Stand

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” –Ephesians 6:13

Perhaps it was someone’s words earlier today that cut me (unintentionally of course) or just the quietness of the night, but doubt is here.

“What am I doing wrong? Am I not hearing You correctly? Do I need to wait longer? Did I not pray long enough? Should I have fasted? Are there other disciplines I am missing? Is this even aligning with Your will? Did I get ahead of you again? Should I even be doing this? And lastly, God I am lost”. 

-(But am I really?) 

These are the questions that have pestered my mind tonight. “Am I lost?” Echoing and leaving me to wonder and wander.. I know my family believes I am. To them, (or at least one person has come forth) I should be in a better place “financially” and “professionally”. I graduated college years ago and have “nothing” to show for it. I am still in the same town I grew up in, at the same job, no house, no “career”, no romantic relationship. I often feel like a failure in the presence of this individual and feel like I am not enough, that I need to be more. So in this person’s eyes I am lost. 

And for a moment I believe it. I start seeing everything that I am involved in as a means to hide the truth. I see my exercise regimen, my healthier meal plans, and church as a distraction from the proposed idea that I am lost. So I begin to wonder..

-Why am I doing this? 

-Is there a point? 

-Should I even try anymore? 

And just as doubt starts to gain ground, encouragement comes forth. I am reminded of the  randomn texts espressing  how my lifestyle has inspired them to incorporate exercise into their routine. I recall Spiritual conversations that have taken place at work (randomny) but from which we have walked away from to revisit on another day. I am reminded of opportunities  to serve  in my church and spiritual authorities extending their right hand of fellowship to me. So then I am left to wonder, “What is going on? So, I am not lost? I am right where I’m supposed to be? I am hearing from You, right?” 

Lately, I have been hearing encouraging words such as, “Singleness is a gift. Speak your Faith not your problems. It’s gonna be worth it”. And at times I think, “Is it?”. If “Singleness is a gift? Why do I feel like I am getting nowhere? Where is the ministry? Where is discipleship? I am not discipling anyone and no one is discipling me. Why am I not being seen? What am I doing wrong? Where are my promises?”. But then I feel this stirred in my heart, 

Him: “Why are you limiting me? You’re only speaking from what you can see, your vision is limited. You see with an earthly mindset; I see with a Heavenly mindset”. 

And just like that, Ephesians 6:13 came to mind. Casting out all doubt. The beauty? This all took place in a matter of minutes. 

Ephesians 6:13 exhorts the reader to put on the full armor of God and after everything to stand. That’s it just stand. So what does that look like? It means that although it’s beyond our understanding we stand in Scripture. We hold fast to the Truth of His character and Promises in the Bible. If Scripture states He does not forsake us, then we are not forsaken. If Scripture states and illustrates that He is good, then He is good and we need to declare that truth over our life. If Scripture states He has plans to prosper us hand give us a hope and a future than that’s what we need to hold fast to and believe. God never calls us to fight in this verse, but He calls us to stand -stand in faith. Live out our faith day to day and let God take over the rest. He is moving in more powerful ways than we can fathom. He is bringing freedom. He is bringing resolution. He is bringing victory. He hears us and He is faithful. 

-That’s the Truth. 

I say all this with one purpose: to encourage you. I recently read in one of the blogs I follow, Wonder and Wandering, “Will it be worth it?”. The blog proposes a radical perspective. David had been  anointed as King, but what if he never had been appointed? Would it still have been worth it? The proposed answer is yes. A relationship with God is worth it. It’s a relationship based in love not in rewards or outcome. Ironicalky, this thought was also proposed at my church this morning. The pastor used Daniel 3 as an illustration. Meshac, Shadrach, Abednego, and Daniel did not know the outcome but they remained and stood solidly in faith. They were thrown into a furnace and could have died but that thought never deterred them from their faith. And it wasn’t until tonight as these doubts pestered my mind, that I “got it”. I have desires burning deep in my heart, and I believe these desires have become promises in my life, but the fact that I can’t see them unfold in my life right now will not keep me from believing in the One True God. The outcome of my heart desires will not dictate my faith, Scripture will. 

So hang in there precious one. To the one believing for an unborn child, to the one whose heart years to spread the gospel in a foreign land, to the one believing for a husband, a partner in ministry, to the one believing for a job, to the one believing for healing, to the one with a recently brokenheart, to the one who feels lost, this one is for you. Remember, in this world you will have troubles but take heart He has overcome the world. 

He has overcome. 

One day this will not matter. We will be in Heaven rejoicing with the angels singing to the One who fulfills us the One who completes us. I wish I had immediate answers  for you; I don’t. But I do know there is One who cares for you, and loves you. Seek Him. Find refuge in Him. Stay steadfast and stand. 

My prayer and hope is that you find the peace, strength, and understanding through this post. I appreciate you for reading. I leave you with this song that has brought great comfort to my heart. I pray it will encourage and bless you. 

Your friend in Christ,

S

Song: “Take Courage” 

https://youtu.be/r49V9QcYheQ




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I don’t say “AMEN!” to many things but to this…AMEN!

“Singleness is a Gift from God” http://www.watermark.org/message/3543

There are so many perspectives on “Singleness” and sometimes they echo one another, but this one is different. I recommend it. It’s not just for “singles”… I will warn you, the end portion of it does tend to move towards a more mature audience just in case there are any younger audiences out there.

I hope it blesses you the way it blessed my life.

-S

 

This isn’t a cold brew. It’s iced coffee.(Revised)

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” –Matthew 7:3

Many weeks ago, I went to my favorite coffee place (Starbucks or as Graham Cooke says “St. Arbucks”) and I ordered my favorite drink. That afternoon, I was meeting my gal pal  for cake and coffee, and when they called up my order I did not go up to the counter. You see, what I had ordered was a sweetened iced coffee with 2% milk, and what they had called out was a sweetened cold brew with 2% milk. My friend asked, “Isn’t that your drink”?  Skeptical, I walked up to the counter, read the label “cold brew”, and when the very nice barista noticed my quizzical expression, he told me “that’s yours”. So I grabbed the cup, and a little bummed returned to my seat. When my friend asked, “What was wrong?”. I just stared at the counter with a saddened expression and whispered, “I got a cold brew..”. She then replied with, “Isn’t it the same?”. And that’s where this started…

Contrary to popular belief, an “iced coffee” and a “cold brew” coffee are not the same thing.

By appearance: yes.

By color: yes.

By taste: no, no, no.

The difference between these two beverages lies in the brewing process. An “iced coffee” is just regularly brewed coffee poured over ice, but a “cold brew” is different. The brewing process for a “cold brew” involves soaking coarse-ground beans in water for 12 hours or more (usually overnight). The result: a coffee beverage with less acidity and less caffeine content. So although they look similar, they are two distinct coffee beverages.

Which brings me to Matthew 7:3, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”. How often do we look at a situation, and immediately start imposing our own views over it? Just because a similar experience may have happened to us, does not mean that it is the same for another individual. Likewise, just because someone is upset or may even come across as disrespectful, does not always indicate that it is because of us. But how often do we point the faults of another without looking at ourselves? The other day, someone came into the place I work and needed assistance. This person’s behavior included: three irritated sighs, finger tapping on the counter, and speaking over another individual. After analyzing her behavior it would appear this person was  a) in a hurry b) irritated c) disrespectful/rude. These were the first observations I made, and honestly I was a bit annoyed at the entire situation. Luckily, it was time for my lunch break so I left thinking it was all behind me…

-wrong.

I was jamming out to some song on the radio, when I felt my thoughts interrupted by..

knock, knock, knock.

Ignoring it, I stopped at the red light and put on my turning signal.

-There it was again, knock, knock, knock.

I made my turn, and then the words, “Sarahi, (pause), Sarahi”. Okay by now He had my attention. This was the internal conversation:

Him: “Grace”.

Me: “Yes I know but she was rude”

Him: “Grace child. Have you not also had bad days?”

Me: “Yeah..”

Him: “And…”

Me: (By now I know the source of the times I have had bad days and those around me have been tolerant with me and sometimes call me out on it–these are the things that haunt me the most. I am not proud of it, and take it hard when I am not reflecting God’s love). 

Him: “They love you, just as I love you, and I love her. You don’t know her story; she was having a bad day. (Him still feeling resistance on my part) What if she doesn’t know any better?”. 

And by then my hands were up in full surrender and when I got home, I prayed. I prayed for forgiveness, for correction, and for another opportunity to see it through Christ’s eyes and not my own. And then I prayed for this individual. I asked God to bless her, to make her laugh, that she would feel appreciated, loved, and cherished, and that she would cross paths with another churched member that day. 

He has a way like that, to help me see what I can’t see. I don’t know this person, for all I know her pet had died or her significant other broke up with her or her roommate decided to move out. The only thing I knew were the facts: she was young, she had a problem, and came to the place where I work for help. That is all I knew. Yes, her behavior did come off as disrespectful. Could I had been the reason? Perhaps. Perhaps I typed too slow and she was in a hurry to get to another appointment. But likewise outside factors could have been the reason for the disrespectful behavior, and just to really throw things up a bit, maybe she wasn’t rude at all. What if she is from another area where this type of behavior is what the culture there considers “normal”?

-Yeah, God really taught me something that day.. 

Iced Coffee and a Cold Brew Coffee can be on a counter and appear to be the same beverage. But as you get closer, you will observe a difference in tint, label, and if you research the brewing method, you will see these two coffee beverages are not the same. They hold similar qualities but still not the same.

So just because some one is having a bad day, does not mean you are the reason for their bad day. Just because you have lived through a similar life experience (college, dating, breakups, engagements, weddings, promotions) does not always make you qualified to give advice.  Most of the time, people are just seeking to be listened to, comforted, and loved. A smile, a word of kindness, forgiveness, an act of service are great methods to extend that type of acceptance and understanding towards them. We don’t hold the answers, but there is One who does and through our actions and words we can point them to that Light they need to obliterate the darkness.

Please, don’t mistake me, I don’t have it all figured out. I mess up A lot, ALOT, but God is kind, gracious, and forgiving. He loves me and He loves you too. Others may not know the depth of your story, but the Creator does.

As always, thank you for reading. I hope this post served the purpose God intended for it to be composed. Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 A Venti Sovereignty Macchiato

“Take yet another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned”  Jer 36:28.

“I will have a Venti Caramel Macchiato”, and just like that I would pay the barista, walk over to the side counter, and wait for my drink (without any idea as to what I had just ordered). That’s right my dear reader, I was “that person”.

The first time I went to Starbucks and ordered something that wasn’t a frappucino, I chose a venti caramel macchiato. My thought process was quite simple: look for the most elaborate item on the menu. That day I chose Venti (fancy word for large) caramel (safe tasting choice) macchiato (fanciest word on the menu). A venti caramel macchiato became my “go to” Starbucks order, and for  years (2yrs) I had no idea what I was drinking. Thankfully a few years later, thanks to Pinterest, I learned the definition of a macchiato (or at least the Starbucks version).

(Oxford Dictionary Definition:) 

Macchiato: espresso with a dash of frothy steamed milk.

Espresso: strong black coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans. 

(Pinterest Definition:)  “Tadah!” 

[The Starbucks version is the “latte macchiato” on the chart]. 

So as illustrated on the chart, what I was ordering was a large cup of two different forms of milk with a shot of espresso. I was basically drinking espresso flavored layered milk! But how often do we really know what we are ordering? The barista knows, but we (most likely) have no idea what is in our drink (with the exception of all the coffee connoisseurs out there). All we know is one ingredient: coffee.

Similarly, how often do we know the details to God’s plan for our lives? All we know is one word: love.  But even that may not always look like love.. to us.

One of my favorite passages about the LORD’s sovereignty is illustrated in Jeremiah. In the beginning of chapter 36, the LORD commands Jeremiah to write a scroll (Jer 36:2). The scroll is written and read, but king Jehoiakim burns the scroll (36:3-26). At first you think, “well, there’s the end to that scroll!”, but in verse 28 the LORD commands Jeremiah to re-write the scroll.

-Wow! What an example about what God says goes! 

-Mighty! 

-Sovereign! 

-Great I AM!

At least this was my first interpretation of the passage.  Think of this as my years ordering a caramel macchiato. I didn’t fully “get it”, but a few months ago the LORD changed that and opened up my mind to something  much deeper and sweeter. This new discovery only intensified my connection to the passage.

Why was the LORD so sovereign? I know He is all powerful the Most Highest, but what was the importance of the scroll? 

-Was it just wrath, fire, brimstone for the iniquities of His people?

-For a prophecy to be fulfilled? 

And as I pondered all these questions the LORD lead me to the root of His sovereignty, love. His love for His children is the root of His sovereign ways. God’s love was the reason why the scroll was re-written. Jeremiah 36:3 states the purpose for the scroll,

“It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin”.

Forgiveness

The LORD was giving His people an opportunity for forgiveness. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll, and in response the LORD gave them a second opportunity. How sweet is His love!? God’s mercy, compassion, and love was so great that He had Jeremiah rewrite the scroll. And even though captivity and calamity took place over His people, after 70 years had passed He brought them back to a new land. What was once there had been completely destroyed allowing for something new to take its place  “to give them a hope and a future” (Jer 29:11).

This is the part where we learn what is in a macchiato. We learn that the drink is layered and at the center of it there is espresso; which is just a variation of coffee. Compare this to the text in Jeremiah, at the center was sovereignty the LORD’s will stood firm but this was all rooted in love. To us it may look different, taste different, but God is the good Father. He loves us and a Father wants what is best for His child. Our best interest is in His heart. The only way to give His people a new start was to remove the old to make way for the new.

I want to encourage you dear one, do not be deceived or discouraged by your ears or eyes. God loves you dearly. If He has promised you something or lead you to a dream cling to Him and seek His word. He is on the throne. His thoughts and His ways are not like ours they are far greater and higher. Trust Him. He sees the big picture. Delight in Him. Enjoy the process. His Word stands true and His love for you is relentless nothing can overcome it nothing can separate it. God’s promise for you is rooted in His love for you. Keep going, keep walking for He has great plans for you “to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I hope and pray that this post will breathe hope and rest into your heart, mind, and soul. As always, thank you for reading I appreciate you dear reader and Remember:

Believe Him. 


In His abounding love,
–S


Independence is a Process..

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said,  ‘It is finished’ and He bowed his head and gave up his spirit”–John 19:30

(That moment when at 1 o’clock in the morning you connect Mexico’s Independence Day thought with your relationship with God).

On September 16th 1810 a brave man by the name, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, rang the church bells and gave an inspirational speech to the people to stand up and fight for their independence. This is commonly known as “El Grito De Dolores”, most commonly known event as the day Mexico proclaimed their independence. Mexico went to war. They did not gain their complete independence until September 27th 1821. They went to war for 11 years. It took them 11 years to be broken free from the Spanish government..

Independence is a process…

There are times that we feel bound at moments even oppressed by things of this world. Maybe it’s finances or future plans and goals. Maybe it a desire to please everyone, or perfectionism. Maybe it’s the desire to be liked by everyone, or the constant pressure of always being the leader. Maybe it’s about being the smartest one in the room. Maybe it’s just unhealthy habits like eating too many Oreos in one sitting. Or “healthy” habits carried to an excess such as workingout or dieting. Maybe it’s been binge watching shows on Netflix. Whatever the cause, Jesus came to set the captives free.

Set the captives free…

You may have already acknowledged what you may be a slave to and even proclaimed freedom over it. But remember breaking free is a process. Especially if it’s something that has a very deep root in your life. So don’t be discouraged if the problem continues to come back, accept it for what it is (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23) but do not misconstrue this as an excuse. Do something about it, or maybe I should say look to the One who is doing something about it; He will guide you to independence from it. When Jesus died on the cross He said “it is finished”. So, you have been set free, but sometimes it takes us time to step into this freedom. For some it may be a very short season and for others it could be a longer season, that does not matter. What is important is that Jesus said “it is finished” and if He proclaimed this Truth on the cross, He will walk you through it. He will carry you into that freedom.
So my dear friends, do not be discouraged. Be encouraged in knowing that God is your strength and in Him is the victory. In Him, there is life. Victory is there, now it’s just a process of getting you there.

God inspired me to use Mexico as an opening point just because Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated today. My purpose, hope, and prayer for you is to remember breaking free is a process.

May your thoughts and heart be at rest in His victory. “Be still my heart be still”.

In His abounding love,

S

Cry Out To Me 

“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”–Matt 11:28. 

“Cry out to me. Cry out to me…Just cry out to me”. Four simple words that whispered or shouted hold the great power of changing you. Let’s be honest with each other, every person wants to hear these words in their most terrible of days. We hopefully wait for someone who will be “that person” and give us a chance to vent about our day or life. I am a culprit of this one too many times, usually happens over coffee or chocolate cake (sometimes pie) and I am a waterfall of emotions. Sadly, we don’t always make the wisest of choices when doing so. I have agonized and at times felt ashamed about the location, time, person, and words that I wish I could take back. I have to face the reality and accept my mistakes for what they are and just hope to gain more wisdom for my next “venting-sesh”. But sometimes too much is going in in your life that you feel trapped. You are afraid of losing friends because they are always the ones you turn to. You are afraid of where to go because of who might be listening. You are afraid of the words that may come out of your mouth because of your emotions. Sometimes, you are even afraid of the response on the other side after sharing your thoughts. Sometimes you even fear your  thoughts. So you feel trapped, asphyxiated, so you remain silent thinking this is the best choice. 

Well dear friend, remaining silent is not your best choice, sometimes it turns out to be the worst. Now you may be wondering, “Okay, dear coffee-lover lady so then what? Where do I go if I don’t feel safe? If I am afraid?”. My answer dear friend lies in the epithet above, your best confidant and friend is God. You can run to Him. In fact He wants you to come to Him, and in Him lies the perfect One to go vent and release all the stress of your day or season. He will be there for you. He will listen to you. He will not judge you. He will comfort you. He will love you, regardless of what you may be facing, He will love you unconditionally and He will help you. 

Earlier I wrote “Cry out to Me. Cry out to Me…Just cry out to Me”. This phrase is what had been echoing in my head since yesterday morning. Now you may have chosen to read it in a smooth gentle whispered voice, or perhaps just a calm sincere tone of voice. Do you know how it came to me? It came to me as a shout, “Cry out to Me! Cry Out To Me…Just CRY OUT TO ME!”. I have come to a place in this season of my life, where I am learning to keep silent. I am learning to choose my words with great care and wisdom so that I don’t harm others. So I thought with everything that is going on, not talking about it and just running it off or driving it off would suffice. I would be fine. I would be okay. No need to drag others down into this mess. 

I was wrong. 

Running and driving did help but only to let the emotions pass–the rest remained. The thoughts remained. In fact they started to build up. I pretty much ran out of space in my mind for them, but I kept collecting them. That was the problem, I kept them. I never released them, they just stayed there, growing by the minute, like weeds growing in a garden when left unattended. 

Weeds…

No wonder I felt God shouting at me to “Cry out to Him” as I was watering the roses just the other day. He wasn’t yelling at me out of anger but out of love. He knew that if I kept in my ways, I was headed for one massive collision where the damage could seem irreparable. (It wouldn’t because He is God, but it would feel like that for some time). He was begging me to come to Him. He was reminding me that I can come to Him, that I am not alone. And neither are you, dear one. He cares for you in ways that your mind cannot even fathom. He loves you at your darkest, He loves you at your best. His love for you grows with every second of every day. I am sharing this with you because I  care about you too. I don’t know you. We probably have never met but maybe one day we will in Heaven. I don’t know you or your life, but I do know God and I am beginning to understand more of His unending Psalm 139 love. If He has that for me, I know and believe He has it for you too. I am sharing this so that you don’t make my mistakes, so that you don’t have to feel the agony I’ve felt recently. No one deserves to be alone, or feel alone, no one. That is a lie. You are not alone. He is with you, always. 
Go to Him. Cry out to Him. He is listening. Jeremiah 29:12 states,”Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you”. See? He will listen. Do not let the weeds continue to grow and fester. Do not let the weeds destroy the beautiful garden that is your life. Take action. Cry out to Him and He will pull them up one by one by the root. He will remove them out of your life. He is doing that for me, I believe He will do it for you too. Psalm 119:169 states, “Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word”. He will grant you understanding, He will grant you peace. 

He is the perfect One to go talk about your struggles, your anxieties, your fears, your doubts, even your good news! He is with you when you are on the ground, and He is with you when you are up dancing for joy. It took me a while to realize this, I hope and pray that this post will change that for you. 

As always you are cherished and loved more than you will ever know. Thank you for reading. I hope your heart found the comfort, peace, and love it was seeking throughout this post. 

Remember the beautiful garden that is your life  

 
–S