God is For You

I’ve said this before, but I want you to know there is way more to my social media than what is actually displayed. I want to be transparent in that because I think it’s so easy for us to look at each other’s feeds and start comparing and coveting, wanting what everyone else has, not really content with what God has placed before us. And since we are being honest here, I need you to know that I struggle with this myself. I see my friends living the life I dreamed I would be living; and instead, I’m not anywhere close. I struggle just like you. I–in no way, shape, or form–have this all figured out. I am literally living the daily battle with you.

I wanted to start here because I want us on the same page. I don’t want you to think you’re going through this life alone. I don’t want you to think you’re the only one struggling. I don’t want you to think you’re unloved. I really just want you to be able to stand your ground in Christ.

So why here?

Quite honestly, I’ve been living in the midst of the battle. Nothing crazy has happened. I’ve just been waiting on the Lord for quite sometime, and waiting well is hard work. See there are two categories of waiters: those who wait well and those who DO NOT wait well. I’m sure you can guess which category I fall into, but I’m most certainly in the DO NOT category.

I can’t really tell you the reason behind this, but while I wait on the Lord for life to happen according to His time table and not my own, I get impatient. I want what I want, when I want it. Read that again. And again. It sounds like a preschooler doesn’t it? If you answered no, thank you for being so kind to me, but the answer is YES! It does sound like a preschooler, or maybe even an ungrateful kid. But y’all, this is me! I pray these prayers all the time asking God when the waiting will be over because I am discontent in my present.

That’s my battle (at least right now)–DISCONTENTMENT.

Discontentment gives Satan a wedge to start speaking lies into life, the heart, and the mind. And with full disclosure, when I start letting those lies be the thing I hear, I turn into an even bigger mess. It’s. A. Vicious. Cycle.

The only way out of this cycle is laying the lies at the feet of Jesus.

This is so hard for me to do. You would think that believing the truth is easy because there’s evidence in my life that says God is for me and He is with me; He will not let me down. But it is so easy for me to believe the lies. Culture is very loud and can easily drown out God’s truth. My own selfishness is loud and can drown God out. Expectations others have (said or unsaid) can also be that thing that speaks so loudly.

Yet, God’s voice is still, consistent, and calm.

So right now in a place of discontentment, I find myself needing more time to be still with God. That’s hard right now because life is busy. I’m teaching full time, taking 6 hours of grad school, discipling some girls from church, trying to update my house, and at some point hang out with some friends.

How do you balance it all?

Since we are being real, you need to know that I’m not really good at this. Some months are better than others, and right now it’s not been a great one. Because things have been hectic, being still and just spending time with God has been more like a checklist thing, and even in my checklist mindset the goodness of God is so good. He literally will take my unmotivated heart and soften it to really hear, and other days my exhaustion is so loud that I make myself deaf to the tenderness of God’s words. Regardless, God still speaks to me even when my motivation is out of discipline instead of desire.

Now, the longer I make my quiet time just something to check off, the greater discontentment swells in my heart. Renewing that rest with the Lord requires me laying my control of circumstances I’m waiting to change down. It’s saying, “Lord, I admit I can’t do this. I need you to help me!” When that happens, when I actually let go, the discontent stops swelling inside of me, opening me up to hear from the Lord with ears ready to hear.

But it takes confession.

This confession usually happens after I’ve spent sometime worshipping. For me, worshipping is the way my heart stops focusing on me and draws my focus up to God. It redirects my path of sight not on the things before me, but rather the things above. And you know the last time I consciously made a choice to worship instead of watching tv was while cleaning. Usually I would have turned the tv on as background noise, but instead I put the worship playlist on. It was in the midst of cleaning and worshipping that I was able to realign my heart to God.

In case you were wondering, this was super recent–as in a week ago. I was just in a funk.

But it took this worship/cleaning session to remember that God is for me. I need to stop looking around and look up (In case you haven’t heard about it, check out Lauren Daigle’s new album “Look Up Child” it’s literally all about getting your eyes up).

When you get your eyes off the circumstances around you and focus on the God who saved you, you will (I will) remember that God is for you.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

Don’t let those lies speak into you. Instead rest on the one who is FOR YOU!

Worship Him not because of your circumstances, but because He is your Father, Savior, Redeemer, Creator, and the Name Above All Names.

Enough or Too Much?

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be the person everyone else wants me to be. I tried to find my identity in what other’s expected me to be, and that left me feeling empty and not enough.

I think back to school achievement; and it didn’t matter how many A’s I had in school, I always didn’t feel good enough.

Then when it came to guys, they never liked me–there was always another girl. Since we live in a culture that says you have to be in a relationship pretty much at all times; I thought there was something wrong with me, which only made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for a guy.

Fully accepting that I am not perfect, I was terrified (and still am) to make a mistake. I was afraid of making a mistake for fear that I would let someone down and disappoint them. And if I did mess up, I wasn’t surprised, but still felt the disappointment from others, which again reiterated not being good enough.

All of these stem from the idea that I seek approval from others. I want others to accept me for the things I do, but the truth is, God says that even when I was a child of wrath, He still loved me enough to be enough for the payment of my sins.

The thing that I got backwards (and still battle to get right) is that even when I was dead in my sin, there was absolutely nothing I could ever do to be accepted by God. I couldn’t get enough straight A’s in school, have the perfect relationship, or never disappoint anyone because of how good I am. The truth is I was not ever good. Romans 3:12 says that “no one does good, not even one”, which basically let’s me know that all my “good” achievements are actually pointless. I was literally never going to be enough because I’m not even good.

So how do I become good or even enough?

The Holy Spirit renewed my vision of the gospel. I was reminded through mentors, church, discipleship groups, and most importantly my own Bible study, that I have been made enough in Christ Jesus. It was Jesus’ perfect life that allowed Him to be the payment for my sin, my not good self. When I accepted that my actions were never going to be enough, is finally when I could rest that Jesus is enough, which makes me enough. It’s only by the blood of Christ that I am made enough.

img_1928Now, I believe Jesus has made me enough–that is TRUTH. But I’m still battling believing I have to do things in order to be enough. I believed a lie for 23 years of life, so really I’m recently uprooting this lie and replacing it with truth. I’m finding all types of new layers of this lie in my heart that I constantly have to uproot. It’s only through my personal quiet time have I been able to give God my heart for Him to restore.

But I’ve come to a place where I know I AM ENOUGH! Not by anything I have done, but because of what Christ has done for me.

If you’re like, “Rachel, how in the world do I start having a quiet time?” I’m so glad you asked!! Here’s a blog from a bit ago that talks about how I have my quiet time: The Reality of Quality Time and if you’re looking for some Bible Reading Tips or Prayer Journaling tips, feel free to check out those pages as well.

But if you’re like, “Rachel, I struggle with the same thing! I never feel like I’m enough,” or some of you may be like “I feel like I’m too much at times,” then I have a great resource for you!

There’s this awesome FLIP Book called Always Enough | Never Too Much by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Together, they have written a devotional with two different messages combined into one book. They genuinely believed we have all been in this boat of not feeling enough or feeling like we are too much:

We’ve all been there. We know that sneaking, small voice in our heads all too well—you’re too loud. Too quiet. Too young. Too old. Too unimportant. Too ugly. Too silly. Too serious. You’re not as successful as she is—look at her perfect family, look at her high-powered job, look at her great hair and size 4 skinny jeans. Why can’t you be more like her—be more in general? Why do you expect so much from everyone? Why can’t you take up less space? Ask for less? Be less? The lies track well-worn paths in our minds and our hearts, wearing us down and making us question our role in God’s kingdom.

Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, bestselling authors of Wild and Free will help you replace those lies with God’s truth. This devotional flip-book is designed for you, the woman who feels like she can be both too much and not enough—sometimes in the same day. When you banish lies and insecurities and find your identity in Jesus, you can embrace these truths: You are always enough. You are never too much.

As someone who battles the feeling of not being enough, this book has been an encouragement to my wandering heart. The devotionals are backed with solid scripture and words of encouragement to the reader. No doubt, it has spoken truth into my life just by reading it in the afternoon. It’s a great pick me up when I start doubting my identity in Christ.

Feel free to enter the giveaway for a chance to grab your own copy of this book! Even if you don’t win, you need to pick this book up! It’s a great one!

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Click Here to Enter Giveaway

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Battle Cry

We’re almost three months into the year, and life has felt like one battle right after another. These battles weren’t physical, but genuinely spiritual battles within my mind. I reminded myself of Ephesians 6:12. And even with this great reminder, I still found myself struggling. I would stress about the future; worry about grad school, schedules, or time management; hosting the If:Gathering for the first time; teaching; and just like typical me, I still doubted God.

Let me make one thing very clear: I am still a sinner, but by grace through faith, God calls me a saint.

What am I to do while living in a broken world that still thinks, worries, and stresses over the very things that are broken (including myself) in the world?

CRY.

Yes. Cry.

Picture a three or four-year old who is crying while having a cold with a runny nose. You know the kind with the snot just dripping down. That’s the kind of ugly cry I’m talking about.

Now, I wouldn’t go out and do this in public; but during my quiet, still moments with Jesus–you better believe–He saw every tear.

I was exposed.

The raw, uncut, not Instagram worthy Rachel.

In the midst of my battle this year, God has been writing on my heart a prayer for my friends. I pray it over those who struggle to see God’s loving light along their journey. I pray it over my friends who feel stuck, like God isn’t there. But then God showed me, I need this prayer. It’s found in Psalm 40:1-3. Check it out:

I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog; and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in Him.

Did you catch the part that says, “He inclined to me and heard my cry“? God hears us when we cry out to Him. For a cryer like me, this comforts my heart in so many ways.

But what am I actually crying about?

I wrestled with this question for awhile, and I found out that I’m crying because of brokenness. I’m crying about the brokenness I battle with every day as well as my friends, and on into the world. I’m crying out to God asking Him the deep, dark personal question: WHY? Why am I surrounded by such brokenness? I would even go on to describe all the brokenness I could see.

For three (probably longer) months, my crying was focused on the things I saw around me. It was focused on the stress I felt or the worries I had. I was only looking around me. I rarely ventured up to see Jesus and who He is.

I was stuck–stuck in this pit of self-destruction.

I would love to tell you that God answered my question, but that didn’t happen the way I thought. Instead He told me WHO. After three months of writing these three verses onto my heart, my question WHY was answered with a different question–WHO.

Who is God?

So instead of crying out to God, telling Him all about what was (is) in my pit of destruction or crying out why, I cried to God telling Him who He is to me.

Catch this–instead of crying asking why my pit of destruction looked this way, I cried about who God is to me.

My focus shifted.

It was no longer on me and my pit; it was on God.

I cried out the very verses I had been praying, telling God:

You are the one who draws me up from the pit.
You are the one who sets me upon a rock.
You are the one who makes my steps secure.
You are the one who puts a song of praise in my mouth.
God, YOU.
You are all I need.
You do it all because YOU love ME!

And then I worshiped. That was the only response I had.

When I stopped looking at my pit, and looked up, I saw God.

I was in awe of what HE does for me.

So yes, I struggle each time a new battle with sin comes (doubt, stress, worry, trying to be good enough, you name it). And these battles create these giant pits of destruction–ones that are so large that I need God to get me out of the pit.

But I have a battle cry: WORSHIP.

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Instead of crying out to God telling Him just how ugly, dirty, and messy the pit is, I’m going to look up at Jesus. My battle cry is worship because I’m not looking at the pit, I look at God. When I worship, I see God doing exactly what Psalm 40 says:

God draws me up from the pit of destruction.
God takes me out of the miry bog.
God puts me on a rock.
God makes each step secure.
God puts a new song in mouth–to where I literally sing praises to God.

God does!

We’ve been given a battle cry.

In the pit….

In the ugly, dirty, and messy….

In the doubts, fears, and worries…

What is your battle cry–why or who?

This. Is. War.

“in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him, who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

I was scared (quite possibly terrified) about what the new year would bring simply because 2017 was a sweet year. Sure there were struggles, but overall, God did some really big things in my life (Ecuador) that I would have never imagined, and I wasn’t ready to be done with that. For me personally, 2017 was peaceful. There weren’t big changes, nothing really blew up; sure I still battled my own personal idols and sinfulness, but overall there was peace–it didn’t feel like a battle. It was a season of rest. A season where I got to see God as gentle, loving, and caring. So when I was finally Brutally Honest with God about my fear for 2018, He spoke Romans 8:37. Right then, it provided peace. And it still does today–just in a different way.

Over the last month, I have read this verse so many times because I find myself creeping back into a place of doubting “Did God really say…”, a place of “I can do it all” mentality, a place of “is this really worth it”, or even a place of caring more about what people think instead of what God says about me.

And I bring these thoughts before the Lord and He reminds me of Romans 8:37.

And He reminds me of the word conqueror.

And then it hit me.

Conqueror is a battle word.

God reminded me of one simple truth:

This. Is. War.

Paul says it like this in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

This war that we are fighting is not against the flesh. This is spiritual war against a very real darkness–Satan and all his little followers.

When 2018 came, those places I was telling you about are the darkness. Doubting God, thinking I can handle everything, questioning whether or not it’s all worth it, or even caring about what others say–those are lies from Satan. Jesus declared that Satan “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This battle is real. This war is real.

I would talk to God about this during my quiet time. I would pray asking God to take away the darkness. I asked the Lord to fight for me–again, I don’t feel strong enough to do anything. And those four thoughts continued running through my head and they were (and can be still) so loud. Because the darkness was so overwhelmingly loud, I found myself starting to believe these lies.

At church, we are going through Matthew, and of course, just like God, He timed everything just perfectly. The darkness was particularly loud this day, and we just so happened to be reading Matthew 4 where Jesus was tempted.

See Jesus was at the starting place of His ministry. Within three years, He would conquer death, save people, heal the sick, provide the way for sinners, and so much more. Jesus was just beginning. And yet the darkness came. The darkness tried to stop Jesus from what He came to do.

Here I am in the midst of my own ministry, expecting God to do big things this year. I want to see Him do more things in the students I disciple, I want to see 30 people saved, I want to have more gospel conversations, I want to look more like Jesus this year than I did last year. And right in the midst of my ministry, in the midst of my walk with Jesus, the darkness arrived.

Just like Jesus, I had a choice–will I believe the lies of Satan or believe the truth of God?

If Jesus had believed the lies of Satan, then His ministry would have been gone. People would be dying and going to Hell–which is exactly what Satan wants. Satan does not want people to experience freedom; Satan wants people to remain in bondage. But if Satan stopped Jesus, then Jesus’ ministry would have been stopped.

Jesus didn’t succumb to Satan’s lies. Instead Jesus fought back the darkness with the Truth of God’s Word. Jesus’ ministry continued and Jesus did make the way to life for every person.

So what about me? What about you?

In the midst of our ministry, if we choose to believe the lies of Satan, then our personal ministries will be gone. We will stop sharing the gospel, we won’t see people’s lives changed from death to life, and we won’t see the kingdom of God expand.

Isn’t this why Satan tries so hard to destroy us?

Satan knows if he can convince us to doubt God’s character (the very loving, gentle, and caring God that I just met in 2017), then we will doubt our purpose and we will stop fighting back the darkness. Satan has one mission: “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And chances are, Satan is not going to come after the people who are already being destroyed, but those of us who are actively fighting against the destruction. He’s going to come against those proclaiming the way to freedom.

Just since the start of January, I’ve had some really great conversations with some really great friends who are actively fighting back the darkness in their spaces. Each space looks different–some are youth leaders, pastors, baristas, teachers, college students, and so on–and Satan is doing everything he can to convince these Jesus loving people to stop fighting the darkness. Satan is speaking the very lies he speaks to me, to them as well.

And there are days, where my friends and I sit around the table and we ask each other “What’s the point? Darkness keeps winning. When is it going to change? When will we see Jesus as victorious?” In the midst of these questions, we look each other in the eye and remind each other of the Truth of the Gospel. We remember the hope we have in Christ. We remember Romans 8:37 when we are called conquerors.

In this season, it may feel like I’m being destroyed. It may feel like everything I have is being stolen. It may feel like I’m at times being killed. But the truth is found in God’s Word–not in what I feel.

My prayer for my friends and the prayer I have for even myself is found in Psalm 40:1-3:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

Right now, some of my friends and I are in this waiting period. We feel as if we have been defeated and we are in this pit of destruction. And we are anxiously awaiting the day for God to set us upon the rock and make our steps secure.

But the truth is, Satan is trying to convince my friends and I that we are never going to be rescued from the pit. And if we actually believe that we won’t be rescued, then many will never see and many will never put their trust in the Lord.

Isn’t that why Satan is trying to get us to believe his lies?

We are in war.

We are fighting a battle of life and death–not of flesh and blood. And the army of God is out fighting against the darkness. And when the darkness presses in, we have to gather and remind each other of the truth of God’s Word.

God’s promise are true! The last half of John 10:10 brings life–it doesn’t bring death. Jesus says, “I came that they [that’s you and me] may have life and have it abundantly.” While Satan is trying to kill us, Jesus brings a message of life.

Let’s stand together. Let’s fight together.

Yes, the darkness is real. Yes, the darkness will come.

But NO.

The darkness does not have to define us.

We are conquerors through Christ.

Jesus even equips us to stand firm against the darkness. If we look back to Ephesians 6, God gives us our battle clothes:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

So we gather together so we can stand firm together. We remind each other of the gospel. We encourage each other in faith so Satan cannot throw flaming arrows our way. We worship together. We pray together. We do life together.

We are not alone in this war.

Satan is going to do everything he can to convince us otherwise, but let’s be ready to stand firm together. Let’s remember the truth of God’s Word instead of hearing the lies of the darkness.

Let’s stand firm on the truth we know. Let’s disciple each other, sharpening each other in the faith. Let’s fight for those who do not know Jesus yet. Let’s boldly proclaim the good news so many will come to know Jesus. Let’s be conquerors. Let’s hold fast to Jesus because only He can make our steps secure; only He can pick us up from the pit of destruction.

This. Is. War.

But I am a conqueror through Him and I will stand firm.

Brutally Honest

I don’t want you to ever think my life is perfect. I especially don’t want you to be deceived by my posts on social media that I have everything figured out. If we are being completely real, brutally honest, I do not live a perfect life and I definitely do not have everything figured out.

Over the last month or so, God has been showing me just how weak I am. For whatever reason, the idea that I am strong enough and can do it all started to creep into my life. I have no clue when the “I can do it all” mindset set in, but I am very much aware NOW that I cannot do it all.

This whole shift started one night at the coffee shop. I was talking with one of my best friends and just encouraging her through a tough time. During the midst of the conversation, I could see she had bought into the lie that she was supposed to handle everything perfectly, and be strong enough to do it all. I could see her fighting back the tears the whole time, afraid to show some sort of weakness to me. I looked at her and said, “It’s okay to admit that you’re not strong enough.” I reminded her that even though we are weak individuals, God is the Almighty. He has the ultimate strength.

I went home that night thinking about our conversation and praying for my friend, but then I felt God pressing on my heart the same words I had just spoken to her. God was telling me: Rachel, it’s okay to admit that you’re not strong enough. But instead of admitting to God I was weak and I needed Him to carry me, I continued to carry life with my own strength.

This is a constant battle for me, just so you know. I have seasons of life where I recognized my weaknesses and my need for God’s strength, but overtime somewhere along the journey I start to believe that I can handle it.

A few nights later, God pressed that same statement onto my heart again. And this time, I was angry. I remember that night well, and it was for sure not posted on Instagram or Facebook. It was one of those nights where I was just so angry and sad and hurt–BROKEN–so there was LOTS of ugly crying. In my anger, I asked the question WHY a whole bunch. I demanded (not a joke) answers from the Lord. If you’re at all familiar with Job when He is asking God for his day in court wanting answers from God, that was me.

But then, I was able to admit that I can’t. I was broken–still am broken. Because I can’t do it. I can’t be who everyone wants me to be because it’s too much pressure. I can’t be patient on my own because I want things now. I can’t control outcomes because that’s not my power. I can’t do it.

Through lots of tears, I finally admitted to God, “I need you. I am not strong enough to keep going on my own.”

So with that statement, I opened up my Bible to the book of Esther to hear from God. I was still angry. I was more broken now than I was when I started praying. I was hurting. And I still wanted answers.

Immediately, I started reading through that portion of Esther, and God started to speak, but it was not what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t providing the answers I was looking for. So as I read through God’s Word, I continued praying the same way–demanding answers, admitting my lack of ability to do anything on my own, begging God to speak something else. I was working through Beth Moore’s study on Esther at the time, and it got to this point where she referenced Philippians 4:13. I’m really familiar with this verse, so I kind of quickly reread it, but she had another verse to reference–Romans 8:37. I wasn’t as familiar with this one, so I went into it with fresh eyes.

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

The Holy Spirit used this verse to speak directly into my heart:

Did you see that part about in all these things? Everything you just prayed for is included in the word ALL.

You’re right. You can’t do it all. But did you notice what it says next? You are a conqueror through Him–that’s Me. You are a conqueror in all these things because of Me. Because of My love for You.

You will never be able to do anything on your own. But My love carries you. 

In that moment, a wave of peace flooded my heart to where I can’t even explain it. Through my absolute surrender that I can’t do it, God provided me with peace because He reminded me that it’s THROUGH HIM not through Rachel.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t live without the strength of God.

When you see these pictures below, on Instagram, or on Facebook, do not be deceived. I am not strong. I am weak. And I will gladly proclaim that brutally honest truth until the day I die because it’s not through me. It’s through Him.

He is Mighty–A Year in Review

My top nine images of 2017 have really sparked this whole “year in review” thing. It got me thinking about the word remember.

What does remembering really mean?

According to Google’s dictionary the word remember means “have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past).” I love that part about bringing to mind the things we have seen, known, or experienced because that pretty much includes remembering the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s whatever has happened in the past.

For me personally, there have been years where there has been immense pain. I didn’t want to look back because all I saw was pain and darkness. Even the thought of a specific circumstance would cause almost immediate tears to form in my eyes. However, there have also been years where the look back on life has been one of adventure, fun, and complete happiness.

But what if, the year in review wasn’t just about our life’s circumstances but about what God did? What would a year in review be like then?

It is a Biblical truth for us to remember what God has done in and through our lives. All throughout the Bible, God calls His people to remember all that He has done. It’s actually mentioned in the Bible 168 times (can be more or less depending on your version). There is clearly something powerful about remembering.

So why is remembering such an important thing?

There’s a story in Joshua 3-4 where the Israelites cross the Jordan River. This is an incredible story. If you aren’t familiar with it, take the time to go read both of these chapters–right now! It seriously is incredible! But the basic concept of the story, is the Israelites cross a really powerful river because of God. He stopped the river from flowing simply to show that He cared for the Israelites. After the Israelites passed through, God tells them to set 12 stones aside “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

We see here just in one example, God used a physical object (the stones) to show the world who He is, to show the world He is mighty.

Remembering what God has done for you, helps you remember God is mighty–even in the midst of seasons of sorrow.

Your remembrance could allow the world to see He is mighty!

When we direct our focus on what God has done for us and who He is instead of life’s circumstances, it’s going to produce joy simply because we can rest on the promise that God is working all things for good (Romans 8:28). So whatever situation you are personally in, I would like to challenge you not to just look back at the circumstances that have occurred in your life this year, but rather all that God has done.

Personally, I would love to sit and have coffee with each of you and hear all about what God has done in your life this year! It’s encouraging to me to see God’s hand at work in the lives of others. If you want to share what God has done in your life this year, leave me a comment or send me a message here. But I would love to share with you, my “stones” of what God has done in, around, and through my life this year.


Friends and Community

One of the greatest things God has done this year, has been blessing me with some pretty great friends. It literally dates back to January when things started to all come together. It’s weird because I had just prayed asking God to give me some good community (people I could have deep conversations with and who challenged me). This group of friends does exactly that. I have learned about myself in some pretty crazy ways. My friends are most certainly not afraid to call me out, but they do it in love. They sharpen me when it comes to what I believe. It’s really just incredible. We’ve prayed together. We’ve cried and laughed together. We’ve celebrated together. We’ve even traveled to many different places together. I’ve seen God use my friends to share the gospel with tons of people. I’ve watched my friends disciple people who have been in their lives for years and have watched others start discipling and meeting with others. God’s hand is at work with this great group of people! I’m thankful for y’all in so many ways!

Nothing to Prove

At the end of 2016, Jennie Allen wrote Nothing to Prove and I had the privilege of being on her launch team (which basically means I got to help promote the book before it was released). I read it in November of 2016, and started wrestling with the idea of starting a book club at my school for some of the teachers there for us to go through the book. I didn’t really take a chance on sending out an invite until mid-January. To me it was this great risk and moderately big time commitment, but I knew I wanted to see God work at school, so I sent an email.

img_0943With about twelve women signed up to participate in the book club, I was so impressed at God. I was only expecting like 4-8 people and God totally kept them coming. I don’t remember exactly, but I think around 20 women ended up buying the book! God used the book club in so many ways! I remember each Wednesday, I would just listen to these women talk about God’s movement in their own lives and all God did was use them to tell me the risk was worth it. It was through this book club that I learned when God impresses something upon your heart, it’s 100% worth it. God was there and I watched Him move. It was the coolest thing to be apart of!

Totally fan-girling as well because I got to meet Jennie Allen at the beginning of February and just thank her for her obedience to the Lord in her ministry! God has used her books to remind me I was worth dying for and I have nothing to prove because Christ finished the work on the cross.

Quiet Moments

I think so often times we busy ourselves so much, we don’t really know how to just be still and see God. But for me, the quiet, still moments is when I see God clearly for myself. In these moments, God speaks to me. There are so many things I could write about how God has used the quiet moments to speak truth into my life, but the one recently God has been teaching me through Esther is His timing is perfect. It’s never late, and it’s never early. He is in control of all things, so He is ALWAYS on time.

God has spoken truth into my heart this year through the books of Esther, 1 & 2 Samuel, Nehemiah, Isaiah, John, and 1 & 2 Corinthians. It’s been a great journey through the Word! I’m grateful God speaks when we quiet our hearts before Him.

These quiet moments are usually processed through different people in my life, but two that are absolutely foundational to my walk with Jesus are Alysia and Barbara. I’m not quite sure I would be where I am if it weren’t for these two great ladies! They are a shoulder to cry on, a listener, and an encourager on my journey with Christ! They invite me into their homes and allow me to live life with them. Thank you for helping me BEHOLD Jesus each and every day.

My Church

For starters, I was transitioning between churches at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t quite looking to get involved anywhere, but really just wanted to soak in, but God had other plans (and His plans were way better). At some point in March, our Family Discipleship Pastor found out I had worked in student ministry in my old church and wanted to see if I would be interested in serving.

img_5490We meet for coffee; and at the beginning, I felt pretty standoffish because I had my own plans of not being involved, but the more we talked the more our hearts for ministry aligned. I could tell God was placing me here for a specific purpose. By the end of that conversation, an opportunity to go to Ecuador had opened as well as an internship, which is funny because remember I had no intentions of getting involved. Thankfully, God knows best!

img_2479God has used my church to reach the lost, make disciples of all nations, and minister into my heart. The leadership God has placed over my life has been a huge encouragement into my personal walk with Jesus. They have challenged me to literally go places I was scared to go. They walked with me through some really difficult times. And through it all, God was there. He was and continues to use my church as way to draw me nearer to Him.

The Internship

I would just like to remind you, I had no intentions of getting involved at my church and God had other plans. The internship was an awesome experience, one that I am so thankful for! I had the opportunity to hang out with students and serve all summer long!  We had VBS and as much as I’m not good with little kids, I got to see these sweet kids come to know Jesus. Watching them pray to receive Christ and watch their hearts be made alive was clearly the work of the Holy Spirit. It was awesome to see God take something dead and breathe life into it! It’s only something He can do!

img_3883I also got to go to camp with our middle school and high school students! At this point, I didn’t really know them, but by the end of the week, they were just a bunch of little brother and sisters! I got to watch God breathe more life into two of our students that came with us. The excitement a new believer has because the joy of the Lord is literally now inside of them is a miracle–each salvation is a miracle.

Just for the record, at the end of 2016 I had been praying about switching careers. I felt this pull from God to seek something in publishing, writing, or editing books. I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, but I just started looking at different jobs in that field to see what it would take to one day work in the writing field. One of the things that was recommended was a Masters in English (which I start in January), but it was also looking for previous experience in ministry. Outside of volunteering in churches for 10 years, I didn’t have “official” experience. I just prayed God would provide opportunities to serve Him so I could do whatever He called me into. I prayed that in January, and then in March when I met with our Family Discipleship Pastor, the internship was available. God is just too cool!

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Ecuador

img_3036There’s so much that I could say about Ecuador and what God did there and you can read that by clicking on this link. But what I simply want to share is something that isn’t included in that blog post which is God used this trip (from the time in the airport to my quiet time in Ecuador) to tell me it was time to talk. For a period of time, God had silenced me when it came to an area of my life, but God specifically spoke reconciliation into my heart during this trip. It really had nothing to do with Ecuador, but just what happened because of Ecuador. It was pretty awesome that God would use a conversation with my pastor and then my quiet time to speak so clearly into my heart. Now was the time to speak.

Salvations

This is probably the coolest thing I get to talk about simply because I get to talk about the new brothers and sisters we have in the family of Christ! I had prayed at the beginning of the year, I wanted to see God save (here is what I mean by “save”) more people. But then at the beginning of the summer, I prayed more specially telling God I wanted to see Him save 5 people before the end of the summer. Well, God taught me this year He is capable of doing more than we think or imagine. Apparently 5 was just too small for God, because even at camp I saw hundreds of students profess faith for the first time, so then I prayed that God would either directly use me in 5 different people’s salvation or that they would be in my life for a period of time. What you see here, are simply the six people God has placed in my life this year who I have had the honor of seeing God take them from death into life!

I know I’ve already said it before, but salvation is a miracle! The fact that I have gotten to see so many salvations this year is just pure evidence God is real. He is alive and He is working.

Discipling and Small Group

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img_5512Discipling is one of my favorite things to do! I love meeting with students and talking about what Jesus is doing in their lives! I love walking through books of the Bible and being able to just be apart of watching them grow in their faith. Through discipleship I was able to meet with about 6 different girls! I wanted to be consistent with them and I’m definitely thankful for the time we have had together! Small group is the same way! At the beginning of small group, I was only anticipating about 4-5 girls, but we have about 10 that come regularly!

img_5247So what has God done through discipleship and small group? Well, I have seen God open the eyes and hearts of these girls to reading God’s Word. Several girls have grown in just their desire to reading His Word. According to my small group girls, they come and when we discuss God’s Word they leave “shook” or “in the feels,” which I think is a good thing. We also have tons of fun together just because the laughter never stops!

But for me God has used these girls to speak to me. There are times I will be teaching something to them, but it’s really to me. A good example of what God taught me through teaching them was when we walked through John 2 earlier this semester. God taught me what it is like to have Faith Like the Servants.

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Again, I would so love to have coffee and discuss all the intricate details that I know are missing from this list of what God has done in this season, but I would also just like to tell you there are things in my life that I have prayed all year (and some for years) for God to move. For whatever reason, God hasn’t moved there yet, but again, I know His timing is perfect. This year is evidence of that.

And if you are in a season of sorrow, it’s a season. I don’t know when it will be over, but I do know there’s a season of celebration around the corner. When it comes, you celebrate. The sorrow you have experienced in life, makes you appreciate the celebration so much more!

So if you find yourself struggling to remember what God has done this year in you, think about your salvation–that alone is a miracle. Think about what God has taught you–the discipline teachings as well as the gentle reminders. Did anything good happen? Because that’s God too, and that deserves to be celebrated even if it’s simple!

God loves it when we remember what He did.

Your remembrance could allow the world to see He is mighty!

Stop Trying

Over the last couple of weeks, I started feeling super drained. I don’t really know how to explain it except for I was busy trying. I was trying to align God’s plan to my timetable. I was trying to fix everything around me. I was trying to be encouraging to those near me. I was trying to do all the right things.

But all this effort in trying, left me e x h a u s t e d.

In all honesty, my heart didn’t really want to talk to God and there wasn’t really a reason.

I didn’t know what to pray or what to lay before Him.

I had no words.

In the midst of my own efforts of trying super hard, God reminded me of the truth He spoke to me a few years back.

My church has been going through Genesis and we recently studied through chapter 14. Imagine this with me: There’s a lot of war. Different kings were trying to take over other kings with more power. Every time these lesser kings tried to conquer the powerful kings, they always lost. It never worked in the underdog’s favor. Then Abram’s nephew, Lot, was captured by these powerful kings. Abram along with 318 men decided they were going to go up against the most powerful kings. Needless to say, Abram and his 318 men were the underdogs.

Guess what happened next?

They defeated the most powerful kings. And afterward, this priest greeted Abram and his men along their way back; and the priest reminded the men that God was the one who defeated those powerful kings.

It was in that simple moment at church, reading and listening to this story of God’s protection and provision, that the Holy Spirit started reminding me God is in control–not me. It is God who perfectly times out the events in my life. It is God who works miracles. It is God who fixes everything around me. It is God who is the source of all encouragement. It is God who wins the war in my heart. It is God who protects me and comforts me.

It is God–not me.

All this effort in trying to be whatever I thought I needed to be was n e v e r going to work because it’s not about me. It’s about God. It’s not about what I can do, but rather what God can do.

In Genesis 14, it wasn’t Abram and the 318 men going up against the most powerful kings; it was God. God defeated the enemy. That’s why verses 19 and 20 God is praised: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

God delivered Abram from his enemies and God has and continues to deliver me from my enemies. And here lately, I have been my biggest enemy (anyone else ever feel this way?). I needed God to deliver me from myself and the lies I was believing.

I believed I was the one in control and the one doing everything. This is what was making me exhausted. The idea that I could do all things was and still is a lie I believed.

I am not the one that can do all things. God is.

God has so graciously reminded me of the truth that He has done it all. He did it all on the cross thousands of years ago. God ultimately delivered me from my own sin by sending Jesus to die for me. All I need to do, is believe in Him.

Did yah catch that?

The only thing I need to do (the only thing you need to do), is believe in Him.

God isn’t asking for my effort. God isn’t asking for my ability to do something. God isn’t asking for encouragement. God isn’t asking for my help. God isn’t asking me to deliver myself from my sin.

NO! Those are all lies.

Instead, He wants me to believe in Him. He wants Y O U to believe in Him, in His Power, in his Deliverance (even if His deliverance is from the lies we believe).

Through God reminding me of this amazing story of God’s deliverance, I have stopped trying so hard. I have rested in His presence and believed Him at His word.

God’s got this!

God’s got me.

God’s got you!

This isn’t easy. I literally still fail at this!

B U T

I know God is holding everything in heaven and on earth together; therefore, I can stop trying.