27 Things God Spoke to Me in 2017

Back in 2016, I received multiple prophetic words about writing from different people all year, but I really didn’t know I had a passion for it until my Pastor, Dustin Bates, called me out during one of Church Eleven32’s Deeper services about not only being a worshiper, but a writer who writes what the Lord has spoken to her.  I used to think that writers had to be scholarly, or write about things that made them sound smart, but I now realize that God was showing me that I have something to say simply because He has spoken to me.

Flash forward to January of 2017 I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to write out my testimony, and though I never intended on starting a blog, it was the only place I could think to post it.  It seemed like no big deal at the time, but now, after an entire year of posting every month (27 blogs in total!), and remembering the words that were spoken over me, I realize that this was God’s will and His perfect timing in 2017.

This may not be for anybody but me, but I have really enjoyed looking back on all that He has spoken to me this year through my writing.  Every blog contains a word that the Lord spoke to me Himself.  I have discovered how much His words keep me alive.  They shape my seasons and accelerate my growth.  When He speaks to me, it shows me that He is with me, and I can get through anything.  Reading over the words He has spoken to me personally makes me realize how much He loves me and that I live to hear His voice.

So, with all of that being said, here are 27 things that God spoke to me that gave me life in 2017.  Feel free to click on any blog that speaks to you!

 

  1. Why I’m a Christian

God led me to write out my testimony of when I started completely living for Jesus, and I didn’t even realize that it had been ten years!

  1. My Journey into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

God taught me that I used to be afraid of the Holy Spirit, but He loved me so much that He simply waited for me to desire more of Him to bring me deeper.

  1. Here’s to the Ones who Dream (Inspired by La La Land)

God spoke to me that I was created to dream, not regret, and I don’t have to be afraid of not being in the center of His will for my future if I am being obedient to His promptings.

  1. When the Lord Gives and Takes Away

God taught me through a breakup that I cannot accuse Him of wrongdoing because He is incapable of doing wrong, and that He is not afraid of my temporary disillusionment if it leads me into my eternal reward.

  1. Surrender the Building Plans

God gave me a dream and taught me that when I truly surrender the building plans of my life, He will give me more than I even asked for.

  1. Hiddenness

God spoke to me that I was made to live hidden in Him, and when I feel the most hidden, I am actually seen.

  1. The Flip-Side to Hiddenness

He also showed me that I am called to see those who don’t feel seen.

  1. The Mourning of a Great Adventure (+ a song)

After my trip to Scotland, God spoke to me that when things don’t happen in my life the way I expect them to, I have to let go of my expectations and cling to what He IS doing.

  1. Field of Dreams

God showed me that I am His field, building, and fellow worker and He is the One Who is building me, but He has entrusted me with the responsibility of partnering with Him to experience the most growth (to forgive, change my attitudes and perspectives, etc.).

  1. Rejection is a Lie

God told me in the most loving of ways that because Jesus was rejected, I have been accepted, and I can no longer believe the lie that I have been rejected by anyone.

  1. The Humility of Preparation: Esther’s Story

God showed me in the book of Esther how preparation seasons humble us, grow us in favor with God and man and in love for them, and teach us how to lay down our desires and pick up our King’s.

  1. You Were Made to Fly Higher

God taught me that we were never intended to be in control of where God takes us and how He takes us there, but we were always intended to surrender to wherever His Holy Spirit leads.

  1. For the Love of Redemption

God spoke to me that if He allowed something to happen, even if it happened according to my own faulty enacting of the free will He gave me, if He redeemed my very life with His blood, He can and will redeem anything if I surrender it to Him.

  1. Hope Deferred (+ a song)

God told me that He loves me too much to allow me to: settle for a halfway relationship with Him, make what I’m praying for an idol, and miss out on the fruit and blessing of my current ministry while waiting for my prayers to be answered.

  1. You Split the Sea

God taught me through a spontaneous trip to New Jersey and New York and through Exodus 14 that it is not unwise to walk by faith, and it is not unfaithful to walk wisely – I simply must make plans and keep walking until I either get a split sea, or am redirected.

  1. You are a Lighthouse

God told me that I am hit with the most insecurities where I am the most gifted, anointed, and powerful, and showed me how to shine His light confidently.

  1. Fruitful

God taught me that we will all experience pain at some point, but if we allow Him to have His completed work in us through surrendering to His will, it is pain that is purifying us, protecting us, and actually making us more fruitful and able to grow.

  1. Connection over Clarity

God taught me that I would rather have a close connection with Him than perfect clarity of my future.

  1. His Promises are Still Coming to Pass for You

God showed me that to come into the inheritance He so willingly wants to give me in His timing, I must see what I have right now as a part of it.

  1. The Authority to Bless

Over my weekend in L.A. at Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference, God taught me that because I am planted by streams of living water – planted in Him by staying true to His Word and in tune with His Spirit, I have the authority to bless people in His Name!

  1. Exposing the tactics of the enemy

God taught me that the enemy’s two tactics are to steal the encouragement God has already given me, or to prevent me from receiving the encouragement God wants to give me so I must always think on His encouragement, test every spirit, and take time to rest, not stress.

  1. Looking back from 25

In 2016, God showed me the most beautiful prophetic picture of how He was going to work in my life through a lake in Wylie, TX, and I didn’t know that I would be leading worship by it every Sunday over a year later.

  1. Confidence and Contentment

God showed me that if I can believe that He 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!

  1. Talking to God

God taught me that the power of time with Him comes from simply believing that it is worth it, and from His Spirit guiding and teaching me – so no matter my personality or communication style, He accepts me the way I am and wants to hear my voice.

  1. Receiving from Heaven

Some encouragement I got from a BSSM student at Heaven Come Conference: Receiving from God looks like killing comparison, not settling for less or putting a cap on what He is doing, and allowing myself to completely let go of my expectations and opinions to receive what God has for me.

  1. The Cross

God spoke to me that I live to be healed by Him, and no matter what pain I will ever go through, the cross is the proof of my full healing.

  1. The Joy of Thanksgiving

God taught me that as I thank Him in advance for what I know He’s going to do, I will experience His joy because His joy doesn’t just come from a promise fulfilled, but throughout the process of fulfillment in Jesus.

 

These words from God gave me life in 2017, and I am so excited to see what He’s going to speak to me in 2018.  I love living my life with the knowledge that God is on my side, and that He loves me and will always speak to me, no matter what happens.  I know that He is going to bless me and exceed my expectations.  🙂

I encourage you to look over what God has spoken to you personally this year!  No one knows you or can speak to you the way He does…and He will!

 

Here’s to 2018!

 

Blog Pic: Me having the privilege and honor of leading worship at my church’s youth group that I actually used to attend in high school called The Mvmnt.  I didn’t know that I would be leading worship there every other week this year!  🙂

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!)

The Cross

A few weekends ago, I had the absolute honor of leading worship at a women’s conference called Wildfire, all about encountering God and realizing that you can’t be too on fire for Him.  The leaders weren’t messing around because during the first session we dove headfirst into watching the scene in the movie The Passion of the Christ when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, and they encouraged us to not shield our eyes from looking at any part of what He went through.  My honest first thought was: “I know what Jesus did for me, and I’ve seen this movie before,” but my heart was open and I wanted to hear Him speak.  Sure enough, as I watched this representation of His crucifixion, He began speaking to me so clearly…

 

  • As I watched the nails being hammered into His hands, He reminded me that He restrained Himself for me.  He did not have to stay on the cross.  He is the King of the Universe and no one and nothing can restrain Him – especially inanimate objects as simple and powerless as wood and nails.  Yet, the One Who created the world was held and restrained by two wooden beams and three nails for me.  With all the power in and outside of the world at His disposal, with all of heaven and hell waiting to see what He would do, with all those to whom He showed Himself to, and who saw the miracles He could perform, waiting to see how and why He would allow Himself to be brutally murdered in this way though innocent, He allowed Himself to be restrained out of love for me.

 

  • As I watched the centurions curse Him, mock Him, and look on Him with disdain, I became angry towards the ones who historically did this to the King of the Universe.  However, He spoke to me that He formed them and knit them in their mother’s womb just like me.  He loved them just as much as He loves me.  And the hardest word of all?  I am as bad as they are.  The Lord spoke kindly and gently to me: “You are as bad as they are, and you need a Savior as much as they do.”  My sins are just as horrible and dark as physically nailing Jesus to a cross – as spitting on, flogging Him, mocking Him, piercing Him.  He chose to die a horrible and brutal death for MY sins just as much as anyone else’s.  I was as bad as the worst sinner in history due to the blackness of my heart and my inability to purify myself to come near Him Who is Pure.  I needed a Savior, and He came for me.  If I was the only person who ever lived on this earth, He still would have chosen to give His life for me because that still would have been the only way I could be saved.  I am that bad.  I am that sinful.  I am that in need of a Savior, and I am truly that loved by Him.

 

  • As I watched (and imagined) the horrific shame of my King hanging weak, beaten, and bleeding on a cross with my eyes wide open, Jesus spoke to me that there is a reason why I would have shielded my eyes if the leaders of the conference hadn’t encouraged me not to.  Violence is hideously ugly and it is not a part of what God said was “very good” when He made man.  I was not made to enjoy it or to take part in it.  However, because of the severe violence of my sin, the violence of a perfect sacrifice was necessary.  Because of the gruesome, evil, dark, and detestable things that happen in this world, and that originate from our hearts, He Who is the Light chose to take the darkness on Himself in order to eradicate it once and for all.  We were incapable of doing this on our own, and we can’t do anything to earn it because it is already done.  If we believe He did this for us and receive His salvation, we don’t have to rack up good deeds in order to be saved, although we will want to do good for Him and others.  We also don’t have to fear losing our salvation, although we will not want to do anything that displeases Him because we love Him.  We can know we are saved because He has purchased us with His love by a violent sacrifice that cannot be taken back.  It is His perfection that makes us holy, not our own; otherwise, this violent sacrifice would not have been necessary.  He chose to come and die for us in our imperfection, before we believed Him, chose Him, loved Him, or even heard of Him.  We were – I was – full of sin, and yet He believed in us, chose us, and loved us at our worst.

 

After watching this part of the movie, we then each went outside one at a time to pray and confess our sins to Jesus, as well as to place our hands on a wooden cross wet with red paint, and reflect on the personal nature of His sacrifice.

 

As I went out on this cold night, I placed my hands on the face of the cross now wet and red with paint, and stood there praying and praising Him until out of nowhere, I began to hear the song Pieces by Amanda Cook quietly playing in the background.  The second I heard this song, my mind was instantly flooded with memories of the fall that it came out, and how God taught me through it that He doesn’t give His heart in pieces when I didn’t know I was worthy of a love like that.  He put back together the pieces of my broken heart and healed me in my past, but as I listened to the song with gratitude, He then began to reveal to me the greater significance of the moment. I was standing and worshiping Him at the foot of a cross that symbolized the love sacrifice He made for me 2,000 years ago…and He was with me singing this song and declaring His love to me at that very moment!  He was showing me that His love didn’t stop short for me back then.  He is still passionately and personally pursuing me today!  He has never given His heart in pieces!

 

Jesus doesn’t want the cross to become commonplace to us.  He wants us to know that His sacrifice was and still is personal for Him.  He is the One who died on the cross for my salvation 2,000 years ago, and yet He is still full of love and willing to show His intimate kindness to me DAILY in hundreds of ways.  He longs to give us endless, personal encounters with Him, and I for one, can’t get enough…

 

The Lord showed me the week after this in Exodus 15:26 that His Name is Jehovah Rapha – the Lord Who heals you.  This is what makes the cross personal.  Jesus loves YOU so much that He would stop at nothing for YOU to be healed by Him.  He never intended for darkness, or pain, or suffering to enter into your life, but when we inherited sin and chose it ourselves, there was nothing He could do except choose to take the required punishment on the cross for us.  That alone was enough, but His sacrifice didn’t just take our punishment…it gave us healing.

 

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

 

If you have been through pain, no matter how large or small, believing in His act on the cross for you not only guarantees your salvation, but it also guarantees your healing.  God spoke to me through this verse and experience: You live to be healed by Me.  That’s what His death on the cross means.  It is not just a spiritual symbol that Christians carry, or a cliché thing that we talk about in church.  The cross is truly the proof of His love, and the proof of our healing.  Because of His death on the cross and His resurrection, we never have to give into despair.  We are promised resurrection from death, and full and total healing, no matter what happens to us in this life.

 

We live to be healed by Him.

 

Do you have a memory of encountering the Lord like this?  Do you recall when His sacrifice became personal to you?  If you don’t know Him in this way yet but desire to, as long as you’re alive, it’s not too late.  Stir up your heart to ask questions and seek Him.  You will find Him because He did not die to not be found by you!  And for those of you who have experienced Him in this way, don’t minimize or forget what He’s done.  His sacrifice on the cross means everything.  To think that we are chosen by Him…that we are special enough that the God of the Universe would come down to claim us, and continue to prove His love for us in the most personal of ways every day.  May we never get over it.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: A cross at sunset at Dallas Baptist University

Receiving from Heaven

When I was in L.A. for Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference, I received some encouragement during an afternoon session from someone on the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry Team.  She said many things to me, but part of it was about receiving from God in the season that I’m in.  Now, almost every time I get into a corporate time of worship, it still rings at the forefront of my mind!

 

Sometimes as Christians, we can fall prey to mindsets that prevent us from receiving more that God wants to say and do in our lives without even realizing it.  They may be sinful, or simply distractions from the enemy, but either way, they are never God’s will!  Being aware of these mindsets and doing what we can to change them makes us so much more sensitive to receive from Him, and to hear what He wants to say to us.  All it takes is being open.  🙂

 

So, with that being said, I would love to share some ways that my BSSM friend encouraged me on how to stay in the mode of receiving from Heaven:

 

  1. First, you must kill comparison:

God wants a relationship with YOU – not the person you look up to, and not the person you’re trying to be.  If you can believe that God loves you the way you are right now, you’ll be able to lay everything down to become who He wants you to be, and receive what He wants to give you.  It’s that easy!  Don’t look around during worship thinking, “Oh, that person seems so close to God” or, “I wonder what they think of me right now.”  Focus on God.  You CAN be close to Him, and what He thinks of you is more important.

The enemy wants to keep you distracted focusing on others’ lives, all the while missing out on what God is doing in yours!  It may be sly, but don’t take the bait.  🙂  As you become more aware of what God is doing in YOUR life, you will become more joyful, confident, effective in ministry, and actually available to celebrate what God is doing in their lives as well!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It is for YOUR freedom that Jesus went to the cross.  For you, not for anyone else, because only you fulfill His dreams for you…Comparison is evil.  It’s wicked.  God didn’t create you to be someone else.  He wants you the way you are.  He loves you the way you are.  Steward the identity of who you are, just be you.

 

  1. Second, you must never settle:

I used to try so hard to wrap my brain around what God was JUST previously doing and saying, so much so that I sometimes missed what fresh thing He was trying to do and say IN THE MOMENT!  Instead, I believe God wants our posture to be that of a people who are always searching for new things and don’t put a cap on what He wants to say or do.  If it is His will to enable us to discover more about Him, His Word, and ourselves, then He is the One who will give us the capacity to understand and actually retain it all.  I don’t have to strive to get there on my own, but if He intends to take me from glory to glory, I also don’t intend to stay where I am!  May we live like children who are constantly curious and who simply seek Him and let Him teach us.  May we always be excited for new adventures with God.

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It’s like we’re traveling and we see a mountain.  The more our spirits bond, the more we connect, and the more we see new things together.  God is saying, come on, let’s go further, let’s see more, and you’re saying, ‘But what about this morning?’  God is doing something new.  Don’t try to capture what God did this morning only and miss what He’s doing right now.  That’s boring to God and a very human attitude.  Always go for new things.  No matter what happens, even if it’s not what you want or what you prayed for; it’s an opportunity for a new level.  Flip it like a coin and you will see amazing things, even if it’s not what you expect.

 

  1. Third, you must give yourself permission to be wild and free:

Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls and receive whatever He has for you.  It’s not just a nice metaphor, but an honest, open posture before God that is unconcerned with the things of this world, and concerned with Him.  He encourages us to think and feel, but also wants to expand the ways in which we think and feel because it is only a part of the picture!  When we read His Word, we must lay down our previous opinions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations, and pick up His.  He will challenge our mindsets in love, but it takes us giving up control for Him to change us for the better!  Being open and free to whatever the God of the Universe may say is the best possible way of living.  It is my job to stop analyzing everything and to trust Him.  It is His Spirit’s job to guide me into all truth and to lead me into what is best for me!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls of your heart, and receive whatever He has new for youGive your heart permission to be free.  Give your spirit permission to go wild.  Be set free beyond all paradigms and all human thinking according to His Word.”

 

I believe that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but we also need to make sure we do not hinder our growth in any way due to faulty mindsets.  Receiving from heaven looks like killing comparison so you don’t miss what God is doing in YOUR life by focusing on someone else’s, not settling or putting a cap on how much God can speak to you, and giving full control to God in whatever He has for you, even if it challenges you and doesn’t look like what you expected.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: Standing with arms wide open (obviously, like Creed) at the top of McCullough Gulch Trail in Breckenridge, CO

Talking to God

I am learning that nothing is too small to talk to God about.  If I ever have the conscious thought that, “Oh, that’s not that big of a deal – I don’t have to ask Him about that,” then I must ask myself whose voice I’m actually listening to; that of the enemy or the Lord.

 

That may seem really intense, but I believe that God has shown me a few times recently I could have easily moved forward with things that were not His will for me…if I hadn’t asked Him about it in advance!  You see, God desires us to know His will, but we have to ask to know it.  He won’t force us to make the best decisions as much as He knows they are best for us, but He also won’t hide them from us if we ask.  He wants us to seek Him first and listen to His voice so much so that we are able to discern and choose the best out of obedience and love for Him, even if we don’t see the full picture yet.  This is why it is so important to open ourselves up to constant dialogue and communion with Him so that we don’t convince ourselves of things without consulting with Him and through His Word first.

 

This has really been on my mind recently because just a few weeks ago, my best friend of ten years and I had a beautiful sit down chat in which we discovered something absolutely hilarious about our friendship.  Like I said, we’ve been friends for ten years, but it was only a few weeks ago that we both finally realized that when it comes to our friendship, she has always been the one to call me, and I have always been the one to text her!  It’s not actually that I don’t like talking on the phone – I absolutely love it, but if I’m really busy throughout my day, it helps me to stop and quietly think through things I want to say through a text instead of a phone call (internally processing instead of externally processing).  She however, feels it is way easier to talk on the phone instead of having to stop and type everything out as she goes about her day (externally processing instead of internally processing).  What is so funny about this is, I always thought she was more in favor of texting like me, and she always thought I was more in favor of calling like her!  That is why, in the last few weeks since we discovered this, we have both made a point to text AND talk on the phone – communicating her way and mine!  Both are continual; it’s just a different method of communication.  🙂

 

Why do I share this?

 

I feel that God has been showing me through this that many people, whether it’s through comparing themselves to others’ way of communicating with God, or simply not having enough time in their day to stop for as long as they want to, they have neglected talking to Him altogether.  You see, whether you need to talk out loud with God, or whether you feel you need to stop and process things in a quiet place with Him – both are valid.  God birthed you with the personality you have for a reason.  You do not have to feel that you are less of a Christian for not following someone else’s method of spending time with God each day.  If you want to talk to God, just talk.  Don’t be concerned with what others are doing or how they are doing it – how long they get in the Word, or how long they pray; begin to grow in those ways yourself and believe that truly as much as you want from the Lord is available to you.  God is concerned with His relationship with YOU, so you can likewise be concerned about your relationship with Him – not someone else’s.

 

Confession: God did not make me to necessarily enjoy lists, but I used to feel that I needed to be more organized and list-oriented in order to pray over something fully.  If you are a list person and that is how you enjoy keeping track of your prayers with the Lord, be free and make those lists!  Enjoy fully the way that God has made your personality to communicate with Him.  If not however, do not feel condemnation that you are not as spiritual because you do not follow a certain method that may come easily to others.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and as Christians we do not live under religion, but in relationship with Him!  Grow in your relationship with God the way that you would with a friend.  If you feel led to write your prayers down, write them down.  If you are a “phone” person who needs to externally process with God, do that.  And if you are a “text” person, who needs to internally pray in the quiet, do that.

 

The way you communicate and process things is a part of how God made you.  That being said, we ALWAYS have room to grow in our communication (hence, my story with my best friend and I), but the Lord accepts you the way you are, and wants to hear your voice no matter the method.  Don’t hold back from talking to God or from a deeper relationship with Him because you are thinking that you need to somehow grow some sort of “spiritual personality” or way of praying or reading the Word that is like someone else’s or somehow more powerful.  The power of your time with God comes from you simply believing that it is worth it, and from His Spirit guiding and teaching you.  🙂  So, let Him increase your faith to constantly communicate with Him in the way you were born to.  Your seasons and methods may change, but the Lord stays the same.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Blog Pic: Glasgow Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland

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.  🙂