Trust

Brave Surrender

Lately, it seems as though God has laid bravery on my heart. At nearly every turn, whether through messages at church or in books and blog posts, courage and bravery have been at the forefront for weeks.

For the longest time, I viewed bravery as doing something big. Something that no one would ever think of doing. I viewed courage and bravery as being fearless, but maybe that was just my young adult fiction obsession (oh hi, Divergent series) setting in at the time.

I think bravery and courage can look differently for different people, depending on a variety of things. For some, bravery may be taking that job in a new city or saying a resounding yes to a mission trip in another country. For others, bravery may just mean simply surviving and making it through the storm in their life at that moment. No matter the circumstance, I believe that God calls us into seasons of boldness. Seasons of putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak, and actually doing the things that scare us. Actually doing the things that God has ordained for us so deep in our hearts.

Truthfully, I just love the word bold. I love the sound of it and I love the imagery that it evokes in me. To speak it aloud just sounds brave and powerful, doesn’t it? Dictionary.com’s first definition of the word is: “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring.”

I just want to slap that on a Post-It and stick it in just about every area of my house.

But being bold requires faith. It requires trust that is placed in Jesus, not in something man-made or temporary. Sometimes one of the first bold acts we can do is place our hopes, our trust, and our fears in the arms of Jesus. The second is to then go and do. I’m currently in the midst of reading Shelly Miller’s book, The Rhythm of Rest, and in it there is a sentence that reads, “Faith is a brave surrender, an unwavering commitment to trust in a Savior who takes care of the details despite hurdles and hardships.”

I can admit to you that I know this is easier said than done. I believe that God has been bringing this theme and topic to my heart for a reason and not because I’ve mastered it.

I’m nearing the end of a long season of preparation and preparing to trade it for a season of action, a season of doing. Beyond that, a season that I already know will be one of the most bold and courageous things that I have done. I’ve written of it before, here and here. Beginning this summer and through the rest of 2017, I will be spending 1-2 evenings a week volunteering in a local pediatric emergency department with child life and wrapping up the rest of my online courses.

This Fall, I will begin completing and compiling everything I need for the application packets that I will be mailing to the 20+ hospitals across the midwest and eastern parts of the country in hopes to try secure an internship placement for the Fall 2018 semester. Should I receive an offer to intern somewhere, I would then enter into a season of unemployment and unpaid internship life for several months. It will be one of my boldest moves – trusting God with my future, with my finances, and with my security as a whole.

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly brave person, but even I have to admit that it takes some semblance of bravery to trust God with every aspect of what I am embarking on. This career path, this journey, is one that I felt God calling me to back in December of 2015, three months after losing my grandmother and my aunt less than 48 hours apart. That experience had grabbed ahold of my heart and shaken me awake. It was, and still is, the moment where I felt God’s peace and power the most profoundly and deeply. I remember like it was yesterday, the way it felt as though Jesus was actually physically there next to me, arms wrapped tight around me and whispering to me that He would use this pain for something bigger. Something more than I could even imagine in that moment.

This time of brave surrender to God’s plan for my life comes from three years of learning who God truly is and who I am in his sight. I know that He is good. He is faithful and loving and powerful. He is my heavenly Father who seeks the best for me just as my earthly father does. My dad used to tell me all the time when I was growing up, “You can be scared, but do it anyway.” I’m sure I laughed at the time, my dad has the tendency to sound a bit like a fortune cookie sometimes, but the words stuck with me into adulthood and have only been echoed by God.

He tells me to feel the fear and the worry that I have, but to give it to Him and go do it anyway.

What I know about God is that he will bring this season to completion and fulfill every promise made to me in the process. There will be hardships and fear and uncertainty but I have experienced far too much with God to start doubting Him now.

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” – Philippians 1:6, MSG

Faith

For some time now (as in, the last two weeks), I have been reflecting, wondering, and praying over what my “word” for 2017 would be.

Now, I know choosing a word for the year is a very blog-y and social media thing, but I truly love the idea behind having a “theme” to help set your focus and intention for the year ahead. It can be hard to remember and to fully live according to that theme throughout the year, but it’s definitely something worth striving for.

Last year in 2016, my word was abide and I think it fit me well for where I was at this time last year. I was coming out of 2015, a year that completely changed my life from the losses of my maternal grandmother and aunt less than 48 hours apart to my decision to take my career in a new direction. I was in the midst of a season in which I felt the indescribable peace and joy of Jesus’ presence in my life so deeply and abiding in His undeniable presence and love in that season was such an incredibly beautiful place to be.

But as I’ve written in the past few weeks, I began to realize towards the end of 2016 that things start to look and feel different when you’ve “come out” of that immediate season of grief. While I certainly am not “over” the six losses that I experienced, the grief and the pain have gotten significantly easier. Now that life has returned to a sort of state of equilibrium, how then do I continue to root myself in God and abide in Him?…

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He Walks Before

Happy New Year, everyone!

There has been a plethora of 2016 recap posts and 2017 resolutions posts in the blogging world this past week, it’s come to be expected at this time of year.

2016 was an interesting year.

The year began with the losses dear family members, my paternal grandmother and our sweet Nellie in January. The New Year was a ending of sorts on a chapter of my life in which the Lord rescued me, guided me, and restored me. In the time between December 2013 to January 2016, the Lord called six of my family members home to Him. He called me to step out and make a way for myself in the church and led me to a new church home. He tested my faith through the students in my classroom, through the disease that my dad carries in his body, and through calling two of my closest relatives – my maternal grandmother and my Aunt Shelia – home to Him just 39 hours apart from each other.

Though this season came to a close in January 2016, I spent the remainder of the year wrestling in many ways with my next steps. My life had been changed, that much I knew. As I stood in the midst of a world that was falling apart around me, I knew I had experienced the amazing and unbelievable peace that could only come from the presence of Christ Jesus. The barriers that I had around my heart had come tumbling down and I was finally able to feel Him more fully and more profoundly than ever before in my life. I knew how to worship Him and sing His praises in that season because I had just seen firsthand what leaning into Him could look and feel like in the midst of turmoil. But once the dust had settled? Where I did I go from there?…

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True Thanksgiving

True Thanksgiving

Last week, I found myself attending a funeral for a member of the church family at my childhood church. We celebrated the life of a sweet lady who was so instrumental to the life of the church and whose son was a friend of my dad. It was a beautiful service and led me to reflect on the past year and the three funerals that I have attended for my own family members in that time.

During the service, some time was spent reflecting on the act of giving thanks to God and it was said, “when we experience true thanksgiving, we allow ourselves to be open to the reality of what God can do.”

Open to the reality of what God can do.

Isn’t that just a beautiful statement? And it paints an even more beautiful image of joy and hope. There are many things that I discovered about the experience of losing loved ones as I’ve journeyed down this path for the past two and a half years. One of them being that, no matter how much it may defy your logic, it is certainly possible to experience joy and gratitude in the face of immense sorrow.

The experience of grief is a choice. Whether or not we experience grief is not one of them, for we all must do that, but we certainly have a choice in how we experience it. And I firmly believe that there is no right or wrong way to experience grief as long as Jesus is our anchor….

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