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.

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

Something of Sustenance

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And after I had taken hold of every little thing the world had to offer me I was left standing in a downpour of my own wreaked havoc; drenched in the tears of a God who battled hard against every demon that so very desperately tried to claw its way into a heart held captive by its own deceit.  Unaware of the wicked that ever so gradually began to seep in through the crevices of where I claimed my worth lay, I allowed dissatisfaction to mold me.

In the silent, inward shaping of the most impressionable area of my flesh I willingly sought out and beckoned discontentment to come take up residence, to breed and overpopulate in every corner of my shallow, joy-less heart.

And I built up a facade of strength with each rung of cynicism and envy I could find, each chink in the armor created a faux representation of a heart after God’s will.

My heart knew that it could never be satisfied with all of the dissolvable, sugar-coated fill-ins that I tried to fool it into thinking were something that could ever last.

So my spirit taught me a lesson on emptiness – you can fill a void to the brim with things that dissolve, and break, and die, and disappoint, you can heap your loneliness and dissatisfaction up with the flattery of all the things that you want to last and finally add worth to the areas of your life that are normally only occupied by insecurities and easily-shattered value, but it will never last, it will leave you, and you will be left starving all the more for something of sustenance.

That is where I fully realized, that satisfaction does not lie in any one of the things that I constantly strive for and think will give me completeness, and it is in that realization that my heart has begun to long only for Jesus.

I grew up riddled by the knowledge that our hearts are meant to be guarded, because they are a wellspring of life (Prov 4:23), and that they simultaneously are deceitfully wicked above all else (Jer 17:9). If our hearts are so wicked than why are we taught to guard them as if they were something precious?

And I wonder…are we told to guard our hearts, not because they are so very precious, beautiful, and delicate, but more because they are deceitfully wicked?

Is it because we cannot trust them, because they will burn us and deceive us, that we need to guard them, is it because of our capability of hurting others that we need to guard them?

I do not trust my heart. I do not want to be led by it, I do not want to follow it.

I am not afraid of the ashes that God has turned into beauty, I am not afraid of the parts of me that God says have worth through His redemption and mercy, no, I am afraid of the parts of me that are capable of tripping up and landing headfirst into all the places I told myself I would never be.

After cynicism made its bed, discontentment settled in comfortably, envy made itself at home, and the rhythmical sound of my pitiful tears began to hit the roof, the realization that I built this home, that I created this mess, hit me like a rock.

I smothered myself in the grief of the part of me I felt was missing, and completely drowned out the incessant reminders of God’s splendor and grace on my life.

I think maybe now I fully understand what it is like to feel genuinely lonely for the other half God has out there for  you – I think sometimes God allows you to get burned by your own idea of what you thought it was you wanted – I think He allows you to grasp it and be severely disappointed by it, because it is through that that He molds your heart and changes your “ideal” into an unwillingness to settle for anything less than His perfect will. It is not that you are looking for someone who is perfect in any way, but someone who is more in love with God than they’ll ever be in love with you. I suppose that sounds ridiculous to most people, and honestly, I can’t say I blame you if you think I am whacked for feeling that way, but it is not until you have really experienced and embraced the love of God and how unconditional it is, that what your heart really wants changes.

A year ago I wanted affection. I wanted affirmation. I wanted to be a healer and to be outwardly beautiful.

A year ago I wanted star-lit skies and a hand to hold. I wanted good morning texts and good night phone calls. I wanted to be needed.

A year ago I wanted to feel complete and satisfied by companionship and my value to someone else.

I tell you, it takes God flipping the table on its head to really strip you of all the things that only mean nothing and have no value in the end. I am happy that God had to allow my heart to be wrecked momentarily to truly show me what He desires for me and to really turn my desires on their head.

I want to serve God with someone. I want passion for Christ behind eyes that are striving to serve Him. I want a spiritual leader and someone who inspires me to draw closer to Christ. Someone who will pray with me and pray for me. Someone who will be honest and lead me in God’s word and truth.

I just can’t tell you enough, that after  you experience a pseudo form of what it is you think you want and are left confused and broken God will show you the true value of waiting for a man after His heart. Something has changed inside of me. I am no longer daydreaming and wasting time thinking about that perfect hand to hold or perfect person to “make me happy”, but rather praying that whatever God does, if someone is out there that He means to be for me, that he will be so enraptured in God’s grace and faithfulness that nothing else matters to him. My loneliness has changed from being what I feel I am missing and needing to be needed, and has turned into an ache to serve God alongside them and build them up and grow and learn more and more of God’s character with them. I am lonely for them because I know that they will encourage me and draw me closer to Jesus, because they will seek God with me and remind me of His faithfulness. I am lonely not because I am incomplete and not because I am not satisfied with Christ, but because this person will share all the joys of God’s redemption with me and there is nothing more exciting.  I ache because I SO badly want to serve with them, but not because I am less valuable for being single.  I am so completely confident of the type of man I am waiting for. More so than I have ever been before.

Whether this part of my life ever comes to pass or not, it is OK.

I am expectantly waiting – filled with an adrenaline for God to use me.

There is a kingdom we are representing.

We bear the image of a Savior that cascaded mercy down upon us so that we could forever and ever, in full confidence, proclaim that we are covered in abounding love and sought after fiercely.

A lot of times we think of God’s grace as only being found inside of evident blessings and peaceful moments, which is true, but I think you will find that there will never be as much grace pouring into your life as the times it comes flooding in through your most broken moments.

God’s grace can never be over-shadowed when He has slain every giant in your life and conquered every ounce of pain and despair clawing away at your joy.

There is more grace in being carried through by faithfulness than in attaining satisfaction by temporary means.

Keep the fight, remember your value, and pour into other people’s lives, even in your brokenness – because you are here, in this moment, in this situation, to wreak of a glory not your own.

“I am not ashamed, for I know the One in whom I believe and am confident that He is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him.” -2nd Timothy 1:12

Shattered Glass

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Rescue- : to free from confinement, danger, or evil

We are a rescued people.
We are born into the confinement of sin, and amazingly swept off our feet into the intimate embrace of mercy.
From the day of our birth sin has leeched itself onto our hearts, encasing us in a box of shame and reminding us of an impossible perfection, yet we are not consumed, as a hammer has come smashing down, shattering the glass, and freeing  us from that which labels us unworthy.
We are renewed in a light of transparent grace and cascaded with a ceaseless flow of an audaciously intrepid LOVE that will never be molded into any forced shape by man.
It cannot be adequately defined, it cannot be adequately categorized, it cannot be held to any standard or forced into any starting or stopping point.
It is above, below, and beyond any form of love we can relate to.
We are RESCUED from the sickness that was rooted deep in our hearts.
We are FREED from the chains that were shackled to our limbs, forcing us to be held back to a certain point.
We are no longer restrained to be in only a certain place, but are called to reach out beyond our own strength and share of the One who desperately and lovingly pried the prongs that were latched around our souls away from us.
You cannot label this freedom, you cannot define it…but you can experience it.

We are washed over with a love and a joy, stemming from the portrait of God’s grace.

Meticulous and purposeful  brushstrokes, every line reverberating the authentic texture of God’s agape love, layered on the canvas of our broken, deceitful, loveless hearts.

We were made

Vulernable.

Transparent.

Prostrate.

Before God our hearts – the deep, infected sickness of our hearts was laid bare, revealing just how very little we actually knew about our inward capabilities.

The good we thought took up residence inside, was really just a masked intruder, leveling out and exposing all the wicked we had kept hidden and denied.

The tattered, black vessels being held together by just a thread of pumping life, were flushed out by a crimson that is not our own – making us white.

We are a people seen through the eyes of grace, clothed in nothing other than redemption.

We have been miraculously set free from the dues of what we deserve and eyes that once only saw grey are dancing with delight over the swirls of the colors of mercy, joy grace, love, peace, newness, and HOPE.

While most see us as fools, clinging to something which makes no sense we say “Yes!”, gladly we will be fools, we will be fools for the Savior of our hearts, and nothing can hold us in, nothing can keep us tamed – the glass has been shattered! We are rescued, we are free, we are made NEW.

And we will run, we will shout, we will dance, we will never tire, until beautifully restored canvas is seen by all.

Is The Pleasure Worth The Pain?

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~   For the last few days there has been an uneasiness that has plagued me.

~   A feeling deep in my heart telling me something just isn’t right and things aren’t as they should be.

~   A feeling I know so well.

~   It’s a feeling I have had ever since I was a child.

~   One that warned me that I’ve done something wrong and punishment was headed my way.

~   One that has pleaded with me to turn in the opposite direction because I was headed straight for heartache.

~   One that I have felt every time I have watched someone I love and want the best for walk in a way that leads to destruction.

~   I have a front row seat to that right now. I am watching someone I love make choices that will lead to death, not life. I am watching this person I love pull others down this path of death alongside them.

~   It is utterly unbearable for me.

~   I feel as if the words I should say are fighting to break free from my tightly concealed lips.

~   What is the right thing to say when someone is making a conscious choice to walk in a way that totally contradicts God’s character and His heart? What do you say to someone who claims to want to walk in the fullness of God’s love but they know what they are doing is wrong and selfish and will only bring forth a separation from the Father?

~   I’ve been praying about this for days. Is this a time to be silent or a time to speak up? Does my silence condone the sin?

~   It hurts my heart to see people choose to indulge in the pleasures of this world instead of indulging in the pleasures of our awesome Warrior God. It frustrates me that there are no words that I can say to change the hearts and minds of people around me. I don’t speak from judgment or condemnation, but from a heart that has known the pain of separation from my God because I chose my flesh over my Fathers plan for me. During that time, I searched for happiness and found depravity. I searched for acceptance and found rejection. I searched for love and got a cheap imitation that left me empty, broken and thirsty for the real thing.

~   I wish I could adequately describe the joy I have found in contentment. I wish I could describe how it feels to be secure in my Saviors love and see my worth through His gracious eyes for the first time in my life. I wish I could explain what if feels like to know that my whole heart, all my hopes and dreams, my present and future battles, my insecurities and my imperfections, are all in the hands of the Lover of my soul.

~   We so quickly forget who the Author of our worth is. We search for it in relationships and friendships and careers and social status, but that will never make us worthy. In fact, all of those things will make us feel worthless eventually. We run after things that we think will fill that void that has been left by a past shattered by abuse, or a heart that has been used and beaten and broken by someone who claimed love for us, or by parents who neglected to see our worth, or by a church filled with people who turned a blind eye to see our pain. We fill it with one pointless sin after another. Maybe it’s a new relationship and you think to yourself, “Finally! Finally I have found someone who loves me and wants me for who I am”. Maybe it’s a new career with the promise of a luxurious lifestyle and the respect you believe you’re due. Maybe its drugs or sex or alcohol, where you can lose yourself for just a little while and forget all the heartache you have endured.

~   Emptiness, all of it.

~   Most of these things aren’t bad things. In fact, most are things God created to bless us and sharpen us and help us to grow in His love. But a good thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. And even worse, we have taken a precious gift, cheapened it and made it a sinful thing that hurts the heart of our Beloved.

~   I don’t know what to say to my loved one. But I do know this; my beautiful Savior is the only one who will bring you joy. He is the only one who will love you unconditionally. He is the only one who sees every single scar, every single tear you have ever cried, every hurt, every betrayal, every happy moment, every blessing bestowed upon you by His unfailing grace. He calls us His beloved and pursues us with a relentless ferocity that overwhelms my heart and sweeps the romantic inside me off my feet. Please fight. Please know that whatever you are looking for will only bring about death if you do it outside of His perfect will. Please know that His will far exceeds what your eyes tell you are good or your fickle heart tells you will make you worthy. Please, don’t be ruled by your desires, but let the Ruler of heaven and earth be your desire and hope in the desires He has given you, desires He will bring about in His time and in a way that will bring honor and glory to Him. And please, PLEASE, know your enemy! Know that he wants nothing more than to separate you from the Father and he will use anything to do just that. Our enemy will present us with the desires of our hearts to lure us away from the shelter of our Fathers arms. Don’t ever forget Satan knows our weaknesses, and he will use them to cripple us. That’s why I will say again and again and again, lay your desires at Jesus’ feet and let Him bring them to pass WHEN IT’S RIGHT. Not when it feels right or the opportunity presents itself or when it makes you feel happy and loved and secure.

~   Please, choose life. Choose to be filled with His love, with His words, with His praise. Please, run hard after contentment and joy. Please, pray for wisdom and become so familiar with God’s word that you know the truth and can fight the manipulations of the enemy.

~   I beg you to apply this to your life. I beg you as a sister in the Lord, a sister who has been where death and depravity lie and wants so much more for you all. A sister who longs to see people strengthen themselves in God’s love and be a mighty force for His kingdom. A sister who faces this same battle, day in and day out. I know what I’m asking isn’t easy. It will require everything you have, and more. So ask yourself this, do I want to be used for good and be a light that shines so brightly for the King that people are drawn to His grace through me, or do I want momentary happiness that will only be a cheap imitation of love that will leave me feeling empty, worthless and devoid of value?

~   Whatever you decide, know that He loves you regardless. And He will pursue you to the ends of the earth because that is who He is. He will win your heart back if you choose to give it away in vein. And, if you let Him, He will love you so completely, so passionately, so fully, so relentlessly, no other earthy thing will ever compare to the magnitude of our romantic Warrior King.

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.”

Our Narcissistic Selves

075

~    Waiting on God. We do it our whole lives. We are always waiting on something. Right now, I’m waiting on a job, a purpose, a calling, a friend. My teenage and early twenties were spent waiting for a husband. But yesterday, while sitting in church I realized something. We as believers can be quite narcissistic. The definition of narcissistic is “A person who is overly self involved, and often vain and selfish.” And when it comes to laying my happiness on whether I have what I want (a husband) or not and my attitude up until now, I’ve been extremely so. I don’t deserve anything. But what I have in this moment is what I’ve been given by the grace of God. I’ve been saved from damnation!!! Cause to celebrate??? I think so!! I realized yesterday that I want God’s perfect will for me above what I THINK will make me happy. And I realized that happiness doesn’t come from our marital status or our situation, it comes from the throne of God. The throne where grace and mercy are poured unreservedly onto our fragile lives.

~   I’m sure when that loneliness stabs like a dull knife I’ll forget. I’m sure I’ll need this reminder over and over and over. But I’m not waiting for a husband or any other fleeting thing. I’m not looking for any of that either. I’m going to get on my knees and beg God for a purpose. I’m going to beg Him to let me make a difference for HIS kingdom, HIS glory, HIS pleasure. And if by His mercy He chooses to send someone my way to fight this war we face daily, them He will give me the grace to be the best I can be. But if His will is for me to be as I am, well then He will indeed supply me with a double portion of grace to see me through.

~   When I was younger and thought of a life spent alone, it frightened me. I didn’t want to be alone. And I certainly did NOT want people to think there was something wrong with me. Why is it that that is the first thing we think of when someone is single? It is a thing to admire, not be looked down on. It takes a lot of strength to fight to be content in singleness. I admire the few people in my life that fight this battle alongside me. Most give in. They get tired of waiting for God to give them what THEY want. Never thinking that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t theirs to have because He had greater things. But as true to our nature, we make it about us. We give God time to ‘do His thing’, but when we have reached our limit; we get what we want ourselves. I’m so much more afraid of being that person than I am of being alone. I’ve lived apart from God’s will before. There was more despair and heartache than I could bear. Above all else, I want my life to be an example of Christ’s grace and love. I want to be so submerged in His goodness and light that people envy the closeness of my walk with God. I’m so tired of my selfish heart. So tired of allowing the things I don’t have to dictate my happiness. So tired of looking at other people’s lives and wondering what is wrong with me and trying to figure out how I can manipulate God into giving it to me.

~   Right now, as I type all this out, I have peace. A peace that whispers ‘whatever happens, wherever I take you, whatever I do or don’t give you, you will be just fine.’ I know this peace won’t always be here. That’s when the fight will begin. And in this fight, my own selfish, narcissistic heart is the enemy. But God says He is greater than our weakness, stronger than our enemies (even if it’s our own sinful heart), more powerful than our deepest desires, and faithful to bear with us and fight for us until the end. How awesome is this Hero, this Warrior, this Redeemer and Lover of our souls?

The Essence of Beauty

~   Sometimes I find eyesight can be quite the stumbling block for our weak sin natures. It creates shallow emotions and quick judgments. It creates arrogance and insecurities. Infatuation and dislike. Love and hate.

“…He hath neither form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him; there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

~   Yet God gave us this precious gift of vision to marvel in His creation. To stare at a baby with awe at the miracle of life and fall in love with their innocence. To look into the eyes of those we love and see acceptance and adoration. To be mesmerized by the ocean and its power as the waves role in.  To get lost in the majesty of a sunset.

~   We fail when we let this gift guide our fickle hearts. We see things that are appealing to us… big houses, nice cars, expensive clothes. For girls it may be a well dressed guy with strong arms and a tall frame and we call this handsome. For guys it may be a thin girl with perfect makeup and a killer smile and we call this beautiful. When did we start letting our eyes dictate beauty? Or maybe a better question is, why do we, as children of God, fail to see what beauty is?

“…He hath neither form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him; there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

~   Jesus is beauty. He is perfection in every possible way we could ever imagine. Yet we are told that there was no beauty that we should desire Him. Wouldn’t you assume that when God’s Son came to walk this earth with us He would have made Himself physically appealing? After all, it matters, right? We spend hours perfecting ourselves physically in hopes of being seen as beautiful and the one guy who can actually choose His own skin decides to be unappealing. How odd. That can’t be right at all. He should know how important it is.

“…He hath neither form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him; there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

~   In the Old Testament, the children of God could not go into the Holy of Holies because of their impurity and sinfulness. They could not look upon the face of God and live. Their High Priest had to go on their behalf and make intercession for them. God, in all His glory and perfection, gave up this right, made Himself flesh and came to live with us. The picture of humility… beauty.

~   The world rewards beauty by giving those who are deemed worthy power and entitlement. Jesus, the very essence of beauty, gave up His title and became humble.

~   I sincerely wish we lived in a world where we viewed beauty through the eyes of Jesus. I wish we lived in a world where girls were more concerned with proclaiming the name of the Lord over proclaiming themselves in an effort to make themselves feel beautiful and worthy. Just as I wish men were more concerned with finding a girl who proclaims the name of the Lord over finding one submerged in their own vanity.

~   In Ezekiel 16, the Lord is talking about Jerusalem as His unfaithful wife. He wants Ezekiel to remind Jerusalem of who made her beautiful. “I helped you thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and you became a beautiful jewel… Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.” We are beautiful because He perfects us and makes us so. No other beauty but Christ in us will ever make us worthy. We can look around at others and compare our hair, body, looks, smile, whatever. It all means absolutely nothing without actual Beauty.

“…He hath neither form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him; there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

~   One of my deepest desires is that when people see me, they see Christ’s Beauty. I want them to see His compassion in how I approach others lives, His grace when I am wronged, His forgiveness when I have been wounded, and His peace when the world is crashing down around me. I want His character and beauty to be so evident in my life that it overwhelms the people around me and draws them to the foot of the cross. What other purpose do I have, than to proclaim the beauty of Christ with my life?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

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