You Call Me Out Upon the Waters

Psalm 27:13
“What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!”

Tonight I am holding onto the promise that You, Lord God, have such great things in store for me, much better than I truly believe for myself. And You are so very faithful, especially as You call me to step out in faith, trusting that You won’t ever leave me on my own.

A dear friend came to me after the service and shared that God had given her a message for me. She shared that “God is calling me to something greater and I need not worry because He is next to me. I need to step into this new season with confidence. He is doing great things through me and has not forgotten me.” She kept repeating “You are not alone.” and “He has not forgotten you.”

There are promises I’ve heard the Lord speak to my heart that carry a great deal of hope, particularly about the places that He is guiding and leading me to during this season of my life. I have beenI struggling to trust Him yet I want more faith to believe that He will open the doors, that He will make a way for me to step into them.

The picture I have is a closet, full of new clothes, things I’ve been waiting to wear for a long time. And what’s even more humorous is that I have exactly that in front of me. It’s time. It’s His timing being fulfilled. Right now.

And the question that’s being asked is “Will you receive the gifts I want to give you? Will you extend your arms so that I can lavish you with My deep, nurturing love?”

2 Corinthians 1:20
“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.”

So, I run to You Daddy God and say “Yes! I will trust You even when it doesn’t make sense. I will cry out to You to heal the broken places in my heart, for restoration where I feel bruised and tattered. I will choose to believe that You have the very best intentions for my life and that I will see Your plans, Your purposes and all of Your wonderful promises fulfilled in my life because that’s what You long to do for me, Your daughter, a child of the Most High King.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me,
and take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
and my faith will be stronger in the presence of my Savior

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

I know that You, my God, are calling me to a deeper place of trust in my relationship with You. Help me to believe for the “and greater” when my eyes can’t see what’s happening in front of me.

A Great Adventure

20140815-222315.jpg
Last weekend I hung out with some friends hiking up Mt. Rainier. I hadn’t been on a hike since last summer and I really wasn’t ready for the adventure that came with this one. It was probably the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on, climbing much higher than a thousand feet, but it was totally worth it. With hiking boots in hand, I joined my friends, catching up on life during our car ride towards the mountain.

20140815-222637.jpg
What a treat for me to be encouraged by our conversation, meeting new friends from their church and enjoying the beauty of the day. The mountain flowers were such a beautiful sight to see.

20140815-222710.jpg
For me, going up isn’t as difficult as coming down, but I was ready to embrace this adventure.

20140815-223007.jpg
The climb eventually had me beat. At one point I sat down because I kept thinking to myself

“How would I make it down over rocks and snow?”

This was definitely not what I had in mind when I had decided to come on the hike. I struggled a lot with whether to keep going and even attempted to try to climb up some rocks on my own, but by myself, I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. The belief that I could keep going was fading fast. It wasn’t until someone came back for me and encouraged me to try once more that I decided to keep going.

I was able to continue hiking up the mountain, through snow and over rocks. Someone else in the group offered their poles, a tremendous support going up and then coming down as well. Not only did I have the help of friends, but I was equipped with the right gear.

Life can be the same you know. I often think that my culture has influenced me to live independently for the sole purpose of not becoming a burden to anyone. But part of the adventure is living in dependence, not only on God, a loving Father who cares for us, His kids, who wants to help us journey through all parts of life, but with each other as well. Had I not chosen to trust that my friend’s heart towards me was for my good, I would have missed out on the glory of these beautiful sights:

20140815-223545.jpg

20140815-223641.jpg

20140815-223726.jpg

20140815-223812.jpg

20140815-224040.jpg
Here I am near the highest point we went, maybe a mile and a half from the trail head. I was tired and worn, but able to keep going.

20140815-224130.jpg
I can’t tell you how painful it was to hike down. At times it was so steep and I felt like my feet were going to fall off or that my knees would give out from under me. Sometimes life presents itself like this.

20140815-224412.jpg
The path is steep and full of turns. We don’t always see what’s coming at us. And then we get distracted following others instead of walking together, doing life in the company of those who see us as we are, treasures.

I keep thinking about these words from an old Steven Curtis Chapman song:

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild, blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

I think there are many souls in our world who are overwhelmed at living in this place, at this time in history. They don’t know how important they are right now, acting out their role in the universe around them. The thought of taking one more step when the pain feels so incredibly unbearable just stops them, dead in their tracks.

Yet when someone comes along to take their hand, hold them up, carry their burden, the ability to keep going grows deeper inside us weary pilgrims.

Sometimes I find myself there, helping encourage the ones who can’t see how they’re gonna make. I don’t know that my words are as helpful as just being present for them. Sometimes I’m the one who wonders how I will take the next step. And I am definitely guilt of giving in and giving up on myself when it seems so difficult to keep going.

But how grateful I am for those who encouraged and won’t let me do life alone.

Proverbs 18:24
...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Who are those people you call friend?
Who are those who need to be reminded that they matter to the world around them?

I may not know all of these people well, but I do know that they cared about me, about my well-being. They took time to learn about me this weekend, offering acceptance towards me. And I, them.

These folks aren’t the only ones who make my heart so thankful that we don’t have to do life alone. There is always someone available to help. Sometimes it comes in unexpected and even in ways that are not easy to receive, but there is ALWAYS someone. My hope for you is the same for myself, that our eyes will be opened to see who those people are and then embrace relationship with them.

20140815-235142.jpg

Don’t Worry

I can’t sleep.

The rain is keeping me up when it should be soothing me with the rhythms of its down pour and I’ve already been to that place where I could have fallen asleep, but it came and went all too soon. So now I’m awake. Ugh.

This can’t be good because I have to be up early in the morning to attend Day One of a two day training. I think I’m stressed about heading back to school. What do you think?

Yeah, I think you’re right-I’m not ready to go back. Not yet at least. And honestly the thought of heading back into my classroom is a bit daunting. Not for any reason other than I’m fearful that all the great things that have happened this summer will be a memory rather than fulfillment of the answer to my heart’s cry that shouts “Take me deeper Lord Jesus!”

This summer has been one full of adventure with hopes renewed and my heart stirred for an even greater year ahead. There are changes coming in the next year, new teaching opportunities, a different set of routines and habits to support me as I walk the road to better health, and how easily I forget the things I’ve heard a lot in the past month or so:

The kingdom of God is in you. So whatever you need, it’s already there for you whenever you need it.

The enemy of your soul, your adversary, has already been destroyed.

God is for you so who can be against you.

Yet, I have allowed lies to crowd themselves into my mind:

There’s not enough time to do all of the things that need to get done.

The process to get where you want to be is taking too long. It’s slow and drawn out.

Most people don’t understand what you go through.

Sometimes it’s not lies, but the truth of my reality that I’m slammed with:

You are going to revert back to old habits and poor thinking because you haven’t spent the time necessary to get yourself organized. You will feel so overwhelmed when school starts because you didn’t do much when you had the time.

Ever wish you could find the OFF switch? Yeah, me too.

And this so ridiculous because I have no business thinking like this.

Philippians 4:6-8 says
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
“And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things fix your minds on them.”

As difficult as it is at times, I know that this is where the battle in my mind is allowed to rage because I don’t do anything. I don’t respond, sometimes because I’m exhausted from lack of sleep-it’s an ugly cycle to get caught up in and I’m here again. “Why?” (she says with a fist in the air) Other times it’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to exert the energy it takes to remain vigilant-vigilant so that not I’m taken out by the enemy of my soul.

But it always comes back to this truth:

I have a choice to act. Whatever I do reveals what’s inside of me, the things I hold near and dear.

Right now this level of stress is telling me that I need more of the truth that God speaks about me in my heart. It’s obviously apparent that the well has run dry. So time for a fill-up.

I must remember and keep this close in my peripheral: the way that God thinks about me is good. It’s pure. It’s beautiful and kind and compassionate. And no matter what my actions are, He won’t ever change His mind about me.

How am I going to remember this and know it deeply inside of me?

By filling up with His truth.

By letting His words wash over me.

The peace that comes from knowing He is for me and on my side.

He is everyday working everything for good in my life.

And I’m not where I’m at by mistake. He’s placed me there for His purpose.

So I choose to stand in faith, believing He is greater in me than the one in the world whose only goal is to take me out. You see, I’m pretty powerful when I know and believe that I belong to the God of the universe. And I lack nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. At. All.

This has been a life verse for me over the past six months:

Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever.

This Pain Inside

Tears roll down my face
From the deep pain I try to hide
All day I’ve held them back
Keeping this raging storm inside

I’ve tried to avoid this moment
In me it strikes a nerve
Its touch is way too painful
Not one that any deserve

To lose someone close to your heart
Changes everything you know
You’re never prepared for it
The difficult part is letting go

I took for granted the time we’d have,
And assumed way too much
I never realized until now
You were a buffer of such
Such things you knew
That would open the door
to bitterness and offense
Trying to shelter me from the storm

You knew, you could see
The way it would impact me
You knew, you could see
How life would affect me

We weren’t always close
Yet I find myself in your shoes
The way you responded is reflected in the things that I choose

I desperately want comfort
To come like a healing balm
Poured over the wounds in my heart
Like a sweet and peaceful psalm

I long for strong arms of love
To wrap around my soul
Holding me while I cry
“My God please mend, my God make me whole!”

This pain goes deep
It’s nothing I understand
It’s so far beyond my ability
I cannot comprehend
How You will take
The broken pieces of my heart
And put them back together
Giving me a brand new start

Forgive me when I struggle
To let go of my pride
To humble myself
Rather than stay away and hide
When opportunity arises
To shine Your light bright
Help me to let You in
To open my heart up wide

Nothing I do on my own
Will ever heal this hurt
It’s only when I call upon Your name
You pick me up out of the dirt
You dust me off
You hold my hand
You walk with me through this valley
Into my promised land

This place I cannot mend
Nothing I do on my own
Only You can give me hope
Only You restore my soul

The healing process
Is beyond my reach
It only comes from You alone
How to walk through it, that You will teach
Showing me how
To extend love and grace
To forgive those who fail me
I set my heart in this place

So that when expectations go unmet
By those I think should know better
I am reminded of their brokenness
That I too am a debtor

Teach me what to do
When I’m hurting this bad
Show me how to run to You
Whenever I feel sad

Make me willing to become
All You want me to be
The apple of Your eye
Whatever You want for me

This is my prayer
As the rains wash over my soul
Renew me, restore me
Again make me whole

And show me Your ways
That are much different from mine
You are the Branch
And I am the vine

From You I receive life
And all that I need
Because of Your love
Your heart for me did bleed
Your heart for me did bleed

Because He Lives In Me

What an incredible thing it is to know God! Just to know the realness and tangibility of His love is something I continue to experience in new ways everyday.

Today His grace lifted me up out of a pit of weakness, a place where I have found myself living, succumbing to my flesh in the fight against the strong pull of temptations because I was so tired of living a disciplined life, one that I cannot do on my own strength, but rather by leaning on the strong arms of my Savior. He knows my weakness. He knows the temptations and struggles I face. He also knows the schemes and plans of those who work against me to steal, destroy and bring death where He has offered me everything that I have need of in this life, that is accessible to me at any time.

I woke up not feeling well, my voice was weak and in my own strength I knew I wouldn’t be able to lead worship at church. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, but in that moment I just longed to feel differently in my body. For about two years now I have wrestled with a great deal of physical pain. And pressing through it while hoping for a miracle of restoration is not a simple task. Often I feel worn out and weary. And on top of it, I’m walking through a process of healing emotionally. So some days it’s a daunting task just to get up out of bed and start my day, believing that I will make it through whatever comes my way, trusting that God has been with me through it all.

Praise God that I am in a season now where the restoration and healing of my soul, my mind and my body is truly coming to pass! I’m so grateful to God for the people who pray with me, encourage me and stand by me in believing that there is hope for me to be healed and set free because we have a Savior Who went to Hell and paid for my pain with His life.

I opened one of my journals that I began writing in last summer, full of truth about who I am in Christ Jesus and with words of hope to speak out loud whenever I feel lost and discouraged. I read these words:

“God, Your plan for my life is always for me to be blessed and walk in victory! You have an amazing journey of goodness to save, heal and bless me. I know You can help me overcome my addictions and I’m so thankful because I want to be free. Every time I come to You, I win another battle. Help me remember what Your word says: You will never leave me or forsake me, and You love me no matter what. Thank You Lord, for showing me who I am in You.”

As I cried out to Jesus I thanked Him for what He wanted to do today and with that I began to get ready. I turned on some music to worship with and in minutes I noticed that I felt so much better. I was energized and restored and the physical discomfort had left. It was as if the weight of things that have weighed me down were lifted off of me and my faith was being stirred. Hope was growing in my heart and I knew God had a plan for me to be this morning at church.

As I prayed with the sound team and worship band before our rehearsal, I sensed in my heart that God wanted all of us to take turns praying out loud for the service. When they didn’t speak up I knew it was time for me to encourage them with the truth that God wanted to hear the cries of their heart, that He knew they had a specific prayer for today’s service. I was so blessed to hear these young men offer up their petitions to our Savior and knew that it wasn’t a mistake that He led me to have us pray this way.

The time in worship, seeing the beautiful drama and dance that the youth had prepared for today, hearing the word of God about giving all that I am and all that I have to Him, serving in our after-service fellowship were all beautiful reminders today that because God lives in me I am more than able to conquer the things that fight against me, the temptations, the fears, the places where I’ve felt rejection and pain. He IS Alive! He is actively at work in me, changing me with His precious love, wiping away all the dirt and grime that comes from living in this world. He lives in me and because He lives I can face anything that may come, just like the song says:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future
My life is worth the living just because He lives.

Though there are battles that rage inside of me, fighting against the hope that I have received, attempting to rob me of the joy that is so freely given because I am the one in whom God delights, I know that I can walk in freedom and through any storm that I might face. There is an incredible peace that comes from knowing who I am in Christ and that He is always there.

If you don’t sense that peace within yourself, all you have to do is say “Jesus, I need You, right now in this moment. I am running to You with arms open wide. I want to know Your peace. I want to feel Your joy overflow in my heart. You know what I have to face so I ask You to help me walk through this. My hand is in Yours and I will follow where You lead. I will trust that You are faithful to deliver me from the enemies of my soul and any war that rages within me. You are a gracious and loving Savior Who takes notice of me all day long and Whose love is never in short supply for me. Teach me to know who I am in You Lord. Show me my identity and who You say that I am. Help me to become the person You are calling me to be. Thank You for giving up Your life for mine. I receive all that You have for me right now in this moment.”

A Heart of Thanksgiving

Tonight as I was driving home from a busy day at church I was crying my eyeballs out to the Lord, quite literally. I was finally alone and able to pour out my heart frustrated over a situation that continued to leave me in a place of discontent (well, not just one, but several and they seem to all come at the same time-go figure).

I knew I didn’t want to feel this way, much less stay where my emotions were swirling around me like a tornado. My body was telling me how much it didn’t like this and my heart was in full agreement (ain’t nobody got time for that!).

So it occurred to me that I needed to begin thanking God for what He was doing for me now and for when I found myself here again. On Facebook I keep coming across posts that speak to responding with a thankful heart, from a place of gratitude. Honestly that takes a lot of effort at times, especially when it’s easier to wallow in self-pity. But I was desperate to win this battle!

20140223-191758.jpg
I knew it was the heart of God speaking to me, so I thanked Him.

“I thank You Jesus for speaking the truth to me, that You are on my side. When I feel something or someone is working against me, trying to keep me from getting to You, I can remind myself that those things have no power on me whatsoever.

“I thank You Holy Spirit for teaching me Your ways, for reminding me to thank You, to praise You in the midst of my emotions that seem to whirl me out of control. You don’t want me to stay stuck here where my enemies can have their way with me. Thank You for showing me that when I’m under attack to rebuke the enemy. When he lies to me, when I feel terrible because my stomach is bound up by knots of stress to put him in his place, right back in the pit of hell!

“Thank You Father God for speaking to the honest place inside of me that knows my heart and my motives. Thank You for the assurance that You are leading and guiding me, that Your intentions are for my best. I’m so very grateful for Your care, Your love and for drawing me closer to Your heart.”

It was so simple and brought such relief that I still marvel at why I struggle to respond this way when the battle rages in my heart. But I know this to be true:

The enemies of my soul don’t want me to know and recognize that I have already won this fight. They assail me with lies and fear. Their attempts to overwhelm me with doubt succeed at times to throw me into a pit of despair, but today I didn’t stay stuck there, praise God!

Micah 7:8
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise.Though I sit in darkness,the Lord will be my light.

I reached out and took the strong arm of my merciful Father who showed His heart, full of compassion and patience towards me by lifting me up out of the muck and mire, reassuring me of the truth.

“You are loved and cared for deeply dear one. I am on your side and won’t let you go through this battle alone.
I am for you, so who or what can be against you? Nothing. No one can stop what I have planned for you. And it’s so good, so very good. He says

Luke 10:41-42
Elaina, Elaina, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Choose what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.”

Sovereign Lord, thank You for helping me fight this battle, for reminding me that I am not fighting it alone and have the victory even now. Thank You for teaching me to lay hold of who You say that I am: Your daughter, child of the Most High God, the King over all the earth and that I am loved more deeply than I will ever know.

Love Is Worth The Fight

James 1:4 reads
“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

This caught my eye tonight because lately I feel more than overwhelmed at times. In the midst of crying out to the Savior of my soul I know deep inside that I can’t give up now. There’s no turning back for me because I decided long ago I was done with the bad habits and stupid thoughts that have held me captive for much of my life. So onward and upward I climb, but right now I’m worn out. I’ve been sick. I’m tired. I have so many things to keep track of and be responsible for. It’s exhausting trying to live a disciplined life. This is no simple task. It’s requiring every ounce of fight and resolve to keep my head up when I want to shrink back and crumble to the floor.

How often have I cried out for You to change me Lord only to find myself with heels dug in, stalling the process of growth because I didn’t want to do the work of becoming disciplined. Or I was too scared to face the unknown or even so the truth that I’m far from perfect and in desperate need of Your grace to change the ugly places in my heart. I’m really good at coming up with excuses for why I can’t than accepting the truth that I can do this. I will make it because I am not alone.

I’m so grateful to You Lord for not giving up on me. Not once. Not ever! You keep chasing me and calling out to me with such tenderness that I can’t help but know Your love for me runs deep.

Keep calling me. Don’t stop pursuing my heart.

I think of the words from this song that someone long ago said I should listen to, something I didn’t pursue right away, but at just the right moment they hit home with me:

“You won’t relent until You have it all.
My heart is Yours.”

This is my prayer Lord Jesus. I just want to be so in love with You that nothing else matters.

Lessons Learned In 2013

Well, 2013 is coming to an end and 2014 is well on its way. For some of us, the new year is a welcomed change. I’m one of those hopeful folks ready for a fresh start. This morning I was reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year:

Listen to your body. It speaks volumes. When you feel tired, rest. When you feel stressed out, ask why or what is causing the stress and then address it. If what’s causing the stress is beyond your control, the very best thing is to let it go and put it in the hands of God because He is the ONLY One who can take care of the details.

My tastes, my cravings are changing a lot! I can actually talk myself out of running to grab a drink from Starbucks with the common sense that says “I don’t need that right now.” I still enjoy meeting up with friends or going to use wi-fi, but it’s definitely not about the drinks being a regular thing for me any longer.

Make lots of candy, sweet treats and goodies to share with loved ones. It’s what your mom used to do and it always brings such joy. Besides, you have a plethora of recipes pinned to your Pinterest boards. I love cooking! Oh how I’ve missed it and I’m done making excuses for why I can’t. I have new toys to use in the kitchen and I’m taking advantage of their usefulness. I’ve spent the past twenty-four hours making a half dozen yummy treats that are gluten-free and have healthier ingredients. And they all taste great!

Use what you know to help heal your body. I love eating raw foods and will continue to make healthier choices when it comes to food because I feel so much better when I do. When I don’t I hate how my body feels. I’m really getting this message. It’s coming through loud and clear. I can’t afford to keep buying and eating things that used to satisfy me. I would buy too much of it and eat too much of it at one time. And then I hated myself for making those choices. This cycle is coming to an end! That gap is closing moment by moment. Glory Hallelujah!!!

Don’t stop doing what you were made to do just because its difficult or you find yourself facing opposition. There will always be opposition in some capacity. But with courage you can face anything: fear, doubt, worry, hurt, sorrow, discontent and discouragement. God is for us, so who or what can be against us.

Speak the truth whenever possible and do it in love, but don’t be afraid to speak the truth when it truly matters, even if it seems like all of the ugly feelings are going to come out when you do. You can apologize. It’s much better to not keep it in, stuffed deep inside where it could torture you and hurt you even more. The people who love you will accept you and your apologies and will appreciate your willingness to not allow them to stay in that place and they will try to make changes because they care about their relationship with you.

Put up the Christmas tree the night before Thanksgiving-don’t put it off again. You need this to help usher in the season of celebrating the birth of Christ.

Make time for the people who matter most. Enough said!

Rest, rest, rest. Two weeks off from school does not mean to play catch up at home. It means to sleep, play, sleep, play and do what brings you joy.

Go Christmas caroling! You know you love it.

Take long breaks from social media. Your brain can only process so many things at once.

Make time to talk with God every morning when you wake up and at night when you go to sleep. Don’t ignore Him when He is calling to you. When He is singing you a love song, respond by singing it back to Him. Receive His mercy and grace with open arms and His discipline with a humble heart. He is the One, the ONLY One who loves you without condition and will never fail you. Even when you find yourself disappointed by things that are happening, know that He is still working for your best. He doesn’t mind your honesty when you cry out to Him. Sometimes that is the best way to release your hurt and pain before Him. And the allow Him to heal the deep places where your heart is broken. He wants to restore you completely. He will hold nothing back that He has for you. The question is will you receive His gift of life and hope and healing and restoration?