NO.

A hot tear rolled down my cheek as I worked to straighten my twisted frown and fake a shred of composure. I had told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

I saw a wince dance across Coach Miles’ face as his eyes began to redden, as well. I stared into the watering gaze of a man who saw glimpses of his own daughter in my eyes. A man who recognized there was going to be no easy way to deliver any verdict.

It had been 18 months since the day I felt a stirring in my heart to begin an uphill, unexpected journey.  I wanted my life to matter. Not just in the big-picture, but on a day-to-day basis. I was tired of living comfortably and making safe decisions. I wanted to risk it all. I wanted to have an impact. I wanted to live boldly. In asking God how He planned for me to do so, I received an unexpected answer.

Football.

There’s hardly a sports tv network, radio station, or social media site that hasn’t covered bits and pieces of my story since the day a few reporters caught me training with the football team at the indoor facility. We had worked so hard to keep my endeavor under wraps. For months and months I had trained–in conjunction with training and competing through my senior soccer season at LSU–with the permission and encouragement of the LSU Football coaches, the guidance of the players, and the care of the trainers. But 6 months into my preparation the cat was out of the bag, and the fire-storm commenced.

With the media attention came the interest. With the interest came the divided opinion. With the divided opinion came every sports-lover’s overwhelming and adamant input into my motives, my ability, my strengths, my weaknesses, my intentions, my faith, my past, my present, my future, and the fact that I had a sports bra strapped to my chest rather than a jock strap between my thighs. In conjunction with the LSU Athletic Administration crew, we worked to hyper-selectively pick through hundreds and hundreds of media requests to handle the necessary evil of addressing the endeavor publicly. We agreed on a handful of outlets and I gave a few interviews, then got back to work. From that point forward, media stations aired, re-aired and shared my story and the nation began to pick apart, evaluate, and dig deeper into all they were convinced they knew about “Mo Isom: the girl trying to play football at LSU”.  All the while, Mo Isom, the girl trying to play football at LSU, was simply doing just that. Warmly accepted and gradually respected by the 100+ young men who suit up on Saturday nights.  Practicing and perfecting a newly-learned kicking form. Studying the game and studying the quirks of the specialist position.  I think the hype of the college football culture in our country often blinds people to the reality that we are just a bunch of kids–navigating our way through college classes, fumbling through the highs and lows of relationships, and ultimately playing the sports we love for the schools we’re awfully proud to represent. I fit right in with my gridiron brothers–there was nothing unique or outrageous that divided us. We were all athletes working our hardest to push ourselves beyond the limit of “normal”. My pursuit of a football career was no different.

The AC hummed as Coach Miles slowly crafted his words. There was a mutual understanding that hung thick in the room. A mutual respect. He knew all I had been through–it was an unspoken reality that demanded respect, for the commitment alone. He knew of my personal journey–the suicide of my father, the horrific car accident–he knew of my recovery, of my unflinching commitment to live life unchained by my adversities. He knew all that I had voluntarily, physically endured for 18 months–the 3-a-days, the strict nutritional regimen, the weight-training program, the injuries, the rehabilitation, the countless hours on my own. He knew that I had navigated the obstacles of being a woman in a man’s environment–that there had never been issue, never been controversy, and that the team respected me and accepted me. He knew that I had handled the media carefully, that I had garnered support from thousands, as well as faced scrutiny and degradation by uninformed, yet overly-confident, outsiders. He knew all of those things. And I knew that he had a difficult decision to make. I knew he had given me a fair opportunity–an open door and open access to his facilities, his coaches, his equipment, and his program.  I knew he had faced scrutiny as well and, likely, a little distraction in the process. I knew that he had a unique situation on his hands and that he had never complained, asked me to leave, or discouraged my goal.  He had always encouraged me, always supported me, and always granted me the opportunity to give my dream my best shot.

He had also always been honest with me. That final day, sitting in his office, was no exception.  It was not easy news to hear, as I’m sure it was not easy news to deliver. After 18 months of effort, nobody wants to hear a “no”. But a “no” was the final verdict. And I had to hold my head high, though my brow quivered and my face grew hot and speckled.

As thoughts and emotions swirled through my mind, I worked to process all that I was feeling. Coach Miles continued to talk, and while I was trying desperately to listen and process his words, I found myself zoomed out of my circumstance and overwhelmed by the weight of  the “no.”

No. Though I could strike 53 yard field goals, there were other guys already on the roster who could do the same.

No. Though I was consistent, accurate, and conditioned, there was not room or need for another specialist that particular season.

No. Though I had worked for a year and a half, extended my college education into the Graduate program, and perfectly structured my course load moving forward, I would not be competing for another fall.

No. Though the nation was on edge waiting to hear the result–though I wanted to prove all those who believed in me right, and disprove all those who had doubted and degraded me–the story was at its end.

No.  Though I believed that God had specifically called me to pursue this goal–the final verdict was NO.

No.

In the weeks that followed, I found myself confused, agitated, anxious, and depressed. All I had invested in for a year and a half was stripped away. All I had been driven by and motivated towards was an illusion. Not only was I not on the team, I was no longer a student-athlete. My eligibility was done. My college career was over. I questioned what more I could have done, I replayed every step and every kick from my tryout. All that I had planned for in the year to come was lost. I questioned Coach Miles, I questioned the motives of the decision, I questioned whether I had ever really had a chance at all. I questioned the system. I had seen how things truly worked from the inside, and I questioned the process. I grieved over the loss of my dream. I grieved over my failure.  I grieved over the “no”.

Time and time again I was drawn back to the same exasperated and frustrated question. “God, I believed that You specifically called me to this chapter of life. Was I mistaken all along? Was I just waisting my time? Am I the fool? Were those who doubted me right? If You called me to take on this challenge, and You saw how diligently and passionately I worked towards it in Your name–always giving You the glory–wasn’t it in Your will for me to ultimately make the team?”

And for the second time in a month, I was hit with the most rattling, course-altering answer…”NO.”

The resounding “no” that was now echoing in my heart gradually pushed out the doubt, anger, and resentment that had been brooding.  This “no” was humbling, precise, and revelatory.  It drew me to a realization of reality that I suppose I was intended to learn, all along. “No” is not a word of dismissal, it is a word of direction.

I was called to listen to God’s leading, take on the challenge He presented me, and passionately pursue the goal He set, in Christ’s name.  I was never assured of the result. Would I have been as willing to take on as crazy, vulnerable, and challenging a feat had I known there was a closed door at the end of it all? No. Yet God had reason for every step of my journey. Was it up to me to worry about whether those who had doubted me were arrogantly walking around with the false presumption that they had been right all along and knew all the details of the situation? No. Their hearts and their humility were in God’s hands. Was I a fool for having tried and having believed in myself? No. I was strengthened, nourished, and matured through the process. Was I a failure for having received a “no”? No. The success was not in the outcome, but in the steps of faith it took to complete the journey.

It is time for us to begin listening to God’s call in our lives and responding. His direction is going to look different in every single one of our journeys. We often have this narrow-minded and presumptuous misunderstanding that God can’t use us on a day-to-day basis unless He is using us in an extreme way. But God yearns to use us daily–in every form, fashion, and function.  Do not box God into the ways you think He can and can’t use you.  He works across a spectrum, so far beyond our understanding, to align each of our steps with perfect purpose.  His call in your life is going to be something tailored to exactly who you are–through your strengths, your talents, and your design. Allow Him to stir your heart and guide your steps.

It is not up to you to fully grasp the outcome before you ever commit to the challenge. It is not up to you to worry or stress about the elements of the process you cannot control. It is simply up to you to move forward and to trust in God’s provision and direction–knowing along the way you are bound to hit big and small “NO’s.” But that “No” is not a word of dismissal, it is a word of direction.

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The Distance of A Smile

I have never enjoyed running distance.

I have always favored sprinting. Quick, sharp, concise movements. Immediate gratification. Immediate results. Fine-tuning my reaction time and response has always been far more appealing to me than building up my endurance and stamina pounding miles away on the pavement.

In addition, my body is built for power. I am woven together with tight, compact muscle fibers that thrive as they coil and release in short bursts of explosive energy. I am dense and I am thick. Goalkeeping, kicking, and explosive weight training have always come easily to me–and I have excelled in maximizing those natural strengths.

However, as my college career drew to a close and my days of competitive soccer, football training, and Olympic power lifting slowly faded past, I found myself at a crossroads.  I wanted to maintain my level of fitness, but I also wanted to lean out, lose some muscle density, and shed some of my explosive bulk.  After all, I wanted to maintain my athletic figure, but my days of maxing out and practically receiving protein shakes through a round-the-clock IV drip were done. I explored a variety of different exercise options, but ultimately was reminded time and time again that the most accessible, most affordable, and most consistent means of achieving and maintaining my ideal body goal was through running distance.

Crap.

There was no way around it. I had to embrace the logic and talk myself into dragging my dense body out onto the street, throwing on a pair of tennis shoes, and taking off. I charted out a jogging course and began forcing myself to run a few days a week. I despised it–every step. My ankles hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurt.  My muscles were tired, my body was out of whack, and every stride was dull and painful. I took off each day with the mentality of “This is awful. I don’t want to do this. I don’t like to do this. I hate that this is the best thing for me, because I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m bored.” I ran with an exasperated look on my face–my brow furrowed, my jaw tight, my nose scrunched. I was miserable and there wasn’t a car that passed that wasn’t fully aware of how much I despised that time of day.

I finally became so fed-up with just running distance that I decided to start swimming, as well.  I figured that would at least provide some variety to my workouts. And if I had a miserable, annoyed, and painful expression on my face, at least my big head would be hidden under water. I visited the aquatic center a few times and fit in going through the motions and pretending I was Michael Phelps, though I probably looked more like a drunken seal flopping through the lane. But just as I became content in the idea that miserably going through the motions with these runs and these swims was my best bet at staying in shape, God stepped in–as He always seems to do–and put my heart through a humbling workout.

I had just pulled myself out of the pool and was sitting on the edge cleaning out my goggles when I looked up and saw a young man walking to the shallow pool. His face was so handsome. He had soft, defined features and dark eyes.  His smile stretched from ear to ear and his hair was wet and combed.  His face was so attractive that I expected to see a fine, sculpted body with toned muscles and dark features to match. But when I looked down I was shocked to see that his body was very disproportionate. He was a good bit overweight and, in looking at him, you would have assumed his head had been plopped onto a stranger’s body. There was a lack of consistency in his form and I started to notice he was walking with a slight limp. It is hard to describe, but it just did not seem like he was intended to be that heavy. It was not a natural body-type for his build and you could tell by his face that he was likely meant to be a much leaner man. But as confused as I was at the sight, my eyes kept drifting back to his contagious smile. He wore such joy.

Shrugging off my confusion about his appearance, I simply thought, “Handsome guy, but what a shame that he’s let himself go. Well, at least he’s working out…” and went back about my business.  It wasn’t until I looked up again that I found myself in a state of utter shock. As he turned his back to me to climb into the pool, I noticed a thick, dark scar that stretched from the top of the man’s neck, all the way down his spine, and disappeared into the line of his shorts. I was stunned. I watched him slowly step down into the pool, balancing the disproportionate body his searing scar had trapped him in.  But as he waded through the water and stretched his heavy limbs, I could not help but stare–at his beautiful smile.

I watched that man rehabilitate for 45 minutes.  At times he would wince, at times he would struggle, but at no point did his graceful smile ever fade.

You see, that man was bound by a body he did not grow up with.  He was bound by a scar he did not ask for.  He was bound in his mobility, his activity, his life. Yet his graceful smile never left his face.  He was bound by adversity, but he was liberated by joy as he entered that pool.  He was happy to be able to do as much as tread water–no matter how badly it hurt him. He was happy to be able to move, no matter how many people stared. He was grateful and he simply smiled.

I woke up the next morning with a smile of my own slung across my face. I had fallen asleep the night before dizzied in thought about the man at the pool, and my walk as a Christian. And the sunrise meant it was time to run.

I laced up my shoes and set off just as the sun was peeking over the Atlanta skyline.  As I put one foot in front of the other, I focused on relaxing the muscles in my forehead, slowly unclenching my jaw, and allowing the corners of my mouth to curve up in surrender. I was smiling. And I was going to smile the entire run.

Stride. Stride. Stride. Stride.

I replaced the thoughts of, “This is awful.” with “Thank you, Lord, for this day.”

I replaced the thoughts of, “I don’t want to do this.” with “I am so blessed to be able to put one foot in front of the other.”

Stride. Stride. Stride. Stride.

I replaced the thoughts of, “I don’t like to do this.” with “Thank you, God, for a healthy body and the energy to burn.”

I replaced the thoughts of, “I hate that this is the best thing for me, because I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m bored.” with “Look at the beautiful sights of this city. Listen to the sound of passing traffic. Breath in the scent of the autumn air. What a blessing that I can run.”

Stride. Stride. Stride. Stride.

I smiled. As my ankles hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurt…I smiled. Though my muscles were tired, my body was out of whack, and every stride was dull and painful…I smiled. And soon I found that I felt those angst no more.

Stride. Stride. Stride. Stride.

I smiled.

I finished my run that day having run my farthest distance, my fastest pace, and my longest time.  My body was fatigued, but my heart was energized. My soul was overwhelmed. All because I never let a smile leave my face or gratitude leave my heart.

Every day that I run now, I smile. As I jogged to the end of my run today, I looked down at my monitor and continued to smile. 68 miles run since the day I started smiling, and I have energy and endurance to burn.

I do not simply want to be a Christian that is comfortable sprinting.  What comes easily for us may be powerful, and it may provide quick results, but I do not want to become complacent in my natural talents. I want to run distance in my faith.

You see, I am wired to function one way. Many of us are. It is easy to lean on the foundations and the teachings we grew up under and feel like once we have those fundamentals mastered, we are in great shape.  Once we’re familiar with the Word, once we’re familiar with what it means to love and serve, once we’re familiar with what it “looks like” to live as a Christian, then we are fit and prepared and can react quickly in life’s circumstances.

But a well-rounded and enduring faith requires pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and expanding ourselves to persevere for the long-haul. We must be distance runners in our faith.  We must be willing to push ourselves, strain ourselves, and grow fatigued for the Gospel.  That cannot be done by resting on the sprinted fundamentals of Christianity.  It must be acquired through the constant and grueling process of building and maintaining endurance through hope. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Choice by choice by choice. Stride by stride by stride.

And while that is not easy work, while it will hurt and ache and wear you down, it CAN be done with joy and willingness. Smile. Find joy in the beauty of what’s around you.  Find appreciation in the fact that you are rising each new day. Find happiness in the simplest of wonders. Find beauty in everything small.  When you are headed up hill and your mind says to stop…smile. When you feel like you can’t face another obstacle or adversity…smile.  When you lose patience and grow weary…smile. Rewire your thoughts to find joy in your days. Choose happiness. Consciously choose to smile. You will be amazed at the difference it makes, and you will be amazed as you come to the end of the road after a long journey of life’s hardships and you find that your emotions are fatigued, but your heart is overjoyed. You’ll be energized and encouraged and alive–all because you chose to smile.

I want to be a Christian who smiles.  As I fight battles and face hardship and grieve and mourn and struggle, I want to smile.  I want to wade into the waters of life knowing, though the hardships of my life leave a scar from the top of my neck to the base of my spine, I can smile.  And though I find myself trapped in circumstances and situations that are disproportionate to what I feel I “deserve” or what I feel is “fair” in life, I can smile. Because I am the child of a King who boasts scars, as well.  I am the child of a King who endured scars for me as He took the cross so that I could live freely and smile. I am the child of a King who assures us that, though the journey will be long, He has great plans for us. He gives us hope and He gives us a future. How grateful we should be to smile.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” –Hebrews 12:1

“Sexual Healing”

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”–Matthew 11:28

 

I was blessed to stumble across this amazing piece of poetry today. In my “Kissless ‘Till Next Christmas” ministry, you have only had the opportunity to hear from my female perspective. Jeff Bethke does an amazing job of articulating my same message from a male perspective. Please take the time to listen and watch.

 

In Response to “Mo-vember”

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” –James 4:10

It’s hard to believe that it is already mid-November.  Ten and a half months into my year-long intimacy fast, and I have

never felt so alive!

If you are in-touch with pop-culture, I’m sure you’re familiar with “No Shave November”–a month dedicated to raw masculine appeal. A month defined by spectacular, untouched facial hair. A month honoring the finest form of upper-lip artwork…the mustache. That curly-haired lip caterpillar is so spectacular, it redefines a month. Turning what used to be “November” into “Mo-vember”–a true honor for the studly ‘stache.

Though I’ve had a few friends joke, here and there, about the name of the month corresponding with my name, it wasn’t until recently that I paid much attention to the title–and for unique reason.

You see, this month has been marked by incredible emotion. Intense highs, stunning lows–ultimately, immeasurable blessings.  The three most notable events stand at the forefront of my mind. First, the conclusion of my 16 year soccer career–a loss in the NCAA tournament that closed one of the most extensive and defining chapters of my life, and ended my college career on the LSU Soccer team. Secondly, being voted by my peers and crowned the 2011 LSU Homecoming Queen–an overwhelming introduction to the newest chapter of my life, and a humbling honor that has countless layers of significance to my heart.  And lastly, winning the online fan vote for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award–an award with an overall winner still yet to be named, but with a message of support that floored me. Literally.

It wasn’t until just a few days ago, in the aftermath of so much intense emotion, that I was walking to class and passed a group of college co-eds. As we shuffled by on the sidewalk, I smiled and waved, and they hollered out in kind support. “Congrats Mo! What a crazy year! You deserve it all! Everybody, it’s ‘Mo-vember!'” Little do they know, the things they yelled have turned my world up-side-down these past few days, and have stirred my heart to a new place.

Now before you roll your eyes, click away from the page, and dismiss me as a self-promoting narcissist, I encourage you to read on. Because the reason this phrase turned my world up-side-down, is likely not the reason you would assume.

Don’t get me wrong, the group that shouted their support–as well as all of the fantastic individuals who have written on my facebook wall, tweeted me, texted me, emailed me, and extended their love–have done so with the purest of intentions. All of your overwhelming love and encouragement and affirmation has meant more to my heart than I will ever be able to express. You have given me such joy, you have humbled me, and you have filled me with a passion that is overflowing. To all of the LSU students who voted for Homecoming, to the countless individuals who voted for the Lowe’s Award–often over and over again–, to every person, coach, player, and fan who has ever supported me through my soccer career…”Thank You” just simply isn’t enough. I don’t even know how to put into words the appreciation I have for you. The respect I have for you. The love I have for you. I wish there was a phrase so much grander than “thank you”. I wish I could hug each of you, look you in the eye, and share the passion I have for you. But I suppose I will leave it at a resounding “THANK YOU SO MUCH!” until the day I can shake your hand.

However, all of the praise and attention that has come in the past few months, and this month in particular, has truly humbled me to a new place. A place unfamiliar.

The phrase that has repeatedly echoed with the most intensity is, “What a crazy year!” I’ve heard similar dialog from others in the form of, “Wow, what coincidence that so much is happening all at once!”, and “This has been a storybook year for you.” While these comments and congratulations certainly make my blood pump and excite me, the fact of the matter is that they violently humble me.  And the most humbling element of all is that I should not be surprised.

I’m sure at this point you’re thinking, “Wow, this chick has got some real ego issues.” But I promise I am getting to the point. Hang with me.

Time and time again, the Bible assures us that if we make sacrifices for God, we will be rewarded. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. If we humble ourselves before our King, He will lift us up.  If we place our faith in Him, He will carry us.  That we are in this world, not of it. And if we can make ourselves uncomfortable in our own lives and obey the Word, we will bear fruit.

That is what this year has been all about in my personal journey.  Humbling myself to the King as best as I know how. Stepping away from my physical wants and desires and turning completely to God.  It has been a hard year. It has challenged me, it has hurt at time, it has left me vulnerable, embarrassed, weak, sometimes lonely.  It has taken every conscious thought of every single day to remain focused and remind myself why I am traveling through such an awkward journey.  Ultimately, time and time again, it has led me to the foot of the cross–pleading for answers, and weak in my inadequacy.

And now, as the year of an indescribable journey is coming to a close, He has followed through on His Word. What? Wow! Why does that shock me? I am supposed to be a solid believer. I am supposed to know that He will do what He says He will do in His Word.  I am supposed to have undoubting faith. So why do I find myself stunned at the end of this year as He lifts my spirit with such fantastic blessings? I suppose, yet again, I’m reminded why I am so human. Aren’t we all?

There is nothing coincidental about this year. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that He is King, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Read that again. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He rewards our efforts to know Him more.  Trust me, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I fail, daily. I sin, hourly. But when all is said and done, I find great humility in constantly seeking to know Him more. Constantly and diligently striving to give more of myself to Him, as best as I know how. At the end of the day, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God blesses those efforts. God smiles on those who love Him and those who use the platform He has blessed them with to glorify Him and His Kingdom.

That brings me to the next thing they hollered–the line that brings me to me knees at the foot of Christ. “You deserve it all!” What great intention so many have had in telling me that. I truly do appreciate your kind regards.  And I do understand what people mean when they express this form of congratulations.  But at the end of the day, I deserve nothing. We earn nothing. I’m sure you are thinking, “Where is this girl about to take this? That’s a kind compliment. Why does she always have to get so deep?” Haha. I know, I know. But there is a great lesson in great success.

Great athletes, great intellects, great entrepreneurs, great missionaries, great service men and women…all great individuals share commonalities. They work incredibly hard at what they do. They invest time, energy, effort, money, and passion into their talents.  They set themselves apart by their work ethic and determination, and often times they are rewarded in outstanding ways.  But at the end of the day, they earned nothing. We deserve nothing. We deserve death. We are sinners and we lie and we steal and we cheat and we lust. We are totally fallible and unworthy of God’s love.  BUT IN FAITH WE GAIN EVERYTHING.  Because Jesus Christ died on the cross, we gain salvation! We gain hope! Because God loves us so incredibly much, He sent His own Son to die for us. Because of THAT, alone, we gain life.

Wow! What a concept to wrap your mind around. In all we do, we deserve nothing. But God loves us so much, He yearns for us to love Him and to use His blessings to glorify Him! Every success I’ve ever had is due entirely to God. My health, my soccer career, my athletic achievements. All are due to the glory of God. I would be nothing without His grace. Every accomplishment, every blessing–from the smallest in scale to the grandest in size–are all due to God and His infinite glory. I deserve nothing. We deserve nothing. But we gain everything through God.

I am nothing. But Christ Jesus inside me is everything! We ALL share the ability to host the King of all Kings in our hearts. Every single one of us. No matter your past, no matter your present–you hold an unimaginable future! Let’s be diligent, let’s be faithful. Let’s seek Him FIRST.

 “For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation.” –Psalms 149:4

I want to know God more. I want to love God more. And because of that deep, active desire in my heart, God has blessed me with this mind-blowing month of “Mo-vember”.  Such a silly phrase. I wish “God-vember” rhythmed better. This is NOT “Mo-vember”. This is a great month of active blessing.  I hope ALL who see the earthly successes in my life know that those successes are trivial to the spiritual success of knowing Christ Jesus.  I hope people will yearn to love God with the same intensity they yearn to succeed.  I hope people will praise our King like they praise our athletic figures, movie stars and musicians.  I hope people will see, through my journey, that GOD FOLLOWS THROUGH ON HIS WORD.

It is not important what you wear, how you look, where you live, what you drive.  It is not important how many championships you have won, how many trophies you have, or how popular you are.  It is not important that I have broken records, been crowned Homecoming Queen, and won popular fan voting for the Lowe’s Award.

It is important that we know God. It is important that we love God. And it is important that we diligently seek Him, and give Him praise in all we do. I promise you, with every fiber in my being, that if you put God first, you will know His blessings.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” –James 4:8

“My King is the King of your king”

 

“My King is the King of your king”

By: Mo Isom, 2011

 

My King is the King of your king,

my King gave your king life.

My hope hopes that your hope will learn to hope,

in all that is True and Right.

 

My faith has faith that you’ll find faith,

when faith seems all but lost.

My heart has a heart for your heart and knows

your heart was bought at a cost.

 

My trust trusts that you’ll learn to trust

in a Trust that you cannot see.

My mind keeps in mind that all that’s Divine

minds only that your mind believes.

 

My dream is a dream that you’ll one day dream

of an answer to dreams in your mind.

My conviction’s convicted that you’ll be convicted

that the Answer is not hard to find.

 

My life has lived life in this lifeless world,

and lived empty, lifeless and cold.

But I feel that you feel what I felt and now feel

and you yearn for a life that is whole.

 

My purpose finds purpose in showing you Purpose

of a life lived in Purpose and Grace.

My soul’s sole intention is solely to mention

The Savior whose soul Saved your place.

 

Why do I know the things I know,

and what makes me so sure?

Because I know a man who lived in this world,

and lived nothing less than pure.

 

I know a man who gave His life

so that you could be set free.

And though you owe Him nothing for it,

you owe Him everything.

 

Check the history books, check the facts and figures,

He was real, He lived and He died.

Then He rose from the dead to prove He was King

and to give you eternal life.

 

You’re now left at a crossroad with two paths to choose,

the choice here is black and white.

Pray the King of all Kings may enter your heart,

or keep living a life void of Light.

 

If you chose the first option your life’s bound to change,

you’ll come to know faith, hope and peace.

But if you choose to ignore, if you close off the door,

you’ll keep living a life incomplete.

 

When it comes the day that your days draw close,

I hope you know where your spirit will land.

But if you’re unsure, and your hearts’ still impure

take this moment to hold His scarred hand.

 

My King is the King of your king,

my King gave your king life.

My hope hopes that your hope will learn to hope,

in all that is True and Right.

 

“Madly In Love With You”

 

 

A musical letter from God to you…

Listen from the perspective of God singing each word to your heart.

 

 

 

 

“Madly In Love With You”

By: Sean McConnell

See you down there everyday
Trying to find a different way
To build some kind of ladder to the sky

Trying to find some way to see
Secrets of eternity, and they don’t come all at once
And you don’t know why

Well how do you think it feels to hear you screaming out my name
While all the while I’m trying to open up your heart
See you when you cry yourself to sleep
It’s tearing me apart

I know you wish you could see me
That’s the way it has to be
Someday you’ll understand,
don’t you lose your faith in me

I know you wish you could hear me
Sometimes it’s so hard to do
But every morning sunrise it says
I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you

I know that you’re waiting for,
A chance to come in from the war
If only a moment, if only a day

A place where you feel safe and warm
A sanctuary from the storm
Until all of these questions fade away

But I cannot count on all the signs
You’ve passed away as mere coincidence
And im running out of ways to break through
Like a lonely lover, Waiting by the ocean
Ill never give up on you

I know you wish you could see me
That’s the way it has to be
Someday you’ll understand,
Don’t you lose your faith in me

I know you wish you could hear me
Sometimes it’s so hard to do
But every morning sunrise it says
I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you
Yes I’m madly in love with you…

The Life I Planned

The Life I Planned

by Beth Moore
*******
Has someone seen the life I planned?
It seems it’s been misplaced
I’ve looked in every corner
It’s lost without a trace
I’ve found one I don’t recognize
Things missing that were dear
Promises I’d hope to keep
And dreams I’d dreamed aren’t here
Faces I had planned to see
Hands I planned to hold
Now absent in the pictures
Not the way I told
Has someone seen the life I planned?
Did it get thrown away?
God took my hand from searching
Then I heard him say,
“Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans I have for you
Are more than you could dream.
“You long to walk by sight
But I’m teaching eyes to see.
I know what I am doing
‘Til then, you must believe.”
He’s done so much, I felt ashamed
To know He heard my moans
To think I’d trade in all He’s done
For plans made on my own.
I wept over His faithfulness
And how He’d proved Himself
How He’d gone beyond my dreams
And said to Him myself,
“No, my ears have never heard
My eyes have never seen
Eternal plans you have for me
Are more than I could dream.
“Yes, I long to walk by sight
But You’re teaching eyes to see
You know what You are doing
‘Til then, I must believe.”
I felt His great compassion
Mercy unrestrained
He let me mourn my losses
And showed me to my gains.
I offered Him my future
And released to Him my past
I traded in my dreams
For a plan He said would last.
I get no glimpse ahead
No certainties at all
Except the presence of the One
Who will not let me fall.
Are you also searching
For a life you planned yourself?
Have you looked in every corner?
Have you checked on every shelf?
Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans He has for you
Are more than you could dream.
Perhaps you long to walk by faith
But He’s teaching eyes to see
He knows what He is doing
Child, step out and believe.
*******
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared
for those that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
*******
God Is Love.

Lost In the “In-Between”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever found yourself at a place in life where you are stuck in transition? Maybe you are there now. In between two phases of life: the time between college graduation and the start of a career–the time between two jobs after a layoff–the time between relationships–the time between two decisions. No matter the circumstance, it’s a state of “in-between”, an adjustment period, that we often find ourselves resting in.  A movement away from the familiar and the known–a movement into change and uncertainty.  While the lucky handful can move through these transitions quickly, we often find that this phase is the toughest, most confusing time.  Not only is there uncertainty moving forward, but there is also a lack of passion and drive.  When you’re not sure which direction the “light at the end of the tunnel” is coming from, how do you know which way to look?

Lately, this “phase” of in-between has been a recurring theme amongst so many of my friends, as well as amongst some of the individuals I disciple.  And while everyone’s individual scenarios are different and unique, the general theme of discontent has remained constant. In listening to each of them share their hearts, I began to realize a few key things: #1. We are all so human. No matter where we are in our walks as believers, we are all so deeply human–struggling with the same emotions, insecurities, conflicts, and self-serving mentalities. #2. As humans, it is so easy to get tripped up and tangled in these mentalities.  It is our nature to allow ourselves to become fixated–whether it be on positive triggers or negative triggers.  We are creatures of habit. #3. Thank goodness we serve a fantastic King that has immeasurable patience and loves us so passionately. Because… #4. So many of us get lost in the “in-between”. (Myself definitely included!)

As I prayed and prayed over the matter, I dug into the Word and was immediately humbled by such a familiar verse.  A verse that we often list off, but may not fully understand at times.  As we’ve discussed before, the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God.  In every circumstance, a passage can take on new light, new meaning.  It is up to us to drown ourselves in the dialog of our King and open our hearts to His truth and His will.  It is up to us to nourish ourselves with the Word so that, at a moments notice, we can pour His truth into others with conviction and love. Jeremiah 29:11 carries such beauty and truth.

When caught in an “in-between” in life, it’s easy to stand stagnant in our faith.  After all, with so much else to figure out and take in, it seems harmless to put our pursuit of Christ on the back-burner for a while. He understands, right? There is too much else going on.  Too much that needs to be organized, too much that needs to be sorted out, too many other decisions to be made.  Once we are comfortable again with life’s circumstances, we can pick back up where we left off in our faith…right?

If you were dating someone who you were really serious about and truly wanted to build a relationship with, that would consume a great deal of your time and attention, yes? Text messages, calls, dates, conversations, meals together, activities together–you would genuinely enjoy that person’s company and work to maintain a healthy relationship with them. Now let’s say you’ve been getting more and more serious with them and they have been reciprocating the affection and love. They have been doting over you, loyal to you, fun, communicating well…all signs point to this being a fantastic relationship. Then one day everything stops. They don’t call, they don’t text, they don’t come over.  They won’t return your messages, they won’t respond to you on facebook, they won’t even make eye contact when you see them.  When you go over to their house to try to talk, they don’t answer the door, they don’t let you in.  You are left completely in the dark.  When you finally do hear from them, all you get is an “I’m busy.” “I’ve got more important things to do.” “I’ve got too much going on.” 2 months pass–haven’t heard from them. 4 months pass–haven’t heard from them. 6 months pass and all of a sudden the phone rings. Your text message inbox fills up, your facebook status feed blows up, that person is back at your door with a smile on their face, prepared to pick right back up where you left off. Is that relationship going to be the same immediately?–No.  They haven’t invested an ounce of time or attention or interest in you for half a year. They haven’t loved you–they deserted you–too wrapped up in the stress and worry of their own lives to even care to acknowledge you.  And while we are BLESSED to serve a God that infinitely loves us, patiently waits for us, and instantly forgives us–the point of the matter is that if we ignore him when He’s inconvenient for us, we lose time to learn more about Him and grow in our love for Him.  He knows us inside and out, but we cheat ourselves of time to know Him better and love Him more. And if we are cheating while He is loyal, how is that a healthy relationship?

God never brings us to a place to “shelf us” for a while, until He needs us again. He never places us in storage or abandons us.  Every single circumstance and every single phase we find ourselves in, throughout our lives, is perfectly constructed by God to be used for His glory.  Our greatest growth often occurs through our greatest struggles. Imagine the growth we could achieve in our relationship with Christ if we remained faithful to Him during the most uncertain times. Are our relationships amongst one another not strengthened in the same way? Faithfulness, devotion, trust, support, attention, love.  These are all qualities that build solid relationships amongst people–so what is any different when it comes to building a solid, loving relationship with Christ? I think it is easy to get caught up in the “here and now” of daily life. Especially when we hit awkward seasons–phases of transition, phases of uncertainty, phases of confusion, phases of “in-between”.  But newsflash: in those times, who can offer you greater faithfulness, devotion, trust, support, attention, and love than the perfect, magnificent God that created every inch of you?!

I think it is normal to take loved ones for granted at times. I know I have. I have done it since I was young. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I really started noticing that my behavioral patterns with my family weren’t ideal. You see, when I am in public or around friends and acquaintances, I always strive to put my best foot forward. I strive to wear a smile and keep a positive energy and a positive attitude. To be totally honest, that can get a little draining. I’m not trying to insinuate that I’m “fake” when I’m out and about, I just genuinely enjoy bringing positivity with me and seeing people smile…nothing makes me happier than hearing laughter. I’ve never been a fan of drama, so I make an effort to let those around me experience the best of me–you never know whose life you may be touching. With all of that said, it’s hard to run on a full tank 24/7. So when do I shut down and recharge? Either in my alone time or when I’m with family. After all, they are the ones who know me best–they know my heart, they know how I tick, they know my intentions. The only problem with that is that when I shut down, I get grumpy. I get snide and a stubborn and bossy. I’m human too after all, and I admittedly can be quite  the handful sometimes.  I need to vent. I need to reboot, I need to let loose some pent-up tension.  So who bears the brunt of my darker side?–the people I love the most. Do they tolerate me with patience and grace–every time. Do they love me unconditionally–without a doubt. Do they always selflessly support me–without fail. But is that fair to them–absolutely not. Is that loving–not at all. Is that nourishing to our relationships–no way. So why then, did I always pick those times to reboot and to let out my frustration? BECAUSE I KNEW THEY WOULD LOVE ME NO MATTER WHAT.

Man, talk about a sad mentality.  I’m almost ashamed to admit that I fall victim to that mindset at times. But then again, don’t we all? And haven’t we ALL when it comes to our relationship with God?  It is easy to take for granted the things that we know are constant and unfailing in our lives.  “It’s no big deal, God will love me anyways.” “I know this is the wrong decision, but God will forgive me.” “God will understand if I focus on this issue for a while instead of focusing on Him first.” It’s so sad because it’s so true. We rationalize all the time. Especially when we are stuck in “in-between” phases in life. But those times are the times God longs for us the most.  Those times are the times that He wants to use us. Those times are the time He wants to teach us and to challenge us and to help us grow!

So step back and take a look at where you are right now. Are you lost in the “in-between”? Are you working to figure things out on your own the best you can and forgetting that God wants nothing more than to reveal to you all the answers? Stop. Put God First. Pursue God now. Run towards Him as fast as you can. Take a look at Jeremiah 29:11. He is promising you that He wants you to prosper and that He plans to give you hope and a future. It may not come in the exact package you ordered. It may look very different from what you expected.  But put your faith in Him, put your trust in Him.Don’t take God’s love for granted, don’t cheat Him. Love Him now like you love Him when everything is going well. Seek His face–seek His guidance. He longs to love you NOW.

There is no “in-between”. There is here and now. And there is God, always.

What Does It Look Like?: Godly Men (part 6)

Picking up again, let’s continue to dig into what it looks like to be a Godly man. I realize this study is taking quite a while, so I am going to begin to pick up the pace a bit. After all, I am still eager to break down what it looks like to be a Godly woman, as well as what Godly relationships should look like! There is so much, still, to cover. However, I appreciate you all continuing to follow. The feedback I have been receiving from both men and women, alike, has been so beautiful.  I am humbled in your interest and so affirmed that the words decorating this blog are inspired by and blessed by God.  So, if you are just joining, take a look at parts 1 through 5 of this study before you read this portion. But here goes…

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to but one wife, temperate, self-controlled…

…respectable, hospitable…

Chivalry is dead. How many times have we heard this saying?  It’s become an all-too-familiar mantra in our society.  But who’s to blame? Who’s responsible for the murder? Are the men to blame…or the women? And is chivalry truly lost–or is it harbored in us all, stifled by the norms of our culture–left unlearned and uncultivated?

My opinion: I blame the women. And I blame the men. But I don’t blame them for the death of chivalry–I blame them for giving life to the silly phrase. For exacerbating the problem.  For giving in rather than rising up and requiring more. Is chivalry dead–no. Is it wounded–MOST DEFINITELY. And who’s truly to blame for that–Satan.  Before you dismiss me as crazy, give me a chance to explain. You may find that I support your side of the argument, after all.

Throughout this entire study of what it looks like to be a Godly man, one of the most prevalent reoccurring themes is that living for the glory of God is NOT easy.  I’m not trying to fool anyone here.  It’s tough stuff striving to live a righteous life.  We fail a lot; both men and women alike.  We are fallible, we are human. That’s our nature.  Fortunately, we are saved by grace. And every time we fall, God gives us the opportunity to stand up, brush ourselves off, and start fresh with a clean slate.  We can never fail too many times, His love is unconditional.  He is always prepared to forgive us and always proud to love us. That’s what Jesus Christ’s sacrifice did for us.

So why, with all that said, do we not capitalize on that forgiveness and that grace?  It is offered to us in limitless quantity. Yet when we stumble and we fall, we settle for a life in the dirt.  Is it guilt that binds us? Is it fear? Guilt and fear aren’t in God’s dictionary–so why do we allow them to be in bold in ours?  This portion of the 1 Timothy verse addresses a man’s responsibility to be respectable and hospitable.  Two terms that many may argue are framework terms to define chivalry. They are powerful requirements, they are character attributes that take work and commitment.  Yet God calls us to strive for them.  So why do we settle for less?–because Satan makes anything “less” SO much easier.

It’s no secret that our society’s view on manners and behavior have drastically changed over time.  Men used to open doors for women. Now women kick down doors for themselves. Men used to court women patiently and lovingly. Now Vegas offers quicky-weddings and quicky-enullments in a package deal. Women used to respect themselves enough to hold on to their purity until their wedding day. Now we have middle schoolers pressured to have sex to feel accepted and popular–to “keep up” with society around them.  I don’t mean to be crude–I mean to be REAL.

I’m going to be painfully direct, blunt, and straightforward here. So if you don’t want a harsh reality check then skip the next two paragraphs.  This is going to call out men and women, alike–no one is safe. Men: get over yourselves and man up. For real, man up.  Stop settling for what’s easy. Stop settling for what’s temporary and fast because you don’t want to put work in.  You’re weak if that’s how you function through life.  The quick-route requires low integrity, low discipline, and low self-esteem.  I don’t care if that’s what the rest of the world praises and exaggerates.  I don’t care if that’s what your friends or your teammates or your buddies are doing.  Grow a set and be different.  Set a better example.  Stop numbing yourself and be a REAL man. There’s no more “This is fun now while I’m in college, I’ll man up later when it matters…”  Man-up now. It matters NOW. You have the power to be a real leader.  You have the power to inspire. You have the opportunity to experience grace and be strengthened in Christ.  Stop trying so hard to control it all on your own–you’re not good at it.

Women: it’s not all the men’s fault.  We are just as big of messes as they are.  Stop making it easy for them. Stop settling–better DOES exist.  Stop giving to the temporary and start valuing yourself.  Snap out of the self-esteem issues–there are people that are much worse off than you.  There are people who are truly suffering.  You comparing your beauty to other women’s beauty and then giving yourself up to men in order to feel desired–it’s a tired routine.  You are worth a King’s life.  Start living like that carries value to you.  Start living like it matters to you that Jesus Christ died for you.  We are fallible humans that are easily tempted. Stop teasing men.  How can we expect them to treat us with chivalry and respect and hospitality if we are tempting them and teasing them and inviting their imaginations to wander?  If that’s what makes you feel better about yourself, I feel bad for you.  Have some self respect.  If you want more from men, there has to be a give and take.  RESPECT THEM BY RESPECTING YOURSELF, FIRST.

Satan is having so much fun with our world.  He is tearing it down, bit by bit, and celebrating our society’s slide towards heathenism and self-obsession.  What adds fuel to his fire?–When we confirm his corruption by feeding into phrases like “Chivalry is dead.” Chivalry is NOT dead.  Nor will it ever be.  They may be few and far between, but there ARE men out there who are striving to live righteous lives.  There ARE men out there who are holding fast to what the Bible asks of them and who ARE respectable and hospitable…and temperate, and self-controlled, and faithful, and all of the above.  Have those men lived perfect lives? NO! Have they never slipped of failed or denied Christ? Of course not! Nobody is perfect.  But there are men who desire to be BETTER.  I believe that with my whole heart.  If you are one of those men, you have my respect. You may be different…you may stand out…you may not be accepted as easily because you make different choices than the average man.  There is NOTHING wrong with that.  In fact, celebrate it! Because YOU are a real man–and you will be rewarded. I can promise that because our King promises us that.

Stay encouraged, men. Fight the good fight of faith.  And stay encouraged, women.  The less we settle, the more it requires of men.  You deserve the best, so require the best.  Don’t let that self-worth waver.  Men and women, if we want to improve this world, if we want to be a generation of change and righteous growth, we HAVE to require MORE from one another.  We HAVE to hold one another responsible and we have to be unashamed of standing out–no matter how much scrutiny or doubt or criticism we fall under.  Chivalry is very much alive because the words of the Bible are very much alive–nothing should ever shake our belief in that.

(to be continued…)

Under Attack

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Satan is clever.  He is sly, and smooth, and cynical.  Satan is patient. He waits calm, and quiet, and still.  Satan is smart. He is crafty, and tricky, and subtle.  It’s almost been a full month since I have posted last.  Can you believe that?–a month. When I began this blog, I was posting every single day.  Heck, I was so eager to write and to share, I was writing 3 to 4 posts a day, and saving them so that they could slowly filter out.  I was on fire! Passionate, burning, uncontrollable.  Obsessed.

Have you been there? Riding strong on a spiritual high? Invincible in His grace.  Unashamed and impossible to silence? Thirsty for the Word and nourished by devotion.  Obsessed? God fills your thoughts, He fills your time, He fills your mind.  Every decision you make is decidedly executed with Christ in mind.  Every word spoken is delicately selected and the words pour from you with energy and passion and joy.  There is a light-heartedess in your spirit.  There is a curiosity and a desire and an eagerness to learn and to share.  You scoff at your old ways, baffled by how you could have ever been tempted by that which was earthly–how you could have ever been so naive.  Committed to living for Christ–committed to maintaining this sprinter’s pace and committed to being the absolute best example you can be for your friends, your family, your co-workers.  Committed to being different.

Then 6 months pass and you find yourself in an uncommon moment.  A moment of free time in your crazy schedule–a moment of quiet time that you typically would have filled up with another check off the “to-do” list.  But in that moment you take the offered breather and you think…life is still on course.  It is comfortable, steady, placid.  You flip through the elements of your “world”. Work…school…family…finances…schedules…vacations…boyfriends, girlfriends…sports……………faith. Hmm, faith. Well you went to church a few Sundays ago. You prayed a few times when your best friend’s mom was sick. You tossed a few coins in that homeless man’s cup.  You wrapped up all of your emails with a “God Bless!” Oh, and you posted a few Bible verses on facebook and Twitter.  You let your mind wander, you feel that guilt start to boil up, you list off mental excuses and exceptions. Then you rationalize that you will read your Bible more often. You’ll go to church this Sunday.  You’ll start praying every night again.

Have you been there? Be honest. Are you there right now?

I am.

I’m ashamed. Ashamed because I know Satan is smiling.  In a swift six months he has done it again.  He has slowly and steadily weaseled his way between myself and my King.  I know what you’re probably thinking–“Oh my gosh, she’s about to tell us that she cracked.  She had to have broken her ‘Kissless ‘Till Next Christmas vow. She didn’t make it! She…”  Take a deep breath. All is well. I am still going strong on the intimacy fast. In fact, stronger than strong! Yes, the first few months were tough, but we serve a fantastic King. And He lifted that temptation and pressure with ease. So no, I haven’t struggled with the intimacy element of the fast, but I have allowed Satan to sit down at the table and deal his hand of cards.

Just so you know, I’m choosing to share this next portion with you, because I want you to see just how human I am.  Ever since I began this journey, I’ve received so many messages and comments challenging my position. I think people, especially young people my age, have been so confused as to why I would ever start an intimacy fast.–For God? Are you crazy? You’re a senior in college. What are you trying to prove? Who do you think you’re better than? Oh man, you must just be the perfect Christian.  You’ve got that whole God thing figured out, huh? Guess you’re ‘Holier than Thou’. Bible-thumper. Jesus Freak. Blah…blah…blah…–You name it, I’ve heard it.  And while it breaks my heart that people are so apt to put up walls so quickly, I hope some people can come to understand that I’m just as human as everyone else.  My walk is filled with just as many ups and downs. My relationship with Christ is filled with just as much confusion, and inconsistency, and challenges.

Case in point: the place I’m at right this moment.  The other day an executive producer from Fox flew in to spend the day filming me so that they could show my story on an episode of “The Real Winning Edge”, a nationally-syndicated, Christian-based television program that runs on their network. Holy cow.  That is a big deal for a number of reasons: #1. It was overwhelmingly humbling that they wanted to tell my story.  I’m still so incredibly honored to have even been a part of their production. #2. A CHRISTIAN-BASED television program on a major network like FOX? That’s rare. So rare. And so special. #3. This was a project with a great deal of money invested into it, and it was all for the glory of God. All three of those things still boggle my mind.  And the reason I explain it all is so that you can appreciate how rare, how special, and how divine this whole production truly was. A once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity.  How could anyone be anything but overjoyed to be a part of something like that?

I wasn’t.  I woke up that morning irritable, cranky, hateful, and shrewd.  My precious mom had flown all the way in from Georgia to help me throughout the day, and from the moment I woke up I was nothing but short with her.  We had a production schedule that was so jam-packed there was hardly a moment to breath, and this was a day that needed to go off without a hitch.  I was bloated, I was stuffed-up, I was hot, my skin was breaking out in rashes, I was miserable.  Throughout that morning, I was able to put on a smile for the producer and crew, but anytime I got behind a closed door or alone with my mom, I turned into a monster.  Everything was going wrong, we were off-schedule from the start, and I was as cruel as cruel comes. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I felt so terrible. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I was so hostile and irritable, and filled with empty tears.  The best way I can describe it is to say that I felt like I was about to explode.  I was at a breaking point….

Right before lunch, my mom sat me down on an empty couch we found while we were waiting for the crew to gather their equipment.  Without saying much, she simply took my hands and began to pray.  My mom must have prayed over me for 4 or 5 minutes, but time seemed to pause.  As I heard her intently and diligently praying words of simple beauty and earnest request, I found myself in that “moment” I mentioned at the beginning of this post–a moment of stillness and peace that I hadn’t experienced in far too long. When had my passion softened? Where had my enthusiasm and spirit and energy been hidden? Was it beneath my heavy summer school load? Had I overshadowed my eager faith with the complications of my crazy schedule? When was it that I allowed my time to be filled in front of the TV at night, rather than in the Word?

I realized that Satan had been sneaky.  He had been slow and subtle and sly, as he usual tends to be.  As the months had passed since the beginning of the year, Satan had been patient.  He had slowly and purposefully distracted me, simple moments at a time, from growth in my faith.  It started with missing my quiet time in the Word, one night, because I was simply a little too tired.  Next, it was putting off posting on my blog, because I had a school assignment I had procrastinated on.  Then, missing church, too exhausted from workouts throughout the week to pass up sleeping in just one day.  Little things became often things. Often things became regular things. Regular things became forgotten things. And six months later I found myself weak enough to be vulnerable to attack.

Have we not all experienced it? Mountain-top spiritual moments, followed by gradual valleys in our faith.  Too busy, too tired, too tempted. I found myself weakened to a dangerous point on that special day, a day I typically would have rejoiced in, made the most of, and celebrated for Christ.  On that special day–a day dedicated to the glory of God–a day specifically devoted to sharing the gospel and sharing how our magnificent King has moved in my life–a day perfectly constructed to inspire and teach and love–Satan attacked.  I was overwhelmed by a spiritual warfare and under absolute attack. You see, Satan knows how to hit us the hardest.  He knows where we hurt the most.  For me, when he bullies me, he doesn’t aim to affect anything around me–he goes straight for my body.  He attacks my health first.  My body  has always manifested grief and stress physically.  I get sick, I get hives, I run fever. I battle nausea, my skin blisters, my stomach nots.  He loves to toy with my body, he always has.  And he knows how ill I truly become. Then, he attacks my emotions–capitalizing on my resting depression, capitalizing on my quick irritability and my trauma-proned anxiety. He wraps me up in my own head, distracts me with myself, and laughs as I weaken.

You see, that’s how Satan works.  He slides in, inch by inch, when we allow our lives to run us. He waits, patiently, gradually distracting us. He takes small opportunities, wins small battles in our spirits, and then when he deems fit, overwhelms us and wins us back.  He makes us feel like we’ve fallen too far. He makes us feel like if we go crawling back now, asking for forgiveness, God would surely judge us.  Others would surely judge us.  We’d slipped up yet again, surely we’re out of chances.

WRONG! So wrong. So fantastically wrong.  Don’t let yourself believe Satan’s lies.  Don’t let yourself get tangled up in guilt! As my mom prayed over me, I literally felt a cloak of anxiety, depression, fatigue, heat, weight…lift completely off of my back.  And where the nasty cloak lifted, a cool and reviving stream tickled up my spine.  An assuring, comforting, loving GRACE blanketed me in peace.  With the freedom from that cloak, a fresh page was turned.  I was breathed new life, literally relieved from attack.  Do you understand? God never tires of turning that fresh page for you.  Guilt, depression, anxiety, hatred…these are all things of Satan. These are all things that God yearns to relieve us from! Jesus Christ died on the cross for our souls so that God can turn a new page every single time we come to Him. The rest of that day I was alleviated from my angst. Rejuvenated, positive, and able to rejoice in the purpose of the moment.  My mom’s tiny hands and heart-felt prayers packed more punch than Satan could ever handle. How? Because she called on the Holy Spirit.  She prayed to a God that makes Satan look like a chump.  She prayed to a God who assures us that no task is too big or too small for Him to overcome.  She prayed to a God who yearns to hear our prayers and to work through us.  Through those simple, sweet hands, she silenced Satan and freed me from an attack that had been in the works for months.

You guys, I stumble. I stumble and fall and stumble again.  I let Satan get in the way. I let my schedule get in the way. I’m dismissive to conviction and I ignore God, daily. But, you guys, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Runners in marathons need fuel–FUEL YOUR HEARTS WITH SERVICE FOR OTHERS. Runners need water–HYDRATE YOUR SPIRIT WITH CONSTANT PRAYER.  Runners need rest–REST IN THE WORD OF GOD! Serve. Pray. Read. I often have to remind myself, that I am literally filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is literally living in me. What’s impossible? Nothing.  What can’t be overcome? Nothing. Satan is good at waging war. He will be patient and take small battles. The only thing preventing us from freeing ourselves from his grip is OURSELVES. Set aside time, set aside pride, set aside self.

Be revitalized! God is ready to turn your page and reignite your passion, too.

Be still. Know that He is God. Know that HE has overcome the world…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

“Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12