“Back to our first love, nothing between us / Back to Your heart, to the start of it all / Where we found You / Out of the ashes, into the fire / You are refining our hearts in the flames / Of Your presence / Set apart for our God above / Set apart for the One we love / Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours”
We sang this song at church this weekend and it completely moved me. If I could be completely honest, I have been distracted. Distracted by a bunch of good things and not fully focused on Jesus. The past few days have been refreshing. I had planned to go down to Dallas for a weekend long event, but God blocked it. Isn’t it funny how we can make our plans, but God can just swoop right in and change them? I am so very grateful for this weekend to renew and enjoy time with friends and family that I haven’t gotten to spend time with lately.
I am also left challenged. As a Christ follower, I am to be set apart for Him. Do you know hard that is? To live in this world, but not to be of the world? I find it more difficult every day, but I keep pressing on and keep my focus on God. I will continue that He will put the right people and opportunities in place. If things don’t go the way I plan, I will consider them His protection because God is good like that – He knows my needs before I know.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
Eight years ago today, I had the ultimate “Do Over”, I made a decision to follow Christ and be baptized. I was a junior in college. I have been living most of my life trying to be perfect – the perfect student, athlete, daughter, sister and it goes on. I didn’t grow up going to church, but oddly enough, my parents enrolled me in a Christian school from pre-school to 8th grade. I was curious and took the required Bible classes, but it wasn’t until college when God took a hold of my heart and it wasn’t until several years later that my personal relationship with Him flourished.
I am still learning and growing in my relationship with Him and He has graciously has given me various opportunities to trust Him. One of those areas that I am experiencing right now is serving Him in my singleness. To be completely honest, I do desire to marry my best friend and have a family of my own that I can serve, but I have come to terms that may not be part of God’s plans for me. At the end of the day, I need to trust Him in ALL things. He has been so gracious to give me so many different opportunities to serve Him as a single person that I might never get if I did have a family of my own. I will continue to press on, I’ll do the next thing He has before me as I see His plan for my life unfold.
“For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” – Deuteronomy 30:16
It was about two years ago when I joined Jon Acuff and his disciples for the #FinishYear challenge. The challenge was to make a list of things you wanted to finish in 2012. In 2012, I finished getting out of debt and my dating fast. It was a year of rebuilding the relationships that had suffered during my bad dating relationship. 2012 was a year of healing and restoration and 2013 was a year of joyous celebration of what all God has done with the not-so-good times. So here comes 2014 and there’s the 30 Days of Hustle Challenge. One of my biggest dreams in life is to date, marry and have children with a godly man running in the same direction as me. I would love to be my husband’s biggest cheerleader and supporter of his dreams, and vice versa. So I challenged myself to go on one date in the next 30 days. I don’t know with who, what or when, but I think I need to start getting out there and not be afraid of rejection. I trust that God will work out the details and maybe there won’t be a date in 30 days, but I know God will reveal himself however He wants. #itrustyouGod
When I go through something trying in life, I try to fix it. I try to manipulate and control things because I think I need to react to make it better. I now have learned to pray first and to let the dust settle. Things usually work out better when I let God control the situation and work out the details. It has not always been easy, but in the end it is worth it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6
During my dating fast, God placed it on my heart to make a list of the person I would like to become and for my future husband. It wasn’t a typical list, it was all about becoming the person that God wanted me to become and what I hoped my two was becoming. Almost a year or two after making that list, God placed someone in my life that had everything I prayed for over my fast and thereafter or at least I thought so, but it hasn’t exactly worked out or do I even know if it will work out – that’s God to decide. God’s funny, maybe what I have prayed and wished for isn’t what God has in mind. Maybe God has something greater in mind, but I am just so focused on the “good” that I can’t see past it. Maybe God brings us things in life in unexpected packages, so that we are on our knees seeking Him. It might not be what we expected, but it far exceeds what we could ever hope or imagine. My challenge for myself and you today is, am I willing to leave what I considered “good” behind and go forward knowing God has my best interest in mind? God is sovereign and His ways are higher than mine, but first, I must surrender my desires to Him.
“To get something you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.”
It is hard leaving something behind. Especially if it is something “good”. Far too often I get stuck in a rut of a mudane life. I live a life in my comfort zone without taking any risks at all. So today, I have decided to START. START having fun. START trying new things. START up old passions. START enjoying life and being present with what God has in store. I bought some new running shoes, some boxing gloves and signed up for a kayaking class. This week is going to be an adventure. I love it. I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery and I promise, something good will come of it.” – We Bought a Zoo
I love this quote. Probably because this quote has challenged me as God has called me to do some things that took extra faith over the past year – things that seemed insane to the outside looking in. One of those things was taking a leadership position in the singles community at church. I pretty much fought God about it – made excuses on why I shouldn’t and can’t. For those who don’t know my background, I didn’t grow up going to church, I was a very shy kid, just finished a year-off of dating and have only led a women’s only group previously – so for God to call me into this position to lead other co-ed singles small group leaders was beyond my comprehension. But do you know what? When God calls you to do something, you just gotta jump right in and do it – 20 seconds of insane courage right? He equips those He calls.
So what are you waiting for – what is God calling you to do that is taking a little extra faith? Just jump right in!
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” – 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
“Don’t let what you expect keep you from what God wants you to experience.” – Steven Furtick
Expectations. We all have them and they all exist in all areas of our lives from our jobs to our relationships with others. We have an idea in our head of how our life will turn out to be. For example, I have lived a pretty good and drama free life. I graduated college as a successful student-athlete and landed my “dream” job working at a Big 4 Accounting firm right after college – they only hired 5 people for the Oklahoma City office – so I felt special. I expected smooth sailing from there – I thought God’s plan for me was to get married, have kids and live happily ever after. Not so fast, I got laid off 9-months after my first job after college and then entered and ended an unhealthy dating relationship.
If God told me all that would have happened, I think I would have just hid in a hole for the rest of my life. Those two experiences were pivotal moments of my life. They helped me grow closer to God. I now have a job that I enjoy and love, and the opportunity to serve as a leader in the singles community at my church. But if I didn’t go through those painful times, I wouldn’t have appreciated these opportunities God has placed before me.
I think a lot of times we expect God to give us a fairy tale story. One that is drama free and without twists and turns. But you know what? God loves to use those twists and turns in our lives to strengthen our relationship with Him and to be able to fulfill His purpose for our lives. It is so beautiful how God can turn my misery into my ministry, but I must let go of my expectations of what I think He has for my life and truly seek Him first in all that I do.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”- Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you don’t see what God has in front of you? I have many times. One particular instance in my life is college. My dream was to play college tennis at a Division 1 school. I worked hard, won a few state championships with my high school team and in my mind that was the end goal – to play at a NCAA Division 1 school. It didn’t matter where. When my dad took me to check out Oklahoma Christian University (a small NAIA school near my home) I pretty said “I am never going to play here, it’s too small.”
Never say never is the lesson I learned. I ended up graduating college there, and I even tried to transfer out after my first semester there, but God pretty much shut every door that was cracked open. I talked to a handful of Big 12 schools – from Texas Tech to the University of Oklahoma, but for one reason or another, things didn’t work out. My dear friend and I call these moments when God shuts the door on what we hoped for a “God block.”
So, I stayed at OC and I am so glad I did. After fighting with God about my frustrations, I decided to surrender. I decided to find joy where He had me. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. God gave me success academically, athletically and socially – maintaining a 3.85 GPA, became the second woman to be a 4-time All-American tennis player, held an officer position in my social service club and made life long friends – things that would be impossible to do at a Division 1 school. I am not saying any of this to brag, because it was nothing I did – it was all God. I had to realize that I had to put my pride aside and make the most of where He has me – no matter if I wanted to be there or not. I think a lot of times we try to go against the direction God wants us to. I have done that many times and you know what? God usually gets His way. He will remove and put things into place until you have no choice but to embrace where He has called you. And when you do, He can do things beyond what you can even ask or imagine. I challenge you to enjoy where God has you today. Be thankful for God blocks. Embrace it. You won’t regret it.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” -Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)