A cloud, some fire and a little mana.

This post is full of thoughts that have been thought before. It’s full of connections that have been connected by others and probably in a much more eloquent way at that. This post is specific to me and where I am and probably not revolutionary to you. But the contents of this post have breathed life into some dead and dry places in my own life. As I sat at my desk today working and coming down off of that vacation high I was reminded of what the Lord had shown me. I almost let go of the lessons and words and pictures stored in my mind as I got back to reality. I almost let the stress and screams of life rob me of the life giving rest and reflection the Lord had gifted me just a week ago. So here I am to hold onto these things and to make sure that I don’t forget.

Sometimes we need to step back from our lives and take a break or at least take a breath and take a peek inside.

Sometimes we need a forced perspective to see what is really going on in our lives and our hearts. I have been in a season of transition and honestly just a season of confusion at times. I have changed jobs and ministries within the last year and found myself wondering what to make of it.

What to do or where to go or where not to go?

Where does God have me?

Where does He show up in this?

How am I serving Him and making disciples?

Why do I feel so stagnant?

Why do I feel so alone in this?

Is this it? Is there more?

Do I need to just succumb to this place right here? Because if so, I don’t like that answer.

All of this and more has been going on in my head and heart. But the Lord knew. He knew I needed a change and He knew that I needed to be refreshed right now, right where I am. I was able to get away for a few days and had a friend come stay with me. Honestly, just having her here made me step back from my day to day, while I was still in my day to day, and really see things for what they were and what they were not.

As we left town we decided to just kind of go with the flow this trip. No forced schedule or timeline. We would drive and get where we were going when we ended up there. This is so not me but I knew I needed to do it and it was so good for my soul.

Like so good.

Taking the long way and driving up the coast was so majestic that I kind of forgot about everything else and I was able to just be consumed in God’s beautiful creation. We drove through mountains as the clouds lifted off to reveal the very blue sky underneath. We drove up the coast and through farmland, through city and through small towns and it was everything.

Thankfully long car rides produce long conversations. One of those conversations was about the Lord and His leading. God’s provision for the Israelites came to mind for me. The next morning as I sat outside reading the word that is exactly where I was. I was in the thick of it with the Israelites. God was leading them by cloud and fire. God spoke to me as I sat there in the morning light.

He spoke to me of deserts and clouds and fire and mana and fear and stagnation and… well, He just spoke to me of all the things that come with all of those things.

He showed me that I have a tendency towards wandering much like the Israelites. He doesn’t leave but I become complacent and I try in my own power to do and to be. But most of the time I’m just wandering, wanting to be in His will or just waiting for His will to supernaturally be poured over me but really I’m just stuck in a desert being fed mana and hating it. Exodus speaks of God providing mana and giving specific instructions to the Israelites to gather just enough for each person in their tent and not leaving any left over. The Israelites take enough for their tent but then they don’t eat it all and they don’t get rid of the remaining mana. They’re either really bad at taking full direction (same Israelites, same), straight up disobedient or they go into survival mode and try to think ahead. Either way this results in some rancid mana. 

They didn’t trust and obey God.

 I sat there and read and thought, that’s me.

I fear, I don’t trust, I walk around the desert hot and grumpy, complaining all the way and I don’t trust God to move or show up. So, I do on my own and end up with rotten results. Just like the Israelites ended up with rotten mana. I end up with results that leave me wanting and confused and this has become a pattern for me, one that I have yet to break.

As I went through the rest of the weekend I didn’t fear or want or worry. I just went where the day took me. I rested and sought the Lord. I recognized that it is my wandering and not the Lord that frustrates me so.

I need to realize that God will provide for my need.

I prayed on this trip to be led by the Lord by cloud and fire, to have open ears and eyes to what He has for me today, not tomorrow but for today. I prayed to end my wandering so that I can run freely in His will for me, so that I can run in the fullness of the life He has for me. I need to trust that His mana is better than anything I could ever conjure up for myself. I need to understand that I’m not just biding my time waiting for the next thing to happen but I need to sit in the fullness of the life he has me in right now. I prayed that I would bathe in His light and life giving breath that sustains and surrounds me.

I needed to take a break from my life and understand where I am and what that means. Where that means my heart is. I needed to come up for a breather and remember it’s ok to be human because that means that God is God. That boundaries I have set up for myself are not necessarily the same boundaries that the Lord wants for me. That a night of just laughing with friends or long car rides filled with voices singing at the top of their lungs is good for the soul and can breathe life into some dead spaces within. That what I have said no to isn’t necessarily what God has said no to. That I need to open myself up to what the Lord has and not just bow down to my fear and waste my time trying to store up what I think I might need for tomorrow.

Maybe this all just sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person but I think there are many of us wandering, discontented in the desert. Many of us are frustrated with where life has us. Many of us don’t realize that we are just wandering in circles just biding our time. Many of us are not living in the fullness of the life the Lord has for us. We just keep circling the same cactus wondering when we will be rescued from the horrid landscape (no offense to you desert lovers out there). Just as the Israelites, we keep ourselves there. We could be out of the desert a lot sooner if we would stop complaining and dragging our feet. If we stopped and took a breath and moved forward instead of in the same circle we’ve been moving in. Let’s dust off our clothes, say goodbye to the cactus and move in a different direction, move forward and live, today, in the fullness of the day the Lord has for us.


A Word Fitly Spoken

I was going through some old paperwork this past weekend and found some old study notes of mine.

They were from a time I was asked to speak at one of our woman’s retreats breakout sessions.

My topic was on how to be a single woman in ministry.

As I was putting my notes together I was simultaneously complaining to a friend about the “stigma” of singleness. Venting about singleness and the stereotype it holds or how I felt people treated me. You know, because I’m a sinner.

Ultimately I was hurting inside and bitter and angry at where God had me in my life. I had a longing that was not fulfilled and I felt less than. Nobody was forcing me to feel this way, I had an issue inside that needed to be dealt with. My friend, as she always does, listened and somehow understood my plight and then she spoke:

She told me that she prays for me and she wants me to be married, she wanted to see me navigate that part of life. But… and that was a big but, she also said that she didn’t know God’s will for my life and nowhere in His word does He promise that any of us will be married or have kids. She told me she doesn’t know if I will ever marry.

I sat there and took in the words. These words were spoken with such love and care, with such purpose and clarity. They hit me right in my chest where I felt them settle and start to work.

I sat there on my bed that night and I sifted and worked through many feelings. I sat and prayed with my face to the ground, not because I am super spiritual but because that’s where the Lord took me. And after all of that the overwhelming feeling I ended with that evening was that I was free.

There was a freedom in the truth she spoke.

I’ve had many different people tell me many different things about singleness and marriage. I’ve heard many different people tell my single friends many things about singleness. I’ve gone to conferences and have listened to podcasts and sermons and have read books about singleness. Sadly, up until about five years ago, on that night, in my room, over the phone, through a friend who was hundreds of miles away was the very first time anybody had spoken words of truth about my singleness.

Those are the words that started to heal me and free me from an expectation I was holding myself to.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuke to an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25: 11&12 

My friend, that night, listened. She listened to not only me but she also listened to the Lord and spoke words of truth that I’m sure were not easy to speak. But words that were needed to be said none-the-less. She didn’t try to make me feel better or to sugar coat things. Out of love she got right to the heart of it and it was exactly what I needed.  
I, in turn, also spoke words of truth to these young twenty-somethings at the retreat the next weekend and I’m not so sure they were ready to receive it. I get that, I’ve been there. As their big eyes looked back at me, the girl who was supposed to give them some sense of hope or some insight on how to navigate around singleness (I know this because I have sat in studies with this exact expectation) was telling them that we are not promised marriage. That we should not be waiting to serve the Lord until a man comes into the picture. That God wants our whole life now. That our relationship with God is our own and that our focus should not be on finding a man but on serving the Lord and His people. I said these words with love and compassion because as hard as they were to speak they were even harder to take in.
I have no idea if any of those girls needed that truth at that moment or if any of them have even thought about it after that afternoon. I do know that God healed me through that lesson and placed my expectation and perspective right where it needed to be.  
I don’t believe these words are just for the single folk. I believe there are many of us in various stages of life that are waiting. Waiting for something else to happen before they move on to fully serve the Lord. Waiting to have kids or to get a promotion, to get into a nicer or larger home, for the kids to grow up or for work to be less stressful. We often times get stuck in life waiting for the next thing before we move forward with the Lord. I’m not saying that there aren’t seasons in life that we should step back and wait on the Lord to move us forward or that raising kids and a family are not important. What I am saying is most of the time our lives are not going to go as planned. Sometimes we need to let all of that fall into the background and just serve the Lord. Whatever that looks like in your life and I think we all know deep down if we aren’t living in that space.
All of that to say:

Friends, this life is not our own so lets speak truth in love and follow hard after the Lord.

A Mother’s Love

I sat in church the other day and saw the red ribbon sticking out of my bible. I turned to the page and saw the book mark labeled “A Mother’s Love is forever”. 

Am I a mother? No.

Why do I have this bookmark? It’s a silly story but during my many years as a youth leader I led many groups at Summer and Winter camps. Some years are more memorable than others and one year my group of kids found the ribbon in the mini chapel and it became sort of our unofficial (and our inanimate) mascot. I have kept that ribbon in my bible for years now and it’s a reminder of what a blessing ministry is in my life.

But sitting in church the other day it reminded me of something else.

I am a single girl with no children.

Unless I get married and the Lord wills or unless the Lord leads me to adopt there are no signs that I will ever have any children to raise of my own. But as I looked at that ribbon I was reminded of the youth that the Lord has allowed me to mother through the years. I am reminded that the Lord gave me years of teaching pre-school and mothering pre-school age children five days a week at least eight hours a day. I am reminded of myself as a teenager and young adult and the women that came alongside of me and mothered me in times when I needed it. I am reminded of what God has called us, as women and us as the church to do. Which is to mother. I don’t believe that we are all called to be parents to our own physical children. We do not live in a perfect world so sometimes these things don’t happen the way we would like. I also believe there are some women out there that do not have a desire or a calling to have children and that’s okay. But what God has called us to do is to raise up the younger woman. As I started going through Titus this is something that has been impressed upon my heart even more.

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behave, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things – that they admonish the young women to love their own husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:3-5

My heart, instinctively, has always desired to minister to those women who are younger than me. My heart has always been, or at least since before I can remember, to mother and protect those that are younger than I. Maybe it’s because I was the first daughter, granddaughter and niece in the family and I babysat all those that came after me. Maybe it was because I am the oldest and therefore birth order predicts that I would be a nurturer and really just a bossy pants. But as I get older I see that the Lord has taken that desire to mother and has turned it into a tool to serve His kingdom.

I may not have children of my own but I have cared for sick and hurting children, I have sat up and cried with and prayed with teenage girls who are going through trials and I have sat up nights praying, interceding for young men and women in our youth group. I have been thrown up on and have bandaged cuts and scrapes, I have rubbed homesick backs and soothed restless babies. I have potty trained more kids than I can count and have changed more diapers than I care to know. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back or to get some kind of accolades but I say this to remind myself of what the Lord has allowed me to experience.

The girl with no children.

I’m not saying I know what it is to be a parent but what I am saying is that as long as the Lord allows I will continue to pour into those that are younger than I because it is my duty and because it is my heart, my passion, my desire and I believe part of my calling.

I know the subject of barrenness, whether you physically cannot have your own children or because the Lord has not led you into that season yet can be a very touchy subject. It can be and is very painful and I don’t claim to know anything or have any answers or to really know the first thing about it. What I can say is that from a single girl who always wanted to be a mom, if I stop and look I can see all of the children the Lord has allowed me to mother in one way or another and when I do that I am overwhelmed by His forethought and generosity in that. That He gave me a heart to mother and then provided me the opportunity to do so. Maybe not in the way I would have thought but in the way He saw perfect for me. That He would use me to be even the smallest part of someone’s life younger or older.

I may not understand the depths of a Mothers love but I have experienced the depths of my heavenly Farther’s love for me. My prayer and desire is that the tiniest fraction of that would pour out of me.

Measuring up

I always get a little nervous when I have somewhere to be and I know that I’ll see people from my past. Not because I don’t want to see them but simply because, life. Life moves and goes on as it does. People change and move and grow and get married and have kids and careers and start exciting new ventures and move to far off exotic places. You know, life.

I was getting ready Saturday morning to go somewhere, where I was going to see quite a few people that I had lost touch with and no longer see. Some whom I haven’t seen in like years! I started to panic. Like a real anxiety stricken panic. As I got ready, in true Jenn fashion, by pulling out 75% of my closet and then leaving it on my bed or floor to find the most appropriate outfit. I started to realize all of the people I could potentially run into and I started to focus on the one question that is almost always guaranteed to be asked. “What are you doing now?” Or “what’s new?” Or “How are you doing?”. Yes, how are you doing strikes me with fear and trembling. Especially when I haven’t seen someone in years. I started thinking of how I would respond.

My thoughts went something like this:

People: Hey Jenn! It’s been so long! How are you? What are you up to now?

Me: (tiny beads of sweat forming on my forehead) Oh, you know, same old thing. I still live in an apartment with a roommate. I’m still not married and I have no kids yet. But hey! I work from home in my pajamas now! So, there’s that. I mean some days I don’t even shower!

People: Uh, Oh, wow! Well, I’ve been busy getting married, maybe you saw my wedding featured in Martha Stewart Weddings? Anyways, I have also birthed children whom I now have the very important job of raising up to be good people who love Jesus. On the side I started my own business of making a very specific kind of jewelry from my garage that I sell on Etsy and business is booming!

Me: Oh… Awesome! So, I’m gonna go find a large purse to stick my head in now. See you in another ten years and hopefully I’ll have something more exciting to share. (Runs away arms flailing overhead to her car to bury herself in her purse and cry shamefully all the way home)

And that’s best case scenario!

As one would, I started to succumb to my panic. A friend called as I was putting on makeup and she prayed with me and tried to calm my nerves. She actually stayed on the phone with me until I got to where I was going. I tried to reason with myself that today was not about me. In fact today was very much about a family that I love and has absolutely nothing to do with me. I pulled up to the place and parked my car, my friend still on the phone encouraging me and really wanting a play by play at this point and I started to feel better.

Until I saw some people.

And fear reared it’s ugly head again and started whispering lies into my ears. Lies about not being enough, about not really being an adult or really doing anything with my life at all.

I mustered up the courage to get off of the phone and to run inside. I dodged some people and was embraced by a couple others and thankfully was saved by the bell as the actual thing I was there for was about to start. I walked up and found my seat and sat, thankful that I didn’t have to interact for a while.

I made it out in one piece without embarrassing myself too much and really dodged the questions I feared most. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue lays deep within my heart. Deep inside something is broken, my view is skewed and inaccurate.

Later that evening after I was calm another friend called and I spilled the whole story and panic. She spoke words of truth over me. She lovingly pointed out that life is not measured by a husband and family. Life is not measured by a career. I should not be measuring my life by anything but Gods word. I need to stop thinking about life in earthly mile stones and start taking it day by day as God has outlined in His word:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field , how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ Or ‘what shall we drink?’ Or ‘what shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:25-34

Do. Not. Be. Anxious.

The very next night I started a new book that is based on the book of Titus. As I sat reading Titus I thought “this, this is what I need to measure my life up against”. Believe me I am failing at 90% of what is being outlined in Titus but there was a calm that washed over me as I read the qualifications of being an elder and how older women are to teach the younger. How young men are to conduct themselves and how we, as believers are to be ready. How we are to live our lives out day to day moment to moment. We are not to be measured or to hold ourselves to some kind of earthly barometer. Shame on me for doing so. I can rest in the fact that everyday I am growing and learning and following the Lord. That I can look to His word and take this life that He has given me one step at a time in sync with what He has mapped out perfectly for me. Not for the girl next door or the people I used to know but for me. I can grow in and learn and measure myself up against His word and within the boundaries He has set for me. No, my life doesn’t look conventional and maybe I haven’t moved to a different state or started my own business or have gotten married or had children but so many intangible things have changed and moved and gone on in my life. Things that are not measurable by earthly standards, things that have changed inside of me. Lessons the Lord has taught me and changed me through. Lessons and trials and changes that have changed the core of who I am to, hopefully, become more of who He wants me to be. Maybe I don’t have a grand and exciting answer but I can say that I have grown to know and love the Lord more and more as I walk with Him and that’s all that really matters I suppose.

I. Was. Running.

I hate running.

I know that it’s good for you. I’ve read all of the articles and websites and blog posts about the benefits. I know it relieves stress and changes mood but I hate it. Or I should say I have hated it. I have gone through bouts of running. And by that I mean I have tried to make myself a runner a million times over because I feel like I should be a runner. I know I will only reap benefits from it.

There was the time I entered an 8k with little to no training and pretty much from the start my body was like, “nope! Not gonna do it!” And my shoes literally busted about halfway through and I lost a couple of toenails. And it was only an 8k and I literally walked more than the majority of it!

A couple of years later I tried again but on a treadmill this time and I did pretty well for a few months but then I got bored or busy and I just stopped. I always had to push myself to go I never wanted to I just knew that I should.

The last month or two have been a little hard with transitions and uncertainty and just an overall discontentment. I have shared how I have struggled and wrestled and cried and prayed and thanked the Lord through it. Something has changed in the last few weeks.

What has not changed is my position in life, I didn’t really expect it to.

What did change was discipline.

Through a friend I was encouraged to start to run again.

The first day I didn’t want to but knew I had to. Yes, had to. Something in me was saying I just needed to do it. Maybe that’s over dramatic and maybe in a couple of months I’ll give it up again but for now I know it is something I need to do.

The first week was hard. My body ached. My back and my calves were in pain almost the whole time. Everything was so tight and I would get to the end of my street (and I have a short street) and I would start to talk myself out of this. I was in too much pain and this was just going to make it worse, in fact I am just going to injure myself. But something kept me going. When I get to that point I just start talking to the Lord. In those times I started to thank the Lord that I have a body and legs that can carry me and move me in this way. I change my perspective offer myself some grace and I keep going.

By week two the pains went away and I started to increase my actual run time. Now let me be clear, I am barley a runner in fact at this point I am more of a walker with running intervals. But with each day my body gets stronger and my mind is clearer and I can endure longer periods of running. It’s not perfect and it’s not long but it’s enough to stretch myself and push me forward. The benefits for sure outweigh everything else. I am to the point that I look forward to my run at the end of the day and I am actually bummed when I have plans that don’t allow me to run. Yeah, I’m that person right now. And believe me I am more shocked than anybody else.

The Lord has me right here and I believe it is Him who has prompted me to start running and has put the desire in my heart because this discipline is such a great lesson.

When my mind wanders into the negative during my outings I am learning to redirect them and bring them back to a heart of praise for the body that the Lord has given me. When my calves start to cramp up and I am gimping more than running I remember that I can work through it and as I continue on this journey my body will grow stronger and I will get used to this and be able to work through it more effectively.

This is life. We start new and it hurts. We transition into new seasons and our muscles want to rebel and shut down. We have a choice. We can shift our perspective and thank the Lord for a life that is not boring and a life full of mystery and change and beautiful struggles or we can get to the end of the first street and convince ourselves to go home. To give in and to not fight through it. We can say we just don’t want to anymore. We can’t pray about it anymore. We can’t deal and really we just wont. Or we can fight the pain. We can work through the struggle and turn on some worship and thank the Lord that He is near and He is constantly working in and through us and through the change and transition He is making us stronger and more able. And we can know that just as muscle memory kicks in and our breathing pattern steadies and we can run longer than we ever thought possible, that He will throw in a sharp left turn and take us down terrain that we have never experienced before and we can start it all over again. We will struggle as we should. We will hurt and we will be changed but I think that’s the point.

Running is teaching me more and more about discipline. I can stay home and not run because that would be an instant gratification to my flesh. To be lazy and to just sit and take myself, literally, out of the running. Or I can remind myself that as soon as it’s over I am going to feel great. That I will sleep so well that night. That the next day will be easier as I run. That I will be in a better mood and be able to get out the toxins from my body. I am learning to discipline myself to not look at instant gratification but to look at the discipline that will lead to long term benefits. So as I continue to navigate a life that does not look like what I have always dreamed I can shift my perspective to know that God is working through it and He has me here for a reason and He is molding me and shaping me through it. Through the stiffness and pain He is making me stronger as long as I lean into Him.

As I was out the other day I was done with my warmup and it was time to start to run and my feet were heavy and my body stiff and my thoughts were totally negative and this started pumping through my headphones:

“I will trust here in the mystery,

I will trust in you completely,

Awake my soul to sing with your breath in me

I will worship.

You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I ,

I will worship,

let the weary rise,

lift their eyes to see,

your love crushing every lie,

every doubt and fear,

So I will,

trust here in the mystery,

I will trust in you completely

Awake my soul to sing with your breath in me I will worship,

you taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I,

I will worship.

Hallelujah, hallelujah you are making all things new

Hallelujah, hallelujah you are making all things new

Hallelujah, hallelujah you are making all things new

Hallelujah, hallelujah you are making all things new

Awake my soul to sing with your breath in me I will worship

You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I,

I will worship.”
 Heroes, Amanda Cook

And I was running.

I want to run the race well. I want to dance upon disappointment and I want to worship and trust the Lord through the mystery.

“So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:26&27

Forgetting thankfulness

I have sat down so many times in the last two weeks to write a blog post. I have so many drafts sitting in Word, half done. I have voice messages on my phone that are hoping to turn into some kind of curated work. The thing is, every time I sat down to actually write, it all came out a jumble. Like some kind of rubble I was trying to sift through. Like I was looking for the missing item to help my words make sense. No matter how hard I’ve tried I haven’t been able to find the right pieces to fit everything together. 

I started this blog up again to be vulnerable.

To be a place where we can connect.

Maybe you know where I am? maybe you’re here too or have been here or are approaching this same spot. Wherever that is. What I really don’t want is for this to be some place where I try to eloquently spin what the Lord has really been doing to save face or to try to make things more presentable. The truth is, when we get down to it the question is, are our lives ever really presentable? If we really dig in and really mine for what is going on inside we are not “presentable” humans. We are rough around the edges and crusty (yeah I said it), we are flawed and self absorbent. No matter who we are or what title we may or may not hold we are a mess inside and that is why we need a Savior. That is why God sent His only Son to come to earth to be fully human and be tempted as we are. That is why the same Son had to allow Himself to be murdered on the cross. That is why Jesus, as He hung on the cross said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As His murderers cast lots for His clothes and hung Him up between two criminals. “They know not what they do” as we, today, know not what we do. Because of that death on the cross. That oh so costly and painful death on the cross has made us a free people. A people free from death and covered by grace. So much so sometimes that I think we forget how much of a mess we are and how much we need that cross. How much we still don’t know what we do. I want this to be a place where we can connect in being humans that are not presentable. To be the humans that we are that need a savior and that don’t have it all together. All of that to say that after two weeks of sorting through a jumble of words I was prompted to simply share. So here I am, standing in front of the classroom with my toy to share for show and tell hoping that you can connect in some way or at very least not laugh at my measly offering:

The last few weeks have been, well, for lack of a better word, interesting. I am in this weird stage in life and I’m trying to navigate through it. I have been praying and questioning and on my knees and crying out trying to somehow get somewhere. I don’t know where but that’s what it feels like. Climbing and striving for something and I don’t even really know what it is. All I know is I’m trying to get somewhere that is not where I am currently. I go from lamenting and despairing to the Lord to then asking for forgiveness for acting like a petulant child crying over blessings that He has given me as I sit in a home He provided at a job that He gave me. It’s been a push and pull and when I say that I mean it’s been me pushing and pulling and trying to wiggle my way out of something.

The week got better and Friday came and I couldn’t wait to log off of work and step outside and have some freedom for the weekend. Last night as I got in my car to go home after being out with a friend the lines of the song that came on the radio were “ Oh these hands are tired, Oh this heart is tired, Oh this soul is tired. I’ll keep on, I’ll keep on.” The song went on and I sat there letting the words wash over my soul. These words were what I felt like on the inside, tired. I drove home talking to the Lord (which is not unusual) about the week and my desires and asking why and what and how and asking for forgiveness for even asking for anything and then I got home and walked into my kitchen, still talking to the Lord and I stopped. I stopped and as if there was nothing more to be said I said thank you. That was it. I thanked the Lord out loud in my kitchen, multiple times. As I said those words and nothing else I felt lighter inside. These were the words I had somehow forgotten these last few weeks. I had run through every other prayer. But I had forgotten to just thank Him. To just be thankful. Thankful for the struggle of life that keeps me turning to Him. For the place that He has me in. For my job and for my home and for my friends and family. And my goodness I do not thank Him enough for my salvation. For sending His Son to die on the cross for me because I am a sinner and could never get to heaven on my own.  

Saying the words were somehow freeing. I wasn’t asking for anything, forgiveness or otherwise, or fighting through anything I was just saying thank you. Thank you to a God who is so deserving and so deserving of so much more than just a thank you. So as I thanked Him with my words I will continue to try to thank Him with my life, with my actions, with my attitude. I will continue to be right here where He has me and serve Him here, whatever that looks like. So as the week starts again on Monday morning and as the pressure and stress and discontent rears it’s ugly head again (as I’m sure it will) I will be thankful and I will keep on.

So the moral of the story and from one sinner to another, when things are hard or when things are easy and even when you don’t feel like it, just say thank you.  

The Struggle

Sometimes it takes a late night conversation to make you realize that you’ve lost faith in hope.

The other night as I talked to a friend we struggled with the same idea of some of our desires never being fulfilled, never being met. I realized, as I spoke to my friend and she shared her heartache with me that I’ve lost faith that God can still do these things in my own life.

 I lost faith that He is still on the throne, I’ve lost faith that He is still sovereign and I’ve lost faith that I can still hope in these things as long as my hope is placed firmly in Him and as long as I’m walking in His will. We ask for these things (whatever your “thing” may be) and somewhere along the way I stopped asking. I stopped thinking that I should even think that I might be able to have some of these things. I started to believe that I have to sit quietly and not even ask because it was too much to ask for.

I started to believe that I just had to stay right here, where I am and never be moved and to just suck it up so to speak. The idea of that, as I’m sure you can surmise or maybe have experienced, is somewhat depressing and so I’ve stuffed these desires down. I mean deep down, down many layers of who knows what but it’s down there somewhere. Hope will sometimes peer its little head but its dashed by whatever thoughts I have or whatever lies I have been prone to believe or by whatever restrictions I put on my God.

Now, this is where I start to get a little squeamish. To what end do I have to allow this stuff to come up to the surface? Do I continue to stuff those things down? Or do I let them float up and feel them? The weight of them? The hope in them? The disappointment in them? Feel the uncomfortableness of them?

I think we need to bring these things up and allow them to make us feel all the feels.

I think sometimes we need to wrestle with God regarding them. This may be a controversial statement but I think it’s a necessary thing. Last year I was part of a small group of women in my church that went through an inductive bible study. One of the things we learned and that really stuck with me was that when we are stuck on something, when we cant figure it out and we just want to throw our hands up in surrender and wave our white flag that’s when we are on the verge of learning just what we need to. As humans we want to just breeze through things without feeling anything bad or uncomfortable. And I think sometimes we stuff these “things”down so far that we forget. Or we just don’t want to waste the time and energy to wrestle with God because maybe, like me, you have lost faith that God can or will even do anything. Sometimes we need God to touch our hip, just like He touched Jacobs, to break us. We need these things that we struggle with and wrestle with to break us down so we can get to the heart of the issue. So that we can get to the uncomfortable point before the breakthrough.

The other night as I talked to my friend and she shared heartbreak with me we both spoke of just not knowing what the future is going to hold and where the Lord is leading us, the Lord touched my hip. He told me that I don’t have faith in Him. That I don’t have faith that He can do what I think He cannot or maybe what I think He will not.

How dare I think He cant do something. He’s God, who do I think I am? That I, or my situation, or the state that I am in life would be too much for Him to overcome? It’s a ridiculous thought and even as I type the words it seems ridiculous.

I need to work on my faith in all areas, I need to know He is enough. As I sat in church service last Sunday and we sang worship the words, “Jesus you are enough” rang out. As those words drifted through the speakers and as I sat in my seat that line floated down to me and quieted my soul right then and there. These words made me stop and really listen and hear them, “Jesus you are enough”. I had to stop and ask myself Jesus are you enough? Not really asking if He is enough because I know that He is. But asking myself, if I really believe He is enough that He is more than enough for me. That whatever He has to bring to me, that whatever He has for my life is more than enough for me.

Because He will meet all of my needs because He has met all of my needs thus far.

Because He has met all of my desires that were founded in Him thus far.

Because where I am and what I have in life has everything to do with Him and Him being enough and Him meeting my needs and my desires.

So I have to sit back and I have to let those words sink in. I have to wrestle with God and I have to allow Him to come in and touch my heart and my hip and give me a limp. I want to have a testimony of what God has done. If wrestling with Him brings me to the realization that He is enough then I’m game.

The reality is that when I seek Him, He will carry me through. We may be wounded and we may be scarred but He will bandage us, He will put us back together. He will love us even when we are in the state of hurting and feeling and struggling and wrestling He’s right there by our side the whole way. So, I can struggle and I can wrestle and we can call each other and cry on the phone and speak words of truth into each other’s lives. We can go back and forth with scripture and still come up not certain as to all the answers but as long as we’re seeking God I think we’re in an ok place I think we’re fine. So keep seeking the Lord. Keep turning to Him. Keep wrestling.

Keep struggling.

Don’t quiet those things but bring them up to the surface. Search His word, invite in fellowship and accountability. Be where He has you but also wrestle and struggle in that place if you need to because its in that place that we grow and learn and desire more. It’s in that place that we grow closer to Him and it’s in that place that we remember that He is faithful and my faith and hope is safe in Him.