Monday, December 22, 2014

What is Christmas really about?

Christmas time is in full swing. There are lights magically strung everywhere you look. Christmas tunes on every radio station. And loooong lines at every store you go to. Ready or not, Christmas Eve is in two days. It is a time that is spent with the people you love, eating way too much, and giving/receiving. As the song goes… "It's the most WONDERFUL time of the year."

However, to some people, it is not the most wonderful time of the year. Recent losses of family members or loved ones can make this holiday season seem almost unbearable. Expectations of providing Christmas morning joy to young children to someone who has just lost their job/went through a divorce that left them penniless/ or is a single parent just trying to get by can be overwhelming. The romance and love that surrounds this season can be defeating for a man or woman who has just gotten out of a relationship or longs for that companionship. So to some, it is not the most wonderful time of the year. To some, it is a really difficult time that comes with reminders of failures, hurts, aches and longings that were not fulfilled.

Take heart though, dear friends. This is not how it was intended to be. This is not what we were created for. We were created to worship. And many of us do-- but, we have lost sight on what we were created to worship. We were created to worship a sovereign Father who pours out unconditional love and grace on us. We were created to live in freedom from sin, hurt, pain, and disappointment. But that all changed in the garden. That all changed when we, as humans, pushed away the agape love that was being poured out on us and chose to try and satisfy our dissatisfied hearts. But thankfully, that isn't where the story ends. Our God, being good and kind and loving, didn't leave us in our sins. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."-John 1:14 The Word has a name… and His name is Jesus. So, when it says the Word became flesh-- meaning fully human-- this doesn't mean He became less. It means Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be restrained. He was still fully God but He chose to become fully human as well. He allowed Himself to feel pain, rejection and heartache. He subjected Himself to ridicule, hurt, and even death on a cross. Not because He "had to"… but because He CHOSE to.

So that is why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate that while we were still sinning Christ chose to remove Himself from the glory of the Father and come down humbly with the intention to love us well, share the Good News and die on our behalf (Romans 5:8). He wasn't born in a palace… He was born in a manager. A humble birth. So sweet friends-- whether I know you personally or you stumbled upon this blog accidentally-- know that we were created for a purpose. We were known and formed by the Creator of the universe. He loves you so much and has plans to help you and not to harm you…. plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). So rest in Him. Turn to Him. Worship Him. He loves you dearly and longs to answer your prayers. They might not be answered in the way you expected, but they will be answered in the way that is needed. So during this holiday season-- even though the lights and music and family time is fun-- remember what it is really about. Take time to sit and think on why we celebrate. We celebrate because our eternity was in need of a Savior… a Savior to take the place of us on a cross and absorb all of the wrath that was intended for us. A Savior that loved me and you so much that He WILLINGLY took our place. That is something to truly CELEBRATE during this season.

You are loved and prayed for. If you have any questions or specific prayer requests, that I can intercede on your behalf about, please comment or email and let me know. Merry Christmas sweet friends… remember, you are important and precious and cared for by a good, good Father.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why I am stepping away from social media.

I live alone (I can hear my mother now… "don't tell the world that, Stephanie"). But I do. I am a 29 year old woman who works and has a crazy busy life and am never home except to eat a quick bite of dinner and sleep. I mean I do more than that sometimes… today I cleaned and did laundry and even caught up on some shows I was behind on…. while grading spelling tests…. I'm crazy, I know.

I really enjoy living alone. I had a wonderful roommate for four years. But here's the thing about marriage… when someone gets married, they don't want to live with you anymore. It happens and is totally understandable. So now, I can eat 5 nights of salad or chicken or string cheese/yogurt/apples (I'm a poor teacher who gets paid at the end of every month and was waiting for pay day people-- don't judge) and not worry about what someone else wants to eat. I can fold my laundry on the couch and leave it there over night and not have to put it away until after work the next night. I can watch whatever I want on TV and not feel the need to share the remote. It's glorious during this season. I love it actually.

However, sometimes, it can be super lonely. No one to talk to. No one to sit and share stories with. No one to catch up on current events with (Amanda Bynes… what are you doing??). So I have a confession to make… I have developed a really unhealthy relationship. I would even go as far as saying that I have become a bit obsessed with this relationship. This relationship is pretty one sided. I run to it to fill the time, silence or boredom. I lose sleep over it. I can stay awake an hour later than I had planned simply because I "need" some interaction in my life. The name of the relationship I am involved with is Social Media. Social Media keeps me up to date with what is going on. Social Media allows me to feel apart of people's lives when I am feeling lonely. Social Media is a reeeeeally simple way to waste hours of my life and pass over more important things that I should be doing instead.

So, while others are doing their 30 Days of Thankfulness (I am not making fun… I do it every year), I will be fasting from social media. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Myspace and Xanga (haha kidding… just seeing if you were paying attention). Some of you may ask, "why are you doing this? what is the purpose? what do you plan to get out of it?" I am so glad you asked… here is what I came up with:

1) Less Digital… More Spiritual

Every morning…. EVERY MORNING… after my alarm goes off, I will lay in bed and check my Facebook and Instagram. Who wrote me? Who liked my pictures? What were normal people (aka not teachers) doing after 10pm on a school night? I want this to change. I want my first thought in the morning not to be, "what is going on in the digital world?" but rather, "what can I do for the Kingdom today?" If my first initial thought in the morning isn't about the Lord and spending time with Him, then I am definitely placing my hopes, desires, and attention in an idol. (Cue Jimmy Needham's song Clear the Stage).

2) Less Negativity

I try to be a person on Facebook who encourages, challenges and speaks about Jesus's love for us in a way that reflects Him well. But everyone doesn't feel that way. There is a lot of discouraging things on Facebook and Insta that can be weighty on your life. Angry posts about teachers. Rude comments about friends. Dumb opinions about things that people aren't that knowledgeable about in the first place. I may not pay attention to it… but it takes a toll. And I would rather be filled with Gospel truths rather than Gossip half-truths.

3) Looking Up 

How many times have I been so enamored by the fact that someone commented on my Facebook status that I didn't pay attention to the person I was having a "conversation" with? I don't think twice about pulling out my phone at dinner and zoning out of real life conversations that are going on around me. Yesterday, I realized I was at a table after school with a work friend and that I was staring at my phone rather than talking to her. How incredibly rude and selfish is that? I don't want to be that person. It's time for me to stop looking at my screen and start looking up. I want to see the good and be intentional with people. How can I do that when I am watching the latest video of Ellen's interns at a haunted house instead of having an intentional conversation? My word I want to focus on this year is serve. How can I serve others well when I am not taking the time to look up and see what they are going through? How can I be a clear reflection of Jesus in their times of hurt or need or even joy, when my head is in a permanent state of being down? I can't… and I won't be effective.

4) Be Love.

I have a lot of friends that are going through some really difficult situations. I am going though a lot of junk of my own that needs to be placed at the feet of Jesus. It is really easy for me to get distracted. Like, really easy. It is 100x worse when I have a phone blowing up with Insta and Facebook likes and comments. I desire to be an encourager. I desire to love the people the Lord has placed in my life well. I desire to be on my face interceding on their behalf, sending them letters and and spending time praying for the people in my life that don't know Jesus. This time away from social media distraction, I hope, will deepen my love for my friends and family and my yearning to be a prayer warrior for them.

5) Jesus.

And last but not least… it all comes down to Jesus. If I care more about what is going on in the world… or even my little social media world… more than what is going on in my heart, I have an issue. Yes, sometimes I am super lonely. Yes, sometimes I am looking for acceptance and affirmation in things/people rather than Jesus. So this will be a great time to remind me of who I am and whose I am.

So yeah, I started a few days late, but I am saying "see you later" to social media. Completely expecting to have some sweet time with Jesus and be reminded of who my worth and satisfaction truly comes from. It isn't people-- it is Jesus. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Sin and God's Grace

"If we see our sin as small then we will never see God's grace as big!"

(Preface: I am so thankful for a pastor and church that challenges and spurs me on. I wanted to share what I have been learning lately and what the Lord has used, through Rodney and others, to encourage my heart and revive my senses to be more aware. Hoping this will encourage your hearts as well!)

Coming back from a mission trip is a sobering reality. I leave every summer, from a country full of wealth and prosperity, to go be submerged into a country full of hurt and poverty. My heart is broken/cut a little deeper every time I go. But the crazy thing is, that even in a country plagued by sickness, poverty, war and hurt… there is freedom. They get it. They see their sins for what they are and SPRINT from them to Jesus. They repent and worship like I have never, even on my best days, have worshipped before. We can blame the "distractions" of America. Wifi, TV/movies, iPhones, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, Netflix, etc…. but those aren't the real issues. 

"The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them." -Tim Keller

I am not saying there isn't sin in Africa. I am not saying that they are more Godly or advanced than we are. But I truly believe that we as a nation have become stagnate. We, and I am the worst offender, are so quick to see the sins of others before noticing the sins consuming our own hearts. That is one of the scariest and more dangerous things I could do. We will never see and consider God's grace if we don't see and consider our sin. Because regardless of how far our sin goes, God's grace goes farther. Apart from grace there is no sin that is out of reach. How encouraging is that?

He is faithful and for us. His Gospel is filled with ways to seek first the Kingdom and align our hearts with His. It's not teaching us that the worst of us are capable of the worst sins but that the best of us are capable of the worst sins. We are all sinners. We all fall short. We all miss the mark. We all are imperfect creations created by a perfect Creator. I am so thankful that the Lord loves me, and you, so deeply that He doesn't leave us in our sins. Yes, it can be overwhelming and yes, it can be humbling. But, before the Gospel satisfies us, it will always sober us. 

So think on this question my pastor asked the congregation yesterday. He said, "Who is the worst sinner you know?" Who is the one that when you think of sinning is like waaaay up there? It's easy to think of people who have that outward, offensive sin. That sin that everyone knows about and that is obviously wrong. However, I should be the worst sinner I know. I know the deepest parts of my heart that are consumed with lust, bitterness, hatred and envy. I know the thoughts I have when someone "offends" me and makes me feel like nothing. I know the things I say about that rude person that was a jerk to me in front of a group of people. 

Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi who was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust and was responsible for creating and managing extermination camps, during WWII, in Eastern Europe.  When captured and put on trial years later, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, Yehiel De-Nur was brought in to testify against Eichmann in trial. While on the bench, after having to walk past and face Eichmann again, De-Nur fainted on the stand. When 60 minutes interviewed De-Nur years later they asked, "What happened up there? Why did you faint?" De-Nur's response gives me chills and humbles me to the core. This man, who faced horrible, terrifying situations and circumstances replied, "Was I overcome with hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of those. Rather, I realized that Eichmann was not a god-like army officer who had sent so many to their death. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. I was afraid about myself. I saw that I am capable to do this. I am... exactly like he."

::Lord, let me never lose sight of how huge my sin is. Let me not get so caught up on 'what have I done?' rather than 'what am I capable of doing?'. When I focus on my sin and how big it is, remind me of how much BIGGER Your grace is. Jesus… remove the things in my life that I have made into idols. Sift out the distractions and replacements I have used to find satisfaction. Allow my heart to be broken daily by Your goodness and grace towards me. And let me be a clear reflection of repentance… not so I can be praised or look good… but so that YOUR name can be made famous. Beloved… I do not deserve this but I am so thankful for Your blood that covers and saturates me. Use me as Your hands and feet, Lord… and forgive me when I fail You.::

Friday, August 1, 2014

I choose LIFE.

“People from my first home say I'm brave. They tell me I'm strong. They pat me on the back and say, 'Way to go. Good job.' But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for 'the least of these,' so that's what I'm doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.” 

I left 3 1/2 weeks ago for my third trip to the place that has stolen my heart. This week back has been a really different transition period. Every year I have come back I have reacted the same. I am withdrawn. My heart is sad and lonely. Everything in me yearns to be back in the beautiful country that holds onto my heart. My heart longs to be surrounded by this beautiful people group and their beautiful language! I physically hurt from the pain of being away from them! But I will rejoice in my time there and meditate on the blessings the Lord has given me. 

I miss the greenness of everything. I miss the view at the top of the hill by the school overlooking the compound, gardens and lake in the background. I miss the sunrises and sunsets. I miss the beauty of our God like I have never experienced anywhere else on Earth. I miss the voices that fill the compound with praise to our good Father.

I miss the school. Those children love learning. They respect their teachers. They notice that schooling and learning is a privilege and they soak every minute of it up. Teaching and working with the teachers at this school every summer reminds me why I became a teacher. It rejuvenates me. It makes me a better teacher and excites me to get back to America and love my kiddos well.

I miss the older kids…. the "seniors". I miss having deep conversations about the Lord with them. I miss sitting and listening to all they have endured in their short lives and being humbled by their redemption that can only come from Jesus. I miss how the Lord uses them. I miss watching how they serve the other children so well. They love them. They encourage them. They discipline them… but then hug and care for them. My heart is destroyed and completely leveled after convos with them. But our sweet Savior reminds me to intercede on their behalf. To be burdened to write and encourage them. He reminds me "with much you have been given… use that to love others."

I miss the precious kids who I taught in school. The ones who are at the age that they are needing/wanting to hang out. They are fine just sitting, playing with my "goggles" (glasses) and taking 1-2 THOUSAND pictures on my phone and/or camera. They are curious. They are interested. But most of all… they are yearning for hugs, love and feelings of being cared for.

I miss my sweet babies. The under 5 crowd. The ones that like to crawl up into my lap, hold my face and intensely stare at my blue eyes and then fall asleep on my chest. They are the ones that don't fully understand why we come and have to leave. They are the ones with the wounds that are the freshest and so the fact that we leave them is just like everyone else who has left. I hold them sobbing as we walk through the line and say our goodbyes and tell them how much they are loved. I tell them I will try my hardest to return-- never wanting to promise something that may not happen, but wanting to reassure them that they are cared for and wanted and special. These are the ones that I pray for the most. These are the ones I pray will understand and come to know God's love and sacrifice for them... and the ones that I pray will be rescued and redeemed.

The thing is… my heart has been changed. My heart has been broken. My heart is very aware of the need of Jesus in this world. He has cultivated a love for the nations in me that is unexplainable. He has called me out among the waves. A place that is scary and unknown… but He has called me to go. He has told me to love. He asked, "Who will GO and feed my sheep? Who will go and love my children? Who will go, while trusting me fully, and make my name famous?" And all I can do is cry…"Here I am, Beloved. SEND ME!" I am not perfect… far, far from it actually. I am not equipped on my own. There is nothing inside of me that is Holy and Good… except Jesus. So I will be obedient. I will be humbled and broken daily for the cause of Christ. Because above my comfort, and my safety, and my "plans for my life"… I want Jesus. Fully. Completely. Uninhibited. I want to know and be known wholly by our Savior. I want life… no, I choose life. Abundant life. And the only way I will find that… is in and through Jesus. 

"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."
-Matthew 16:25

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Living out Deuteronomy 31:6

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."

It is crazy how you can hear a verse over and over throughout your life, but then when you hear at a time you REALLY need it, it washes over you with a newness and comfort that you have never felt before. In one week (and three days) I will be leaving for Africa for my third time. I remember the first time I even looked into trips. I remember thinking "Can I just go to Africa? I am a poor, middle class, Texas teacher… I can't just pick up and go to Africa, can I?" But the Lord showed me that I could. And little did I know that all those years ago when He was showing me what trust and faith looked like that He would be preparing me for this day 3 years later.

I have always grown up in church and was shown what it looked like to trust and have faith in the Lord. I must admit, there are many times where my words and the posture of my heart didn't (and still don't) match up. I know what to say. I know how to act. I know what the "good Christian response" would be. Yes, I fully believe in the Lord. Yes, I completely trust in His promises and will for my life. Yes, I whole heartedly would lay everything down at His feet and follow Him wherever He called me. However, this trip has called for more than I have usually had to sacrifice….

This trip my comfort has been challenged. My faith has been challenged. And even my initial peace was challenged. You see, I am ALWAYS attacked before I leave for Africa. I fully believe that Satan tries to trip me up and cause me to stumble, doubt and worry. My first trip it was the fear of unknown. People around me were nervous and that in turn caused a lot of anxiousness in me. Next, it was financial and I didn't receive my money until the very end. This time he struck me with fear. Worry. Safety issues. The what-ifs consumed my thoughts and I was almost paralyzed with anxiety. Thankfully our God is a good, sovereign God that promises me that He will "never leave me or forsake me." And He hasn't. I have had to be on my knees… on my face…. completely abandoned to His will and He has comforted and tended to my heart in a way that He doesn't have to.

He has taken the worry that I was consumed with away and has replaced it with a beautiful peace that surpasses all understanding on my part. He has shown me sweet glimpses of my purpose and what He needs for me to do. He needs for me to love. He needs for me to trust. He needs for me to unclench the things that scare me… having my family worry, the unknown, what life looks like when I get back… and allow Him to be in control. I have had to trust more than I have ever trusted before and because of that there is a freedom in my spirit that cannot be explained. There is a realization that the "trust" I have had for years… was just a surface level circumstance. This is causing deep, uninhibited faith in the Lord.

So now Satan is moving on to something else… my head feels like it is going to explode, I cannot breath out of my nose and my ears are so stopped up I feel unbalanced. But I will combat this with truth and prayer and scripture like I have done before and Jesus will prevail. Because here is the good news… we win. Good trumps evil. Satan loses. God-infinity: Satan zero. So I may be uncomfortable for a small period of time but all of it will be worth it when I stand before our faultless, glorious, perfect Savior and hear Him say, "Stephanie…. well done my good and faithful servant. In you, I am pleased." Selah.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stephanie means 'Mama"

I am a single woman. I have never been married. I have never had children. So to the world…. I am not a mother. In a society where being a wife and a mother is something that is desired, my heart hurts often that I am without these things. I know, I know…. I am only 28 and that's hardly the age to start signing up for AARP. However, when the majority of your friends are married and/or also have multiple children it's hard to feel that way.

Since I was a little girl I have been a hopeless romantic! I grew watching the beautiful Disney Princesses fall in love with their handsome princes. I watched my dad love my mom well. I was exposed to love and marriage and children and had a beautiful view of what it was and what it is supposed to look like. So, you must understand, I am not some whiny single white female that just wants to find her man and have babies running around my house because that's what you do when you turn 25. I desire to have a husband that will love and lead me well, who will point me to Jesus and who I can do more for the Kingdom with than without. I would love to have children. Little blessings that I would get to pour into, encourage, love on, teach them about Jesus and show them the importance of loving others so that Jesus will radiate out of them.

I am also a teacher. A first grade teacher. So the questions and things I hear daily are hilariously honest. "Do you have a husband?" "Why don't you have a husband?" "Do you have kids of your own?" "Why don't you have kids of your own?" Along with the endless supply of personal questions I get called mom accidentally… a lot! I love when they do it because it completely shocks and surprises them and everyone around them. I, personally, love it. But after every, "Momma??" there is a,  "Ahhh… I mean Miss Daniell??" They realize they have called me by the wrong name. That I am, in fact, not their momma and that they shouldn't call me that.

Well, being used to this I remember the first time I was called "Mama" in Africa. I waited for the awkwardness. The giggle. The correction. But it never came. It actually continued. I asked one of the older kids, Nash, about this. I said… "so, why do you call me "Mama"? Is that a respect thing? Or what do you mean when you say that?" I will never forget his answer. It was short and sweet and to the point. He said, "because to me…Stephanie means 'mama'. Well, as you can imagine (if you know me at all) I immediately began to cry. To Nash, and to some others, I was 'mama'. Not accidentally. Not wishfully. I just was. Nash gave me a little book he made this past summer called, "Mama Stephanie". The words he so poetically wrote cut deep down into my heart. I may not ever get married. I may not ever have biological children. But the Lord loves me despite all those things. And if that is not for me, He will change the desires and yearnings of my heart. But there is one thing I know my Beloved will allow me to be… and that is called 'Mama'.

Mama Stephanie
By: Nahashon

I call you Steph Mama for so many reasons.
You may never know of what value you are to my life.
But God has a reward for you.

When I first met you, I didn't know that I'd call you mum.
But God had it all laid in plan.

Our best time together was the quiet time with Jesus.
Above all I enjoyed to see you sit and have a ear to hear
Jesus say something to you.

Your hearty co-operation and hard work in everything
made an impression on what I should do to others.

You're ready heart to share.
Even at school with all our teachers through your teaching experience.
Though small it may seem-- thank you for being ready to share.

For our little ones at Fiwagoh… you are mum.
Playing and loving around to the least of these before lonely ones.
This did teach me a great lesson.

Help at work, even during pizza night.
No matter how small it was, you taught me
what it looks like to help, mum.

Your courage to me in leaving your country for a strange one.
Trusting fully that God will guide your way
is a story to tell.

Your smile was a sunshine.
I felt someone who cares for me was by me.
I know others felt it; including Daniel.

All your hugs.
You took away loneliness of many.
Thank you for sharing Jesus' love to us.

Your letters… what an encouragement.
I know I am a weak human and failing mortal.
You pray for me not to fail. Thank you mum for doing that.

To me your tears left a stain on my face.
Every time I think about it, I don't want to.
But most gloriously to see you again is what I
look forward to.

Praying for you.
Treasuring you mum.
I love you.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Redemption Group Psalm-- "Who You Are."

Brokenness. Hurt. Separation.

These are the consequences of a fallen world.

Lust. Fear. Anger.

These are the lies I see as satisfying or things that make me feel in control.

Shame. Anxiety. Hardened Heart.

These are the results of my sins.

Beloved, I desire, most ardently to follow you wholly.
O God, how my heart burns to be satisfied in you.
I long to be free from insecurities.
I yearn to be out of the bondage of my sins.
"As the deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and
appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1)

You, sweet Jesus, are my hope.
I rest in Your goodness.
I submerge myself in Your love.
So why do I worry?
Why do I fear?
What causes my mind to wander?
What brings about feelings of worthlessness?
These are lies…. and You are truth.
These are meant for my destruction...
And you, Father, are meant for my good.

You are unchangeable.
You don't waver or sway.
You are the cornerstone.
The rock of ages.
The beginning and the end.

El Shaddai--you are the Lord Almighty.
Adonai--You are our Lord and Master.
Jehovah Jireh--You, Lord, will provide.
Jehovah Shalom-- You, Lord, are our peace.

You are my LIFE SUSTAINER. You are my UPLIFTER
You are my HEARTACHE HEALER and faithful SHEPHERD.
You are my CREATOR, MAKER and beautiful SAVIOR.
You are the ALPHA AND OMEGA… You reign over everything.
You fill my cup… again and again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Why would a girl, who grew up Baptist, be writing about or participating in Lent? Well, here is my explanation. I became interested in it a few days ago and began thinking about it and researching it. This is what I found:

           "During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of MatthewMark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the DevilAsh Wednesday is the first day of Lent for Roman Catholics and most mainline Reformed and Protestant traditions. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayerpenancerepentance of sins, almsgivingatonement and self-denial."

So, taking some time to think about it, I decided that I was going to participate. I had my doubts but I think that my decision is based on the heart. You see, Lent is basically the practice of giving up something to focus on Christ; His sacrifice and what He did for us. When it becomes a strict rule, or legalistic, then you have missed the point. It isn't about successfully completing 40 Days without something. It is about giving something up that takes away focus from Jesus.

I do not like being vulnerable or super honest about my struggles and life (pride issues)… but, I am using this blog to share and show what I will be giving up for a few reasons. The first reason is because sin in the darkness cannot receive healing. It must be brought out into the light for restoration and sanctification to occur. Also, we are called to confess our sins. Some sins seem worse than others-- I am sure once I share what I struggle with that many people will think… that isn't THAT bad. But a sin is a sin is a sin… and when anything takes my eyes off of Jesus and onto it… then it is serious. And lastly, because we are called to walk beside others and live life in community. I am unsure about this next 40 Days and will need constant accountability, encouragement and prayer. However, I am sure of and thankful for two things… grace and Jesus. He is better. So if giving something up for Lent wasn't a struggle then I would say that you should probably reconsider your choice in what to give up. Because, what I see Lent as, is when we give something up…. because we want more of Jesus and see Him as being more satisfying.

So…. after much deliberation, I have decided to give up sweets (desserts/snacks) for Lent. My reasoning? No, it isn't because I want to lose weight. No, it isn't because bathing suit weather is right around the corner. I have chosen this because embarrassingly enough I have noticed that I turn to food (especially sweets) when times get tough. I listen to the lies of the enemy and run to eat my feelings instead of dealing with them and laying them before the Father. So when I hear, "You aren't good enough.", "No one will love you!", "You have nothing and will be alone forever… you might as well eat."… I will go before my Beloved and receive the truths He has promised!! It will be hard. I will want to cheat. I may even fail… but I think this is a beautiful picture of how our relationship with the Lord is. We may fail… but there is grace. We may turn to things other than our Father in times of struggle and weakness… but there is forgiveness. Some of you may feel charged to join me in this season of Lent and refocus your eyes on Jesus. Some of you may not feel that this is the time for that or that it doesn't need to be in that time setting. All of that is great… because above achieving a successful Lent, tearing away from destructive addictive behavior and looking "good and put together"… having Jesus is more important. So fast for a week… fast for a day… fast for the next hour…. but see Jesus as good and precious and BETTER!! That is what we are called to do!

"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You." -Psalm 63:3