Sea Fort

It’s been a season of discovery. Of looking back and rediscovering little joys in areas I had either forgotten or forsaken, thinking I wasn’t “good enough” to savor the small habits such as photographing flowers and banging clumsy fingers on piano keys. In this moment of newness these simple acts of self-kindness have reemerged, but I find myself still struggling against whether or not I am “good enough” to claim them as the hobbies they are.

Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”

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In the grand scheme of life, I recognize that such debates are pure minutia. Still, I think they are a part of figuring out who you are as a twenty something. These little frivolities we so quickly write off are part of what bring us joy in the day to day, so I don’t think Christ would write them off. In fact, experience proves to me that He cares deeply. Deeply enough to bring me to a home in the canyons when I was expecting a little duplex in the hub of the Inland Empire to be my abode, knowing full well that my spirit needed these springtime flowers dotting the mountains.

As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them. The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.

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Photo: Annie Spratt of Unsplash

Amid these small buds, full blooms of newness have been emerging, with hints of more to come. Realizations of what the Lord truly created me for are coming into play. Like ocean spray caught in a breeze, I catch whiffs of these promises here and there. The ocean is there, on the other side of the wind- I must keep walking. The terrain may change again, but instead of being afraid of falling down the mountain because my foot slipped on a stream, I will simply learn to step differently as I walk towards the sea.

Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

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Photo: Daniel Ribar of Unsplash

It’s amazing how insecurities rise up. Rarely are they new, it seems, but rather the same old lies flying around like crows in our heads since adolescence. Instead of getting frustrated at our insolence as we pause in fear every few moments along the path of obedience Yaweh has laid out for us; instead of growing as short as our faith when worry seizes our muscles, He patiently reminds us of that which He’s told us over and over and over before.

I will bless the Lord who counsels me- even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I will always let the Lord guide me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

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Photo: Baptist Standaert of Unsplash

It’s not about you, love. 
I am the One holding you together.
I will keep you on the path I have set before you. 
Though you may stumble, I will never allow you to fall irrecoverably. 
These scrapes and bruises are strengthening you, growing you into the woman you are called to be. 
I never said the road would be easy, but that I would be with you the entire way. 
To know the end from the beginning would be too much for you; trust in My hand guiding you instead.
This route, though at times dull, at times terrifying, at times miraculous and at others confusing, is for good.
None of this is pointless; I know what I am doing.
Your destiny is for a future and hope; a life filled with Me.
In the end, it will all be beautiful.
The more you look to Me, the more beautiful you will see that it is even now.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow Your faithful one to see decay.

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Photo: Ustav Shah of Unsplash

Like a child, we need the repetition. We need to be reminded time and again that obeying His edict, even when it seems as insignificant as photographing some flowers, is crucial. As His children, we do not always know where these small acts could lead in our lives. Even if they are only to maintain a level of joy and creativity in our private lives, that is of the utmost importance to our Father.

You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; at Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

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Photo: Joe Caione of Unsplash

So we step forward. We walk forward along the uneven mountain terrain, taking in the beauties of quiet streams trickling from a rock where we may fill our canteens and be refreshed once more in the purest of ways, and choosing to trust Him when the noises at night truly are what we dare not think, because though danger be present, so is our King.  Nothing can truly reach or harm us when we are His.

Psalm 16:1-11

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Oh, California…

Sunday, September 9th, 2017
Sitting in the office in Calvary. There’s a strange bittersweetness in the air as everyone tries to put a brave face on. We meet in the cracks, connecting on the level of being terrified as anything, but determined to thrive, even if we don’t know how. A few people know that Jonny and I are heavily considering moving to California early this November, that it’s growing increasingly certain. I hide in the office because I feel fragile. As much as I know church is the place the weak ones can come to, I shy away from showing my frailty. Once again, I want to be strong, to be the shoulder for everyone else trying to figure out what life will look like and what the Lord is doing here. I want to suck it up, get out of my own self-focused head. Once again, I can’t. Because I’m human, and so are you. 

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Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

Mingled with the bizarreness heralding the oncoming change is the intoxicating joy of what’s to come. However all the expectation hangs on a hook shaped like a question mark. What if we can’t find jobs? I’ve never worked in the “real world” before; what if I fail? What if we’re hearing the Lord’s voice wrong, despite all the confirmations? What were those confirmations again? While the Lord’s peace rings in my bones regarding each of these “ifs,” I’d be lying if I claimed I could feel it right now.

I want to tell you something I normally would in one of these posts: that I remind myself God is in control, pick myself up, and get back to work. It would be another lie. Instead I’m forced to tell you the truth that I am sleep deprived, hormonal, insecure and confused, and all I want is a cozy, grey knit blanket of practical answers. But show me someone who doesn’t feel this way. 

The Lord guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For You, Lord, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
– Psalm 116:6-8 –

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
Power and water were restored to the house yesterday, so tonight we move back to the apartment. I struggle to call it “home,” since soon home will be changing. Overall, my circumstances haven’t altered. Homework is still looming (in a tab behind this one which I am determinedly pretending not to see), true slumber has yet to grace me with his presence, and answers to Sunday’s questions haven’t been given, but the pervasive peace of Christ floods my bloodstream. One step at a time. Today’s step involves writing this, completing my homework, and hurricane cleanup. Tomorrow’s will be different. But tomorrow is not today, and maybe the tension is not something we’re meant to run from, but rather grow through. It is time for a fresh season.

When asked why we are moving, I can only supply the answer “Because God told us to,” as that is the only complete reason He has given us.  Once confirmed, sometimes that’s all you need. I think often we get caught thinking about all the fallen trees that could block our path, unaware that the journey will teach the strength to climb over them. Perhaps that’s why He’s planned this specific journey we are on for this specific season. Everything is preparation for something else. 

We don’t know where this road will take us. All we know is that we felt the call, God confirmed it both to us and our leaders, and now it’s time to go. To stay would be to turn this beautiful castle into our prison. Instead, we lean into this unexpected turn, understanding that this season will be about a deeper dependence on God. It’s time to run further up and further into His magnificent plan for our lives. What’s your next step? 

I will plant cedars in the desert, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees. I will put juniper trees in the desert, elms and cypress trees together, so that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
– Isaiah 41:18 –

Until next time,
XOXO

 

If Not…

Throughout this week in California visiting Jonny’s family, there is a specific theme I’ve realized the Lord has been impressing on me. Be it through my father-in-law’s sermons, conversations with my new sister, and various other random circumstances, He has been whispering this consistently: And if not, He is still good.This isn’t an “it’s okay, I forgive you, Lord,” saying. It’s “Your ways are higher than my ways, Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.” He wastes nothing. Through it all, He is sovereign, working in His church, in each of His individual children. Even in the pain, the disappointments, the times it felt like He didn’t come through. But are your ears and eyes going to be open to the Spirit so you can learn what the reason was?

We won’t always know. We won’t always get the answer. But Christ knows, and maybe in Heaven it’ll be revealed. We’ll have the mind of Christ, then. But for now, trust in that He is still good. He knows what He’s doing.

When I was little, my father would warn me not to buy certain cheap toys, but save my five dollar allowance instead. I remember clearly buying the toy, having it break within a few days, and then crying because I wished I had listened and saved it for the next toy I wanted and bought a better quality one instead. So it is with the Lord. Maybe that job you so desperately wanted was withheld because within a few years the business would tank. We never know. There is always a million more factors in each tiny decision than our human eyes can perceive.

Your life won’t always look like those around you. That’s okay. It isn’t supposed to. It’s supposed to look like the one He designed uniquely for you. The joys will be different, the trials will be different, and the day to day schedule will be different. I find myself getting so caught up sometimes in comparing my life with those around me. I catch myself wondering if I’m doing enough to somehow pass as a productive adult, if I can handle as much as they can, be it the fires they walk through or the loads they carry. But they were trained for their unique loads, certain muscles hardened for specific weights. Mine were hardened for others requiring a different set of muscles, and that’s okay. That’s how He designed it to be. God’s grace will always meet you where you’re at. There is a special measure that will be given to you, when you need it. Until then, you won’t have it. You ONLY have grace for today’s leg of this journey through earth, and the strength it will require.

Even as I write this (January 2nd) I’m anxiously wondering if everything finally worked out and I will actually be able to start classes January 4th. Honestly, if it falls through, I will be extremely disappointed. Studying English Literature is what I know I want to do, at least for this season. It’s the field I have always wanted to be involved in, and I’m tired of sitting around waiting to immerse in it. Diving in on January 4th seems like the best possible route for this time in my life. But if not, He is still good. If I never study English Literature and spend the rest of my life a little housewife (not that there is anything wrong  with that lifestyle, it’s simply not the one I desire), He is still good! Because the reality is He knows what’s best for me and my husband more than I ever will. He knows the secret desires of my husband’s heart, of my parents’ hearts, and even my own more than I ever will. He knows how my being or not being a full time student right now will affect them and every other area of our lives more than I do. He knows what will fulfill the heart of His daughter more than I do. So if I don’t start classes, if I end up in an entirely different major, if I never become the writer I dream to or am involved with words in any sort of capacity; if my ministry ends and I can no longer engage with the young girls I so adore and speak into their lives, if we move from Miami never to return, if these aching feet never again kiss the dirt of the mission field, He is still good. 

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 HCSB

Until next time,

XOXO

Limberlost’s Gate

The abusers
They know not what they do
So we shy away
And they push closer
Knives in hand
Tearing at the garden You made

What do You will?
Shall I stay, shall I flee?
To stay is to fight
To flee is to acquiesce
So tell me, oh Gardener,
What do You will?

We hold the keys
But You see the seeds
Scattered by hands uncaring
Forming brutal weeds

Now the mistakes have been made
Scars of thorns lay tattoo my flesh
You paint them into roses
Each tear having a purpose

Looking back now, I see
Where beauty once was trampled
Gently You have pruned it
To be more Heavenly.

This garden is ours,
Next time I’ll be more careful
Set the Watchman at the gate
Listen to Your whispered presage
And trust that when
Mistakes are made
You’ll restore this garden to beauty again.

“My sister, my bride, you are a locked garden- a locked garden and a sealed spring.” ~Song of Songs 4:12