Growing Pains

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. 

Proverbs 12:15

 

  1. Know that I should be doing homework.
  2. Know that as a grad student I should always be doing homework.

But this blog post has been waiting in my drafts long enough. Early August in fact, 3/4 of the way through my internship, facing an upcoming season of uncertainties and uncharted territories.

Nearing what I believe is the end of that period and entering a new, yet to be charted season, I can feel the inner conflict beginning to stir.

Turmoil that, when left unchecked, is known to make my battle ready self hesitate.

It is not that I fear God failing. No, I believe in him 100% of the time.

But I have struggled with believing in myself.

I have struggled to believe that I can communicate, discern and complete those tasks in front of me. Oftentimes I am self-convinced that I am getting the message wrong and surely God has called someone much more… much?

In today’s world this struggle is a genuine one. The world we live in is hardly encouraging most of the time. And if we are not tuned into what God is saying and what he has said, then who are we listening to?

No matter where you are in life or what career field you are working in, there will always be “the voices” in “the moments.”

While I hope you are not familiar with the voices or the moments, living in this world is an unfortunate guarantee that you are more familiar with them than most of us would like to admit.

You know the ones where you are “too young,” “too old,” “too conservative,” “too liberal,” “too educated,” “too naive”… and all the other “toos” that make you unable to understand. Your answer is wrong. It’s not your fault, you are just “too much” or “too little” and that is too bad.

And in these moments, in early August, amid all the voices, I found I really missed my mom.

In these moments a part of me wishes I would have grown up faster. That I would have grown up more gracefully, gliding past the obstacles and never missing a step.

Unfortunately I was one often caught between hard places, getting back up with scrapped knees and bloody knuckles. Generally walking away with a hard earned and learned lesson accompanied with a loving, motherly, “keep going.”

Mom was a great director on walking the line between “do not let them undermine you” yet “listen to wise counsel.”

So here I am, walking the line, and it is getting slimmer. Its one of those moments where the enemy has gotten a hold of one of the ends of the line, turning it into a tightrope and has begun shaking it. You’re not sure if you’ll be able to remain upright, let alone move forward without losing your balance.

And so I spent some time laying my case out to one who has all the time in the world- eternity in fact. My fragile and fear disposed heart repeating that I believed in Him, but… but… me, the me part of the plan was questionable.

God haven’t you heard? I am not ready. I am not qualified. I am too much this and not enough that.

And in those moments that still small voice whispered- but I believe in you.

I believe in you.

I created you. Who knows better what you are capable of? And remember- you are not going in alone. I will be there. And you said yourself, you believe in Me.

True.

So repeat the problem?

And the tightrope stopped shaking. Because in that moment I handed the end back to God- and stopped jumping up and down on it as I was placed back on solid ground.

I remembered that He is before and behind me. Above and Below me. Even should I fall, He is already there. My own worst enemy had been myself, and the enemy’s doubts I had adopted as my own.

And in that space, on that grounded line, I found it.

Humble Confidence.

A graceful clumsiness. Somedays you will fall. Others you will dance. But everyday you will be fearless.

Because should all else fall away you know your Strong Tower is always before, behind, above and below you. There’s no direction you can fall that he won’t be there to catch you.

As if He wasn’t enough, He has also provided family and friends along the way to encourage us and be lights in an otherwise darkened world.

People who are always behind you, some of who you will meet going forward and others who are watching the ground below you from above.

I know beliefs differ, and I do not have the ultimate answer (I am still in Bible college and God has not granted me a vision or revelation that has been withheld from others until now- not that I haven’t asked), however I highly suspect that loved ones can see us from above. At least to an extent. (I generally reference the story Jesus shares in Luke 16:19-31 of Lazarus and the Rich Man and personal experience).

With that said I also fully believe that our loved ones who have passed into Jesus’ presence are in a place with no sorrow, no tears or hurting and pain of any kind. They are in the best of places, praising our savior and rejoicing.

As much as I miss my mom, my best friend, my grandfather, my aunt and several others; I wouldn’t want them to be in that perfect place missing being here. And I know if my mom (or any of them) recalled the pain our temporary separation caused this side of Heaven, her heart would break.

So I have this hope that should my belief be correct and that they are able to look down at times, there is what I have coined as an “eternity filter.”

A filter that when my mom looks down its through the light of eternity, a light that erases the darkness of this world. While she sees us in the good and bad, she knows that the bad will not endure and the good is not even remotely close to the best. And that we have all the time in world, for one day- there will be no more goodbyes and no more ends.

On this side we see through a “world filter,” its dark and broken. Things are hard and you never fully feel like you have made the mark. There are days when the time inches by and others where it feels as if it flew in the blink of an eye.

Further evidence we are just journeying through this world. Our hearts can never fully fit into this world’s concept of “time,” for He has placed eternity in our hearts.

So lesson learned this season:

Growing up is never a task fully accomplished on this side of heaven. Growing pains mark growth, not completion.

In the moments where the growth is hard come by remember you have a Creator, His host of angels and His saints, who count it a hard earned and won Victory.

So fellow Saints, put on your Armor and remember no victory is too small and certainly no matter how beat up and bruised you may emerge, every one is worth celebrating. Moses didn’t think he could lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Peter was uneducated. David and Mary were teenagers. Abraham and Elizabeth were old.

The reality is that you don’t have this. But God does and He’s called you.

And as the prophets and the early church leaders prayed, so we pray, to continue to grow in the knowledge of God, bearing fruit of every good work. No longer seeing this world through it’s broken and twisted filter, but through the filter of eternity to which we have been called.

*Comment here or on the Prayer Requests/ Praise Reports page any prayer needs or celebrations.

*To see updates for upcoming posts and projects you can follow “declare_hope” on Instagram and “Declare Hope” on Facebook!

Thank James Pond on Unsplash for photo.

Access

In him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him.

Ephesians 3:12 (CSB). 

I am assuming that I am not the only one who blinked and feels as if they missed the month of August?

Back to school, last minute vacations, fair days and all of the final summer celebrations that bring summer to a close and welcome fall in (heralded in by the infamous release of pumpkin spice everything!) 🍁

I had not intended to take a blogging “sabbatical” this summer… regardless I am back and I have missed you all a great deal!

Just to let you know where I have been; I managed to finish my three courses (and begin my new ones), wrote 1/3 of a book (which I hope to finish and share more on soon), graduated my first unit of CPE continuing my journey to becoming a certified hospital chaplain and…

Located a spot and moved into mine and Reyna’s new space!

The last few household items were put up these past few days (Thank you Grandma, Tom and Dad!) And we are officially moved in!

The picture above is when I first received the keys.

The Lord ensured I had plenty of time and I was very blessed to enjoy a “slow and steady” moving in process.

For the past two years the majority of my things were in a storage unit and then over this summer spread out between two households. So the gathering was quite an adventure in itself.

However despite the change and difficulties when making a move… and the colossal task of unpacking, I had a moment of complete gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong- this move was not one taken on as a solo gig and I was and still am incredibly thankful for every helping hand and encouraging word that continues to pour in- but this was a moment of a different form of thankfulness.

What I was thankful for had been buried, not readily on the surface, kind of out of sight. Needless to say, it took me by surprise, a sort of revelation.

As I walked through my halfway unpacked apartment I was “down on my knees” thankful to have access to things I had not seen in over two years.

Memories flooded in as I unpacked items dating all the way back to ten years ago when I first moved out to my first dorm room in Oklahoma.

And the reality is that I do not need these things. If everything I owned were to disappear tomorrow, I would be okay.

Because I have a God and a Savior and a Spirit that can never be taken from me. And at the end of the day they always hold my every hope and prayer as well as all my trust and love.

But as I look and remember, I am humbled and grateful for every blessing I have received and continue to receive that I did not and do not deserve.

The adventures this journey has taken me on and the wonderful people who have joined me along the way.

I thought about it for a moment, this concept of access. And I realized this was far from the first time I had stumbled upon a lovingly opened door.

And as I reminisced on all these lovingly opened doors of the past, some of which had also been lovingly closed- ushering me on to the next one- I found myself reveling at the door which by all human standards could have never been opened.

The greatest access I have ever been and ever will be granted is the access I have through Jesus, who opened the door that was by all human accounts impossible to open.

The key to which was something I would have never been able to possess and that which had to be freely given, the blood of my God walking alongside humanity in this broken world.

It can be hard to fathom.

But as the verse from Ephesians reads, it is through faith in Christ Jesus, that we can have bold and confident access to the throne room of the Lord.

Do you know when you pray in Jesus name, no matter where you are- on your knees, standing up, eyes open, eyes closed, a few words, many words, no words just a voiceless weeping- you have entered the throne room of God.

And you, yes you, have the full attention of the creator of the universe.  And He listens to you. He hurts with you. He celebrates with you.

In Jesus you have been given access to the Kingdom, he’s given you the Kingdom keys. You’re no longer a guest, you’re an adopted and battled for child of the King.

And our King loves to listen and talk to you. There is nothing too insignificant or small, He wants to hear about it all. He knows every hair on your head.

He is a King who has personally created you in His own image, purposefully crafted you together for a time such as this and who, not would but has, died for you.

Access.

It is not the first word I would have put on a list of thanksgiving. Yet, it is the beginning and ending of everything, in Christ Jesus.

I am excited to be writing again my friends. Please comment any prayer requests below or on the page listed in the tabs above. ♥️🙏

The picture at the top is when I first received my keys. Included below is a picture of Reyna preparing to enter our new “home away from home.” (Complete with “Give Thanks” wreath and “This house runs on coffee and Jesus” welcome mat!)

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