When the Darkness Ends

Four years have passed. Four years have passed and the view of my life has drastically changed. I’ve drastically changed.

To say I’m the same person I was when dad got sick and died would be a lie because life and death have altered my experience on Earth.

You see in four extremely short years my foundation and security have been completely restructured. I feel like God grabbed me by one foot and shook me upside down, leaving only the things of Him on me. Everything else has simply fallen to the ground, and been scattered to the wind.

And it hasn’t been all that fun. Losing my foundation was a scary process. One that’s continuously required my full surrender to God, even when He’s had to take certain things without forewarning.

And I know it all sounds a little dramatic… I’m still a little dramatic at heart. However, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve been through for anything. Even my darkest days are worth more than anything of monetary value because they’ve helped cultivate my very heart and soul for the better.

And I don’t know where all of this leads next. I do know that life, life for me, my mother and my sister is transitioning and moving forward. We’re all three setting sail towards new adventures in different places. Places that will for sure be filled with good and evil of all sorts.. However, I’m excited. I’m excited about the challenge ahead and the unknown. And more than anything, I hope to encourage others to just keep moving forward. Even when the possible seems impossible, it’s important to just keep moving.

And sometimes movement is no more than a prayer and a positive thought for the day, but I promise it’s helpful to your heart and soul. Because eventually the darkness ends, the lights come on and you just sit there in awe of how good God has been to truly bring you through the things you thought might’ve destroyed you in the pitch black.

Downfall of Me

Forward doesn’t seem as scary as it used to. You see forward with the Holy Spirit used to cause great fear, anxiety and worry inside of me because I constantly looked around at the lives of others and how I didn’t match up. I was obsessed with the reality that I wasn’t getting what I wanted in life because I was choosing to follow through with His will and His plan.

However, 2018 has been a new year for the way I choose to do life. God has constantly and consistently backed me into a corner and removed fear, anxiety and worry from my heart.

And He’s actually taught me that the greatest thing I can choose to do with my life is follow Him and His complete will.

Now before this year I would’ve told you that I knew how to follow the will of God over my own. I probably would’ve tried to convince you that I was good at it too.

However, I’ve learned that I was so wrong. Wrong because to actually follow what He wants for our lives is challenging. It’s definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever consistently done.

Because He constantly asks that we set down our own agendas, pride, fear and dreams to follow His divine will and plan.

And if you’re anything like me, well it’s easy to live in this selfish world and whine about His request to abandon your own will for His.

But, in doing so, I’ve found more peace, more hope, more love, more grace and more actual fulfillment than I ever did living life the other way.

So… I’m happy to report that it might seem peculiar and uncommon to completely surrender your wants, dreams and ambitions to God. However, it’s worth it. It’s worth every heart that you encounter that needs to see a little piece of Jesus. It’s worth letting go of selfishness and self-centeredness to be all that He needs us to be and nothing more or less. Because, at the end of the day, I believe His plan and will is all that truly eternally matters for us.

Victorious Life

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. Being in full-time ministry, I continuously heard her speak to people about living a victorious life through Christ.

She always spoke about the trial and tribulation we go through in life, but how He brings us through and causes us to be victorious through Him alone.

Well, until this year I never really understood what that meant. You see my entire life I’ve grown up believing in a lot of things I’ve never truly experienced. So, now as I begin to experience real trial and tribulation in life, it’s like these truths in my life are really put to the test and I’m left to discover how real they actually are.

Time and time again I’ve found myself in dark and dreadful situations. Dangerous places that no one would willingly walk into. But, then in the midst of them all I find God, and He gives me the power, faith and authority to stand up to the death and darkness so I can walk out the victor.

Truthfully without His help I’d be the loser. The one who didn’t conquer the dead and dreary. The one who’s been beaten up and destroyed completely; however, I now see that He wants us to live a victorious life.

I believe that Christ died so that we can walk through the ugly parts of life but come out on top. I believe that He is about us reigning with Him in victory. You see, being victorious is a lifestyle. It’s actually a cultivated lifestyle we come by when we choose to just follow Him where He leads. And yeah, sometimes His direction seems poor, confusing and misleading. But I’m learning that He is always right and true and faithful through it all.

And that if we can just remain diligent to Him and His ways. If we can simply praise Him and remain grateful in the midst of what seems painfully dark and challenging, well we will eventually walk out a champion and victor of life.

And, well… Who doesn’t want to be the victor?!

She Swings a Sword

Have you ever willingly walked into a season of life before unaware of what’s ahead? Knowing deep in your heart it’s the best thing you can choose to do, but then also hating the fact that you have to set aside your own life?

That’s where my life has been for a year and a half… Completely glued to the reality that my family lost more than we could seemingly navigate through on our own.

And yes, I’ve complained for a good portion of this journey at home in Shreveport. I’ve been angry and frustrated with God. I’ve questioned Him up and down for His plan and way with my life.

You see, for almost 8 months now I feel like I’ve been at war with God. An inward struggle has been taking place inside of me. A real wrestling with the Almighty that’s caused me to hold Him to His words about life, truth, grace, restoration and Jesus.

It’s like He’s been standing in front of me on a training field with a sword, pushing me every way possible to learn how to fight back and defend myself with His truth in my hands.

And I’m not entirely sure what the training ground is preparing me for because I haven’t seen the battlefield He’s taking me to yet. But, I do see that the world is the darkest version of itself it’s ever been. And so I know that a great war is eminently approaching.

So, more than anything, I’m grateful that He’s pushed me past my limits. I’m cheerful for the opposition that’s taken place in my soul. And though He’s never harmed me or taken me into a truthfully harmful place, He has positioned me to become a warrior… A warrior who gracefully, yet powerfully swings a sword of life and truth in the face of fear, darkness, death and destruction.

Immovable Mountain?

What happens when the situation… When the problem… When the mountain wouldn’t seem to move?

How do we react when we know God is working, but we can’t seem to understand why He can’t show off and make the big problem instantly disappear?

All these years of following and He still continues to be the strangest, yet most fascinating mystery to me. I’ve never met anyone like Him, and I hope I never do.

Since the year’s started I’ve gotten pretty adjusted to living in today, without planning ahead. Each day is basically a mystery waiting to be solved. However, the sell of my family’s home still continues to baffle me. It’s still ours. We still live in it and pay for it. We are still patiently waiting for the buyer to come.

And though I’ve spent a good amount of time wrestling with God over His lack of “magic,” I’m now coming to a place where I’m actually grateful it hasn’t sold yet. Because, rather than see the mountain disappear, I’ve had to follow God up and over it. Which has been a wild adventure for my insecurities, fear and shame.

You see it’s been a steep and very challenging mountain to climb. One that has required more of me than I ever imagined I could give. And, just when I begin to think I can’t take another step forward, I look down and remember who’s holding my hand. I remember that I’m following the steps of the God that is greater than all of the problems in front of me. And though I’d like them to disappear, conquering them with His help has been so much more fun!

He’s shown me that there’s nothing to really, truly fear at all. Nothing can destroy me when He’s got my back. And I believe my time in Shreveport has become a place where I’ve had to wrestle with God over who He actually is. And as the wrestling is coming to an end, I am able to step back and realize this is the very place He’s always wanted me to be. In a place where I will not stand down because I will hold Him accountable to His words and promises as He pushes me to be the very best version of myself possible.

And I don’t know what this entire season of life is meant for in my future. I keep telling mom I don’t understand why it’s necessary to be so strong in Him and His ways. But, I do see that His lack of moving this mountain of problems is quickly becoming the greatest mountain of purpose.

Painless Days

Remember a few months ago when I said I was doing a lot ofoff road following with God?.. Well, guess what?… We’re still “off road” and I honestly have no idea where I’m going…

Plus, to make things a little bit riskier, my “New Year’s resolution” is to not plan… To not think ahead of today… To just be in the now… To let life and God surprise me… To get really up close and personal with the unknown and unfamiliar…

And, although it might sound ridiculous, I’m quickly learning that life is much better like this… There are less things to stress and worry about and more things to enjoy… Because if I’m being completely honest with myself, stress and worry only create unnecessary pain in my life…

And… I don’t really need anymore pain… It’s taken far too long to get rid of the pain of the past… Creating more is just, well it’s exhausting…

But this idea of living one day at a time… Not thinking about tomorrow… Not stressing about next week… Not wondering where I’ll be when this house sells…

This idea is giving me life…

It’s providing me with what seems like more time to rest and relax in the truth that God is going to continue to meet right where I am… That I don’t have to make anything happen any faster than it’s supposed to happen… And, that if I can just continue to stay diligent and disciplined to Him and His ways, well we will continue to make a great team that moves forward in life…

And honestly it’s taken me a long time to be at a place where I can let go of my control… In my mind, my control somehow guarantees I won’t lose in life… Somehow I’ve convinced myself that pain and problems won’t happen if I can predict tomorrow…

But, you know what? Letting go of tomorrow has actually given me the energy to be in today… And if a problem does arise, it’s so much easier to find a solution without the worries of tomorrow and next week getting in my way… My soul feels lighter too, and I can actually think without impending emotions getting in my way…

So, I know it goes against the curve and culture of today, but I’m just fine with just living in the present… I mean, we only have now anyway… Right?

Sassy and Entitled

When I was 14 years old all I wanted was a pink iPod mini… I mean, Apple had just really started to become cool and I “needed” one…

However, my parents didn’t just buy us whatever we wanted when we wanted it… We’d almost always have to wait until a birthday or Christmas… So I knew this was going to take some great convincing on my end…

For days I went round and round explaining to dad why I needed this new gadget… Finally, he decided if I helped him clean up his job site he would give me the money for the iPod mini…

So I agreed… And, for two weeks, in the heat of a Louisiana summer I cleaned up sheetrock inside of a 3-story house he was completing…

Of course, there were days  that I would whine and complain and get super sassy… I mean, “Come on, can’t dad just give me the money now” is all I would think…

But he was persistent that I finish the job and finish it well…

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t mind getting dirty or working hard today, but in that moment I was not about having to walk 3 houses down from my house everyday to be the clean up crew… I mean, I was super entitled

Entitlement… It’s a interesting word… An interesting word that I keep bumping into in the most random places… I’ve actually come face-to-face with it so many times lately that I decided to really search myself out… Asking God to reveal how entitled my heart is…

And, you know what I found?… I’ve discovered that deep in my heart is a place that believes I deserve all of the goodness around me… Somewhere in there my mind is convinced that life should stay on the rise, without falter…

I honestly believe I’ve taken complete and total advantage of the blessings I have too…

For example, this house we live in right now… All I can seem to focus on is the fact that it won’t sell and that we are losing money because of it… I can’t seem to see that I should be grateful to have the opportunity to even live in a house like this… I mean, I didn’t work hard to make the money to afford it… That’s what my parents did…

I also didn’t work hard for the finances that are paying the bulk of the bills to be here… Again, my parents did that… But I am so sassy all of the time about how much it sucks that we are in this situation…

I keep forgetting that I need to continue to cultivate a lifestyle of gratefulness... My heart and soul keep tip-toeing around the truth that the life I live is free from a lot of baggage, but that other people (and God) worked really hard so that I can live this way…

It wasn’t free for some… I had to watch my parents overcome a lot of adversity to build what my mom has today… It wasn’t a walk in the park for them…

And I don’t want to be entitled… Quite honestly I can’t stand to be around it when I see it in others… But then, well I reject it so harshly inside of myself…

You see, I guess what I am trying to express is that I need God to really help me become grateful for the things I don’t deserve but have been given… I really need Him to help me cultivate another level of humility…. A level that is willing to stay small because my identity and faith is in Him and Him alone… A mindset that is fixed on the truth that His Son gave me the freedom to live a lifestyle free from pain… And that, when I encounter pain, He will use what I don’t really deserve to rebuild and restore an area of my heart and soul… An area that is a little darker and eviler than it should be… An area that is longing to be filled with so much grace and gratitude…