Open Your Hands

open hands

We all have desires, right? Hopes and dreams for our life. We make plans. We work toward something we want. We pursue a certain job or establish a certain ministry. We form relationships. We pray for good things we feel that God might want as a part of our life.

I believe that God gives us desires, passions, and goals. I believe He fashions into our souls the drive to pursue things such as:

  • a job that we love & are good at
  • a ministry that we have a gift for & are energized through
  • a godly marriage
  • a healthy family
  • a friend group that spurs us on toward Christ
  • etc.

Maybe, this year of 2019, you feel it’s time.

Time to …

find that godly spouse to partner with

move out of your parent’s house

become intimately part of a godly church

get that great, fulfilling job

have a baby

pursue your passion by starting college

start that small group for women

move overseas & begin your work as a missionary

publish a book

adopt a child

propose or be proposed to ūüėČ

find physical healing

make a best friend

move to a different state where you feel there is more potential for growth

Whatever it might be. Maybe you’re ready for it. You feel 2019 is the year. And, my dear friend, maybe this is the year for your breakthrough. And that is exciting! Praise the Lord!

But I want to encourage you to keep perspective. Recently, I wrote a post called To Live is Christ. And that is the perspective we must always keep, whether we are pursuing a passion, moving out, getting married, starting a ministry, or getting a new job.

Our Lord says to seek first the kingdom of God …

Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

…and even if you feel this desire of yours is part of seeking God’s kingdom (and it may very well be!) remember that our King can see the whole picture, while you can’t. And His plans will prevail. And it is good! You can trust Him.

Proverbs 16:9

9 A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 37:23

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Psalm 119:105

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Proverbs 16:1-3

The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.

3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.

Psalm 32:8

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

So open your hands, sweet soul.

Hold life with open hands.

So if God plans to give you what you are desiring and pursuing, you will be ready to receive it with the right heart of humility and joy.

So if God turns your plans upside down, your open hands will be able to receive the grace & strength you need to seek His face and rest in His peace.

Open your hands, so He can give you blessings that you never thought to ask for. Maybe blessings you never imagined you’d want.

So He can take things from your life that are actually not good for you (even if you thought they were, at first!)

Hold life with open hands so that you may flee from idols.

1 John 5:21

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Marriage, a job, a ministry, college, a friend group, a new place, etc., these can all become idols if we grip them with desperate hands.

There weren’t meant to be idols. They were meant to be gifts! But we so easily forget God and try to heft other things into His place. And this is painful.

Our lives are for God’s glory! Not ours. We are to love Him with our soul – our whole being.

When we grip something, with desperate hands, we are keeping that aspect of our life from Him. We are not trusting Him with it. We are creating distance between us and God. Straining our relationship, and elevating a gift above the Giver.

We have become idolatrous.

And believe me, dear friend, having idols is painful. It hurts because it is not what we are designed for. It is not God’s good design – it is not how things are supposed to work. Having idols causes invalid and irrational anxiety, fear, suspicion, and anger. It turns our heart against God.

We need our heart’s desire to draw us to God, not away from Him. To draw us to glorify Him, not fill our heart with suspicion that He is not good.

And perhaps it’s not your desire that is the problem, but your heart.

Me desiring a husband and children is not a problem. But if this desire turns in bitterness, passivity, and resentment because I don’t have it, then my heart has wandered from God and His goodness, and strayed down Satan’s dark path.

A woman having a husband and children is not a problem. But if she clings to them so tightly that she is riddled with anxiety & fear, and is filled with suspicion toward God … What if He takes one of them from me? then she has moved out of God’s perfect love and given into Satan’s age-old tactic.

I struggle with anxiety. Probably both of the medical variety, and just a form that is practiced and becomes part of life if one doesn’t reject it.

I’ve often worried, through the years of my life, that if I were in a relationship I’d be anxious … what if this isn’t God’s desired path for me?

If I were engaged and planning a wedding … what if God takes this away from me, for some reason, right when I almost have it?

Married with children … what if one of them dies? How could I bear it?

This anxiety … this doubt … this fear … this questioning of God’s goodness … this sin … this idolatry … It has lessened as I’ve experienced God’s goodness and learned that I can and should abide in Christ. It’s still something that I struggle with. That aspect of my humanity that I wrestle through. That “old man” that I fight.

It is hard, my friends, I know! Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just press into God. Repent. Surrender. Ask Him to reveal, more deeply, His infinite love and grace to you, that you may not live with a legalistic, fearful heart, but a joyful, peace-filled, trusting, knowing one.

I have had some thoughts that have helped me. They go something like this:

***

If the opportunity to enter a romantic relationship comes my way, I will pray about it and get godly counsel from spiritual mentors … and I will entrust it into God’s hands. I will hold it lightly and pay attention to the words of the wise, the opinions of my family, and the peace – or lack of it – that I feel inside. God has shown me that He is at work in the details of my life before, so I know He will be directing my every step in this also. I won’t refuse to feel pain. If this is of Him, hallelujah! If it’s not, then He has better plans in store.

***

If God is so gracious to me as to bless me with a husband and children, I will strive to hold each of them … precious gifts that they are … with open hands. Because they belong to God before they are ever mine. I don’t get to call the shots. But rather, live in daily thankfulness and entrust them, and myself, into my Father’s loving and powerful Hands.

***

I think if you try this method of trust, humble surrender, and gratefulness, you will find it much preferable to your method of white-knuckled, anxiety-ridden, painful, peace-less, fake control.

Because, sweet friend, you are not in control. And you pretending that you are is not helping anything. In fact, it’s destroying your peace and your ability to live life more abundantly.

It’s Satan’s attempt to steal from you what the Almighty God has give you.

John 10:10

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

This post is not to say to just expect not to receive what you desire from the Father, but to rest in His peace through the process!

Let go.

Open your hands.

Rejoice in your loving Father above. ‚̧

Psalm 31:3, 14-15, 19-22 & 24

3 For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.

14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, ‚ÄúYou¬†are¬†my God.‚ÄĚ
15 My times are in Your hand;

19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion

21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
22 For I said in my haste,
‚ÄúI am cut off from before Your eyes‚ÄĚ;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.

24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Hollyn – ISAAC

Aaron Cole (feat. Tobymac) – RIGHT ON TIME

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I Can’t Change!

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As Christians, we are called to a life of love. Of serving. Of kindness. Of truth. Of giving of ourselves, of our gifts and time, and thinking of others before ourselves.

If you’re anything like me, this can feel like a heavy burden on your shoulders.

How on earth am I supposed to live this all out in the mundane, trial-riddled, day-to-day life? How can I possibly love like Jesus Christ loves?

We may have all these grand, godly ideas and nice-sounding words to share, but when it actually comes down to loving sacrificially or serving when it gets in the way of our own plans, we feel selfishness and resistance creeping in.

Maybe you worry that you’re not a good enough Christian.

You don’t read God’s Word very often.

You seldom pray.

You don’t feel a relationship with God like some of your family and Christian friends do.

You don’t feel like loving and serving other.

Or forgiving imperfect people.

How do we come nearer to God? How do we grow in godliness? How do we love like Jesus did?

I believe the answer is profoundly simple.

Surrender.

I don’t mean surrender like give up.

I mean surrender like give your life to God.

Surrender your heart, your life, your control, your everything to Christ.

Galatians 2:20-21

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Matthew 11:28-30

28¬†Come to¬†Me, all¬†you¬†who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.¬†29¬†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.¬†30¬†For My yoke¬†is¬†easy and My burden is light.‚ÄĚ

James 4:7

7 Therefore submit to God.

And let Him change you.

Let Him work in you.

Let Him love through you.

Let Him grow a genuine delight for Him in you.

You see, we are human. We are imperfect. And no amount of striving is going to help us hit the mark. Reach the goal.

That’s why we need Jesus Christ. To forgive our sins – and to radically change our lives for His glory and our good. And all people’s good.

John 15:3-8

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Still, on earth we will never hit perfection.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But if we surrender our lives to Christ and wholeheartedly follow His lead, He will do His work in and through us. He will bring what no one else can.

Change.

You will find yourself growing. And being sanctified. And hungering for God’s Word. And sincerely seeing – and loving – other people.

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

When you surrender, sometimes you will feel God prompting you to spend some time in His Word instead of watching that movie.

(This is not to say that we can’t watch movies. But oftentimes we’re consuming massive amounts of entertainment at the expense of quiet time spent with the Lord.)

You may be reluctant, but you obey because you’ve surrendered, and you know you are loved by God. He knows what’s best for you. You want to love Him back. You want a more intimate relationship with Him.

But, you know, as you surrender and spend more and more time in God’s presence – in His Word and prayer – it becomes a delight.

Psalm 16:11

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves. Experience it for yourselves, my friend.

Are you tired of not feeling good enough? Not measuring up to your own standards? Or other’s standards? Are you sick of living selfishly? Never feeling satisfied?

Surrender. And seek.

You know when I started seeing a change in my own character and behavior?

When I surrendered.

Jeremiah 10:23

23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

When I said: Lord, I’m not good enough! I’m not reading my Bible enough or getting up early to pray. I’m trying to control everything. But I don’t have a job, I don’t have my life together, I’m not loving people well; I’m failing at everything! I’m insecure, I’m angry, I’m holding onto pain, I’m anxious, I’m afraid, I’m hopeless. But … but you love me anyway. You call me “daughter”. You want me.

I found peace in His presence. I felt whole and secure and desired. Desired by God! I started hungering after and delighting in His Word for perhaps the first time ever. I found the strength and motivation to start serving people more. I found my heart softening toward people I was struggling with. I became passionate in my prayers.

1 John 4:16-19

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I’m still a work-in-progress. I still have much to learn and much growing to do. And I battle shame and hopelessness still, at times. But I fight it. Because my identity is found in Christ Jesus, and it is His strength which justifies and sanctifies me.

I see Christ changing me. And that is precious and awe-inspiring.

He will never fail me.

Riley Clemmons – You First

Hey, Singles …

Ah, that dreaded word.

Singles.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. ūüėČ When I stop thinking about “single” as a label that defines me completely, I began to stop worrying, fussing about, and dreading hearing it.

Now, I still do sometimes have a problem with how some people treat unmarried people … “When are you going to get a boyfriend?” “Why aren’t you married yet?” “You’re being too fussy.” “Aw, you poor, lonely thing!” “You’re not making yourself available enough!” Like, how about encouraging us to thrive where God has us instead of making us feel incomplete, behind, or lacking (as we already tend to struggle with feeling like!)?

But that’s a whole different post.

I’m glad to say that I’ve been doing much better with accepting my place in life right now and learning to blossom. Last year around this time I was feeling really down and just wishing I could be married and having children like (almost) all of my friends and cousins were.

I feel like God has done a lot of work on my heart since then.

I still have a deep heart’s desire to be married one day.

But, I’m finding joy in other things that God has given me and actively pursuing life right now as an unmarried woman.

Today, I want to present a few points – things that are helping me get to this place of excitement and passion and contentment. I’m still a work-in-progress! But God is ever teaching me. Oh, how faithful He is. We just have to stay humble and pressing into Him and His goodness.

1) Don’t be Single, be in a Relationship with Jesus Christ

Friends, I know the loneliness can feel excruciating. Numbing. Depressing. Especially in some seasons of life where other negative things are going on as well. I can’t give a perfect solution to take the loneliness away. So here’s my advice:

Let your lonely heart drive you to Jesus.

Your loneliness, your broken heart, your confusion, your hopelessness, your unmet desires, your fear, your shattered dreams … instead of letting them crush you, let them push you toward God.

I know it’s hard. But open your hands. And surrender. Again, and again, and again.

As you grow closer to Christ, you’ll begin to realize that this is what you need. Him. A closeness with God. A dependency on Him. Hope and joy and peace in Him. Because this is the lasting stuff! These are the things that will never let you down or let you go. Because our God is faithful.

And He is love.

On those days when being single feels very hard and very solitary, guess what? God can meet you there. And He will, if you allow Him.

If you’re too busy surfing the web, checking Facebook for the hundredth time and stalking cute boys, watching movie after movie … anything to fill your loneliness … (anything but God, that is), then you’re going to miss His gentle, awesome Presence.

But if you aren’t desperately scrambling to fill the void of a boyfriend/husband, you’ll start to realize that God is always there beside you. Waiting to hear your voice. Your whisper. Your cry.

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He walks with you. And in the moments when you feel rejected or lonely or sad or just down, you can talk to Him and share your whole heart.

I love the idea that I can go to God with my feelings at any moment. Anywhere. I love that I am His and He is mine. I love that my life is one exciting, beautiful love story with Him.

Yes, sometimes the ache for a human companion and best friend is nearly tangible.

But God keeps reminding me that He is here and He’s taking care of me and providing me with all I need.

And in that is incomprehensible peace, joy, love, and passion for life!

If you don’t have a close relationship with Jesus Christ, your life is going to be fraught with loneliness, unmet expectations, and discontentment – whether your married or single!

You have to come to this place of emptiness where you feel like all you can do is cry out to the Lord. And then, wow, let Him fill you up.

Psalm 23:5

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

2) Realize there are a lot of Mr. Wrongs out there

Okay, so I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding “Mr. Right”. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about all the “Mr. Wrongs”; and they are out there, let me assure you!

So let me explain. There have been times in my life where I’ve been like, “I just want to get married! Why does this have to be so complicated? I’ll just find a nice, Christian guy and we’ll fall in love and live happily ever after.”

But listen, ladies. There are a lot of nice, Christian guys out there that aren’t right for you.

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They aren’t pursuing a close relationship with God like you are. They don’t have the same passion for glorifying God in everything and living out His plans for their life like you do. Maybe they don’t have a love for Jesus like the one you feel in your heart. Maybe they aren’t actively working through struggles and hurts in their life because they don’t trust God enough yet. Perhaps he’s a great guy, but he has such different convictions, passions, and ideas about life. Maybe he doesn’t have hardly any convictions or passions at all.

Just because he goes to church and believes in God doesn’t make him the right partner for you, dear Christian woman.

I’m not saying you’ll find a perfect man. Because you most certainly won’t. (And if you think you will, you’re going to fall a mighty long way from cloud nine.)

But if you’re desiring to live your life for God’s glory (and this is His will for you!) then don’t you think God wills for you to have a man who’s deeply desiring the same thing?

If you’re going to be partners, don’t you think you need to be moving in the same direction?

I don’t know about you, but I want my husband to be my soul mate. By that I mean, I want him to understand and share the deepest parts of me – heart and soul. My relationship with a very real Creator God. My love for Jesus Christ, God’s Son. My firm belief that I’m God’s daughter by Jesus’ blood and my faith in Him. My belief that the Bible is absolute truth. My hunger for Him, His Word, and prayer time. My desire to live my life for Him, use my gifts (which He gave me for a purpose) for His glory and people’s good, raise children to know and love Him … !

I’m not perfect. But as I desire and seek … and over and over again find God and His will as my central desire … why would I bind myself to a man who can’t understand & share in that?

It makes no sense.

So, as I grow in the Lord and realize that I do have very specific desires when it comes to a husband, and not all the guys out there are going to meet those standards, it helps me in some way.

To be patient.

I so deeply desire a godly husband that I know I’m one-hundred percent willing to wait as long as it takes!

It perhaps helps calm my anxious heart that worries as all these guys pass me by. I say to myself, “I’m seeking God’s will for my life and I’m not willing to settle for a man who’s not desiring the Lord like I am. I can’t just dash out there and find a suitable guy in mere seconds because my standards are high. Therefore I must surrender and trust God to work out my earthly love story if He has marriage in store for me.

I let go … and I find peace and joy.

3) Find a Community. Build Relationships. Look for ways to Bless and Serve People!

Love people and live life! ‚̧ Don’t let singleness stop you, folks. There was never any reason that it should!

So come out of that dark hole. Press into the Lord and realize your standards – what you want in a husband … what God would want you to choose/seek!

Next, find a community. I believe when God speaks of alone-ness in Genesis, He’s not just saying marriage is good. He’s saying people being with people is good – family is good and friends are good and community is good.

Genesis 2:18

18¬†And the¬†Lord¬†God said, ‚ÄúIt is¬†not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.‚ÄĚ

We should be doing life with other people whether we’re single or married. We should have close friendships and wise mentors in our lives. We should be looking for other people to bless and mentor!

Now, there are some seasons where we’re just alone. And God uses this. Most times to draw us to Him! (That’s what I’ve found in my life. In that way, being alone can actually turn out to be a beautiful thing … when it draws us to the Lover of our souls.)

But we’re not meant to be without human companionship forever. So find a church community and make friends! ūüôā

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For myself, I’ve been visiting different churches! I like the church that my family goes to – the teaching is solid and encouraging. However, I’m having a hard time getting involved. So I’ve been visiting different churches, looking for one that has great fellowship and I can really be in community with.¬†It’s been fun, trying out new churches! I get a little nervous at times, but I love meeting new people! (If they’re the ones to introduce themselves and strike up a conversation, haha!)

I’ve involved myself in Bible studies. Even started one for my younger sister and her friends. Now, we haven’t been able to do any study nights recently, but I’m hopefully we’ll be able to again soon! I’m plotting and planning and toying with ideas of going through this book or that book. ūüėČ And I might try out the Wednesday night Bible study at the new church I’m going to currently.

I’m grateful for the chance to grow closer to siblings, family & relatives, and long-distance friends. Yes, sometimes it’s hard because my life can be so monotonous. And then I start feeling down and don’t feel like putting any effort into building old relationships.

But, that’s why I’m trying to get into a community and try new things. Keeping a spark of excitement in life helps me to remember the people already around me and how I shouldn’t let this stage slip by without growing close to them!

One thing that continues to be really hard is not having any friends my age. I have a few long-distance friends, but we don’t get the chance to talk very often.

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Do you all have any advice for me? ūüôā Besides looking for a church family to get involved with, what can I do to meet new people and make friends?? Haha. It’s been difficult, but I’m thankful for my siblings and their friends, aunts, my mom, cousins, etc.

Last night I went to a disc-golf¬†course with my thirteen-year-old brother and seventeen-year-old sister. We enjoy disc-golf! Well … my brother loves it. I enjoy it. ūüėČ

So there’s another tip … look for ways to hang out with your younger siblings (or cousins or something.) Look for ways to invest in their lives. Mentor them, maybe.

That’s been helpful for me. It pulls my focus off of just me and my life and my struggles and my hurts, and starts investing my heart and emotions in other people. So I can find hope through their lives. I can feel joy for them when good things come their way. I can pray for them. I can help them through the hard times. I can rejoice when they succeed. Grow. Receive their dreams.

So whoever God has in your life right now, find ways to serve and bless them! Get involved in their lives and journey together! Share emotions, hopes, hardships, and dinners. ūüėČ

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4) Pursue your Dreams. Invest in your Talents. Don’t wait to do what you feel like God is calling you to.

Y’all, what is God calling you to? Don’t be deceived … if your heart is beating, you have a purpose! Don’t miss out on this wonderful thing because you’re too busy waiting to get married.

If you can break away from the depression that comes from a broken heart and the listlessness that comes from shattered dreams and the hopelessness that comes from lack of trust …

You will realize that there are beautiful things out there within your reach, but you’ve been so consumed with one beautiful thing (aka: marriage) that you’ve been blinded to all the rest.

What was it you always wanted to be when you were younger (for me, it was an author!)? Or what opportunities do you see around you that tug at your heart? A younger person who needs a mentor? A group of young people who would be blessed by a Bible study (ladies, you could start a girl’s Bible study using Love Defined!)? A Crisis Pregnancy Center that could use some volunteers? Maybe your church is going on a mission trip and you have a heart for overseas missions.

Ponder it. Dig deep. What do you have a passion for? What do you feel God might be calling you to? Maybe He is calling you to marriage … someday. But right now there are other opportunities available while your future spouse is out of sight!

As for my personal life, there’s a chance I’m going to have a full-time job very soon. (I’d appreciate your prayers!) Meanwhile, I’ve been novel-writing quite a bit and absolutely adoring it. I’m remembering that God gave me a passion and a gift for writing and I should definitely be pursuing that and using it for His glory! ‚̧

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So yes, I’ve gotten excited about that once again. I have a desire to publish more books – stories that I hope will touch reader’s heart for God. I know that I have a few loyal fans out there and they remind why I love writing. I’m not exactly sure what God has in store for me, but I’m trying to use my time wisely and write whenever I can. If He wills it, I want to publish again soon!

I tried my hand at making soap and it was a good experience! Not as hard as I thought. Though I was a little scared about mixing the lye. Good news, it all went well and I didn’t splat any on myself or my sister! :p So we have a beautiful batch of charcoal soap that smells of lavender and tea tree oil stacked on the top of my sister’s bookshelf. We’re hoping to make some more this coming week.

And yeah. Blogging, booktubing, Bible studies, and more! I’m trying different things and just seeing where God takes me.

I hope you all will too! Pursue God. Trust Him with your life. Take steps of faith. Enjoy life! Try some new things. Do what you love, all for His glory. ‚̧

Matthew 6:31-33

31¬†‚ÄúTherefore do not worry, saying, ‚ÄėWhat shall we eat?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we drink?‚Äô or ‚ÄėWhat shall we wear?‚Äô¬†32¬†For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33¬†But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

***

That’s what I have for today. Hopefully it wasn’t too long-winded! Happy Saturday, readers! I’m probably off yard-saling while you all read this post. ūüėČ Hope you enjoy your day – breathing in God’s love and looking to Him to direct your life.

Live loved, dear fellow singles, and live to the fullest.

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Imperfect but Beloved

Hi, readers! I completely forgot that I had to post today. Ah. Letting myself stress too much or something. I’ve been making soap, cleaning houses, and doing other work-related stuff, so I suppose it just slipped from my mind.

What are you all up to?

I’m currently reading Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for Your Anxious Heart by Maria Furlough. And I’m doing two devotionals on YouVersion about letting go of the past and beginning again. They’re truly messages I need to hear.

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Let go of the past. Mistakes, regrets, hurt, fear.

Begin again. Start fresh! Rejoice in this new day that God can do wonders in.

Break the fear cycle. Constantly give over your anxieties to God. Pour out your anxious heart before Him – again, and again, and again.

And lean on Him. Rest. Completely secure. Forever loved.

It dawned on me that oftentimes we think that we need to be strong, and perfect, and have it all-together. We don’t give ourselves grace for past mistakes and stumbles. We try to tough it out, keep ourselves in order, and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We put so much pressure on ourselves, and then wonder why we crumble at the slightest provocation.

What if it’s not about us being strong, but about His strength shining through our weakness?

What if it’s not about us being perfect, but about His perfection working in our inadequacies?

What if it’s not about having it all-together, but about complete surrender to Him?

What if it’s not about us being something, but about Him loving us despite our sin, brokenness, and failure?

Instead of hiding, covering up, holding yourself together, and desperately trying to find a way to redeem yourself, your past, your sin, your errors … If I just do this, this, and this, maybe I’ll be good enough. Maybe I’ll be worthy of respect and love. Maybe I’ll be liked and cherished and wanted …

Maybe you can just open up your hands and surrender.

I found that when I just took hold of the truth – allowed myself to be weak and helpless and unsure what to do – it was okay. Because I realized that along with these things I was loved and cared for by a compassionate and powerful Father. I gained hope and security, joy and confidence.

I am weak, but He is strong.

This is how it is to be, and I believe I see His role as my Warrior when I surrender.

I am helpless, but He is my Helper.

He is my Provider, and I trust that He will sustain me and I have faith that He will provide all that in need in His timing. All I do is pray and step forward in obedience – trusting Him with results.

I am unsure, but He is all-knowing!

I can open up my arms wide and say, “God, do with me what you will!” He sees all, He holds me in His hand, and He has a future for me.

So I let myself be weak. Surrendered and obedient.

I am only human, but my God is the Alpha and Omega. In Him, I have all I need.

I listened to this Youtube video from Joseph Solomon this morning that was talking about being secure in God’s love for us. I found it interesting. I hope you listen to it and comment with your thoughts below!

God’s peace, friends.

‚̧ Lady Grace

Accepted in Christ, the Beloved // Joseph Solomon

Do I want to know God?

Who is God?

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Do you know Him? Or do you prefer not to know Him, so you don’t have to feel any discomfort over shocking Old Testament happenings and radical commands from the New Testament?

Is your god God? Or is he a benevolent, prayer-answering, rather un-god-like figure who fits quite neatly into your compartmentalized life in which your religion is but one, tidy, unrelated compartment?

The fact is, God is kind. And He does answer prayers. But He is also very much God. He created the universe and He created you, and He does not have to answer to you or do things as you dictate.

7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
8 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light. (Psalm 36:7-9)

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)

20¬†But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed¬†it, ‚ÄúWhy have you made me like this?‚ÄĚ (Romans 9:20)

It seems to me that a lot of people like to claim God. One woman thanks God for her boyfriend (who is not a Christian and has led her into sin) and another talks about how God blessed her with the baby she prayed for in His perfect timing while she’s unapologetically living in sin. Sin that God declared was sin and was off-limits for His followers.

It is never for me to condemn someone’s soul. But I only have to briefly glance at these people’s lives to see that what they’re saying does not match up with what they’re doing. One cannot follow God and still live blatantly in sin. God hates sin. And as His adopted children, sin should be our burden.

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14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:14-20)

So I have to wonder. Do these people even have any idea who God is? Some claim to know Him and to follow Jesus Christ, but have they let Him be God in their lives? Have they let themselves truly know Him?

Imagine that these people, indeed, are not true believers. That they have not believed in Jesus Christ, trusted Him to save them from their sins, and surrendered their lives to Him.

Imagine that on the last day, they declare: “Lord, we publicly thanked You on Facebook! We prayed to You for a baby and gave the credit to You in front of our fans and followers! We started going to church after watching Heaven is for Real!”

And what if God tells them: “Depart from me. I don’t know you.”

21¬†‚ÄúNot everyone who says to Me, ‚ÄėLord, Lord,‚Äô shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.¬†22¬†Many will say to Me in that day, ‚ÄėLord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?‚Äô¬†23¬†And then I will declare to them, ‚ÄėI never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!‚Äô (Matthew 7:21-23)

What are they going to say in response? “Um … well … I guess I didn’t really know You, either. In fact, I didn’t really want to know You‚ÄĒthe real You, not just the You that fit into my “religion compartment”; my fire insurance, my guilt-easer, my feel-good fix when I start getting uncertain and depressed‚ÄĒbecause I didn’t want to stop living the way I was living. I was afraid of what You might ask me to give up. I didn’t trust You and believe You were who You said You were. I didn’t believe You really loved me. I didn’t believe You were good.”

So I made up my own god. One that let me be in control. One that didn’t care how sinfully and selfishly I lived. One who always gave me what I wanted. One that didn’t tell me what to do or how to live. One that I didn’t have to trust, or surrender to, or give up control to, or follow.

I was worried there really might a possibility of hell. I wanted to go to heaven when I died. I wanted only warm, fuzzy, feel-goods from my god figure. I didn’t want to completely disappoint my family. I wanted my prayers answered and the desires of my heart given to me.

But I didn’t want You.

But God is God. And if you try to change Him in order to fit Him into how you want your life to be, you’re only creating a false idol, and you do not know God.

How we, in our frail, pathetic, human arrogance think we can do what we want, run our lives, dictate who God is and what He does and then think He will honor that‚ÄĒwhen He is the one who breathed everything that exists into motion; when He is the one who thought us up and knit us together in our mother’s womb‚ÄĒis the epitome of foolishness.

3¬†Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.¬†4¬†He who says, ‚ÄúI know Him,‚ÄĚ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.¬†5¬†But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.¬†6¬†He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

What a horrifying stench our pride must be to the one and only God. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. The King of kings and Lord of lords.

Our pride, though. Not us.

I don’t believe that our scent disgusts God.

I am not perfect. I am a sinner. I fail again and again. I am even guilty of the things I mentioned above ‚Äď trying to fit God into my limited comfort zone. Avoiding passages of Scripture I can’t understand.

But still, I have been saved. And I do not say in despair: “How deplorable I must be to God.” But I say: “I am a child of the King. I am God’s princess.” Because of His love; His mercy and grace. Because of Jesus Christ. Because I have accepted His sacrifice and gift, and He is teaching me to walk His path.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Listen, friends, this post may be a warning, but it is not a condemnation. God, as all He truly is, loved us while we were yet dead in our sins. Before we trusted Jesus Christ.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

If you realize you’ve been guilty of not surrendering to God, not trusting that He’s good, not believing in Him and in His Word, you should not run away no matter what shame you feel. You should run to God.

He can turn your shame into a testimony.

Your sorrow into joy. Your doubt into faith.

Humble your heart before Him. Be honest with Him. The time for pretensions, and faking, and fear, and ignorance, and trying to manipulate everything into your version of how life should be is long past over.

Try praying: God, create in me a desire for You. Give me the strength to surrender everything to You. Help me to trust that You are good. Teach my heart to know Your unconditional love for me. Show me how to love You. Reveal Yourself to me and help me to live up to the term “Christian” by actually following Christ!

No matter the consequences, the sacrifices, the discomfort, the humility‚ÄĒno matter the mountains of questions I don’t have answers to and the many things I can’t understand.

I want to know You.

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And simply trust Him.

Instead of shutting my Bible when I come across a passage or verse I don’t understand, I’ve learned to talk honestly with God. “Lord, I don’t understand this. It seems like a hard teaching to me. But, You are God and I am not. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and Your ways are higher than my ways.”

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor¬†are¬†your ways My ways,‚ÄĚ says the¬†Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Learn to be okay with not knowing everything. Not understanding all. Not being in control. Let God be God.

Because He is.

I also learned to speak truth over myself. To meditate on His love. To pray daily and deeply. To ask God to show me how to love Him! To give me faith. To help me trust. To make my heart’s desire for Him. To give me a hunger for His Word. A heart for the people of the world – all created in His image! A passion for His design.

Lord, help me to delight in You! In Your words. In spending time with You. In talking to You.

Surrender to Him, friends! He is God, beyond what we can imagine and comprehend! He is love. He is holy. He is able. He is forgiving. He is compassionate. He is merciful and gracious. He is the giver of good gifts!

8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:8-11)

(That reminds me of a Youtube video I watched by Joseph Solomon that was very inspiring. Watch it below.)

Anyway.

Do you want to know God?

Surrender to Him and seek Him with all your heart. Stop searching for what you want, and search for Him.

13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

He Fights For Me

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It’s a simultaneously terrifying and freeing idea …

This idea that I am not in control.

God is.

Perhaps it is a terrifying thought because we are human. We are rebels by nature. Rebelling against God’s good and perfect design, and then trying to control the broken pieces of life that we’re left with.

We have an issue with trust, and cannot bear the idea of not having a firm grasp on our lives. Controlling what happens and what doesn’t happen. Making sure we’re safe, succeed in life, and yes, making sure that God’s wonderful plan and will for us comes to pass.

But I am not lord of my life. And I should quit pretending to be. My Lord should be my Master and King. Why do I call Him Lord if I have not surrendered every area of my life to Him?

Perhaps it is a freeing thought because, when I come to the end of myself and realize how entirely not in control I am, I understand to the depths of my soul my desperate need for a Savior. A King. A Lord. A Father. A Warrior. An Author.

Write my life story, Lord, because I am broken and will only continue to break if I try to do things my way.

I am undone. Be my Redeemer. Redeem me from the mess I’ve made of my life. Be my Father, hold my hurting heart.

I am afraid. Be my Warrior – deliver me from the lies of Satan that seek to destroy me and drive me to despair.

I am not in control.

*deep breath*

He is. And He fights for me.

Oh, my friends, we have a Hope in heaven on high. We are not alone. You are not alone. Your God and King is fighting for you.

I think sometimes we need to just be still and let Him fight for us. The thought struck me as I was doing my devotionals and came across these verses:

13¬†And Moses said to the people, ‚ÄúDo not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the¬†Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.¬†14¬†The¬†Lord¬†will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.‚ÄĚ (Exodus 14:13-14)

19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. (Exodus 14:19-20)

Basically, do not fear! Wait on the Lord, and see what He will accomplish for you! Maybe we forget Who it is that we claim to follow. He is the Most High God! He is the Creator of heaven and earth! He is the Beginning and the End! He is mighty, He is able, and He is faithful.

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

6 You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all. (Nehemiah 9:6)

I think it’s awesome how the Angel of God moved and stood behind the Israelites. It came between them and their enemies. He had their back. God is our Heavenly Warrior – sovereign and in control. He can be trusted.

He can be trusted in the big things, and in the small things. He is in control of every detail of our lives. He knows every desire and hope and dream of our hearts. And contrary to what we might believe, I do not think we have to struggle and strive and grasp for control to make sure God’s will comes to pass in our lives.

Who do we think we are?

He is the Potter, we are the clay.

He is the Creator, we are the created.

He is the Savior, we are the sinners.

He is the Master, we are the servants.

He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep.

He is the Father, we are the children.

He is the Leader, we are the followers.

We are Christians – Christ followers.

I believer that if we are seeking the Lord each day, desiring His will, and striving to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength … that we can simply rest in Him. We can trust Him to provide everything we need in order to do His will. We can wait on Him to show us each new step in the way He would lead us.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye. (Psalm 32:8)

There is no need to fret and worry and drown in anxiety. He’s got this, my dear friends. Yes, we’re human. We make mistakes. We mess up. We fall into sin. But He is gracious and able to lift us out of the dark pit and place us back on the right path. Even when we wander … Even when we are at a complete loss of what to do …

Trust in the Lord and don’t trust in your own understanding. Seek Him earnestly. Wait on Him. Be still, knowing He is God. Pray, believing. He will guide you. Direct your paths. Open doors, or close doors.

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

6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)

I love this passage, which shows how utterly dependent we can be on God. We don’t have worry for a single thing. Just surrender and follow Him. Pick up your desires, talents, dreams, goals, gifts, callings, feelings, wonderings, ideas, etc. and set off on His good path, following in His holy footsteps.

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:22-32)

What a gloriously beautiful Truth. I am not in control. And I can stop trying to be in control. I can rest in my Father’s all-sufficient care.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

He will bring whatever plan He has for my life to pass.

He will bring His will about in my life and the lives of my family and friends.

He will provide for my needs – both big and small.

He will fight for me, when the battles seem impossible to win.

And I must choose to rest in Him. To wait on Him. To trust in Him. To bring before Him every care and concern. To pray without ceasing. To use His Word as my comfort and as a sword with which to stop the Enemy’s lies. To step out boldly in faith when I feel Him moving me to action. To find my hope always in Him.

Like a little child, I can reach out to Him when I am afraid. I can surrender control and let my Father tenderly lead me. I am His daughter, and that is a beautiful truth.

He is with us. He is with you. Today, trust your heart to the One who is ever and always in control.

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

7 The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)

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