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Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Preparation

August 26, 2015

Good morning, girls!

I hope you are, like me, no longer mourning that summer is over because I know it’s a hard reality to accept after summer! But good news! September is almost here. That means football, fall, scarves, everything pumpkin, beautiful trees, and also AGLM new series begins! We have been planning, praying, and really preparing for our series on Community this fall. Next week we will officially begin, but I wanted to give you a week to prepare your hearts as well for what you will be hearing from us as we lean on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I am challenging you during your #AGLMmorning to read the passage below over and over. Highlight, look it up in commentaries and different translations, ask God to enlighten these words to you in a deeper way than ever before, and pray that he will speak to you personally in our series on Community!

And as always, we would love to hear from you!

All our love,

Allison, Heather, Kelsey, Steph, Nina, and Chelsea

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

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Faith, Identity, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

He Picked The Wrong House

August 19, 2015

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Ever since I was a little girl I always fantasized about one day living in a red brick house with a fireplace and a staircase. Coming from Arizona where every house was brown and stucco and the seventy degree winters made fireplaces seem irrelevant, my little heart longed for the cozy homes I saw on TV.

The day I saw the house is one I’ll never forget it. We pulled up into the driveway, a beautiful summer day, and there it was. Strong, proud, and a brilliant shade of red brick. My heart was already racing at what we would find once we opened the door and looked inside. I was overjoyed as I walked through this beauty to see a perfect staircase and a glistening fireplace. It was my dream home. It was perfect. It was mine.

After we bought the house and moved in, we were rifling through a bunch of paperwork the previous owners had left behind when we found them. Pictures.

You see, our house was built in 1938 and we were only the fourth people to ever live there. The people who we bought it from had purchased the house from a woman who had called it home for over twenty years. But when they bought it, the house was, well, let’s say, in need of a facelift.

We flipped through the pictures, seeing the house as it once was, and were overcome. We couldn’t believe that the beautiful home we were standing in had once been so hideous….so hopeless looking. But here it was today, remade and so stunning.

As I sat in my counselor Al’s office last year, tears spilling out of my eyes, I kept telling him how I felt so hopeless…so broken. I couldn’t see how the abuse I had suffered and all the horrible life events that came from that could make me anything less than a mess of a lost cause. Sure, maybe I’d find a way to cope with the pain. Maybe I’d even find a way to forgive and heal a little. But I’d always be broken. I’d always be the girl who was molested.

He told me of a book called The Prince Of Tides. The book was the story of a man who had suffered terrible abuse in his youth and how as a man he was finally able to start dealing with the pain. In one particularly graphic part of the book there is a scene where the main character is getting raped by his abusers inside of his home. As it’s happening, he looks out the window to see his older brother standing outside with their pet tiger. He goes on to say, “In that moment, I knew that they had picked the wrong house.” The older brother then proceeds to bust into the house with tiger and kill all the abusers. End scene.

Maybe like I did, you’re feeling a little bit like an old, broke-down house. Time and pain has worn you down, and you feel like merely a shell of the person you once knew. You want so badly to be remade. To feel beautiful, hope-filled, loved, and even useful again. But the scars are too deep and you cant imagine how you’d ever arrive at that place.

When heartache comes to us, the enemy, he thinks he’s won. He thinks he’s finally found the thing that beat you. But listen in real close sweet friends because I have something to tell you:

He picked the wrong house.

Hearing those words, for me, was like taking breath for the first time in forever. He picked the wrong house. I was not the defeated one, he was.

Ladies, I know the days can seem dark. I know and have felt the consuming feeling that our sin and shame and hurt can have over us. I know how it clouds everything we see, making day seem impossible and night our constant. But I also know this: you and I, we are not lost causes.

Much like my house, we are empty and broken shells in need of someone to come in, clean us up and make us beautiful again. Yes, there will be work to be done. Walls will be knocked down, things will be cut and removed, but there will also be rebuilding. Because we have Christ, and if He is with us then no amount of chaos or harm or abuse the enemy could ever throw our way will knock us down. We are a house on a firm foundation.

My lovely friends, you are not hopeless. Do you hear me? That weight you’re carrying that seems so heavy will not take you down. That light at the end of the tunnel that feels dimmer and dimmer….it WILL come. Because you, yes YOU, are a daughter of God and that means no abuser or mistake or death or break up or self-harm or addiction can ever defeat you.

THEY PICKED THE WRONG HOUSE

“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of theLord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

My house, much like myself, was once a lost cause. A place of desolation. But today, we both stand tall, stronger than we were before. The scars of the past still remain, but only as faded remnants against a colorful canvas. Do not give up dear sister. The Lord is with you and you will overcome.

 

Faith, Family, Fear, God, Spiritual Life

Trail to Lake Louise

August 12, 2015

IMG_0951Lake Louise is a dream.

It’s a collection of glacial runoff in British Colombia that seems to glow a blue light. When I stood on the shore to take it in for the first time, my little eyeballs couldn’t quite process the beauty. It looked like an enhanced, 2D postcard.

About a year ago, my parents decided to spend part of last summer in Canada exploring as a family. My brother and I knew my mom had been set on seeing Lake Louise in her lifetime ever since she saw it in a magazine YEARS ago. So we packed hiking boots and Clif bars galore. Our days were filled with early morning walks around the lake, hikes through the woods, rock climbing, and trying to find local pubs for dinner to escape the other tourists.

And then came the Alpine Hut. Along the ridge of the Canadian Rockies, there are a series of huts and only the most serious mountaineers make the ascent to the huts to stay overnight. No electricity, plumbing, or food access because they’re on ancient glaciers. So naturally, my mom signed us up.

Kyle was our guide.

He lived in a cabin in the forest and didn’t have a cell phone.

He wore the same clothes for three days and smelled like the earth.

His main occupation was repelling out of helicopters to rescue hikers that were stranded in the mountains.

We felt taken care of.

We met in a parking lot one morning, stuffed warm clothes, sausage, and water bottles into our packs, and started walking. There was a general direction that everyone took to get to the hut, but no obvious trail. Hours and miles and hours and miles later, we see the sandy colored shell of a shelter stand out against the white ice surrounding it. That night we collected water from the glacier to drink, pooped in a bucket for a helicopter to eventually pick up, slid around on the ice as the sun went down, and sat around the wood stove after dark. We wore all the clothes we brought and huddled together on the plywood shelf that was our bed to stay warm at night.

There was something about the silence that made the cold night feel like home.

There was something about how the starlight came through the window of the shelter that taught me about the ever-presence of God.

Also, Kyle snored like a beast from somewhere across the room.

 

When the morning came, I was intimidated.

From how freezing my body was.

From how the others staying in the hut were gathering ice picks to continue their journey.

From how my muscles were sore from the day before.

From how this trip with my family was the last before I became a wife.

I wished for a shortcut to the parking lot where the car was parked and was dreading the trail down the mountain. The sky felt only feet away because the haze was thick and the snow was coming down. We sat looking out the window waiting for a break in the weather. It never came so we started anyway. Kyle went first.

Where the rocks were slippery from the snow, he gave each of us a hand to where conditions were safe. Where we had to cross the river that had risen overnight, he built up a few stones so we could cross.

Where there were gaps between the boulders that were too wide to jump, he went before us and would grab each of our arms when we stumbled across. Even my strong Colombian dad had to rely on someone else’s strength at different times.

It was so much easier to cross the risen river and take a step a bit too far for comfort from rock to rock knowing that someone was going to make sure I didn’t fall.

As we descended from the high altitudes and our bodies warmed up, God informed my heart that in the same way Kyle helped me, He was there. After that trip, I was about to step into a year of transition and was asking God for sure-footedness for the trail ahead. I didn’t know if I was “ready” to be married, or “qualified” enough to graduate college, or “sure” about where He was calling me to work.

He told me to step intentionally with Him, but keep stepping, to know that He was there and His glory was in the present and future. In life with Jesus, the confidence that He always goes before us is enough to take a step. He knows the trail ahead. He has been there day and night and says it’s okay to continue when we are unsure.

…if God is for us, who can be against us?

[romans 8:31]

So many of my interactions online and in person with girlfriends, obviously including AGLM ladies, are about how you’re not sure what’s ahead. What is God going to do with your life? Where does he want you to go to school? What job should you work? Who should you marry? I’ve asked Him EVERY single one of those questions and a million more. This is what the Bible says:

rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you

[1 thessolonians 5:16-18]

But wait?! That’s so simple! God knows that when we stop rejoicing, forget to communicate with Him, and quit being thankful, our eyes wander and our hearts grow weary. May we be courageous women to take a step and know that He is there.

There is nowhere that God hasn’t already been.

To the most extreme, He willing took the cross to defeat death.

And offer us life with Him.

In the striving. In the pressure. In the steps that feel too far, He is there holding out a hand.

I’ll take any risk when I know God is the firm foundation on which I stand.

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Faith, God, Spiritual Life

Making the Audition

August 5, 2015

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I stood there waiting to walk in, willing my nerves to calm themselves so the nervous trembling I felt on the inside wouldn’t be visible outwardly. I watched as other girls bounced around confidently, clearly not worried one bit about what we were walking into. The number pinned to my back was scratchy and stiff and my unruly hair threatened to popped out of it’s confining bun, despite the pack of bobby pins and can of hair spray used to contain it. I felt out of place.

Here I was, walking in to audition for the Nutcracker. When I was five my parents took me to see the show for the first time and to this day I remember exactly what I was wearing and how excited I was.  Here I was about five years later watching it again, but this time it was my own studio performing one of the most attended Nutcrackers in Colorado. I sat in the audience in awe, watching the dancers tell one of my favorite Christmas stories, all dressed in beautiful costumes, and dancing without a flaw. There was sense of pride and ownership that welled up in me, knowing I was a part of something so excellent and I wondered if maybe someday, I too would have a chance to be on that stage.

As we were beckoned into the studio, all matching in our black leotards, pink tights, and high buns I glanced back at my mom who gave me a comforting, “you’ve got this” smile and I felt a little more confidence begin to rise.

I danced with all my might that day, half the time feeling totally lost and behind in the choreography, feeling like I must look like the awkward duckling trying to keep up.  I couldn’t believe it when I received the news that I had been put through and given a part. I was ecstatic…..until I found out what part. It was a part I knew well, because it was one of my favorite scenes, I loved how light hearted and fun it was….but I couldn’t figure out why in the world I was chosen. There was one thing I absolutely could not do during the audition that this piece required…..I couldn’t cartwheel. Not even a little. It was not a pretty site. I went to my first rehearsal stressed and confused as to how and why I was there, maybe they had mixed up my number with someone else and I would show up only to be embarrassingly dismissed. But no, there was no mistake. We jumped right in and before I knew it we were being told to all cartwheel, together, in a line, without kicking each other and land in the splits. BAHA. yeah right. After my first attempt and unfortunately almost injuring the girl next to me, I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was humiliated. I was frustrated. This was not what I had dreamed. This wasn’t the beautiful experience I wanted. I was going to ruin the show because I was the only kid I knew who never learned how to cartwheel.  The ballet school’s director had been making the rounds to check on everyone and happened to witness the situation. I managed to make it through class and as soon as it was over and my mom asked how it went I lost it. The tears flowed and I felt like a failure. The director, who was your typical Ballet director (older, wise, rigid posture, strict) approached us. It’s one of those moments that will always hold an important place in my life’s journey. She looked me in the eye and with the kindest, but strongest confidence told me that she knew what she was doing when she placed me in that part. She knew I was not ready or fully trained for the position, but chose me because she knew I could battle through the challenges and come out a stronger, better dancer at the end. She explained that the performance only becomes beautiful, because of the passion and blood, sweat, and tears to create the raw emotion and skill which results in a beautiful, flowing, performance.  It was the journey that gets us there….the months and months of rehearsing every weekend, of sacrificing our social lives, facing injury and physical pain, and becoming more well rounded individuals both on and off the stage. She knew for me a silly thing like a cartwheel would be one of those challenges, especially when I was the only one unable to perform the task.

Knowing that someone believed in me, saw potential in me, trusted me to not totally screw up their beautiful end performance; someone who valued the journey and saw that a phenomenal piece of art wasn’t possible without the emotions leading up to it, was beyond humbling and motivational. It gave me the confidence to take on the challenge. You better believe I spent that whole summer practicing….I cartwheeled until I was covered in bumps and bruises and until I could cartwheel and land in splits perfectly every time.

It was one of the first tangible glimpses for me of what it means for God to use us despite ourselves. It was the first time the pain and trials in life seemed to have a purpose and didn’t feel so much like doomsday.  So often we are called to things we are unqualified for. Moses was not a speaker or leader, but God called him to be just that. So often I find myself wondering why God is calling me to do certain things, why me when there are so many others who are more prepared, better trained and able to face the challenges? Why is He allowing the challenges, trials, bumps and bruises along the way?  Knowing that God chooses to create us to be a bigger part of His beautiful story, chooses to use us despite ourselves and our lacking qualifications, should gives us that motivational nudge to push through, face the battles and strive to be the best us we can be…to transform our hearts. Instead of blaming God for our grievances and sorrows, to be at peace knowing He grieves with our hurts, but sees the bigger picture and knows our coming joys as well. Without the pains and trials, we don’t have the beautiful vulnerability and emotion to relate with each other, the pains that lead to a heart wanting to serve the broken hearted…it should be an honor and held with great responsibility to be a part of such a stunning journey, part of such a huge story, to be entrusted with facing such important challenges.

 

Faith, Forgiveness, Relationships, Spiritual Life

She Loved Much!

July 29, 2015

Continuing to share BIG news with you about A Girl Like Me!! I am super excited, humbled, and a little nervous for this responsibility and PRIVILEGE to walk along side of you girls even more deeply! THANK YOU for loving us, all of the AGLM writers, so well and encouraging us to continue in ministry!!!

Would love to hear from you! and again sorry about the lack of video quality and that I retreated in my bedroom to make this… you will find out why :-)

– Allison

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

When I Grow Up

July 15, 2015

kels (63 of 165)When you’re little, everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

You say things like…
A vet.
A gymnast.
A princess.
Or whatever mommy does because she’s the coolest person ever.

Now everyone knows what kind of toys to buy you for Christmas and what the theme of your birthday party will most likely be. Because that’s all that matters when you’re 5.

Then you reach high school, and you’re expected to be more specific and realistic and map out life after graduation, even though that’s so. far. away.

So you say things like…
A journalist.
A marine biologist.
A chef.
Or a reality tv star, because if Snooki can get rich quick that way, so can you.

Now you’re going to change your mind 37 times because no one seems to understand that you can’t decide what you want to eat for lunch, much less what you want to do with the rest of your life.

Then one day you wake up, and all of a sudden you’re 22 and you have no idea where your life is headed.

That’s exactly where I found myself a few months ago. The day I thought would never come…came.

Adulthood sprung up on me, and despite all the preparation, I wasn’t ready for it.

I was living with my parents with no rent and no real responsibilities. I was settling for a part-time job and putting my dreams and goals on hold. I knew I wanted to be in ministry. But when it came down to picking a path, I realized that’s a very broad area of interest, and I didn’t know how to narrow it down. So I stayed stuck.

Until God said, “Move to Nashville.”

WHOA.

On one hand, I was STOKED. I love Nashville. There’s just something about the area that has always made me feel (dare I say) at home. And I’m all for adventure and travel, so in theory, it sounded like a great idea to me!

But on the other hand, I was extremely confused. Because that’s all God gave me. Just a destination. He left the rest of the details completely unknown. Like where I would live, how I would support myself, and what my purpose there would be.

Despite my confusion and questions, though, I had this insane amount of peace and confidence that one way or another, Nashville was where I was supposed to be.

So I did it. Less than a week ago, I packed up my life and I made the long one-way trip to Tennessee. God provided temporary living arrangements…but I still need a place of my own. He provided a part-time job…but now I’m going to have bills and just a few hours a week isn’t going to cut it anymore.

So now I’m apartment hunting.
And job searching.
Trying to meet people.
Looking for a church.
Making a life of my own.
As an adult.
And I don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing.

It’s scary.
It’s intimidating.
It’s overwhelming.

Man, if you only knew the amount of tears I’ve cried this week, over goodbyes and finances and confusing circumstances and just not knowing.

And in all of that the only thing I can do is run to Jesus.

It’s in these weak, vulnerable moments with Him that I hear His truth so loud and clear.

So I want to invite you into the pages of my journal, into a conversation I had with God recently that started with questions and doubts and ended with a renewed confidence:

It’s times like these, when You’ve taken me out of my comfort zone, when I have to decide…do I still trust You? Do I still believe You are who You say You are – Provider, Protector, Comforter, Father? Can I still cling to Your promises? Are You still bigger than my problems?

Yes. The answer to all of that is Yes. I know You have brought me here for a reason. You will never leave me or fail me (Deut. 31:6). Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). I don’t understand any of this right now, and it scares me. I hate not knowing. I’m so uncomfortable with not knowing. But I’m not supposed to know everything. All I need to know is that You are good. And that You have plans to prosper me, not to harm me – to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). You have promised me this. You never promised me an easy transition or all of the answers. You only promised to love me, and that is enough.

I’m 22 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And that’s okay. I don’t need to know. My calling right now is just to be obedient one day at a time. And I know I’m not the only one. Whether you’ve just entered high school, graduated college, or are in between jobs, you’re probably faced with a lot of the same questions, and maybe a lot is still unknown. But remember who is in control of it all. He has a purpose for the season He has you in. There are lessons to be learned and preparations to be made before we can enter into new, bigger, more exciting seasons. It’s a process. But the journey is important and worth it. The journey thus far has made you who you are right now. And the journey ahead will make you who you’re meant to be.

Faith, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

On Seeking More Than A Cure

July 1, 2015

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I grew up knowing we would go two places religiously.
Church and Church Camp.
They were my places, they were filled with my people.

Church was where I was baptized and Church Camp where I recommitted my life… every. single. summer.  The two places are so intertwined in my memory I cannot think of one without remembering the other.

No matter where we moved, Fairview was home and Wesley Woods our home in the woods.  I was my most brave self in these places; my most vulnerable and innocent, most trusting and free spirited.

Church and Church Camp were also two places I was most deeply hurt.

Church Camp was the thing that made me the topic of a mean girl’s xanga post in sixth grade.
Church Camp was the place I was told someone had “run out of grace” for another.
Church was where I was told to, “get the hell out of my pew.”
Church was where I shared that her placenta had maybe torn and it was whispered in my ear, “perhaps it’s for the best.”

And of course it wasn’t The Church or The Church Camp who hurt me- but in the same way the smell of chlorine makes me think of Thanksgiving, or a single line in a song makes me twenty-one again… the hurts and the memories and the people and the places are all tangled up together in this mess of emotion.

I don’t think it’s a surprise or coincidence or even that poetic to be deeply hurt in places where I once felt most at home.  I don’t think it’s a mistake or incredibly unjust.*

I think this world is fallen and we are broken.
I think this in not our Eden.
I think the places our hearts are most vulnerable are the places at most risk of being deeply hardened.
And more than that- I believe we are a culture more concerned with finding a cure for our hurts than healing from them.

Today, and every day, you have permission
to not be tough.
to cry if you need.
to question and doubt and be confused.
to have an extra cup of coffee and sit with Jesus.
to seek more than just a cure.

There is grace enough for your hurts at the cross.
And there is grace enough here for you!

Healing will look different for each of us, and it will take a different amount of time, but the same Christ.  I love you girls, and so wish I could sit with you through the hurt and heartaches.  I wish relationships were easier and childhood memories were always innocent.  But I pray healing will come so fully and so deeply that you will be even more yourself at the end of this journey than you are today.  I pray for peace and courage that surpasses all understanding to surround you today.  I pray your own Church and Church Camp places will be restored.

“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.” ― Wm. Paul Young

*note:: if you are being abused or neglected, physically, sexually, emotionally, or otherwise- please seek immediate help and shelter from someone you can trust.  this post was written from the perspective of hurt feelings, mean girls, and people who just say the wrong things sometimes.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Faith, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Trudging Through The Mud

June 24, 2015

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I learned recently that in between winter and spring exists a season referred to as the “mud season.” It’s the time when the ground is slowly starting to thaw just enough for the snow to melt, but not enough for new life to spring forth. The moisture from the melted snow collects on the ground creating a layer of mud everywhere. It’s messy, ugly, and hard to drive on. As long as the cold remains, the mud season stays. It’s only when the sun begins to warm the earth and the ground fully thaws that the mud will recede and spring makes its way. Kind of depressing, I know.

For the last six months I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in my own personal mud season. This period of in between. Not the deadness of winter, but not the new life of spring either. I’ve felt aimless and hopeless. Lonely and lost. To tell you the truth, it is probably one of the darkest seasons I’ve ever walked through. And to get even more real, I’m not handling it well.

Six months ago I had plans. Plans for what this year was going to look like. Big dreams filled with big projects and great hope that God was going to use me this year for something amazing. That all the crumminess I had dealt with the year before would now be put to use to build up Jesus and His people and bring me that joyous harvest for all the previous year’s hard toiling. Wrong.

I found myself two months into this new year being asked to do something I didn’t expect. I was asked to let go. To let go of everything that made me feel like me. Ministries, passions, dreams, desires- all of it was to be handed over to God. Of course being the stubborn human I am, I fought back. I pushed and clawed. I sought new and different paths to get to where I wanted to go. Each time I did, God would slam the door close, reminding me once again that He was in control and what he wanted was for me to surrender to the mud. To embrace the season of the in between.

I wish I could tell you my immediate response was obedience and joy. I wish I could tell you that I was hopeful and expectant. But that’s a big ol fat lie. Instead, I threw a pity party. I cried for days on end. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped talking to my friends. I got angry and bitter. If God was going to make me live in the mud season, He was going to have to drag me through it. And that’s exactly what He did.

One morning I was having breakfast with Kelly (you remember our lovely Kelly, right?) and she said something really impactful to me. She told me, “Maybe God is giving you this season to show you that even if your hands aren’t to something, you still are valuable to Him.” I knew she was right. I had built up so much of who I was based on everyone and everything around me that I thought as long as I had those things, as long as I was _____ kind of person, then God would love me and see me as valuable. But maybe, just maybe, He had to take it all away to show my how precious I was to him simply because I was me.

The idea felt simple enough, but is still a hard lesson to learn. Because as I moved forward, I didn’t know who “me” was. Some mornings I’d be picking out the clothes I was going to wear and I’d just start crying. I was so unsure of myself that even getting dressed was a struggle. Things I once loved didn’t seem to be as thrilling. Passions I once had began to fade. The me I had known no longer existed and I had no idea who this new Heather was. As time went on, it felt as though the proverbial mud was getting more dense and instead of walking through it, I was simply stuck.

Two weeks ago it all came crashing down. I had reached a point of exhaustion in this season of mud where I just didn’t want to go forward. Again, I found myself crying for days. Angry at God for keeping me here. Angry at my friends for not calling me to hang out or reaching out to me to see how I was. Angry at Jeff for getting to do something he loved. I had resolved that although I knew God was good, His goodness had run out when it got to me. He didn’t love me, because if He did, He’d get me out of the mud.

As Jesus would so lovingly have it, I happened to get a call from the one person who knew what I was feeling- my brother. He’s been in a mud season for almost three years now, and if anyone knew what it was like, it was him. After pouring out my woes to him through sobs, he laughed. Not because he saw my pain as funny, but because he knew something I didn’t. He told me that some days, it’s ok if all I can muster up to God are the words grace and strength. It’s ok if there are days when my legs are so tired of walking through the mud that all I can do is be drug through it by God. I just have to be willing to hold on.

Like I said, my brother is still in his mud season. But something he’s learned that I am working on, is moving from knowing to believing. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for me and that it includes me moving out of this season. I know it. But I don’t believe it.  Because when I believe that God still loves me, still has good for me, and won’t leave me stuck here forever…I begin to have hope again. I can begin to trudge through the mud, letting my legs get stronger as a result, able to run and embrace whatever lay beyond the in between.

I’m slowly coming to see that it’s in these moments when are at our greatest discomfort, feeling the least like ourselves, that we can fully see God for who He is and who he dreams for us to be. Sometimes it just takes us walking through the mud.

If you find yourself like me, trudging through your own season of in between, sister, you are not a lone. I see you, I ache alongside you, and I too am silently whispering moment by moment to God to just give me grace and strength for today. Together, let’s keep holding on to Christ, working to believe that spring is coming. Until then let’s embrace the mud, and with each step, find hope that whatever is next is just around the corner.

 

Faith, Family, God, Relationships

Bear the Armor

June 17, 2015

armordetail

YO GIRLS!

Happy Summer to you! Every Wednesday morning, it is a rush for me to think about you ladies who are reading the newest post with anticipation—for us to get to know each other better, for a refuge from the craziness of the day, for hopefully getting one more glimpse of the mighty, beautiful God we serve.

Lately, we’ve been focusing on who we are as individuals- the characteristics and qualities that God has given us. On learning how to use what we’ve been given for the kingdom of God, how to embrace our quirks, how to answer the question “Who Am I?” honestly. And I don’t know about you, but if I spend too much time in my own head, I go crazy with the future and tend to forget the now.

 I am obsessed with knowing the next thing. Graduation. Marriage. Job.

But what about when we have no idea? What about when a season of life is coming to a close and we’re stuck with a big fat question mark? When we know Jesus is an extraordinary Savior and we have nothing to worry about but we still want to know.

Dear friend, if you’re there, I’m standing right there with you.

I’ve recently stepped out of a busy season doing my own thing into one of assisting the people I’m surrounded by. I am a helper. I am a supporter.

 

Maybe in the tension of wanting to know what God is “going to do with our lives” we should just look outward. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment of all is, and He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Love God, love people.

 

So I’m starting a social experiment on myself and you are more than welcome to join me.

I want to be an armor-bearer.

No, I’m not enlisting in the military.

1 Samuel 14 is a prime example.

Read it if you have a minute.

Imagine this:

Once upon a time, highly regarded military men would have the weight of the army on their shoulders. It was their responsibility to make decisions, take care of the troop, and protect the camp. They casted vision for their team. By being in the military in the first place, you are expected to respect, honor, and follow the leaders of the army. So every major had one man. One armor-bearer. Someone they trusted with their lives to walk and fight alongside them. While the major may have two spears in his hands, he was defenseless. The armor bearer would be the one holding a shield- being their rear guard, their front guard, all the while fighting with their soldier.

 

So this concept is figurative in many ways for us ladies, but listen,

Imagine living in the woods far from home.

Since you are an armor bearer, their schedule becomes yours.

You strap on heavy protective gear and carry the weight with joy.

When your camp is attacked, you go with your friend into the fight.

Being attentive to all sides, you encourage them to persevere.

It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the tightest relationship you have now.

 

So when I get stuck in my own head about my future, my dream, my goals, the “what is God going to do with my life?”, I remember my duty and serious honor of being an armor bearer for the people God has given me to live alongside.

In 1 Samuel 14, God tells Jonathan to approach the enemy camp because He will deliver them into His hands. Jonathan tells his armor-bearer the plan and without hesitation, he gets up to follow Jonathan and says, “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” There is great trust there.

Being an armor-bearer means taking risks for people. I pray that I would be useful to God in other people’s lives because of this thought.

 

I want to be my husband’s armor bearer to lift Him up.

I want to be my friend’s armor-bearer, to be her loyal confidant and to lovingly walk alongside her in her engagement.

I want to be my mom’s armor-bearer, to remind her of the grace God has given her for today and that what might seem like loss and distance may turn into greater growth in our family.

I want to be my future boss’ armor-bearer to encourage them in integrity.

I want to be my 87 year-old neighbor’s armor-bearer, to be her companion when she has few and to make sure she knows she is still a blessing to others.

This is not a burden, it is a great joy.

 

So when I ask, “What can I do for them?” God gives me room to learn more about His heart of service, which is eternally valuable.

You know the over-your-shoulder, breathing-down-your-neck, how-can-I-focus-at-all person who can’t leave you alone long enough to finish something you’ve already started? Sometimes I get a sense that I am that way with what God is doing.

So let’s spend our time being thankful for Him and not just what He gives us.

Let’s spend our time standing for the people in our lives, the easy-to-love and not-so-easy-to-love, bearing their armor.

And when we give of ourselves, may we see more clearly

 

Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me