Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Walk Away.

The Lord has taught me some big life lessons lately. He has taught me that vulnerability, no matter how uncomfortable and scary it is, is necessary and can be quite beneficial. He has allowed me to see that the walls I have up are actually a lot higher and thicker than I thought. And I think the hardest thing he has taught me (or allowed me to see through HIS eyes) is that I am His daughter. His baby girl. His pride and joy. His offspring and His love. And that He thinks... scratch that... knows that I am worth so much and deserve goodness. He has shown me the importance of standing up for myself and how boldness in those situations can be so worthwhile.

This is not easy for me. Some of you may be shaking your heads at that. Some of you may be thinking, "But Steph, you are confident. You know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and you stand up for that. You are good with your words and say what you think!" Wrong. I am terrified of rejection. I am a people pleaser to the core and completely dislike feeling that way. I would rather be hurt or inconvenienced than make someone else feel that way-- even if they need to know! I have been known to be a door mat and I have years of footprints covering me. However, that has Satan written all over it. That's not of Jesus. He doesn't send embarrassment and shame.... He sends mercy and love.

So what do you do when you are in this situation? I happen to be in one right now. I am a words of affirmation girl and its crazy how the sweetest things said to me can totally cloud my vision. The Lord promises us that He has a will for our life. One abounding with help and hope and a future. He has so much rich scripture displaying those promises...

"I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

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

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak " Isaiah 40:29

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine" Isaiah 43:1

"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." John 6:47

"Jesus said: 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies'....." John 11:25

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" Heb.11:1

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be moved, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed." Isaiah 54:10

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them, I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy maybe complete" John 15:11

"...but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:22

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. " Isaiah 46:4

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17

"...the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! " Isaiah 30:18

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:12

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1,2

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3: 5,6

".....He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths...." Isaiah 2:3

" But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. " Titus 3:4-6

I know that was a lot of scripture reading but it is just so incredible how many times and ways the Lord has revealed His promises to us. If you are like me then you say, "yeah but what about this (fill in your current problem) hateful person at work, family member I don't get along with, guy situation? God... like I know that you tell me to trust you with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, but Jesus I thought this one was different. He acted like he cared. He seemed like he was really interested and wanted to date me." We have to trust God in ALL situations... not just the ones that slip through our hands that have a strong hold on all of our problems. We have to choose to lay everything down at the feet of Christ and believe that He is so good and has such a purpose and plan for our life that it is crazy better than anything we could ever imagine.

And then walk away from it. I feel like I lay it down and then just stay by it... trying to grab little pieces that splatter out of the pile or parts that are hanging off the side. That is not true submission. That is not true reliance on the Lord. So walk away. Give everything to the Lord, TRUST that He is in control and walk away. You never know what the Lord has in store for you-- maybe down the road that guy will be the man He has planned for your life. Maybe through growth the Lord will allow him to pursue you in a way that is pleasing and approved by the Him. So walk away.... if he doesn't run after you....keep on walking!

So thats where I am right now. I am on my face praying. Praying for His will. Praying not to feel dumb and stupid in this situation--because it wasn't anything I did... that is just Satan trying to distract me from running up into my Beloved's arms and letting His promises wash over me. And praying that He turns His ear to me and hears His daughter's cries. Because I am hurt. I am disappointed. But I know that the Lord will never, ever forget or forsake me. So I am walking...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Love them. Love ME."

For my loyal followers you may have noticed that there is something new to this blog. Thats right... I changed it from I am my Beloved's and My Beloved is Mine to a shorter name... it is now simply Smiles with Stephanie.

If you have read any of my last posts I just returned from Africa where my life was shook up. I prayed going in that the Lord would ruin all of my plans and shake me up something good. Well as it goes... "ask and you shall receive." And boy did I ever. I received a lot. I received blessings far beyond anything I ever thought or dreamed. I received love from children who had be beaten, abused and neglected. Some left on doorsteps. Others left on streets or among the garbage.

"Love them. Love ME." I heard God whisper the second day I was there.

For a white girl growing up in middle class America, my problems all of a sudden seemed dramatically insignificant. In America you are taught to look out for number 1. Don't show weakness. Vulnerability is not an attractive quality. As Christians we are taught the opposite...
"So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last." -Matt. 20:16;

"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 Corin. 12:9;

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1.

"Lord... they are in need of so much. How can I provide what they need? How can I give them comfort? Why was I given so much but they are given so little? (Silence.) Jesus? (Silence) Father? (Silence) Beloved? (Still Silence) Why aren't you listening to me? What am I doing here? Why have you chosen me? Where have you gone? What do I do?"

"Love them. Love ME."

"Love them? How do I show them love? Will they even understand it? These babies have gone through situations in life I cannot imagine. They have been raped. They have been hit. They have been taken advantage of... and thats just the ones under 15. God... you are good. I know this--and forgive my disbelief or question for a second-- but why? How? I don't understand why this has to happen to them. Why not me? I know you. Put this upon me because surely if I die I will come to your kingdom... but for some of them who are so close to death... they don't even know you or your promises of freedom. What about them? How do I insure that when I leave at the end of this day that they will be in YOUR hands eternally?"

"Love them. Love ME."

"Ok God-- so by loving them I am planting a seed. (Matt. 13:6-8) I have heard this since I was younger... I need to just speak your name. Tell that truth and pray that the seed takes root. Even if I can't see the harvest. Is that what you mean?"

"Love them. Love ME."

"Ok so by loving them (Matt. 25:40)... I will not only be loving these children but I will be loving You which will in turn show them You?"

"Stephanie...just love them."

You see... we try to over rationalize everything. We take the easiest of instructions-- "Love them. Love ME."-- and turn it into a dissertation over the theological significance behind the word love. Its pointless and meaningless. We listen to Satan's lies and we are filled with fear, confusion and doubt. Thank goodness I was seeking Jesus so diligently that I was able to discern the lies coming at me like flaming arrows (Eph. 6:16). If you simply put your life into your Beloved's hands... He will grow you in ways you never imagined!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Uncomfortable is a word that I would use very freely 16 days ago. "My bed is uncomfortable to me tonight." "This hot shower hurt my skin and made me uncomfortable" "These new shoes are uncomfortable." My discomfort was circumstantial. It wasn't life threatening. It wasn't overwhelming (even if I dramatically made it seem like it at the time).

I just got back from spending 15 days in Africa. I was in Uganda for a week and Kenya for a week. I thought I knew what it meant to be uncomfortable until I went there... I soon learned that all my "reservations and discomforts" were going to be thrown out the window and that my prayers for brokenness, to be humbled and sifted would soon be answered in a very BIG and LOUD way.

Hurt. This word was seen in so many different ways. There was hurt everywhere I looked on my trip. People were hurting... physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. They were hungry. They were naked. They were dying. They were in pain. They were abandoned. They had diseases that were both visible and hidden. There was so much hurt and I was overwhelmed.

Yearning. These people were yearning for more...or even some. They yearned for food. They yearned for shelter. They yearned for love-- a simple smile would do. They yearned to feel worthy. They yearned for things that I could not give them. They yearned for satisfaction and all I could do was point them North. I could only provide the hope for yearning that comes through faith. The yearning that comes from a Savior not a "mzungu" (white person).

Faith. These people love Jesus... and they love Him hard. There is no reservations when they worship. They don't worry about the volume of their voices, the appearance of their actions or even if those actions are being noticed! They lose themselves in their Savior. They scream out to their Beloved and know that He is not only listening to them, but that He is understanding their pain, desire and faith.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the POOR. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the CAPTIVES and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are OPPRESSED, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor!" -Luke 4:18-19

I prayed for the Lord is break my heart and to ruin all of the plans I made. I desired my uncomfortableness to be tested and for my faith to be stretched. I hoped to see the Lord... to truly SEE His works. To experience Him in a way I had never experience Him before! I craved to be humbled and "forced" to completely rely of the Lord. To have my control and stubbornness stripped away and left completely vulnerable and empty. Not only wanting the Savior but whole heartily needing Him.

On this trip I was bruised, broken, spent and left vulnerably opened. I can honestly say it was two of the most difficult weeks I have ever experienced. However, the way I experienced the Lord was unreal. Things happened that you only read about it the bible. Prayers were answer instantaneously. I never doubted the Lord-- but because He loves me so much He allowed me to see Him in a completely different way. He allowed me to see Him in a supernatural way that is unexplainable. He didn't need me to be used on this trip but He allowed me to serve these people and babies as a tool of the Lord. And in doing this He allowed me to draw closer to Him and have a clearer vision of Him and His Kingdom. He revealed parts of Himself to me that I would not have appreciated, understood or desired had it be shown to me anywhere else or at any other time. He let me die to myself, be reduced to nothing, be 110% humbled and vulnerable (which is not a fun or desirable place to be) and give Him all the honor and glory and praise.

::Sweet Jesus as I come back to my life here God I ask for opportunities to talk about what I experienced in Africa. Allow me to use this not to exalt myself but to exalt YOU! Father, let these stories and pictures point to Your love and grace. As I get back into the swing of things let me remember how to rely on You... even when the situations aren't always as uncomfortable. Don't let me be easily swayed by pointless things, but instead let me heart be surrounded with things not of this world. Let me radiate you in my interactions with others. My heart will yearn and hurt for these babies I left in Africa, however, let me not be burdened by their circumstances but by their salvation. It doesn't matter where they live now if they don't know where they will be living eternally and desire for it to be with You. I shouldn't be consumed with how they are being fed physically but rather spiritually. God let me never, ever forget You and Your universal love!::