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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, 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

aglm (1 of 1)

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, 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

SW_Jordan+McQueen

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, 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, God, Relationships

The Waiting

May 20, 2015

kels (147 of 165)It’s time for a good ol’ girl-talk confession: I have never done relationships right. To the point where they’ve mostly all just been “flirtationships” that never became real relationships. I was always the go-getter, the chaser, the pursuer, the queen of DTR, being the first to ask the question of “where is this going” after just a couple weeks.

I probably came off pretty desperate. And maybe I was.

After watching guy after guy pull away after only just starting to get to know me, you can imagine how unwanted I felt. I thought something was wrong with me. And over the course of the next couple years I found out there was.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough…too tall, too loud, too dramatic. I wasn’t “too much” or “not enough”.

The problem was my impatience.

My thought process went something like this:

I see boy.
I like boy.
Boy has texted me for 3 days.
Boy must like me.
“Boy, do you like me?”
“I just want to be friends.”
*Crushed*

Oy. If I could just go back and talk to me then…

So you get the picture. You could have handed me a “Relationships for Dummies” book and I STILL would have messed it up. Because I wanted what (in my exaggerated view) everyone around me had. And I wasn’t about to wait for a guy to make up his mind and pursue me. I wanted to skip the whole process and get to the part where we were hand in hand, making plans.

It took a couple years for me to really understand all of this, to cut the guy-chasing nonsense, and to put all my energy into chasing the One whose feelings and intentions I never had to question. Once that relationship became enough for me and I’d stopped scanning every crowd for my future husband…a really great guy unexpectedly stepped into my life.

As I got to know him and things gradually progressed between us, I did everything differently. He was the first guy I ever allowed to pursue me. I resisted being the initiator and waited for him to make each move. And though it ultimately didn’t last, for the first time I got a glimpse first hand of what a Godly relationship is supposed to look like – what my role is, what a guy’s role is. And for a while, I was thankful just to have learned that, in that way, in that season.

But unfortunately that wore off a little too quickly.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still thankful. But now I’m back to the waiting. Oh, the dreaded waiting…

I always wanted to be married in my early twenties. At 19 I thought I had plenty of time, but the second I hit 20, I felt like the clock started ticking. Now I’m 22, everyone around me is dating, engaged, married…and here I am. Single. And I feel like I’m WAY behind.

I feel like God has given me a love for a man I’ve never met and this strong desire for marriage…but my life is one big “not yet.”

So often lately I’ve found myself wondering if God’s holding out on me. Have you ever felt that? I mean, He already knows where my future husband is. He has the power to bring us together and free me from the torture (or so it sometimes seems) of waiting! So why doesn’t He? Where’s my Prince Charming? My knight in shining armor? When do I finally get my fairytale?

At times I’ve even found myself back in a place where I believe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I’m not growing enough, not praying enough, not close enough to God…maybe I’m too insecure, too unsatisfied with the Lord alone, too desperate for a worldly fulfillment. Maybe I have to fix and change all of these things in order to prove to God that I’m ready. Maybe that quick, teasing glimpse I had of a relationship was Him rewarding me for good behavior or something…and then I must have done something to mess it up.

Or maybe none of this is in my control.

Maybe, just maybe, the lesson is in the waiting.

Sure, there are without a doubt areas of my life God is still working on to prepare me for a future relationship, to mold me into the friend/girlfriend/fiancé/wife I will someday need to be.

But to get there, I have to wait. I have to rest in knowing that there’s a reason for the journey, a purpose behind the whole process. If we got everything we wanted when we wanted it, what would we ever hope for or trust God for?

I know this has all been mainly geared towards my fellow single ladies (“now put your hands up!”) given that that’s the season of life I’m currently walking and speaking from. But no matter what season you’re in, there is always impatience and always something you’re waiting for. So, my sweet friends, wherever you sit as you read this today – whether you’re waiting on a cup of coffee, a miracle, or your Prince Charming – remember this:

Hopes are high.
Dreams are overwhelming.
Desires are strong.
And patience is hard.

But the Lord is working in those lulls.
And there is joy to be found in the waiting.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Uncategorized

Discipline of Faith

May 14, 2015

AGLM (99 of 1)

 

I got on this morning excited to see what was written on the blog and didn’t see a post and the thought that…”oh no, I hope I didn’t get my weeks mixed up” hit hard. Sure enough it was my week to write and I messed up.  The funny thing about it is that I want so badly to show you my best. It weighed on me all day. I felt terrible.  I hated being the one who slacked, who was’t as committed. The one who didn’t think to double check her dates.

Since I goofed and was not prepared I’m going to be really really honest with you guys…is that ok? Ok good.

Today has been hard. Right now is hard. I went into my evening ready to sit down and write to you some sort of well thought through wisdom and my internet decided to stop working again. My husband and I somehow got into a big fight. I then cried in public at dinner because the exhaustion just couldn’t be held in anymore. Then I had that sickening moment…you know the one…where your face is red and puffy, your nose is stuffy from crying, you can’t seem to shake your emotions or clear your thoughts and you have to go sit…in front of people….in a loud crowded restaurant because that is all that is open with free WiFi. That embarrassing feeling that everyone must know you just bawled your eyes out (even though no one probably is staring at you enough to know). I sat staring at the blank screen fighting the tears that keep threatening to flow solely from exhaustion and defeat. What can I share with you?  That marriage is not always a walk in the park? That I lost my temper just an hour earlier? That I don’t always double check my schedule? That I’ve found myself ungrateful today for all the things I DO have and instead was beat down by the things I didn’t?   That while God has promised us something huge I find myself weary and my Faith growing thin?     Well that is what I am sharing. It’s all true. I am so reminded of my need for a savior in these humbling moments. These moments when I think I have something to offer that will be oh so special and it’s clear that all I have to offer you right now is real. Real tough, ugly, tear stained me.  In hopes that you, dear girl, would know that we have all been there…(I assume I am not alone)…we’ve all had those mascara running, want to hide in a hole moments in life.  As I re-read Steph’s post from last week and then read through the list of prayer requests you girls posted on Facebook I wanted to cry more. (Gosh what is wrong with me, someone bring me a tissue, lots of ugly crying going on here).  I read as you all shared in vulnerability your anxieties, fears, illnesses, hopes, new transitions, and longing for clarity in the unknown.

 

We are all walking a story of faith. It may look different for each person. Maybe the faith is yet to come, maybe it is there, but you are waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. I often find myself impatient, weak, grasping hold of the promise, but fighting that doubt that maybe He isn’t going to follow through, because the days keep passing me by.     As my husband and I read our Daily Streams devotion last night, we were reminded of a great detail to faith that we so often forget and miss when in the middle of the waiting. And I felt led to share it with you all:

“All things are possible to him that believeth” Mark 9:23″

“The ‘all things’ do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith. Real moral fibre is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?  Keep on believing God’s Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and being moved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line. Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes. In the lives of all the Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses, and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.

For example, in the case of Joseph home the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms;

‘The word of the Lord tried him.’ It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word  God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocency, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.

These were the hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development that, ‘when his word came’ (the word release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.

No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.”   ~Streams in the Desert May 12

 

Oh how we so often want to hide those things that make us less than perfect, tuck those “flaws”  away to be felt alone in the dark car, behind closed doors, away from faces. We want to put our best foot forward, we want everyone on social media to see the happy, faithful, strong women that we are…or we go the opposite and run to our phones and complain about how terrible our life is and how God just isn’t meeting you where you need to be met. Lets all get to the point where we can look at each other and see each other’s hearts. acknowledge that we all have our moments of defeat, discouragement, fear, and just the need for a good cry….but then let’s wrap our arms up under their shoulders, stand up straight and challenge each other to keep putting one foot in front of another…to not sit in the weight of one bad day, to not sit in the complaining that the days are going by and God made a promise…so where is our immediate gratification? Lets challenge each other to walk through the discipline of faith. Together.  Today was not a great day. But I’m going to choose to get up and face tomorrow as an opportunity to grow in that discipline, so that I may be used to my fullest when the victory of Faith comes. Would you join me?

God, Spiritual Life

on going through the hard places

May 6, 2015

As a feeler, and justice seeker, and writer
I desperately long for things to have meaning.
I have a deep desire to do work that matters, to write honestly, and talk about the hard things…
requiring me, to actually go through the hard things.

But not just go through the motions of the hard things, actually. go. through. them.
Intentionally and with purpose… with expectation-
like someone who has been promised something more.

If I’m being honest with you, I haven’t been going through through my hard things lately.

I am at that place
The exhausted place
The long list place
The poured out place

The kind of poured out people can see on your face-
but they don’t ask about
because the look both demands to be acknowledged but begs to be left alone.

That place where one more thing
becomes just another thing
and that one more thing doesn’t mean anything.

The hard place.

I haven’t opened my journal in over three months- for fear of what I might put in writing.

I haven’t paused at the end of my prayers just to listen- for fear of what I might hear. And I haven’t read the story of Job because maybe, just maybe, I want to stay here for a minute and not feel guilty on top of my frustration and sadness.

I say all of that, because maybe this week we can meet in the hard places.

It’s easy to write about the faithfulness and fulfillment of promises in the dawn-
to encourage and challenge one another when we’ve made it through-
to point to a Bible Verse or Ann Voskamp quote that helped give perspective.

Dear ones, I’m not through the hard places-
and most days I’m not going through them gracefully.
But this is what I know-most times most times
there is beauty just beyond the hard places-
andGod is not just beyond the hard.

The miracle of God is that he dwells in both-
the easy and the hard.

His presence is not waiting for me to get over myself in this season.
His gentleness is not moved by my frustration.
His goodness is not dependent on my journal writing.

Today, my prayer and my challenge for those of us journeying through the hard places is to truly truly go through them- wrestle through them if need be.
Not as people who have lost hope, or as “just make it though” women.

But set apart.
confident in His promises.
brave in our actions.
bold in our prayers.
seekers- not only of meaning- but of Him.

 

“Thank you, God, for the things you heal, the things you redeem, the things you refuse to leave just as they have been for what seems like forever.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

 

P.S
Some of the things helping me through my current hard places are
Boldly I approach (The Art of Celebration) by Rend Collective
Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
fresh flowers, morning cups of coffee, and handwritten letters from my sponsor baby

 

What helps you go through the hard places?

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life

I am Praying for You

April 22, 2015

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If you’ve ever left a comment on the Community Board, emailed us, or reached out in any other way, we’ve probably told you that the writers of AGLM are praying for you. And if you’ve never been told that, I’m telling you right now: we are praying for you! We believe prayer is a necessary and powerful time with God. Since we are mostly an online community, we don’t get the opportunity to sit next to you, hold hands with you, and reach out to God with you in prayer in person.

So we say that we are praying for you- which we are- but I wanted to use this post to write it out for you. I am excited to get to know each of you more, and I know this post isn’t about me, but it’s about my heart for you.

Has anyone prayed over you before? Maybe your answer is no. Maybe you’ve been prayed over 1,000 times. Either way, put your name in this prayer and know that we are for you because Jesus is for you. Read this prayer over a friend too!

Let this prayer be a battle cry for when you feel anything less than absolutely loved.

Read this as if we were sitting next to each other.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Heavenly Father,

You are the joy of heaven and earth. You are far more beautiful than we can know. You are set apart and high above any other love of ours. You are the light in us.

We fix our eyes on You as You hold us in the palm of Your hand, God- how could we be afraid?

We see You clearly as loving and merciful and just. We know You are for us.

How glorious You are to consider my prayer for these ladies. I rely on You to teach me about Your grace and mercy every single day. Only You can know my entire heart and how to restore it.

God, I pray for the hearts of our readers. Thank You for the community of A Girl Like Me, Jesus. You have connected us all over the world as a sisterhood to learn more about You. May they be encouraged by the words of this blog and realize that they are not alone both in their hardship and in their joys. May the women of this ministry feel Your presence in the reading and writing of these posts, the community board, and every other conversation.

We seek Your presence, God. We want to learn from the community of the Trinity and how to live in community with each other. Jesus, You have been above our every mountaintop and below our every valley. You know us and You don’t leave us to defend ourselves. God, we realize that we need You- in our hurt, in our depravity, we call You sovereign.

 

Father, I lift my friend {                     } to You.

You created her and You know her.

I pray that as she walks through the joys and trials of this life that You would make Yourself known to her.

God, in her work and in her rest, let her feel satisfied just with knowing You.

Thank You for the unique gifts that You have given her. They matter.

Thank You for the heart you’ve put inside her. It will change the world.

Thank You for guiding her. Give her patience to wait and realize what You are up to.

Thank You for her family and friends that challenge her and point her to You.

Build up her mind, Father, to be ready to stand up against the attack of the enemy. Don’t let her believe the lies that she isn’t good enough, smart enough, old enough, anything less than enough. Guard her heart from anything that is not of You.

 

When I am worried, You reassure me with your love.

When I am anxious, You calm my heart.

When I am weary, You invite me to rest in You.

When I am alone, You come near.

When I am afraid, You tear away the lies.

 

Lead us into the light of your Word and let us consider only You, God. We stand on Your gospel as the ultimate truth. Thank You for loving us so that we can know how to love each other.

 

Amen.