What About You Wednesday | Krista

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Today we welcome Krista to the blog! Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

“I currently find myself in a place of patient anticipation. Each year as winter comes to a close and spring is approaching, I get a bittersweet sense of excitement and discontentment. As the long, cold winter months come to an end and the spring bursts through with new life, warmth and hope, my heart always anticipates what a joy the next season will bring. And yet in the anticipation for the next season, my heart becomes weary in the waiting. I feel like that is my life right now. It has been a brutally cold and disheartening year, but I can see the springtime coming fast. I anticipate the Lord’s goodness in the time to come and CHOOSE DAILY to see Him working even now.”

(I just want to point out how symbolic Krista’s above picture is. The little white flowers look like the snow of the winter and the pink flowers shout spring.)

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season.

“The Lord has been so sweet to be patient in my doubting and untrusting heart. He shows me little bits and pieces of His plan and promises at the times that I need it most. He is gently teaching me to depend upon His grace and to trust that good works together for His children who faithfully love Him. A verse that I have been clinging to during this time is found in Lamentations 3:21-24 and it says, “But this I call to mind and therefore have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies are new each morning. Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘Therefore I will have hope in Him!

I have also been taught through the loss of loved ones within the last year that our hope and satisfaction can only be found in the fact that eternity will be spent in the perfect presence of Jesus. All things good or bad in this world are fleeting compared to the eternity we are promised as children of God. Therefore all things should be counted as temporary here on earth, held loosely, knowing that the eternity that awaits us is the most high honor and greatest gift we could ever receive. This has kept so much in perspective of the urgency of the Kingdom for me. For the first time in my life, dying and going to be with Jesus is something I look forward to not something that I fear.’”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“I have become so aware of my need of time alone and away from busyness. It is so funny because all throughout college I was a people-person, constantly surrounded by and interacting with a ton of people. However, now I see the great importance of being alone, internally processing with Jesus and using the ‘pray about it more than you talk about it’ concept. I have found it to be so peaceful and encouraging to grow in my relationship with the Lord in this way. My dependence on Him has been strengthened and my friendships have continued beautifully. I have learned to not fear being alone, but embrace it as an opportunity to draw near to the Father. Although, this is most certainly not always my initial attitude, keeping this in mind has strengthened my ability to rest during this season.”

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

“Whether you are walking through a season post-grad or are just unsure of where the Lord is leading in the time to come, be comforted. The Lord is faithful to complete the work that He began in you and He will surely do it (Philippians 1:6). Walk each day with faith in trusting that everything that the Lord has equipped you with for that day is exactly what you need to serve Him (Hebrews 13:20-21). He is working in the midst of our doubt and anxiety and will reveal His will in His perfect and beautiful timing. Be STEADFAST and HOPE in the faithfulness of our Father. Remembering that in all things, our purpose is not to serve ourselves, but to glorify the Father who saves, loves, redeems and chooses us to be His own.”

A Prayer for Krista

God, You are good. We thank You for working all things for the good of those who love You. Thank You for Krista. Thank You that You are aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You for Your faithfulness to her in the past. May she cling to the truth that You will be faithful again and again. Thank You for how You are using the waiting to increase her longing and hope for You. Thank You for using death to birth truth in her life, an urgency for the gospel, and a peace about Home. Continue to comfort her grieving heart. Thank You for being a God who can handle our doubts and our questions. May Krista continue to bring those and lay them at Your feet. For someone once said, “faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.” Thank You for the many lives Krista has invested in. Thank You for her kind and giving heart. Thank You for this season where she’s been able to pull back and come away and rest with You, receiving after giving so much of herself. May she continue to be strengthened in her alone time with You. As spring approaches, and the buds begin to bloom, may she be thankful for winter, for the time when growth was happening under the surface. As things begin to shoot out from under the ground, may she burst with joy. Although winter was cold and brutal, may she also remember the quiet, the stillness, the calm which winter can bring. And may she continue to hold onto those things even as seasons change. Thanks for loving us, Lord. Amen.

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As A New Week Dawns…

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When exciting things are happening in the lives of those around you, rejoice with those who rejoice. Send the card, buy the gift, go to the shin dig, make your presence the present. May you support them amidst the changes. May you remind them who the Giver is. 

When tragedy strikes in the lives around you, mourn with those who mourn. Send the card or encouraging text, buy the flowers, sacrifice the time, take the meal, keep your words but give your ear to their questions, give them the ministry of your presence. May you support them amidst the changes. May you remind them who the Comforter is.

Two extremely different seasons. Just like spring, summer, winter, fall, we all go through them all. Support today, be supported tomorrow.

What About You Wednesday | Lindsay

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Today we welcome Lindsay to the blog. Let’s step into her season…

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What season of life are you currently in?

“The season of life that I’m in could be summed up in a couple of words: painful growth. I am coming up on two years of marriage, only a few months into my first “big girl” job, just recently bought a house, and am more comfortable in the material/circumstantial ways of life than ever before. But… I’ve been reminded that peace and contentment are so much more than these things. It’s been a neat reminder that no amount of success, love, or accomplishments can satisfy one’s heart.”

What is God teaching/revealing to you during this season?

“God is exposing the ugly and breaking my heart in the process. It’s so good, but man is it tough. I came into marriage with a ton of baggage, and I’m slowly sorting through it all. It sucks, if I’m being honest.”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“As my ugly heart is exposed, I am then freed to walk in Grace. Knowing that, I feel like every day I have to make a choice. I have to choose selflessness and joy, in every aspect of my daily life. Saying that, I screw that up minute by minute, truly. But… I’m trying.”

What encouragement would you give someone in a similar season?

“Don’t give up. Don’t build up walls and let pride come in to make you believe that vulnerability and exposing your heart won’t be worth it. The more you open your heart to your spouse, family, friendships, co-workers, etc., the richer your relationships will become. Christ calls us to community for a reason. You can do it!”

A Prayer for Lindsay

Lord, You are good and You do good. Your glory is our good. Thank You for Lindsay. Thank You for being aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You for the way You have provided both earthly and eternal for her. As she transitions into a new house and a new job, show her how constant You are. Thank You for putting a longing in her that cannot be satisfied with earthly treasures. Continue to show her that only You satisfy. Thank You for seeing her as Your beloved, and not wanting anything unholy in her. Thank You for using marriage as an avenue to sanctify Lindsay. May she always remember that You are for marriage, that You are for her marriage. Continue to strengthen her marriage and help them to grow deeper in love with You so they can love each other better. Continue to tear down the walls she tries to put up by reassuring her that there is nothing she could hide that would separate her from Your love, so she has nothing to be afraid of. You see all, You know all, and Your grace covers all. May she take her sin seriously, repenting when needed and walking in the freedom of forgiveness. In Your Name, Amen.

What About You Wednesday | Ceci

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Today we welcome Cecilia (Ceci) to the blog! Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

I would describe this season as preparation for what is to come, but still joyful!

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

After I graduated from my undergrad, my life really slowed down and I was ready for the next step. I was ready to get a full time job somewhere “cool” and be the grown up I thought you had to be after you get your bachelor’s degree. But God really slowed me down. He made me look into my heart and asked me personal questions that broke down my pride. “Why are you in a rush, Ceci?” “Who are you trying to impress? You already have all of My attention!” Since then, Abba has opened my eyes to see how much He has blessed me; He’s surrounded me with such an awesome community and people that I was willing to give up because I was in such a hurry to be this person He did not intend for me to become.

He’s also revealing to me what it’s like to have Him as a Perfect Father. This past Christmas, as I was traveling home, my suitcases were stolen out of my car. Most of clothes and shoes were there, and as a girl who really likes clothes that can be so heart breaking! But God is so sweet. He reminded me that material things are so easy to replace. And for a God who owns it all, it is no inconvenience to provide for His children. Today my closet is probably double of what it used to be because of the generosity of my family and friends. I don’t think that He allowed that to happen simply because He wanted me to have new clothes. I know God was (and still is) showing me that HE is the Provider, that nothing is too hard for Him and that He cares about every single aspect our lives, apparently even our stolen underwear.

How have you/are you changing during this season?

I’m becoming more trusting of God. I’ve also learned to slow down. There are definitely hard days in which I doubt what I should be doing because it’s hard not to compare our lives with others through cool posts on social media and whatnot. But the Holy Spirit always reminds me of His purpose. I’m learning that life is a process and things take time. I remember one night God asked me to wake up early to go on a walk with Him (I said, “how early are we talking about Jesus?”). Anyway, while praying He showed me two trees. One of the trees was really pretty and big and the other one was scrawny looking. But God showed me that the big tree once looked like that small tree, that growth is a process and it takes time. I think that basically sums it up; maybe God is turning me into a hippie or something.

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

One of my favorite verses is Luke 15:31 when the Father addresses the older son “‘My son’, the father said, ‘you are always with me and everything I have is yours.’” Sometimes we miss out on being relational with God because we’re so stuck on “what is the next step” or even the burdens of daily life. But I encourage you to invite Abba into your daily life. Being still in the Lord doesn’t mean being stagnant; it means to trust Him without going ahead of Him. Just ask the Holy Spirit to interrupt your life when it doesn’t look like what He has planned for you.

A Prayer for Ceci

Abba,

Thank You for Ceci. Thank You for being aware of her and with her in this season, teaching her more about You. Thank You for how sensitive she is to Your Holy Spirit. I thank You for all the gifts You have given her, for her tenderness in relationships and firmness in the truth. Thank You for her sweet, encouraging spirit. Thank You for where You have her at this very moment. She seeks to obey You God, show her the way, show her Your way. Guard her from comparison. May what she sees with her eyes on social media not go to her heart. In this seasons of preparation, help her to continue to see it as a season of purpose as well. Help her to know she is making a difference today, even in the mundane. May looking forward not distract her from what You have for her now. Help her to know she isn’t missing out on anything, because if You wanted her to be somewhere else, she would be. May she seek You more than answers. When she questions her purpose in life remind her that You are Purpose. Continue to speak to her in the waiting. Continue to romance her and provide for her. Continue to be her Joy. Thank You for providing underwear for us. Thank You for caring about every detail about us, God.

In Your Loving Name,Amen.

What About You Wednesday | Justin

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Today we welcome Justin to the blog! Let’s step into his season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

Currently I am in a season of starting a new job, freshly moving to a new place and adjusting to a slower paced style of living. Just a little over two months ago I was a successful branch manager of a rental car location. Growing up I never aspired to rent cars, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s not anyone’s dream to rent vehicles, but that’s beside the point. Renting cars was not my passion.

During my career I struggled so much with finding satisfaction and worth in what I was doing. Even though I was not happy, I struggled to trust the Lord with the direction my life was heading. Too often I found myself leaning on and trusting in myself and did not trust the Lord to guide and direct me. For months I prayed to the Lord to just show me why I was there, and every time He would say, “Trust Me.”

I would apply to other jobs that I thought had to be better than my current situation and I would get rejected and the Lord kept saying, “Trust Me.” It’s funny because I remember thinking, I am going to mess up your plan Lord because I am impatient and I can’t take it anymore. Every time He would say, “Trust Me.” During that time I remember thinking there is no way I am ever going to do what I love and follow my passion because I can’t afford to move on from such a good paying job, with great benefits.

Then one day, just an hour before my shift was over I was threatened by a very angry customer with my life. You never really think about your life flashing before your eyes but in that moment, it did. That day I remember leaving work, trying to process everything that happened and thinking to myself, my life is not worth risking to rent a car. That entire night I tossed and turned as I tried to brush off what had happened that day as if it were nothing. The fact remained that it wasn’t just a normal day, it was a day when the Lord was boldly reminding me to trust. Trust Him with my life, trust Him with my future, trust Him that He hears my prayers and the deep inner workings of my heart.

So the next morning I woke up and it was clear that it was the day I was going to unabashedly trust the Lord. So, I did what any reasonable person would do, I quit. I walked away from a financially stable job. I walked away from great benefits. I walked away from an amazing career path. I walked away from what I thought was my identity. And I walked into the open arms of my Father that loves me and cares for me and I trusted Him.

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

During this season the Lord has taught me a great deal about trust. In trust there has to be humility. The act of humbling yourself before the Lord is truly admitting that His plans are greater than any plans we can ever imagine. Humbling yourself before the Lord is saying that He is greater than I, and I have no purpose outside of making much of Him. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” What’s so funny about this verse is that it doesn’t reference time. Timing is something I had to humbly give over to the Lord and say to Him, “I trust You, and I trust Your time.”

After I quit my job I was unemployed for right at about two months. One of the most humbling things is to patiently wait for the Lord to open up doors and opportunities and to trust Him when He shuts doors. I remember praying to the Lord often and asking Him, “Why?”, when He would close doors that I would try to walk through and He would faithfully say, ” Trust Me.”

Those were the moments when I had to remind myself that He has been faithful to provide thus far, so why am I doubting His plan?, and then once again humble myself and trust Him.

How have you/are you changing during this season?

Goodness, I have never felt a deeper relational bond with the Lord than I have in these past few months. This entire season has shaped and changed the way that I view my relationship with the Lord so much. I genuinely see how deep His love is for me and has always been for me each and every step of the way, even in affliction.

I recently read a quote that perfectly sums up how I view the love of the Father, it says, “Devine affection doesn’t mean that you won’t face affliction.” This season of life has altered the way that I view the so called “valleys” in my life. Yes, in those valleys it feels as though you are trapped, but God is and always will be faithful. It wasn’t until I reached the other side of the valley that I was able to reflect on how the Lord used these past few years to prepare me for my future.

Recently, I accepted a position at a local Christian camp. I have always had a heart for camp and camp ministry and I looking back I can say that the Lord heard every one of my prayers. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” What a sweet reminder that the God of the universe cares about what we care about.

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

I want to encourage anyone that may be going through a similar season to truly take a step back and examine every area of your life. See which areas you haven’t fully surrendered to the Lord and what areas you are still trying to do it alone. Something that I learned, and am continuing to learn, is sometimes you have to trust even when it doesn’t make sense, even when the Lord is saying, “quit your job and follow Me.”

Another thing that I want to encourage others is to remember that the Lord is so good to minister to us in unique and unconventional ways. Unfortunately, for me it took an extreme situation for the Lord to get my attention and remind me that He is enough and I need is to put my trust in Him. My last encouragement comes from one of my favorite worship songs. It says, “find me here at Your feet again. Everything I am, reaching out I surrender. Come sweep me up in Your love again and my souls will dance on the wings of forever.” What an amazing reminder that when we totally surrender, we are wrapped up in the love of the father and like it says in Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” So give it over to the Lord because He cares.

A Prayer for Justin

Caring Father,

Thank You for Justin. Thank You for the season You have him in. Thank You that You are aware of him and with him in this season, as You teach him how to surrender trust in himself and to trust You. Thank You for letting him share his story, one that resonates deeply on a personal level for me, for I walked a similar road. Thank You that with You our valleys become our mountain tops. Thank You for stripping Justin of his earthly identity, so that he would be reminded that the only identity that matters is who he is in You. Thank You for caring enough about Justin to care more about his holiness than his happiness. Thank You for giving him grace in the waiting, by pulling him closer to You even when he was impatient. Thank You for closed doors, Lord. Thank You for not giving Justin what he wanted, but what he needed. Thank You that Your timing is perfect. Thank You for showing your beautiful timing in Justin’s life. As Justin begins his new position and adjusts to new rhythms of life, continue to draw him closer to You. Help him live what he learned in the season he is walking out of. Heal any parts of him that are still wounded from his afflictions. Show him what trust looks like in this season of his life. Guard him from trying to find his identity in this new position. Help him to remember that You are Purpose so he does not need to go searching for it. Thank You for being the One Thing we can always trust. In Your Trustworthy Name, Amen.

What About You Wednesday | Stephanie

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Today we welcome Stephanie to the blog! Let’s step into her season..

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

I am currently a senior music education major in college. I am student teaching and will graduate in exactly one month from today. This past semester has been a season of change and uncertainty for me. Each day at the schools I am teaching at is so very different. I never know what exciting events may unfold. And with graduation around the corner, I am constantly being asked and forced to think about what will happen after I walk across that stage and earn that diploma. The unknown of these next few months tends to get overwhelming.

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

At the beginning of my student teaching, I was in complete shock. I had recently moved home, did not see my friends or professors every day like I had grown accustomed to, and the majority of conversations I had took place with people under 4 ft. tall. There were many days I would cry on my way to and from school. It was during this time that Jesus began to open my eyes to the intentionality He shows towards His children. For this season, He chose to purposefully give me the gift of loneliness.

With this gift came the chance to see a side of Jesus I had never seen before: a patient and constant Love. Jesus was showing me, through my loneliness, the extent to which He would go to demonstrate His love and goodness to me, in spite of the emotions and feelings I had.

It was not long after my second session of student teaching began, that Jesus decided to teach me something even greater. I had come to accept the fact that Jesus was good, but that I was not worthy or suitable to receive any goodness or blessings. Some prayers were just too big to pray and some desires too selfish to ask for. Shortly after my 22nd birthday Jesus began to challenge that thinking. He opened doors and started answering big prayers of mine in clear and vivid ways. It was here that Jesus opened my eyes to a bigger view of His goodness.

In a book I was reading, “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet”, Sara Hagerty explains that Jesus is no more “good” when we are receiving answers to prayers and blessings than when our lives don’t make sense and days are dark. Jesus is always good and gives His children good things in both the “winters” and “springs” of our life. He is constantly teaching, redeeming, and preparing us.

How have you/are you changing during this season?

In this season of change, I am learning how to view my circumstances and those around me through the lenses of grace. Jesus is creating in me a heart that is vulnerable to Him and the places He may take me. He is also changing my heart to accept change and instability as a venue to see His goodness in all things. Jesus is proving Himself faithful, even when my eyes cannot see.

He is constantly challenging me to pray bold prayers; not because I am entitles to blessings or expectant of “things”, but because when we seek HIM with our whole heart we are sure to find HIM. Kristene DiMarco from Bethel Music puts it beautifully, “When we are so in love with God and grounded in who He is, no matter what happens, we can say, “it is well with my soul,” just because of Who He is. “

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

For those who may be walking in a season of loneliness, lean in and ask Jesus to show you more of who He is. When we are obedient in the seeking, He is faithful to respond with a love that patiently pursues.

For those with prayers that seem too big to even put into words, don’t give up. Pray without ceasing. One of the boldest, scariest prayers I ever worded to my Father was not seen answered until a good 2 years later. It was during that process, that I saw more of Who Jesus is and how He loves those who seek Him.

For those who are going through a season of uncertainty and change, pray for courage to trust a God who is faithful and constant. Seasons are guaranteed to begin and end. Our God is never ending and longs to show us more of Who He is.

A Prayer for Stephanie

Faithful Father, Thank You for Stephanie. Thank You for the season You have her in. Thank You for being aware of her and with her during this season as You teach her more about You. Thank You for the gifts and passions You’ve given her, and for using teaching as an outlet for those. May she always remember her ability to teach comes from You, Teacher. Thank You for the gift of loneliness which has opened up more room for her wanting You, only You. Thank You that when we feel lonely, we are never alone, for You never leave or forsake. Thank You for satisfying her with Your love, making it safe for her to love others. Thank You for hearing her prayers, thank You for changing her heart during the process, thank You for responding. Thank You for her time in college, the impact she has made, and the impact the experience has made on her. May the celebration be grand for this graduate!

As she is faced with the uncertainty of tomorrow, may she look back and remember Your faithfulness before, and be encouraged. May she seek You more than she seeks answers of where You want her to be. As she is faced with many choices upon graduation, may she not be fearful of making the “wrong” or “right” decision, but may she know these are left or right decisions, both good. May she accept the fact that she must choose. Grant her discernment. May You help her surrender her heart to obedience and be assured that You will go with her, whatever the route she chooses, guiding her each step of the way, even when the path seems unclear, scary, tough, or a “mistake.”

We thank You that even as seasons begin and end, You are Alpha and Omega, Begging and End, and You are constant in our ever changing lives.

In Your Faithful Name, Amen.

In Over My Head

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The printing of music, the clicking of a mouse, the ding of a new email, the crunch of hole punching, the muffled laughter from the preschool which shares the building, the snaps of binder rings. These are the sounds of my new job.

As I go about my daily tasks, the music of Pandora Online Radio has been the current which I move to. Some songs I know and sing with, others unknown fade into the background, yet still carrying me.

And once in awhile a lyric pops out at me, makes me listen a little closer. Today was one of those days.

“Would You come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in.” And I’m drawn in. The video found on YouTube, put on repeat, and I soak in the rest of the lyrics. And just like that, a song put into words what my heart has been fumbling to say lately.

“I have come to this place in my life
I’m full but I’ve not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
I can feel it my heart is convinced
I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to”

[I feel as though I’ve moved from season to season, believing that the next season would satisfy the longings in my heart. And each time I’m engulfed with disappointment when it doesn’t, but I’m not surprised. I constantly come to the place in my life when I realize that only Jesus satisfies. So no matter how full I am this side of Heaven, no matter how great the experiences here, I will still long for more, for other, for Him, for He in Him is fulness of all things].

“I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind.”

[I have a desire to go deeper with the Lord].

“Would You come and tear down the boxes

That I have tried to put You in.”

[God is limitless, yet my mindsets try to limit Him. I try to limit Him by trying to be God in my own life, grasping for control, my way, my timing. I try to limit God when I try to make life perfect, the way I think it should be.]

“Let love come teach me who You are again

Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to”

[There was a time in my walk with the Lord where our relationship was so deep and intimate, it was fresh, growing, dedicated. But distractions have swarmed in, competing with my heart. These distractions have fogged my view of God, and when our view of God is off, our view of ourselves and the way we live our life is off too. My time, attention, and thoughts go elsewhere so easily. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Oh how my heart needs to be purified from the distracting idols. But I can’t do it on my own. I want to want Jesus. I want to want Him more than I want perfection, purpose, to use my gifts, to feel known, to be understood, friendships, acceptance, money, a house, a child, the love and attention of my husband, the approval of my parents. But I need Jesus to help me want Jesus. Jesus makes our hearts pure, Jesus makes us want Jesus, Jesus makes our hearts only about Jesus].

“Further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
Further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours”

[No matter what it takes, no matter what I have to let go of, I want more of Him, I want to obey Him, I want to be with Him].

“Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
And You crash over me, I’m where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head”

[Surrender is fearful, but surrender is where freedom is found.]

“Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head”

[ “I’m in over my head” typically means we are too deeply involved with something that we cannot deal with it any longer, that we have too many difficulties than we can manage. But, with Jesus, things are opposite. There is beauty in His crashing over us, being in over our heads, fully under His control, engulfed in who He is, so deeply involved with Him that nothing else in our lives matters].