Archive of ‘Life’ category

He Has Gathered the Winds

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Like the infamous weather here in Amarillo, my life has been a little windy.

On April 30, I graduated from California Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & New Media.

On May 4, I flew to Amarillo, Texas for a three-day interview with the Amarillo Globe-News.

On May 9, I accepted a position with AGN as their new faith and religion reporter.

On May 27, I moved to Amarillo.

In less than one month, I had graduated, moved home, interviewed for a job, cut my hair, sold my car, moved to a new state, bought a new car, signed a lease on an apartment and began my first big girl job.

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Experiencing Amarillo’s welcoming wind while on assignment for my job interview.

I am so grateful. But some days, I have to remind myself of that out loud. Days when I’m homesick and lonely. Days when I’m frustrated with the search for a new church family. Days when I burn my dinner on the stove because I’m learning to cook for one. Days when the culture shock becomes fist-clenchingly irritating. Days when I really just want to be a kid again and move back home.

Amarillo is not where I expected to be after college. I didn’t even want to work for a newspaper. As a junior at CBU, I wanted to move overseas as soon as possible. During my senior year, I wanted to write for some sort of trendy, countercultural, Christian magazine and pummel the Church with my strong opinions.

Now, I find myself in the middle of nowhere, the Panhandle, far from trendy, far from the “Lauren” I knew in California and far from my family and friends.

As the faith reporter most days are humbling and thought-provoking – interviewing some of the most extreme and radical facets of the Church, spending an in-depth day with Mormon missionaries, hearing the testimonies of an LGBTQ couple who are Christians, and breaking the Ramadan fast with a Muslim family from Somalia.

If God could have tailored a position in journalism specifically for little, new-grad me, this would be it. I know that and I believe that – it’s just been a huge adjustment.

If I’m being real, many people don’t discuss the disillusionment of the post-grad life – especially as a young Christian who graduates and moves away from their spiritual community.

Never before have I been so grateful for the spiritual support and encouragement I found in college. Never before have I realized how much I took that for granted. Now I realize how much I have lost. Even with cellphones and social media, we lose it – we’re all so busy.

For 7 weeks now in Amarillo, I have been slipping and sliding down a slope of spiritual dryness. I have gone to work every morning, filed my articles and come home every evening to an empty apartment and an empty schedule. I’ll admit, for the first few weeks, Red Box was my best friend.

When you’re in a new state, don’t have a church yet and don’t know a single soul, you slip quickly.

For me, I slipped and fell deeper into the pits of self-reliance and fear. I’m still struggling to pull myself out of it.

I’ve been strategically placed here in Amarillo. Yes, for my job, but also because it’s allowing my fast-paced, self-reliant, stubborn, prideful self to hit a wall. Well, I’ve already hit that wall. Now I must humble myself to allow God to pick me up, bloodied, broken… and still fighting.

I wish I could share some inspirational, uplifting devotional for you today, but I’m still feeling tossed about in the wind. That, and I’m battling my pride.

These next six months will be a time for me to refocus on Jesus and come to full, humbled peace with my brand new, post-grad, big girl life.

I am eagerly awaiting the chance to return next year with the team, each of us ready to recommit to “living as light” in the world that seems to grow darker with each moment. I do believe we all need these six months, but I also believe the Lord is blessing that time of rest and preparing us for the next chapter.

“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” Proverbs 30:4

One thing I am certain of, the Lord is the one who has “gathered the wind in his fists.” No man can even fathom what it means to do this. The wind may continue to pummel me, but my God is in the winds that blow through my ever-changing life. I hope you know that truth as well.


 

About the Author

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLauren Koski

Hello! My name is Lauren and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. As a journalist, I believe in harnessing the media’s influence for the Gospel and believe that storytelling will be a strategic tool used for the growth of His Kingdom. I am excited to be interning with GLOW and look forward to the ways Jesus will use this platform for His glory.

A Unified Vision

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I am excited for this new season of GLOW.

As Kelsey pointed to in her blog post to kick off our explanation of this season, the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for every season. Sometimes that is hard to understand, but as our lives ebb and flow, God is present, working and declaring his glory over our lives, in creation, and in many other ways we probably aren’t even aware of yet.

As many of our contributors prepare for new seasons of life, adding members to the family, beginning new jobs, moving to a new location, etc., I am also looking forward to embracing my next season. I am excited to pour into young adults here in Zambia as I help welcome four North Americans to volunteer for the next year with our partners here at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Zambia. I also get to help send out one Malawian and three Zambians to volunteer for a year of service in other parts of the world. I am so thankful for this job and this opportunity to come alongside people and welcome them into a new season as I help send others out. It is so beautiful to see how God works in newness and in challenges that take us out of our comfort zone and beacon us to trust in Him all the more.

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The feast prepared by one of our volunteers to say goodbye to her host family as she also moves to the next season

I am looking forward to leaning into these experiences and continuing to listen to where God is and finding ways to share that with others. Whether God leads me to share with someone one-on-one, in small groups, or through writing, I am excited to find new outlets and new ways to be held accountable to growing in my faith every day.

However, as much as I want to learn who God is in my own life in this next season, my heart is also after unity from within our GLOW team and community even in this season of quiet and stillness. As we take the next three months to step back and rest from our time writing regularly for GLOW, my prayer is that this would serve to build up our bond with one another as well. As God continues to move in our hearts individually and as we continue to shine God’s light where we have bene placed, may we continue to contemplate how we are also called together as writers, readers, and Christ-followers around the world.

The writer of Ecclesiastes not only reminds us of the beauty of each season, but also the beauty of doing things together,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When Alyssa first asked me to join the team of regular writers at GLOW, I was honored and excited for the opportunity. Not only has writing for GLOW kept me accountable for listening to God speak, but it has left me encouraged to be a part of something bigger than myself. Even in this season of stepping back, we are still united in this purpose. I would encourage you all as readers and writers yourselves to set up ways to lean deeply into Christ this season. Maybe he will call you to reach out to someone new, learn a new skill, or even write something new that could encourage our GLOW community when we begin writing together again.

May we continue to pray for one another and grow in the unity created by the love of Christ for us.

I’ll miss communicating often with you all so often, but I am excited for what God will continue to do in our midst. May we continue to allow him to transform our lives and make us GLOW for his sake in every season.

Change is Often Bittersweet

We have a bit of change in the air over in the Clem household. Our second son Harper James was born on May 22nd! We are so happy to welcome him and his pure newborn sweetness into our lives!

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While we were in the hospital with Harper, we received a call from the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN (both mine and my husband’s HOMETOWN) to offer Tyler the position of youth minister. He was, of course, going through the interview process, but we couldn’t believe our ears when we received the call. Especially considering our current circumstances. On June 12th, we said our goodbyes to our Calvary family in South Carolina, packed up the U-Haul, and made our way to Tennessee with a 2 year old and a 3 week old. Talk about craziness! Of course, all of this has been bittersweet. We have been overwhelmed with the love we have received from both churches. If it were not hard to say goodbye, we would not have been doing the job God set out for us in South Carolina. We are so grateful for our ministry there. And now, we are thrilled to serve at our new home church, and we are loving them all already! While the past couple of months have been seeped with change, I cannot get over the fact that the past two YEARS have had change written throughout them. The birth of our first son, walking through Postpartum Depression, going through another pregnancy, the birth of our second son, and moving to Tennessee after almost 4 years (5 for my husband) serving there.

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The opportunity to become a contributor for GLOW came to me at a time of hopefulness. I was very freshly pregnant with Liam…bright eyed at the thought of sweet motherhood. When he came in June, my world felt like it was falling apart as I dealt with Postpartum Depression. I know you all have read many of my posts mentioning this time in my life, and I thank you for all your words of encouragement. Time and time again I did not feel like praying or reading the Scriptures. I did not have energy or passion for seeking the Lord because of this deep darkness I was walking through. As I look back on this time, GLOW was a way for the Lord to push me forward. When I did not have the drive, He kept nudging my heart to search for Him because I had GLOW to write for weekly. This is the reason I look at GLOW with such sincere thankfulness. The Lord was gracious to give me this community as I walked through the darkness. I was encouraged by posts, comments, and even HAD to force myself to keep going. When all I wanted to do was lie in bed and accomplish nothing, I HAD to press on. I am forever grateful for this sweet community of encouragement. It is so nice to know I am not alone in this crazy life!

As Kelsey mentioned in her post Wednesday, we are taking a 6-month sabbatical because of all the changes all of us are walking through. We want to write with fresh and rejuvenated hearts. Thank you, ladies, for pushing me to pursue the Lord through this GLOW community even in the darkest time of my life. You do not even know how much I have been blessed by y’all.

Over these next few months, Tyler and I will continue to pursue building deep relationships with people in our new church family. We are also looking for a home to purchase and hope to be moving once again in the next several months. We are certainly adjusting to life with TWO precious boys now! We are so grateful for both of them (and very tired)! If you had asked me what life would look like two years from GLOW’s beginning, I would have never guessed this would be my life. But boy, am I grateful!

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If there’s anything I would like to leave you with it is this…You are CHOSEN by God. You are LOVED by God. You are CHERISHED by God. Claim it day in and day out! I pray each of you continues to grow to have an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I urge you to continue on your faith journey, no matter what you are facing. Find women to encourage you. Find women you can encourage. Build your homes firmly on Jesus. Find your identity in Him. And TRUST, breathe, and remember you are His BELOVED.

Be blessed, sisters!

A Time for Every Season

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

Life ebbs and flows. Just when you get settled into a rhythm, think that you’ve found your sweet spot, your equilibrium, your routine, things change. Do you know what I’m talking about? This is the way it is for all of us. The green leaves of summer turn the golden hues of autumn, the fallen leaves of autumn are covered by the white flakes of winter, and then all of it nourishes the ground for the flowers of spring only to repeat itself again. Change bringing beauty. A shifting bringing blessings.

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From the beginning of time, this is how it has been. It seems that our Creator takes joy in refreshing, renewing, and changing the things that we are used to and we here at GLOW seem to be learning that right along with each other.

Through no small coincidence, these last few months have been ushering in newness for each and every one of us. From graduations, to babies, to new jobs, to moving from one state to another, our lives have mirrored the changing of seasons.

I wrote to you all a little while back about our surprise little blessing coming in October. It caught us completely unaware and our hearts, minds, and dreams have been caught up in this new life growing within me. My children can’t stop talking about their new baby brother. My husband has us settled with a new mini van. We are transforming into a family of five, leaning into the season that God has given us. But no season comes without the one before it changing.

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For me, a new baby means a singleness of mind that comes over me. I can’t seem to have an infant without it touching every aspect of me, taking over my thoughts and habits for a little while. I’m okay with this. I feel called to motherhood and this is how I manage to do it well. It’s why maternity leave is so vital. Because a mother should be able to be captivated and overtaken with her child. Because she should be able to settle into the new season, the new calling, the new physical, emotional, and mental state that she is in. With that single mindedness though, comes a pruning of other things.

This is not only the way it is when you have a baby. This pruning, stepping back, change can come with any life event. With a job change, a move, a new school schedule, or whatever it may be.

You’re going to hear a lot about those changes in the lives of our contributors in the coming days. You’re going to hear about the newness that the Lord is bringing and the blessings, lessons, and strengthening that’s coming through it. We hope that you’ll rejoice with us in it.

We also hope that you’ll understand the need for a changing of seasons with GLOW.

We have all sensed that the Lord has dropped these things into our lives for a purpose and we want to glean everything possible from them. We don’t want to shirk our duty in being good stewards of the season that we’ve been planted in and we also don’t want to offer GLOW our second best. We want to live well and learn much and, because of that, we feel led to take a sabbatical from GLOW.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Ecclesiastes 9: 10 NIV

We will be taking the time for each of our contributors to update you on the happenings in their lives and the plans that God has revealed to them through Friday, July 15th and then we will be saying “See you soon!” to you, our dear friends until January of next year.

We ask that you be praying for all of the adjustments coming up, that we would have ears to hear what it is the Lord is sharing in this time so that we can have more to offer you in January.

We will be praying for each of you and missing our weekly time together! Thank you for your feedback, support, likes, shares, comments, subscriptions, and submissions! They mean the world to us and we can’t wait for more of all of it in January!

I pray blessings over all of you until we talk again!

P.S. If you want to check in with me during our time away, I’ll be updating my personal blog, While We Mother, with what the Lord is doing and sharing with me! Hope to see you there!

Love, Kelsey

If My People

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Three out of four mornings in a row, I woke up to a new tragedy happening in Orlando. I would open up my Facebook app to see if any of my pregnant friends had their babies over night or if any new wedding pictures had been posted by those that just tied the knot and instead, disaster greeted me. A beautiful young singer, shot down after a show, 49 people killed out of nowhere, a little boy taken from the arms of his parents by a crocodile attack, and I’m sure so many other tragedies that I’m unaware of.

It has weighed heavily on my heart. I’ve cried tears and prayed prayers that I never wanted to and these weren’t even people that I knew. It’s just that all of these tragedies are too much for my heart to bear. They’re too much for me to understand or process or even accept because it could happen to anyone. Our world is so full of hurt and sadness and it’s heavy. Too heavy.

None of these things are new. There’s always been tragedy in this world. Parents have always buried their children. Violence has always plagued us. Hate has always contaminated our world. It doesn’t take a very discerning eye to see that humanity is a sorry lot when left to these devices and that’s where I’ve been at — a loss for words and explanations for the world that we live in — and all I can think to do is pray.

We say that all of the time. “All we can do is pray.” We throw it out there like a last resort or something that’s not good enough because, at that point when all we can do is pray, we’re at the end of our ropes and we can’t think of anything else within our power to do. We say it like it’s not good enough. Like all that we have left, prayer, is nothing better than crossing our fingers or wearing our lucky socks.

The fact of the matter though is that when we get to the point where all we can is pray, we are at our most effective place.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Are you at the same place that I am? One that’s full of discouragement for the state of our world? One that’s plagued with sadness and heart break for those that are hurting and hating? One that seems like you are powerless to do anything but pray?

Good.

That’s where we need to be. We need to be humble and contrite and ready to say, “I don’t know what else to do here except acknowledge that we are helpless apart from you Lord and we need you every second of every day to heal this land that’s so very broken.”

We need to pray like we’ve never prayed before. We need to pour out our hearts and our confessions and our desires and fears and let the Lord take them all and heal them. We need to surrender our actions and words to Him so that He can take them and redeem them and make them Holy and effective. So that He can heal our land.

Because it’s so very broken. You see it as clearly as I do, the help that we need. You can feel it and sense it and it’s that very shattered state that it’s in that turns us toward prayer.

So this week, let’s humble ourselves. Let’s search our hearts and find the sins therein. Let’s confess them and turn from them and instead of seeking out our own desires, let’s seek His face. Let’s seek it like we’ve never sought it before. And for all that’s broken in this world of ours, let’s pray. Pray without ceasing, pray without fear, pray without discouragement. And then the healing will come.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Return

It has been an overwhelming couple of weeks for me. My days have been full of one too many things I don’t feel good at, and I have been plagued with stress. Ever had one of those weeks where things are so out of focus with the chaos, it’s hard to see anything meaningful in the midst?

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I know this is not the place that I should be. It’s not the place I want to be, and yet, I find myself in an endless desire to please others instead of focusing first and foremost on pleasing God. As I continue striving in my own strength, I find myself in these verses Paul wrote to the church in Rome, warning them about those who pursue unrighteousness,

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore, God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Romans 1:22-25

When I feel my body, literally overcome with stress, pushing to please and to accomplish and to prove myself worthy, I exchange God’s truth for a lie. I lie to myself that I am somehow worthy of life, when my unrighteous deeds need to be paid for with death. I worship those I am trying to please or the task I am trying to accomplish rather than the Creator who made it all possible and gives it all meaning in the first place.

And yet, in all my lowliness, I still feel God speak transformation and a ministry of reconciliation. Though He does not condone where I am, he is not content to see me stay here, and he is looking to help me find a way out. I see this beautiful ministry of God pursuing us in spite of the ways we wander in the parable of the lost items in Luke 15. The message I see is not to shame the one that was lost, but to rejoice in the one that is found,

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10

God is after our hearts, God is after repentance. Though he hates sin and does not approve of me getting caught up in what others think of me ahead of what He thinks of me, more than anything I feel Him longing for me to return back to Him. When I’m striving to please others, it doesn’t make sense just to redirect my striving to what I think God wants me to do. Striving is part of my problem. To come out of it, I need to be still, repent, and answer the loving call to turn back to Him. Again, he repeats this message to the Israelites who are infamous, just like us, for going astray,

“and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.”

Deuteronomy 30:2-3

Throughout all the chaos of my week, I have felt Him calling me to return, letting me know I don’t have to feel this way, I don’t have to run after these things again. And instead of getting frustrated with myself for messing up yet again, it is best for me to turn back to him, to cry out to him in my time of need rather than continue running to keep up with what I know I need to do. I must trust. He will take care of me. Everything that actually needs to get done will get done, and everything else will fade away. I must stop chasing after the wind and declare along with the Psalmist,

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation and my glory;

My mighty rock, my refuge is God.”

Psalm 62:5-7

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What are you chasing after this week? Where is the attention of your mind and the affection of your heart fixed? The fact is, no matter how much we grow in our walk with the Lord, we only get it right in His strength. Let us encourage one another not to dwell in our short falls, but instead to return our hearts to Him and trust Him to take care of the important things and let go of the rest.

Do You Believe You Are Not Enough?

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We live in a culture in which most of us fear being enough. There’s this fear among us that we will never be extraordinary enough to belong or to be loved. I see it everywhere in messages thrown around social media, that ordinary life isn’t good enough. I am a sucker for the reality show “The Bachelor” but this show is the perfect example of this mindset. Having men and women be flown off to exotic locations to have candlelit dinners on the beach and helicopter rides to private islands with champagne flowing and this is all to create “love.” When these men and women return to reality and quickly realize that love isn’t about these grand amazing gestures and butterflies they realize it wasn’t enough.

I believe, as women, this fear starts to control our lives. Are we good enough wives? Good enough mothers? Thin enough? Beautiful enough? Smart enough? Extraordinary enough? I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough money, there isn’t enough time, my child doesn’t eat enough vegetables, I don’t workout enough, I could seriously go on and on…
When does life start to become enough?

I believe life starts to become enough when we stop comparing it to others highlighted/edited lives. When we learn our true identity, passions, and goals. When we pursue the Lord in our daily lives and then choose to serve others before ourselves. I believe it becomes enough when we stop striving for perfection and learn the power of contentment. I believe life starts to become enough when we learn to work and fight for the things we believe in.

I want you to hear this today, you are enough. You are not a failure, no matter how many times you fail.

Do you ever stop to think about how unstoppable you would be if you really believed in who you were created to be? Daughters of the highest king, conquerors through Jesus, we were given the gift of an abundant life. That my friend, is extremely powerful. Our lives are meant to be more than just ‘enough’.


About the Author

1 year anniversary - CopyJENNIFER ERICKSON

My name is Jennifer Erickson and I’m the blogger behind The Happy Mama Life!  I live in a small town outside Denver with my husband of 8 years, our 2 1/2 year old toddler Charlotte and our 9 year old rescue pup Maverick! I am a stay at home mom that loves Jesus, loves to make healthy recipes, fun crafts and exercise!

It Is Well With My Soul

 

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I’m a planner through and through. When I wake up in the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I’ve run through a mental list of every single thing the day holds. I think through it all while I get ready and by the time I’m dressed, the day is fully and completely planned. It’s in my control, it’s under my jurisdiction.

I’m not just this way with the small things like the Birthday party we’re attending or the doctor’s appointment we need to keep. I’m this way with the long term stuff too. I have it all envisioned, all planned. The time lines are set for when we’ll take a certain vacation or how much we want to start putting away for the kids’ college funds. When I want to start writing more or what I’ll do when we’re empty nesters. All of it, I think of and I plan for and never, ever, ever, is there any space for something to come in and derail it.

Well, that happened a few months back in the form of a positive pregnancy test.

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 Look at that perfect foot! God does all things well!

We had thought we were done having kids, told everyone we were done, but then God decided that that wasn’t the case and He took things into His own hands. As well he should.

We had begun to envision our future with just two kids and had started to plan for that but, in classic life happens fashion, that was thrown out the window. That was back in February and our lives since then have been a journey from freak-out to peace to complete joy and excitement for baby number three to enter our lives as we’ve learned some beautiful lessons in surrender and the unexpected blessings in God changing our plans.

It’s a funny thing this need we have to plan and feel a sense of control. It makes complete sense to us but really, it goes against everything we say we believe as Christians. We say that we’re totally surrendered to the Lord, that we trust and want his plans for our lives but then we fight tooth and nail against the actual surrendering of them.

We are so careful with and attentive to our plans all while we say that we want His plans and not ours.

It’s like this.

My four-year-old son, Judah, loves to build things right now. Legos are his favorite but blocks work, too. He’s very particular about how the pieces are arranged and he usually ends up with a very well planned out, completely cool structure by the end of it. The other day though, he invited his sister to build a tower with him. She’s two and “particular” is not even on her radar. She builds with complete and utter lack of planning. Where Judah wanted the tower to be steady and tall, straight and strategic, Annabelle wanted it to be wobbly and whimsical. Judah was completely frustrated by the end of it because the vision he had kept getting derailed.

He invited her to play with him though. He couldn’t be mad if the structure changed and the plan was different if he invited her to be a part of the process.

Sometimes, we’re the same. We invite God into our lives, tell Him he has control and we want his will and then we just can’t handle it when He actually builds the thing He has planned. Our perfect towers begin to protrude and lean and bend and cut the most creative and eye-catching figure and we push against it.

We are rigid when He is creative. We hold our building blocks tight when he just wants us to open our hands so He can see what we are willing to offer.

There are plenty of examples of women who do this whole “surrendering their plan” thing well in the Bible.

Look at Rebekah, wife of Isaac, mother of Jacob and in turn, the nation of Israel. She was presented with the possibility of a brand new life far from home with a man she had never met. The prospect of marriage based solely on the fact that she was the immediate answer to the prayer of a servant-stranger. When she was asked if she wanted to tarry at home or to jump at God’s new plan, this is what she said: “I will Go.” Genesis 24:58 NIV

Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was in the midst of her engagement, of planning her whole life when an angel appeared and threw everything for a loop. Instead of clinging tightly to her plans, this was her response: “’I am the Lord’s servant.’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” Luke 1: 38 NIV

Do you see? The women who do great things, who leave a legacy, who play a part in God’s plan are the women that are flexible. They are those that hold their blocks loosely and are willing and ready for the plan to change at any moment.

They are those that say, “Whatever you want Lord? It’s fine with me. It is well with my soul.”

“I’ll go.”

“I’m your servant.”

“May your words to me be fulfilled.”

Why? Because they know the one in whom they trust. They know the master builder, the one who is guiding it all and they know that He is good and wise and sovereign and loving.

“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NIV

They know that whatever He comes up with will be far more beautiful and lasting than what they’re hands would have built anyway.

Let’s throw our plans to the wind. Let’s hold them loosely. Let’s mean what we say and say what we mean when we utter the words “I surrender” and let’s watch those twisty beautiful towers that rise high carry the name of Jesus. Let’s quit building what we had in mind and start taking orders from the one with the master plans.

May it be well with our souls.

Where’s Your Heart At?

image1Tears were streaming down her face as she let out her frustration in the form of screeches. She took every pillow and fiercely threw each one with all her might onto the floor. She forcefully yanked the comforter and sheets off of the bed.

We were in the middle of a huge melt down.

Doing what sisters do best, I calmly entered the now massacred and disastrous room with a big smile on my face in an attempt to calmly talk about the choices that were being made.

I sweetly said, “Friend, it looks to me like our heart isn’t in the right place. What do you think? Maybe we need to take a look at it.”

And with a red face full of frustration and tear streaks she looked right into my eyes and said, “My heart is in the right place. It is right here,” as she annoyingly pointed to her chest.

And with that, I walked out of the room and shut the door behind me.

In time, after pouting in the bathtub, she decided to come out and join the family. She sat in her seat at the dinner table and began eating like nothing had happened. She was back to her spirited and joy-filled self.

Although the situation was over, the words exchanged between her and me stuck.

Here I was asking her to look at where her heart was. Truly, I was asking what the condition of her heart was. What Fruits of the Spirit it was reflecting. If it resembled her Heavenly Father’s heart.

And out of complete annoyance she took my question and answered it without thought. She gave me the easy and obvious answer. Clearly ignoring my actual intentions. Knowing her actual answer to my question would be far from acceptable.

Let’s be real, who wants to answer that question honestly: Is your heart in the right place?

Two weeks ago I walked across the stage and received my college diploma. In a blur full of hugs, smiling for pictures, and packing my college career ended.

As I was sitting in the Tennessee sun waiting for the graduation speeches to end, I was struck at how ugly my heart had been so many times in the last three years. In that moment it became so obvious to me how wonderful Lee University had been and how richly blessed I was all throughout my college career. And then I thought about the words I spoke, the thoughts I thought, and the attitudes I had throughout the experience and was taken aback.

In so many moments of frustration, homesickness, and anxiety my heart turned cold and dark. Full of negative thoughts, I would complain about everything. I complained about the Lee bubble, which in essence was the safety net that allowed me to safely grow. I would complain about the classes, which in essence were the avenue through which I would receive my teaching license. I would complain about being away from home, which in turn was the reason for my extreme amount of growth.

More times than I want to admit, I chose to look at my life through the eyes of me without Jesus. And looking back, me without Jesus, His saving grace, and His everlasting love, is not a pretty sight.

The negative thoughts only polluted my soul more, and in time I reeked of selfishness and ungratefulness.

And in many moments when my Father would whisper to me, “Daughter, is your heart in the right place?” my answer was far from acceptable.

With pride standing in my way knowing my honest answer was far from acceptable I would roll my eyes and think, “Of course it is. I mean I can’t be perfect.”

And just like that I would turn down the opportunity to fall on my knees and let it all go. Let all the heightened emotions go to instead be flooded with His grace, peace, and joy.

All too often I let myself get away with this. I allow my heart to fester in the ways of the world while the Fruits of the Spirit and the ways of my Father evaporate into thin air.

Knowing I am not perfect, knowing I am forgiven, and knowing my Father loves me tends to be my excuse for not ridding of my rotten attitude. When I don’t feel like doing the right thing, I excuse myself from His expectations knowing He still loves me.

And as we all can assume, this leads to nothing good.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

You see, the condition of our heart determines just about everything. It determines how we interact with others. How our day goes. What we get accomplished. How our words are spoken. How we prioritize things.

From the moment our eyes open until the time they close, our focus should be on our hearts. Nurturing them. Cleansing them. Growing them. Filling them with goodness and love. Making them become ones that resemble our Father’s. This is the key to life.

In order to further His Kingdom, we must be people that resemble the God we are representing. We are His hands and feet. He chose us to be a part of His mission. And it all starts with our heart.

So let me ask you: Is your heart in the right place?

Right now you might say “yes” and in an hour you might say “no”. As imperfect humans in an imperfect world we are prone and guaranteed to fail. But in those moments where the negativity, anger, pride, and jealousy come rushing in, listen to His soft whisper that says, “Child, is your heart in the right place?”

And without missing the opportunity, fall to your knees and let it all go. Admit to your sinful heart and let your Father fill you with mercy, peace, and love. It is with this act of surrendering, you can be a part of His mission. You can truthfully and gracefully represent the God we serve and the Father we so greatly love.


About the Author

IMG_5862MORGAN COLANDER

Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a senior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.

Live for Today

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The one thing that God wants from us is to trust Him, day by day. Us women are dreamers and we so easily think about what will come. I think about getting married and having babies and starting my life. That’s good! God gave me those dreams and he wants me to pursue them in full confidence of the things he is able to do in the midst, but no matter what stage of life I am in, I am called to live for today.

“Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:33-34

This verse reminds me not to worry because my future is in the hands of the one who created the universe, but it also reminds me not to be anxious for the future. I don’t want to be so caught up in what God will do later that I miss what God is doing now. At this point of my life, I find myself thinking about what WILL come so often. I am in a time of transition and to be honest, I’m not doing a whole lot right now. I have a lot of time to spend daydreaming about what will come later, but that isn’t where I am. I’m only at the beginning of my journey and it’s time for me to live in the fullness and live as light wherever my feet are walking each day.

James 5 talks about not being caught up in the worries of where we will be tomorrow but trusting in what God is doing before my very eyes. He is doing huge things in my life and He is blessing me beyond what I could have thought, so why am I spending so much time thinking about what will happen later.

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, when Jesus teaches the Lord’s prayer, He reminds us that He will give us our DAILY bread. He didn’t give the Israelites manna to last a week. He gives us what we need as we live. We are meant to live day by day and the Lord promises to meet us right where we are in each day. I need to trust in his ability to provide for me today and I need to remember that He will continue to provide every day after today.

As I sit at the kitchen table writing this, I realize that even though my mind so easily drifts to a different place, where I am right now is preparing me for it and God is meeting me here and now. He reminds me of His sufficiency and He reminds me that He is working all things together in His timing. I can rest in the fact that He has something specifically for me today and I don’t want to miss that.

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” Psalm 139:1-6


About the Author

ME!REBEKAH RALPH

My name is Bekah. I am 18 years old and I live in beautiful Colorado. I love people and I love my Jesus and this incredibly blessed life He has given me.

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