Tonight I fell in love…
with a handsome guy named Aaron. He had the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen and kept staring at me all evening! My heart couldn’t help but fall in love with him the moment I saw him. He captured my attention all evening and I was sad to see him leave.
My birthday is two weeks from yesterday! Yes, I am already counting – 13 days! I personally think birthday’s should be a national celebration.
The day you entered the world.
The day you gasped your first breath on planet earth.
The day you cried as little ones do.
Birthdays are important because we celebrate someone’s life, we pause and acknowledge their innate value because they are a part of the human race that God sovereignty ordained.
As much as I adore birthdays – the party, the gifts, the cake, the balloons, the excitement, etc. a part of my heart dreads them.
Christian, here is all you require. To make you happy you want something that shall satisfy you; and is not this enough? If you can pour this promise into you cup, will you not say, with David, “My cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5) When this is fulfilled, “I am your God“, are you not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but He who fills all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask you if you are not complete when God is yours? Do you want anything but God? Is not His all-sufficiency enough to satisfy you if all else should fail? But you want more than quiet satisfaction; you desire rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this you portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe your spirit in it; swim an age, and you shall find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and you shall find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If this does not make your eyes sparkle, and your heart beat fast with bliss, then assuredly your soul is not in a healthy state. But you want more than present delights—you crave something concerning which you may exercise hope; and what more can you hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, “I will be their God“? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of your Lord, and let your soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to your privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.
* Taken from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning Devotional
This week, millions of Americans will gather around the table, fill their bellies with way too much turkey and pie, then settle into an afternoon of enjoying one anther’s company, watching football and sneaking in a nap. I’ll be headed home to North Carolina the tomorrow and am fully planning on enjoying every moment with my family. As much as I treasure the holiday season, this specific week stings my heart. You see, it was this week almost four years ago that a major event happened in my life that changed my life. I remember every detail as if it were yesterday.
The title of this post might seem paradoxical.
Shouldn’t I be the one showing Jesus to a homeless man? Isn’t that what I’m called to do?
Allow me to explain the exchange that happened last night. My heart was blessed and I want to share it with you, in hopes that it might encourage your walk with the Lord.
I was leaving the crisis pregnancy center where I have been training to be a counselor. (That is another story for another time, but let me just tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever leave that building with dry eyes.) My friend and I were taking the metro home, and as we were walking down, a homeless man asked us for some money in order to get a metro card.
We stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. He told us that he wanted to get to the local homeless shelter to get a bath and spend the night in a warm building instead of sleeping on the sidewalk in the freezing cold weather. I happily put some money on a metro card for him, and started to walk away. The man started talking about how he hoped the shelter still had some food left, because he was hungry. (At this point, it was about 10:00 pm, and highly unlikely that they would still be serving dinner.)
Let me pause in my story….
Ever since arriving in D.C., I have been struggling with how I should properly respond to the homeless. They are literally everywhere. I probably pass at least 8-10 between my office building and the metro station. It is literally impossible for me to help them all. I am a single woman supporting herself in a large city. I’ve gotten so overwhelmed, because I know that I can’t help them all. As a result, I haven’t done anything. A famous quote from the beloved Mother Teresa has been swirling around in my mind recently…..
The Holy Spirit urged me to offer to buy him dinner. I asked if we could provide dinner for him, and he immediately answered a resounding, “yes”. My friend, and I headed up the escalator with our new friend. He told us that his name was Charles. On our way to get food, the conversation centered around him currently looking for a job. The conversation seemed to take a natural turn towards spiritual matters. I asked him very bluntly if he knew Christ as his personal savior. He immediately got a huge grin on his face and said, “Yes, yes I sure do”.
We stopped in a local pizza joint and he ordered himself a pizza. While we were waiting, he shared about his relationship with the Lord. The restaurant was empty except for the staff, and while we were talking, I noticed that the staff was intensely listening to our discussion.
Wow, this man knew his Bible inside out. He shared one spiritual truth after another. One thing that he spoke about was how we as Christians have a duty to show Christ to the world by our actions. Obviously, we are saved by faith alone, but how will the world know that we belong to God if we never show them HIS love.
One thing that Charles said that will stick with me for a long time is this:
“We can’t out give God!”
I’ve heard this cliche saying before, but coming from a homeless man, who told me how he has sought to give out of the little he has and how God has continued to bless him. Now that is powerful! You would expect a homeless man who literally has hardly any earthly possessions to hold onto what he has with clinched fists. Instead, this man has chosen to give thanks and see how God multiplies. He has chosen to trust God.
I don’t understand the circumstances that lead to homelessness. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know why Charles was homeless. All I know is the Lord asked me to buy him dinner and have a conversation with him.
What resulted was Charles, my brother in the Lord encouraging my faith. He showed me Jesus. He reminded me that I can trust God with everything – my finances, my relationships, my job, my love life, my past, my future, my time, my resources, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, just because I give, doesn’t mean that God is going to immediately bless me with material resources. I am not an advocate of the prosperity gospel, in fact, I think that is heresy! What I am advocating for is the truth in these verses:
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6
My Jesus paid for my salvation in full on the cross of Calvary. He shed his innocent blood for the satisfaction of the wrath that I was deserving. Because I have been given everything, I want to seek to give everything. Who am I to be stingy with my time, talent or treasure.
Beloved, I urge you, slow down, take a few moments to notice those around you who might need someone to talk to, a hot meal, a word of encouragement, or most importantly, who need Jesus!
The fact is, you might be the only representation of Jesus that someone ever sees! How do we represent God if we brush people off, act like we are more important or can’t be bothered! No one is perfect, and we have grace to fail, however I desperately want to show Christ to a dying and hurting world!
Will you join me?
“A man there was, and they called him mad; the more he
gave, the more he had.”
– John Bunyan
I am choosing not to go into great detail into the events and circumstances surrounding the topic I’m addressing today for two reasons. 1) It would take way too long to explain. 2) Not that I mind sharing, but the details aren’t absolutely necessary to the discussion. (If you care about the details, feel free to ask. I would love to share how the Lord is working specifically. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org )
To be quite honest, this isn’t a topic that I have given much thought to until this past year. In the past, if someone hurt me, it was usually unintentional or was something that could be resolved quickly and relatively pain free.
There is someone in my life very close to me who has hurt me deeply over the past 12 months. Last night, some words were said that cut me to the core. I had an “ugly cry” (if you aren’t familiar with what that is, ask any girl, she’ll know!) You see, in the moment that the words were spoken, I choose to believe them.
You aren’t worth anything.
You aren’t worth getting to know.
Those words hurt.
I entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe those words were correct and accurate.
Maybe I am too much trouble to invest in.
Maybe I am too complex and aren’t worth time.
Snap out of it. I shook with sobs as I poured out my heart to my mom about how much those words hurt.
You see, at that moment, my head could acknowledge that those words were lies, but it was obvious from the tears falling down my cheeks that my heart was choosing to believe them.
Words are my love language, and I am the type of person that takes a lot of things personally. (Sometimes – in this case, it is not a good thing.)
I’m not going to lie. I threw myself a pretty big pity party this morning, complete with waltzing into work with red eyes and a bad attitude. I was polite to my co-workers, but inwardly I was fighting to take the thoughts swirling around me head captive and submit them to Christ.
“It’s just not fair God! I have done literally everything I know to do to show love to this person. Yet they still are hurting me.”
And so I began my day…
Once in my office, I grabbed my Bible and started reading Ephesians, and stumbled upon the following verses:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away form you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
Well…that was convicting.
I came before my Father and expressed how hard it was to choose to forgive.
You are acting selfishly. Why would you choose to wallow in self-pity and believe those lies? Don’t you know that I defeated the devil’s control over you and your mind on the Cross? Hand it over to me. Allow me to bring justice to bear. You can choose to dwell on those lies, or you can choose to allow me to stand between you and those hurtful words.
Beloved, as hard as it is, I am making the conscious decision to allow the Lord to teach me forgiveness. This person hasn’t asked for my forgiveness, offered up an apology or uttered the words, “I’m sorry.”
However, I can make the decision not to take offense at the words and hurt thrown my way.
Yes, it hurts, but I can choose by God’s grace not to allow it to destroy me. I can choose to be kind, I can choose to keep my heart soft and tender, and most importantly, I can choose forgiveness, because Christ has modeled perfect forgiveness for me on the cross.
I will be exploring and grasping the depth of Christ’s forgiveness of me and my sins for the rest of my life. Ah, what beauty!
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
– C.S. Lewis
Dear One, I do not profess to have it all together, far too often I am before the throne of my Father with tears falling down my cheeks begging for His grace, unending love and mercy and incidence in my life.
But I am choosing to remember that Christ showed me the ultimate forgiveness. He lived a sinless life, was crucified and raised to life. Why? To satisfy the wrath that I was deserving of. To pay the payment on my behalf. To offer me ultimate forgiveness.
I have chosen to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. As I result, I choose to obey His command to forgive as Christ forgave me. It is hard and it hurts, but praise Him that I don’t have to do it alone. I have the Holy Spirit living inside me who is helping me.
I choose to love. I choose to forgive.
Sometimes I wonder if life is long enough, because there are so many dreams in my heart and I desire to see them all come to fruition.
Right now I’m living one of my dreams!
2 months ago, I picked up my life and moved to a city where I knew almost no one and began building a life in Washington D.C. The journey hasn’t been what I expected it to be, it’s been harder than I ever imaged, yet better than I could have asked for!
I literally accepted a job and moved to DC within 3 weeks! It was a whirlwind, but the Lord worked out so many details, and I know that the nation’s capital is where He has called me for the time being!!
Here is a snapshot of some of my dreams!
1) Grow old with my best friend!
Yes, I do want a beautiful wedding day, but I am more excited about marrying my best friend and the love of my life. What a privilege the Lord gives us to grow old with one person and honor Him through a marriage!
My heart does long to have a man that will choose to love me, cherish me, care about me, and represent Christ to me…
The Lord hasn’t placed that person in my life yet, but I am genuinely content with where I am. I know that the Lord’s timing is far better than I can imagine. I am not sitting around “waiting” to be married, I am living my life as a single woman and if the Lord sees fit, I shall be married! Until then, here’s to single hood!
2) Adopt a child!
I take that back…I want to adopt a whole village of children!!
Being adopted myself, I am constantly aware of what an incredible gift adoption is! My life would not be the same if I hadn’t been adopted, and one of my biggest desires is to give the gift of adoption to children in the future!
3) Write a book!
The Lord has specifically called me to write a book for women. The topic that He has asked me to write about is the most intimate part about myself and I am not sure when the right time to share it is. A few years ago, I found out some things that radically changed my life, and were an intense time of suffering in my life. As a result of the things I found out, my life and future changed.
4) Travel the world
I have been blessed to visit some pretty cool places!
It stole my heart…
Athens and a few islands in Greece
Even though I’ve been to some of the world’s most incredible locations, there is a hunger in me to see even more of the world! A few of the other places I’d like to see include:
London, England – I need to visit Princess Kate
Revisit Paris – A piece of my heart was left there
Swiss Alps – Maybe try some skiing?
Amalfi Coast –
…basically anywhere in Europe
Fiji – I hear the beaches are pretty!
The Grand Canyon
Prince Edward Island, Canada – Anne of Green Gables
Charleston, South Carolina
New York City
I am already planning my next trip…
5) Live in a house with a red door!
This might seem like a silly dream, but I have always wanted to live in a house with a red door. There is something so welcoming about a red door, and I intend to have a house with an inviting red door!
6) Perfect my French
Je parle un peu de français – I speak a little French
I have taken a few years of French, but I am far from fluent! I would love to be able to speak it well one day!
7) Have lunch with John Piper
Of all the people on this planet I could sit down with for an hour or two, John Piper tops the list! He is one of the men who’s writing and speaking leads me closer to Christ. I have read almost every one of his books, listened to countless sermons and watched videos of him. It would be an honor to meet such a man of God!
Those are just a few of my dreams! While I have many others, some great and some small, I close in sharing my biggest goal and dream in life!
My greatest passion and desire is that my life accurately represents Christ to the world!
If I accomplish every one of my other dreams, but fail in this area, I have wasted my life! Oh may this never be!
Beloved, as I’ve shared some of my heart with you, my charge and encouragement to you is this – whatever your dreams are, may you always glorify our Father in heaven first and foremost. I constantly submit my dreams before His throne, because He is my great guide and knows what is best for me and for His glory!
Suffering is inevitable.
Turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will be bombarded with discouraging news. Everyone will experience some kind of trial or suffering in their lifetime. This guarantee of suffering exists for two reasons, first because the world is fallen and infected with sin. Because sin entering the world, suffering exists. The second reason is because as a follower of Christ, we will experience suffering because the call to follow Him is a call to die. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” –Matthew 16:24 Why does Christ give this difficult task to His followers? In his last hours on earth, why did he reiterate the certainty of suffering in a Christian’s life by stating that “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) It would be an impossible task if that phrase is all we have recorded in our Bibles, however in the very next breath, Christ gives the ultimate encouragement when he says, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Dear One, whatever kind of suffering you are experiencing, take heart because you have a Savior who has overcome the world. The One who died for you experienced the ultimate suffering by leaving His heavily throne and stepping into human flesh to ultimately die on your behalf for your sins. Because He has suffered, you have the greatest example of how to suffer well. When Christ suffered death on a cross, His suffering lead to eternal life for the ones who choose to call Him Lord and Savior.
Suffering as a Christian has two purposes – God’s glory and our good.
When we respond to suffering in such a way that shows the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than our suffering, it shows who and what our true treasure is. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ and not the temporary things that are causing our hearts pain, God receives the glory.
“My body is sick with cancer, the paycheck didn’t quite cover everything this month, I have an unsaved family member, that phone call changed everything” – the list can go on and on. The question begs to be asked, “how can suffering possibly be for my good?”
Suffering as a Christian serves several purposes for our ultimate good. First, suffering sanctifies and purifies us like nothing else can. When earthly pleasures, things and people are stripped out of our lives, it is revealing of where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. Christ desperately longs for us to fix our eyes upon Him, and not the things the world tries to romance our souls with.
Beloved, my charge to you is not to waste your suffering. Instead of throwing yourself a pity party (although I have thrown and attended several grand ones for myself), seek the Lord’s voice speaking in your suffering.
“Do you trust Me?”
How often does the Creator of the universe whisper those words into our souls? Often, our first reaction to suffering is frustration, fear or anxiety. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is the following:
“When you cannot see the hand of God, you can always trust His heart!”
When your heart is breaking, and your world is falling apart, when all around you, it seems like there is nothing but death, tragedy and heartache, take heart! Remind yourself that your God, your Father, your Lord has overcome the world! Trust in His character. Remember that God loves His children and that He is ultimately good. Do not forget these truths for they are your lifeblood in times of suffering .
Regardless of your present…
Circumstances or crisis,
Pressures or pain,
Suffering or sorrow,
Failures or frustrations,
Danger or disease,
Memories or misery,
Temptations or trials,
Problems or persecutions,
Burdens or brokenness…
Your situation is temporary compared to eternity!
In the closing chapters of the final book of the Bible, God makes a beautiful declaration to His children.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3)
If this present world was all there was and there was no Savior in which to place our hope, we should be pitied, but that is not the case! This world is not our home, we are merely passing through. As you evaluate the current pain in your own life or in the world right now, meditate on these questions:
What is the Lord teaching you about Himself?
How can you use your suffering for His glory?
I’ve avoided writing this post for a while, because I was scared that if I did write it, I would pack my bags and be on the next plane home within an hour.
The first week in DC was the honeymoon phase – I was learning a new job, I went out on a date, I explored the city….then it hit me
“WOW, I just moved my entire life to this strange city. What on earth was I thinking?!”
As much as I love DC and my job, I have been more lonely than I have ever been in my entire life! That sounds a bit dramatic, but for 4 years, I was at Liberty University, where I was surrounded by thousands of people, and I had a whole community that I could call on at anytime. Whenever I wanted to, I could call up a friend and have someone to go to dinner with me, jog around campus together, come up to my room and watch a movie, or walk with me while I poured out my heart. Even when I was back home, there are 8 people in my family, so I always had someone right there for me! Whether I needed a shoulder to cry on, or someone to go get coffee with me, there has always been someone in close proximity for me!
In my new beautiful city of DC, I have yet to make a lot really solid friends. My roommates are super sweet, but they have all been here for awhile and have established community here. There have been many nights when I’ve come home, gone for a run, made dinner for myself and found things to entertain myself.
To be honest, I think I need this season of loneliness. As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I’ve cried to the Lord to give me friends immediately, I’m learning things that I know I could not learn any other way.
So, I’ve complied a few thoughts on things I’m currently learning through my loneliness. This is by no means extensive, but I hope that it encourages you in whatever stage of life you are in!
1) I’m learning how dependent I have been on people, and not the Lord.
As hard as it is to swallow, I’ve never realized just how much I’ve puffed myself up with pride in the past, based off of how “popular” I thought I was! It’s so easy when I’m surrounded by people to run to a person to satisfy my desire for companionship. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the body of believers, and I believe that we are designed to live in community with one another. However, I had unknowingly put people in the place of my Lord in my life.
In the past…
When I’ve been sad or upset about something, I’ve gone to a friend’s shoulder to cry on and receive a hug and their sympathy instead of going to the Lord to comfort my heart!
When I’ve been lonely, I’ll call someone up (usually a guy friend) to come and fulfill that need in my heart to feel loved and desired instead of seeking my Great Lover to satisfy my heart and deepest desires.
When I’ve been excited about something, I’ve gone to friends to cheer for me and to celebrate instead of going to my Father in thankfulness and seeking to rejoice in Him and with Him!
When I’ve been angry, I’ve vented to any available person who would lend an ear to me for more than 5 minutes instead of working out my problems before the throne!