Beside Me

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power

I struggle with next steps. I like the writing to be on the wall, but sometimes my path remains dark. Lately I’m learning to just keep taking small tentative steps, remembering, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

For a while now I haven’t been able to shake my excitement over a certain undertaking. I see things about it and I feel the familiar trill in my spirit. I think about how awesome an experience it would be, for me, personally, and as a tool to draw others near to Christ. Even writing about it now gets me giddy.

And is so often the case, I am locked in the battle between my head and my heart. Obviously this undertaking comes at a price, as much of life does. My heart sings, “Trust,” as my head thinks of ROIs, once again caging my dreams.

When, as women, did following our hearts become not worth it?

“Follow Me” is the least sensible but most essential call we will ever receive. And I don’t think Jesus ever stops calling, but the longer I wait, the quieter that voice gets, until only my own thoughts rule the kingdom of my head and my heart again.

So much of my growth spiritually has been a result of strong women of faith planted around me. My mother, my sisters, good friends, all who take the commission of nurturing, encouraging, carrying, and just being with seriously. And as I work through this struggle of inaction with them, I see the same struggles in their lives, in their hearts.

We just want to follow that call. But sometimes, the call isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t always come like we think. I believe God’s directing in our lives comes in three ways.

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

  1. God behind me: This happens when God closes doors, directing my steps away from. He is behind me, protecting me and urging me forward.
  2. God before me: These are situations where I feel God calling me to something. He is out in front of me, beckoning me, come.
  3. God beside me: Now, this is the trickiest call in my own life, because it requires not only more trust, but more initiative on my part as well! We are walking, His hand upon me, as I cultivate what He’s planted in my heart.

The older I get and the longer I’ve walked with Jesus, unless I am deliberately going against Him, I’ve realized I cannot move beyond His will. His Spirit dwells within me.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

Maybe as you read this you instantly thought of your very own one thing. The one thing you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, the thing that sets your very soul ablaze. You’ve prayed and prayed about it, and your Spirit still sings. At this point, I would encourage you to feel the comfort of your Heavenly Father’s hand on you, and take a step forward.

Father God, in light of all of Your mercies, I offer up this body as a living and holy sacrifice, a sacred offering to bring You pleasure. May my life be my worship, standing apart, not molded to the world, but transformed from the inside out. May You continue to renew my mind, so I can discern what You will and whatever You find good, pleasing, and complete. 

Help me to be a good steward of this gift you’ve given me. May I move forward boldly and courageously. And in this one thing, may I do it well and honorably, loving others and living authentically. May I despise evil more and more, pursuing what is good, for my life depends on it. 

In Your most holy name, Amen. 

The Love of God

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality

I wish that you loved me for me,
Not what I do
Or how I make you feel
But for my heart
Who I am.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in who I am to everyone else and how well I play those roles, living and loving in each small niche carved out of my being. The cloak of Mother requiring self-sacrifice and nurturing, occasionally clashing with the support required of Wife. Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece, Granddaughter, Friend. Each part detracting from my wholeness.

I even used to approach God with similar intentions. God, what can I give You? How can I serve You? What do You want from me?

But God, in His infinite goodness, loves me for me. Not what I can do for Him, but who I am. He is the God who sees, El Roi. Now, my question for God has changed. Instead of asking, What do you want me to be for You? I ask, Who am I in You? And that changes everything. Because in Him, I am uniquely created. I am loved. I am held.

The Eternal your God is standing right here among you,
    and He is the champion who will rescue you.
He will joyfully celebrate over you;
    He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you. Zephaniah 3:17

And just as God created me, with all of my unique quirks and passions, He created you. He is your champion and He longs to joyfully celebrate you, not for what you’ve done for Him, but because of who you are.

Do you need a break today? A break from all of the doing? From all of those roles you feel you need to play? If so, I encourage you to wear this label deep within your being: beloved child. Come and sit at your Father’s feet as He sings.

The more we recognize our beloved child status, the more we see our other roles as a patchwork quilt, a blanket of being. Experiences stitched together in love, these gifts of self no longer suffocating and required, but comforting and freely offered.

And those desires God gave you, planted in the fertile soil of your beautiful heart, they are not wrong. Chasing God-planted dreams does not have to come at the expense of others, but ignoring them can wither your soul. If you feel God leading, then go. There is nowhere you can go that will separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, nowhere.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;

And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord. 
(There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy 
by Fred­er­ick W. Fa­ber, 1854)

Sisters, may we never tire of chasing the sweet sunshine found in the presence of our Lord.

Living a Life of Worship | Devotional

Devotionals, Faith & Spirituality, Girl Power, Writing

I just returned from a transformative, amazing weekend away at a Women’s Retreat. In the past, I have utterly avoided things like that. I’m more of an introvert and a thinker and I find all of the socializing and emoting utterly terrifying. Well, wouldn’t you know that God would just use that time to speak to my heart, through and through. Each session and each interaction was so uplifting and so targeted, that I just had to give Him the ultimate credit. He always goes before me.

The theme of the weekend was Living a Life of Worship. (Also note: Having to sing in public, etc. generally not in my comfort zone either). But, we are created for and called specifically to worship. We will always be worshipping, and if not God, we will find something. Exercise, TV, relationships, ourselves, other people, things, hobbies, habits, our list of potential idols is endless.

We generally start to run into trouble when we compartmentalize our worship of God. We place Him over there with singing and hand-waving and our, “Yes, Lord Jesuses!” But then, over here, we want to keep doing what we want to do. This is easy for us, because we feel that we can’t worship God and be ourselves, so we’ll just be ourselves six days a week and then worship God how we think we should on Sunday mornings.

But your Father has created you to serve Him and worship Him just as you are and He is glorified when you come before Him with those gifts each and every day. We can’t worship that which we don’t really know and we can’t really know God unless we enter into relationship with Him. Relationship stems from understanding, and until we can relate to God as we are (knowing who He is), we will not be able to give Him the laud he both desires and deserves.

Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and completeRomans 12:1-2 {The Voice}

Note that Paul indicates that we are to offer our own bodies (each and every one different in its gifts, abilities, talents, and passions) as our reasonable, essential worship. When you serve God (in response to His mercy to you), you are worshipping. Whether that means you are working, singing in your car, writing, encouraging, rocking babies, serving meals, or even folding laundry, your worship is lived out each and every day you inhabit your body. Our worship is never separated from who we are. Never.

Now, answer the following questions:

  • How do you usually try to approach God and a relationship with Him?
    • Does it feel comfortable in context of the person He’s created you to be?
    • What could you let go of in terms of pre-conceived notions about a relationship with God?
  • What things tend to get in the way of your worship of God?
  • After reading Romans 12:1-2, what encouragement do you find in those verses?
    • How do you think one renews his/her mind to be transformed from the inside out?
    • What is your living and holy sacrifice to God? (If you can’t think of anything, do you feel there is anything as far as “next steps” that He is calling you to?

Father God, help me to find peace in the person You have created me to be and even in my body itself. As I seek to live out my worship to You, help me to, “Shine like [a star] across the land,” bringing You honor. Amen