When God Says Wait: Reignite Your Passion

I think there’s a misconception that becoming a Christian will make life easier. At least I had that misconception, even subconsciously. Following God and giving Him the driver’s seat to my life, I somehow thought that meant I could tap into His power to always have peace of mind when moving forward into the unknown. I know – how ridiculous is that? But looking back now, I realize I had inadvertently come to this belief by being passive in my faith walk rather than passionate and diligent. “If I just pray enough, if I just give God more control, I will know the path to walk and I will be fully confident in knowing the way God is trying to lead me.”

There’s some truth and a whole lot of reality to my previous beliefs about faith in God. The truth is, the more control I give up and the more prayer I engage in, the easier it will be for me to hear God’s voice and decipher His call on my life. I absolutely have access to God’s power and peace through Jesus! But does that mean I will always feel like it? I’m learning “no” is an ok answer…but it’s what I do after becoming aware of my feelings that count. The better answer is to realize that it’s ok not to always feel God’s peace, as continual trust, faith, and contentment in the Lord is something to actively choose and fight for.

Sometimes being a Christian (or just a human, lol) feels a lot like you’re stuck downstream without a paddle. Faith doesn’t always mean you have a plan, know the plan, or are certain of your life path. Faith does mean regardless of what we know or don’t know, we DO know our God. We know His character and what He says about us. We know that we are called to Him to rest in the promises of His peace. How amazing is THAT?

Ok, but I would be lying if I said to road to continual peace in His promises and being content in all circumstances is all sunshine and roses. It’s NOT! Also, the Bible tells us to “take up our cross and follow Jesus”. Does that sound like “hey, so glad you believe! Here’s to an easy life here on earth, sit back and enjoy the ride.”….LOL… I would argue it isn’t even possible here on earth to rest in His continual peace. Our world is far too broken not to lead us astray from His presence.

That being said, as a Christian, as a mother… I haven’t ever felt so sure and also so lost at the same time as I am at this point in my life. I am so sure of my call to be a mother, the call to my wonderful job, and the calling to live out my passions and gifts God has given me. But next steps in our life… so many unknowns from all angles. I am sure you can relate! Yet, even the paths I KNOW I am being called to are often the most fought over.

I am reading a new (to me) book called “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer. It is absolutely rocking my world! In the beginning of the book she talks about Passion. She says:

“Passion is what pushes the athlete to run one more lap, to crunch through one more set of reps. It’s what silences those screaming thighs and stomach muscles, making them do what their owner demands of them, no matter how loudly they complain. Passion is what keeps a piano player anchored to the practice bench when no one else is around to notice the effort or give a pat on the back for approval. Passion is what inspires the eager young employee to out perform expectations, instead of just punching the clock to earn a paycheck like everybody else. Passion is what burns up the road between a child in danger and a parent in pursuit. It glows red-hot. And goes on driving. And grows even larger, the larger the obstacles become. Passion is the fuel in the engine of your purpose. It’s your “want to.” It’s what keeps you going when mundane tasks bore you or difficult ones dissuade you. Passion is what keeps you moving in the direction your best intentions want you to go. That’s why, if I were your enemy, I’d make stealing your passion one of my primary goals. Because I know if I could dim your passion, I could significantly lower your resistance to temptation and discouragement. I could make you walk with a spiritual limp and lengthen how long it takes you to recover from the injury. If I could chip away at your zeal, at your hope, at your belief in God and what He can do, I could chisel down your faith to a whimper. Make you want to quit. And never try again. I’d cup an ear in your direction, hear nothing in your voice that sounds like anything but token prayer, and snicker at my success. Chalk another one up to my “Passion Elimination Plan” – the one with your name on it. That’s what I’d do. If I were your enemy. I’d weaken your passion, your cutting edge, knowing full well that weak, impotent prayers (or better yet, prayer-lessness) would follow right behind.” – Fervent, Priscilla Shirer. (Guys…I could keep going but just go READ the book! It’s SO good!!!!!!!)

As a believer, I know God cares for me and is the one who holds my future in His hands. I know I don’t need to worry because God cares for us. Knowing and doing are two different things. It takes passion and conscious effort to bridge the gap between knowing what I should do and actually doing it. I know prayer and active communication with God is the road to peace, but I don’t always do it — even when I need Him the most. Unless I have an active part in the relationship with Jesus, my faith is passive faith. To be content and fulfilled in the Lord it takes more on our part, and it takes Passion. Sometimes I don’t feel like praying — instead  *if I am honest* I feel like complaining.

But passion for a life well lived with Jesus moves me to pray even when I don’t feel like it. Doing that thing that’s seemingly mundane or difficult, but you know you should do it, and you choose to do it anyway regardless of FEELINGS – that’s passion, and grit. That is the type of passion that’s going to move mountains…in life, faith, business, and relationships.

Maintaining that spiritual passion is not easy, especially when God doesn’t answer our prayers right away. I have found that God usually answers prayers in these ways: yes, no, not right now aka *wait* and be patient, my daughter. That last answer is the hardest for me. But that’s the one that will grow us the most! I have been in a LONG suffering season of waiting and praying….and if I am honest, I’ll tell you that I am writing this as a realization of all the prayers that haven’t been said. I am writing this because I can see I have grown weary during this battle we are walking through and at times it’s swallowed me up. Lack of spiritual passion and exhaustion left me defenseless during battle…when I needed it most. God leading us into a season of waiting is hard as heck but its an amazing opportunity to GROW in love and in faith with Jesus. If you are in a season of waiting, reignite your passions and pray about this season of life. God has a plan!

I have found that lack of passion in my spiritual life has led me into placing too much weight on my own shoulders to do it all myself. Lack of passion and an intimate relationship with Jesus has led me into searching for that intimacy in other places that no one can fulfill except Jesus. Our worldly relationships are meant to enrich our lives with Christ, not stand in place of it. If you feel continually let down by others, evaluate yourself and your spiritual passion.

Does your personal life or business feel stagnant? Evaluate why you do what you do and reignite your passion. I look at my daughter and know I push myself to work harder in order to give her the life she most deserves. That’s what pushes me to do the mundane even when I don’t feel that passion…I CHOOSE it! Motivation and passion are not something to feel occasionally, they are something to FIGHT for. Go to war for it! You deserve it, your family deserves it, and you’ll be amazed what passion can do to transform your world.

If you are in a season of uncertainty where you feel distant from God and/or unsure….I invite you to pray with me. Dust yourself off, smile and know you are loved. Put on your armor and GO TO WAR. Identify your goals and pray…this life is meant to be enjoyed but it is also greatly a spiritual battle. Prayer and closeness with Jesus is what will get us through and to our goals. Please know that you are invaluable and you are loved.

Book reference: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer – Purchase Here

(This is not sponsored or affiliated with the book)

 

His Strength in Our Weakness

Ah, social media.

What a marvelous tool we have at our fingertips to keep in touch with loved ones!  It’s great to see what people are up to through social media, but are you getting the full picture?

We see what others want us to see. Some people are more transparent than others, and that’s OK.

I recently shared something with a friend that I’ve been going through and she was both brokenhearted for me and also completely shocked.

I have been diagnosed with moderate depression.

After feeling off for the past two years and trying everything to get myself back to feeling like myself again, all to no avail, I knew I had to get professional help. It took three doctors to get me to realize that there was something wrong chemically in my brain. They all concluded it was a mixture of post-partum depression, possibly situational depression, but nonetheless: it was happening to me. I never thought it would, and it did.

I always try to be a positive and upbeat person. A silver lining seeker, a glass half-full believer. After I had a baby, I never felt so alone and hopeless. This made ZERO sense to me in reality. I had the sense that my thinking and feelings were flawed, but I couldn’t shake them. I had the reality of a blessed life with my family, my sweet baby girl, and all God has given us. Yet I had this overwhelming sense of hopelessness I could not shake. I hated that I felt so down, I was ashamed of it.

I went through about a year of just barely going through the motions. I was chronically sleep deprived with Tessa that first year, and it was the hardest time of my entire life. I had no idea how much getting little sleep could negatively affect your life until I had a child who wouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time or sleep longer at night than 1-2 hours every night for  the majority of her first 1.5 years. It actually was more physically and emotionally draining than any other trauma I’ve endured. I tried several different methods, read books, etc, to get her to sleep more and none of them worked except time. She’s a pretty good sleeper now, thank God, good routines, and Essential Oils. Thank God He makes babies so adorable because, man, that was rough! But I love her so much, even when we went through such a hard time together.

I always felt an inherent sense of gratefulness for Tessa, never blamed or resented her, I wanted to help her sleep because I bet she was just as miserable as I was, if not more! I am grateful my depression was not so bad and I still had somewhat of a grip on reality. Many women who suffer from post-partum depression have had it much worse than me, and my heart breaks for those families. I am so grateful to God for giving me what I could handle and seeing me through it. I am on the healing side of this now, however this is still very difficult to write.

When my friend was so surprised to hear about my struggles, it made me think about how I am perceived by others. Something that’s always been a part of my nature is to be stoic. I don’t hang on to the negative, so I usually don’t talk about it either. I accept things, grieve internally, move on, and truly don’t let things get to me. When I am upset, handling myself from a place of strength and poise has always been important to me. These are not inherently bad things, however I have found so much of God’s power in my weakness by sharing it with others. We are not called to be prideful and stoic, to suffer alone and live in darkness. Through talking more openly about my depression I have learned the value of bringing our struggles to light, and seeing them in the light of God’s truth through scripture and the encouragement of others.

I’ve been learning a lot about this lately and it’s caused me to feel compelled to be more transparent about my struggles. Obviously, I never mean to suggest people should air their family’s struggles online, out of respect for the family unit that is not always appropriate. However, my own personal struggle with depression is something God has called me to share. Keep in mind, sharing your struggles may look differently for different people, too. But I urge you, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust about it. Seek help. Seek God! You can get better. You will get better if you truly want to!

I’ve gone through so much in the past few years, lots of change in general. I have learned that God has given us the ability to feel emotions, we need to let ourselves feel them and lean on Him to deal with them. So often, while trying to remain positive, I have suppressed real emotions! Life is not always going to be sunshine and roses. It’s going to get messy, and that is alright. It’s how you deal with the mess that counts! And guess what? God loves us anyway, despite the mess.

I am so grateful for my life and my precious daughter. I am thankful to God for all this blessing of a baby has taught me about His love, about life, and about myself. I have grown in ways I never had anticipated. Depression is just a short season of my life, a drop in the bucket. This isn’t going to define me or be the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours either.  I have so many fond memories of Tessa and me during those years. I don’t want to let my depression taint my memories of Tessa’s baby years. I so badly want to go back in time and soak them up a little more, though. Ah, life.

Find the things you love and pursue them with your whole heart. Seek Jesus. Seek true JOY in the Lord. Know that you are so loved by a God who gave it ALL for us, while we are sinners. Yes, I am talking to myself in all of this and sharing it because God did not call us to do this life alone.

God says in 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason, among others, I’ve chosen to share my struggle. I am nothing in my own power without the Lord. This season of depression left me feeling weak, unworthy, unlovable, and hopeless. But God says His power is made PERFECT in our weakness. Out of this weakness, I am stronger because of the Lord, and good therapy! God will not waste any hurt or any negative experience, He will work it together for good. He comforts us and so we must comfort others. If you are hurting today, I would love to talk to you. Take heart in 2 Cor. 1 and know that you are SO loved and worthy of love. Again, talking to myself, too!

 

 

 

 

Ministry in Daily Life

A huge part of my heart behind Thriving on Grace is to share with people my journey with God, sharing how I am learning to thrive in His abundant Grace.

I struggle just like everyone else, deal with things that are unimaginable, just like everyone else, and try to take up my cross and walk in faith and light, just like everyone else. To be honest, some days feel like I am carrying my cross up hill with no end in sight.

But I started this blog to share my faith, open a dialog with other believers, and hopefully be an encouragement. Here’s what God has been teaching me lately about ministry.

In our world today there is so much suffering, and with round the clock news cycles and social media, it seems as though we all have a personal view of world wide problems. As Christians, many of us are called by God to go out into the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I am in absolute awe of people’s selflessness to get out of their comfort zone and set out to minister to those in need all over the globe in the name of Jesus.

But I want to bring light to something for a moment. Sometimes, with evangelizing, its easy to get wrapped up in big pictures, big ministry goals, and reaching as many people as possible.  God stirs a fire in me that burns so brightly that I want to sprint toward my goals and put blinders on everything else until I reach it. There have been times where I have been so focused on my current ministry outreach project that I have neglected to care as deeply for those directly around me. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and brokenhearted by the suffering of the poor in faraway lands and miss the opportunities to minister to those right in front of you.  I read the following teaching in Galatians and it encouraged me greatly to be more intentional with the people in my daily path.

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:8-10 NLT

I am, of course, in no way suggesting to not go out into the world, other countries, other cities, and faraway lands to preach the good news. What I am suggesting is we must not forget to live out our faith in our daily lives here at home. We must not forget to minister to those in our own family, family of faith, and church family. These verses begged these questions of myself:

  • Am I being the hands and feet of Christ to those who see me daily?
  • Am I being an example of Christ’s love to all I come in contact with?
  • Am I loving those in my family, community, church family well first?
  • How can I better serve my own family, loved ones, and community?

Invest in your surroundings, and bloom where you are planted. The bible teaches us that we will reap what we sow. Establish healthy roots around you and grow from there to extend your outreach. Our first ministry should be our relationship with God, then our relationships with our loved ones and community.

As a parent, my main ministry is making sure I am a healthy Godly mother to my daughter. I have big ambitions, big goals, and feel a tremendous call on my life from God. Yet in the season I am in right now, God is calling me to lay a foundation, be faithful in the current blessings I have been given, and focus on raising my child to know Jesus.

My encouragement to everyone is to not compare yourself with other Christians. Evaluate the position God has you in, evaluate the current needs around you and how you can meet them in the name of God. Everyone’s ministry may look different, and just because your current season may not have you doing ministry in the same way others are at the moment, does not mean you aren’t a valuable asset of your family of faith. We all have our own set of skills, spiritual gifts, and calls on our lives from God. He created us distinctly different on purpose! Evaluate the gifts God has blessed you with and use them for the glory of God. It will be so life giving and fulfilling to you, and pleasing to God!

Not sure you are capable or qualified to minister to others? If you seek Jesus with a whole heart, He will equip you and meet you there. God can use ANYONE for His glory, all it takes is a willing heart and faith in Jesus. Through Jesus, we all have access to God’s power to do wonderful things for God and through God. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power works best in weakness! I know this first hand to be true because I am WEAK without Jesus, I have crumbled under the pressure of trying to do life without Jesus as my focus.

Clinging to Jesus and accessing God’s power will sustain you in all situations. I am praying for all those reading this to step out in faith and love for Christ and make a positive difference in the position God has you in today. I am praying all these things for myself as well.

 

 

 

 

Live Free, Love Others, Be Fruitful

Learning to be Bold & Brave

Galatians 5 – Christ Has Set Us Free! (ESV)

“For freedom in Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I’m about to get really honest with you all right now. Writing is my chosen form of therapy, after all.

One of the themes of my adult life that I strive for has been to live freely in Christ. Along with Jesus up on that cross also went MY sins. There is no reason for me to live in the shadow of sin so long as I am in Christ. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Fear. It’s a crippling thing, really. It’s handicapped a lot of my adult life, in fact. Most people who know me probably wouldn’t guess that, though. I’m relatively outgoing, outspoken, and yet introverted all at the same time. If I had to guess the reason for fear & anxiety it would be some mixture of dealing with a parent with addiction, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones in general, low self-esteem, to name a few. I’ve had multiple chances to do well with various endeavors yet either failed to fly, wouldn’t jump, or self sabotaged. I’ve spent a lot of time healing and learning healthier coping mechanisms. F.E.A.R. It’s crippling. I wasn’t willing to bet on myself for too long.

Fear of failure can debilitate you, like it did me. When I commit to something, I am usually all in and going to try my hardest to perfect it. Yet for so many years, I battled fear and anxiety. This is why the idea of “living freely” in Christ has meant so much to me. Jesus knows me, he loves me, and he cares for me. He died so that I may have a life worth living.

Obviously, I haven’t conquered all my fears. I am still humbly asking for God’s guidance with this daily, and probably always will. I write this from a place of humility, wanting to walk alongside others struggling, too. But God is SO GOOD and so lovingly reminds me to “live freely”, on occasions when I need it most. A Pastor will give a sermon about it, I’ll hear a song on the radio, or like today, when I really needed it, I’ll be led to read Galatians 5. “Christ has set us Free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Here, it talks about legalism going on in that time in history and how Christ has freed them from the laws to prove their faith. Instead, all we need to do is believe and trust in Jesus as our Savior to be saved. Today, these verses tell me to be free from my sin, fear, and anxiety to trust that God will lead me well if I let him. Jesus has set me free and I can feel safe being bold and brave so long as I am walking hand in hand with Christ, being led by the Spirit.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Galatians 5:6

As I keep walking as Christian, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman, I pray that I have the strength in Christ to drive out fear and live boldly!

Jesus has changed my life and the idea of living freely in Christ means I will be betting on myself again. I’ll be betting on my success because Jesus CAN and will heal my tendency toward fear and anxiety. I want to be a shining example of strength for my daughter.

This year I will be jumping OUT of my comfort zone, in faith, that God will help land me on my feet. What are you doing to get out of your comfort zone and what is your source of strength? I would love to hear about your journey, too. Please leave a comment or send me a message about it. God bless!

Love others, be free. 

 

 

 

Grateful for All of It

It was 5:15am. Which is astronomically early for a stay at home mom who is frequently woken up by a nursing baby in the night. Let that all soak in for a moment.

Usually my daughter and I are both peacefully visiting dreamland this time of day but my husband had just came into our bedroom with a flashlight searching high and low for his favorite hoodie before hustling out the door to make it to the gym before work. Thankfully, she slept through it, but I wasn’t so lucky. After all, I am a mom and wake up to even the faintest noises. You know, like the carpet blowing in the wind of the air conditioner or my daughter faintly humming in her sleep. Anyway, I do frequently steal said hoodie (it is the best), so it’s understandable why he was searching through my closet for it (doh!). In any case, as I laid there awake I thought maybe I could get my day started early and get some things done. My daughter does not take very long naps and I don’t get much quiet time to myself to think. Around 5:30 I decided, OK, I’ll get up, get some coffee, read my bible and devotional, and get cracking on some things.

As usual, my daughter had other plans. She began to stir and wanted to nurse. I thought, oh great! This means she’ll sleep in longer if I nurse her now. Wrong again, mom! She promptly sat up straight in bed after nursing and stared at me. Ok…tried to coax her into going back to sleep – no luck. New diaper – still no luck. Next move, I went to get her a bottle, as she takes a supplement a few times a day, and thought maybe that’s what she wanted. Wrong again, she tossed her cookies everywhere after getting 1/3 through the bottle.

So now I’m up extra early, tired, and cleaning up puke. Not exactly the relaxing and quiet start to my morning I had envisioned. As I felt frustration and exhaustion start to set in, I began to pray and ask for patience. Ever pray and ask for patience? It’s God’s most favorite way to answer in irony as He’ll just give you more opportunities to practice. So of course what came next were multiple attempts to lay her back down and a baby fighting sleep.

After I finally coaxed her back to sleep, I quietly walk downstairs to get some coffee. Ah, yes. This is what I wanted! I got my coffee, a cozy blanket, my journal, and began to read my bible and devotionals. What happened next helped me make sense of my entire morning and refocus my attention.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV – A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

There’s a time for everything, because every season of life comes with all kinds of situations. This was a reminder to me that despite my occasional moments of difficulty, exhaustion, and frustration, this season of life also comes with the most beautiful moments too. It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of frustration but to battle that, I need to always keep the bigger picture as my perspective for positive living. My daughter is almost a year old and I’ve loved to watch her grow and change every day. She is just beginning to walk unassisted, says mama in the sweetest voice, pretends to talk on the phone to me, gives the most slobbery adorable kisses, flashes me a smile whenever I walk in the room and has such a sweet yet cautious personality that emerges more and more every day. My walk through motherhood has been such a blessing and this season of my life is something I’ll always look back on fondly, so these verses were a real reminder to me that there’s a time for everything in all seasons of life. In order to enjoy the sweetness of this season of my life, I must also take with it the frustrations that come along and walk through them with grace and patience.

As with everything in life, motherhood’s adversities are no match for a grateful & loving heart.