I Am Guilty

img_5107-2

The past few weeks my mind has been overtaken by the book of Romans. I’m currently going through it with my small group girls and God has been opening my eyes to verses I have read over and over again in a new light.

Unfortunately, before going into this book I had a time¬†of wrestling with God. You know the usual, what He wanted for me vs what I wanted for myself. In the end He won as He always does but it just took a little longer this time by¬†choosing to fight with Him on the matter. I whole heartedly wish I could undo this wrestling match and just let my heart trust God by obeying Him the first time. Regret is a stronghold the enemy uses to keep our minds focused on the past when Christ is wanting to move us forward. Through what I’ve been studying the enemy has been pushing my heart, tugging and tearing into it by trying to keep my focus on what a “disappointment” I am.

Even though the enemy can talk smack to my face and taunt me all day long with regret it does not change who the Word of God says I am.

Romans clearly describes how we are sinners which is something the world itself is tired of hearing. However, it’s¬†hard truth we are all sinners. Yet, immediately after that is made clear Romans says this in 3:24

“Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins”

I may be guilty by nature but because of my faith in Christ, God Himself declares me as righteous. I may have disobeyed God but God does not dwell on that and neither should I. I may not live perfectly but I am seen as righteous because that is who God says I am.

I am not a disappointment, failure, or mistake. I am a child of God, valued, loved, and saved by grace. So rather than focusing on what I wish I had done with my time or my heart I will focus on who God says I am because Christ did not die in vain.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.And because you belong to him, the power¬†of the life-giving Spirit has freed you¬†from the power of sin that leads to death”

Romans 8:1-2

Best,

MN

Advertisements

Go On, Cry About It.

img_4171

When I was in my early teens God impressed upon my heart that there was a deep amount of compassion within me. At the time I could not grasp what He meant but I knew it was important to loving others.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as: sympathetic consciousness¬†of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

I would never have been able to fully understand this dictionary definition at the age of 14. However, 9 years later I am able to have a better understanding of how this kind of compassion can be played out in my life.

Growing up I did not play well with others.

Period.

I didn’t and I knew it, I wanted to be liked and to have friends. Yet, I wasn’t socially skilled enough to understand¬†that not everyone wanted to be controlled by me.

“So what you’re saying is… fun cannot be forced? Interesting…”

As you can imagine this brought a slur of emotions that I was embarrassed by. In my mind I needed to be strong about everything; school, athletics, emotions, practically anything under the sun.

This carried on until a couple of years ago when I began to question myself…

If God has placed a heart of compassion within me, why do I shut down and out feelings? By keeping myself from vulnerability who does that help?

I was deceived, I thought in order to be considered strong and confident by those around me I would have to defy what the world mocks of women, emotions. Ultimately in my mind that meant crying.

Not wanting to be held down my anyone’s standards in the past couple of years I have been working on, oddly enough, crying.

Rather than shutting down my emotions to keep up an image, if it’s coming I just let it go.

I’ve had to learn that it’s ok to be weak, I cannot be strong all the time. This is why we have God. So that the joy of the Lord can be our strength.

Scripture after scripture entails us that we can rely on the Lord to get through circumstances we are encountering.

We know that Christ is our example for how we should live and even the scripture tells us that Jesus cried (John 11:35). I have found that in the past 12 months I have produced more tears than I think I have my entire life. And guess what? I am very ok with it. I have been able to express how I feel towards God better by getting it out and just crying. As awkward as that can be for me, I have been able to grow in my walk with Christ.

The ones you cry with are the ones who know you best. You’ve let down that wall of insecurities and by being vulnerable you have grown.

¬†What this boils down to is not only being honest with others but being honest with yourself. When you’re hurt, evaluate it don’t ignore it. Is that pain justified? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Regardless of¬†my ‘pains’ here on earth, I have found that even if they are justified according to¬†the world’s standards… they’re undone by the fact that my life is not my own but Christ’s.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ.¬†It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

What Now, 2016?

In the spring this year I asked my grandma to be my mentor. After having left the road I missed my accountability partners that poured into me, prayed for me, and would give me wisdom in times of need. My grandma does all of this, and more than I could hope for. As soon as I had asked her she said yes. She then went out to the store and purchased a new copy of the One Year Bible for me to read. Without a doubt, it will take me more than a year to finish, yet for now I read what I can without getting overwhelmed.

At this point, I have landed on the book of Job. Of course this just happens to be the book I’m going through as 2016 comes to a close. I enjoy knowing that God uses any part of scripture to speak to me, but I also love how coincidence is just an excuse people use to subtract God.

Many people on social media have gathered 2016 to be one of the worst yet. Seeing the year come to a close brings a new type of hope for the next. As I have been reading, most are hoping that 2017 will bear more fruit and less “bad things.” Yet the reality is that 2017 could be anything but better. Common knowledge, yet that doesn’t stop anyone from putting all their eggs in the 2017 basket.

If anything can be said about unwanted situations I believe Job put it best when he said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”

Job 1:21 (NLT)

Sure, Marina- anyone can pull out a Bible verse and say that when I lost my job this year I should just “Praise the name of the Lord!” as if I could retain Job’s attitude and faithfulness.

No, no- that’s not what this is about. Ok, maybe a little bit because it’s still¬†the Word of God. Tell me something though: When was the last time you stopped praying for bad things to go away and you just praised the name of the Lord?

There are some parts of life you just can’t change, but you can ask God to change your heart. Throughout this year I had moments (OK, weeks) where I did not want to ask for the help my heart needed. Yet I knew if I let Christ put me in my place these hard, very unwanted situations would look different. Not because everything would be “right” again, but because I would be surrendered to Christ and receive whatever He gives me.

In no way have I known the kind of pain that Job endured, and yet I know that he must have had the faith of a mustard seed. If God is allowing hardships in my life, He just sees the potential for my faith to grow.

With that, thank you 2016.

Here’s to more opportunities for heartache, laughter, unexpected adventures, and much more.

Best,

MN

Getting “Comfy” with Romance

A fair amount of¬†time has passed since my last relationship. I’m not embarrassed; this is just a matter of a fact for me.

Although it can make me feel out of practice with having a romantic connection with a guy, or being comfortable with vulnerability between me and someone else. It can almost feel like that is a completely separate life than what I¬†know because it has been¬†quiet some time since I’ve last been¬†in that place.

Yet, this is what God dropped on me a few¬†weeks ago. If I’m in a serious¬†relationship with Christ should I be “out of practice” when it comes to being in a romantic relationship?

If dating is supposed to lead to marriage and marriage ¬†is a representation of Christ’s love, then isn’t a serious relationship supposed to reflect how we are to treat, pursue, and love one another?

¬†The next time someone comes along,¬†should I be so out of practice that I don’t know how to relate, be vulnerable, purposeful, honest and kind in the pursuance of someone? Is it okay if I’ve forgotten how being pursued is supposed to feel?

The answer is no.

I should be really good at being in a romantic relationship.

If I was so aware of how Christ pursued me, then I would know how I should be pursued.

I should be so aware of how well I am loved by Christ that I don’t shy away at the risk love takes. Christ risked it all for me, and I’m not saying to jump head over heels for anybody or even everybody because, yes, there is such a thing as guarding your heart. That’s not just a clich√© Christian phrase we slap onto every heart throbbing problem we have.

All I know is that God was giving me some insight the other day and He said I should not be out of practice when it comes to being in a serious relationship because I should always be in pursuance of my relationship with Christ and aware of His pursuance towards me.

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love”

1 John 4:7-8

A Shield Around Me

This weekend I was privileged with the opportunity to stretch my faith. God graced me with several opportunities to cry out to Him in times of need. Some were smaller than others, but all were important to me. While I was at church, we were worshipping and the song lyric, “You are perfect in all of your ways,” filled my heart immediately.

No matter the reasons for having to cry out to the Lord, He is perfect regardless. Even when life does not go I think it should… it goes perfectly according to Him. Because He is perfect in all of His ways.

I may not do everything correctly, but I can rely on Him when things seem to go south.

So, thank you Father.

Thank You for always caring when it feels like You’ve turned a blind eye.Thank You for thinking of my best interest and knowing what would be best for me, when it feels like You’ve picked the worst. Thank you for testing my faith so that I can grow into the woman of God You have called me to be. But mostly thank You for letting me be in an intimate relationship with You through the sacrifice of Your one and only Son.

-MN

So many are saying,
¬†¬†¬†¬†‚ÄúGod will never rescue him!‚ÄĚ

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
    you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy mountain. 

I lay down and slept,
    yet I woke up in safety,
    for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side.

Psalm 3:2-6

NLT

Excuse Me?

Do you ever like being told you’re wrong? Not necessarily that you mind a correction here and there but do you ever actually like it?

I wish I did. I want to be the kind of person who is humble enough that I’m always ready to learn something new. I desire to be told I’m wrong and like it. This is the kind of heart that can hear correction without being offended.

“Instruct the wise,
and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
and they will learn even more.‚ÄĚ

Proverbs 9:9

What we ask God for can be intimidating because we often don’t know what that outcome might be. There are times where it can feel like Satan is throwing a wrench in our lives and we get upset at God for letting something happen. We ask God to take these challenges away because we don’t like the situation or we think Satan is winning. What we don’t realize is these are incredible opportunities to grow.

Do you remember when you asked God to give you an opportunity to love more like Christ? Do you remember when someone asked for your help? Or when that person wanted to talk longer and you just didn’t have the patience for them?

Jesus says in Matthew 25:45

‚ÄėI tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.‚Äô

My hope is that I would grow to be a woman of God who is so consumed with Christ that there would never be a chance to be consumed with self. I need to be ready to take correction from others, to be at a position where my heart is ready to learn, to be knit with Christ’s. This is not a check box or a one and done accomplishment. This is a continual process of keeping my heart close to His.

‚ÄúFor we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.‚ÄĚ

Ephesians 6:12

My “Ring by Spring” Strategy

We all have that friend who is soon to be married and oh look now they’re having a baby, and there’s three more! While you’re sitting there like, “What the?! I swear we were just fighting over baby dolls last week, how’d you get a real one so fast?”

We’ve seen it, experienced it, maybe we’ve even been in one of these “you’re too young to get married” weddings. With so many social media apps and websites it’s become easy to keep up with all the people you know starting young families. As commonly said among young adults today (in a ¬†very whiney unattractive tone), “All my friends are getting married and having babies!” which is an overstated thought, and frankly I’m tired of hearing it. Not because of the weddings, but because of the heart behind the sentence.

Although you may see these beautiful celebrations of marriage, relationships and babies… there is blessing in the waiting. Remembering that God moves slowly, and I do mean slow, like a sloth slow this does not mean He has forgotten you. By no means at all! Don’t give the enemy the satisfaction of feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t have what other people have.

Ever heard the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side”?

Dare to imagine you can do more things with your life.

You have no spouse, no kids, no full time job, or any kind of responsibility requiring all of your attention (all good and important ones I desire to have one day as well). You can¬†literally¬†do anything! Love it, enjoy it, praise God for it! Because eventually, you¬†could¬†be posting “engaged” on all of your media. Just learn to love where God has placed you and don’t let your heart ache so much for not being where someone else is.

I’d be lying if I said being single everyday was easy. It’s not, I have my days where it really can be hard and I want to just feel sorry for myself. The truth is, I may never get married but if I trust in my Savior it doesn’t matter if I get married or not because He knows what’s best for my life.

I invite you to fully embrace and love where the Lord has placed you. Although the enemy would have you thinking otherwise, seasons change.¬†Rejoice at this different life you¬†get¬†to live, it’s unique. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at times, God sees the big picture and knows what his masterpiece will look like when it’s complete.

If we’re being brutally honest, this life was meant to live for others not you. When you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself, I’d like to challenge you to find someone to love on. Opportunities to¬†serve are endless, people will always have needs. As Christians we’re meant to be a light to others, not a cloud to the lost because we’re stuck in our own muck of feeling sad for ourselves by complaining, “all my friends are getting married, and I’m still SO single”

Stand up and put on your armor of God, people are going through tragedies and God picked you to love them. Are you going to follow through?

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God for he cares about you”

1 Peter 5:6-7