Heart Stuff

  • Loved is the New Perfect

    I walked out the house with a purple finger print on my cheek. I went to the bank to deposit some money. I went to Starbucks and held a whole conversation with a woman who had a Louis Vuitton briefcase on her shoulder. And as I walked to my car, sipping my caramel Frappuccino with the extra-extra caramel drizzle, the sun was at the perfect angle for me to see myself in the reflection of my car and there it was: a smudgy spot the size of a quarter, no doubt placed there by my two year old.

    How in the world did I not notice this before I left the house? How in the world did I not notice this throughout my day?

    “I really need to do better.”

    I’ve whispered this declaration to myself many times. I’ve pondered it in my mind, written out goals in journals about how I would do this differently, or focus on this aspect of my personality more.

    Have you ever thought any of these statements:

    “I need to get my life together.”
    “I need to change.”
    “I need to figure some things out.”

    What are we truly saying when we make these statements? Why do we stress ourselves out with change and effort and reinvention of ourselves? It’s because, deep within our hearts, we struggle with the desire to create perfection for ourselves.

    So frequently, we accept the lie that we have to be at our best in order to thrive. We think we have to be on our best behavior, with lipstick on, fully cloaked in God’s Word, money in the bank, a man at our hip, successful in our affairs, dressed in our cutest outfit with painted nails and at least 50 “likes” on our social media posts in order to feel worthy or valued. Society has conditioned us to believe that our best is what people need from us. Our best is what will keep us special and unique and desired. It’s our best that is required in order to have prayers answered and impact people and receive God’s favor and blessings in our lives…. That’s how it works, right?

    The thing is, God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). The world’s ways and its standards of perfection will never be in alignment with Scripture (1 John 2:6). We cannot perfect, improve or better ourselves by our own measures. If this was possible, there would be no need for Christ to have come to set us free.

    Our sin entangles and entraps us and we need more than ourselves and our personal abilities to set ourselves free. We need Jesus and His perfect love and sacrifice, through a relationship with Him. Once we receive His salvation, it’s His love that transforms our lives, not our works or our efforts.

    And though we desire to be women who don’t mess up, the reality is that we will never see perfection this side of Heaven. And yet, the Holy Spirit is constantly working to make us more like Jesus! This should fill us with hope, because the difficult terrains we will all sojourn through in our lives are truly bestowed upon us in order that God might produce, progress, and perfect us according to His plan for our lives and for His kingdom (James 1: 2-8). That’s the beauty of His perfect work in us — transformation from the inside out!

    Loved is the new perfect. The love we seek from others has been completely, eternally and unconditionally extended to us by God through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s His perfection that our souls truly crave and it’s this limitless love that covers every sin (1 Peter 4:8). His perfect love is free and abundant with no demands, ultimatums or hidden fees. We demand that others accept us for who we are: “flaws and all”; but we are our worst critics and, sometimes, we are the worst critics towards others. It’s time to stop creating pressure because it doesn’t result in perfection.

    I personally know a lot about self-inflicted pressure to be perfect. Being a Pastor’s daughter, I tended to put pressure on myself to be “on” all the time: big smiles, even when I didn’t want to, free hugs for strangers, memory verse known, wait quietly while Daddy is talking to another person who felt like it was appropriate to pull up a chair to our family table at Olive Garden because they needed some quick spiritual advice and pastors are never off the clock…..

    Even as a little girl, it was so hard to avoid the misconception that perfection is what’s most pleasing. 

    When I began modeling, the pressure to be poised and perfect on the outside, weighed even heavier than the pressure I put on myself to be at my best on the inside. For nine years of my life, I thought looking the part was synonymous with being the part. But God has been re-shaping this mentality in me over the past few years, and I’d like to share these lessons with you.

    #1: Getting my life together, doesn’t require me. It requires God. 

    “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” {1 John 3:2}

    God is developing us. The fact that we are aware of areas that need mending, improving and fixing should lead us to God, not to ourselves. Listen, let God do the changing! Just show up, willing and ready for whatever He chooses to accomplish in you! He is your best and all you’ll ever need!

    #2: Your flaws are a perfect invitation for God’s presence.

    “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” {Jude 1: 24-25}

    God’s presence keeps us from falling. His glory opens the door for our growth and advancement. His love over us presents us as faultless, even though there is much fault within each of us. But still, God desires to dwell within us, not for our glory, but for His, simply because He loves us.

    #3: God isn’t interested in our best, He’s interested in HIS best, which is Jesus.

    “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” {2 Corinthians 9:15}

    Jesus is God Himself, made into flesh (John 1:14). So when God offers us Jesus, He is offering Himself. This is His gift to us! He is His best and through Jesus, we can possess the indescribable gift of His love, His purity and His glory, which will ultimately become our own. In Christ, we are always at our best, no matter what!

    You and I, in this present moment, are enough. It’s not because we have perfect lives or perfect intentions. It’s not because we say all the right words while wearing the perfect shade of lipstick. Regardless of our degrees, our accomplishments, our level of influence or our many, many mistakes, God extends His love because He sees us as treasures and He has amazing plans in store for us! We are perfectly loved and that is more than enough to accomplish all that we have been purposed to achieve. Even with rollers in our hair, we are at our best, in Jesus!

    So this is what I am currently learning and leaning into. I am enough because Jesus lives in me! I am loved and so are you. In Jesus, we are always at our best. So smile and be great today because perfect love is always available and new every morning, to me and to you!

    Blessings for your hearts, ladies!

     

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  • Pursuing Our Dreams in God’s Timing

    The hot San Diego air blew against my back as I unloaded my 8-month-old from her car seat. Together we slipped through the doors of the pregnancy support center into the cool, friendly room. I was excited to start my first day of volunteering– something I’d wanted to do for a long time.

    That day the center had an immediate need for help in the clothing closet. My daughter and I headed over, and after brief instructions from the receptionist, we started organizing clothes into the vast wall of bins.

    That’s when everything went sideways.

    The more bins I organized, the more my daughter tried to “un-organize.” She dug into low lying bins and spread clothes all over the floor. While I’d first been excited to help, I suddenly only wanted to get my little one out of there before she caused more chaos.

    That day I left discouraged and frustrated. My dreams and hopes for getting involved went flitting away like a hummingbird from a feeder. Poof. Gone. Not only that, but I knew it could be a long time before I could volunteer in a helpful way again.

    I felt like my child was getting in the way of following God’s call on my heart. However, I soon realized that wasn’t true at all.

    My husband is in the military, and a few months before the above clothes-bin incident, when we were packing to move from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, California, I had found an old journal. As I flipped through the pages, I’d realized a theme that I’d overlooked for years.

    At every duty station we’d been to, I had the desire to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. I had looked at websites and mulled it over, but I’d never done it. After this realization, I committed to act on that desire once we got to San Diego.

    In my mind, after all the times I hadn’t gotten involved, I felt like I had to act on that dream NOW. But after that day with my daughter, the door of active volunteering seemed to slam shut in my face.

    I could still donate clothes and supplies, but I wanted to do more.

    But throughout this process, I started to realize something important: Just because things don’t work out NOW, doesn’t mean the desire is not from God or that we have to let go of those dreams.

    It’s easy to doubt God, to doubt if that passion is really from Him or if He wants us to pursue it. And it’s easy to give up on a dream when we realize that something is more important in the moment– for me, like caring for the children God blessed me with.

    But that doesn’t mean those callings will take a back seat forever.

    God formed us with a true identity built into us. He put us here for a reason, equipped with passions and gifts. And I started to see that God has a way of bringing things to fruition in the proper time.

    Seasons change, and as they do, so will our activities.

    Just a month after my crazy volunteer day, I got a huge surprise: I was pregnant with my third daughter. That was a complete miracle since fertility treatments and miscarriages surrounded the births of my older two. Not to mention, due to the timing, we realized my husband would be deployed when the baby was due. Plus, I knew I would need a C-section.

    The next year was a whirlwind. My husband deployed when I was 7 months pregnant, and I was home with two young kids. Two months into deployment, baby number three arrived and I spent a few months recovering from my surgery.

    That year was probably the most crazy, busy, intense year of my entire life. And the Lord knew that I needed to focus on my growing family through it all. Even though I had desperately wanted to help at the pregnancy center, it wasn’t God’s timing in that season. The dream of helping women in challenging situations hasn’t died. I’m finding ways to pursue it now as my kids get older and we’re living in another state.

    I am learning continually that God’s timing is greater than our own. I’m learning to trust His timing and that He gives us our dreams for a reason. And best of all, that He walks with us through every season and brings His peace and purpose into the midst of our normal, everyday existence.

    Whether we think we’re “accomplishing” our dreams or not, we can trust that He is always working out His good and perfect will in our lives. Even when it seems like twists and turns in life keep you from pursuing your dreams in the ways you hope, God’s timing is perfect. He will sustain us and give us purpose and peace in every season, and faithfully fulfill the desires of our hearts.

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  • Merciful God And Father, Hear Our Prayer…

    Merciful God and Father,

    You are good, you are mighty and you are just. Our hearts break with our brothers and sisters in the black community as we grieve the tragic and unjust loss of yet another soul. Our hearts ache for our friends and family who are not just grieving, but also shouldering the weight of fear, misunderstanding, bias, discrimination and hate. 

    We come to you in lament, Lord, eyes straining to see your face, and thankful that we can call upon your name. We draw near to your throne, hearts in our hands. 

    God, we call upon your goodness. May your Holy Spirit stir in our hearts compassion, love, kindness, and gentleness. Show us how to help carry the weight of our neighbors’ sorrow and share in their tears. Break our hearts wide open over what breaks yours. Open our eyes to see as you see, and our hearts to love as you love. Lord, instill in us your goodness and mercy. May every word we utter, every action we take glorify you and and point to Christ, so true healing and transformation may take place. May the light of your love shine so brightly through your people that there is no room for darkness to take hold.

    Father, we call upon your might. You sacrificed your own Son that we might live. Lord we are all created in your image, with no one person better than any other. By your son’s sacrifice we are saved under one blood making us brothers and sisters. Let there be no divide in our minds, hearts, and actions. Mighty God, let the power of your presence defeat hatred, racism, injustice, and evil. Reconstruct our hearts and our humanity through the lens of the sacrifice of your Son. Come near to us Lord, and do your mighty work in us and through us today. 

    Lord, we long for righteous justice. Our hearts burn with a desire to see to wrongs made right and justice delivered. But first Father, examine our hearts, and fix what is broken within us. Realign our vision not just to recognize injustice, but to speak boldly and to put love into action. Work in the hearts and minds of our leaders-in government, in our churches and communities and in our very own families. Please grant us wisdom and discernment, and boldness to not be silent, but instead to stand for what is right. You did not give us a spirit of timidity but your Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Help us in all circumstances to do what is right and just. Please forgive us when we fall short.

    In all things Lord, you are God and you are good. Help us to really love one another, to hate what is wrong, and to hold tightly to what is good. 

    In Jesus’ Name, 

    Amen.

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  • With Every Breath

    It’s amazing how quickly things can change. In a short period of time (although, some days it feels like forever), life for everyone has been greatly simplified. The things that once were normal—everyday things—are not anymore. We are now more than ever appreciating the simple things that we once took for granted: a hug from a loved one, getting to visit with friends, worshiping together as the body of Christ, going to work, or sitting at a restaurant. I know I never thought that toilet paper and going to the grocery store would play such a primary role in my life! We have all had to give up many things and we now miss what was once normal.

    Recently, I experienced a new level of appreciation for the simple, everyday things. At the beginning of April, I became sick with COVID-19. I had really intense symptoms like a fever that wouldn’t go away and persistent coughing. I would get short of breath just moving about my house and had this heavy, burning sensation in my chest. This lasted for 3 weeks! Because of the infection in my lungs, things I took for granted such as talking, walking down the street, taking the laundry out of the dryer, or even laying down to rest, I struggled to do.

    I remember one Sunday, my family and I were streaming worship service online and the worship team began leading us in song. Singing worship music is one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world, yet I found myself unable to sing without pain. I felt so discouraged, I just wanted to cry! I had felt like I had given up so much already with “stay-at-home-life” and now I couldn’t even sing or chat with a friend on the phone, take a walk to get some fresh air, bake a batch of cookies or even lay down to sleep and rest well.

    I gained a whole new appreciation for just being able to breathe. Breathing is kind of a big deal and not being able to breathe at full capacity can be a very scary thing. Of course, I had heard all the terrible stories of people getting sick and ending up in the hospital or worse. I tried not to focus on what could happen and just tried to focus on the here-and-now, but I must admit that my struggle with fear was a very real thing for me. Fear of not getting better, fear of dying and leaving my family behind, fear of my kids or husband getting sick–-so much goes through your mind when you have nothing but time on your hands.

    One morning, as I sat in my cozy “time with God” chair, I was pouring my heart out to God. I felt so afraid of what my body was going through, wondering if I would ever feel normal again, wondering if I could ever sing praises to the Lord again. As I prayed, I slowly began to surrender all these fears over to God.

    In the background, words from one of my favorite worship songs came to my ears. The words from the song started to pour into my prayer…”I give You everything, to You I belong. Every beat of my heart, the breath in my lungs. All I am is Yours, all I am is Yours. I lift my hands up. God I surrender, all that I am for Your glory, your honor, your praise.”

    As I mouthed these words to the Lord, I was reminded that every beat of my heart and every breath in my lungs is from Him. I was filled with such gratitude. I remembered that He is God and He is trustworthy. He’s in control and I don’t need to be afraid. My fears slowly melted away as I surrendered my all to the Lord. I told the Lord that no matter what was ahead for me, I would use every breath He gave me to praise Him.

    There is such freedom and peace that comes from surrendering all to God, especially in times when we are afraid. Fear makes us feel helpless and powerless. But we are set free from fear when we choose to trust God and surrender to Him all that we have and all that we are.

    From that moment on, instead of focusing on the things I no longer had, I chose to give God what I did still have. We may surrender out of a place of desperation, but as we choose to trust in the God who holds the world in His hands, the God who breathed the stars into existence, we can find a peace for our souls like no other.

    It still took several more weeks to gain full recovery, but God walked me through it. Every time I was tempted to slip back into fear or discouragement that I wasn’t healing fast enough, I chose to remember that my God is mighty, and that He has me firmly in His loving hand.

    As I was driving in my car from the store yesterday, singing from my favorite playlist, I was filled with gratitude once again at how great our God is and how faithful He is to restore us.

    If you have been feeling fearful or desperate in spirit too, hopefully my story and this song that is my hearts’ cry, will encourage and empower you as you surrender all to the Lord.

    “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” – Psalm 150:6

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  • A Blessing in the Waiting

    We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

    The days all seem to run together lately. While there are so many things to be thankful for, I’m also feeling a bit like a caged animal, wearing a track in my carpet from walking the same path day in and day out. It can be hard to hang on to optimism when it feels like there’s no true end in sight. I long for open roads to bustling cities where I can pop into a local cafe, and nestle into a window-seat with my lavender latte and write and work and visit with people. The things I took for granted like health and safety and community are now rare and precious commodities, locked away for another day.

    Hopefully that day is not far off, but we’re two months in and I’m standing face-to-face with my real self, with my weaknesses and wounds laid bare before me. Ordinarily I’d hop in the car for a long drive, music blaring, pouring my heart out to God, while He helped me reconcile the fact that He knows my weakness and loves me still. But instead, I am surrounded by kids that need my help, in a house that needs twice the maintenance now that we are living in it 24-7, and extra time to be stuck in my own head to stew about it.

    It’s sometimes discouraging to hop on social media and see the moms that seem to be crushing quarantine life like domestic goddesses, cooking Pinterest worthy meals and rocking craft time like they were born for it. Meanwhile I’m heating up corn dogs, loading yet another load of dishes, and praying that my kids will finish their school work before 7:00 pm.

    But here’s the thing: We are each uniquely gifted and equipped for such a time as this. There are talents and traits that I possess that make a difference in my family, my community and in the world around me. Just like my talented “domestic goddess” friends have their own set of skills and gifts that impact the people in their circles. Why should I feel bad about them just because I’m overwhelmed during this season and they are in their sweet spot?

    So shine on, you quarantine-rocking mamas! I know you have your hard days too. And it’s okay that I have mine. You are keeping your head up and inspiring others to do the same. We are all in the same sea, fighting the waves, looking to the skies and praying for a blessing.

    And that’s what I want to give to you now–a blessing. The Biblical definition of a blessing is a gift from God or to ask God’s favor upon a person. So here is a blessing for you, the weary mama, the lonely soul, the weary worker, the contented heart, and the restless one:

    I pray, dear friend, that God himself would draw near to you this very moment. May you turn your face toward the heavenly sunlight of our Lord and Father and feel the radiance of His love fall gently on your cheek like sunbeams on a summer day. With each cool breeze, may He breathe new life into your lungs and whisper comfort, peace and renewal to your heart. May you rest in the strong arms of the Savior and stand tall in the knowledge that He loves you simply because you are who He created you to be, a masterpiece, His beloved, a cherished treasure. May your heart be filled to overflowing with how He delights in you. May this knowledge that is too wonderful to comprehend, begin to settle in your heart until it makes its home there and you can’t help but believe it. May His grace be sufficient for you, filling every empty or wounded place in your heart. As deep cries out to deep, may the love of Christ fill you with joy and peace and confidence as co-heirs with Him and Daughters of the Most High. May you see yourself the way God sees you, radiant and unashamed, made righteous through Jesus’ willing sacrifice. And when you lift your gaze and rise today, may you see God at work in every detail, walking beside you at every moment, proud to call you His.

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  • God’s Steady Peace

    Many of us find ourselves in uncharted territory right now. Life as we know it has changed and we are having to quickly adjust to a new normal. When life takes a turn we weren’t expecting, it can leave us feeling like our world is out of control and the chaos of our emotions are threatening to overtake us.

    As humans, we don’t like uncertainty and instability. When our situation seems so unstable and our future feels uncertain, it can be easy to feel afraid and anxious. Right now with the gloom and doom of COVID-19 hanging all around us, it can feel downright overwhelming. How do we find the peace we crave in the midst of our situation?

    One of the phrases that God uses most in Scripture is, “Do not be afraid.” That can feel like a tall order when we are face to face with serious situations that turn life upside down. But when God repeats something in the Bible, it’s worth finding out why.

    Isaiah 41:10 NLT says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

    I love The Message version too. There’s something about the simple language that cuts through the noise of my anxiety and goes straight to my fragile heart.

    “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10 MSG

    He says this phrase, “Do not be afraid” so many times because He knows that we are going to face difficult and scary times. He wants us to know that we don’t have to give in to our fear because He is there to weather this season with us. He is mighty enough to handle whatever comes our way. He is strong enough to hold us up when we are weary and weak. He is gentle with us, and faithful to comfort us in times of need. His presence is steady; His love unconditional.

    When our hearts are in turmoil, we need to remember the truth of God’s character and lean in on God’s promises. We don’t need to stay in a place of fear or worry about what’s to come, because God promises to be with us and He is in control. He knows the future and will continue to provide for His children. As we lean on God’s character and promises, He gives us the strength to face whatever comes our way, and in doing so, He brings peace to calm our troubled hearts. We can have a peace that comes from trusting in the One who created everything and is Lord of all.

    “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians 4:7

    As we turn to God with our worries, fears and anxieties, He faithfully wraps us up in a peace that transcends any circumstance we face–it’s beyond understanding. When we can’t see what’s going to happen next, or we feel overwhelmed by our situation, God’s peace can be accessed in the midst of the storm, and we can begin to see the light shining through the darkness. As we allow God into our situation, He guards and protects our hearts and minds with His peace.

    Almighty God, when we are facing a situation that is beyond our understanding, we need your loving peace to guard our hearts and minds. We lift up to you our circumstances and know that we may not always have the understanding we crave, but you promise to carry us through it because of your great love for us. You are the Mighty God who gives us strength and calms our anxious hearts. We praise you for all that you are in our times of trial and our times of blessing! In Jesus name, Amen.

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  • Letting Go of Busyness

    For a long time, I struggled with a feeling of weariness that I just couldn’t shake. No matter how much I slept, I was still tired. No matter how much I tried to create margin in my life, I was still spread too thin. I wasn’t happy and neither was my family. We were perpetually in survival mode. It wasn’t until I read Isaiah 41:26-31 recently, that I realized I had forgotten God’s vastness and sovereignty. I needed to be reminded of His perspective and power and stop trying to survive on my own strength alone. 

    My optimistic nature, which is usually one of my strengths, had become my weakness. I had convinced myself that I could balance working multiple jobs with crazy hours, all while still excelling as a wife, mom, friend, church member, etc. I wanted to believe I could do it all because I felt useless if I couldn’t. I love serving people and being helpful, and that is not a bad thing. But my identity and worth got tied up in that, and my self-esteem started to feed off of the pats on the back and the “atta-girl” compliments. I wouldn’t go skydiving for a million dollars, but I would jam-pack my schedule to get the rush of accomplishment and to hear someone say in admiration, “I don’t know how you do it!”

    This brand of busyness is just as idolatrous as worshipping a beautiful, handcrafted, golden statue of a day-planner. I valued the approval of others more than the approval of God. I put the rush of accomplishment above the priorities that I knew God had called me to first. I was hustling so hard, that I burned out and no one was getting my best. I had placed my identity in being the “Girl who Gets Things Done”, instead of in being the “Daughter of a King.” 

    My misplaced identity had me sidestepping God’s perfect plan and priorities and following my own plan, which was leading nowhere fast. 

    My eyes were opened one day when I almost collapsed from exhaustion. I had been working a long shift and had not taken the time to eat or take a break. Suddenly, the room started to spin and my legs buckled under me. I caught myself on the counter before I fell to the ground, and tried to act like it was nothing, but inside I was scared. My body had never given out like that before. There was always a reserve, I had always been able to push a little further. I clearly remember thinking, “This is not good. It’s time to stop.” 

    I went home and slept for what seemed like days. I spent time resting and recuperating. During that time, I had to be honest with myself. I asked God to forgive me for relying on my own strength, and for not taking better care of myself. I repented of intentionally tuning out His voice, when I knew He was trying to lead me toward a better way. 

    I could not continue the way I had been living. I poured all my hopes and dreams out to God in prayer and started seeking wise counsel. I decided to turn down a big job opportunity that I had been agonizing over. It would have fast tracked my career, but it also would have locked me into the same schedule that had me struggling to take care of myself, my family and my ministry–the very things I felt convicted to better prioritize. 

    I slowly started saying no to other things too. I would block off whole days on my calendar where I wasn’t allowed to plan anything but rest and family time. I started to pray about my commitments before I made them so that I could give my best, or at least have the wisdom to know when saying yes would result in spreading myself too thin.

    It was hard to let go of some things, but in letting go, I was acknowledging God as Lord of my life again-not me. He began to restore my heart, and remind me of the things that were truly important and not just the things that seemed urgent. 

    I took myself off the throne and made room for the Rightful King. And in doing that, blessing was not far behind in the form of peace, clarity of mind and God’s perfect provision. He was not holding good things back from me-I was holding Him back from giving them. 

    Another job opportunity came, and this time the schedule fit perfectly into balance with where God was directing me. He was faithful to provide, and by trusting Him, I did not have to engineer my future. It was secure in His hands.

    I share this in love, in case you are weary from pushing yourself to the limit and running on empty.  I tell you this in case you are like me—too busy, and feeling like you can’t put anything down. It can be done, it must be done. Together we can do it. God loves us too much to stand idly by while we run ourselves ragged on a hamster wheel. Time to hop off, and start experiencing God’s love and abundant life for real. 

    If you are feeling weary and struggling with knowing what to put down, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes today to write down everything you do in a given day. Then pray over each thing on your list. Ask God to give you the right perspective and to soften your heart to His wisdom. Talk with a trusted friend or family member who knows your strengths and weaknesses and can offer helpful insight. It’s hard to lay down our pride and ask for help sometimes, but I’ve found the relief and peace you experience when you finally do is profound.

    I know there are seasons of life that are just busy and sometimes that is truly beyond our control. But if you find yourself saying “things should calm down in a couple more weeks” and years go by without it ever calming down, it might just be time to reevaluate things. 

    Give God your schedule and your weariness and let Him restore your strength and your hope. May he renew you and bring you peace.

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  • Power to Soar

    He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:29-3

    We all experience weariness at some time or another, whether from life’s circumstances, events beyond our control, or just running ourselves ragged. Day-to-day stuff like job demands, kids sports schedules, appointments and the list goes on, can eat up any margin we may have had in our daily routine. Life left to its own devices can exhaust our physical and mental strength and make us feel weary. Even youths (the people we would least suspect of being weary) get tired and weak when they are running on their own strength.

    But those who hope on the Lord renew their strength! In Hebrew, the word for hope is quavah and is defined as the anticipation of a future that is better than the present. Biblical hope is not based on circumstances but on trusting in God’s character. Helping the weary and helpless is part of God’s character!

    In the same way that God was faithful to save the Israelites in the days of Isaiah, He is faithful today to work on our behalf. Hope is being confident, knowing that God’s character does not disappoint and He never abandons us. When we lean in and hope in the Lord, it allows Him to breathe new life into our lungs. His Spirit stirs in our hearts and we can begin to imagine how it just might be possible to have a better day ahead. Even when we are powerless, we miraculously find the strength to stand, and then to step forward by His strength and power!

    We can tap into that power by doing what Jesus did: spending time with God. In His presence, we are renewed, our strength is restored, and we become more and more like Him. In the presence of His Spirit, He brings order to our chaos.

    Spend time with Him, pray to Him, bring your cares and worries and fears. Lay the them at His feet and He will give you His perspective and wisdom about what is truly important.

    I can imagine Him whispering in our weakness…

    Your power is limited, but mine is infinite.

    Your perspective is shortsighted, but I can see the whole big picture in one view–have hope!

    Your heart can only take so much, but I am here and can carry it all for you.

    I love you infinitely more that you can fathom.

    You may stumble and fall but I will pick you back up again. Over and over.

    You don’t have to be perfect because I am and my grace/love/favor is enough.

    You don’t have to struggle and strive to engineer your future. I know every step you have taken and will take and I have great plans for you.

    Stop pushing past your limits. You don’t have to manufacture strength, instead draw near to me and my presence will give you strength and peace.

    Spend time with me, learn to recognize my voice and how I move in the world. Get to know me and I can lead you through anything.

    Stick close to me and we will SOAR.

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  • Hope and Healing

    “Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” Psalm 33:22 (NLT)

    I’m not sure what it is exactly about this time of year that stirs a deep melancholy in me. It’s hard sometimes to put my finger on why. I’m sure there are lots of factors that color my outlook with a general shade of gray. The weather is not stellar in Oregon this time of year. We haven’t seen the sunshine in weeks and I probably need to take some Vitamin D and level-up my fruit and veggie game. 

    I think there is probably more to it than that though. We are coming off the busy holidays, full of hustle and bustle and plenty of distraction. Now things are quieter. There’s more time and more space to breathe, rest, think and process things that maybe I’ve been putting off dealing with. 

    Whether it’s stress and anxiety or pain and grief, if I don’t take time with Jesus to honestly process how I’m feeling, I cannot truly find peace. I will miss out on the hope of healing and the joy that surpasses any circumstances I may be facing. 

    As women, we have to slow down long enough to take stock of our emotional health and well-being. Whether you are dealing with big, serious stuff, or just day to day frustrations, we can bring all of it to Jesus and process it in the safety of His loving-kindness. Like Psalm 33:12 says, we are surrounded by His unfailing love, and in Him we have hope.

    This song by Audrey Assad reminded me of the importance of taking time to observe what you’ve lived though, so that you can find healing and hope. It is my prayer for you today friend, that whatever is weighing on your heart, whether it’s something big and obvious, or a subtle melancholy hanging around in your headspace, don’t run from it. Lean into Jesus’ loving kindness to “calm the raging of the wound. May your healing be a clearing in the woods, and may you breathe in deeper than you ever could before.” 

    Read the full lyrics here. © Audrey Assad 2020

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  • Finding Jesus in the Storm

    When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. John 6:16-21

    Picture this scene with me. After a long day of ministering and feeding 5000 people, Jesus goes up to a mountainside to pray. While He is there, His disciples decide to go ahead of Him to Capernaum.

    They take the only boat on the shore and start rowing. By now it is getting late and it is dark. They get to the middle of the lake and a strong wind starts blowing and the waves get rough.

    I don’t know if you have ever rowed a boat before, but it isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially in the dark with strong winds and rough water! Even though they were experienced fishermen, the storm and waters were so rough that they struggled to get across to the other side.

    At just the right time, Jesus shows up, walking casually across the rough water, no less. I don’t blame the disciples for being frightened as He approached. It’s not every day you see a person just taking an unhurried stroll on a stormy sea!

    Jesus calls out to them, calming their fears by reminding them who He is. His voice calling out above the waves and the wind must have been the most welcome sound the disciples had ever heard. In that moment, they recognized Him and they were willing to take Him into the boat. As soon as He stepped into the boat, they instantly arrived at the shore.

    Did you catch that? They were in the middle of a lake, in a storm, waves crashing everywhere. They are rowing and rowing and not getting anywhere. Then Jesus shows up. Once they decided to invite Him into the boat, they miraculously were transported to the shore, to the exact place they were headed!

    Jesus didn’t calm the storm first and walk to the disciples on peaceful waters. He stepped right over the waves, because He himself was Peace. In His presence, they found a life-line that no circumstances could ever break. When we feel stuck in a rough situation that’s hard to see through, we need Jesus to show up. There is nothing, not the darkness of night, or the strongest of storms that can keep Jesus from coming to you.

    That rough water–He controls it. The wind obeys His commands. He is in control of all creation and has got you firmly in His grasp. He will not let you go under. He will keep you from sinking and lead you to safety.

    Jesus is present in your situation, even if you don’t always recognize Him there. When you take your eyes off the storm long enough to look toward Him, you will always find Him nearby, waiting to help. Listen for His voice above the wind and the waves. Will you let Him into the boat to be your peace and your life-line?

    Too often when I find myself in the middle of difficult circumstances, I work so hard to fix it by my own strength that I end up weary and distraught. In those situations, I’m like the disciples, rowing and rowing and not getting anywhere (except worn out!). How long do we needlessly struggle when simply allowing God into the boat will help us experience His strength and peace while we get to where we are supposed to be.

    When we are reminded of who God is and allow Him into our situation, we get to experience the peace of knowing we are safe in His love and protection. In His care, He is able to get us to the other side of our situation. He himself is our peace, we need not be afraid. He is always near and ready to step into any storm.

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