With Purpose

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It’s not supposed to make sense.

Every little bit of life attacking your joy is not supposed to ride in on clarity and park itself inbetween peace and contentment.

Sometimes God is quiet.

Sometimes He is so so quiet and all you can hear, and all you can find to make sense of are the loud, deafening words of every lie that has ever been whispered in your ear.

When the truth is in the silence and the lies are laced inside the reverberating gong being sounded it becomes common and natural to allow them to take up residence and pull out a cot and settle into the very core of your heart.

I wish I could tell you that with all the Jesus that has been given to me and all the grace that has been poured over me and all the goodness that I have come to see that I do not entertain my weak moments.

After seeing every chain broken and every dark shadow illuminated by the One who has snatched my very soul from death, I wish I could say that I do not notice the pain anymore and I do not hear the mockery of my enemy.

I wish I could call myself strong, and place attributes above my name like “brave”, and “confident”, and “content”.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t doubt, and that every moment of every day I am affirmed by my full peace and assurance of all the plans God has for my life.

The truth is, though, that is not the case.

I am scared, I am confused, and I am weak.

So so weak.

 Each day is a battle against all the plaguing doubts and fears that God will forget me where I am.

That He will only do so much before He gets bored, and His eyes start drifting, and someone else catches His eye.

I am terrified that He will drop the strings to work on someone else, and I will lie there limp, lifeless, and without any purpose.

Every ounce of my being desires for God to use me, in some capacity, to give Him back some glory. Every fiber of my being screams of the need to be utilized and set into action by a God who has cradled my hurts in His hands and has created oxygen-filled life out of all the things which had only resembled darkness and death.

A lot of times I don’t understand the moments of God’s silence like I want to, other than to simply say I am not always listening. Maybe what I call God being silent is really Him just waiting for me to stop and finally take a second to actually listen.

I’ve gotta say that right now – today, in this moment, I am feeling a lot more confusion than I am confidence, but the rest I take in that is knowing that He is not the author of confusion, so I can cling to hope and the understanding that all that I am feeling is not orchestrated by Him.

We can’t always make sense of life – some moments are just too painful and some moments we are too weary to clear the way and fully understand what is going on.

Praise Jesus His sticking with us is not dependent on our ability to decipher our emotions.

God may be silent at times, but He is always present.

In the moment you find yourself weeping on your bed, He is present.

In the instant when all you feel is broken, He is present.

When you can’t see your worth, He is present.

And this is God ringing truth in our ears – that every time I fail Him His promises become more sure than I have ever experienced before. Each time I find myself on my knees, weighted down by all the burdens of this life, He keeps picking me back up. Every time I claim that I don’t understand Him He always seems to prove His sovereignty through pain – He shows me value in my frailty. And each time I beg Him for peace, each time I tell Him I am tired, just so tired, He gives me rest.

It’s easy for me to tell you to not allow your past, or your present, to rob you of your joy – but if I am truthful with you then I would tell you that right now, in this moment, I am allowing just that to take place. What is it about our hearts and about pain that is so much easier to acknowledge and lay hold of and remember than our joy and contentment?

Yesterday evening I was talking to a friend and I admitted that I don’t always understand God, and right now all I feel is confusion and a sense of loss and like I have failed somehow – like there is something I am doing wrong that I am just not getting and not seeing. I must be waiting wrong, or praying wrong, or seeking Him wrong, or following Him wrong. The splendor of our God shows up when we acknowledge that is not how He works.

Just because I am in the midst of a struggle does not mean that God is not good.

Really, in the midst of the struggle is when I have understood His goodness most.

It is wrapped inside promises that He is bigger than this life.

It is tucked inbetween the words proclaiming that every tear we have ever cried He stores away and the proclamation that we are inscribed into the palm of His hands.

His goodness is found in the desert, in the dry, desolate place of our insecurities – it is found there because there we are left with no other options but to finally look up and see Him standing there, and presented to us is the only choice but to open up our ears and listen to the poetry He has created in our names – left wandering a desert we are faced with the grace of God’s truths, and in that place He tells us that He has sought us and that He has betrothed Himself to us willingly – He has united Himself to us in love and faithfulness, compassion and kindness.

How do we deserve this type of loyalty when every day we struggle to even dedicate a small amount of our time to Him?

When we so frequently become unfaithful to Him and thus declaring the sin offered us of more value than He?

What a crazy God we have been rescued by, He gives grace upon grace upon grace even when we strip and we steal and we even simply forget at exactly what high price our souls have been bought for.

Whatever season of life you are in, right now, it has one purpose – one amazing, glorious purpose – it is for Jesus.

No matter how dissatisfied you are in your mundane job, or how deeply you struggle in your singleness, or how bitter you may be in your marriage, or how lost you feel in your school – or how purposeless you feel in any circumstance of life – all of it, every last season of your life, is for Jesus.

Nothing will bring you more fulfillment than reveling in God’s glory and surrendering to the fact that He is in control of your life – it may sound scary but it is exciting to know that we have been designed with a purpose, and no matter where we are at in life, we are perfectly where we should be and it is created for eternal reasons.

Some of the struggles will filter in and out, but I think you will find that despite trials in your life you will find more and more that with each piece of life that attempts to steal your joy, God will replenish it all the more – you cannot be robbed as easily as Satan would like you to believe.

Hold fast, fight the fight, remember with what purpose you were created, and have peace knowing that there are greater things ahead than those you leave behind.

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Ever So Faithful

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Disposable.

This is the word that reverberated in my thoughts and penetrated the raw, vulnerable parts of myself as I mindlessly drove down the highway, blinking back the tears that were trying their very hardest to spill over and make my pain visible.

As I made vain attempts at pushing away my thoughts and thinking on other things, and reminding myself of God’s grace and irrepressible faithfulness, each road marker hit me like a bullet, connecting with the bulls-eye of memories I often plead with God to free me from.    All at once a flood of people that used to be in my life come filtering through my mind, the memories of them taunting me by screaming that sometimes people are only ever a part of your life to leave you. Then the vicious cycle of questions begin to scream at me for answers:

Why weren’t you good enough?

Why don’t they want to be part of your life?

Why have they forgotten you?

Where. Are. They?

After each question the pity piles higher and higher. A mound so high that God’s grace is lost on me, hidden deep in the shadows of the value in myself I feel is not recognized.

I guess here’s the thing – when all you want to do is share with others – to help them see that they don’t have to go it alone, that you will sit down with them and poor over the brokenness they may be feeling, and encourage them to see God’s grace and mercy in every ounce of bad that ever penetrates their life, when you want to be a person that someone can count on – but you find yourself in a lot of half-baked friendships, and ones that last for a short while and then fade, or just with person after person not even pausing as they walk out the door, it feels like a whole lot of failure.

I believe a huge part of the pain God walks us through has everything to do with ministering His glory to someone who will need to see it some day.

But maybe today is not that day.

Maybe God still needs to work the kinks out of the issues which are not quite resolved in your own heart before you can ever begin to bring clarity to someone else’s. Maybe He’s just not quite finished with where He has you right now.

Here is another thing –

I say this out of love and care, whether you’re a guy or a girl, it doesn’t matter – God does not call you to fix someone who is broken, to be their healing, to make them happy or bring them joy – He heals. This is not to say that He won’t use you for someone to see His goodness, but if you are looking for a man or woman after God’s heart and feel compelled to heal their pain or fix their brokenness and they allow you to, then something has to give.  We help each other with the burdens of life that weigh us down, but God carries us. Oh girls (and I only say this because it is what I can relate to, not because I don’t know it goes both ways) I know how badly you want to take away the pain you see in someone – how much you want them to know you value them and care about them – how much you want them to know you are there for them amidst what they are going through, but a godly man will not spill his deepest hurts with you and ask you to carry them for him. A godly man will respect you and love you enough to seek Christ for his emotional support.

“There is an emotional promiscuity we’ve noticed among many good young men and women. The young man understands something of the journey of the heart. He wants to talk, to “share the journey.” The woman is grateful to be pursued, she opens up. They share the intimacies of their lives – their wounds, their walks with God. But he never commits. He enjoys her… then leaves. And she wonders, What did I do wrong? She failed to see his passivity. He really did not ever commit or offer assurances that he would.” -Stasi Eldgredge

Emotional promiscuity is just as dangerous as physical promiscuity, and I would say just as damaging, and girls are just as guilty of this, probably even more so. If hearts are being deeply shared, but no prayer or commitment or defining of what God has been showing either one of you is being expressed than something is wrong. Trust me, no matter how badly you just want to be there for someone, you can’t – you can’t you can’t – no matter how much of you is yearning to be that emotional support. You are giving away emotions and deep, intimate connecting that is only meant for your spouse, and I don’t care how cheesy that may sound, because when you find yourself broken hearted with devastation you will know just how much so God never desired or designed for that to be the end result. Years of healing, and questioning your worth are left in the wake of its path.

A godly man will seek the heart of Christ and tread with respect as he walks alongside Christ’s daughters, seeking how to honor you, not use you emotionally to feel better, or worse, enter into a relationship with you while knowing he is not healed and is carrying around burdens you should not ever have to carry for him. A godly man will be intune to Christ’s heart and will seek Him, and pray, and ask God to reveal His will, and pursue you as Christ pursues you every day.

I promise you, one day you will wake up, and all you will desire is to be a vessel for God’s kingdom, no matter what you gain or lose along the way. Loneliness will not vanish, pain will not disappear out of your life, desires for your future will remain intact, discouragements will come, doubts will be raised, hope will be clung to, weariness will creep up again and again, but confidence will be sure – because you will desire God to use you, every day, in whatever capacity He chooses, to bring glory to His kingdom, regardless of your gain. You will revel in your rescue, and will find the most joy when sharing of His ceaseless grace and endless love, and the peace despite the journey, will be so so satisfying.

Pray boldly to Christ – ask boldly, seek boldly, knock boldly – I believe it is a beautiful thing to fall prostrate before Him laying out every thought and emotion raging within you – He will meet you, and He will draw near. Do not think for one second He will shame you for crying out to Him.

No, my dear, He will count every tear and pour blessing upon blessing straight into your heart and you will know He is ever so faithful in time of need.

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I Myself will search for My sheep and look after them…I will RESCUE them from ALL the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness…I will SEARCH for the lost and BRING BACK the strays. I will BIND UP the hurt and injured and STRENGTHEN the weak…I will make them and the places surrounding My hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be SHOWERS OF BLESSING. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be SECURE in their land. They will KNOW that I am the Lord, when I BREAK THE BARS of their yoke and RESCUE them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will NO LONGER be plundered…they will live in SAFETY and NO ONE will make them afraid.”

-Ezekiel 34

Your Worth Part 2: Valiantly Defended

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You thought that feeling was your heart breaking?
You thought that was the pain of a broken heart?
You thought that sound was the tearing of your most valuable, innocent, inward beauty?
No, my child.
That was not your heart breaking.
That was Me, breaking away the chains that were beginning to tie you down.
That was Me, vehemently protecting your heart from that which WOULD break it.
That was Me, fending off the cheap imitations of what I really have in store for you.
The pain was Me pulling off the leeches of flattery and deceit that were curling around the vessels flowing My truth to you.
They were sucking the life out of you.
I couldn’t stand by, after fighting so hard for you for so long, and watch the claws of falsidical “love” scrape and tear away at you.
I was outraged at this attempted break-in.
I have come to bring life, and life more abundantly.
You are the apple of My eye, do you think I would so easily stand back, unprotective, unprovoked, and unenthused to valiantly defend My jewel?
You are royalty in MY hands.
You are crowned with grace.
I have sought after you persistently.
I have betrothed you to Me forever, I will only let in that which will cherish you as well.
I have jealously longed for you, chivalrously treated you, consistently pursued you, and forever loved you.
Do not think for one moment that a knock will sound upon your door that I will not hear.
You are mine forever, I will always fight for you, even when it feels like your heart is breaking.

 

Your Worth Part 1: Valued By a Deity

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VALUED BY A DEITY
I think it’s safe to say that we all have those situations in our past that we think we’ve “dealt” with.  There is some significant trial or hurt or hardship that was a painful, defining moment in our pasts, most likely having to deal with being hurt, rejected, lied to, abandoned, betrayed, etc. by another person.

There is nothing enjoyable about reminiscing or dwelling on these past situations.  Mine happened three and a half years ago.  You could say by now I had definitely thought that I had “dealt” with that one.  I was completely confident that I had emotionally handled it and was no longer affected by it in any way, other than simply wondering why it had happened.

But did it still have a grip on me emotionally or spiritually?
Heck no.
Errrr…..
Well at least not until it came sprinting full-force back at me screaming it’s conditions, screaming that I was under contract with it, that I owed it a remembrance, a thought, that I owed it a part of me.
Screaming that though I had pushed it aside and buried the pain and hurt, the lies, the masquerade, the turmoil, the fallacies and mistrust, the anxiety, they were all still really there and I owed them a moment of recognition.
I could run quite easily, but hiding, I’m not very good at.  At least not for an extended period of time and you can’t run forever.
The best physical representation of what this encounter with the ghosts in my closet felt like was equivalent to the times you stand up too fast, your vision goes dark, you feel light-headed and you have to stop and grab the wall to let the moment pass or you’ll fall over.
These moments blindside you.

This part of my past literally felt so irrelevant to me that I had backed myself into a place where even thinking on it didn’t affect me.
I should have realized that I had a pretty major battle coming up when every day that I opened my Bible the same theme kept projecting itself repeatedly and insistently over and over again.
Everything I read reverberated to me
VALUE.
PURPOSE.
ETERNAL VALUE.
ETERNAL PURPOSE.
DESTINY.
FUTURE.
I was enamored by God’s rescuing of me.

I was enamored by His rivers in deserts, His pathways in the wilderness.

I was overwhelmed by His tenaciously persistent seeking of me.

I was enchanted by the fact that I am inscribed in the palm of His hands.
For a blessedly pure moment I was completely overwhelmed and confident of the knowledge that I had a purpose, I had immense value, and it was powerful.
I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head.
Everyone I talked to I wanted to express this amazing understanding of God’s purpose on our lives and the EXTREME value He has placed on our hearts.
Then that closet door was opened.
Just a crack, but a crack big enough to let the monsters come flooding in, enveloping my thoughts, swarming around the truths I was vainly attempting to keep a handle on.
Instantly, just as prominently as ever I could not get past the fact that I felt worthless.
Feeling as real as the explicit truths of God’s value of me was the immense taunting, bashing and lies of my in-value.
I thought back to the person that these feelings stemmed from, and felt completely stripped of my worth.
Spiritual manipulation rocks you.
It’s hard to know how to get past that.
Someone using your faith as a key to trick and manipulate you can create a pretty outstanding nick in your confidence of God and where He has you and what He could possibly do with you.
Even thinking back on the immediate time that this trial in my life happened I realized that I didn’t struggle so much with the explicit thoughts of having no value, even in the heat of the moment.
Yet here I was, three years later, doubting every truth I knew, feeling stripped, filthy, valueless, broken, etc. and in an instantaneous moment lies rocked the truth right out of me.
It is so easy to forget your value.  Especially when you feel the actions of another penetrate the truths that can be so hard to cling to.
What value do you have, when someone can so easily destroy it?
What value do you have, when someone can so easily throw the deepest parts of who you are back at you?
When someone forgets you.
When someone takes advantage of your heart.
When someone robs you of the most sacred part of your emotional being.
Why does God allow these people into our lives?
I think I have finally grasped part of God’s work behind this, at least for myself.
At that point in my life Satan looked at it as the perfect opportunity to steal my value right out from under me.
He knew he could destroy me through this.
He thought he had me right where he wanted me.
What better way to rob someone of their worth than by convincing them their gifts were a lie?
And these were the thoughts that came flying back at me, three years later, penetrating the most vulnerable parts of my –just barely held together – self.
Hitting me over the head again and again…jamming in every last lie until the truth was muffled out completely.
All I could think to myself was, How do I get past this?
How do I accept this and move on?
How do I become OK with this?
And that’s when God blew me away.
That’s when He took every answer I had as to “why” this situation happened in my life and flipped it on its head, and this is what He showed me:
That while Satan took this situation as the perfect opportunity to STRIP me of my worth, God allowed this situation to happen to show me how much value I have in HIM.
That my value was so much more than what this one person could appraise it as or tear it down as.
That my value was not worth what this one person in their lies, their deceit, their manipulation, and their mocking could label it as, but that I was worth SO MUCH MORE and God proved that by freeing me from it.
It looked like God had allowed my heart to break, when in all actuality He was vehemently protecting it, and breaking the bonds that were beginning to tie me down.
He saw this cheap and tainted form of something that is supposed to be perfect and rare come sweeping in and display itself in a facade of realness that was anything but.
God is jealous.
He is jealous of your heart, and anything that would even attempt to bruise, hurt, or destroy its innocence is a real thing grating against God’s pure and unadulterated LOVE and PURSUING of you.
So why are we surprised when He fights for it in the most valiant, persistent, and passionate way?
Why are we surprised when He fiercely battles for the winning of our hearts and desires to protect them from a degraded version of His perfect holding of them?
Not only does He do this to remind us of His agape love, but because He has something AMAZING out there for us, something we cannot find on our own, and settling for a diluted version of it is not in His plans for us.
So He must painfully strip away from us the imitations of His love.
He must painfully encourage us to sit back and wait.
And wait some more.
And while we could at times settle for the closest things to our hearts, if we wait and trust in the amazing plans that are waiting for us, we will not be able to imagine anything better.
Value is not us picking the first thing we see, value is God intricately and meticulously searching until He finds what will cherish us forever.

“He who touches you touches the Apple of His eye…” Zech 2:8
“For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a Mighty Savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs…He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.”
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord…Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth..” Hosea 2
“You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed forsaken, nor shall your land anymore be termed desolate, for the Lord delights in you..you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken..” Is. 62
“I am here to give back your heart and set you free.
I am furious at the enemy who did this to you, and I will fight against him.
Let me comfort you.
For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow,
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise in exchange for your resignation and despair.”

When Scars Become You

030Blindsided.

That is the word that most closely mirrors how I felt when a sudden whirlwind of pain came roaring into my neatly and securely kept heart and tore it to shreds. There is no grey on the paintbrush of blindside that fiercely and jerkily colors within the lines of our circumstances, only a stark blackness covering up the white.

One moment something is, and the next, it is not.

As a 22 year old woman coming to grips with my own failure at maintaining the intricate mosaic that is my heart I have realized that being blindsided knocks the wind right out of you. Any strength, security, surety, or confidence I had in myself or my life, in an instant, came pouring out the holes of my broken heart. Like a shattered glass that once beautifully held everything about myself that I felt had value, in a cruel moment it was reduced to tiny fragments of uselessness that did nothing but slice, cut, and dig into the wounds that had in that moment been developed. This merciless villain named Blindside shrieked a shrill, resounding, and deafening mockery that whatever part of my heart I felt was of any value – forget it – You are worthless now.

I am here to tell you, that no matter what has blindsided your heart, you are of precious value.

I am here to tell you, that no matter how broken or shattered you feel, you are invaluable.

You are a sparkling, royal jewel, and let me tell you – you have SO much value, that whatever it is you feel in this moment has destroyed you – is really going to be what makes you into an even more beautiful woman. It never feels that way in the midst of our pain. It the midst of it we feel ugly, undesired, unprotected, and unnoticed, but the truth of it is that God sees so much value in you for His kingdom that He is confident in the ability to use things is your life that would cause some to despair to  mold you into something amazing for His kingdom. He is too passionate about who you are to not make a big deal out of your hurts, to not sweep in, rescue you, and bring you closer to the better things He has prepared.

Remember, you are not attacked with heartache, uncertainty, doubt, fears, sadness, loneliness, hurt, etc. when God is not about to do something huge. Satan doesn’t bother whispering lies and deceit when we’ve got it altogether and are at peace and confidence with our life, it is when he comes at us with a vengeance that we know God is scaring the crap out of him.

So in the midst of the times when we are not OK

In the midst of the times when the only thing we feel are pieces of our heart slipping out through the cracks of it’s brokenness

In the midst of pain that re-soundly screams from every corner of our lied-too thoughts

In the midst of hurt that whispers our inherent worth is forgotten

In the midst of betrayal that tells us we are only here to be left

In the midst of deep, painful, hidden wounds that we fight to heal on our own

In the midst of everything this fallen world has inflicted on our fragile scar-filled hearts

Remember this:

God puts every tear we cry into His bottle (Psalm 56), He has engraved us into the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49), we are the apple of His eye (Zech 2), to Him we are a crown of glory, a royal diadem, delighted in, redeemed, SOUGHT OUT, not forsaken (Isaiah 62), He has betrothed us in His righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy, faithfulness (Hosea 2)..I could go on and on.

So if you have found yourself blindsided, if the wind has been knocked out of you, and if you have attempted to navigate through the deep perilous waters of a pain that you have felt stranded in, I am here to give  comfort that you are not alone, there are people who understand, and no one, especially not God, expects you to heal on your own and magically become whole again. Healing takes time, and whenever I have tried keep these threads holding my heart together intact, I have found it breaks all the more.

These weaving veins and scars flowing through and are etched onto our hearts and spirits flow life to us, and make us who we are. The beautiful ruts of our pasts (and our presents) are incredible tools of God for eternal, everlasting purposes, and more valuable than an air-brushed, falsified, facade of a heart that hasn’t experienced pain – without pain, we would not know true joy (which is something that cannot be taken away), and we would not see blessings when they are given to us.

Your scars are beautiful. They aren’t easy and they aren’t for the light-hearted, but they are absolutely stunning and this blog is here to show you just how many women have scars and have seen God use them for amazing and eternal things.

Journey with others, not on your own, and remember that God holds every tear your cry in His bottle, and these scars become you.

“Shake yourself from the dust, arise…loose yourself from the bonds around your neck, O Captive Daughter..” -Isaiah 52.2