Snow Day

I woke up this morning to a world covered in a white blanket of snow!

I live in Redding California, snow is not common here. It was literally only a few days ago that I was wearing shorts for the first time this year. Crazy how suddenly the weather can turn from warm sunshiny days to a cold and stormy winter wonderland.

Today was a snow day. Today did not go how I expected it to go. With the fresh snow covering the ground and more snow falling, attempting to drive anywhere was out of the question. Places were closed and events were canceled. It was as if the world had come to a stop. The world had slowed down and was suddenly filled with a new and unexpected beauty. Everyone, including my sister and I made time in our day to venture outside and enjoy the fresh snow. We went on a walk and made a snowman in our front yard and then let the rest of the day move along at a slow pace.

As I did morning devotions while looking out my window at the snowy world, I read this verse in Isaiah:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I couldn’t help but think about how there is so much beauty in the unexpected. This verse is such a sweet reminder of the truth that God’s ways, even though they may not be what we want or expect, are always best.

I think of how the snow that I woke up to has changed a lot of my plans for today. And even though I had to adjust and make new plans, I welcome it because the snow brings a special kind of welcoming beauty. A snow day and the memories it brings will be much more precious than the other things I initially had planned for this day.

I also think back on my life and how so many of my plans and the things I wanted, did not come to pass. God had different plans for me and it took me a while to see that His ways truly were better for me. I am beyond thankful for a God who knows me better than I know myself and for a God who has so lovingly and intricately planned every detail of my life.

God has given me many snow days in my life. Days where He has told me His plans were going to be different than mine. And though many of these days have been hard, there has been beauty in each one of them and I’m thankful for them.

So, on this snow day, I’m reminded of how good and sweet our God is. That He uses the unexpected things in our life to bring beauty and glory to His name. I’m reminded that even amidst pain and hardships, there will be beauty, and God is always working, even when we think He’s silent. I’m thankful today, and everyday, for all God’s done for me and will continue to do for me. God is so good, and I’m grateful for this beautiful reminder in the snow.

Working in the Waiting

What’s your waiting?

What has God asked you to wait in?

What is it the one thing that your heart is longing after, desiring, and wanting, but God has said not yet. God has said wait.

Do you trust God? Do you trust that God is at work?

When all is quiet and when God seems quiet, do you know that God is working? God is doing things for you that you can’t see. God is orchestrating certain events and circumstances in your life that will bring His good purposes about for you.

God has a plan for you, and his plans for you are good. Every season, every hardship you walk through, has a reason in God’s ultimate plan.

So will trust Him?

Will you trust that in your waiting, God is working? While you endure seasons of uncertainty and seasons where God seems silent, God is not abandoning you. He is working so that your life will bring Him glory. He is working so that you can experience His good plans for you in His perfect timing.

Take heart, because God is working, in your waiting.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

(Some reflective thoughts from my life these past few weeks, hoping this encourages you in whatever God has asked you to wait in.)

A God Who Restores

What in your life have you been asking God to restore?

We all have things we wish we could change. Choices we’ve made, mistakes, missed opportunities. Maybe for some time, your prayer has been like mine. A prayer of asking God to restore something that was lost. A prayer and plea for God to give you a second chance.

This week in my Bible Study we have been reading through some of the minor prophets. A theme has been popping out to me about God through this study. This is the truth that God restores. God is a God who restores. He longs to restore and redeem his people and is always lovingly reaching out to those who are His.

But along with this truth that God restores, comes the realization that God’s way of restoring us may not take place in the way we think or want it to happen.

God’s ways often include pain and hardships. Why is this God’s way? God uses the pain and hurt to bring our hearts closer to Him. Sometimes we need to be awakened to sins in our life and the hard things are a form of fatherly discipline. And sometimes God doesn’t give us an answer for why we must walk through certain things other than the fact that He wants us to grow in trusting Him.

If God is a God who restores, this is a hope we can hold onto. Whatever it is we have lost, we can find comfort in knowing that God knows about it. God knows about your deepest hurts and hardest days. In His perfect way and perfect timing He will restore His children and bring them back to His joy.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” Psalm 52:12

I have to share a little something with you all about my life recently that God has been showing me. For so long I feel like my prayer has been a plea for God to restore things. I was so stuck on the relationship I lost two years ago. As I continually surrendered it to God, I held onto this idea that God would restore it. But now I can see how my plans were not God’s plans. My mind was set on the things I wanted and I couldn’t see past them. When God began doing something new in my life, suddenly I began to see that God’s plans for restoring were going to look different than I imagined. He brought me into a new relationship and each day of this new season I have been watching God restore joy and love back into my life. As I write this now, I can say with my whole heart, I am so grateful that God’s plans were different.

So now, dear reader, as I end this little post, if your prayer has been for God to restore something in your life, I want to leave you with this truth; when God restores, He will do so in His way and in His time. We must remember that God knows us better than we know ourselves. God truly knows what’s best for us, better then we even know. If God has you in a season of waiting, there is a reason. If God has you in a season of hurting and pain, there is a reason. God is a God who restores. He will restore you and bring you closer to Himself through whatever you are walking through.

But here’s my little tip for you; save yourself some heartache by realizing that God’s plans for restoring probably will not look like your plans. What God plans to do for you will not only be better for you but it will bring also him more glory. God may use pain and hardships to grow you and prepare you before He brings you into a new season. But you can always trust in Him because he is a God who restores.

Remembering

Remember when…

Remember when you were hurting so much you would fall asleep reciting scripture just to keep your mind at peace.

Remember when it wasn’t hard to go to God because you daily needed comfort from Him.

Remember when He felt so near because of how much you hurt and needed His comfort.

Remember how easy it was to be near to God in those times because of how deep and raw your hurt was.

And now it is harder.

Why is it suddenly a fight to make all those things happen that used to be a necessity? What changed, what is different? Why does getting better and healing, mean that sometimes you don’t feel as close to God as you used to be?

Why does it suddenly feel like right now, I’m far from God. I’m not content and I’m not able to make myself practice the disciplines I know I need. Why does it seem that my soul is in constant turmoil, always searching for ways to numb and ignore the issue? There’s a weight pushing down on my mind, day and night. I just want peace, but I can’t, however hard I try let go of my feelings. I want to be free but I don’t. I just want to stay here and wait, because my poor heart refuses to love another.

I cried last night. Cried because I was so confused. Cried because I missed him so much still. I cried because I think last night I saw a glimpse of God’s heart. To love someone still so deeply, even after they have hurt you. Isn’t this a picture of God’s love for us? We sin and run from God. We do things that hurt God, but God still loves us.

I think of all the times the Israelites, Gods chosen people, turned from God and all ways they must have grieved God. I think I know a little more now how God must have felt, loving a people that constantly rejected him. It’s a love that I can’t explain, loving someone even after you’ve walked away from each other. It runs deep and it is hard to let go of, this kind of love. And I know that I will keep holding onto this love until God makes it clear that I need to let go of it.

So you can see, the kind of constant battle I’m in inside my mind. Which is why somedays I just want to go back, back to those days that I remember.

Less is More…

Lord Jesus, I pray,

I love you, I need you. So often I find myself getting so caught up in myself. I need to be reminded to look to you more. I need to let myself decrease so that you can increase in my life. Lord, remind me each day, that as I live my life, to you less is more. I take my pride and I lay it down at your feet. And I ask you Lord to help me be humble. To the best of my ability Lord, may I practice humility in all I do. Lord, take my heart and purify it with your blood. Drench me Lord, with your mercy. For all my days, Lord, I want to seek you.

~Amen

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30

The prayer above is based off of one of the most meaningful songs that I’ve probably ever heard in my life. It’s a song I constantly find myself going back to and singing. It’s a song that always brings my heart back to a right place before God. It’s also a song from one of my favorite bands of all time; “Less is More” by Relient K

It’s been a long while since I last listened to this song. But this week it came back to my mind and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’m copying the lyrics below because this song has become my prayer and a sweet reminder to lay my pride on the floor and seek the lowest place. I want to share it because I think it is so beautiful and I hope it will encourage your heart as well.

Jesus, I pray
Take all my mistakes
Throw them away
Destroy them for my sake

Jesus, I call out ’cause I’m sorry
Because I fall so short of your glory
To the best of my ability
I’m practicing humility
And I lay myself before
‘Cause less is more

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
‘Cause to you less is more

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
‘Cause to you less is more

A part of myself
All that I am
You love me so much
That you fill me again
And may these words on my heart, on my lips
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Know what I’m trying to say

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
‘Cause to you less is more

All that I have
I lay before
With my pride on the floor
‘Cause to you less is more

A part of myself, before you were Lord
I hold nothing back, ’cause to you less is more
And may these words on my heart on my lips,
Somehow mean so much more than this

Jesus, I pray
Just know what I’m tryin’ to say

Jesus, I plead
Please purify me
Make my heart clean
Drench me with your mercy

Jesus, I pray
I love you, I need you
For the rest of my days
I swear I will seek you

To the best of my ability
I’m practicing humility
And I lay myself before
‘Cause less is more.

Less is More by Relient K

Less is More by Relient K (link to youtube video)

When Healing Doesn’t Come…

“I pray for your healing
That circumstances would change
I pray that the fear inside would flee
In Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough would happen today
I pray miracles over your life. in Jesus name”

~ In Jesus Name (God of the Possible) by Katy Nichole

Have you heard this song before?

I keep hearing it everywhere and I want to be honest with you all… every time I listen to this song, I feel a little check in my spirit.  There is just something in it that doesn’t sit well with me and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is.

I think a huge part of it is the fact that this song is a direct prayer specifically for healing and good things from God.

Sometimes when we pray for healing, we can get so caught up in wanting the outcome and believing that healing is going to come that our whole world revolves around God bringing us that healing. But what if healing does not come. Because, I hate to break it to you, sometimes it doesn’t.

Yes, we do have a God who heals, we do have a God who does miracles.  But we also have a God who uses suffering and calls us to walk through hard trials simply for the purpose of His glory being shown in our weakness. And more often than not, the path of suffering is the path that God chooses for His children.

What if God is asking you to remain in your suffering for His good purposes.  When you pray desperately for healing and are not open to God’s answer being no, then, when God’s answer is no, it shatters you and brings you to a place of dissatisfaction with who God is.

Whoever you are reading this, as you listen to this song and send it to your friends and pray those words for healing over whatever situation you find yourself in, I simply want to call out to you to be careful.  Check your heart and come to God with a heart that is fully submitted to whatever outcome God deems best for your life.

Yes, pray for healing, but also pray that he will give you the strength to endure if the answer is no.  Don’t just pray for healing.  Pray also for God to be glorified even if healing doesn’t come.

Here is a thought for you; If God is going to be more glorified in our suffering, then may our prayer be that God will sustain us and help us to see Him in the midst of our pain.

As I end this post, I want to share one more thing. When I was reflecting on this song I decided to take the chorus and re-write it a way that I believe will reflect what a heart submitted to God’s plan would be.  To close this post, here is my simple rewrite of the chorus.  If you have found yourself enjoying singing this song, may you also remember these simple truths and hold them all dear to your heart:

I pray for your healing, but I also pray for you to endure.
I pray for you to understand that even when the circumstances don’t change, He is still faithful.
I pray that the fear inside you would leave you, but when it doesn’t, that it will bring you closer to the one who is love and who can cast out all fear.
I pray for breakthrough, but also for faithful obedience on the days it’s hard, that you might have His peace for however long He has you in this hard season.
I pray for miracles so that God’s glory might be shown, but if miracles aren’t God’s chosen plan for you, I pray you will still seek his name and let him be glorified in your suffering. In Jesus name

Next Steps

Healing is a process.

Sometimes it seems as if it is a never-ending process. You take one step, you have peace. Then you have unrest again and the hurts return. You realize there is another step you must now take. So you take that step and the peace comes back. And on and on this cycle goes. Each step making the heart hurt a little less. Each step bringing new clarity and direction into your life.

I’m still in this cycle. Still healing and learning how to move on with my life. This week God showed me the next step – forgiveness.

In my Bible study, we have been going through the book of Matthew and this week I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount. The other day as I was reading the notes for chapter 5 when I felt a huge sense of conviction fall on my soul. The verses in Matthew where Jesus tells us to make right and reconcile with our brother before we worship God stared blazingly at me.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 6:23-24

I knew what God was telling me. In that moment, I knew it was God whispering the words into my soul that this was the next step. For the longest time I have been telling myself when the time is right, I’ll seek some sort of reconciliation for the way things ended, but not now, not yet. But Jesus’ word hit me deep. He says in order to have pure worship we need to make amends and we need to not wait. Oh how much I desire to have a pure heart before God. I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.

So I took the next step. I sought out forgiveness for any wrongs I have done in the breaking up of the relationship. As a sister in Christ, I wanted to seek forgiveness for any way I didn’t act in line with God. I know in my hurt I hurt him and I don’t want to be held accountable on judgment day for doing nothing about it. I also felt the need to tell him that I truly do forgive him for all the hurt and pain that his sin caused me. This has been a hard step, but a freeing one. I do not want to hold onto any anger and bitterness in my heart for the way things ended.

And just like that, I had peace again. I had joy again. I felt a new freedom and lightness in my soul. Because I did it. I took the next step. I heard God speak to and tell me what to do and I obeyed. My heart is moving forward again in this long and hard journey of healing. And I’m thankful for God who keeps being faithful to show me the way and when to take each step.

(just a note that because this was a difficult situation and I know that it would not be wise to do this in person or have him back in my life in any way, it was done by a letter, not in person. My seeking forgiveness is not changing any of the decisions I have had made about ending our relationship, but I believe it is a necessary step for my conscience to have peace before God.)

Re-direction

I am learning something.

Sometimes it takes a huge setback or life change to get us back to God and onto His path again.

Last week I felt lost, so lost. A lot of stuff was suddenly ending in my life and I felt so confused. I cried out to God because I didn’t know what else to do. And do you know what’s amazing! It’s amazing what a week can do when you decide to trust God and seek him in everything. I still am unsure about a lot of things in my life, but I feel like God’s been showing me each day what steps to take. My feelings of confusion have been replaced by God’s peace.

This past week I’ve been noticing that God has slowly been guiding me down a new path, in a new direction. I still don’t know where this is all going, but I feel God’s peace again. There is a sense of contentment again in my soul and I don’t feel the sense of despair and confusion anymore. This is a such a beautiful blessing from God to have this peace and I’m just so thankful.

Anyway though, I just wanted to say that I find it interesting how I suddenly have this overwhelming sense of redirection in my life right after going through another season of confusion and hurting. It seems to me that it is during the times in life, when we are at our lowest, that God really speaks to us and shows us what to do. When my life is good and full it’s hard to know what God is telling me. But when I’m hurting or feeling lost, God always makes the next steps clear to me. Break-ups, cancelled plans, broken dreams… these are quite often the means that God uses to bring re-direction into our lives.

I hope and pray that whatever it is you are walking through, will also lead you to a new sense of trusting God and following Him down the new path He is laying out for you. Redirection is not a bad thing when it is from the Lord. It may take some hard times and unwanted circumstances to get us back on the right path. But our God is faithful and He use’s everything we go through for His good purposes in our lives.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

An Aching Heart

My heart hurts

My heart hurts, but it doesn’t hurt for me, it hurts for this world. Oh how it aches. I feel as if all of sudden there is so much pain and injustice in this world. One by one things are happening that are causing my heart to break. My heart hurts for all that is happening in Afghanistan, for a fire that is raging near my old hometown, for a dear friend recovering in the hospital, and for a young innocent life that was suddenly taken away too soon.

I don’t understand why God allows all these things that are going on. I know that there is nothing new under the sun and today’s evils are no different than yesterday’s evils. But so many of these things seem to happening all at once and so many the things that are happening are hitting so close to my heart.

I have been on my knees in prayer because honestly, there is nothing else I can do. All I want to do is pray for God’s justice to be done, for God’s peace to be given, and for God’s kingdom to come. Each hard thing is a reminder that this place is not our home. This world we live in is broken. Not only does my heart ache in pain over all the things happening in this world and all the evil, but it aches for that better place. That place where there will no longer be any of this pain. The place where a friend of mine is now residing. A place where day and night we will get to worship our King and be in His presence.

More and more I am finding myself longing for more of Him and for that day when we get to be with Him. If the evils of this world cause your heart to hurt, you are not the only one. It’s okay to let our hearts ache and hurt rightfully at all the evil in this world. But may it cause us to pray and long more for the day when we will be with our God forever.

Blind Trust

Something is happening.

I don’t know what it is.

I was overwhelmed with feeling.

I was crying out to God.

I distinctly told him that I felt so lost.

But I decided to keep on trusting in Him and hold onto the fact that He is good, even when I feel this way.

And then while I was feeling lost and crying out to God he started to do something. God brought a couple of new things into my life suddenly. It’s quite strange how suddenly it happened and I honestly don’t know what to do or where this is going.

But I’m learning to simply trust that God is at work in all things, even the things that I don’t understand. I’m learning that sometime God asks us to trust Him blindly. To put aside all our insecurities and have a heart that is open to new possibilities, new ideas, and new directions.

To trust God blindly doesn’t mean we throw wisdom out the door, it just means that we follow God even when we don’t completely understand what is at work.

Trusting God blindly is what he is asking me to do right now. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. But I know God will be with me and reveal to me what I am to do.

Oh how thankful I am that when I truly choose to trust in Him and follow Him, I don’t ever have to worry about Him leading me down the wrong path. God is faithful. I will trust Him 🙂