Building Character… One Wrong At a Time

Growing up, I was pretty stubborn. It was my way or the highway. And if you would’ve asked me, when I was a child, I would’ve said that I was never wrong. I can still be this way at times, but my parents did a really great job at teaching me the value of admitting that I’m not always right. I’m human, and there are times that I’m very wrong. We all have moments in which we are wrong and where we make mistakes. A hard lesson to be learned in life is the value of admitting that we aren’t always right.

Like I said before, my parents engrained this value into me at a young age… or at least tried to. One reoccurring thing I loved to defend myself on was answering calls/texts/emails. Let me tell you. I was the champion at saying I’d get back with people and not getting back with them. This goes for just holding nice conversations with my friends to even important work communication. I was just terrible at communication (still am not great). Never take it personal if I don’t respond. It’s just one of my downfalls. But I would never admit that I was wrong for not taking up the responsibility to respond to people. My parents would get on to me about it, and I’d argue day and night to prove that it wasn’t my fault. It would’ve saved many arguments to finally surrender to the fact that I was wrong in my actions and needed to work to be better. Admitting your wrong saves you many arguments and honestly just makes you feel better in the end. It feels nice to know that you did the right thing. You’re more respected when you admit that you made a mistake.

As I’ve gotten older and experienced more of life, I’ve seen the true importance of surrendering and finally admitting “I’m wrong” or “I’ve made a mistake. I’m sorry.” . In every kind of relationship, this characteristic is needed. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made within my relationship with my family, friends and boyfriend. But for every mistake I’ve made, I can truly say that a lesson has been learned. But even today, within those relationships, I struggle to admit that I’m wrong. It’s human nature. Let’s go back to the first humans on the Earth and see how they reacted when they made a huge mistake.

Genesis 3: 1-13

1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man[a] and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

Adam and Eve clearly do not want to admit up to their mistakes. Instead, they point fingers. This proves that from the beginning, human nature causes humans to not want to admit up to their wrongs. We like to be right. We don’t like to feel that we have disappointed. Although, the right thing to do is acknowledge our wrong turn and make it right. My mom and I were talking about this topic, and she mentioned something that really stood out to me. She said that within the workplace there is respect that is given to you when you admit your mistakes. Not shame. Most of the time, there is a solution to what you messed up, and your boss is going to appreciate your integrity. That goes with anything in life. God didn’t create you to always be right. God knows you’re going to make the wrong choices. God doesn’t condemn you for that, but He certainly does value you acknowledging your wrongdoings. Once you recognize where you’ve gone wrong, there are reparations that can be made.

Right now, we live in a world that doesn’t like to be wrong. Our world doesn’t even like to admit we make mistakes, and it’s time to change that. In order to improve our character and live more Christlike, we need to start valuing this characteristic.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Just Breathe

A couple of years ago, I was driving in the car alone, when a song came on Air1 that really caught my attention. I remember being overwhelmed in that moment. I was out and about, trying to get a million things done. The song was super fast paced in the first verse, and the lyrics were naming off the millions of things a person had to get done. I remember thinking of how much I related to the person that the lyrics were describing. And then all of a sudden the chorus came in. It said…

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

All I remember in that moment was a feeling of relief came over me. I don’t really know why exactly. If I was to guess, it was because I was reminded that it is okay to slow my mind down. It’s okay to slow down, and give myself a break. It’s okay for you to do the same.

But so many times, we tell ourselves that it isn’t okay to slow down. We are constantly caught up in a fast-paced society that doesn’t bring true joy. We may have satisfaction in ourselves when we cross another thing off our to-do-list, but it doesn’t bring us fulfillment. After one thing is crossed off, our mind is just on to the next. Honestly, with living like this, how does our mind ever get a break? Instead of living in the present, we tend to get a mindset where all we think about is what we have to get done in the future.

When the coronavirus shut life down as we once knew it, we were forced to do something that we don’t know very well. Slow down. I didn’t even know how to begin to face this new found reality. I honestly can’t remember the last time in my life where I actually took time to slow down. It took some training of my mind to come to peace with it all. At first, I found myself having little stress episodes because I felt like I was always forgetting to do something or be somewhere. I had lived so long constantly having my mind on everything I had coming up that I forgot how to just live in the present. I would get little stress episodes because my mind was confused. It was confused that I wasn’t going from this place to that place. I didn’t have anywhere to be, and it took my mind sometime to get used to that.

The fact that it is hard to slow down isn’t surprising but definitely is problematic. We live in society that trains are minds to not be content in the present. We are constantly living in our past and future, but when do we even take time to live in the present? We live in our regrets of our past and desires for the future. Living like this is draining. I would know because I’ve been there, and I feel like most people have been in this place. If we would focus on the present, we would definitely free our minds from the fast-paced trap that we all seem to fall into. Instead of looking at our mishaps in the past and the million things we have to do in the future, we can put those aside and focus on the moment we’re in. Think of how much baggage and worry that would take out of your every day life. It’s insane the impact that living in the present can have on your life. It allows your mind to truly slow down.

Another realization I’ve had over the years is that your worth is not determined by the number of to-dos on your to-do-list. Your worth is given to you by God, and it claims you as priceless. It’s always been a terrible habit of mine to compare my schedule to others and base my worth off of that. For some reason, I’ve engrained this thought into my head that if I’m not as busy as another person, then I’m clearly just not living a life worth living. But that way of thinking is wrong. Pick your own pace that allows you to have the time to slow down and concentrate on the parts of life that are actually important. We need to make our faith the priority, not success. We need to make our relationships a priority, not being perfect in all that we do. We need to strive to do our best, but we don’t need to get ourselves to the place where we shut people out because we put all of our time and effort into being perfect in things that will not follow us to heaven.

A couple of years ago, I went to a church camp that named the theme of the week, “Sabbath”. If you don’t know what the Sabbath is, it is God’s command to us to rest. God created the world in seven days and on the seventh, God rested. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most vital days of creation. God taught us, by example, the importance of taking time to rest. The week of church camp, where we were learning about this, I remember one of the leaders asking the question of how we practice the Sabbath in our own lives? I hope you give this question some thought and answer it honestly. My honest answer was, I don’t practice it at all. I never give myself time to rest because my priorities lie in what I have to do next. I definitely have not gotten much better at practicing the Sabbath, but I’ve really tried to be better at giving myself the rest that God commands. God commands rest because God loves us. God knows what we need because He created every inch of us. He knows that we are creatures that are designed to slow down. Rest is a beautiful and life-giving gift from God.

I hope you’ve learned the importance of slowing down and living in the present during this pandemic. I will say that I’ve seen parts of people that I never even knew existed. People have discovered their talents and have been sharing them with the world. I see people sharing their voice through music, drawing beautiful art, and finding new found passions that they didn’t even know that they had. The simple answer to this is we were forced to slow down. We have had time to explore parts of us that we didn’t know were there.

Here’s a thought for the day: Maybe God commands rest in order for us to discover who we are. Don’t miss out on that opportunity by prioritizing your to-do-list.

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

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John 2:17

Are you worshipping the flow or God?

The word “worship” has more power than we think. There is so much meaning within that one word. One way I love to worship God is through music. I have always found a strong connection to God when singing to Him. I especially love when a whole group is together, singing praise to God. But worship doesn’t only come in the form of music. Worship is found in reading the Bible, praying to God, and even in how we live our each and every day. That is why I say that there is so much meaning within the word worship. Worship is an essential part of our lives.

Like I said before, I’m sure that most of you all associate worship with music. Music made it’s way into Christian culture many years ago, and it continues to be a way that we connect with God. This kind of worship has had such a moving impact on my life. We all have those songs with lyrics that we feel God wrote directly for us. God works through music in such a beautiful way. Music is a way that God intercedes through us in order to reach people and connect with them. I’ve been a worship leader for a while now, and it is amazing to see how music moves people. I could go on and on about the power within it. What I have also seen as a worship leader is the need for worship to continue on in our daily walk of life, not just when we are singing praise to God.

Even as a worship leader, it’s easy to have days where I get up to lead people in worship and feel distant. These days usually stem from when I shut God out and attempt to face all that is going on in the world without God. It usually stems from my tendency to not carry out worship in other aspects of my life. The world, right now, is full of so much negativity. There is so much hurt. I get on social media, and it’s all so loud. We have all gotten to this place of bitterness. I see people, instead of coming together, that are telling others to get out of their life. As a worship leader, sometimes I get distracted because all of this is so distracting. The noise of the world is all so loud. This is also not how we should worship God.

Worshipping God is seen in how we live our day to day lives. It’s shown through how we love God’s precious human-beings, that He created. It’s shown through us being the example of Christ that the world needs. Merriam Webster defines worship as the action ” to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion”. In order to show God our devotion, we need to worship God by living out our days like Christ would. Right now, sadly, we haven’t been the best at worshipping God. We have been spreading negativity and not been focused on worship. Many of us have been focused on the world. You may show up to church and worship God with all of your heart through your praise, but are you worshipping God in your day-to-day life?

We need to pray. We need to pray for what is on our hearts. What is on others hearts. This is a form of worship. We need to read the Bible, and find where we believe the Bible stands on issues. Don’t have others tell you what to believe. Read it for yourself, and develop your own relationship with God. Your relationship with God is not going to be the same as your best friends’. That’s okay. But remember reading Scripture is a form of worship that is connecting you with God in your own special way. I’ve always regarded worship as a way of connecting. Praying and reading Scripture are just that.

Praying and reading the Bible can be viewed as an armor. They get us ready to step out into the mission field of life. Approach every day as if it is a mission field because it is!! Every day is a beautiful opportunity to love and bring people to know the love of Christ. This is furthering the Kingdom of God. When you step out of bed, the evil one should tremble. That evil one should be scared because you’re going to worship God to the best of your ability. You’re going to shut out all of the lies in the world, and you’re going to defeat them with love. You’re going to get even closer to God through your prayers and Bible reading, and the evil one knows, there is no power that can overcome the power of God. We should sing a little louder, pray a little more, and love with all of our hearts. Worship all starts in the heart. If your heart is not set in the right place, it’s a whole lot easier to fall into the same pattern as the rest of the world.

There was a video I watched when I was younger that always stuck in my mind. The video included a huge group of people that were all dressed the exact same, in grey clothing. They were all following the same flow. They seemed to be walking, almost as they were robots, all in the same direction. All of a sudden, there were others that walked into this crowd, going the opposite direction. They were dressed in very bright colors. There is symbolism here. The grey dressed, big group of people that were all walking in the same direction represented the world. The people dressed in colorful coloring, walking in the opposite direction were the people choosing to not conform to the world. After I watched this video, I did something that may sound comical, but it was actually very helpful for me. I wrote probably fifty notecards that all said the same thing. They said “Don’t Conform to the World”. I hid them all around my house. Every time I’d come across one, I was reminded that I didn’t need to conform. If I caught myself going into the pattern of the world, I stopped myself in my tracks. If we are living out each and every day for God, we are going to be those people in colorful clothes walking against the flow. It’s not easy, but this beautiful imagery demonstrates a form of worship. It shows people giving it all to God, instead of giving it all to the world. Are you just following the pattern of the world? If so, try to live out your beliefs in God, and stop living for the approval of others.

Worship God to the best of your ability. God wants to equip you for the challenges of this world. God also doesn’t want you falling into the trap that the world sets for us. It’s easy to be consumed in negativity, but if we want to worship God to the best of our abilities, we need to choose our relationship with God over it all. Instead of conforming to the world, start worshipping God by being different and being the one who lives for our all-mighty God.

Worship connects us to God, so let’s worship a little more.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. – Psalm 29:2

The Struggle of Being Real

I’ve always had this tendency of bottling in all of my emotions. I want the world to see the good parts of me, not the broken parts. I honestly didn’t even realize that I had this tendency until I was a little older. Things started to feel heavy because of all the baggage that I was carrying. But I continued to try to carry the load on my own, and make everything seem great to the outside world. Maybe you relate. Maybe you always feel like you’re putting on a face, and you’re truly exhausted. Maybe you break down alone and feel completely alone because you tend to shut others out. Maybe it’s time for a change.

I have always been that person, not on purpose, but I have. I have always wanted it to seem to others that I have it all together. I constantly worry about how others perceive me. It’s easy to fall into this trap with the society that we live in today. We are always seeing the sides of people on social media that are put together. Sometimes it’s hard to even realize that the person posting that put-together picture is human too and has struggles just like you. They may be different struggles, but every person faces their own battles in life. The issue is we don’t like to recognize this. Instead, we like to get down on ourselves for not being perfect. This leads us to filter out the bad so that nobody but ourselves knows our weaknesses.

My junior year of high school at church camp, we did an activity that truly made me question who I was. In better words, this activity made me question who I displayed myself to be to the rest of the world. Some of you all may have participated in this activity at some point in your life or even have done something similar. It was called “Cross the Line”. When we did this, I remember it was the last night of camp, and we had just finished a very powerful night of worship. I remember being on a spiritual high and being very emotional because of the true connection I had felt with God that night. Afterwards, my church youth group gathered and did this activity. The leaders had all of the group stand at one side of the room. They then told us that they were going to say a series of statements, and if any of the statements applied to us, we needed to “cross the line”, or in other words, go to the other side of the room. They started with surface level questions. For example, they would say, “Cross the line if you have a sibling”. As the activity continued on, they began to make statements such as, “Cross the line if you have faced the obstacle of anxiety”. This one hit home because I had faced anxiety. I had always been a person full of fear and worry, to the point where it all consumed me, and no one knew it until that night, when I crossed the line. As I crossed it, it felt as if a weight was off my shoulders. For the first time, I was being truly vulnerable.

That night is when I realized the true importance of what we see as weakness. I found that truly sharing the parts of myself that I thought were ugly was not a weakness but actually a strength. It strengthened my relationships. I was carrying my burdens with these people I trusted, instead of trying to do everything on my own. I even realized the importance of inviting God in to help me carry my burdens. I had been shutting, not only people out, but also God. I was at a point in my life where I thought everything would be easier to carry on my own. I pushed God to the side and only thought of how I could make it through my struggles by myself.

I’ve found that the places where I have shut out God and other people have truly created some of my weakest moments in life. When in these places, I’m insecure, I usually feel alone, and I feel that everything just feels miserable. The reason for this loneliness is the confidence that I can do it all on my own. Many of us believe this notion. It’s time to start realizing that vulnerability isn’t making us weak but making us strong. God gives us the gift of relationships. Instead of constantly putting our guard up, we need to start trusting the people that God has given to us as a gift. We also need to recognize the gift of our relationship with God. We need to start giving God our everything, even our weaknesses.

The night we did the “Cross the Line” activity my eyes were truly opened to how closed off I had been through the years. Have you closed yourself to others and to God? Are you striving to be your true, authentic self or just put up a guard to everyone you know and love? On the home page of my website it says “beautifully & simply authentic”. Under that, it says “the beauty in being real”. The reason why these words are on the home page of my website is because these words hold importance. There is a true beauty in being your true, authentic self. Being real and authentic is being vulnerable. Work on being more vulnerable. I find myself struggling to achieve this goal, but I have learned, over the years, the real power that vulnerability has. Sharing your testimony is a form of vulnerability. Trusting a friend with an obstacle your facing is vulnerability. Confrontation with a person you have a broken relationship with is vulnerability. Praying to God and asking for guidance IS VULNERABILITY. Through sharing your testimony, you can change lives and provide hope. Through having others help carry your burdens, you may not feel as alone. By confronting a broken relationship, you can mend and make a beautiful relationship with an old friend. By being vulnerable with God, you can face all of your weaknesses because with God you know you’re not alone.

Be vulnerable. It’s hard, mostly in this world we’re living in, but let’s work on achieving this goal together.

 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Perspective

On February 3rd, a tragedy occurred in Moore, Oklahoma. Moore High School cross country students were out on their normal run at practice when a truck went off the side of the road and hit them head on. One student died on the spot, and later on, two students died in the hospital. There were three others that were injured but thankfully recovered. I still can’t imagine what the ones who recovered have faced. It would be painful to experience all of that first-hand and still have memories of such a tragic day. I also couldn’t bear to imagine what the families of those who lost their children that day have faced. Nobody ever would’ve seen this coming.

Since I went to Westmoore High School, this happened in the community I grew up in, and I saw the community completely broken over what had happened to these students on February 3rd. Nobody expected this to happen on such a normal day. In some of my previous blogs, I’ve discussed how life throws many curveballs. We really truly never know what tomorrow is going to bring. That honestly scares me a little bit to think about. I mean, we’ve seen it first-hand with the coronavirus. Who would’ve seen that coming? Not me. We have great plans for our lives, and then life takes wild turns that change our lives forever. You may have lost a family member, suddenly. You may have gotten in the car one day, not expecting the damage that was soon to come. The pregnancy test may have come back positive when you feel not prepared in the slightest to be a parent. You may have lost your job which is what your family needed to keep going. You may have had a child who’s life was taken away due to a reckless driver at cross country practice.

What makes many of us uncomfortable is the fact that we aren’t in control. We love to think we are, but we’re not. We never know what tomorrow is going to hold. A couple years ago, my friends and I got into a minor accident on the way to the movies. We were all perfectly fine but definitely shaken up. If we would’ve known that was going to happen, then we just could’ve called a rain check, but we didn’t know. It’s important for us to admit that we really don’t know what is to come.

I’m not trying to be dark but instead, I’m trying to put things into perspective for you. When we think we are in control, we live like there is a tomorrow. We aren’t nice to our family, friends and significant other. We constantly complain. We get worried about things that don’t even matter in the long run. We don’t make the people that we love feel loved. We worry about what other people think of us. If you knew there was no tomorrow, would you live like that? I don’t think that you would. I’ll tell you all a little something about me. I worry about absolutely everything. People who know me well can testify for me on this. However, if I knew that there was no tomorrow, the things that I worry about would have no power over me. They wouldn’t even matter. One year that I especially worried was my senior year of high school. I had the constant worry of getting into college, picking the right college, and getting the money for that college. I was so stressed. The future can be scary, and I wasn’t sure of what my future would hold. But this leads me back to the Moore students that were hit by the truck. Two of those students were seniors. I can’t speak for them, but if they were anything like me, they were worried about where they were going next in life. In an instant, all of that didn’t matter.

I’m definitely not telling you to just not care about life here on earth because through all the important work you do here, you can make a footprint and positive mark on this world. But instead, use this perspective to help you to live a better life. Don’t be short-tempered. Don’t worry so much. Don’t complain and be negative all of the time. Use this to help your mind to realize who is really in control. By believing the lie that you are in control, you are in for a life of disappointments, insecurities, and more heartache. You won’t rely on God through the hard parts of life because you will believe that you have it all taken care of. You will be down on yourself when you can’t carry it all. By relinquishing all of the control to God, you can breathe. You can face your battles, not feeling alone. You can make mistakes, and rely on God to navigate how to truly repair the mistakes you have made. If you truly know in your heart that God is the only One in control, even your relationship with God will improve. Take comfort in this verse. It speaks works of encouragement because we can be reminded the power of the One who is in control.

In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind? – Job 12:10

So why do we live like we are in control? Why do we worry? Why are we always consumed in drama? Why is it that all we want to do is complain? I think it is just because control makes us feel better. I have always been one that prefers to be the one driving the car if a group of people are carpooling together. This is because I feel the comfort of knowing that I’m in control. BUT the reality is that you’re not in control, and you need to start living like it. If you lose your job unexpectedly, remind yourself that God is in control. Instead of getting down on yourself, get back up, trust in God and keep living. You’ve got this! You only have one life to live, and you don’t know what tomorrow holds. SO live it, even when it’s hard. Remember the God that is bigger than you and that job that you lost. If you lose someone you love, try your best to rely on God through the pain. I know it’s hard. But know that you aren’t guaranteed that tomorrow either. So try to get on your feet, trust in God, and live like there is no tomorrow. If that pregnancy test comes back positive and you feel unprepared, don’t be scared. God is with you, and it is out of your control. Put your trust in the One who is in control. Be excited to welcome life, and love that child like there is no tomorrow. If you are facing a life-changing obstacle, stop worrying. Don’t be afraid. You can do it, with God. There is no need to worry, but instead, there is a need to invite God in to help you. Make the best out of whatever you’re facing.

When we perceive ourselves as being in control, we give ourselves too much power. We give ourselves the power of tearing down ourselves and others. Whatever you’re facing, realize that God is in control and not you. Let’s quit living like there’s a tomorrow.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. – Psalm 107:28-29

Hate Divides.

It hurts. The world just hurts right now. Last week, I wrote about the coronavirus, not having any idea that America was going to enter into another heartache. On May 25th, 2020, a man who was black died in the hands of a man who happened to be a police officer. I’m sure most of you all know the story because if you live in America you’re experiencing all of this firsthand. You see your neighbors divided. You see fights for justice. You are most likely experiencing the hurt that I’m experiencing.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to write about this. I tried to think of literally any other subject to write about BUT this, and God still made it clear that this is what I needed to talk about. You see, this has been a subject matter that has been hard on my heart. It has been something that has been eating me up for the past week. My family knows this because we have had many good conversations about all that is going on in the world right now. God knows this because God knows my heart and my thoughts. God also knows that I’m not the only one hurting.

As I scroll through social media, I see people arguing and fighting. In my lifetime, I have seen much divide but not like I’m seeing currently. Close friends are divided. Even families are divided. People have different ways of achieving justice. Some people believe that protesting and rioting is the answer to an injustice of racial inequality. Others don’t see this as an issue of race but just as an issue of a man who unrightfully had his life taken away by someone who has made some bad decisions. Some people are angry at police officers while others believe that many police officers are being mistreated. I’m not here to say that I believe this way or that way, but to address the hurt that this divide is having on our country. This is going to sound harsh, but the reason for this divide is hate. Our social media is full of hate right now. I sit on social media for way too long scrolling through only to see all of the hate and arguments. Hate divides while only love can unify us.

To be honest, I didn’t even know where to go from here. I’ve seen all this divide among people, but I myself haven’t known how to approach it. I decided to ask my boyfriend, who always seems to have the greatest insight, where I should go with this. JD responded almost immediately by telling me to ask the question of, what would Jesus do if He were here? What would Jesus do? Do you think He would encourage this ongoing hate, or would He find a way to love all people, despite what’s going on? Jesus would choose to love. Jesus chooses love. Jesus doesn’t care what you believe, He still loves you any way. This may be hard for some to take in, but Jesus loves even Derek Chauvin, the man who killed George Floyd. You know why? It’s because His love knows no limits.

I believe the greatest love story ever known to humankind is the story of Jesus. Jesus gave up His life for all, even the ones who hated Him because He LOVED them. Jesus was hated by the Romans so much so that they ordered Jesus to die on the cross. However, Jesus didn’t hate them because of the hate that they placed on Him. Instead, Jesus showed compassion and love to them by giving His whole life up on the cross so that everyone, even the Romans, had the opportunity of eternal life. Now that is some good news. But when asking this question of what would Jesus do, we are also asking the question of what we should do. Jesus is an example for us to live by, and Jesus chose love. Jesus chose love even to people that were terrible to him, so we need to start doing the same.

Hate is what evil wants, so evil feels like it has the upper hand. Evil tries to break us apart, and that is exactly what it is achieving. We’re letting anger build up within us towards each other instead of giving one another grace. God gives us grace, and we should pass this gift along to all people, not just accept it for ourselves. Start giving other people the gift of grace and of love that God gives to you. Most importantly, don’t forget God during this time. Through this storm, trust in God. Don’t give into all of the hate. Be the person who, instead of giving into the hate, loves all, even those who choose hate during this time. You have a choice. You can choose hate or love. I’ll admit it’s been a struggle for me to choose love, especially during this time, but it’s important for us to recognize what we are choosing and make adjustments. Use the gifts of grace and love that God gives you. Hate will only divide.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Where is God?

The coronavirus has taken over the world. It has completely changed the course of our lives. Who would’ve guessed that this would be what 2020 looked like? On New Years Eve, I remember being so excited for a fresh, new beginning. 2019 was a whirlwind, and I needed to restart. And then low-and-behold, THIS happened. Who would’ve known?

When I first started hearing about the coronavirus, I honestly didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t really know what it was, and with my crazy life, it was the last thing I was thinking about. Then, it started hitting media in full swing. All of a sudden, everything was changing. Colleges were extending their spring breaks, and little by little more places began to shut down. Eventually, my school received the news that we were going online for the rest of the semester. I was shocked, sad and surprised that this could be happening. We watched the world shut down right before our eyes.

We can’t plan for something like this; it just happens. Although we don’t plan for a world pandemic, often times, we do plan every other aspect of our life. If something doesn’t go the way we plan, it can be unsettling. I’ll admit it. I usually have a plan for my life, and I don’t like when things get in the way of my plan. And this pandemic did get in the way. Going into second semester of my freshman year of college, I was determined to change my perspective to a more positive one. In my first semester, I had lost my confidence and was constantly consumed in my insecurities and negative thoughts. I was adjusting to a whole new place, and it was a hard transition for me. I had lost myself in the midst of it all. Second semester was my time to restart and make a change within my heart. I had goals that I was ready to reach in order to become myself again. Not only that, but I also had several exciting opportunities that were coming my way! Life was finally going the direction I was wanting it to go. And then, all of a sudden, I was packing up my dorm and heading home. It was very discouraging. But it didn’t only impact my life. It’s taken away some of your graduations, opportunities, and even for many, your jobs.

Our lives were turned upside down in no time. But doesn’t life just do that sometimes? We have expectations, but then reality flips those expectations on their head. It can be something as small as spilling coffee all over your outfit before an interview to losing a loved one. We’d love to say that life is like a road that’s straight with no bumps in its’ path, but the reality is that life is a road with bumps, potholes, and many sharp turns along the way. How are we supposed to face these obstacles that come to get in the way of our plans? Our goals? How do we handle the fact that our whole world seems to be turned upside down? More importantly, where is God in all of this? How could God let this happen?

When asking these questions, I was led to the story of Job. Job has always been a story that has brought about doubts within me. Job was an extremely faithful servant of God. He completely devoted everything he had to God. Job had the characteristics that I strive to have in my walk with Christ. God even describes Job as a man of integrity. From my view of Job and what I have read about him, it seems that he was humble and always placed his faith in God above all. BUT even with how faithful Job was, he still faced challenges that completely flipped his world upside down. Satan came for Job and he took what seems like everything from him. He took his oxen and donkeys and killed all of his servants and children. Even in the midst of losing all of this, he still remained faithful to God. Satan was determined to drive Job away from God, so he decided to attack Job yet again. This time, Satan put sores all over Job’s body which left him in unimaginable pain. Job’s friends had heard how much he was suffering, so they went to visit him. When they saw him, they didn’t even recognize him!!! That’s how weak he was from the trouble that was upon him. And he broke. He was left confused at God, asking why this was happening to him?? Was it something he had done? Earlier I said this story has always raised doubt within me. That’s because the question I ask when reading the book of Job is WHERE was God, and WHY would God let this happen?

Right now, it’s easy to ask these same questions. Where is God in the midst of this pandemic that has turned our lives upside down? Why is this happening to us? It’s also easy to ask these questions in other aspects of our lives. Why does God allow bad things to happen?

One of the most troubling parts of the story for me was how God actually gave Satan permission to bring this evil upon Job. I could never understand why. I was reading this story again when writing this, and I felt that God gave me more insight and understanding with this question that I have wrestled with.

The beauty of God is that God’s works are beyond our understanding. God gives us this amazing gift of life and along with that, the mysteries of life. Within this story, it’s important to recognize that Satan was the one that was bringing about this evil in Job’s life, not God. I believe that God doesn’t want us to face trials, but God wants us to gain perseverance and strength through the trials that the evil one brings upon us. That’s why I believe He didn’t stop Satan. God allowed Satan to bring this evil upon Job because God knew that He was SO much bigger than all of the evil that Satan could possibly bring about on Job’s life. God is SO much bigger than this world pandemic and any other trials that have and will come our way. God sets everything into perspective. God provides within us power to face the obstacles we’re trying to overcome today and the trials that we will face tomorrow. There is nothing too big for His power and mightiness.

I bet you are all on your feet (if you don’t already know) to know what the ending of Job’s story entailed. Well, Job actually received back his wealth and had another ten children after this tragedy. But before this ending came about, Job faced much doubt in his journey of battling the question of, why? He talked to God. He prayed. He asked God the hard questions. He struggled. And God answered. God answered Job with proclaiming that it was all above Job’s understanding. That should provide us with hope. This story tells us that although trials that we face within this world are beyond our understanding, they don’t surpass God’s wisdom. God provides us with hope and perseverance that mold us into people of character and strength.

The world is crazy right now. We all find ourselves asking this question of where is God? And God, why? If you take anything from these words, remember that God doesn’t provide the trial, God provides hope within the trial. Evil is always trying to win. It tries to take down our mental health. It tries to bring sadness and heartache in our life. It tries to put a barrier between us and our relationship with God. The good news is that evil doesn’t win. God always does. So what does this mean for us? This means start trusting God instead of the fear and hurt you are facing. Allow your trust in God to provide you with hope within the storm. Don’t be a slave to fear in this confusing time we’re in, be a warrior who puts on the armor of God.

“Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?” – Job 38: 37-38

To answer these verses, God does and God can.

Wait… I’m an Adult Now??

They always say that life goes by pretty fast, but I didn’t know it went by THIS FAST. I was a kid… and then, I wasn’t. I was all of a sudden walking across the stage at high school graduation, getting ready to enter into a complete unknown in my life. And I was so excited. I always dreamed of going to college, and Oklahoma City University was the perfect University for me. I just knew it. What I didn’t know was what was ahead of me that first semester. My expectations included going, having the best times of my life, and getting to study exactly what God was calling me to. It sounded so amazing and easy, and that was far from my Freshman year experience.

I forgot, just like many Freshman college students do, that it was time to start over. It’s easy to watch movies and hear fun college stories and just think that it’s all going to be a piece of cake with maybe an obstacle every now and then. Believe me, I wish that was the reality.

I don’t know about you, but I was never given a lesson on how to form new relationships. I mean it’s just supposed to happen, right? When heading off to college, I had no worries in the world about making friends. That was the least of my worries. Well, that was one of the hardest parts. I felt that I couldn’t be myself because I was scared that people wouldn’t like the real, authentic me. I had always been a person who had no problem being completely myself, so this fear was not something I had ever dealt with. But because of this fear, I constantly had my guard up. I was aware I did but, I couldn’t put it down. I had lost all confidence I once had.

Senior year of high school, I felt the calling of God to go into ministry. I had my doubts every once in a while, but I was still confident that it was where God wanted me to be. After getting in college, I started comparing myself to others. I could understand how God would use all of these amazing people I was surrounded by for ministry but was so unsure of how He could use me. With being in leadership in my own Church and constantly looking at the Bible academically, my faith was being challenged. I was so overwhelmed by school work that I used that as an excuse to not pour into myself spiritually. I was exhausted because it felt like I was pouring out and pouring out in all different aspects of my life, but nothing was being poured into me. Are you in a season in your life where your constantly doubting? Doubting God. Doubting your calling in life. Doubting if you really are actually good enough.

My faith was just dead. My guard was up. And I had lost all confidence that I once had in myself. This is not what I expected when I said I was ready to grow up. I was so excited for the unknown when I walked across that stage. I just knew that everything was going to be new and exciting. Although it may have been far from what I thought it was going to be, I grew up even more through my experience.

First of all, we can’t just wait around and expect relationships to come to us. We have to be willing to go out of our comfort zone. This is something I wish I would’ve realized going into college. I couldn’t sit in my dorm room and expect magic to happen. I needed to be proactive. Remember, other people are in your same position. They’re overwhelmed and possibly (most likely) feeling the same way you’re feeling. I had several conversations with people that year that I was surprised to hear were feeling the exact same way that I was feeling. Yes, at first, new relationships will make us uncomfortable, but sometimes the hardest things in life will give great rewards in the end. AND we can’t forget that God doesn’t just leave us to do it all on our own.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

This is one of those popular verses that I know, for me, I let go in one ear and out the other. Actually soak this in. If God is by our side (and isn’t leaving our side) then why be afraid? God is with us when we even take the littlest of steps in order to develop new relationships. I mean let’s be honest. Sometimes the things in life that seem small can be some of our biggest battles. Remember, you don’t face those alone. Are you in a place where you feel alone? Maybe you think that all of your trust is in that promise that God is with you, but when you really think about it, you’ve been trying to face fear alone. Sometimes I make myself believe that I’m relying on God through my hardships, but in reality, I’ve been putting God on the back burner. Remember that God is with you and gives you strength. Use that strength, be uncomfortable, and ask that really nice person to go grab coffee with you. I bet that someone you ask will be so so happy you did. Like I said, they probably are feeling overwhelmed with all the change just like you.

Second, growing up comes with more responsibilities. Period. And as you keep growing up, your responsibilities will look different, but you will still have responsibilities. We all face them. In the society we live in today, it seems like nothing ever stops. We constantly are going and going, one responsibility after another. Let’s be real. It’s absolutely exhausting. It’s even more exhausting when we place expectations on ourselves. I was constantly stacking more on my plate and expected the best out of myself all of the time. When I felt that I didn’t line up to my best, I got down on myself. I would tell myself that I was failing and not going to be able to reach my goals in life. When we don’t meet our expectations, we can feel like a failure. Are you in a place in your life where your responsibilities, your expectations, and the stress in your life have you feeling like a failure? Like you’re not good enough? Don’t be discouraged, you’re not alone. Just breathe. Sometimes it’s just time to change your perspective.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

All of the unhealthy pressure we put on ourselves is only going to drive us into a pit. I say “unhealthy” because pressure is not always a bad thing. We can challenge and push ourselves to do the best we can, and it can be healthy. However, I know in my case it was far from healthy. I constantly stressed about my to do list. I set high expectations that I couldn’t always meet. I never let myself have peace. I constantly had negative self talk in my head. Have you driven yourself to that place? Well if you have, God gives you STRENGTH. He gives you PEACE. Accept them as God’s gifts to you. Don’t try to do it all on your own. God’s strength is what is going to get you through the hard times, so receive that. Give God the reigns. If you’re anything like me, I bet you’re thinking… but that’s not how it works.. God can’t check off my to do list. Well let me tell you, truly letting God into your life will make a difference. Give God the control by talking to Him. Even start your morning out with Him!! I promise your day will feel totally different if you soak in some Jesus rather than social media when you get out of your bed. Give your life to God, and you will feel His strength. Give your life to God, and you will feel His peace. God’s peace is so big that it sets your life into perspective. It brings you rest by reminding you that God is much bigger than your responsibilities, your expectations, and your worry.

But don’t let my experience discourage you. If you’re reading this and about to go into college, be ready for some amazing, life-growing experiences!! It’s a new time, and new can be SO fun. Although, I had challenges, I have such great memories from my first year of college. And it’s important to note, we all have different experiences. Go into it with a positive mindset, ready for a great year. But also know that if challenges come your way, you’re not alone. Obstacles aren’t a bad thing, they are ways to build your perseverance and prepare you for life.

Growing up is hard. Go into it with these truths. Don’t let yourself lose all confidence you once had in yourself. You are doing great. Sometimes it’s good to have reassurance that what you’re going through isn’t easy. You may tell yourself that you’re the only one facing challenges growing up, but I PROMISE you that you’re not alone. Be encouraged by this, and keep persevering. These experiences and challenges are going to make you even stronger. They’re preparing you for the real world, and the calling that is placed on your life. You may feel that everything is coming at you all at once, and you have to face that alone. Well, my friends, the good news is that God doesn’t let that happen. God is with you every step of the way. Don’t try to face it all alone.