But God Gives the Increase

A friend of mine shared these words with me at a church service a couple of months ago:

“God loves you when you’re bare.”

 

What she didn’t know was that right before I had seen a picture in my mind’s eye of a small tree that had barely grown above the ground, which I felt represented where I was in seeing some of the dreams God has placed in my heart come to pass.  Only a few leaves were visible, and though they were tall, green, and strong, I was disappointed that there wasn’t much to show for it.  However, God then showed me that the roots were going deeper and deeper underground.  I felt Him say that it didn’t matter what was showing on the surface yet because He was pleased with the deep roots, and they would ensure that the tree grew into what it was made to be.

 

We sometimes feel we should be further along than we are and project our disappointment in ourselves onto God like He feels the same way, but how can He be disappointed in (what we feel is) our lack of growth when He is the One who gives the increase?

 

 “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows…whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:7-9

 

When you’ve been planting and watering and haven’t seen much progress, don’t be discouraged.  God promises that if you’ve been sowing, YOU’RE GOING TO REAP…but HE is the One Who is going to give the increase, not you.  He is the only One Who can make your tree grow!

 

My own personal example of this has been with recording my first album – a 4 song EP – which I’ve been in process with for over two years.  It’s been a dream in my heart ever since I was a little girl, but I didn’t know that I would have to go through a painful season of hope deferred before I was able to release it.  Time and time again expectations were disappointed, and it took me a long time to get my hopes up enough to even take small steps towards it.  But something in me – stirred by the consistent prodding of the Holy Spirit, and the love and encouragement of my parents and best friends – just wouldn’t let me let this dream go.  It was only after taking steps of faith and moving forward (planting and watering the tree God has given me), that I began to get prophetic words about my music.

 

One word that I kept receiving over and over from different people and in different places (who didn’t know me, and didn’t know each other) was this simple verse:

 

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” – Psalm 126:5

 

It blessed me every time, but now that I’m almost ready to release my album, God has revealed to me the gravity of it.  You see, I now realize that God would not have allowed me to sow in so many tears over the past two years if He did not intend for me to reap them back with songs of joy.  Every song on this EP (from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016) came out of an experience of heartbreak, disillusionment, fear, doubt, sorrow, and disappointment in which I chose to cry out to God and declare His truth over my life anyway.

 

I cried out to God, and He heard me.  He comforted and spoke to me.  He delivered me from all of my fears.

 

He turned my tears into songs of joy because I found that He was there all along – not causing the pain, but using it to reveal His glory in, to, and through me.  This process hasn’t been what I expected, but God has shown Himself faithful to satisfy every longing in my heart, and I can truly say I am living in the most joyful and FULL season of my life thus far.  I know the goodness of my God, and His Word will not return void.

 

I have sown in tears.

It’s time to reap with songs of joy.

 

You may not want to cry.  You may not want to go through times of loneliness or pain.  You may not want to feel a pause on things you were expecting instead of moving forward into the ‘bigger and better things’ that seem to come easily to others.  However, God cares more about growing deep roots in your relationship with Him than growing what is visible on the surface.  He cares more about removing shallow roots of bitterness and replacing them with deep roots of peace, love, and strong confidence in His will, kindness, and goodness.

 

What we see as not as productive – seasons in which we have to pause, seasons of crying out to Him in our pain, seasons in which we stop fighting for our goals and simply rest and receive from Him – He sees as our truest progress.

 

In fact, that was the entire point of the journey altogether.  God is not impressed with our outward success if our spirit is stagnant.  When we can come to the place where we stop worrying about being successful and simply keep our eyes on Him, whether that looks like doing something or doing nothing, that’s when we are able to be the most successful and fulfilled.

 

GOD is the One Who gives the increase, and it has always been and will always be this way.

 

So, when you’re doing all God has asked you to do in this season, and all you see of your tree are leaves above ground, know that if you submit to Him in the process He has you in, your roots will go down deeper than you could have ever imagined.  God loves you when you’re bare because He already knew you were.  He just wants you to know so He can become your fruitfulness.

 

All you can do is plant, water, and wait.  God will make you grow.

Learn how to receive from God and release control.

Songs of joy require sowing in tears.

He will give you the increase if you will let yourself go deeper with Him.

 

“I am the Vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

 

Blog Pic: One of the many pics Rosie De La Cruz took for my album shoot in one of the many harvest fields we took them in!  I absolutely love them and her.  🙂  Check her out on Instagram and Facebook as well as at: https://delacruzin.us/

From Winter to Spring

——— Part two to my last blog: (Not) Blaming God ———

 

I want to encourage someone today:

Spring is coming.

Even better, Spring ALWAYS comes.

 

There are ALWAYS four seasons.  It’s the way God created the earth, and it reveals His goodness.  He brings us out of the cold, dead Winter into the cool, budding Spring, whether we acknowledge Him or not.

 

Winter always turns into Spring.

 

However, there is also a season of Spring that is supernatural – when God gives new birth to the dead things in our lives.  The only difference is, instead of being a season that simply happens, this season can only be entered into if we have a heart of thanksgiving towards Him.

God loves us at all times and we can’t earn or deserve His blessings, just like we can’t earn or deserve the natural season of Spring.  However, God will give more blessing to the one who not only accepts what He’s already given (the natural season of Spring), but who also thanks Him for His goodness in their own lives even if they can’t see it yet, removing every accusation from their heart that He is not good (the spiritual season of Spring).

 

I don’t want you to hear me wrong.  It’s okay to be frustrated if you’ve been disappointed!  God knows how you feel and He’s not expecting you to pretend.  He desires you to process your frustration with Him because He wants to comfort you in it.  What the enemy wants to do however, is make you even more frustrated by causing you to blame God, pull away from Him, and fall into a state of bitterness and depression WITHOUT His comfort.  He is trying to extend a season of winter that was necessary for new growth (see Fruitful blog) into a lifetime of barrenness!  God may have allowed you to walk through a difficult season for a reason you don’t understand yet, but it was NEVER His will for it to last forever.  He is kind, and desires to see you grow and flourish after the Winter, but He knows that…

 

a supernatural Spring can only be given if it is received.

 

The Israelites were promised a land of milk and honey, and were on track to receiving it.  However, because they were constantly bitter thinking that God was withholding something from them, they missed the great many things He was trying to give them.  They doubted His goodness and distanced themselves so far from Him that they became convinced He was never good at all.

 

We can’t hold onto bitterness against God in one hand, and the blessings we’re praying for in the other.

This is why I believe that most, if not all, of our Christian walk is about being convinced of God’s goodness.

 

If we can trust and stay thankful that God is GOOD and FOR US, everything that happens in our lives, even if doesn’t go according to our original plan, will only cause us to press into Him more.  Our default reaction the moment we get frustrated and discouraged will no longer be to blame Him and wallow in self-pity and a victim mentality (trust me, I’ve been there), but to immediately run to Jesus as our Source, and receive whatever He wants to do instead.  We will not let Him go until He blesses us because we will realize that, as a child of God, His goodness is our inheritance.  It is undeserved and unearned, but it is ours because of what Jesus has done on The Cross for us.

 

If I can remember what He’s already done for me, then I can truly rest in all seasons and situations, with no fear from my past, and no fear for my future.  I don’t have to be deceived, like Eve was, into thinking He is not good towards me, taking me down a darker road of frustration than necessary.  I can stay thankful.

 

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:6-7

 

To truly enter into the supernatural season of Spring that God wants to take you into, ask God to show you every part of your heart that ever saw Him as cruel, deceitful, or unloving towards you, and repent of it.  Kill every thought that says that good seasons only happen to other people, not you.  Just because you haven’t experienced them yet, doesn’t mean it’s not what God has for you.

 

He wants His goodness for us more than we do.

You can CHOOSE to enter into this season of Spring thanking Him in advance.

 

“I am confident of this: that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13

 

Blog Pic: Snapped this on a walk.  I’m so thankful for signs of Spring. 🙂

(Not) Blaming God

Recently God has impressed it on my heart to check my first reaction when something happens that doesn’t go according to my plan.

Do I blame Him, or do I praise Him?

Whether it’s small, frustrating things that happen in my day-to-day, or huge, horrible things that happen in the world around me, I want my first reaction to be to trust the loving-kindness of Jesus, and to know that He is working all things together for good.  I don’t want to be like the Israelites who complained against God even though they had seen His goodness, and missed out on the Promised Land:

“Yet they still went on to sin against Him by provoking and rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness (the land of drought), and they tempted God in their hearts…” – Psalm 78:17-18

“They remembered not [seriously the miracles of the working of] His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy” – Psalm 78:42

Tempting God in our hearts is believing that if something doesn’t work out how we think it should, He is somehow spiteful and out for our hurt and not our good.  How it must dishonor and break God’s heart for us to trust and love Him when things go our way, and to turn around and blame Him in our hearts and minds when they don’t.  However, even if we do that, it’s not really God that loses – it’s us!  He is so full of compassion, and will forgive us every time, but blaming Him means that we are wasting time feeling bitter and resentful and losing the joy and peace that is rightfully ours in Him.

Not worth it.

The whole crux of our faith is that God is FOR us, not against us, and that if He loved us enough to give us His Son, He will also freely give us all things (Romans 8:31-32)!  It doesn’t make sense to blame Him because He not only doesn’t do wrong, but He, in His great kindness, does good on behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64:4).  One of my friends said it best:

“What if the things you wanted to happen were never a part of His plan anyway?  What if what you think went wrong was actually His plan all along?”

He can truly make anything happen – make beauty out of ashes, and turn what the enemy meant for evil into the most spectacular miracle.  He can do the IMPOSSIBLE, and He truly is our only Hope.  Why would we ever choose to walk away out of anger and distrust from the only One Who loves us more than we can even comprehend?  Who is not only capable of making all things work together for good, but Who actually has a heart and plan to do it?  He is a full-circle God Who gives hope, promise, AND fulfillment – He doesn’t withhold good from the one who walks uprightly even if it feels like there are delays (Psalm 84:11).  His ways are higher, His thoughts are higher, and His goodness is better than ours (Isaiah 55:9).  He knows what He’s doing.

Right as I started writing this, the sun came out, and it immediately started pouring outside.  Did you know that every time it rains and the sun is out, there is ALWAYS a rainbow, even if you can’t see it?  That’s how God is.  He is ALWAYS faithful to show up, even if you can’t see Him.  He brings color into chaos, purpose into confusion, and glory into the most gloomy of days.

 

What if all of the gloomy days are simply an indication that a new season is coming – that it’s Spring and God is about to do a new thing in your life that couldn’t come any other way than through torrents of rain?

 

Don’t miss your chance to praise Him in the midst of the frustrating situations you find yourself in because He is worthy.  He will always give you perspective to see what He’s doing when you wait on Him.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: Driving back from our first family vacation in Colorado, we had to stop on the side of the road because of a hail storm, and I turned around and yelled “IT’S A RAINBOW!” in a packed car and very tense situation (a memory I cherish, but I’m not sure my fam feels the same way ;))

Surrender the Seeds

On the one year anniversary of my blog, I want to share something God taught me in October that I still think about almost every day…

A couple months ago on my birthday weekend, I visited a church I dearly love and used to go to all the time in college called Upper Room (you may have heard of it ;))!  That Sunday night, part of what Pastor Michael Miller talked about was not being afraid to fully surrender, the seeds, or the dreams, that God has placed inside of you.

Let’s just say it cut me deep.

God wants to give us the dreams He’s placed inside of us.  However, as much as it may seem like it, you don’t actually want your dream – you want God in the midst of it.  He knows our dreams only work when we die to ourselves and live for Him, so, if our desires are consuming us more than He is, we’ve got to rearrange our priorities!  He wants those things for us, but He will not let them have us.

 

Pastor Michael Miller’s message spoke to me so deeply, but not in an emotional way.  I didn’t “feel” anything, but when he asked us to come up to the front if we were willing to let the seeds of our dreams die, I felt convicted and wanted to take a step.  I went up to the front and knelt before the Lord, but as profound as I wanted this moment to be, it didn’t feel like anything was happening.  I prayed, “God, You know I am genuinely wanting to surrender my dreams to You and I don’t want to go home the same, but I don’t even feel You.  Am I holding myself back in any way?”

 

That night passed, and I still didn’t hear anything from God about this, but I had faith that He would speak.  It just so happened that two nights later was our young adult group at my church called The Gathering.  During worship, I knelt on the ground and prayed this simple prayer of surrender again, but I still didn’t hear anything from Him.  At this point, I felt kind of dejected and I decided to leave early to spend some time with God alone.  It was then, right as I was walking out the door, that my friend Vianca walked in and stopped me.  She said that God had given her a word for me during worship, and that she would text me about it later that night!  I was anxious to hear what she heard from God, and I wanted to make sure it was straight from Him so I prayed, “God, if this is truly a word from You, let me cry…no, let me ball my eyes out.”  I now realize that this sounds like a super weird prayer, but I was desperate to hear from God about this and like my Pastor, Dustin Bates, always says, “Desperation knows no decency.”

Well, Vianca texted me what God told her, and the second I read it…I wept.  Like, open the flood gates, get out the ark, heave sob, crocodile tears.  I realized that God heard my prayer!  What was the word you ask?  She saw a vision of me during worship, and then she saw soil – the Lord was causing an earthquake to break through the ground and PLANT!

My friend did not know a thing about my prayer, and yet, at probably the very moment I was kneeling on the floor crying out to God, He was giving her a vision of His answer to me.  At first, I cried because I realized how much God loves me, and I was so happy that even though I didn’t feel anything when I was praying, He heard my prayers and received my offering!  However…then I cried because I realized that God actually heard my prayers and received my offering.  I started to feel like I was stuck in the middle of a “yes God, kill my dreams” but “can You please also make them happen really fast?” emotional roller-coaster.

I had to realize that when we surrender the seeds of our dreams to the Lord we are surrendering them to His timetable to grow.  It’s not like we surrender them for a season and then God says “I now see that you have given this to me and I will therefore make everything happen the way that you desire, immediately.”  He might in fact do that, but true surrender means that, even if He doesn’t, we will still surrender it all to Him.  It looks like praying, “God, whatever it looks like and however long it takes, I will always, only do whatever You ask me to.”

 

Surrendering the seeds is surrendering your dreams to God for them to be done in His will and His way.  It’s giving Him complete control because we never had it anyway.

 

It is a DAILY BATTLE to stay in the place of full surrender, but I am so thankful that even when we don’t realize we aren’t fully surrendered in an area, Jesus realizes and yet He patiently waits for us because He loves us.  We are already justified by His blood, but sanctification happens in surrender.  It’s a process!

Remember when I said my birthday was that weekend?  Well, as I was still weeping and processing (for four hours, I kid you not), my eyes just happened to keep being drawn to a balloon my mom had bought me that was floating back and forth and shining “Happy Birthday” at me.  At that very moment, the Lord spoke to me,

 

“Happy.  Birth.  Day.  The day you die is the day you’re born.”

 

Cue weeping even more.  When you feel like your dreams are dying and there is no guarantee that they will happen any time soon, you can know that God is the God of the Resurrection.  The day you finally let those things die is the day you’re born!  God is faithful to complete what He began.  Laying your dreams and plans to down to die may sound counter-intuitive, but it is actually the only way to let them grow and come to life.

 

Surrender the seeds and watch them grow.

 

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.” – John 12:24

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Colossians 3:7, 10-11

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” – Galatians 6:7

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” – Galatians 6:9

“So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but [only] God Who makes it grow and become greater.” – 1 Corinthians 6:7 (AMP)

 

Blog Pic: Friends and the sunflowers we picked at Coyote Drive-In

The Joy of Thanksgiving

The Lord has shown me over the last couple of months that THANKSGIVING CONQUERS DISAPPOINTMENT.  While waiting on certain things to come to pass, as I have thanked God in advance for them, old feelings of disappointment or discouragement have just not been able to stick, and I have found myself experiencing more and more joy from the Father’s heart.  Whenever disappointed, I have learned to say, “Thank You Jesus.  You knew this would happen, and You have so much redemption coming for me because of this.  I believe and love and trust You.  Thank You.”

 

Every time I have thanked Him for what He’s doing in spite of what I’m feeling, His joy has come.  I have learned that you can’t be depressed when you are thanking God because true thanksgiving leads to joy, and the JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH (Nehemiah 8:10).  When you realize how much He loves you and is for you personally, you will want to thank Him, and thanking and praising Him will make you strong.  If you want to get on the plane of joy and get closer to where God is actually wanting to take you, thanksgiving is the ticket!

 

“Be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” – Nehemiah 8:10

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.  If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:9-11

 

When you know how much God loves you and thank Him for it, you will experience joy that enables you to accept the season you’re in, and faith will rise up in your heart that He will bring all that He has promised to pass.  It is not your job to make things happen.  If you know you’re being obedient to His calling on your life every step of the way, even if you can’t see how you are going to get where He has said, you can know that He will move heaven and earth to get you there in His timing.  He is simply making you one with Him in the process…and that includes increasing you in His joy!

Thanking God in advance for the things He has said He will do will give you joy, because there is no question that He will do it.  The Bible says that the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever (1 Peter 1:24-25).  You can therefore know that every single thing He has spoken over your life, including every dream He has placed in your heart, He intends to fulfill according to His Word.

 

“So is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

 

The fact that He will be faithful to His Word means you can be thankful and joyful every single day, even if you don’t see His promises coming to pass yet…because they are coming.  Simply start thanking and praising Him for the fact that He is going to redeem every single disappointment and discouragement in your future, and EXPECT it.

 

“For we know that all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

 

God says that when we seek Him first, He will give us what we need, and He also says that He will give us the desires of our heart as we delight ourselves in Him (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 37:4).  That means that our needs and desires are fully taken care of when we put Him first.  We don’t have to worry about making things happen, other than being obedient to His will.  All that’s left for us to do is to DELIGHT ourselves in the Lord (thank and praise Him) with joy and hope!  The Amplified Bible describes hope as joyful and confident expectation, so if hope is the ability to trust so much in the promises of God that we can have a joyful and confident expectation of them before even seeing them, that means that joy is not just found in a promise fulfilled, but throughout the process of fulfillment!

 

Joy isn’t only found in an earthly promise fulfilled.  Joy is able to be found throughout the entire process of fulfillment because joy doesn’t just come from what we’re hoping for; it comes from Jesus!

 

If the moment dreams were fulfilled was the only time we could relax and feel at peace and fully satisfied, then every other season would have no meaning!  You can be absolutely, totally, 100%, completely at peace and rest, and satisfied right NOW before even a hint of fulfillment of anything you’re asking God for because joy is found in Jesus’ Presence, and Joy is truly Him!  He embodies it and He is Emmanuel, God with us and in us forever and always!

 

“In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

“He (HIS JOY) inhabits the praises of His people.” – Psalm 22:3 (parentheses mine)

 

Joy doesn’t just come from material things, relationships, or dreams fulfilled – although He desires those things for us.  It has always, only, ever come from Him.  Whether you thank Him because you see that your life is good, or you thank Him because you know that He is good, you will begin to experience the joy that comes with your thanksgiving.

 

“Go your way…with joy…and a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God], for God has already accepted your works.  Let your garments be always white [with purity], and let your head not lack [the] oil [of gladness].” – Ecclesiastes 9:7-8

 

I believe greatly that God wants us to experience His joy.  He does not want us to get caught in a cycle of discouragement just because things aren’t happening yet that He has PROMISED us.  If God has promised it, why should we be discouraged?  Instead, as we thank Him in advance for the fulfillment He has promised, we will experience His joy.  No matter how close we are, we can have a confident and joyful expectation of where we’re going – the land of milk and honey, strength and sweetness, and the land of promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to wait until we’re there to experience His joy!

 

Stay thankful, and you always will be joyful.

 

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:13-14

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6

Blog Pic: Flying into Honduras for my first overseas mission trip (a specific promise God gave me nine years ago and fulfilled this summer!)

Confidence and Contentment

I’m realizing more and more how God has made me to be confident and content in Him.  Things that used to seriously drag me down simply no longer do.  Obviously, I am imperfect, and there are times when this is harder than others, but for the most part, I truly feel that there has been a shift in my life and my personal relationship with the Lord towards a deep confidence and contentment that I am beyond grateful for – not that anything has changed outside of me, but it has changed in my heart!

 

As I thought about how this has changed in me, specifically over this last year, I realized that it has actually come from a process I’ve been in for many years:

 

“Why are you cast down, O my inner self?  And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me?  Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.” – Psalm 42:11

 

When I was in my first years of college, I wrote this verse in cursive on a pretty piece of paper and pasted it to my wall so I could see and speak it over myself every time I was discouraged.  I found that if I truly allowed myself to reflect on “why” I was upset, contrasted with God’s goodness towards me, I didn’t have to stay there for long.  It just ended up feeling small compared to Who He is to me, and the plans I know He has for me – not that it was ever unimportant or wrong to feel; just small.  I learned how to shut down the natural negative tendencies in my heart and to hope, wait, praise, and not be cast down into discouragement, even though discouraging things may be happening.  I really believe that the foundation of confidence, contentment, and joy in my life has come from processing things this way…processing all of my thoughts and emotions with God – the help of my countenance – through His Word.  I leave nothing untouched and rest in His Presence because the alternative is not an option now that I know His freedom.

 

True confidence, contentment, and JOY can’t be faked.  It’s not just an outward smile that only happens in public or at church.  It is a profound, irreplaceable surety that can only come from knowing God and His promises.  You can’t strive for it.  It is not something that is earned or achieved once you get to a certain place in life because if that’s the case, it’s not true confidence – it’s only circumstantial, and who’s to say you will ever even get there?!  It has to come from a place of acceptance of what already is – who you already are and what you already have in Him, so that no matter what happens in your life, you can stand confident, content, and at peace.  It has to come from a personal relationship with Jesus in which you know Him and His kindness and goodness for YOURSELF.

 

When we receive our confidence and contentment from God directly, we don’t have to compare ourselves to others or their stories, or to be completely distraught when things don’t go the way we planned.  As easy as that can be, there is a better way in the Spirit!  When you know Jesus, you can know with confidence and without a shadow of a doubt that even though things aren’t working out according to your plan, they are still working out in His.  You have a unique story that is different than the rest!

 

The Lord dealt with me in this earlier this year when I didn’t realize that I was comparing my story and timeline to that of others at my age and in my life.  He woke me up one morning and spoke to me:

“Do you not think I have the best for you, too?”

 

This stopped me dead in my tracks and made me to think: Why would I ever want someone else’s story or experience or timeline when I can fall in love with my own?  You see, if I can believe that God has the absolute BEST for me, and I’m not seeing it all play out yet, then whatever I’m envisioning and expecting must not be good yet!  It may be best for someone else, their season, and their situation, but me, I’m on a different path…and IT’S called the BEST.  It is not to be compared to anyone else’s, but it is mine.

 

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:13-14

 

When we seek Him, God promises that He will be found by us, but this verse also shows that sometimes – whether it’s by our own actions or not (ex: Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness), He will lead us into places that have the potential of captivity.  God does not tempt us with evil, but He is going to allow us to be put into difficult places/seasons that test or prove our confidence and contentment in Him.  I’ve come to learn that this is not a spitefulness, but a kindness from God.  If He didn’t allow us to go through this process, we would never realize how much we need Him, and never actually be fully confident and content.  When we feel our confidence is breaking down, that is a gift and an opportunity to explore the fullness of Who He is, and who we truly are.

 

If you don’t know this kind of confidence or contentment yet, there’s nothing wrong with you!  In fact, that is the most natural state of our lives.  The good news is, you simply need to allow yourself the time and space to press into Jesus to receive it!  Ask Him what He has for YOU.  Cut old things out of your life that don’t need to be there – things that take your time and energy away from being truly filled up by Him, and that don’t make sense with the confident and content life you say you really want.  Such things can be spending too much time with people, too much time on social media (talking to myself here!), and in general, too much time distracted and unable to stop and think!  If you allow yourself to slow down for a second and realize that you are not confident or content, you don’t have to let it fester and continue.  Seek the Lord for confidence, contentment, and FREEDOM from discouragement and depression.  Ask Him for the eyes to see your current situation through His joy.

 

I am so thankful that I have learned a contentment that is separate from everything going according to my plan.  Now, no matter what happens, I’ll be okay, because I trust the better plans God has for me.  I encourage you to not look at a season of discontentment as what will always be.  Look at it as a doorway of possibility into beginning to explore the confidence and contentment that has always been available for you through Jesus.  Just because you don’t see it all right now does not mean that you can’t still be confident and content with what you already have.  When you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, or to think that you’re somehow missing something in your current situation, remember:

“Do you not think He has the best for you, too?”

 

You can be confident and content wherever you are, knowing what He has promised.

 

Blog Pic: Hiking McCullough Gulch Trail in Breckenridge, Colorado

Looking back from 25

Today is my birthday (October 21)!  Some people say they hate birthdays, but I absolutely LOVE them and I always will.  Why?  It’s like my own personal New Year!  I choose to look at it as another year of the Lord walking with me and leading me into new territory, another year of growth and comparison to no one other than my past self, and another year of greater revelation of the love of God for ME.

 

I can truly say that I love the Lord more than I loved Him last year.  Even though last year He blessed me so much and did so much in my life, this year He did more.  🙂  This became extremely clear to me the other day when I was driving on a country road and noticed something that I hadn’t seen in well over a year.  It was a place where I had cried, worshiped, and experienced deep healing from the Lord.  I hadn’t been back since and had actually completely forgotten about it, but when I saw it again, so many memories flooded back to my mind that I simply had to turn around and get out of the car.

 

Doing so caused me to remember what God has done in my life since that moment – how He has healed my heart and truly given me beauty for ashes in every sense of the phrase.  The last time I was here, I had just graduated from college and was unsure about my future.  I was unsure about His plans for me, and how He was going to provide for me and connect me with new friends and the church I was officially becoming a part of.  How was I going to be able to fit in and assimilate to life back in my hometown – a place I hadn’t stayed in for much time since college, and which I felt I had completely moved on from?  How was I going to start over in a new place with people who didn’t know me?  Was I going to be perpetually lonely?  Was it going to feel like I was back in high school all over again?  I was terrified, but knew I was in His will.

 

Looking back, I can see how He has provided for me…

He has blessed me in more ways than I can count, and I have seen His goodness everywhere I have turned gently molding, shaping, and guiding my life.

I have made the most incredible, lifelong friends through my church and through my travels.

The Lord gave me favor at church that was unexpected and almost immediate, and I now have the absolute honor of assisting leading worship at Church Eleven32’s very first satellite campus – a church that has blessed me for years that I now get to serve at and bless!

He has awakened new dreams inside of me – writing being one of them – and has enhanced and brought clarity to old dreams.

He has given me confidence in areas I didn’t even know I lacked confidence in.

He has blessed me with the ability to travel all over the world including Scotland (with layovers in Paris, Dublin, and London), New Jersey, New York, Honduras, Colorado, and Los Angeles, alone and with family and friends.

I have truly had more experiences than I knew I was capable of having in one year!

 

Over a year ago, the last time I was in this place, I saw the clearest lake I had ever seen.  It was glistening in the sun and I was completely awestruck by the beauty of it.  I prayed for clarity and felt the Lord giving me peace that He would give it.  Now, looking back, I can see how that lake was a prophetic indication that He was answering that prayer, and how He is still answering it in ways in which I can’t even understand right now.  I can however, see the uncertainty, confusion, and lack of clarity as a gift because it forces me to rely on Him.  He is truly my God, and in Him I lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).

 

So, honestly, here’s to 25 and my best birthday thus far.  🙂

 

“He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.” – Deuteronomy 10:21

 

Blog Pic: The small lake and gazebo at Restoration Church in Wylie, TX, which is the city where Church Eleven32’s first satellite campus is also based.  Coincidence?  I think not.  🙂