the Storm

Storms are defined as a violent disturbance of the atmosphere. That’s how these past few months have felt. Strong winds. Heavy rain. Thunder. Lightning. It felt as if I was lost at sea. Stranded. Alone. Drowning. Every time I finally found my footing another wave would send me under again. I found myself panicking, gasping for air, trying to keep my head above the water. All I wanted was to just reach the shore. But with every step closer to land, the water would just push me back again. Countless times I cried out, begging God to still the sea. But it seemed like He had forgotten about me.

A loud voice began to echo, “Surrender to the storm.” I continued to cry out but still no answer. I felt defeated. I felt forgotten. I stopped trying. I stopped fighting. I just stopped. When I stopped the echo grew louder. “You’re never going to survive this. Why are you still fighting? Just give up! Surrender to the storm!” I screamed as the current dragged me deeper. I started to sink.

Then a still, small voice whispered, “You’re almost there.” This voice wasn’t the same. This voice was different. Quieter yet louder. Softer but stronger. Overpowering the voice I heard before. “You’re almost there.”

Just as hope started to arise, doubt rushed in to keep me down.

“Surrender!”
“You’re almost there.”
“Surrender!”
“You’re almost there.”
“SURRENDER!!”

The storm calmed to a whisper. The waves stilled. The voices stopped. A surge of strength overcame me. I stood to my feet. I took a deep breath. I started to walk.

Finally, I could see the shore.

What seemed like forever was merely a moment. I spent so much time and energy trying to save myself when all I needed to do was be still. Instead of focusing on the storm, I should’ve focused on the One who created the seas. I couldn’t hear the sound of His still, small voice in the midst of my screams. I couldn’t remember His truth because I was being filled with lies. Isn’t it just like the devil to throw darts at our minds when we’re too distracted to dodge them?

This storm has taught me that God doesn’t come exactly when we call and He doesn’t stop every rainfall (or in my case, down pour). When we feel like we’re drowning in our difficulties, we pray for a way out rather than a way through, but even in the midst of our worst storm, He has already made a way. He has already parted the seas. You see, storms don’t come to break us. They come to stretch us. The wind and the rain, the thunder and the lightning, that’s how our faith grows.

I have yet to reach the shore, but God’s shown it to me, I know it’s there. For now, the sea is still and I’m pushing forward. Along the way I’m arming myself for when the storm comes again because it will come again but as Pastor Steven Furtick once said, “God speaks in past tense about the battles you’re currently fighting.”

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” – Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

So let the storm come, the victory is already mine.
And it’s already yours.

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I Will Still Be There

Yesterday was the first day of March which means we’re days away from celebrating Elijah’s 5th birthday. Sometimes it seems more like he’s four going on fifteen, especially lately. Lately he’s really been testing my patience. But in the process, he’s also been teaching me.

Some days are perfect and some days I lose count of the times I have to say, “Stop! Don’t do that. You know better!” Just this week we were playing in the yard. There’s this particular part where he loves to go exploring, it’s not a bad place to play but the ground is just extremely uneven and the inconsistencies usually cause him to trip and fall.

While we were playing, he wanted to go exploring and even though I told him not to go there, off he went and bam, he trips. “Elijah if you would’ve just listened to Mommy then that wouldn’t have happened! Come here, let me check your legs.” As I rubbed his knees I felt this still, small voice say, “Exactly.”

How many times has God told us, “No, don’t go there…No, don’t do that…No, don’t say that…No…No…No…Believe me, I only want what’s best for you…Trust me, I don’t want you to get hurt” and yet we still do it?

I’m sure God has lost count of the times he has had to tell me, “Stop! Don’t do that. You know better!” There are places and people and situations He has instructed me to avoid. If I’m honest, I haven’t always listened and more often than not my disobedience lead to distress. But just as I comforted my son, God comforted me. Even after I explicitly said not to go, I was still there. Even after God commanded me not to do something, He was still there. Just as I hugged Elijah and kissed his boo boo, God embraced me and healed me from my brokenness.

I would prefer that Elijah not play in that particular part of the yard but when he does and when he falls, I will be there.
And when I fall, as I surely will, God will be there.

And He will be there for you too!

The Late Hours

It’s 2am. I can hear the pitter-patter of little feet gradually getting louder. A small shadow appears in the door way and a voice whispers, “Can I sleep in your bed?” It’s my son. My four-year-old son.
“What’s wrong baby?”
“I’m scared.”
I cannot count the amount of times this has happened. Sometimes even seven days a week. My son wakes in fear and rushes to Mommy and Daddy seeking comfort, wanting us to shield him and protect him. From what, I honestly don’t know. He only ever says, “I’m scared.” He lays beside us and we hold him close until he’s sound asleep again.

Just like my four-year-old, fear finds me in the late hours of the night too. In the silence, I am forced to face all the things I’ve suppressed throughout the day. Each one suddenly exposed. Are we safe? Are we secure? Did we remember to lock the door? Are all the windows shut? Are my son’s okay? Are their peaceful dreams being invaded? The what if’s and the maybe’s. All the sick, twisted thoughts we refuse to say out loud, those are the thoughts that cross my mind. The thoughts that grip me. The thoughts that keep me up. The thoughts that overwhelm me.

If I’m being honest, there are nights that I try to push pass the fears on my own; nights that I try to combat them with my own strength. But the truth is, alone, I am weak. I have to tap into the power of Jesus Christ within me. I have to lay it all down and believe that God is standing guard over my family.

Just like my son, who knew the ones he could go to, I need to know the One I can go to.

“God will cover you and protect you, under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness is a shield and wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of the night…nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness.” – Psalm 91:4-7

Yes, it is our job to care for our children but it also our job to surrender the situations we cannot control to the One that is in control.

When fears threaten to flood your mind during the late hours of the night, remember that God is never too far from you. Seek Him and He will shelter you.

 

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Seasons of Struggle

Very recently my family and I found ourselves overwhelmed with trials. With each tribulation I grew weary and eventually began to wallow. For several weeks I stopped seeing all of our blessings and started to dwell in the darkness of difficulties. Despair had become my identity.

One moment God’s favor was falling over all areas of our lives, the next it seemed as if the enemy had infiltrated every one of those areas. When this happens it’s easier to become bitter rather than recalling all the times God poured out grace upon grace. That is where I was. Bitter.

Then one day a still, small voice began speaking to my spirit.

Life is unstable. One second it’s safe and secure then suddenly it becomes uncertain. These are seasons. Throughout our lives we will have seasons of steadfastness but we will also have seasons of struggle. It is within those seasons of struggle that we have our defining moments. When the world throws us trial after trial, will we see these problems and become pessimistic or will we remember every reason we have to praise God? I know how hard it can be to hold onto hope while in the midst of hardships but if you don’t allow the enemy to lead you astray, I promise that God is already making a way.

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“Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4

We may still be in a season of struggles but soon we shall have a season of steadfastness. Hallelujah!

 

Free and Fearless

My chest tightening. My heart thrashing. My body suddenly starts trembling and just as suddenly becomes completely still. Paralyzed. I am paralyzed. It seems like a scene from a movie, a freeze frame merely to emphasize fear. But this isn’t a movie, this is real life, my life. Here I stand, each and every fiber of my being filled with fear.

Fear by definition is, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” The thing is I wasn’t in danger, I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t threatened and yet fear still had a hold on me. Have you ever experienced one of these moments? Has fear ever immersed each and every inch of you?

I wish I could say that this is something I’ve only experienced once. But that would be a lie. I’ve felt this overwhelming fear on several occasions. Many of which were minuscule and yet somehow something small would become very vast. I cannot count the amount of times that this has happened but I can say that it often occurred prior to a pivotal moment, a life changing moment.

I had been waiting for what felt like eternity just watching countless women walk in and out. Almost all of them alone, like me. We were in a room with each other but I’m certain we all had never felt lonelier. Finally, the speaker we’ve been waiting for entered the room. The judgement in her eyes was evident. In her defense, she did just walk into a room of pregnant teenagers. The next 90 minutes would mark a turning point in my life. It would be the very first time I finally stood and said the words that had been lingering for the past few weeks.“I…want…an…abortion.”

The moment the words escaped my mouth all the fear vanished. Finally, I could think clearly. All that time I was anxious to admit how I had been feeling and yet the moment I said it I was able to see that the thought wasn’t mine, it was a dart the devil had thrown in my direction. The enemy feeds on fear. Much like a predator and their prey, he anxiously awaits moments of apprehension then makes his move. I was full of fear; the fear of being judged, the fear of being a teenage mother, the fear that my life would never be the same again. And it wasn’t. It was better.

Too often I hear someone say that they allowed fear to factor into their decisions, decisions that most regret making. I heard a quote in a movie once and I’d like to share it with you today. “The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”

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Let’s make a choice today.
Let’s choose to lay down our fears at the feet of Jesus.
Let’s choose to be free and fearless from this day forward.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

Scars Are Beautiful

“Scars are beautiful when you see them as glorious reminders that we courageously survived.”
– Lysa TerKeurst

Not all wounds are visible. Some people are seared in scars that have no physical evidence. I have scars. I have an abundant amount of scars. Scars that make me feel afraid and ashamed. Scars that make me feel damaged and dishonorable. But the thing about scars is, they’re part of the past.

There are parts of my past that I have tried extremely hard to suppress yet I still have very vivid memories, some would even call them out of body experiences. It’s like I’m there again, watching myself, watching the nightmare unfold and I’m screaming to my younger self to run, to hide, but to no avail. Sometimes I relive those moments over and over and over again. Sometimes those moments never seem to end. Sometimes I feel trapped in what now are only memories. Sometimes I can’t sleep. Sometimes I can’t breathe. It’s overwhelming.

For countless years I cried out to God, begging Him to block those years of my childhood, to let me live the rest of my life without ever having one of those out of body experiences again. The years continued and my memory remained intact, every dirty detail.

Anger began to build. Every fiber of my being filled with frustration.
Why God?! Why?!
How could You have let this happen to me?
You call me Your daughter!
You call me Your beloved!
You say You know all our days before we are born and if that’s true then that means You must have known this would happen too!
What kind of God would allow that happen?
What kind of God allows an innocent child endure that kind of agony?
Why God?! Why?!

Very recently something was revealed to me, our purpose is to glorify God in every part of our lives. In fact the Bible says to, “Lead your lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel…standing firm…[don’t] be alarmed or intimidated by your opponents for you have been granted the privilege [to] not only believe and confidently trust in God but also to suffer for His sake.” – Philippines 1:27-29.

It took me some time to understand what those words meant but now that I do I can finally see the purpose of my scars. The purpose of my scars are to share them and use them to glorify God. I once heard someone say to speak your truth even if your voice shakes so here I am, with tears running down my face, trembling with each word I type and giant knot in my throat but I believe that there is someone, somewhere who is wondering why, who endured something that no one should ever have to experience, someone who is doubting God because of that experience and I’m here to say that you are not alone, you are not broken, you are not used or ugly. You are worthy! You are beautiful! You are so very loved!

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If by some miracle you are reading this, you know who you are, please know that I am praying for you and am truly trying to forgive you. I pray that you will pursue God and allow Him to transform your life and heal you from whatever hurt that caused you to hurt me.