:1-6

Trying not too get to historical, I want to quickly explain some history before we get to the meat of this. Paul is saying look, I’m reminding you because this is important. “Dogs” is a word the Jews would use for the gentiles.. Paul says be careful around these people..these evil doers. They think heaven is for the law abiding citizens and to get there.. if you’re not Jewish.. you first have to become a Jew before you can become a Christian. You have to be circumcised. Paul says this is mutilation. Skipping some words we will revisit, Paul said I’ll tell you why it’s wrong. If anybody has the right to think who they are and what they do will get you to heaven, it’s me guys. I am the circumcised stock of Israel. I’m family with the first king of Israel and I’m Hebrew. I was a Pharisee, the very best sect of people devoted to the law, an active fighter against Judaism, and by the law- I’m perfect. Now back to the middle.. even though who I am and what I do looks good by the books.. it means nothing.

The true circumcision is what we Christians are because we serve God by his spirit and not in our doings.

The real christian knows that external worship and good deeds that these people push in the church may be good things but they are not sanctifying things. Only through Jesus, because of Jesus, by Jesus in us, are we saved- not the things we do ourselves. As great as the law is, the new covenant says it’s nothing without faith.

The real christian rejoices in Christ, not in circumstances or situations but in the Lord. To abide in joy means you really believe God’s got this; He is in full control and that control is for your own good.. and we’re relieved that He’s in control because Lord knows we couldn’t do a good job on our own.

The real Christian has no confidence in the flesh. You don’t trust you to get you to heaven. Things aren’t good because you’ve been good. They’re good because JESUS is good and THAT’S a safe confidence to keep you warm at night.

Even after I was saved, after I had spent countless hours with Jesus, with His word, with Him in prayer, serving Him… there were times that I did not understand some things. Why am I having such a hard time? Why did you tell me to do this if you weren’t going to see it through? What happened to blessed is she who believed? Hello God, I believe… where’s my blessed. For a time I thought that kingdom work brought some kind of reward.. I was waiting and waiting and the package never showed up on my doorstep.

Blessings do not always come with bows.

The package did come… 2000 years ago.

God was testing my faith. Not for His knowledge, but for my own. I needed to see where I stood. Believing was the first step, but there was much more to do. I had to learn what it was like to be the real Christian, not the one that was dressed up in her new life with a mini ministry but the broken girl. The undressed, real, raw version.

There is boldness in broken. I had to learn confidence in Christ. I started looking for all of the things God was teaching me about myself as He pulled me through so many different seasons instead of asking Him why. I began to thank Him for new opportunities to trust Him differently as the color of those seasons changed. I learned to stand up in all my messy and just pour it all out there because even if it didn’t feel okay, it certainly was, because there is purpose in every single step, even those that throw you to the floor.

Y’all please please know that it is not who you are but what you are. It’s not what you’ve done or haven’t done, it’s what you do next, and it’s never what you do by yourself, but what He does with you that brings the bows.

Hugs and Tuesdays,

A Little Happy Just Because

Hey sweet friends!

Over the holiday I have been reflecting on all the things, wait for it, I’m thankful for. Around this time last year, I was in the deepest pit of, arguably, my life. I needed something more even though I had everything I had ever asked for. We had just moved into our beautiful home; I have a husband that adores me, that loves me even more for my very worst pieces, FIVE very beautiful, healthy babies that could not have blended easier to have been a mixed together family, and even a new puppy. All I was missing was a swing…

and something bigger.

I had always know of Jesus but it wasn’t until this dark season that He introduced himself in a way that was just undeniable.  This time last year on black Friday, I bought my oldest step-daughter and I a journaling bible. I enjoyed one-on-one time with this almost unrealistically sweet baby girl so much; I thought spending time coloring in our bibles together may one day do us both some good.

I colored four pages, and Jesus colored me.

I had not known Jesus at all, but suddenly I wanted to. More than anything did I want to know more.

As I sit here with literal tears and think about how that 20 dollar purchase changed my life I cant help but be overwhelmingly thankful. The absolute worst year of my life was preparing to kick off the best one because of four small pages.

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I have turned through every page this year, and cried over most of them.

I am so grateful for the constant encouragement and support of those that follow this little baby bite of Jesus. I want to share the love.

Here is a little download for y’all. It is all of my tips, tricks, and resources I’ve found over the last year and I hope that these adjustments in your quiet time with Jesus will bless your life as it has mine!

Digging Deeper

I love you all so big much!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs27:17

Happy Holidays,

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