Stop Letting what’s BEHIND you keep you from what’s in FRONT of you!

As I was driving home today, through what I would imagine a monsoon to be like, the Lord got my attention. I didn’t hear some miraculous voice giving me some theological insight into philisophical things; just a soft tug on my heart–One that said, “pay attention, there’s something you need to hear.”

I was on my way home from Women’s Study.  Tonight, we had the privilege of going to visit a lady’s house who recently got put on hospice. This lady and her late husband were pillars at my home church. Never in my life have I witnessed such a love for the Lord, each other, and other people than what was shown by this couple.  I could literally spend days talking about this sweet lady and how her life has impacted me. I asked her what advice she would give all of us about learning to love the Lord. Her response? Simple– “love Him with ALL of your heart, ALL of your mind, and ALL of your soul.” With ALL of yourself– Love God.

With everything that I am, I am to love God.  Man…. that’s a big thought.  Well, if you’re like me, you have to process stuff (Trust me, I overthink A LOT).  So I was doing just that– thinking about what loving God with all of myself looks like. I’ve tried so hard to make sure that I love God with all of who I am. I’ve been to the altar so many times, trying to surrender my dreams, my desires, my fears, my insecurities to the Lord. And yet, I still struggle sometimes–A lot here lately actually (since I’m being honest). I struggle with doubt and/or frustration when God doesn’t show up like I want or expect Him to. I struggle with loneliness and the desire to have both close God focused friends, and a spouse to do life with. I struggle with not knowing what the next step I’m supposed to take looks like. I struggle with poor self esteem or problems feeling worthy or lovable. I love the Lord the best I know how, but I’m still very much human.

Any who, as my mind was racing in a million directions (which is as exhausting as it sounds) I happened to look in my rearview mirror. Behind me the sky was dark and looked very angry– you know, a little greenish, streak lightning-ish, and a little armageddonish (lots of “ish-es,” but the English language is failing me with an appropriate description). But in front of me, the sun was breaking through the clouds, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.  I felt the Lord whisper, “Stop letting what’s behind you, keep you from what’s right in front of you.”  Stop allowing your sins or failures to define you. Stop allowing the lies of Satan whisper to you your worth or value. Stop letting past heartbreaks keep you from being vulnerable. Stop allowing your brokenness as an excuse to not move forward. Stop allowing your hurts to control you.

I am not bound to my past failures or sins. Jesus freed me from that. I am no longer defined by other people’s opinions of me. I am covered by the blood of  Jesus. I don’t have to be controlled by loneliness, because God will never leave me or forsake me. I am NOT perfect, but I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. Praise God for that! I have spent years standing still, emotionally and physically, because I didn’t allow myself to heal from past hurts. I have stayed in season after season of alone-ness because I wouldn’t let anyone in.  I have allowed fear to stop me from going after what has been right in front of me all along. I have refused to allow myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, God wants for me the same thing that I want for me, and if I’ll just be patient, He will give it to me.  But, I will never allow Him to move in the situation until I stop living in my past and start looking towards what’s in front of me. I am a NEW creation. I have a NEW heart. I have a NEW mind. I speak differently than I did 10 years ago. I dress differently. I respond to conflict and anger differently. I pray differently. I’m just different. I am a changed person. Change can be a good thing. We should embrace newness. Embrace change. Embrace second chances. Look forward to what’s ahead of you.  Stop looking back. It’s hard to love God with all of yourself, when you’re too busy looking behind you instead of looking ahead of you. God will lead you every step of the way. He is before you and beside you. The past is the past. Let it stay there. Quit allowing the past to interfere with your present and keep you from your future.

In case you missed it, those storm clouds that were in my rearview mirror are representative of the past storms of life–those things that have caused you pain. The sun breaking through those clouds, represents the promise of a future and a hope with Jesus.  Drive onward towards the Son (<– yes I did that on purpose).

Moving forward with Jesus,

BrittIMG_2206

For “Those Days….”

“Every day is a good day, Some are just better than others.” It’s a phrase that I try to live by, because there is a lot of truth in that statement. EVERY day is truly a blessing from a good and Holy God–one that should be cherished and not wasted. We should all seek to live everyday like it’s our last, because it potentially could be. But what about those “not better” days? How can we as Christians seek to glorify God, when it takes every bit of strength we can muster up, to put our feet on the floor? What about “those days” when hiding from the world seems more appealing? What do we do on those days? How do we move forward on those days? How do we grow closer to the Lord and push others towards Jesus on those days? The answer is simple, not easy, but simple. You get up and you do it. You face head on whatever it is that is standing in your way.  Why? Because we have to.

The truth is– Life is hard! Things don’t always work out the way we want them to or in our timing. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or what you do, things don’t go your way. Work will frustrate you. People will hurt you (intentionally or unintentionally). Unforeseen and uncontrollable tragedy will come. Schedules become too hectic. Financial crises will come. Anger and/or disappointment will come. These are the times that we must learn to be patient and try to trust God with broken hearts, missed opportunities, or unmet expectations.  This isn’t easy. But it’s a requirement of faith. Remember– “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1

Today has been a really hard day. One where I’ve wanted to cry much more than I’ve wanted to smile. One where I’ve struggled to see God’s plan or feel His presence. Trust me, today, I wanted to stay in my bed, in  my PJs, and sleep– because when I can actually sleep (which is not near as often as I would like), I have peace. I can’t feel when I’m asleep. It’s hard to hurt when I’m asleep. Reality doesn’t exist in those moments of unconsciousness. It’s not until I wake up that I’m reminded of the overwhelming sense of “how am I gonna get through this day without people knowing something is wrong.” You see, I’m  a pretty prideful person, and I don’t like for people to see me broken. Don’t throw rocks at me– I know, I know– I should be transparent and honest with myself. I am only human after all. It’s okay for me to have bad days right? Well sort of. But I’m more than human, I’m a child of God. And I don’t want to misrepresent my Father or what He has done for me in any way. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for the day, because I know it’s a gift. So I’m cautious in how I deal with “those days.”

So here is what I did. I got up. I went to work. I even managed to do my hair and put make up on– that in itself is a miracle– just ask my coworkers. 🙂   And yes, I cried some today. I had bad moments. But The Lord  still showed up. He still reminded me that I’m loved. He even allowed me to spend some time with a dear friend of mine– a lady involved in the Bible Study that I have the privilege of leading.  This friend reminded me that God has a plan and a purpose for my life and my hurts. She reminded me that she sees Jesus in me everyday, even on “those days.” She reminded me that it’s okay to hurt, because God can use our heartbreaks, our questions, our fears, our failures, and our disappointments for our good and His glory, if we will allow Him to. We as children of God don’t have to be afraid of “those days” because Our God, our Father, Our Friend is bigger than any circumstance that comes our way today or tomorrow. And He’s already working them for your good. So let me encourage you today. Be like David– run towards your Goliath– knowing that Your God is bigger than any weapon formed against you. Trust God to hold you and guide you. Be patient and wait on God to deliver your victory. Because it’s already promised, confirmed, and signed in blood. It was finished on the cross.  And trust God. You don’t know how He’s going to take the circumstance you’re facing and make it work out better than you could ever imagine. Maybe, just maybe, He’ll give you exactly what you want. But sometimes, it just takes time. His word says that He will give you the desires of Your heart if you will delight in Him. So let’s go– feet on the floor, armor of Christ on, and slingshot in your hand. Life is a series of moments.. Take one step at a time. One moment at a time. One prayer at a time. One day at a time. One breath at a time. Finish the race! Finish this day!

Sweet dreams and Prayers for Hope,

Britt

Love is a Battlefield…

SO if you are anything like me (you know approaching late 20s, female, who likes the occasional chick flick), then a scene from the movie “13 Going on 30,” in which you see a bunch of preteen girls dancing around on the bed in their PJs, singing along to the one and only Pat Benatar’s ‘Love is a battlefield’ may come to mind. In my twenty something years on this Earth, I’ve discovered just how true that statement is.  All week, I’ve been wondering what to title a blog about the single most talked about “thing” on earth– and that would be—du du du dddduuuummmm– LOVE!

Now before you allow your jaded, beat up heart to click off this page to avoid reading a fellow jaded sister’s thoughts on love, let me ask you to pause and hear (read) me out. This isn’t your post on what to do or what not to do in your romantic relationships. I don’t have any new God given prophecy on how to overcome that broken heart or on how to know that “he/she is the one.” I would, however, like to write about this thing that we all desire so deeply– this idea that gives our lives so much purpose, motivation, and hope. LOVE! And yes, we will discuss the fact that it– LOVE– is indeed a battlefield.

To understand our desire for love, we must first understand it’s origin. Care to guess what that would be? You guessed it, Love was created and made perfect in God. So much so that the Bible defines the relationship  between the two with the statement  “God is Love” (1 John 4:8) If the definition is tied directly to the presence of God, then I think it would be wise to look to His word on the ins and outs of this thing called love.

Love covers a vast array of human emotion. I hold the belief that for everything God has for you, Satan has a counterfeit. Personally, I believe that this is true when it comes to love as well. Most everyone who professes to know Christ is familiar with the love chapter of the Bible. For those of you who may not know, go read 1 Corinthians 13, Verses 4-7 specifically. It’s good. Challenging. But Good! So if that’s Godly love, then what does the counterfeit look like? Well for starters, a counterfeit doesn’t blatantly look counterfeit. If it did it would be easy to recognize it as such. Instead it usually posseses partial truths. Sometimes counterfeit is hard to recognize. Whether it is disguised by lust or an overwhelming emotion, it is often motivated with an intention other than selflessness.

Selflessness- my, oh my, what a strong word– the  very best word I can come up with to define the word “love.” IF you can learn to love people selflessly, then you truly understand what love is. I am convinced that true love is the most powerful force in the universe. It has the power to erase prejudices. It possesses the grace to forgive the most heinous acts. It has the ability to overcome every boundary that the human race can set before it. It can erase all fear, restore all hope, and establish peace. Just as darkness can’t exist in the presence of light, hate is unable to exist in the presence of love. So choose to love. Love hard. Love patiently. Love kindly. Love with forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Love fearlessly. Love completely. Love Selflessly.  Be brave. Allow your heart to love so hard that it can be hurt. Love people in a way that you hurt with them and for them. Love passionately. Because it’s worth it, and because it’s how you desire to be loved. God loves us that way–through a lens of forgiveness, through a lens of hope. And if you dare to love in such a way as this, I promise you, You WILL change the world. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s a beautiful kind of scary. Sure you can have your heart broken, but it can teach you to love deeper. No, not everyone will love you back, but choose to be different.  Take the risk. Make that new friend. Go on a new adventure. Listen to people. Learn their hearts. Change the world. Love is battlefield. Life is a battlefield. That battle is for our souls. Eternity is at stake for those who don’t know the love of Christ. BE that love. Point them to Jesus with your fearless pursuit of love! God is ALWAYS bigger than Satan. Love will ALWAYS be stronger than Hatred. And if you know Christ, You will NEVER walk alone! You will never go unloved. You are known and loved without reserve by GOD! Learn to be loved and learn to love well!

With LOVE, hope, and prayers,

Britt

Never Hopeless

Let’s be honest– in a world where more bad is talked about than good, where people care more about themselves than their neighbors, and where characteristics like integrity and trustworthiness are hard to come by, it is difficult to live by the motto “never hopeless.” I’ve spent the last year and a half of my life telling people that I felt “hopeless” in certain areas of my life. Feeling overwhelmed by things that I couldn’t control–Bad relationships, heartbreak, broken friendships, difficulties in ministry, difficulties with work, etc.  I can truthfully say that the season I am currently starting to come out of, has been one of the darkest ones of my life. I’ve doubted God’s sovereignty, I’ve doubted His presence in my life, and at one point I even told Him that “if this is all life was about, if this was all He had for me, I wanted Him to take me home.” I was tired of hurting. I was tired of feeling helpless. I was tired of fighting for people that just didn’t care about me. I was tired of praying and trying to grasp onto this thing called hope. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired– But GOD was working something out in me!

God reminded me one day, that He could do exactly what I asked Him to do in that moment of despair! He could indeed take me out of this world with one word. And to be honest, it scared me. The truth is; that I was allowing my hurts to control my thoughts. I allowed the opinions of others to penetrate my soul so deeply, that their opinions of me changed how I thought and felt about myself. I allowed my circumstances to control my faith. Brother and sister, let me stop right here and say– DO NOT LIVE THIS WAY. It’s a dangerous path when we become more focused on our mountains and our storms than we do the ONE who can move or stop them.  Suddenly that hope that came so easy at first, those Bible verses that you’ve worked so hard to memorize, those simple prayers that you were taught don’t seem to bare the weight of the trials of life. There’s an old “bible-ism” (YAY!! made up word) that goes something like this: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” That my sweet friends–IS A LIE! (and it’s not in the Bible– seriously, go look– you won’t find it).  God will absolutely give you more than you can handle and here’s why:

To build your FAITH!  Faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1 KJV) God wants to rock our worlds. He wants our unwavering devotion. He wants us to trust Him and love Him with all of our hearts, minds, souls, strength. He wants all of us. Our fears, our doubts, our hurts, our insecurities, our bodies, our relationships, our jobs, our time, our money– There is not a single area in your life or part of you that God is not interested in.  Why? Because you ARE worth it to Him. You were worth Jesus’ blood on that cross. You were worth the sacrifice that God made because He loves you. What’s hard is learning to trust God’s sovereignty is the midst of life’s storms– because it’s not comfortable. And at times, it just hurts. Like raw, real, ugly cry kind of hurts. But how sweet it is to know that My God can take my brokenness and make me beautiful. He can use all things to the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28 NIV). Storms of this life were never meant to separate you from God– they’re there to pull you toward Him. Think about it– when Jesus and the disciples were on the boat and the big storm came, the disciples were afraid and they woke up Jesus who did what? He spoke “peace, be still” and the sea was silent. We are the vessels, and the storms of life may be beating against us. We may feel like we’re about to drown. But take comfort. The same Jesus that was asleep on that ship is living inside of you. Trust in Him to calm your storm.  Keep moving towards God. Choose hope– because our hope which is JESUS CHRIST is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Our hope doesn’t change. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last year and a half of my life; it would be that a lot of things in life, we have absolutely no control over. We can’t control what comes in and knocks are feet out from under us. We have no power over choices or actions of other people. What we can control, however,  is how we respond to those storms. I choose God. I choose to dig deeper into God– because my faith is not built on shifting sand. It is built on the rock; on the cornerstone which is Christ. AND HE DOES NOT CHANGE WITH OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!  No, I don’t understand everything that has happened to me. I’m not happy about everything that I’ve gone through, but I am so thankful that God has somehow used my doubts to make me more like Him. So please brother and sister: don’t quit. Don’t allow life’s storms to take away your desire for God’s presence. Don’t be afraid to step out into the water and move towards your future because God can’t steer a parked ship.

With love, hope, and prayers for your life:

Britt