My Hope Story- 3 Years Ago to Now

My Hope Story- 3 Years Ago to Now

If I looked at my life 3 years ago, at this time I was in the midst of chaos and panic. My new fiancé at the time had just told me he felt a block in his heart for me, on my birthday, which I felt was the worst possible timing.  We had experienced problems on and off, but always had hope that we would eventually work things out. We were both committed and loyal, yet often it seemed that we were trying to force it to work. The entire Christmas season was a roller coaster of emotions, something I had never experienced. The holidays (and my birthday) had always been a time full of love, security, hope, and generosity. That year, it seemed like my heart was being ripped out of me over and over again.

I wrote in my journal, “Why is life so hard? Why do I have to wallow in self pity like I do? Why can’t i be free and happy like I used to be? Why is it so complicated and hurtful?”

Later that year, I would go on to take a break, and eventually break off the engagement and relationship, after having exhausted all options of help and repair. It was one of the hardest and most weighty decisions I had ever made. I wrestled with fear of what others would think, say, or if I would ever be able to love again. I didn’t know if anyone would want to be with me if I had already called off an engagement with another guy. Yet I knew I could not continue to live the way things were going for another few months, let alone an entire lifetime. When I finally made the decision and followed through, it was like a weight was released from my shoulders. I finally felt like my free and happy self again, after so many months of despair.

Little did I know, was that in about 9 more months, I would experience more freedom, and eventually I would go on a date with the person who would be my husband- right around the same season where I felt it all first fall apart the year before. THEN, a year later, I would be marrying him. And now, another year later, and 3 years total after that desperate season, I am almost a year married, and finding it hard to believe that life can really be this good again.

I KNOW there will be depths yet to come (such is life), BUT I also KNOW God follows through on His promises. He is GOOD (ALL THE TIME), and will not leave me alone, even at the depths of the most confusing of moments. I know a breakup is not the most hopeless of moments, but as Victor Frankl says,

“… suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

What are you suffering through today? Can you remember a time when you had greater suffering? What about greater hope?

Can you imagine where your life could be just 1, 2, or 3 years from now? We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds our future.

There is HOPE!

Longings Fulfilled

Longings Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

It’s amazing to me how true this verse is. I feel like lately, God has been fulfilling several of my longings (or maybe I’ve just been more aware).  I longed to have a husband who loved and cared for me radically, and have enjoyed being married to God’s gift of a husband to me for the past 9 months. Not all of the longings are as big as marriage though. I longed to do yoga in a Christian environment, and just recently got to experience the beautiful fulfillment, that keeps going! Also, I longed to provide a space for women to be: be themselves, write truth, experience peace, and so much more. This past Saturday was a small start at doing just that, in light of a larger longing that God has placed within me.

As I was filled with joy and life at each of these fulfilled longings, I realized something more. Not only did God fulfill these hopes, these longings of mine, but he was also the one who GAVE me the longings in the first place.

It is said that God will give you the desires of your heart when you delight in him (Psalm 37:4), but he is also the one who places many of those desires in there to begin with!

It’s like God gives us double gifts when he gifts us with deep desires or soul longings, and then he gifts us again when he satisfies and fulfills those longings.

It gives me hope for my longings yet to be fulfilled. The ones that have been deferred for a while, but my heart has not grown sick, because I’ve experienced so much life from other longings fulfilled.

What are some longings that you have? In what ways has God fulfilled some of your longings already? Have you delighted in God, and has he given you desires that have yet to be fulfilled?

Pray with me:

Father, thank you for being the giver of good gifts. Thank you for the many longings you have fulfilled in my life. Thank you for the desires, the dreams, and callings you have placed within me. I pray I can rejoice at these gifts, and steward them well. I pray I can be patient with the process you have me in to reach the fulfillment. May you get all the glory as you fulfill the deepest longings of our soul.

Amen.

Rest for the Best

Rest for the Best

Are You Resting?

Rest. White Space. Down Time. Be Still. Quiet Your Soul. Free Time.

Whatever you want to call it, for some of us, it seems elusive and unattainable.

My husband and I have enjoyed over a year of great health, that we believe is mostly due to the Paleo lifestyle (which in large is due to the lack of sugars). However, last night, as we started off our date night, it was clear that our streak of great health had been interrupted. After paying and taking the food to go, we found ourselves seeking some good old REST at home for the rest of the evening, and now into today.

I have this theory about rest…

If we don’t take the time to seek rest in our schedules, our bodies will make it happen one way or another. I have experienced this several times in my life, and each time, I remember my theory, and dutifully obey my body, and let it rest. I believe this is a God-designed function in our lives to a) keep us humble and b) keep us healthy.  So often we think we are invincible and can go without stopping.

As I read this morning, God decided to make it even more clear:

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127:2

I am his LOVED ONE.

YOU are his LOVED ONE.

HE will GIVE US REST.

If only WE give him our time.

Now maybe this may not be your problem. Maybe you have too much rest in your life and need to get off your booty and get going? This is not the post for you.

I am writing specifically to those of us who cannot stop, who have this achiever drive in them to constantly go harder, do more, be better, aim higher.

It is not a bad drive within us! HOWEVER, we do need to remind ourselves of WHO our ultimate goal is. Jesus took time to rest, time to pray, and time to eat.

I think we can all fit a little More of LESS in our schedules.

What is your first response?

What is your first response?

My husband and I met at the nonprofit where we work and are choosing to live in North Omaha to intentionally see the reality of there one day being no inner city in Omaha, NE.

We live in a “lighthouse” where we want to build community and spread love and hope so the people around us can reach their full God-given potential.

Recently we were driving home around 9pm and as we are pulling up to the house, we see two individuals digging through our trash. Immediately I felt this creeping sense of fear and surprise. Why would someone be digging through my trash?! What could they possibly be trying to find? Information? Food? Cans to sell and get a little cash?

Continue reading “What is your first response?”

Irreplaceable People, Unexpected Love

Irreplaceable People, Unexpected Love

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Things are replaceable, people are not. -Tow Truck Driver

So thankful that my person and I are alive and well -a miracle and blessing from our father. And that replaceable thing we drive around in, well God took care of that too.

This weekend didn’t turn out how we expected or desired with a whole tire coming off the car twice- once on an expressway. Somehow -both times- we managed to get to safety without impacting anyone or anything else. God gifted us with people- irreplaceable people- who were willing to help strangers in our time of need. He sent those to check on us and offer rides or help and more to temporarily put the tire back on the car.  It was a miracle how it all unfolded–we are still marveling at it!

At first I cried because I was so scared. Then I cried because so many cared!

With it being the weekend before Valentines, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate love than by experiencing God showing us his love in so many [unexpected] ways. We missed a marriage conference and fellowship with some friends, but we gained a greater understanding of what it means to rely on God, submit to him, and appreciate the things that have eternal value.

I feel our marriage has deepened in a way that only God could have allowed and our faith in him strengthened. He is good and he looks out for his children.

Praying you feel His extravagant and sometimes unexpected love this season.

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.  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’” John 10:10-11

Fear in His Hands

Fear in His Hands
Oh Lord please forgive me for deep down in my heart
I’ve realized what I’ve harboured almost from the very start. 
See I’ve always had plenty, yes, more than enough,
but somehow I still worry that one day I’ll have none. 
So I fret and I fear of the future trials to come.
And work and save up to pay for the potentially large sums. 
I work day to day, honorable enough I am sure, 
but, see, my motives are not always very pure. 
For somewhere along the way I have wrongly presumed,

Continue reading “Fear in His Hands”

Trust Without Borders

Trust Without Borders

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Last year, around this time, I was in my last semester of undergrad and thus still had to attend weekly chapels. I remember going to a worship chapel where we sang the song Oceans. As one of the top Christian songs in the past few years, this song was a favorite in chapel, on the radio and on everyone’s playlists. After a while though, the words lost their meaning. On that particular day, however, I realized afresh what the words meant.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior”

I knew what I was singing, but thought for a second at the weight of my words. Did I really just sing that I wanted God to take me to deeper waters? What would that look like? And was that even something I really wanted to be asking God?

This past year, God has brought me to and through some of those deeper waters. My 22nd year has been one of the hardest yet. The trials of a broken relationship and a wounded friendship took me deeper than my feet could ever wander. At times I didn’t know if I could emotionally, spiritually, and mentally survive. However, because I ran to His presence, the deeper communion I have experienced with God and this sense of unity with His Spirit makes it more than worth it. Through it all, the joy that I have is unexplainable. Even though I may still sometimes hurt, that hurt reminds me of how deep God has taken me. How he has allowed me to walk on the water, making me stronger, and let me experience the fullness of his presence.

While my heart may have been unsure when I uttered the prayer of that song, God heard the words of my lips and knew what it would take to make my faith stronger.

This summer, when I thought I had experienced the deepest of the depths, I had no idea that more was in store. While I am writing this now, I don’t know if I have seen the last of the depths. In fact, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that there are still deeper waters ahead.

In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble…”

I can be confident that there are deeper waters to come. BUT Jesus is not finished when he says that. He ends the statement with:

“…But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Our faith can be made stronger in those deeper waters. We know that we can endure because we already know Jesus has overcome!

The trust and experience of deepened faith developed through trials is both painful and beautiful.

May we continue to be led by the Spirit, and our faith be made stronger.

Can you wrap it around your mind?

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Today at our staff meeting, someone was talking about the love of God and how we try to “wrap it around our minds” –I am sure he meant to say we try to wrap our minds around it– but it came out the other way around. This got me thinking and I got this picture in my mind that will NOT go away!

Lately I have been praying through Ephesians 3:14-19 as a prayer not only for me, but for the people that I care deeply about.

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, 15 after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:

16 Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit 17 so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together 18-19 with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings. (The Voice)

The verse talks about knowing, understanding how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (NIV).

This picture that I have is of how infinite his love is that it wraps around our minds, instead of the other way around. We can’t wrap our minds around God’s love for us, but he can wrap it around our minds. (Tweet it by clicking on the link)

It is as if we cannot ever FULLY grasp and comprehend or wrap our head around this concept of how GREAT his love is for us.

Thankfully, we don’t have to. Praise God that his love is so great that it can wrap around our mind, our head, our heart, our life! We don’t have to understand it, because we can fully experience its power!

Though it may have been a human misspoken saying, God used it to create this picture to show me that his love cannot be wrapped around by our finite minds, instead, his infinite love wraps around us and each and every person.

Confessions

Confessions

I love the picture of humility and unity that was displayed at our staff meeting this past week: people coming together. Our leaders outwardly confessed, reconciled and forgave one another for bitterness in their hearts that may have been unbeknownst to the other party. It was amazing to see the love that was spread in these small confessions and brought healing to many! Really, forgiveness has more to do with the person doing the forgiving than the person forgiven.

I have realized that on social media, I have held bitterness in my heart and I have not been completely real or honest. The pictures I post are the life I want to portray to the world but not exactly the whole story. I post the good moments and am silent during the bad or pretend like it is all ok. Yes, I want to live by faith and not make it a habit to complain or gripe, but I also do not want others to think I do not struggle and am some inhuman perfect being. It is quite the opposite actually.

So this goes out to all of my readers, I am sorry for becoming bitter about the lives portrayed and the half stories I receive. But I also ask for forgiveness for perpetuating the very same thing that I do not like!

It’s hard to humble yourself and admit you’re wrong. Let me rephrase that. It is hard for me to humble myself and admit I am wrong. I want to be right! And if I am honest-I would like to think I am always right!

While I love the idea and picture of humility, and appreciate it in others, it is so much more difficult to actually make it happen in my own life. I want to be liked, or perceived in a certain way.

A while ago, in the midst of some difficult times, I was on the phone with a friend whom I had not spoken with in a while and she said, “it looks like your life is great right now!”

And I thought to myself, what is she seeing that makes my life so great, why would she say that?!

It wasn’t until I took a look at what I portrayed to the rest of the world when I realized just how bad it was. While sometimes I may want it to be good so I act like it is, sometimes it’s not and instead I am silent. I wonder who else out there, instead of faking like it’s ok, they are silent? The moment they find one ray of hope, they share it with the world and the world thinks life is perfect.

Forgive me for acting like I have it all together all the time.

Social media is a fragile and complicated thing. One can over share- complaints, TMI, or nonsense, but one can also portray themselves in the way they would like to be seen instead of who they are—flaws and all.

I’m working on it. I don’t have it all together or know exactly how to walk this thin tightrope of reality and truth mixed with respect and dignity. All I ask is that you join with me in not only speaking the truth, but in living it as well.