Different Seasons, Same God

Here recently, I flew to California and sat between two of my good friends pretty much looking out the window the whole time. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty we were passing over. Not only did I feel small in comparison to this big world, but I started to gain a deeper understanding of just how much God is in control.

When I looked out the window, I could see my little city, getting smaller and smaller as we took off into the air. Just like any other plane ride, the details of the city started to fade away and all I saw were big patches of green. Sooner or later, we made our way to the correct altitude, and the clouds over came the scenery, but I was just as mesmerized with being up in the midst of the clouds. A few hours passed and so did the clouds as we made our way to the Grand Canyon. From the sky it looked absolutely beautiful, so I can’t imagine what it would look like up close. But it didn’t take much longer for us to pass through the desert where there wasn’t much green happening, but more brown. And before I knew it, the mountains of California were covered with snow—then suddenly there was the Pacific Ocean. I could see it.

 

Now I know, there’s some of you out there who know good and well what you see when you look out the window of an airplane, and I’ll be honest, I’ve seen it before; but not quite like I saw it this go around.

This time I saw different places, different states, different seasons ALL existing at the exact same time.

Go with me here for a second; this means while some people are wearing swimsuits, some are clothed head to toe with all the winter wear. Or what about those who are enjoying a picnic on a nice warm day, and others are bundled up inside drinking a hot cup of coffee watching the snow fall. Or the plants that are just beginning to bloom, while other places can’t even grow plants because it’s so dry. And yet, no matter what’s going on in all these different seasons and places, they are all happening simultaneously.

The same is true with our lives. When someone is going through a horrible and unexpected circumstance, someone else may be experiencing tremendous amounts of celebration and joy. In the midst of deep sorrow, deep joy happens at the exact same time!

And yet, God is overseeing it all.

He sees the plants blooming and the ones that can’t grow.
He sees the pain and suffering alongside the blessing and celebration.
He sees the snow while seeing the sun.
He sees the wilderness and the promise land.
He sees.

No matter the season, God is there and He is not surprised by anything at any moment. God is with you in your place, in your season of life, in your circumstance; He is there.

When I looked out the window on the flight to California, what I saw was not just different seasons, but different seasons existing at the same time while God is in control over it all.

No matter what season of life you have been in, are currently in, or will be in the future; you can rest knowing God is there and in control–so you don’t have to be.

WILDERNESS

Right now, if you’re walking through a season of wilderness, let me encourage you that God sees you and He hears you. He sees the hardships you’re walking through and as much as you may feel forgotten, I promise you God remembers. I’m not just saying this from someone who has read it in Scripture, but as someone who has walked the wilderness and I’ve seen God’s deliverance. Your wilderness, is wilderness. It’s hard and it may be messy. It may be coming as a surprise to you, but I know and believe there is purpose in the midst of the wilderness. You may not know the answers you are searching for until days, months, or years later; but God is working it for your good–that’s a promise. So as you walk through this wilderness, lean in. Lean in real tight to God. Get to know who He is. Instead of worrying and complaining, rest in God’s never-changing character. As hard as it may be, thank Him for the wilderness. He stays the same. He does not change. He does not lie. He loves you. He cares for you.

CELEBRATION

Right now, if you’re walking through a season of celebration, let me encourage you to remember where the celebration is coming from. Remember the one who brings the blessing in your life. Talk to Him. Tell Him how excited you are and how great things are. Thank Him for the celebration He has given you. Celebrate His mercy and grace towards you. Celebrate Him being with you in the midst of the blessing. Celebrate how much He loves and cares about you. Praise Him for this season. But don’t forget your need for Him. You may be tempted in this season of blessing to think you can do it all on your own, but let me remind you that you can’t. Jesus said He couldn’t do anything without the Father, so you can’t do it without God either. Be desperate for God. Even when things are going great, you still need Him every step of the way. Continue to trust and rest in Him.

FOR EVERY SEASON

No matter what you’re going through, God is in control. The truth of God’s character remains the same no matter the situation, season, or circumstance. He sees you and knows you better than you even think you know yourself. Trust Him–His ways are far better than anything you could ever imagine.

I need you to know I’m still learning this. I’m learning how to trust God’s sovereignty in the midst of the wilderness and the celebration. But I can tell you, when I rest in God being in control of everything, it takes away any anxiety and is replaced with unexplainable peace. I’ve learned the only way I can make it through the changing seasons of life is by trusting God’s plan for me. To this day (and I’m confident my future will be the same way), God has not failed me–and I know He won’t fail you!

So as we journey through life, let’s remember these truths:

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Malachi 3:6
For I the Lord do not change.

Numbers 23:19
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Psalm 34:17-18
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lordyour God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

John 5:19
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Philippians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God.

Colossians 1:17
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Dream Guide 2019

Welcome to 2019!

It’s become an annual tradition for me to fill out Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide each year! I love it simply because it’s a great opportunity to reflect on some specific areas of my life in ways God has grown me in the past year as well as how I hope God will grow me throughout the coming year.

I would love for you to join me in this dreaming journey! The two main questions she asks us to reflect on in each are of our lives are: 1. How did you grow in the last year? And 2. What are your goals for 2019?


I am thankful for:

  1. My God who speaks to me!
  2. Family and Friends
  3. NorthWoods Church
  4. South Middle School
  5. The Little Sweet House on Villa
  6. Proper Coffee
  7. The Baristas at Starbucks–especially the ones in Henderson, KY
  8. Being able to Travel
  9. Books about Jesus
  10. Still Moments

Spiritual

Alone Time//Connect With God

I’ve said this before, but having a daily quiet time literally was the hardest thing for me to obtain. It seemed there wasn’t enough time in the day to read, and even if there was time, Netflix or hanging out with friends always sounded better. There was a great shift in my heart in 2016 when I really learned how to be still with God. Since then, I’ve been able to maintain a regular quiet time with the Lord. Let me tell you, this is only by God’s grace alone. This is not a desire I initially had, but rather something over time God placed in my heart.

My alone time with God has become the thing I look forward to the most. In different seasons of life it’s at different times of the day–sometimes multiple times a day. But if you haven’t gotten into a regular rhythm of spending time with the Lord, please let me encourage you–God speaks when we listen. 2018 was a hard year. Things I wanted to happen haven’t happened; and things I didn’t expect to happen (aka buying a house) happened. I couldn’t have prepared for or processed anything without the time I spent with God. He carried me through everything 2018 brought. I say all that to say that God is in control. He literally made me a conqueror through Him.

At the end of 2017, I knew the upcoming year was going to be a challenge, yet God knew what I needed to learn. God talked to me and prepared me. He told me in everything I went through I would be a conqueror through Him. Although I didn’t grasp this concept the minute God spoke it to me, it was something I learned over time. I watched God tell me, “You can do this through me because I love you.” I watched God teach me His love. I watched Him show me He never changes–He is the same. I watched God be what I needed when I needed it. I watched Him carry me in everything life threw at me.

So similar to what happened in 2017, I did the same thing at the end of 2018. I started praying about what God wanted me to focus on for 2019. My mentor gave me this great book to read through Advent and one of the first passages to read was Psalm 27. I’m not sure how this exactly related to Advent, but it was most certainly what I needed. There’s so much Truth about who God is and what He will do in this one chapter. There’s so much about how we should interact with God. There’s hope. There’s joy. There’s pain. And through it all, it says “I will sing and make melody to the Lord,” and I knew God was revealing a theme of celebration in every season.

2019 will be a year of celebration.

This was later confirmed–unexpectedly at that–while I listened to Louie Giglio preach a sermon live from Passion 2019. I went into listening with the hope God would affirm Psalm 27 as the focus for my 2019, and that’s exactly what He did. I always love it when God speaks so clearly. His graciousness is overwhelming!

In my year of celebration, I know life is still going to happen. But I’m looking forward to celebrating God’s goodness and His faithfulness in whatever the year brings.

As far as meeting and setting goals, last year, I wanted to work on memorizing Scripture. I started off working through different verses. I think I was able to memorize eight different passages, but come April or May–I slacked. I would definitely love to continue to memorize more of Scripture, specifically Psalm 27. But with the theme of the year, I want to be able to celebrate God every day.

Church//Serve//Tithe

Church

Our focus as a church in 2018 was to have 1000 Gospel conversations. We wanted to actually share the gift God had given us! The accountability aspect of this totally pushed me to share my faith more than usual. I knew I talked about Jesus, but actually sharing the Gospel on a weekly basis was pretty cool. Each week in church we would have a space on our connect card (a paper apart of our bulletin) to check if we had a Gospel conversation and how many. Each time I had a conversation, I remember being so excited to celebrate the opportunity God created!

This year our focus is on ONE. Who is our one person that we want to be intentional with? We have a card with a blank. I’m not sure who my ONE is yet, but I have a couple of names floating around in my head. Regardless, I love to be intentional with the people God places in my life. I feel like they are there for a reason, so I need to be intentional in those spaces.

Serve

The big areas of my life that I serve in are Student Ministry and a little bit in Women’s Ministry. Last year, I finished up the spring semester leading a small group on Wednesday nights, but due to grad school classes, I didn’t get to serve there in ministry. So this year, I’m so ready to get back in the swing of things. It’s going to be a bit different than in the past, instead of teaching a small group; I actually will be teaching our middle school students on a weekly basis. I’m excited to serve in this area, but also praying God will speak.

Beyond just the big areas of service, I really want to be looking for the little areas as well. How can I serve the people I am around on a daily basis? Maybe this is helping a student with homework or getting a teacher’s copies at work for them. Regardless, I want to extend the hand of service to them with a joyful heart. I’m praying my attitude will not be one of inconvenience, but rather gratitude.

Tithe

Money is scary if we let it control our lives. Speaking as someone who took a long time to surrender my fiances to the Lord, I missed out on God’s provision. But since letting God be God over my fiances, I have watched Him consistently provide for me. This year alone, He gifted me a house that is within my monthly budget, a brand new refrigerator FOR FREE (the original was growing mold on the inside of it), a trip to Ecuador, all these other little trips to go see friends or to be in community with others, and a way to pay for grad school. It’s literally amazing what happens when you let God be in control of your fiances. He is God over all, and now I’m just praying for finances for a roof–my house has to get a new one this year–and my plumbing needs to be looked at.

Outreach//Ministry

For me outreach and ministry go hand and hand. As I’ve stated before, I try to be intentional with everyone the Lord has me around. My biggest sphere of influence is at my school. I’ve had students ask me about my relationship with God every year, but in the Fall of 2018, I know there were even more conversations than usual. Part of me thinks so many kids are desperate for truth , they want it wherever they can get it. I even have conversations with different co-workers. I love being able to talk about Jesus because He gave me life. It’s this great gift!

I’ve also started to minister to some of the girls at Starbucks on my way to work. It’s not much at a time because our interaction is sometimes only a “Good Morning, have a great day!” but I love the crew there! I would love to be able to actually get to know them more and hear more about their stories! They definitely make my day by providing coffee, and I do want to serve and love them well.

My goal last year wasn’t really a “me” goal, but a God goal. I wanted to see God save 30 people, and I know He did just that. It was crazy to look back on all that God accomplished through the year, but even people I didn’t know, I was able to hear story after story of salvations. I love watching God work!

Discipleship//Mentorship

I have said for so long that effective discipleship is consistent discipleship. I firmly believe that. Part of consistency allows the opportunity to speak life. In 2018, I had several different ladies that I got to meet with, but I also hung out with some other girls as well. The intentional living was apart of our time together no matter how long or how short. In 2019, I want to focus more on celebrating all that my girls are doing really well at. I think sometimes I forget to celebrate what God is doing in them and that’s what I want to focus on this year. Find ways to celebrate them in all that they do and be more of an encouragement as we go through life.


Relational

Friendships//Friends I Need//Friends Who Need Me 

I have been fortunate enough to find a great group of friends from Proper Coffee. It seems every year we add more to our little group, but it’s so great to be able to do life with them. We are learning to be more intentional though because seasons are changing and we have to actually make an effort to hang out with each other.

I definitely want to make having friends over at my house a priority this year. Life is way more enjoyable when I have my people doing life with me rather than by myself.

Extended Family//Neighbors//Coworkers 

With my family, we’ve spent more time together, which has been really great. They’ve been such a blessing with my house and I’m thankful for that. I also was able to vacation with my sister, which was a cheap little get away. Any chance for us to get away somewhere warm and next to the beach is one of my favorite things to do! Bring on 2019 and hopefully another getaway!

I actually have neighbors! It’s so weird growing up in a neighborhood where you knew everyone, to living on a street where you only know one neighbor. I don’t exactly know how to go about being present to my neighbors, especially when I’m rarely home. Yet, I really would like to spend more time getting to know them!

I spend so much time with my coworkers and being able to serve them better is one thing I want to do better. I want to find ways to encourage them more and lift them up. We spend so much time together and sometimes it’s hard, but having each other makes it easier.


Personal

Food//Exercise//Health

A couple of years ago, I had a dream of losing 25 pounds and last year the dream was to keep it off. I managed to keep off the weight! In the past I have had a fear of gyms and became a member of Planet Fitness and really enjoy my time there! I like being able to work out! I still don’t like to sweat or even the moments of working out, but I enjoy the results of working out! There’s so many spiritual ties to that concept it’s not even funny! I’ll save that for later. But for 2019, I want to make it apart of my weekly life to go to the gym. I had my moments in 2018 that were good in consistent (like waking up at 5am everyday and worked out at home), but then stopped after straining my neck. This year, the goal is to find a routine that isn’t leaving me exhausted, but is still toning the little muscles I have!

Books to Read

Ahhh!!! There are so many great books out there that I want to soak up. Right now, I’m in the middle of Wild and Free and I love it. But I have so many others that I want to read on my shelf. Last year I was able to read two of Jen Wilken’s books and a couple of other ones. Grad school takes away some of my reading time right now, but that will be over come the summer! YEAH!!

Dreams//Memories to Make

Personally last year was all about the seasonal memories. I honestly forgot about that dream until rereading it, but it actually happened. I didn’t get to go ice skating though, but everything else was in there. I had all the seasonal memories! Maybe this year, I’ll take it up a notch now that I have a house! I love it when the house is all decorated for each season! Something about the little decorations just make it feel like home!

I also want to write a book some day! Maybe that will happen some year, I don’t know. Part of me is a little scared to do it because of criticism. It just doesn’t seem like it will happen. I would love to write and speak, but only God knows what my platform will be.

This year, I have so many friends having babies and getting married! I’m excited to be apart of all the celebrations and to celebrate new season in life! I can’t wait for one of best friends to get married! She’s been a huge part of my life the last five or so years and now I get to watch her marry her best friend! It’s so cool! Ahh!!! Cannot wait!

Travel

I remember last year people telling me every time they got on any sort of social media they found me in a different place. The more I started to think about it, the more truth I saw in that statement. I do travel quite a bit even for short little day trips to visit some of my friends or even to just do what we call a “picture trip”, but there’s something about being in the car and jamming to worship music that brings people together.

I’m not sure what this year looks like, after all, I started this blog in Nashville! And I received an invite to visit my friend in Chicago for her birthday! More little trips are probably on the horizon! Hopefully even a trip to Ecuador again! Last year, we had problems with our flight so we didn’t get to go, but hoping this year to go back!


Work

Finances

I hit on this already, but everything is already God’s. He owns everything. all I have to do is be faithful with what He provides. I know grad school is expensive as well as a new roof, but God will make a way! He has been faithful in providing me with a fill time job I love! I even get the opportunity to work at my church part time! God just keeps providing! It’s what He does! And He’s way better at it than I will ever be!

Personal Growth//Education

This section is super cool for me to talk about because God is capable of doing so much! Last year, I started my Masters in English in January. This month I start two more classes, and hopefully, this time next year I will be completely finished with my Masters! I have to take a test to finish it up; but otherwise, I have it almost finished. God is so good!

In addition to completing my Masters, I have started cooking so much at my house! During the school year, I rarely eat out (minus the weekends). I have a habit of meal prepping that works and I love it! There’s really nothing like a home-cooked meal! I’ve been able to try new things that I otherwise wouldn’t try! I even meal prep my breakfast! No more $5+a week for Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches–I make my own! 🙂

I have even blogged more in 2018 than I did in 2017! So I’m at a high right now! I’m excited to see what God will continue to do through this blog! Hopefully this year, there will be even more!

Projects

I keep talking about this Remembrance Board that I have yet to be completed. But with owning a home, there are so many projects! I want flooring in the basement, trim needs to be painted in the bedroom, hang some pictures, paint the vanity, paint the closet doors, build a bar for downstairs, and the list just keeps going on! Those are just some of the things on the inside of the house, and the outside I want to plant flowers and make it look all cute like it is on the inside!


Celebrate

No matter what, God has taught me I am a conqueror because of His love for me! There’s so much on the “To-Do” List for 2019, but I want to find ways to celebrate all that God has done throughout the whole year! I want to rejoice and make melody to the Lord because of His great Name! I want to wait well! I want to know and believe He is working a good plan for my life! I want to seek Him more!

All of these things are mentioned in Psalm 27. I’ve made this my chapter for the year. It has 14 verses, and I want to write two verses per day; in total that would mean that I have written this chapter once every week! Already, God points out different words or phrases each day! I’m into week 2 now, and God shows up!

Here’s to 2019 and all the work God will accomplish this year!

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

Through Him–A Year in Review

Last year when the Top Nine came out, it got me thinking about the whole year. I went back and reread what I wrote last year to refresh my memory and to kind of kick start the writing for this year. In 2017, I started with the importance of remembrance and how it’s a Biblical truth for us to remember. But there are some years where it’s just difficult and painful to remember. I can’t say this year was crazy difficult or painful, but it was full of change, yet so much maintained the same. The spiritual battle of doubt was strong, maybe even more than usual, so this whole idea of looking backward is definitely more challenging this year than it was last year. As I read through last year’s review, it was almost as if 2017 Rachel was preparing 2018 Rachel for the “A Year in Review” Blog:

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.

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

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This year may not have been the easiest, but God is still in control. He’s still good. He’s still consistent. Just because change occurred or things maintained the same, God is still working–whether I’m actively aware of it or not. Knowing seasons come and go, I knew the blessing of 2017 as sweet as it was wouldn’t last forever because there has to be be a change in season at some point. And sometimes season changes are hard.

Similar to the seasons we experience in nature, things are bright and enjoyable like summer. Then fall occurs, and we have the changing colors which is beautiful, but the leaves are falling. With winter, the tree only has branches and plants are in hibernation. Snow comes and may even kill off some plants. Yet spring is right around the corner. The colors are coming back and there’s new life in the plants that once were dead.

The same is true for our lives. Each season offers something different, whether in summer or winter, or the years full of blessing or heartache; there’s something necessary about each season.

Where is God working in each season? How is He working in you? me?

At the end of 2017, God prepared me for the season to change. He showed me Romans 8:37 which says, “in all these things we are more than conquerors though Him who loved us.” This verse became my prayer, my anthem, and my reminder for 2018. The more I started to meditate on this verse, I thought about it backwards:

  • Him who loved us“–Wow! God loves me! This was huge. When the season changes, this can be the first thing we forget, but yet God shares His love to us–to me! This was a midst in walking through a changing season. Remembering that no matter what, God’s love is consistent and never changing and always there.
  • through Him“–This was huge for me! I came to the realization that I can’t do it. I can’t change life. I can’t fight the war against doubt on my own. I can’t serve in the church in my own strength. I can’t do it!! But God said, it’s only THROUGH HIM. In fact, this was so influential on me, I have it painted above my bed. Through Him because He loved me! Not because I offered anything, but just because of who God is.
  • we are more than conquerors through Him“–God gives all who trust in Him a name here: CONQUERORS. This is a battle word. It’s not a dainty, “let’s go have a cup of tea” kind of word, but a word with vivid imagery of strength and winning after a battle. Season changes are hard sometimes because we have to fight things–maybe sin, relationships, temptations, or difficult circumstances. But I learned this year I am conqueror not because I’m super awesome. But because He loved me! It doesn’t say I’m a conqueror because of all the effort I placed fighting my sin or manipulating my circumstances, but rather God’s Word says I’m a conqueror through Him because He loved me.
  • in ALL these things“–All may be a small word, but it includes everything. No matter what the season brings, it ALL works out for my good and for His glory. When I face the change, that’s included in the word ALL. I can be a conqueror of change because it’s through Him who loves me. When I face consistency and I just want it to change, I can wait knowing I’m a conqueror through Him who loves me.

Regardless of season, God is GOOD! Rejoice in who He is and remember all He has done! Take a look with me through 2018, and I would love to hear what God did in your year! Let me know by leaving a comment!


Friends and Community

I’m super thankful for the group of friends God placed in my life through the coffee shop! They seriously are a safe haven! We don’t get together as much as I would like to see everyone because the season is changing. We have married, engaged, and dating couples and us who are single! There have been new jobs or promotions. Our Bible study didn’t happen like it did last year, but not knowing when I would see everyone next, made me cherish the moments we did get together. We had a random dinner at Azzip at the beginning of the year, moving me, Pumpkin Carving, and Gingerbread House Decorating.

 

One special shout out to Taylor. She and I joke, but it’s so true, that our friendship is life. We don’t stop and take pictures together because our moments together are us processing through what God teaches us, it’s the hard and celebratory conversations. This year, I bought a house (more on that below), and Taylor was in the works of doing the same thing. I bought a house in April, and shortly after, her and her husband Noah put an offer in on one they really loved. We paused and just prayed over the offer. They both really wanted it to be accepted, but we prayed for God’s will to be done, but I was quite confident (whether it was the house we prayed over or not) they would be less than a mile away. The offer was not accepted, but literally a month later, they found the BEST house and it’s 0.7 miles from my house! It’s awesome and there’s nothing like having a godly friend to walk through the difficult with and celebrate the joys! She is beyond a blessing! God has used her in ways to encourage and uplift my faith with her encouraging notes and texts. She speaks hard truth to me that’s grounded in God’s Word.

 

img_4064I could go on and on about the friendships that have happened from the coffee shop: The Beales being such a huge encouragement through Grad School and Ministry. They are just incredible people! They also bought a house this year (seemed to be in the air). I know I’m leaving people out, but know you are important and I am so grateful for you! No matter where the friends came from, they are the ones that I know that at any moment, they would encourage me in Truth.

If:Gathering

I love any chance to gather people together to worship, learn, and be in community. If:Gathering was and is that! Last year, we had about 50+ women gather together. It was absolutely beautiful. This was one of those faithful moments where God totally outshines Himself. Most people don’t know, but I contacted the church about hosting in November and needed to make a few more contacts before given the seal of approval. I hadn’t heard anything, so I went ahead and signed up thinking I would host people at my house because I was knew I should host the event! Literally on Christmas Eve 2017, I got approval and the event was in about a month. Planning kicked off quick as well as registration! And let me tell you, what I thought was only going to be a small gathering in my house ended up being a church/community event for women in the area to grow in their faith!

img_0301Not to mention the event itself was over the battle between doubt and faith. Things I had been battling spiritually were confronted head on through different speakers. Doubting God’s ability to change circumstances in the midst of everything changing, I started to doubt God. One of the speakers taught over Paul and Silas when they were in chains and I remember her saying worship was their battle cry. Since then, I’ve worship through the circumstances to see the Lord more clearly inspire of circumstances not changing.

Grad School

img_0518Oh the joy! NOT! This has been a true test of faith from beginning to present time. A couple of years ago, I started feeling the Lord press on my heart writing. I didn’t know what this meant as to whether or not I would be writing a book someday or simply working in publishing. But also as a teacher in Kentucky, I knew eventually I would need my Masters to keep my license, but I didn’t want to waste money until I knew it was what God wanted. I started looking into different jobs in writing and the job description requested a Masters in English–which makes sense. After searching through all the different degree programs in Kentucky, there was only one place to go–Murray State. I applied. I was accepted. I enrolled.

img_5414-1So as you read through all these different moments, remember I took classes through all this. I cannot do any of it–especially grad school–without God. I knew I would fail if I didn’t keep Him at the center. And taking these classes, I’ve had the opportunity to talk about faith whether that be analyzing Matt Chandler’s sermons or poetry (thank you Lord for taking that class).

Here’s the irony, and really how you know God wants me to get a degree in English–I completed 6 hours of classes in the Spring Term, 9 hours of classes over the Summer, and then took another 6 hours of classes in the Fall Term. Now, to keep my teaching license in Kentucky, I needed 15 hours of coursework by Spring of 2019. Then an email was sent to everyone in the state in September stating a Masters degree is no longer required to keep teaching. LOL. Really? So here I am, three classes and a test shy of a degree. Don’t worry. God’s made it clear I need the degree. It will be finished! But you have to love the humor!

Concerts

Worship is a huge part of my heart! This year, I was able to see Rend Collective, the Outcry Tour, and Lauren Daigle–not including the concerts I have on the weekly basis blaring the radio in the car or in my room.

img_0925There’s something about worshiping the Lord with others that is a glimpse of heaven. Rend Collective released their album Good News and hearing the album live was incredible! With life changing, their song “Weep With Me” stuck out to me so much. Their concerts are so full of celebration in God’s glory, but they took a second and understood not every season feels like a party, yet God is still good and can be glorified.

Outcry was great! So many different artists all in one place, but the worship was so real and authentic. Praising God focuses my mind on Him and not on the things around me. With so many new things in buying a house and grad school, and then things not changing, I was (am) desperate for God. Worship is a cure for my aching heart! Not to mention going with some good friends from church was a blast!

 

Lauren Daigle. I feel like that’s all I need to say! My friend Austin is her Production Manager and hooked me up with tickets! Although I missed his wife coming with me, it was fun to go with my sister! It was a great way to kick off the Christmas season, but I was so thankful she ended with “How Can it Be” and “You Say”! Two of my favorite songs from her that claim so much truth in them!

 

Church

img_1428Where do I start? I literally L.O.V.E. my church. The people are incredible. Don’t get me wrong we’re sinners, definitely not perfect, but they are so great! We had a church wide emphasis on sharing the Gospel. Can we just take a moment and celebrate a church encouraging and providing a means of accountability for the church to share the Gospel? It’s so awesome! The goal was to have 1000 Gospel conversations this year and as of December 23, we had 1198 conversations. This is exciting!

Our Women’s Ministry is awesome! Julie Greenbank does an awesome job organizing different events for all of us to get together. I went to Los Bravos a couple of times and to the big summer party at Julie’s house for a cookout! These women offer so much knowledge and wisdom coming from all different perspectives and places in life!

 

Student Ministry is a giant blessing as always! Pouring out to the students each week is always a highlight. We occasionally change up a Wednesday night for a worship/prayer night and those are some of the most powerful nights because students get an hour to pray, worship, and read scripture. They are so focused on God that He is able to speak to them! This year, I’ve watch our students lead whether that be at Easter Egg Hunts, VBS, or helping in the nursery. I’ve seen them grow at Crossings Camp–which is always full of memories including a Bob Ross birthday party for Matt, Goodwill Dance Party, and Trevor’s farts in cans! Also, we could potentially have the best dancers of the Church Clap!

 

No matter what event was being held whether I was leading, volunteering, or participating, God continued the theme of me being a conquerer through Him. Each Gospel conversation was a reminder of God’s love demonstrated on the cross. It didn’t matter what came my way because God’s love was and is always there.

 

NEW House

img_0895In January, I started looking for a new place to live because the gracious family I lived with for two years needed the barn for baseball practice (they alone are a blessing from the Lord). I cannot tell you how great it was to live there! The barn holds so many dear memories from tricycle rides to the kids coming down and making desserts! But after looking at several different houses, I settled on the perfect house! I knew from the moment I walked in the house, it was my house!

img_0900I closed on the house on April 4th and immediately started renovations. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and with the help of my parents, the Gartons, and a few friends the updates were completed in two weeks. Literally in one night the house went from dirty yellow walls to an uplifted gray with white molding. Everything happened so fast and by April 14th, it was time for move-in. I had quite the little army helping me move from the barn to the house! It’s amazing how God provides the people in every season.

Even though the house is still going through a facelift, it’s no longer the scary house that Emily and Lauren first visited; but now it’s a home. It’s been a great place to host people and I’m so excited to see what the Lord does through this house. Since I started looking for a house, my prayer has been God would make it a place of refuge and strength for anyone who walks in. It’s seriously not my house because I never saw myself buying a home by myself, so clearly this was a God thing! It’s not mine; it’s His! I’m excited to see what He does!

 

Adventures

This year was so full of so many adventures. Every time I get out of Evansville, I try so hard to use it as a chance to rest my heart. I’ve learned over the years I have to find rest in God alone. As the seasons change, it’s so important for me to find those moments wherever I go, and sometimes it’s nice to get away. I went to Nashville and visited my dear friend Nichole! Although we aren’t together much, we pick up where we left off and she encourages me along the way. Together, we went to The Belonging Church, and it never ceases to amaze me how God speaks exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. He used this mini adventure as a way to speak truth into my heart!

Fast forward to the summer, I made my second trip to The Keys with Mikayla and Drew and our friend Nick joined us. We drove this year. Note to self–it’s worth the money to fly! Don’t worry, I didn’t fry myself like I did last year! The landscape was slightly different with the hurricane that blew through the year before. It was crazy to compare pictures of our trip in 2017 to 2018. The highlight of the trip was watching Drew propose to Mikayla! Of course she said yes! I’m so excited to celebrate their marriage this upcoming year!

 

I ended summer with a quick trip to Chicago with Mikayla. We stayed with my friend from college, Kalli! I love every chance to see her. She was a mentor/best friend in college  so she was great to talk to about the transitions in life! She provides such godly wisdom no matter how difficult it is to hear. Kalli has this way of challenging me to be better and the questions she asks get me to think about the posture of my heart.

 

Fall Break my sister and I loaded up the car and went to Myrtle Beach. The Hurricane was coming through so we only had a couple sunny days at the beach, but we made the most of it by playing tourist and reading on the balcony. It’s crazy what God will teach you when you put away the phones and rest. I was amazed at how big God is. When I think about my circumstances being big, the oceans raging remind me God is bigger and in control. This was especially encouraging in this season of transition; just being at rest with who God is and resting in Him instead of anything I can bring to the table.

 

Right at the beginning of Christmas Break; Drew, Mikayla, Mikayla’s mom, and myself loaded up for a quick trip to Chicago to wedding dress shop! Chicago is already beautiful, but seeing Chicago at Christmas takes it up a whole different level. Before the dress appointment, we walked around the city, completed with a trip to The Bean. Shopping was a huge success for Mikayla landing a beautiful wedding dress! I’m so thankful to be apart of these moments as she prepares for her wedding.

 

Discipleship

If you’re ever wondering whether or not you should disciple someone, the answer should be a yes! There are so many benefits to it, including strengthening your own faith.  In the spring, I was able to lead our high school girls small group! I love them all so much! It doesn’t take long before they become a big part of my life!

img_1855Emily and Lauren graduated from North this year leaving our small group, but our friendship goes on! At this point, my house is like their second home! I love having them over, even if they take “Welcome to Rachel’s NEW House” videos! No matter what I can count on them for a life.

cbc4d048-6693-4d2c-a025-01b132c6e667One-on-one discipleship continued with Macci. She started her senior year in the fall and has applied for college (I’m only crying that another one of my girls is graduating and about to head off to college). It’s been awesome watching her wrestle with God over her future. I’ve watched her surround her plans to whatever He has in store! Her boldness in her faith, encourages me to be just as bold.

img_5823I also started meeting with Ashley this year! She’s so talented and way more intelligent than me! I have to ask her sometimes to dumb it down for me! Regardless, God is doing some mighty things through her. One of my favorite things about Ashley is her heart for people. It doesn’t matter age, intelligence, beliefs, or whatever else about you; she wants you to know you are loved and she offers it so well. She is gracious and kind. If anything, God has used Ashley to teach me how to be kind to myself and accept grace and compassion.

One very unexpected discipleship relationship happened with a long-time friend from high school, Sam. Sam and I have known each other for 12 years. We’ve not been intentional all those years mainly because she was a senior when I was a freshman. It was an unlikely friendship in high school, but God had such bigger plans. Here we are 12 years later, and I get the opportunity to go through Ephesians with her. It’s been a giant blessing, but we don’t have any pictures together yet! 😦 What went from high school, to random hellos, to an intentional coffee date, is now weekly discipleship. So many things have happened in those 12 years for us to be where we are today, but God used Sam to show me He is always at work behind the scenes. Literally, everything in life is on purpose and there’s not one thing God doesn’t see.

Salvations

I prayed last year that I wanted  to see God save 30 people this year–and I did. Our church saw so many salvations in Ecuador through the three mission trips there, and then at camp, I watched student after student stand proclaiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But personally I’ve seen God save 12 people I’m close with!

img_0054Shawn kicked off the year by getting baptized in January. Although baptism doesn’t save you, Shawn proclaimed Jesus as His Lord and Savior. Since then, he’s gone to be with the Lord, but watching Shawn share his story through writing was a commonality between the two of us.

img_0340I will never forget the day Ashley came to know Jesus. It was a random snow day and Lauren called me to come talk to a couple of her friends about Jesus; Ashley was there but wasn’t the one we were actually talking to. However, it was through this conversation God worked and revealed to her she wasn’t a believer. Ashley and I were in the car headed to Azzip when she said she needed Christ as her Savior and Lord.

img_6340Kayley is a special one! This sweet girl came to visit me in December at my classroom. I knew then she wanted to have a serious conversation, but I brushed it off. I left that conversation super convicted because I felt God encouraging me to have a spiritual conversation with her. It took until February for us to meet up, but when we did, she chose to place her faith in Christ!

img_0975Joe came to know Christ through Ashely’s story. When they say the multiplication process happens when you come to know the Lord–it’s real! You can’t help but tell others about what Jesus has done in your life.

img_5470Alex is a former SMS teacher and I love hanging out with him and his wife McKenzie at Proper. They are regulars as much as I am. But I got a text from McKenzie saying Alex had decided to follow Christ and was getting baptized! Of course, I had to be there! I loved celebrating and being God’s work in their family! I love them so much and am so thankful to do life with them–even if it’s the occasional basketball game or coffee!

Drake, Maelee, and Tristan! All three of these students were saved at camp this year! Drake and Maelee both came to know the Lord on the same day by talking to a leader. In both instances, they knew they could never do anything to save themselves, and they trusted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Tristan is a cool story! His sister, Chloe, shared the Gospel with Him outside and he put his faith and trust in the Lord, but I don’t have a picture with him either.

 

img_5890Alaina, Sophia, Kylin, and McKenna are two sweet girls! I’ve known Alaina for a couple of years now as she has come to multiple retreats and camps. She stopped me in the middle of our worship/prayer night and wanted to pray to receive Christ. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have someone stop you after praying and reading Scripture on their own and for you to see God move in them. It’s obvious and God can’t be stopped. His work is too mighty! Alaina was the first that night, shortly followed by Sophia. I don’t know Sophia super well, but she was one that after talking with her and Dana, she came to know Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. While conversations with Alaina and Sophia were taking place, Rachel got to have a conversation with Kylin and Matt had a conversation with McKenna. At the end of both conversations, they both came to know Christ!


I’m not quite sure what God has in store for 2019, but I have come to the place in life where God is it! He’s the greatest and most important. Nothing compares to Him. For awhile that was just something I sang until I believed it, but now I can sing it and proclaim it as truth for my life.

I’ve learned that no matter what the year brings, God has called me a conqueror because of who He is and what He has finished through the work on the cross. Life is going to bring curveballs because we live in a broken word, but the God over ALL holds it ALL. It doesn’t matter if the war is waging, God goes before, He’s with me during, and He comes behind me. I am not alone. All I have is Christ, and for that, I can truly say I am a conqueror through Him!

Plugged-In to Shine

bf746174-8526-410e-b2bf-1b583dd2277f-1I love having my Christmas tree up! There’s something about the Christmas tree with all the ornaments, garland, and lights that just make any place feel a little more like a home. It seems to warm the place up and make it more inviting. But when the lights aren’t plugged in, the tree sits there almost lifeless. The lights are on the tree, but since they aren’t plugged in, the tree isn’t the same. It’s not as inviting. BUT the lights (when plugged in) give the tree its life. It’s almost as if the lights only have purpose when plugged into the power source.

The more I thought about the lights on the tree, the more I started to see this in my relationship with Christ. I know that sounds a little farfetched, but here’s the analogy:

When we (as lights) are not plugged into Jesus (our power source), we sit in a world of darkness (the tree when the lights aren’t plugged in) forgetting our purpose.

BUT when we (as lights) are plugged into Jesus (our power source), we sit in a world of darkness bringing light (the tree when the lights are plugged in) remembering our purpose.

Now I know all of that is a mouth full, but read it again. And again. And again.

I so desperately want you to see this picture, so let me break this down.

Jesus is the Light

The first thing about these statements is whether or not the lights are plugged into a power source. The lights are giving off life and have purpose to the tree when the lights are actually plugged into the power source. Without the power source, there is the absence of light. I’m sure someone with more of an electrical background could help communicate this better, but basically there’s some kind of current running between the outlet and the lights. I know that’s not super descriptive, but I do know the power source is the ultimate light.

In the same way, Jesus is our power source. In John 8:12 Jesus declares this when He says, “I am the light of the world.” There is no greater light than Jesus. In fact, in Isaiah 60:19-20 we are told twice, “the Lord will be your everlasting light.” This is an incredible truth that we can hold onto. God is not EVER going to run out of energy. He’s never going to burn out. He does not tire. He is an everlasting light.

The awesome thing about John 8:12 though, is that it doesn’t stop with Jesus declaring He is the light; but it continues on with Jesus offering us His light.

Jesus’ Light Calls Us Out of Darkness

I think we can all agree the world is a dark place. We are at the end of the year, and some reflecting back through their year can think through all the horrific events that have occurred. It’s been a dark year. Or maybe the year hasn’t been dark, but you can just see the corruption of the world all around and it’s dark. But our hearts and bodies long for light. We don’t want to be in darkness, we want to be in the light. So after Jesus declares He is the light, he doesn’t say, “Na Na Na Na Boo Boo, you can’t have it,” but rather, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus provides a way out of darkness by following His light.

What’s this darkness?

For clarification, I’m not just talking about dark, pitch black, middle of the night kind of darkness; but rather I’m talking about the darkness of sin that rules over our hearts. God’s Word teaches our darkness is due to that fact that we were dead in sin, following the ways of the world because of the disobedience we were born into. This sin came in Genesis 3, when man disobeyed God. Ever since, that one act of disobedience has forever separated us from God. There was no way out. We couldn’t ever invent a time machine to erase that mistake. We couldn’t do enough good things to remove our sins. We couldn’t do it ourselves. The only thing our sin did was create darkness and separation from God, which ultimately is death.

Yet, we see in John 8:12 a gracious and loving Savior, someone who doesn’t want us to be separated, someone who doesn’t want us to be in darkness. We see Jesus offering a way out. He’s providing a light. Being full of mercy, Jesus let’s us know His light is the way we are no longer in darkness AND it’s the way we have life. He wants us to be alive in the light. 1 Peter 2:9 proclaims that we are called “out of darkness into his marvelous light,” but whether or not you accept the light is up to you.

You can choose to stay in the darkness of death, or you can choose to accept the light of life.

Going back to my Christmas tree for just a second, without the power source, the lights are useless. But when they are plugged in, the tree lights up and there is life to the tree. But if I go and unplug my lights from the power source, it doesn’t take but maybe a millisecond for the lights to go out.

So what about this idea with our spiritual lives?

I don’t believe you can lose your salvation, so if you’ve accepted the light I honestly believe you can’t lose that; but I also believe you need to stay plugged in. Similar to the lights on my Christmas tree, when you’re not plugged in, the light grows dull and darkness starts to grow.

Stay Plugged-In to Jesus’ Light

Jesus didn’t use Christmas tree lights to explain the importance of staying plugged into the power source, but rather he uses a vine and branches. Jesus tells us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” What Jesus says here is we are connected to Him like branches are connected to vines. When we are that connected to Him, we will bare fruit. If we aren’t connected to Him, we can’t do anything. Don’t run to quick past that because I think so often we fall into the lie that we can do it all on our own. Jesus literally tells us we can’t.

Unfortunately the part of living in a dark world that is unavoidable is brokenness. It’s everywhere. It’s not just the culture or the bad things you hear being reported through news and social media, but the brokenness is in us. Think about how many of us try to be perfect. We think we have it all together. We try and do it all on our own because asking for help is seen as a weakness. Or what about the lack of being accepted we feel, so we try really hard to be accepted by others so we do more things to get that attention or acceptance? How about seeking control? We are tired of things spinning out, so whatever we can control must be controlled because we can do it all. Or even the idea you can erase your darkness. You start thinking if you do one more good thing maybe that would eliminate that sin.

Newsflash: You can’t. You cannot do it all. You cannot save yourself. You can never be good enough. You will never be perfect. BUT JESUS IS!

When we abide in him, when we are plugged into Him; that’s when we are able to go about the broken and dark world and not let it overcome us.

What does this practically look like?

04b4bdc3-1f6e-4081-8226-c853c14d1534Read your bible. It’s that simple. Psalm 119:105 makes it even more clear to us that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We have God’s Word right at our fingertips. It’s readily available to show us the direction we should go in every season of our lives–single, married, kids, empty-nesters, etc. It’s all in there. God literally addresses everything. He lights the way before us so we don’t ever have to step into darkness because He is the light. Open it and read it. Stay plugged into Him. He can’t and won’t leave you. When you have Him as your light, He’s there with you at all times. Will you talk to Him? Will you let Him speak into your life? Will you hear what He has to say through the reading of His word? Will you be bold enough to share the light of His word to others?

Shine the Light

When I’m hanging my Christmas lights up on the tree, I plug the lights into the outlet. But when I run out of lights on one strand, I just plug another strand of lights into the lights that are plugged into the outlet. And you know what, the power continues to run to those lights as well. The light spreads, creating more light.

Y’all here’s the great news–Jesus is the light that calls us out of darkness and when we accept His gift of life, we become light. We radiate wherever we go. We cannot hide the light, but we shine the light we have received to others. When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16 says He calls us “the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others.” We can’t hide the light we have received, but we shine the light.

 

If you have never been to a candlelight service, let me encourage you to go to one today. If you’re in Evansville, my church (NorthWoods) has one tonight at 7pm and I would love for you to come join! This whole concept of us shining our lights to a dark world is demonstrated. During the service, all the lights go out in the sanctuary. It’s dark. But then the pastor lights one candle. This represents Jesus as THE light of the world. The pastor will walk over to someone in the congregation and lights their candle, and that person shares the light with someone else and within minutes, everyone in the sanctuary has a lit candle. Everyone shares the light with those around them. It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus being the light of the world and us sharing His light to those around us.

Looking back at Matthew 5, pay attention to what Jesus says. He calls all of us who have received the light to be a light to the world. He says we can’t hide, yet so many of us hide. We don’t want people to know we have the light of life. This would be like if you received the candlelight in the service and didn’t share it. You would basically be saying, I have this awesome light, but you can’t; but just so you know, that’s the opposite of what Jesus says. Yet so many of us live in that hiding phase. We want the life of the light, but we don’t want to shine the light. You cannot have the life, the freedom from darkness, without having a light. And if you have the light of life, Jesus tells us to let our lights shine before others.

This idea of letting light shine is not only towards pastors or leaders in your churches, but everyone who has received the light. Paul writes in Acts 13:47, “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” This commandment is for anyone who has received salvation. If you have received the light, you are to shine it. Don’t be afraid to share the light. You’re plugged into the great source of light. He is the one who shines. He does it all. All you have to do is be obedient to faithfully shine His light.

What Now?

I don’t know the status of your heart, only God knows that. But I want to challenge you to think about these questions and actually do something with them. Don’t let this be another blog you read, but actually let God do a work in you. The new year is about to start and it would be awesome to start that shift in your heart now to be plugged-in to the light and let it shine.

  • Do you believe Jesus is the light?
  • If not, what’s holding you back?
  • If you believe Jesus is the light, have you accepted Him to be light of you life? to be Lord and Savior?
  • Are you allowing Jesus’ light to expose any areas of darkness (sin) in your life?
  • Have you sought forgiveness for your sin?
  • How plugged in are you to God’s Word?
  • Are you listening to God? Are you willing to listen?
  • Are you letting His light direct your path?
  • Who are you shining His light?

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” -Ephesians 5:8

 

20b2fa4a-69ec-4740-87de-63c27be7eef1-1

(in)courage

I’ve been meeting with a few ladies lately and there seems to be a consistent need–REST. We are worried people who need to find rest in the Lord. God desires us to come to Him and find rest. It’s just a matter of creating space. God wants you to be with Him. But what I see across the board, and even in my own life, is life getting busy and full and that leaves little space for us to find rest. Sometimes it’s just a lack of unwillingness to be still before God. However, the times we do find rest in Him, we actually get to see God be God over our lives and we leave feelings encouraged.

The question–are you willing?

Can I please just beg you to be willing? I promise the freedom you will experience in Christ is well worth it all. He provides you with rest when everything else seems to be bogging your down. Coming to the feet of Jesus and recognizing just how weak I really am is the only place I find peace and strength.


There are plenty of great resources out there for you to get invested into God’s Word. I want you to feel equipped so I try to share different resources with you. If you aren’t quite sure where to start with the whole Bible reading, click on this link and it will give you some insight.

I want to share with you another resource that I’ve come across. Quite honestly, this one is different than several other Bibles I’ve come in contact with. In fact, I would say if you’re looking for a Bible that includes devotions that help you rest in God, this is the PERFECT Bible resource for you.

The (in)courage Devotional Bible is more or less an aid in helping you create that space to find rest and as the title suggests–encouragement.img_6023

img_6025The Bible begins with a place for you to commit yourself to studying God’s Word and finding people to study with. Community is a key part of finding rest in God. We do it independently, but there’s something that happens in our hearts when we get to share what God is teaching us with others. I love that the Bible even gives you an opportunity to write out those people.

Not only does this Bible offer the Word, but it has built in devotions. There are ten different devotional themes to guide you through your reading. What is unique about these devotions is that they are color coordinated (if you’re anything like me, you will love that), and the devotions give you questions you can journal through.img_6030

Speaking of journalling, I think one of my favorite parts of the Bible other than that it’s super colorful, there is space for you to journal. I write in my Bible so much, so the fact there’s space to actual write out what God is teaching me as I rest in Him is a great feature. It combines the Journal Bible to this Devotional Bible.

The other neat feature in this Bible that sticks out before the others is the highlights of the different females throughout the Bible. As you come across different women in the Bible, there’s this little extra devotional to help further your study. It’s a great feature to really help you see God’s faithfulness in every season whether it be in blessing or a time of repentance. img_6029

Regardless of where you are in your walk with the Lord, it is my encouragement to you to get in the Word. It really is the food for our hearts and the air we need to survive. It is the only thing that keeps me going. It’s not by accident that the publishers of this Bible title it (in)courage because the only way I ever feel encouraged is by getting IN the Word.

If you’re looking for those people to help you commit to reading, let me know! There’s nothing I love doing more than reading through Scripture!

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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.

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!