This post goes out to all you do-gooders and rule-followers.
To those individuals consumed with doing what is right.
To those who at times, may feel tension in their heart when making decisions because the last thing they want to do is outstep God's plan for their life.
I have fantastic news for you: God's grace is with you. He is ready to guide you into good things. At times, he makes his voice clear. In those times, pursue with boldness those places he calls you to. In other times, we don't hear a clear voice. In those moments, we can choose what we feel is good and right confidently, knowing that God is a God of mercy, love, and compassion. He is not waiting to pounce on a wrong decision with condemnation. He wants to fill your life with love and grace. And sometimes calls you to step out in faith.
You can walk forward in this life without fear. You have an amazing Father who specializes in Wonderful Counseling.
For my little sister, Nicolette. I am certain you will change the world. You love with a ferocity the world is starving for.
If you met my dad, the first thing you would likely notice is his eyes. Their hazel color is not what would draw you in, but rather the softness to them. They glow with a gentle love and deep wisdom.
He has the sagacity of a man who has walked the earliest parts of his life without God, only to meet and surrender himself to Jesus, and walk faithfully with him thereafter. He has seen the miracles that ensue when one walks in faith. He has seen Jesus supersede the common turmoils of this life, and has fallen in love with his Savior and guide.
Let our hearts be filled with gratitude for the fathers in our life who model sacrificial love and undying affection--drawing us nearer to God as a result.
I love you, dad. Happy Father's Day!
I have chosen to audaciously believe that who I actually am, is who the world actually needs. And I think you should believe that too. You are a masterpiece and I mean that with every ounce of myself. We can hear that all the time, but it's true and you are and I hope today is the day that this idea really sinks into your soul.
In prayer today, I feel like God prompted me to consider what I believe I have been created for. Among so many things, His answer today: to show others that God created them in his perfection--each person uniquely crafted by the love of a Father. It both humors, excites, and saddens me when I hear people go on about their passions, with the assumption that they are common desires, but the more people you speak to, the more you realize how varied each of our deep desires are. My challenge for you today is to pray about what God has written on your heart. He is the author of our souls and I believe he calls us to fight against the current of the world and truly Be. Actually be as you were called to be--to the glory of God.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
And pair these things with your God-given interests, hobbies, and skills. The world needs you, as you actually are, as you were actually made. The Spirit of God is alive in you. Those twice-born in Jesus are birthed with new passions and interests, gifted to you from God himself.
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
my muse and my art
you are, the wind in my sails
the song in my heart
I would never be sitting here if it weren't for your saving grace.
I would never be dreaming so boldly that the gift I have to offer could be the gift the world needs... Or be thinking that my poetry-writing soul is actually worth something to this fallen (and being-redeemed) world...
If it were not for you.
I remember lying in bed, evening after evening, crying so many tears, because I believed I was truly useless and that this world didn't benefit from my existence. Even more, that it would be better without my existence.
But by your grace, Jesus, I met YOU, and I now have these dreams, these crazy, childlike dreams to write books and publish poems, and I realize these dreams are not born of conceit or a desire to self-glorify. These dreams are born of a mighty God who scripted me with divine purpose and is writing that truth on my heart day after day.
You, are the wind in my sails.
I think our biggest fear is that who we are to offer is going to be deemed by the world as useless, so we close ourselves off as a means of preservation. But I heard the Lord whisper that "he knows what the world needs" and I am to offer myself in vulnerability to this world that needs his light.
This world needs you, and me. We were made with divine purpose and I thank God for his inspiration to shine on this world.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
The Lord never stops speaking to us. It's simply a matter of us quieting ourselves and listening, and what a different world this would be if this was practiced continually. What a sweetness to the soul is the voice of the Almighty--with such a strong calmness to it. It is a voice that is both loving enough to instill in us a confidence of His protection, yet bold enough to ensure that he CAN protect us.
He is mighty.
And he said to me, "listen carefully and take heart to all the words I speak to you."
I love this piece from 2 Timothy.
Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather seeks to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Those of us who are in Christ are rooted in heaven. We know that this world we inhabit is not our home, yet how often do we get swept up into the day-to-day life of it all? There is a battle all around us, and we have the option to choose good or evil, to be warriors of prayer or victims of temptation.
Us falling trap to what the world has to offer is truly as comical a thought as a soldier getting caught up in the civilian affairs he sees happening around him. We are here with an important mission and purpose, and the beautiful thing about that is that our work is never in vain. We are accomplishing something here. And with Jesus as our compass, we can know that we are on the path to eternal victory.
Victorious in Christ. We are, victorious. Have you really pondered the fact that we have a 24-hours-a-day-7-days-a-week enemy and yet are continually renewed in Christ day-by-day? We are despised and plotted against, yet the love and grace we received the moment we said yes to Jesus is so powerful and transformational, we can trust in it wholeheartedly. We are saints.
I was praying for some of my dearest friends the other day, when the Lord brought to my heart the fact that as much as I am holy, chosen, and loved... so are they. Their "standing" in the kingdom of God is saint. By God's standards, they are saints. Whether they greet me with a holy kiss or a dirty look, whether they are feeling weighted by sin or freed by grace that day, they are saints.
When I interact with other believers, I should view and treat them as people whom are holy, chosen, and loved.
For though the enemy does all in his power to cause us to sin against one another and damage relationships, he does not stand a chance. When we view others and ourselves by our standing, and not by our sin, victory is claimed.
The devil cries, "be damned!" Yet we are redeemed more and more each day. As He is, we are.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4
God, you are in it all. If I truly believe that, that means that my heart should praise Him equally in times of triumph and trial, right? Instead, in difficult times this past winter--of illness and injury and the stresses that accompany them, I treated prayer as more of a bargaining game. I would agree to praise Him... so long as I could understand His reasoning behind the unpleasantries in my life. And though Luke 4:12 warns us to not put God to the test, I could feel my spirit rebelling.
But God in his great grace reached down and spoke truth into my life through Psalm 119 which says that God afflicts us in his faithfulness (119:75). This truth came to me at a crucial time, and I could feel the conviction that I had not been trusting in God's goodness.
It took a few more months of this back-and-forth before truly surrendering my own understanding and realizing that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and His ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). And it was in this act of surrender that I began to see his glory all around me.
You see, trusting in his faithfulness does something to our soul. We become people of hope. It brings beauty into our living and calms our anxious spirits.
So, if he is good in the good times, and good in the bad times, that leaves everything in between. I wrote this poem shortly after surrendering to the truth that God is present in it all. And He began to open my eyes to His beauty in the trees and the sky, in relationships, and in all the other things that are always around, but not fully appreciated as gifts from above. Praise Him! He is for our good, and he is in it all, my friends.
[He is] over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:6
I love my husband, but I really, really love Jesus. I love the qualities my husband displays: grace, selflessness, kindness, mercy, and love. I love them because they are Jesus. A favorite piece of scripture is Galatians 1:24. In which, Paul has just shared his testimony and the new man he is because of Christ. And the people that knew him as this new creation "praised God because of him". They didn't praise God because he simply showed some shallow external quality that they liked. No--they praised God because he was walking, living proof of the gospel. He displayed the power of God.
I'm thankful for the gift that my husband is and for how he lives out the gospel daily. All the more, because I am able to praise God because of him.
By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
It was about 7 am and I was overlooking a lake in the Adirondack mountains. We had led a group of high school students to a Young Life camp there, and I had stolen a few precious away to be alone with Jesus. As I stared into the lake, I was taken aback by just how sparkly it was--that God created water to sparkle.
I was consumed by the fact that this was his goodness I was admiring, and all the more amazing, that I was invited into his goodness. We spent the week sharing the beautiful love story of the gospel with our high school friends, and the theme of those weeks is truly that they are invited into the adventure of life with Jesus. He displays his glory all around us, calling us to abundance.
"I will be a wall of fire all around her," declares the LORD, "and I will be the glory in her midst." Zechariah 2:5
He presses us to know him. He isn't passive in the act. We are pursued.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:1-2
He draws us into admiration of himself, and I think it's easy to see why: other than the sheer mutual joy of reveling in God's beauty, it produces in us a greater love and desire for obedience of him. You can't not want to know a God so beautiful. The more we know about him, the more we love him. A favorite verse that proves this is in Paul's letter to Philippi where he states that the more we know about God, the more we love him.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more through knowledge and depth of insight. Philippians 1:9
He enchants us into a lifetime of himself. An ETERNAL lifetime!
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10
The Lord is faithful and good. When my heart is filled with peace, he is faithful and good. When my life seems to be in shambles, he is faithful and good. No matter the height, depth, demons, or angels that prevail, the Lord is faithful and good.
He redeems our life from the pit, and dignifies us with his love and compassion. Psalm 103:4
When anxiety weighs us, he is faithful and good. When our loved ones disappoint us, he is faithful and good. And praise be to God, that even when our own sin mars and destroys this pretty life picture he has painted for us, he is still faithful and good.
In all things, He works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28
In our darkest hour, he is faithful and good.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Wherever this finds you, whatever pit you have dug, whatever havoc sin has caused in your life, know that He is for you. He is our redeemer and friend. He holds his hand out to help us. He is faithful, and he is good.
All day long, I have held out my hands to an obstinate people. Isaiah 65:2
please never, ever forget
the angels' hands filled with confetti
or that God had on his dancing shoes--
how all of heaven waited in anticipation
the moment Jesus called on you by name
A Cause for Celebration
You, living into your truest self, are a cause for celebration. You, revisiting the original design God had on your being, is worth breaking out the bubbly and throwing confetti into the air. People often hear the word repentance and feel a pit forming in their stomach--as if repentance were an order given by a harsh teacher and a reminder that we are falling short of expectations. Is repentance a command? Yes. Is it a command given because God is scowling at us, wishing we could just be better already? Definitely not.
When you walked the halls of high school, I imagine you were met with a variety of successes and failures, and teachers who interacted with you in regards to both. If you weren't living up to your potential, you were typically greeted with one of two types: those who were annoyed at your inability to achieve, or those who looked at you, saw your potential for greatness, and called you to higher things. God falls into that second category. He is for you. Repentance is simply allowing yourself to believe that he loves you and that what he asks you to do is for your benefit.
A quick Google search of "repentance scripture" will bring you a long list of places in the Bible where this word is found. Ready for the fun part? There is always hope associated with it. There is always goodness God has in store for you. See for yourself...
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 ESV
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Acts 11:18 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
Are you sensing a theme? Repentance is always paired with good things. You are forgiven, you receive the Holy Spirit, you get LIFE. Though it may seem counterintuitive at first, saying "no" to some of your guilty pleasures will ultimately bring you more pleasure in the end. God wants to see you turn towards him and towards the ways of living that he knows will cause you to thrive. He is your MAKER. He built you and wrote the instruction manual. Repentance is agreeing to operate your life according to its design.
And the angels rejoice when you make the choice to start running properly. God wants to see you do well in all areas. He wants your emotional life to flourish (rather than seeing you fall into anger, sadness, and regret). He wants to see your relationships bring vibrancy into your world, not suck the color out of it. He wants to see family units functioning in a way that brings the next generation up to know who he is, including marriages that reflect a divine level of self-sacrifice and courageous love. Ultimately, he wants to see you at your best.
You being the you that you were created to be is a yuuuuge reason to celebrate.
So, if you hear Jesus calling on you today, if you feel in your heart that something just isn't right, ask God for wisdom. He will tell you where you need to repent. With kindness, he will inspire you to pursue a higher calling. And when you turn to choose him, don't be surprised if you see a few sparkles fall from the sky.
I hate taking risks. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how this impacts my ability to connect with others. Connection requires authenticity requires vulnerability (requires risk). As I was praying about this realization, I could feel God lifting my thoughts from what’s wrong with me to His ability to overcome this hurdle through others.
Cue my friend Ashley, who is able to remove that risk altogether. She shows others love and acceptance to a divine depth. With her, I don’t need to weigh my words, for I know that I’ll be met with grace in those moments I select the wrong ones.
The beauty of this, however, goes so far beyond Ashley, and onto Christ. She would be the first to tell you, that it is not her own love, and light, that she lavishes on others, but it is the love of Jesus, and I love how he allows himself to be revealed to us through friendship.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. Phil. 1:3-4
as the day it dawns with intoxicating brilliance
so is she
in noble light nourishing
a Son-starved world
both the cleansed and craving graced
with her luminescent gift
what love! what light!