Open Hands

Dear Jesus,

I am thankful for the life that you have given me. The life of the ups and down. The victories and failures. I am thankful for my family. My friends. I am thankful for the moments. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am thankful that you have forged me in the fires of life, and that you have made me stronger than I could have ever hoped I’d be. God I’m thankful that you made me someone that cares so deeply it hurts. Where TV shows can bring me to tears, and how I can connect with just about anyone. I am thankful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the knowledge I’ve gained. I’ve come so far, and done so much. I would have never thought I’d accomplish the things I have accomplished, meet the people I’ve met, or lived the life that I have lived.

God, I do trust you. I have seen you move and work in so many great and powerful ways in my life. You have grown me, strengthened me, taught me, and changed me. Now you’re taking me deeper. Deeper to a place of ultimate trust. Asking me to lay everything on the altar. My hopes. My dreams. My fears. My loves. You are asking me to trust you fully. Deeper. Greater. Than I ever have before, and that is an awesome place to be, but it’s also scary. You’re asking me to hold open my hands. You’re asking me to sit in the quiet. You’re asking me to endure. You’re asking me to let go. And I am. Slowly, but surely. I am. I am letting go. I am holding onto you instead. I am trusting you instead.

You’re asking me for my insecurities. You say that you got me, and that I’m secure in you, so I can let go of my insecurities. You’re asking me to give you my fears. I don’t have to hide under the blankets of life anymore. You call me yours. Your child. I am safe. I am loved. You are asking me to give you my loves. My family. My hopes and dreams. You are asking me to hold them out for you to see. You are asking to see my heart. My thoughts. You are asking me to let you in fully. To the deepest and darkest recesses of my heart and mind.

You are asking me to sit with you in the quiet places. In the loneliness. In the darkness. That your light illuminates it all. That I’m never alone. That I’m never forgotten. That I’m known. Even in the pits. Even in the shadows. Even in the places where no one else usually goes. You are there.

So I’m letting you in. I’m letting you into the places that you already know. I’m letting you in fully now though. I’m letting you see it all. Me. Even though you already know it all, I’m letting go all the same. I’m trusting all the same. I’m risking all the same. I’m following all the same. I’m loving all the same.

Jesus, will you be with me at night in the fears? Will you comfort me in the loneliness? Will you bind up my wounds? Will you show me the way? Will you help me fight for what I know is right? Will you strengthen me in my weakness? Will you cry with me in my pain? Will you love me when I feel unlovable? Will you bring me joy? Will you take me into your presence so I can experience peace?

Will you love those I love more than I could ever love them? Will you hold them secure as you hold me? Will you help me deal with the obstacles and hurdles in life? Will you prepare me for what’s ahead? Will you speak your truth over me? Will you defeat my enemies? Will you use me?

Will you pick me up after I have fallen for the 1,000th time? Will you save those who don’t know you? Will you be near to those who are hopeless and hurting? Will you? Will you?

I trust that you will. I trust that you will because you say you will. You speak these truths over us. You know us. You love us. You will hold me til the end. You will be with those I love.

Even in the times when it will be hard to see what you’re doing, I will trust. I will lean on you. I will remember your Word. I will be patient. I will pray. I will follow. It will be hard, but you are always working for our good, both in the difficult and easy. In the hard times and the good times. On the mountain tops and in the valleys. God I will trust you.

Amen.

The Rubble

This is a Journal from 5/8/18.

Have you ever experienced the rubble? The place where the dirt and rocks lay. Motionless. At the bottom. I have. I did. And in it was in that place, where I saw it all. My accomplishments. My hopes and dreams. Smashed. Crushed. Everything in that moment becomes a discombobulated mess. Your heart sinks. Your hands fall. You are filled with despair and emptiness.

If you sit in the rubble long enough, you begin to examine what is truly around you. The smashed dreams. The broken accomplishments. And you begin to see it all as empty. You begin to wonder, how in the world all of this seemingly upheld your life for so long. How in the world did I survive in this mess? Because even though the walls just collapsed, the beams were shaky to begin with.

My life was based in likes and dislikes. My heart hung on the atta boys and the well done’s. My mind was obsessed with new information and being the best. My walls were shaky. My foundation was iffy. It is a surprise that my life didn’t collapse sooner. But a little sod here and a little plaster there kept me going. It kept me sane, or so I thought. These are things I have to do to survive I thought. So a little bit of this here and then a little bit there. I was trying to survive. In my mind, I thought I was steadying the broken edges, when in reality I was putting acid into the cracks of my life. I was breaking myself down further, when in my mind, I thought I was sealing the cracks. The crevices.

Thank Jesus in His grace, He let the walls continue to weaken, until one day they crumbled. Because until they crumbled, until they fell, there was no hope for me. There was no hope until I saw the rubble piled up in a heap. It was then, and only then, after minutes, hours, and days, sitting in the pile of rubble that I realized that this was a good thing.

Sure, I tried to pile the rubble back up and try to move forward, but really what I need Jesus to do now, is to sweep this pile of rubble away, and let’s get to a solid foundation. A foundation not built on how many likes I get on Instagram, or how many friends I have, or whether or not I have a girlfriend, or a wife, or acceptance by many. No, what I need this foundation to be on is one that is stronger than subjectiveness. One that is stronger than feelings and emotions. One that is not fickle, or not storm protected. What I need is a foundation that is built on who I am in Jesus.

That foundation is not shaky. That foundation is good. And stable. And life giving. And life preserving. And hopeful. Not hopeless. Or fearful. Or selfish. So Jesus. I ask you. Help me to examine the pieces of this rubble, learn from it, and replace it God with who you say that I am. I am not building something new from the old. I have been given new materials. And yeah, these materials are difficult to understand. Difficult to put into practice. Difficult to sit with and not escape. But these are the materials that will build something new into my life. New choices. New results. New thoughts. New actions. New everything. Jesus build my life anew.

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Picture taken from: http://keywordsuggest.org/gallery/635041.html

Blessings.

I am a Fighter

I am a fighter. No matter how many times I get knocked down, I will get back up. No matter how much you throw at me, satan, I WILL get back up. No matter how many times you throw crap in my face, I will fight back. No matter how many times you discourage me, run amuck in my thoughts, no matter how many times, I will fight. No matter how many times I fail and fall, I will keep getting back up. No matter how many people I run off, and disappoint, and hurt, I will keep getting back up. Because of Jesus. Because of Jesus I will keep getting back up. Because of His love. Because of His pursuit. You pick me up over and over again. Skinned knees. Torn up hands. You keep picking me up. You keep dusting me off, and setting me back on solid ground. You keep picking me up, even when I don’t want to get back up. Even when I’ve failed a thousandth time, even when I have gotten lost. You continue to pursue. To pick me up. To dust me off. So no matter. NO matter what you throw at me, Satan. Bombard me with. Plague me with. Disturb me with. No matter how many times I fall. Fail. No matter how beaten and broken I become. Bruised and crushed. No matter how dirty I am after falling into the same mud over and over again. I will keep getting back up. With your help, Jesus. With your love. By your constancy and grace. By your power and might. By your goodness and will. I will keep getting back up. I am not a quitter. I am a fighter.

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Picture taken from: https://servantone.com/2015/02/04/get-back-up/

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes” (Proverbs 24:16)
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Blessings.


Our Scars

Scars. They tell stories of wounds which occurred. Wounds that cut so deep. Went so far. Bled so much. They hurt. We cried. We were in pain. But the pain didn’t last. Eventually, the wound healed up. It closed. It mended. And we recovered. But it left a scar. A scar to remind us that even though we once were wounded, that we found healing, and we recovered. It left with us a reminder. It left us with a story to tell.

I don’t have any physical scars, but my brother does. I remember we were playing tackle football in our bonus room in the top floor of our house when we were younger. My brother had made it from one end of the room to the other, and he was just about to score a touchdown, when I reached for his legs. As I grabbed his legs, he proceeded to fall forward and the corner of his forehead hit the sharp edge of a book shelf.

There was blood everywhere. He was screaming bloody murder like I had just shot him. In that moment, all I could think about was that I was going to get in trouble. So I kept telling him “shut up, shut up. You’re going to get me in trouble.” Eventually we got Josiah to the hospital and got him all stitched up. He still has a little scar on the left side of his forehead to this day.

Why do I tell that story?

Well, as believers in this life we will suffer many wounds. Wounds from our friends. Our family. The world.

We will suffer in many ways. We will have cuts. We will have losses. We will struggle, and we will fall down. We will bleed. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. As well as physically.

Each time that we are bruised, it will hurt. The words will sting. The disappointments will crush. The losses will paralyze. We will cry. We will be sad. We will have dark days.

As believers though, we will find healing.

The process of recovery may be long. It may be unpleasant. But it will happen.

Each time that we recover, and heal, we will grow. We will grow in our understanding. We will grow in our love. Our peace. Our relationship with Jesus.

As our recovery and healing occurs, scars will form. Some of these scars will be big. Others will be small. But each scar will tell of a wound that we faced. A cut that we experienced. A hurt. A loss that blindsided.

Our scars will tell our stories. Our stories of perseverance. Our stories of battle. Our stories of truth. Love. Hope. And joy.

They will tell how we continually got up when we had fallen down. They will tell of our battles with the dark principalities, and the dances with our desires.

Jesus also had scars. His scars were a reminder of the cross. His story. His sacrifice. His love. His victory.

“Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27)

One day, our scars will tell our stories.

My hope one day is that I can face Jesus with all the scars I’ve accumulated. With all the many times I failed and fell. Will all the brokenness of my life. With all the struggle in my heart. And that I will be able to say, I didn’t give up. I never let go of you. I never stayed down. I didn’t give in. But I kept getting up. Over and over and over again. Because I believe that’s what faithfulness to Jesus is all about. Perseverance. Fighting for life. Straining for hope. Crying out for joy. Leaning on Jesus with everything you have.

I pray that one day my scars will tell of a life that was faithful to Jesus. That my scars will glorify Him, and that I will be welcomed in as a faithful servant and child of His.

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Picture taken from: http://www1.cbn.com/fading-scars

Blessings.

Loving the Journey

This past year I have learned a lot, but probably the most impactful thing that I have learned is to love the journey. I used to always think that the mountain tops and the destination were where you experience true joy, and so I was always so quick to want to make it there. I was constantly asking like an impatient child in a car ride “Are we there yet?” I never took the time to just enjoy the sights and sounds along the way. The moments. The people. I was always just so focused on my hopes and dreams. I was ready to be married. To be in ministry full time. Always so disappointed that I was still single, or was in a job that was leading to another job. I rarely took time to truly sit and take it all in. To feel all the feels. To experience and truly digest the conversations. But I am starting to now.

I am starting to truly love the journey, and not be so disappointed that I’m not where I think I should be at this point in my life. I’m starting to just be present with it all, and it’s pretty amazing. I’m learning that here in the present there is so much. There is much laughter. Days of struggle. Great conversations. Beautiful moments. It’s all here in the present.

I’m learning that here in the midst of the journey that I truly get to see myself in the fullness of my humanity. I get to see what moves me to tears. I’m getting to experience what I want to protect. Who I love. What my hopes and dreams are. Where I’m insecure. I’m getting to see in the midst of the journey that there are no good or bad days, but instead moments of struggle and moments of triumph. There are moments of beauty, and there are moments of heartache. Even within a day drenched by pouring rain, or a sky covered with fog, there is still beauty that can be found in all of it.

Being healthy and whole used to mean perfection. Counting days. Hours. Minutes. It used to be a strict set of locks and keys that would keep me out. Now I’m learning that our desires are not things to be afraid of, but instead things to be laid at the feet of Jesus.

I read this quote today and it was pretty impactful.

“My life of following Jesus has not been the life I envisioned for myself, but it has become the life I want” (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/disowned-for-jesus)

I love that. Because it totally just summarizes where I’m at in this season. I didn’t envision that this is where I’d be at this point in my life. I didn’t envision that I’d still be single, or without kids. I didn’t envision that I’d be out of vocational ministry, or doing college admissions, but here we are.

This used to really bother me. That I was not where I wanted to be, or where I thought I should be. But I had to realize that this is where God has me, and that where I’m at, that there is beauty here. That there is goodness here. That there are friendships here. And love. And hope. And freedom. And breath. And peace. And joy. That my gifts can flourish here. That my love can blossom. That my life can be used.

Like the quote says, this is not where I envisioned myself being at this point, but this is where I WANT to be.

I want to be here. In the midst of the uncertainty. And the struggle. And the loneliness. Because it’s here where I see the beauty of the moments. Where I hear the sounds of the rain. Where I experience the sunrises. And the birds. And the mountains. And the seas.

It is here where my writing is raw to the touch, but oh so real. Not fluffed up, or undercooked, but real, honest, and tangible. It is here where my passion is. Where my relationship with Jesus is hard, but good. Better than it has ever probably been even though it doesn’t “feel” that way.

It’s here. In this journey. That I get to see Jesus’s love for me. How He holds me, and knows me. Where I get to see that my relationship with Jesus is more than what he offers me, and more than where He will take me, and what gifts he has blessed me with. It is more than using him as a slot machine, reading the Bible, and praying, hoping to punch in the right numbers to win the lottery. No. It’s so much more.

It’s hearing Him speak to me clearly as He is tonight. It’s a random act of kindness to someone in need as our hearts our prompted by Him. It’s a sharing of fellowship with a community of believers with all their bumps and bruises. It’s taking it all in. Breathing deep. Feeling it all. It’s enjoying our time with Jesus.

I’ve grown to love the journey. The journey of the bumps and bruises. Striving with faith and grace towards Jesus. Falling down and getting back up. Time and time again. Worshipping and hoping. Writing and taking pictures. Crying out to Jesus constantly and believing. Fighting against temptations and praying. Trusting and following. This is the journey of life, and it is here, that life is so beautiful.

Blessings.

Cherishing the Life We’ve Been Given

So many times in life, we have expectations. Expectations of what life should be and look like. We get so wrapped up in these expectations that we miss out. On the present. The moments. The blessings that are right there in front of us. We miss out because life doesn’t look like how we thought it would. And in our minds, we’ll only be satisfied with our picture of life. In turn, we hold onto our expectations, our hopes, dreams, and plans with closed fists.

In life though, we experience disappointments. The expectations that we have set up, falter. Our dreams change. Our plans crumble. It is here though in the midst of the broken pieces of our lives, that we begin to see a beautiful masterpiece. We begin to see, after our idols have been destroyed, our plans changed, and our control lost, that there is something different out there for us.

Many of us are looking for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but maybe the biggest truth that we can know is that in the midst of the rain, and the foggy days, in the valley of broken dreams and shattered hopes, that life is still good and beautiful. It’s still good and beautiful because Jesus is still there with us. He is there with us in the journey, the struggle, and the fight. He is there with us not only on the mountain tops, the sunrises, and the sunsets, but also in the valleys that are covered with fog and pouring rain.

In 2019, I pray that we will all cherish the life we’ve been given and not yearn for something different. I pray that we will love, and serve, and share truth with others. That we will hunt the good and find the beauty in the darkest of places. For with Jesus, there is no truly dark place that we enter into, for His light guides us evemore. In 2019, I pray that we will see the goodness of Jesus throughout all of life, and be able to worship Him even on the beach in the midst of the fog and rain.

Blessings.