Pressing in to Press on

Hard times come and hit us all. Things can be great one second and the next you don’t know where you got off track. Mark this one down as a lesson I’ve learned. Whether it be,

• Heartbreak

• Family hurts

• Insecurity

• Injured pride

• ETC. (You name it)

But when that happens what do you do? When you’ve gotten off track spiritually or emotionally how do you refocus back to a safe place, what even is a safe place?

All these questions flood my mind and it often makes me want to hit the breaks and not even think about it and just try and avoid the whole thing. But instead of staying in that comfortable place I’m going to tackle some of these questions head on in this blog and in my life.

For starters, the backbone and focus that God has taught me for this topic is, when we press in to Christ in the midst of pain and confusion it paves the way for us to press on.

When hard times come what is your reaction, what do you do? I often lose my focus, I’ll be doing so well for so long keeping my eyes on the prize and one of those things on that list hit me and all the sudden I’m focused intently on all the wrong things. Wrong things being peoples opinion of me, Lies that fill my head and distract me from Gods promises, and Oh, the big one, my focus becomes consumed by my FEELINGS.

Honestly, I feel like feelings get a bad rep… the people walking around saying that, “feelings are the DEVIL”, I have to let you in on a little secret though…. They’re not. I know if you’ve grown up in a Christian background like me, you probably at one point had it drilled into that feelings = BAD.

So, here’s the thing, the devil loves to distort your view of things and cause you to live out of that false view. Feelings often mislead you, they’re fickle, you can’t rely on them, ALL FACTS. But none of that makes feelings in and of themselves bad. God created them! An example would be the feeling in our hand that warns us if were touching something too hot, in the same way our emotional feelings help tell us what is going on inside. If we rely on our feelings alone we may live in a false unsatisfied reality but if we ignore them completely other problems arise. I see so many people today living by that motto that feelings are bad and completely shutting off their feelings, not only does that cause a state of numbness and cuts you off from those around you, but it can also caused you to miss out big time on some issues from within. God gives us feelings for a reason and sometimes we miss interpret them. But here is what I truly believe we need to do with our feelings especially in these hard times. Take the feelings you have, go to God and spend time asking Him about it, like why you’re feeling this way, and what He wants you to take from it. Then let it go (easier said than done). God is the creator of our feelings, so stop trying to figure it out yourself. Not only will you understand much more, but you will also grow more in your relationship with your creator.

There are plenty of times in my life where I didn’t follow that guidance, times where I didn’t press in to God during those hard times. In those moments I turned to plenty of other things, places, and people. And I truly just ended up more confused about my situation. Not only that but I carried around my hurt and allow it to way me down until I’d bring it to Jesus. There were plenty of times I’d mask it as something else or I’d make up excuses for why I have every right to carry around my hurt and the bitterness that comes with it. Regardless it weighed me down and kept me captive in a cycle of brokenness that I didn’t even know I could be free from. When I brought my feelings, issues, hurts to Him, He would change my perspective. How many times do we see this in the Bible? Take the Psalms for example, when David cries out on how oppressed he is and pleads with God to destroy his enemies, but then all the sudden something changes and he starts praising God. His situation didn’t change but when we PRESS IN TO HIM our focus changes from our eyes on the problem to our eyes on a Savior.

Then we got my friends over here, the worry queens! I’m actually kind of a pro at worrying, I can get all up in my head and let worries chew at my mind all day, stealing sweet moments in my life right away from me. I don’t think it’d be an exaggeration to say I missed out on almost half of my life because I was too busy worrying to live it. This an area I’ve improved much but definitely have yet to master, and I know many can relate to this constant worry, because honestly there will ALWAYS be something to worry about if you’re looking for it. Where does worrying stem from? I’ll answer this one for you, it’s just a different term for fear, also another way of say God I don’t trust that you’re really taking care of this situation. So what do I often do with that fear? Well of course like any “normal” person I try to take control, fear makes me believe an area in my life is out of control, therefore I want to grab that control as tightly as humanly possible. That most always leads me to a very stupid place. What does God say about fear… well He says one thing about fear throughout the Bible that is most repeated statement. Do not fear. Maybe that means it’s important. He says it in a number of situations, plenty of times when men of the Bible are faced with great trials. Because God knows that humanly our first response in the face of hard times is to fear. God meets us in that fear and doesn’t condemn us for fearing but calls us out saying “Do not fear, for I AM WITH YOU” He asks us not to press into fear but into Him.

The Bottom Line is that, In the midst of our trials it is easiest to stay put in a state of defeat, but God is calling us, to press on. Pressing on isn’t something you just do. There are millions of ways we can muster up to try and MOVE, but for us to press on through the trial the way God is calling us, has very little to do with moving through the challenge and everything to do with pressing IN to God IN the face of trials. He loves us and wants us to come to him with our brokenness and pain but also in our times of happiness and praise to rely and press into Him and his word every day.

The Struggle Bus

There are a lot of factors in life right now trying to get me down, trying to get me on the struggle bus.

A few of the struggles are:

• – I have a lot of friends right now preparing to go away for the summer and then leaving back to college at the end of the summer. Also, the friends around me are all in relationships. I love it and am happy for them but, it does make singleness (which I normally enjoy) a little lonelier.

• -Being in this limbo phase of work and school. Thinking about going back to school or not is difficult. Especially when everyone gives their opinion on the situation. I appreciate wisdom and direction for my future but at this point I’ve heard ALL the reasons why college is essential for anything in life, and all the reasons why it would be a waste of my time and money, so hearing multiple people telling me I’m wrong or that I need to hurry, is just stressful and disheartening, even though they mean well.

• -Also, its super hard living long distance from your best friend! We are on our third year being long distance friends and we get by great compared to most long-distance friendships. And in all honesty, it’s all her, she’s a fabulous friend and loves me so well and finds ways to speak life to me even though she’s not around me! BUT NONETHELESS I’ve had a hard time especially these past two years and its extremely hard not having her here with me. Even harder this past year/ months have not been the easiest for her as well. More than anything I long to be there with her laying hands praying over her and not just praying over the phone. I’d love to support her with my presence, sit there in the silence with her, and if and when she needs it let her cry on my shoulder in the hardest moments of life. I struggle not being able to support my friends in a tangible way.

You see, I’m trying real hard not to hop on that struggle bus regardless of If I must walk instead. Yep the easiest way to get through this would be to just hop on the bus. Walking is definitely more difficult, refusing to complain and accept that “life sucks” mentality is hard, WAY hard! But this way is more beneficial to my growth.

I was talking about this struggle bus situation on my Instagram story, and from that, a small voice came through my DM’s from my cousin Hailey. She said, “I can give you a ride if you want” (I’ll come back to this).

Taking the struggle bus (taking on that attitude of life sucks) is easy, comfortable and completely normal. I also like to think of it like coffee. Coffee is comfortable, it’s what I know. Coffee is a completely normal LIFESTYLE look around you, the coffee shop scene is growing! And for me coffee is most often the ‘easy’ way out. I’m a busy person, I like that, I hold tightly to the mentality that “I can sleep when I’m dead.” So, there are many times where coffee steps in and replaces some sleep because that’s just easier for me instead of managing my time more wisely (just being completely honest). But have you ever heard that coffee stunts your growth? I was told that a lot as a kid since I had already become an addict by age 12. Don’t blame my parents for not raising my right or something because this was all my fault, they hate coffee. My mom drank it once in college and decided it was nasty and never tried it again and my dad… who knows. Anyway, about coffee stunting your growth maybe that’s why I’m so short, or maybe not. I actually have no clue as to whether or not that statement is true, I’m not a scientist and science was the only class I failed, but what I do know is hopping on the struggle bus DOES stunt your growth. Now obviously I’m not talking about physical growth, I’m referring to spiritual growth. From that state of believing the negative, of believing that your life does suck and allowing these struggles to consume you, you will not grow. And in our walk with God if we aren’t growing, if we aren’t moving forward we are going backwards. We sit on top of our problems staring right at them and missing everything God has placed around us. Personally, I’m done missing out on the life that’s around me, just because I’m not wanting to let go of the death of a dream or future plan I had for myself, Jesus himself showed us how death can actually be a beautiful thing. How sad would it be if we were too focused on the death of Jesus that we missed the entire picture? What if we missed that his death represents the death of our old self and our sin, or we missed the next thing he was doing, we missed the entire resurrection. That is what enemy wants us to do in our struggle, he wants to distract us so much that we not only miss out on all the beauty that comes with death but also the next thing that God is trying to do in your life. I don’t know about you but I’m done missing out.

In these times when we choose to walk, sometimes alone God blesses that. Often that blessing comes just like that small voice saying, ” Hey I can give you a ride, my car might not be that nice and my A/C doesn’t always work, And I don’t have a radio so we’re going to have to talk or just sit in the silence but I can help you get where you’re going.” Together even if that community is small, or that person doesn’t know what to say but they help you get through that struggle, sometimes just by being willing to sit there with you in the silence. Realizing that life isn’t always pretty and sometimes we need to walk through or just sit with them.

We often overlook just how important community around us is, no matter how small it is, it impacts us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I’m not just talking about when we’re tempted to hop on the struggle bus. We need to start by building this community when we are living on the party bus, or walking in the spring air. Not as we’re standing there in the cold winter watching all of these struggle buses approach us. “Left to our own devices, we sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what good friends do is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story.” (Bittersweet) We can’t just wait until the lights go out to find our community, because we’ll never find them wandering around in the dark. Once we have that community and are engaged in it what happens when the lights go out, or the struggle buses start showing up? I am so prone to in my wandering, in my struggle, in my grief, be blind to my community and choose isolation. In those scary yet tender moments are when I need most to humble whatever is left of my pride. Open my eyes and take one big look around, listening for that small voice offering me a much-needed ride, and the hardest part for me is to EXCEPT the invitation! Community is there to love you, support you, and not judge you as you walk through this but too often we assume it’s a burden to except that invitation, we think “oh they don’t mean it they were just being polite.” Some people are polite, community ISNT! My community will kick me in the shins when I need it, I’ve come to learn they aren’t just being polite they truly want to walk WITH me through this struggle and the next, as do I with them.

So, don’t hop on the struggle bus because it seems faster or easier, but walk with God allowing Him to take the wheel in your life (Just like Carrie Underwood). Let him help and comfort you and those times of struggle and lead you to those who he’s placed around you to give you a ride when your feet can’t walk no more.

Running to a House without a Home

Have you ever been headed somewhere and put a lot of effort and energy into going there only to realize in the middle of your journey (if not at the end), where you’re headed isn’t even where you wanted to go?

I can think of plenty of times. Sometimes it’s because I’ve veered off the course somewhere and headed towards a new destination without noticing. Other times it’s because I had the wrong destination in mind the ENTIRE time. Investing so much time and energy into a place where you weren’t supposed to be in. Then, later on having to re-adjust, re-calculate, refocus, and re-energize before heading where you should be going.

In my life, I can thoroughly relate in many ways shapes and forms to that picture. One of them is a fairly fresh example. You see I always seem to get a tad ambitious about my future and God has taught me a huge lesson on giving that to him and letting him lead me each step of the way. With that, when God reveals a little snippet of his plan with me, I RUN WITH IT. When I run with these plans I get ahead of myself, WAY AHEAD. The Lord knows me oh so well and that’s why He only gives me one step at a time. Anyway, back to my example. This past semester I was at Nova studying hospitality management, long story short they dropped my major MID SEMESTER. I had my next four years planned out, now it was all in pieces. I was frustrated, I cried for a bit, talked to my parents, and then gave it up. I said, “Okay God I know you led me here and I know you’ll lead me again, so while you keep whispering wait I’ll enjoy where you have me now.” Funny thing is whenever I get to that point of surrendering my plans, that’s often when God shows me the next step, it’s like He’s saying, “I was waiting for that, now are you ready to see the next step.” Shortly after that I started interning with these amazing women who are teaching me things that I could never learn in a classroom, which is how to minister to people in the event coordinating environment. With that in my life I started running again. I know, I know, you think I’d learn. Honestly, I got caught up with the rhythm that mostly everybody in Northern Virginia runs to. We’re all so career focused and success minded, and we run towards it. I’m talking about endurance running, it’s a marathon. We’re all competing for the best time, to look the best while were doing it, to go farther than anyone thought you could go. Except this is where I think we miss the picture, this is where we often miss the goal. Don’t misunderstand me, these are good things I’m well aware, but at the same time this was never the race we were meant to put our ALL into. We can start with something so close to our target, but being just a smidge off in your aim will lead you to a very different trajectory.

I believe it’s a lot like the story of Haggai. You see, the nation of Israel began working on building homes for themselves. Homes are a necessity; how could this be a problem? Does God not want us to have a roof over our heads? Of course not! That’s actually the point I’m trying to make. We can start with good intentions but be missing It completely. In the NLT version of the Bible it says that they’re living in luxurious houses while His house (the Lords house) sits in ruin. Not only were they forgetting & putting off the work on the temple, but they were putting in all of their energy into making their homes luxurious. Leaving no effort, no time, no supplies, to put into the Lords house. It makes me ask the question, how often am I putting all my time, effort, energy, resources, gifts, and talents into NECESSARY things but not leaving an appropriate amount or any, for God and what He has in store for me?

So, what does God say about this?

He tells the people of Israel TWICE to give careful thoughts to their ways. He says in Vs. 6,
“You have planted much but have harvested little. You eat but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
And later on, again in Vs. 9,
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home
I blew it away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you
Is busy with his own house.”

Part 1:
God is telling us to assess what we are doing. Where is our heart focused, what are our priorities, is the majority of your time & energy geared towards seeking God, or pursuing other necessary things? My red flag is when I find myself running out of time for hearing Gods word in my day, or week, and definitely a big red flag if I can’t find time with him in a couple weeks. Its normally a slow transition, like I said in the beginning, we aim somewhere so close to the direction we want to be but even just a little off can leave us far away from target, like when my day switches focus from asking God what he wants for my day, to just trying to squeeze Him in to my day.

God goes on to talk about how they have put in lots of work but are going to harvest little, how they’re going to have clothes and food and drink, but it won’t be enough, they won’t be satisfied. The Lord has withheld from them, because his house remains in ruin. Then the Lord instructs them to go and rebuild the temple. Then comes my favorite part! The people respond to what the Lord is saying through Haggai and this is their response: “The governor, high priest, and the whole remnant of the people OBEYED the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.”

Part 2:
Tells me two things about their posture towards God that is important for us:

1. They’re humble, they did not let pride get in the way. They chose not to be overly consumed with what they had been putting all their effort into when corrected, and humbled themselves to obey even at the cost of all their work. Am I humbling myself enough that when corrected by God I’m willing to potentially lose all my work, to ensure I’m going the direction God is calling me?

2. They feared the Lord. They had a deep understanding of Who God is and how big He is. They knew that the last place they wanted to be was out of His will. Is that my perspective? Am I fearing the Lord or the world?

When we get to Chapter 2 we find that they have already started to build the new temple and the Lord speaks through Haggai once again.
“Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you nothing?

Honestly that’d be a tad discouraging to me, some of these people have been around a long time and had seen the beauty of the temple that Solomon had built, one of the wealthiest men! Now they’re looking at this temple and its nothing compared to that. Sometimes when I get back on track when I finally realign to Gods will, I have so little energy left in me, sometimes I have to take some extra steps to make up for my wrong direction, which cause my efforts to almost look pitiful. I often get frustrated at this re-navigation that it’s just really not what my walk use to look like & it’s not good enough. Here is the thing God didn’t just leave them after pointing that out but continues to go and encourage them.

“BUT NOW BE STRONG. Be strong all you people of the land; and work for I am with you. That is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my spirit remains among you. DO NOT FEAR.” Guys, God wants to work along side us, encourage us, instruct us. He has power in his words to revive our weary souls, but are you allowing yourself to listen to that voice to receive correction and encouragement.

There is so much more to unpack in these 2 chapters so I’d encourage you to go read them INTENTLY because I know I’ll lose you if I continued to go on and on. But also, God can often speak so much clearer through his word than my fickle words. But Overall Remember when you focus your eyes on Jesus, and use your time, energy, talents, resources, etc. You will see Gods glory and He will bless you! When He corrects you, listen and obey his voice and run towards him and He will encourage you! He loves us with an all-consuming love & wants to guide us in our race of life, until we reach the finish line (aka, Heaven).

The Backwards Blessing

Recently, I was looking back through my most recent journal. Specifically the ones from these past few months, since they’ve been so radical in watching God move. Well I’ve come to see God’s footprints in a very visible way the days prior to my life basically being flipped upside down (in a good way). My walk had been stagnant for a little while, I was pursuing God in the ways I knew best filling my days more and more with church things, because I didn’t like this feeling of just coasting with God. It was extremely peaceful don’t get me wrong, but it was almost too peaceful. I am one who struggles with anxiety and I long for peace and for the first time this year I felt it, and then BOOM… Peace appeared, but with that peace grew discontentment. I was discontent with my walk with the Lord & despite my efforts, despite filling my days with worship, sermons, prayer, and reading my bible something just felt too comfortable, in a bad way. I knew that my walk with God somehow seemed to plateau, and it worried me.

Leading up to when my life began to change I remember 2 specific scenes:

Scene 1:
I had recently gotten in a disagreement with my younger cousin. I say disagreement because that’s simply what it was, something we disagreed upon that caused us to act out and of our hurt. Hurt because we both are extremely close and the fact that we both misinterpreted each other’s true intentions and acted more out of our selfishness rather than our love for each other, wounded us and our relationship. This wound caused me to take steps back from our relationship, and ultimately brought up questions from those around us, poking and prodding at the wound. I had enough, I was tired of investing in so many people just to feel gypped or watch them leave. I was exhausted and just wanted to stop pouring into people; Not just surface level friends, but even the people I was closest with. People who invested in me so much, people I love dearly, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was DONE with being intentional or just trying with people.

Scene 2:
It was a Monday night. I was sitting at Cornerstones young adults service and they were starting off the service with worship, and I had this thirst in my soul, thirst for growth, change, something meaningful to give me a new freshness. As worship went on I cried out to God and prayed something that seems almost insane in most people’s eyes. I said, “God I’m tired of feeling this way I just want to be on fire for you. I don’t care if you must break me to do it. Lord I am all in, do what you gotta do.” Yeahhhhh…. Little did I know what was ahead of me.

Thus, started my journey. That night I realized part of my reason for lack of growth was due to me trying to cut people out of my life. I agreed to work at accepting the friendships God has placed in my life, even the hard ones. WELL, the Lord has a great sense of humor. Only 3 days later He brought someone into my life that I couldn’t stand. Of course, it was right after I had agreed to put effort into the friendships that aren’t easy. Because of that I agreed to meet with this person. And wow that was just Gods entry way. He used that friendship to strengthen all my relationships, especially mine and Gods. That led into a crazy season of pursuing promises and dreams, I had pushed aside for so long. As I walked down that path there were crazy miracles and blessings, great pain and struggle, it was completely out of my comfort zone. Through that journey I’ve journaled, and I am always amazed to look back and see how he has answered prayers I forgot about in radical ways. God is pursuing me, He’s pursuing you, but we have to stop asking God to join us on our journey and ask Him if we can be a part of His. His answer is always yes, we just need to want it. It will change your life, it will push you way farther than you ever thought was possible. But it’s a life that is fulfilling with rich purpose and satisfaction in a world where fulfilment, purpose, and satisfaction are lacking. The world says come this way or that way, try this, and you’ll be satisfied, but it doesn’t last. God’s presence satisfies the thirstiest of souls, and his journey is radical.

With all of that said, we need to also be careful when looking back on how God has previously blessed us. Sometimes we can grow accustomed to the way God blesses us, we look back and see God’s provision and how He specially provided for us in a season in miraculous ways. But the problem is we look for God to show up again in that same way. And when we don’t see him show up in that way we get disappointed and think that God isn’t blessing us anymore. NO! God works in new and mysterious ways, His ways don’t often make sense to us because we can only see now and then, but He sees what is to come. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things, don’t dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness streams in the wasteland.” God wants to bless you in new ways and sometimes that’s scary or uncomfortable because different is often uncomfortable, going into something without a frame of reference. This was me recently I asked God to show up in the way I had seen him do it previously, then I was disappointed when he didn’t. I asked him “why didn’t you do that Lord? I know you can because you’ve done it before and I know you don’t want me to hurt?” and I heard his patient voice respond, “Yes, you asked me for that. Don’t you think if I thought that was best I would have done it? I have a purpose for this.” I refocused on those words, God was trying to do something new and the way he did it made me extremely uncomfortable because Sometimes God’s blessings look like work. BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT A BAD THING! Just like after a season of hard work we long for the time to reap what we have sown, but you can’t reap with your feet up, the corn won’t pick itself!! Our blessing can look like work because it is, but the blessing far outweighs the work. In my story I had asked God to remove a hurdle in my way, but instead of doing that he chose to teach me how to jump over the hurdle. I was use to God doing that for me. I wanted to avoid the problem, the problem made me uncomfortable and anxious and it hurt, but God wanted to Heal me of it. How narrow my mind now seems to have been disappointed for such a thing, when God was doing an even greater work in front of me. So, what exactly am I saying?

Take a time right now or later on when you have some down time to look and take note of what God is doing, because it is sometimes easy to forget and move on. Let it comfort you and guide you in those low times where you don’t know if you can keep going. Sometimes the blessing we ask God is not what we expect or want from him, but it’s flipped backwards, and we are so blind to see the blessing because our focus is on how God is not blessing you the way YOU WANT. BUT don’t stay in that focus! Keep your eyes wide open for what he is trying to do now and run towards it even if its uncomfortable. Go get that blessing!

The Bitter Truth

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start now and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

With the new year just around the corner, I like many of you have been thinking about this past year and how I’ve changed; Spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This time last year I wasn’t quite embracing the holy spirit within me. Actually, right around this time a year ago I decided I was tired of doing things God’s way. I remember it all vividly, you see as a kid I had accepted Christ into my life as my savior, but it wasn’t until I was 13 that I realized it was about a personal relationship with Him. I had spent years asking God for a stronger connection with Him. I’d pray, read my Bible, worship, but it all seemed disconnected except for those occasional church camps or mission trips. You know those church trips you go on and get on those “spiritual highs” and are so excited to experience God like that for the rest of your life. Except it doesn’t last the rest of your life… You get home, and I swear all it takes is one argument with your sibling within the first 10 minutes of being home and all the sudden it’s gone. Yeah, those are the church highs I’m talking about. Regardless of often not feeling like God was really doing anything in my life, I continued to do all those things that I knew I should out of faith and love for Him. So here I was on the verge of turning 18 and I was done doing it God’s way. I was tired, and bitter towards God because the past two years had been the hardest ones I had seen. From where I was standing it only made sense to take things into my own hands if I was ever going to get anything I wanted, so I did. I went ahead and pursued what I thought would make me happy even though I distinctly heard God tell me not to; and brought a lot of hardship upon myself.

Remember how I said that the two previous years had been the hardest I had seen? Well, those years had nothing on this past year, but unlike those years, this time I had chosen the hardship and pain because of my selfishness & pride. I spent the first few months of the year angry, jealous, confused and wrapped up in severe anxiety like never before. I thought God was angry at me, so I tried to avoid talking to Him, because I thought I already knew what He thought of me. Little did I know God had a big plan for this year not to end the way it started.

In this past year like I said previously, I dealt with a lot of anxiety but that I was used to. There was something much deeper that I didn’t expect. You see, I’m naturally a very bubbly person but if I had to choose a name for myself this past year you could have called me Naomi; B I T T E R.  I started out my year bitter towards God then dealt with that bitterness and had a perspective change. Then I started to notice a pattern, God would take away people and things He himself had placed in my life. When He took those things away, I got bitter and annoyed. I know so many women that adore the story of Ruth. Rightly so, most girls want that kinsman redeemer to come sweep them off their feet. But not me, I didn’t ask for that and I tried to avoid both the story of Ruth and the sweeping of feet. I relate far too well with Naomi, the “bad guy” in most people’s view. We look with tainted views at a woman who hit rock bottom, Naomi had everything she knew and loved stripped away without explanation and often that type of situation brings out our humanity and it draws our attention away from the perfecter and right to the problem. I can relate to that bitterness, that confusion, that loss of perspective that Naomi had. No, I’m not saying that is how it’s supposed to be. I’m saying I’ve been there and I get it. This isn’t something that I struggle with alone it’s in our humanity! And it has been a struggle since way back then. That was the comfort I needed to walk out of it, I needed people to stop looking at it that way, to stop saying, “you’re wrong” and someone to say, “you know what, I feel your pain. I see your humanity. I love you here, but if you look there, you’re going to experience more life.” God WASN’T going to let me stay bitter!

An even bigger part of the journey He took me on this year was embracing the Holy spirit. You see God brought this person into my life that I had spent years despising (6 years to be exact). And with God’s sense of humor He used that very person to flip my life upside down & inside out in all the right ways. He made that very person one of my closest friends and used their fearlessness to call out the junk in me. Now if I’m getting real with all of you, I have a very strong personality that can sometimes intimidate my friends into not calling me out for things. I was extremely unaware of this until this person entered my life without be asked… actually I asked them not to enter my life at all but instead of listening to me and my stubbornness that person heard Gods call and pushed past my walls. That person taught me to embrace God amidst the trials and storms of life and to be in constant conversation with God, listening intently. For so long I was blinded and believed the lie that if I’m in a great place in my walk with the Lord then I can hear him speak, but if I mess up or am not reading my bible as much, then I wouldn’t be able to hear him. THAT IS WRONG. God ISN’T conditional, he’s the opposite. There are times where we don’t want to hear what he has to say because it’s in direct opposition with what we want. There are times we let the mess around us get so loud that it takes more focus to find his voice. Other times we just straight up aren’t listening, but He is always speaking and wants to help you hear whether you’re taking steps the other direction or running towards him. So, this is what I’ve learned:

 “When you put everything in God’s hands, you start to see God’s hands in everything”

I am imperfect, I am human. I put things in God’s hands, I see his hands working and yet I still I take it back. I think like a child. A child breaks his/her toy and runs crying to their parents because they broke that toy. The dad takes the toy and starts fixing the toy. But as soon as the child sees the parent fixing it the kid says, “oh I can fix it now, I got this, give it back to me.” The gracious father gives it back to the child and the child tries to fix it but doesn’t know how or makes it worse, so they give it back to the dad until he/she thinks it’s close enough to being done and tries to take it back again over and over. The child would rather try to fix the toy themselves then let their father fix it, who knew how to from the start.

I know God knows how to do this better than I and that will always be the case, but still I am like a child and I want to be the one who fixes it until I realize I can’t. Moral of the story I haven’t mastered that statement, not even close, but it did help my perspective; it opened my eyes to God being all around me. I finally unclogged my ears and focused them to the silence waiting to hear his voice and asking questions, waiting knowing He would respond. It’s no longer a “Jesus high” for me because I can be real low and feel his presence overwhelm me even there. This year has been a trip and a half, but I wouldn’t trade the awkwardness, pain, confusion, scars, humility, vulnerability and loss for anything. Because this connection with Jesus is worth it and I don’t say that tritely. And now I wait with anticipation for what God has in store for 2018!

Key songs of the year or like I prefer to call them, My Battle Weapons:

In over my head (crash over me) bethel music & Ienn Johnson

Called me Higher, All sons and daughter

I will follow, Jon Guerra

Getting there, Steffany Gretzinger

Set a fire, Will Reagan & united pursuit

Do it again, Elevation worship

Seasons, Hillsong worship

I’ll keep on, NF (feat. Jeremiah Carlson)

Fragile Heart, leanna Crawford

Peace be still, the belonging co

Braver still, JJ Heller