Fighting the Opposition of the Mission

But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’

Hi! It’s been a while. 8 months to be exact. I don’t know why I haven’t written in a while, but when it came time to renew my subscription for my JourneyEverlasting domain, I felt God pushing me to keep the blog and continue writing. That was a few weeks ago, and ever since then, I’ve had a blank document up on my laptop with the words “pray for what this should be about.” So, I’ve been praying and asking for God to show me what my returning post should be about. This is because I don’t just write to post blogs. I write when there is something on my heart I feel led to write about. Well, I got it. I am in a Wednesday night women’s Bible study with my boyfriend’s mom and sister. This week, we studied the three waves of the Israelites coming back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, the temple, and the walls after it was destroyed. The discussion questions prompted us to look through Nehemiah 2-6 to recognize the tactics the devil used to try and prevent the Israelites from succeeding in rebuilding Jerusalem. Here are some of the things we pulled out.

Nehemiah tells us in 2:12 that God had laid on his heart to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. He felt it so strongly. However, the next few chapters demonstrate how Satan uses the Israelites’ enemies to try and derail this call. They were mocked and ridiculed, accused, discouraged, plotted against, intimidated, etc. Neh. 6:9 says, “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’” But then, he goes on to say, “But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” What does he do in the opposition? He prays and asks for strength.

Satan is going to do everything in his power to try and stop you from the mission God has put you on. He is going to put people in your path to discourage you. He is going to have people say things to you that hurt you, gets you sidetracked, confuses you, etc. His mission is to destroy God‘s mission. His mission is to take you off the path God has you on. But one thing we discussed in my group is how we have to be prepared to fight back. Nehemiah 4 talks about how the Israelites, while rebuilding the city walls, also held weapons in their hands at all times to be prepared to fight the opposition that was against them. Verse 17 says, “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” Picture that – trying to build a city back WHILE also having weapons in hand. Wow. That is a very good illustration for how we should live! While accomplishing the mission God has us on, we need to also be on guard, prepared to fight Satan‘s mission at any time. We need to recognize the schemes he has, the plans he has, the roadblocks he throws in the way. We need to have the armor of God on at all times. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But the armor of God can protect us. [Read on the armor of God in Ephesians 6]

Recently, I have walked through this some myself. There have been things said to me or situations happen that have brought me to a place of pain. Satan tries to get a grip on me in situations he no longer has a grip of me on. It will bring me back to a place of pain so quick, or I will be thrown off course so fast. But, I have to remain trained to be ready to fight back and know the truth versus the lies. It’s like battle training. You could be attacked at any time. It’s being ready to fight back and shake off what Satan wants you to believe, or what he wants you to do, or what he’s wanting you to hear. It’s something that is learned. It comes with recognizing the Holy Spirit’s voice and distinguishing between that voice and the voice of evil. It’s also something I’ve learned that you pray for. Lately, my biggest prayer for myself has been to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice first and let it clearly guide my steps. It is a weapon in itself. And it’s a STRONG one!

I encourage you to ask yourself: what are the tactics Satan is trying to use in my life to derail me from God’s mission? What is he doing or having people whisper in my ear to discourage me from the path God has clearly put me on, like with the Israelites? Whatever that is, fight it. Use the armor of God and the direction of God’s Holy Spirit to be on guard and win those battles. What does that look like for you? For me, it’s worship music. There is nothing sweeter to me than sitting in God’s presence and worshiping – a lot of times this happens while driving. Find what re-centers you and stay there for a while. You will face opposition of all kinds on your spiritual walk, but it’s important that you steer clear and stay focused.

John 10:10 –  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Mental Health – Let’s Talk About It.

Anxiety is no joke — it’s so serious in fact. But it’s also so common.

It feels weird to be sitting down at my laptop starting a blog post again. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on JourneyEverlasting. The truth is, I’ve had the topic covered in this post lingering around in my brain for months and months now. I’ve known that it would be my next topic, and honestly, I’ve sat down and tried to start writing so many times. But I’ve put it off and procrastinated because it can be difficult for me to talk about. But it’s something that my good friend urged me to do, because it needs to be talked about more. The topic is mental health. So let’s talk about it.

If you’re close to me, you probably know this. If you’re not, you wouldn’t. Last summer I got diagnosed by my psychiatrist with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Not the kind that everyone has — you know, when people say “That’s just my OCD kicking in” — no, the real kind. The kind that requires Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication to help you try to be able to live normally. The kind that is an anxiety disorder and causes so much stress and anxiety in the brain and the body that it can be hard to get out of the car at times when alone. The kind that causes you to think such irrational thoughts over and over again that if someone else got to hop in your brain for just a short while, they’d want to get out immediately. This is my OCD. This is my mental health disorder.

Anxiety is no joke — it’s so serious in fact. But it’s also so common. That’s why those that struggle with it should not be ashamed to talk about it or admit they deal with it, but be open about it because it’s so common and needs to be talked about more. And the same goes for any mental disorder. Johns Hopkins Medicine has researched and claims that 26% of Americans ages 18+ — about 1 in 4 adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. ONE IN FOUR. That’s a fourth of the pizza (I think in food terms) — so a big chunk. If it’s so common, why is it talked about awkwardly and passively, and judged too easily? When you hear that someone is in therapy for something, why does the conversation get weird sometimes and you might not know what to say to them? You might not be aware, but there’s more people around you than you realize that are in therapy for something. And if you are struggling with an anxiety disorder or are actually seeking mental health treatment, you are not alone.

God created the human brain. He created it so complex and so detailed that it’s hard to understand what exactly goes on in there. That’s why when it comes to my OCD, I don’t even try to explain it to most people. Because I can’t. All I know is that it’s hard, and I need help. But since God created the brain, He knows each and every one of our brains inside and out. He understands what’s going on, so I don’t have to. That’s why I’m learning to not be ashamed of what I deal with it, and I’m learning to talk openly about it. Hence why I’m being vulnerable with this post. Because God created the brain, He’s in control, and what I struggle with is real. Just as it is with millions across the world. So if you’re reading this and you struggle with anxiety – Generalized Anxiety, OCD, PTSD, Panic Disorder, etc., or anything under the mental health umbrella, once again, you are not alone. Talk to somebody about it. Talk to somebody who already struggles with it. Ask questions. Research. Talk to your doctor about it. Pray about it. Do something! The best decision I made was going straight to a doctor who would know exactly what I was dealing with. He told me, educated me, recommended treatment, and he helped.

You are not alone. Here’s the healthy cycle I’ve learned when it comes to mental health and something you may be struggling with:

[ Face it. Accept it. Seek help. Talk about it. Use it to encourage someone else. ]

I’m hoping someone reading this post will be encouraged and will do something about what they are struggling with. Most people don’t know and would never know I am diagnosed OCD. Yet here I am sharing about it, and more people need to do the same. It needs to be talked about more! It’s so common and it’s prevalent. It needs to be more normalized in my opinion, not viewed as shameful or helpless. I am extending the invitation to talk to me if you have questions, or just simply need to talk about it. I also encourage you to pray about it and talk to God. Because He knows you — He knows your brain and He knows your struggles. Psalm 139 says:

Lord, you have examined me

   and know all about me.

You know when I sit down and when I get up.

   You know my thoughts before I think them.

You know where I go and where I lie down.

   You know everything I do.

Lord, even before I say a word,

   you already know it.

You are all around me—in front and in back—

   and have put your hand on me.

Your knowledge is amazing to me;

   it is more than I can understand.

He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows how our brains work. Seek Him and He’ll direct you. You are not alone.

–LC

Persistence Toward Your Purpose

How differently does your life look during the seasons that you feel like you’re pursuing what was purposed for you?

Purpose. How differently does your life look during the seasons that you feel like you’re pursuing what was purposed for you? When you’re doing what you were meant to do? Maybe you haven’t reached that point yet and you’re still on the journey of “figuring out your purpose.” Well let me tell you this – everyone on this earth has purpose. Personally, I don’t believe that each person has one purpose, or one specific thing they were meant to do. I think we all have multiple things we are meant to do and experience based on God’s will for us. And sometimes it takes a little patience and some prayer to discover what that will and purpose is.

If you read my last post (I know it’s been a while), you might remember how I had recently felt the Lord lay on my heart so strongly that He wanted me to get back involved with our youth and specifically pour into high school aged girls. This excited me because I have always had a passion for leading and taking younger girls under my wing. Instinctively, my first hesitation was HOW? What exactly do You want me to do, God? Am I supposed to lead a youth group at church? Am I supposed to find a girl in high school who wants a mentor? Should I get more involved with FCA again (which is a huge part of my story) or Young Life? Finding something that I could really invest in while balancing it with my full time job seemed a little stressful, but I still sought after this idea God planted inside my heart.

For weeks I continually prayed for direction. I would ask, “God, what direction am I supposed to go? Are You going to put an opportunity in front of me? What door am I supposed to walk through?” I immediately reached out to some folks around Nashville to see if there was something that would surface, but no opportunities were appearing. But I couldn’t shake this calling. I knew I was called to pursue it. For over a month I let this calling just sit in my heart. I continued to pray and ask God to open up a door so I could pursue this.

Then one day, after persistent prayer, not only did that door open, but THREE doors opened. AT ONCE. I got a call one evening from an old soccer coach of mine asking if I would be interested in a coaching job at his high school. Not even ten minutes later, I got a call from another high school for a different coaching job. Two days later, a third school reached out about a coaching position at their high school. I’d just like to point out that I had zero coaching experience. Zilch. Nada! I hadn’t even really ever considered coaching. And then BAM. It’s like God laid it right in my lap and said “I want you to do this.” Without hesitation, on top of my full time job, I returned to my alma mater, Christ Presbyterian Academy, to coach the high school JV soccer team. And I know I am where I need to be.

Purpose. Leading these girls, pouring into them, and teaching them the game of soccer was a part of my purpose. Before that first phone call, I had absolutely no idea that’s where I was being led. Now, I could see myself coaching the rest of my life. Because it feels different when you pray for direction and answers, you are patient, and then God leads you to the right door. I absolutely love those girls. I am so glad I remained persistent in prayer instead of giving up on that idea God planted in my heart. Pray for your purpose, and His plan to be revealed. He will answer!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15 –

-LC

Patience in the Waiting (Part 2)

Patience isn’t waiting. It’s what you do while you wait.

One of my very first posts when I started my blog back in the fall of last year was called Patience in the Waiting. It can be found HERE. In the post, I talk about what it looks like to wait for the next big thing in life, why it’s important to live in the “now,” how to focus on what’s in front of you, etc. I wrote it in October, so about 8 months ago. It’s crazy to think about how much has happened since then, and just how much I continue to learn about waiting and what that looks like. So here’s a follow up post, or sequel, if you will, building upon what I am learning even since then.

At that time, when I thought about what “patience” looks like, I thought of “waiting.” However, it’s deeper than that. Patience isn’t waiting. It’s what you do while you wait. It’s not the concept of waiting, but it’s how you wait. I touched on this idea briefly in the first post, but at that time, I think it was just a concept I knew to be true. Now, I feel as though God has showed me how to live this out and the kinds of things I need to be doing while I wait. And that’s why there had to be a sequel, of course.

Since my blog is more on the personal side of things, let’s get personal. I’ll just be honest—I’m waiting on a few things. First of all, I’m waiting on my future husband to arrive (that’s a journey all on it’s own). Marriage is something I have dreamed of and been looking forward to for as long as I can remember. One of the biggest desires that God placed inside of me from the time I could read and write was to be a wife and a mother. So at age 23, with a career, independence, and goals in front of me, you could definitely say I feel like I’m ready to meet him and for our journey to begin. Another thing I’m waiting on is direction with my career path, as well as direction on further schooling. I have desires for where I want to end up in my career, but I’m unsure what steps I need to take to get there, and that’s something I’ve been praying over consistently. The third big thing I feel like I am waiting for is healing of the mind. The last year or so has brought on a lot of anxiety and tendencies that cause fear and the opportunity for Satan to interfere with my mind. I’ve been praying for healing and for God to do His work there. Those are probably the three biggest things that I am patiently awaiting.

So what am I doing in the meantime, and why is this important? Well, first and foremost, I’m keeping my hope and my focus. I’m remaining anchored to what I know to be true and what God tells me to do in His word:

IMG_3259

I keep this on the dash of my car. A dear friend gave this to me last summer and it’s sat there ever since. It’s a daily reminder of what I need to be doing in the waiting: be STRONG, take COURAGE! In addition, I’m clinging to His promises and what He tells me He will do. If you have a relationship with God, you know that He always keeps His promises. Not sure what He actually promises you? Hit up the scriptures, or Google it even. It’s there.

Another thing I’m doing more of is asking God what He wants me to be doing in the waiting. What does He want me to focus on and pour into while He’s molding me into who He wants me to be before it comes? A couple mornings ago on a 45-minute commute at 7am to a meeting, God laid on my heart so strongly to pour into the youth more – specifically high school aged girls. Whether that means leading a Bible study, mentoring, or volunteering somehow, I’m about to spend the next few weeks or so figuring out what that needs to look like. There’s a reason He’s pushing me in that direction.

I could go on but I should probably wrap this up. Basically, what I’m saying is to use your thoughts and time wisely in the waiting. As I mentioned earlier, patience is not about waiting. It’s about what you do in the waiting, who you become in the waiting, and Who you are trusting in the waiting. Have you ever thought that maybe what you’re waiting for hasn’t come, not because of anyone or anything else, but maybe because you’re not ready? Dive deeper into this waiting period. I promise, there is more in this season for you to discover.

–LC

Like a Child Again

We could all use that naivety, that peace, that innocent joy that children carry around with them.

This week, it’s really hit me hard that I’ve grown up. As I sit here in my brand new apartment in the middle of the city thinking about the groceries I need to get, the meals I need to plan, setting up automatic payments for my monthly rent, assembling my new coffee table for my living room, and the meeting I need to prepare for next week, reality has sunk in: I’ve grown up (actually grown up). I turn 23 this weekend, and as I think about all of these things, I am realizing how simple times were as a child, and how complicated times can be as an adult.

Do you ever sit and think about how innocent a child’s life is? They are so unaware of everything going on in the world around them. They are naive to what people are capable of. They are oblivious to the struggles they will face when they are older and the hardships they will endure. Things are easy and simple. So simple. They really are in such a blissful state. And as I sit here thinking about busy I am, how many things I am constantly having to do, situations I am having to handle, etc., I miss that innocence. I miss that time of life where nothing carried a ton of weight and all I really worried about was remembering to feed my pet frogs and trying to keep a secret that Santa wasn’t real (this was actually really hard for me to do in elementary school. I know, I was terrible).

Don’t get me wrong – I am extremely happy in this stage of my life. I am proud of where I have gotten to and the blessings God has bestowed on me. What I am saying is that we could all use that mentality that children naturally have. We could all use that naivety, that peace, that innocent joy that children carry around with them. And I have found that the place to find it is at the feet of Jesus.

I was curling my hair one morning this week getting ready for work and I immediately felt overwhelmed by the stress of everything I had to do as well as all the things going on around me. I felt so small all of the sudden and incapable of handling the pressures lying in front of me this week. And just like that, all at once before I’d even been able to have my breakfast, the stressors and anxieties of life hit me like a brick wall. I felt weary and my soul was tired. I let myself feel these heavy emotions for a minute when finally I paid attention to the words of the music playing in the background (I have a specific worship playlist I’ve made that I listen to EVERY morning as part of my routine – you can find it here!). I took a second to breathe in, and I pictured myself resting at the feet of Jesus – literally lying at his feet – and suddenly I felt like a child again. I felt safe, secure, and like nothing could grab a hold of me or rip me from that spot.

It’s moments like these that are reminders of how small we are and how much is going on around us. Life is overwhelming – growing up and taking on responsibility is hard. And it’s in these moments that it is important to re-center, go to The Lord, and rest at His feet. He can fill you up when your cup is empty. He can revive your soul. He can give you what is needed to make it through the day or whatever you are facing. God wants us to come to Him. It’s His desire, and He wants it to be ours as well. He tells us this in His words below.

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

Find Him today. Find him, stay there, and rest at His feet.

-LC

When It’s Hard to Forgive

Forgiveness, even when they don’t deserve it, is the beginning of walking in freedom

It’s Easter weekend, and although I love all the Easter Reese’s candy and Cadbury eggs that are around during this time (seriously, I look forward to it ever year), there is a theme that is lulling around in by brain as I reflect on what this weekend means. Even though most of the focus of this weekend is directed toward Sunday, the part where Jesus raises from the dead and defeats the grave, I have been reflecting on what exactly went down in history on Good Friday. And the theme that is resonating the most in my heart this year on Easter weekend is FORGIVENESS.

Most of us are familiar with the gruesome, cruel, and harsh process of a crucifixion. If you aren’t, I encourage you research it. It’s tough to read and think about exactly what was being done to our Jesus, the Jesus who was blameless and Holy. The Jesus that performed miracles, healed the blind, and raised the dead. He was forced to wear a crown of thorns. He was brutally whipped. He was mocked. He was nailed to a tree. His side was pierced. And he was left there to die a gruesome death, not deserving any of it. But as I reflect this year on his crucifixion, what hits me the hardest is the line that came from his mouth as he hung there, moments away from his death. These words are found in Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Wow. As Jesus hung there on the cross, having been betrayed, mocked, beaten, crucified, and left to die, he asks God to forgive those crucifying him. Wait whattttt? This shows the character of Jesus and how much he really loves his people. And he does this for us again and again, every single day. We betray him, we put other things/people before him, we live in sin, and he constantly forgives us every day. His mercies are new every morning.

Reflecting on this one line so deeply this year has caused me to reflect on my inability to forgive. There are a few situations that have caused a hardening of my heart towards some and a bitterness that has made forgiving very difficult. I have pushed it off and pushed it off, not finding the place in my heart to forgive. Because they don’t deserve it! But wait, if Jesus can hang on a cross and in THAT VERY MOMENT forgive the ones BRUTALLY KILLING HIM, how can I not forgive anyone and everyone, no matter what harm they have caused me? No matter what pain they have caused me? How can I expect the Lord to forgive me and wipe my slate clean every day when I can’t do the same for those around me?

I challenge you today to dig deeper into your heart. Ask yourself who needs your forgiveness. Ask yourself who the person is that deserves it the least, and find it in your heart to forgive them. To release them from that place of bitterness. Think about who Jesus forgave, and maybe that will give you a better perspective. I’ve had to do that recently, and it was the most freeing thing I have done in a while. Forgiveness, even when they don’t deserve it, is the beginning of walking in freedom. Ephesians 4:31-32 says:

 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, I encourage you to do some reflecting on what exactly Jesus went through, who he forgave for it, and what his resurrection means for your life. He is risen – spread the good news! And Happy Easter!

-LC

What is the King of Your Heart?

If you truly want Him there, that’s where He’ll stay.

What do I think the most about? What consumes my mind and thoughts more than anything else? What seems to take up the most brain space as well as emotion? These are questions that I have felt challenged by lately. I think it’s important to consider these questions regularly as you walk through life to keep yourself in check and make sure you’re focused on the right things. For me, I feel like God has been challenging me with these thoughts so that I could get to the bottom of this question: What, or who, is the king of my heart?

You might be thinking, “What do you mean the “king” of your heart?! That sounds silly!” A better way to put this is what/who seems to take a front seat in my priorities, my goals, and my energies? This could be a person – a relationship, a friendship, etc. It could be a desire or want – finding your future spouse, getting your dream job, or making more money. It could even be an item – your cell phone, social media, etc. It could be a plethora of things, but what I’ve learned is that if it is any of these things, it’s unhealthy.

For me, I’ve been focusing more and more on making The Lord the King of my heart. Why? Because that spot was created only to be occupied by Him. Because in reality, He’s everything we could want or need. Nothing or no one will ever be able to fill us with as much joy, make us feel as much peace, and love us the way we need to be loved, like He can. Also, God wants that spot. He is a jealous God. He wants all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind. He wants all of your attention and all of your focus. He just wants our eyes to be fixated on Him and all that He has to offer us. And if you love Him but begin to put someone or something else into that spot, He will fight His way to get your attention again and will push whatever He needs to out of the way to get there. I’ve experienced that myself, and God did what He needed to do. And it was the best thing for me.

I want to challenge you today to consider what (or who) is the king of your heart. I also want to challenge you to change that, if the answer is not Christ. He is the only One that should sit on the throne in your heart. And He is the only One that can fully satisfy you and give you what you need – no person or thing on this planet can do that, no matter how much you want to believe they can. Psalms 73:26 says:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Let Him be your strength. Let Him be your portion. And let Him hold that place in your heart that no one else can enter into. If you truly want Him there, that’s where He’ll stay.

-LC