“Seasons.”

Well, another year is coming to a close. Twelve whole months have just rolled by in an instant. This may come off cliche, but something about this year has been different. I remember each physical as well as spiritual season vividly. I remember each feeling, each lesson, and each verse God put forth in my sight. I would love to write to you just how the seasons we have experienced naturally affected me.

Spring: The flowers were beginning to bloom. The grass surrounding me beamed a bright green color. Each bird flying above me in the baby blue sky chirped different types of melodies. Yet, with all these new, positive changes I felt the sting of my pain. I was lonely, confused, and felt forgotten. I thought I had mended a relationship that was on the verge of “ship-wrecked.” I am here. I am out in the open, ready to receive God. Ready for His nature design to speak into my deaf ears and cracking soul. I am here. Raising my hands to the Holy One, awaiting His presence to pour down on me like a cool rain shower. I am here. Seeking His heart first, knowing all things will be added to me. Verse: “I will seek His kingdom, then everything else will be added to me.” Matthew 6:33

Summer: The day had arrived. The summer heat was not the only thing burning today. I felt my soul igniting like a flame, keeping my insides warm and alive. I opened the door to my new future; a new hope. I was greeted with many hugs and bright smiles. I heard a dull roar of applause in the huge auditorium, filling my heart with love and eyes with salty tears. I was ready. God had lead me here. I sat into the small pool, feeling the embrace of a kind hand. I closed my eyes, feeling God close in on me. I submerged into the water, as if God and I were intertwined, becoming one. I arose from the water feeling a different feeling. I felt like a bride who just kissed her husband. I became a lily among the thistles, never shriveled or losing color. Verse: “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.” Song of Songs 2:2

Fall: I watched the dead leaves fall from the huge oak trees as if I were staring at a reflection. I had let my flame dim. I began to develop hard emotions: guilt, shame, fear. My sadness consumed me like a tidal wave, crashing against my aching bones and pulling me into the deep, dark waters. I was losing grip of the light. I saw God’s hand reach out for me, but I kept getting distracted by the shininess of sin. My eyes began to grow heavy; the color of my skin pale. I turned to many things to fill this empty void, but I was only creating a bigger gaping hole in my soul. Yet through it all… God was with me. Verse: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalms 139:7. 

“Thrive.”

The enemy is nigh, my brothers and sisters.

He lurks in the darkness, using swaying language and taunting actions to dim our lights.

He wants us all to falter. To take our heavy eyes off the cross. Off the truth.

We cannot let this happen. We have to keep fighting. We all know the truth. We know we are all deeply loved. Deeply wanted. Deeply desired by our Abba.

Yet, we keep dimming our lights. We keep letting the darkness overshadow.

We press into the world, forgetting all we know.

We list after false hope. We crave desires of man. We use up all its resources until we are like a hollow, dark cave; caked with dirt and grime.

Alas. Abba is there. Outstretching his arms to us; inviting us back in. Let us keep going my brothers and sisters. Let us never stop thriving for greatness.

Dark Valleys.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve been venturing through a dark valley my friends. Kind of why I have not been writing on here. Sometimes I forget the things I do have to face while being a Christ follower. I feel sequestered; bounded by sin forever. I have gotten in the deep pit of depression, just clawing my way out. The “roots” I try to grab onto are only dead and frail, instantly snapping as I fall back deep down into the pit. I just lie there, pondering my existence while dirt and grime cover me. I am sorry for this dark visual, but it is important to understand my meaning of this.

Have you been at this place? Have you been facing a valley or multiple ones and just lost at which is the way out? I just read this sentence this evening and it perfectly describes the journeys we are forced to endure: “But be encouraged that valleys are temporary; they do have an end. And valleys have a purpose. God never wastes our pain.”

When Jesus took his last breath on the cross at Calvary and released his spirit to heaven, He warned us that as a believer and cross carrier, we will always endure trials and hardship. Being as of Christ, we will suffer as of Christ. I’m telling you now daily I have to forgive, love, and be kind to people who give absolutely nothing back. But I won’t ever stop. Because that is true meaning of the calling of Christ. You see my friends, the world doesn’t understand Christ. It doesn’t understand the complexity of which Jesus displayed: Forgive your persecutors. Love your enemies. Die to the world every waking day. So many factors are involved as a Christian. We don’t have to face any of this alone! Once we accept Christ, he is forever with us. His spirit is entwined with your soul. How wonderful!So, for you and I. As we face these forced valleys that cross our paths, remember we have the choice to fall, or to walk through it.

“Do Not Have a Feeling Based Faith.”

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Feelings are one of the most powerful, shifting aspects of our minds. Feelings can make us want to dance in the puddles after a afternoon shower. Or they can make us curl up under the covers, while watching the heavy rain drops clash against our windows. Feelings are overall dangerous. Especially when it comes to walking with Jesus. If we base our faith with only feelings, we never experience the Truth and will always submit to our flesh. Here's a chart I found that adequately describes feelings/faith.

Look at the left side for a brief moment. Do any of those things match to what is going on in your personal life right now? I have had to examine my heart on a few of them. When we have a feeling based faith, we are not living up to God's standards. We pray, do acts of goodness, and follow God. But in most cases it's for our gain. For example, I went through a season of "forgiveness" last year. I did all the things I was expected to do. I seeked God, I read His word. I still felt impatient. I examined my heart just now on that Melodie last year and I realized that I was doing those things in order to gain what I wanted. That's not what our season with God are supposed to be like! Every season is like a steeping stone towards our true identity, and being closer to Christ.

When Jesus walked the earth, he was selfless. He performed miracles, taught his disciples, and what I love most, drew to lonely places to be with Christ. Jesus led by example of a spiritual based faith. Jesus knew all along that He would be betrayed by the same hands who praised Him. Yet, he still chose to love them and now love us. When we decide to forgive someone, we can't just take it back because we don't like how they're treating us! When we attend fellowship, we can't single someone else out because they don't have that "church attire" look. Let's love on them and embrace them into the kingdom! After all, we are all going out the world the same way as dry bones.

My prayer for you and me today is to stop living a feeling based faith. We cannot just praise God when things are great. We need to seek God even though there are blockages in our path. We need to love other people, despite how they treat us. Because one who loves knows God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8). Start today by creating a list of things that's keeping you from having a spiritual based faith and begin to ask Jesus to remove the flesh feelings out of your spirit and replace them with His love, kindness, patience, hope.

“Dying to Self.”

“Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I am entering the wilderness, my friends. I just turned my back against the once known "civilization" my mind has created, and I'm stepping toe deep into loneliness again. I might seem odd or crazy to want to do this, believe me, my heart is scared. But, in order for me to completely grasp God. For me to fully express what my true identity is, how I feel of myself, I need to experience isolation. There are a few verses that have helped me with beginning this journey. I hope with the power of God they encourage you as well.

Focus on Heaven: “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth." Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬
The first thing I am having to teach myself in this first week of isolation is, "what is my mind focusing on?" One things comes to my mind is, social media. I tend to waste so many minutes scrolling, posting, liking, etc. How is that vital to my personal time with God? I know 10 minutes a week is not acceptable. I just had to make a very difficult decision of giving it up. I am fasting my addiction over to God. I know some may think that's silly, but it's dangerous what I have been doing. I have created an idol of myself. I have been caring more of how the world sees rather than the One who created me in the first place. It's time that I focus on heaven. A Heavenly life is a righteous life.

Focusing on Faith, not fear: "Cast all your anxiety unto Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
So, following my downfall with living in a fearful life rather than faithful life, I have started to see the world in a negative light. I have woken up every morning these past few weeks just dreading the day. Apathetic of going to work, being angry on the long car trip there with the constant traffic. Feeling annoyed while at work because of the endless to-do lists just waiting for me as soon as I sit at my desk. I have completely shifted my focus to my earthly values, therefore causing me to be full of fear. A God driven person sees every day with hope. Goes through each path that lies ahead knowing God is their protector and guide. I want to be that! A faithful servant is one who will gain everlasting life, not everlasting fear.

Being a Doer for God: "Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. Deceiving yourselves!"
It is so easy for me to post this biblical post, lay my bible on my night stand, and delve into something that completely contradicts God's teaching. Shame on me if I use the word of God for my personal gain! The Bible is to guide us! To instruct us! To heal, protect, and grow us! The Bible isn't a tool to make our reputations seem greater. It's not just another book to read to pass time. It's to show and teach us how to be like Jesus! What we learn in our alone time, will help someone who is going through a rough time. What we pray by ourselves, will lead us to pray with someone else. It's important to be alone with God, grow with God, become who you are supposed to be with God, and go out into the world to help some other lost soul going through a spiritual drought! It's time we start taking God seriously and start dying to ourselves!

“Being You.”

I want to start this by saying this: "it's okay." Regardless of the season you're entering or exiting, not by the circumstances currently surrounding you, I mean it's okay just to be you. If you're feeling hollow, angry, or jealous. Feel that way. Embrace it. It's so unhealthy to pretend you're fine when your spirit is mentally dying. There are numerous things taking place in each of our lives that test our strength, character, and health. We need to be so cautious as to what we let into our hearts. This verse came at such a perfect timing in my life and I need to share it with you: “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” Proverbs‬ ‭14:30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have been experiencing a spiritual exhaustion this past week. I have taken my eyes off of the cross and focusing more on worldly perspectives. If you really want to know how I feel, I feel that my spirit is dying. I feel heaviness in my eyes, and hollowness in my chest. I feel my heart shriveling up because of what I've been feeding it: lies, envy, and anger. I am slowly drifting from the Truth. I am ashamed because I was just recently baptized. How could I possibly be doing this already? Some of the wisest followers I know told me that Satan works even harder to throw us off our paths when he knows we are becoming closer with Christ.

What I am trying to grasp myself is, I literally have the spirit of the living God residing in my lungs. He breathes what I breath. He sees my thoughts. He knows what words I will speak next.

I believe in the power of God. But, as the mere mortal I am, my own mere mind doesn't want to believe I have the power of God too. Now when I say that, I am not stating I have the physical powers of God. That is not true at all. What I am saying is, through the power of God, I can withstand any trial or temptation that comes my way. Correction, WE all do. I feel myself slowly going back into the wilderness of isolation. I feel like my back needs to be faced away from the world, and my eyes set once again on the cross. My hands need to let go of my own strength, and need to be lifted high to the One who gives me strength. It's time that I really face the storm that I keep creating within me. We all cannot control how certain people treat us, feel about us. But we can control how our Heavenly Father sees us. I leave you with this: whatever you believe, wherever you are at, just be you. Embrace who you are. Trust in the God who created you, not what other's opinions want you to be.

“Living with Integrity.”

“The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus really went to home on me today on my past. I feel like I've been in a spiritual slump this week, but Jesus took me down a detour of my past sinful self. I was analyzing my thoughts and I actions I displayed before, and I'm not proud of any of it. I realized that I used to be a "personality splitter." Meaning, I acted one way with the groups I encountered. When I was around people who were negative, I'd catch myself saying something downing just to get some feedback. Or if I was with a group who loves to gossip, I'd catch myself rambling words in my brain to create a poisonous outcome just to fit in. And at the end of every day, I'd sit, Bible open, just praising Jesus and asking for forgiveness, just to repeat the same pattern.

I feel so silly for being that way! I was always afraid of being my real self. I wanted people to see different versions of me so I would receive approval. Do you know what that got me? Disappointment. There's just one verse and word I want to leave you with and three reasonings why Jesus wants us to live a life of integrity.

  1. A life of integrity leads to a hopeful future: "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.” Proverbs‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

That verse speaks volume to me. I have been striving to be a woman that resembles integrity. To be an example of a woman who exempts godly measures. To pray for my enemies, to not only read the word, but to apply it physically to my life. As I become a wife and mother one day, my children will see the path I've lived, and I'm praying right now they would want to live that way too! Our children need to be showing a life of respect not neglect!

2. When we show our enemies integrity, we show Jesus's love: "I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever." Psalms 41:11-12. It is one of the most trying acts of faith we endure daily of choosing to show integrity to those we have resentment. I have learned from personal experience that showing complete hatred to someone we have hurt is literally murdering ourselves. We burn a hole in our souls with Jesus and strip our true identity away when we show any act of worldliness to our foe. I recently, actually today, realized living that way is so exhausting. We all know that acting out purposefully towards someone who has hurt us is doing nothing. That person does not know or care about how you feel. But, Jesus does. And he told me and now you, love your enemies, be kind to your enemies, and pray for them. Showing that act of integrity grows your heart to love more and it grows your heart closer to Jesus.

3. A heart of integrity beats the strongest:“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.” Proverbs‬ ‭10:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
The enemy is never at rest, even when you are. When your bible is staying closed, collecting dust, your heart becomes more vulnerable to his devious plans. Your mind begins to create thoughts that do not come from heaven. We need to stay near our lord, my friends! It's better to be on your knees in prayer, than on your feet in despair. Let Jesus guide you down the path of integrity and strength. Let God shape your mind, heart, and spirit to be of heavenly things, not earthly.

Let us all remember this: we are a chosen few. Following the challenging, narrow path God has created is not easy, ever. It takes hard work, discipline, and faith to conquer every trial. Just when you survive one, another creeps along. Each trial we face tests our character, builds our strength, and grows our integrity.