Thriving Through Transition

Today I noticed the sky. I mean I really realized it was there. I was even taken off guard by this revelation. Yes, I know that big blue area above us is the sky. But, today I looked up out of my car windshield to see a vast layer of pale sapphire beauty and I sat at the stoplight in awe. Rows of stratus clouds seemed to line the heavens. This was the first time in a while I had been mesmerized by the all consuming Creation around me. Why was this? The Creation around me had not gone anywhere. I have been living in the midst of God’s handiwork all twenty-two years of my life. But, when I looked up out of my window today it was as if I was staring in the face of the Lord. That sounds completely ridiculous right? 

The truth is I have been going through some transitions in my life. I know some of you out there can relate. This season has not been the most fun one I have ever walked through. Rather than walking through this season it feels like I have been falling downhill, then God will pick me up, dust me off, and gently hold my hand, but then I fall down again and He picks me right back up. The cycle has been ongoing. Looking up at that pale sapphire layer of beauty we call the sky today was one of those moments God was picking me back up again, gently grasping my hand, and guiding me back to the avenue He’s appointed for me. 

He meets us right where we are at even if that place happens to be in the car on the way home from Starbucks. It was an unexpected moment of Him showing me his bigness. You see, the world around us may be spinning at a hundred miles an hour, but He stands firm. He is the rock that will never move. God has no intention of sitting on the throne and leaving us to figure out lives by ourselves. No, He’s right there in the midst of our mess and ever changing worlds. God is our one constant. Everything in this life can be taken away, but He will never leave and can never be stolen from us. 

For the next six weeks on the United House Publishing Blog we will be talking all about transition. We’re going to learn how to “Thrive Through Transition.” If you are feeling lonely today or dizzy from the fast spinning world around you, go listen to the song “Good and Loved” by Steffany Gretzinger and Travis Greene. Remember God is good and He loves you. He will always be beside you through every season to pick you up, dust you off, take you by the hand, and lead you back to Him. 

This Is What Dreams Are Made Of

What’s got you in a slump right now? What’s making you feel stuck? It seems as if our lives get so task-driven and we slowly and gradually get drawn into a slump. Of course, tasks aren’t always a bad thing. Goals are great and tasks are essential in life. But, in our first-world, westernized society it seems like we forget the importance of building relationships and seeking our true passions. I am guilty of this and I know that most of America is as well. Once we hit college graduation (maybe even before this) we stop dreaming. “Real life” gets in the way and suddenly we just have to have enough money in our bank accounts to pay the bills. In the meantime, dreams are put on hold and eventually fade away. 

We fill our schedules from eight a.m. all the way to bed time every single day. I had the following revelation over the weekend: How is God going to bless a path He didn’t call me to? How is He going to move in my life if I’m not intentional about seeking Him? How is He to move in your life if you’re not making your schedule according to Him? Of course He’s the Almighty and He can move anywhere at anytime despite any of the barriers we put up, but if we have a dream we have to first decide to obey and be faithful.  

Friend, the only way to set your dream in motion is by faith in Jesus. If what you have is a calling given to you by God then the only way to see it come to fruition is to step out. As cheesy as it may sound, you have to step out in faith. You have to do it afraid. You can’t wait until you’re not scared anymore because then it simply will never happen. 

Trust me, you’ll know if it’s a calling from God because you won’t be able to get away from it. It’ll stay right on top of your shoulder until you decide to come to your senses and obey. The Holy Spirit won’t let you run away. Pursuing your dreams isn’t a cute tagline that Walt Disney created. God set dreams and passions inside of each and every person when He so lovingly knit us together. Godly dreams and desires were meant to become a reality. The passion that stirs up inside you was meant to be acted upon. What if that passion you have is really a calling you’re sitting on? What if that dream is what is supposed to spark they journey God has called you to? First we have to obey and step out in faith. Whatever your dream, whatever your passion, step out today and do it afraid. 

 

Here Goes Nothing…

I’m about to share a very personal life story with you and I’m not completely settled on it. But, the reason I feel led to share this story with you is because I know that someone out there has to feel what I feel. There has to be someone out there going through something similar. So, here goes nothing.

For those of you who know me closely, you know that I’ve been in a serious relationship with a guy for about seven years now. This was the guy who I thought was the love of my life. We were supposed to get married, get a house, have babies, do the whole thing. Until a few weeks ago. Do you ever feel God telling you something that you don’t want to hear, so you cram it in the back of your mind hoping that it will never rear it’s head? I sure do. This is where I was at a few months ago. I could feel God telling me it was time to let this one person go. I didn’t want to hear that, so for a long time I tried to keep it tucked away hoping it would disappear. I hoped God would forget about what He was telling me to do. (Because that always works out so well.) You know how some people are in your life for a season? I’ve never felt the weight of how true that is until right now in my life. 

Of course, I’ve had people I care about walk out of my life for one reason or another but never to this capacity. This is someone I saw a future with. I was sure this person was “the one.” It got to the point where I was even praying that God would change His mind. Maybe He hadn’t thought it through all the way? (Isn’t that a laugh?) But, what I realized is that I had grown comfortable with my life. I had become unwilling to go where the Lord led me because I was obsessed with staying in my comfort zone which was with this person. I had become settled in my cookie cutter plan for my life that I had created all on my own. Yes, I had included God in my plans, but the problem is He was only an add on. I had designed God’s plan around my comfortability. 

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while you know that He’s not a fan of comfort zones. In fact, He calls us out of our them daily. For so long, I had been ignoring His nudge for me to move in a direction where I wasn’t sure of the outcome. Once I did take a leap of faith and end the relationship with this person it was uncomfortable. It’s still a little uncomfortable if I’m being fully honest. I haven’t been just Annie for seven years. I don’t even know what it means to be an adult on my own. (On the other hand, shout out to all you high school sweethearts out there who made it through. That’s rare and hard work and I applaud you.) 

I have to tell you, over these past few weeks I’ve been able to taste how sweet it is for it to be just Jesus and I. I’ve grown so much closer to Him, and I can’t tell you how refreshed and relieved it has made me feel to be obedient. I have so much more hope for the future than I did before. If you are single and yearning for someone, I want to encourage you to enjoy this alone time with Jesus. He’s going to use it to grow and prepare you for what (or who) is next. All the while make sure you’re praying for the someone that He has for you. 

He has you here for a reason and nothing is ever wasted. He uses every bit of every moment, memory, regret, hurt, disappointment, and happiness for good. Run hard to Him because He has never once stopped pursuing you. Let Him be the example of what a relationship with an earthly spouse should be and when the time is right He’ll send you that person. I for one have never been more excited to flourish where God has me planted than right now.

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In The Process

God has always been notorious for taking something that’s just okay and turning it into something magnificent. A lot of times we think our lives are going pretty decent, but God says He wants to give us an amazing and fulfilled life. Did you read those words? What kind of life does God want us to have? An amazing and fulfilled one. He never wants us to settle for mediocre. He surely did not settle for mediocre when He created you and I, nor did He die on a cross for you to live a mediocre life. He created us in His own image. Some words that we use to describe God are beautiful, wonderful, majestic, amazing, and so on. That is the image God set us in for us to reflect. He created us to be all of those things. We were never meant to be God but we were intended to be Godly. We were intended to live a fulfilled life in Jesus. 

I will be the first to tell you that it is a process. Especially if you are a bit of a control freak like me, and you want to measure out the lines of your life’s blueprints. You want to determine your path and dodge whatever hurt you see coming. I get it, but if we want a fulfilled life then we have to take up our cross and go where Jesus leads. Take up your cross even if you foresee the hurt that might come. I love that God doesn’t point to where He wants us to go, but He leads the way. He doesn’t send His children on a journey by themselves. He is always there leading the way. Never will He ever send you somewhere He has not set foot before. 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-26

Let me tell you, there is a purpose for the process. There is a purpose for YOUR process. Maybe the situation you’re in flat out sucks, but I want to tell you that God never ever wastes a hurt. He never wastes anything, but He uses everything. Hold on, friend, because Jesus is in the process of making you magnificent. 

Praise is Medicine

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Psalm 104 (CSB) declares, “My soul praise Yahweh! Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with majesty and splendor. He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, laying the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind, and making the winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants. He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken. You covered it with the deep as if it were a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke the waters fled; at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away- mountains rose and valleys sank- to the place You established for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; they will never cover the earth again. He causes the springs to gush into the valleys; they flow between the mountains. They supply water for every wild beast; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the sky live beside the springs; they sing among the foliage. He waters the mountains from His palace; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of Your labor. He causes grass to grow for the livestock and provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth, wine that makes man’s heart glad- making his face shine with oil- and bread that sustains man’s heart. The trees of the Lord flourish, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork makes its home in the pine trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for hyraxes. He made the moon to mark the festivals; the sun knows when to set. You bring darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals stir. The young lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises; they go back and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening. How countless are your works, Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number- living things both large and small. There the ships move about, and Leviathan, which you formed to play there. All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time. When You give it to them, they gather it; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When You hide Your face, they are terrified; when You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When You send Your breath they are created, and You renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. He looks at the earth and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. My soul, praise Yahweh! Hallelujah!”

When we get down to the essence of this passage we see that God is a Caretaker. He’s our Caretaker. Creation sings to Him full of thankfulness, love, and admiration because of the joy He takes in caring for it. How much more does He care for us? How much more does He love a being He created in His own image. I have uncovered in my own life that praise is medicine. Praising Jesus is healing. When we praise, all of a sudden, our focus is on the bigness of God and the vastness of His love. God is so much bigger than the storm you are being sloshed around in right now. When we praise the One who we came from we are fulfilled. It does not matter what the storm around us looks like. It does not matter what the people around us are saying. When we praise our Jesus every distraction is put aside and every storm is still even for a moment. Our praise is our medicine because it is what we were created to do and it is how we were created to live. In a state of praise. 

Breathing Through The Crazy

It feels like forever since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write for myself. This season in my life has been the busiest one yet. Sometimes our responsibilities can make us feel like we’re in the middle of a tornado. One minute we’re trying to focus on one thing, and then all of the sudden something else gets blown our way. We can’t focus on doing one certain thing really well because our plate is too full for us to handle on our own. 

I can’t handle all of the things I’ve got going on right now and neither can you. But, I know Someone who can. I’m not the best at giving God all of my responsibilities. In fact, sometimes I even cling to my projects because I think I’ll do a better job with them than God can. How silly?! The funny thing is, when I don’t give the Holy Spirit room to move then everything I do turns out be a giant flop. Through this season I’ve realized that I have to surrender my responsibilities to God daily because I don’t have the brain capacity or the physical ability to handle them alone.  That’s what I challenge you to do each day before you even look at your phone and start thinking about the long list you have to have checked off by the end of the day. Allow the Holy Spirit room to move in your day. 

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

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Just Trust

Why is it so hard to trust? Just thinking about trusting someone with one of my important tasks or anything I hold dear to my heart gives me anxiety. Why is it so hard to let people in? Maybe you’re an extroverted people person and you love spilling your guts, dreams, ambitions, and secrets to people. Good for you! I wish I had that gift of extroversion. I’m more of the grudge holding, make it look good on the outside, keep it all inside until I start bursting into flames type. Sure, now I do a little public speaking and occasionally word vomit on the internet, but I have to tell you it took a LONG time to get this far. God had to prepare the heck out of me to be vulnerable. I still hesitate to let people in and sometimes thinking about sharing things about myself makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. 

Why is it so hard to trust others with ourselves? Well, isn’t it obvious? Because in the past people have taken that little bit they have of you and manipulated it, lied about it, and even slandered it. Meaning, they’ve taken your vulnerability and used it to hurt you and others. The biggest reason I ignored God’s call on my life is because I was afraid of getting hurt. Let’s be honest, I’m still terrified of being hurt and abandoned by people. Ministry is great when it’s great, but it’s the WORST when it’s at it’s worst. I’ve lived through it, witnessed it, and held my tongue about it. It’s hard work. This isn’t just true in ministry and the Church, but in literally everything we do. When people have crushed you. You know, when they’ve squished you and the people you love just enough to watch you squirm in pain for a little while. They haven’t completely sucked the life out of you, but it’s enough to scar you for the rest of this side of eternity. Yeah, that pain. Why do people do this? Because they are humans and the enemy works days, nights, and weekends. 

But, guess what? The good news is that God is not human. The good news is you CAN trust Him and He won’t ever do anything to scar or harm you. I mean ever. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding…” Wait, so I’m not supposed to live out of that fear of abandonment or hurt? Instead I’m supposed to trust God with it. The good thing is that God always catches me when we do the trust fall exercise. He has my back. The God of all of Creation has YOUR back. He will see you through the abandonment, the crushing, the squirming, the guilt, and the fear every. dang. time. 

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