“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. 

“Spiritual Wounds: Cleansing.”

I remember being a kid. Yeah, I know I’m technically still a kid (just a bit taller, and more developed). But the days where I woke up with massive “bed head syndrome” and wore the same pair of shorts and play T-shirt 3 days in a row, excited to discover some new grand adventure just awaiting for me in my own back yard. I can recall always grabbing the nearest rugged bag and packing a few snacks, a flash light, and a book. I would then venture out the old tree house and camp out for the most of the day, creating some sort of story and escaping my own little reality for awhile. I also can recall in my so called “adventures” I ended up getting scraped up by falling, jumping, or climbing onto our “Climbing Tree” that was just outside my window. My mom or dad would have to examine my wound, disinfect it so all the damaging bacteria would be cleansed out, and bandage it right up. I felt so comforted and healed after each wound I developed was properly taken care of.

But sadly, here I am. An actual adult facing my reality adventures. Whether it’s going to work and being yelled at by a rude customer or getting onto for not executing my job properly, or to many broken end relationships. I have dealt with many wounds. The sad thing is, not each one did I properly clean. Each one I would face the pain very briefly, and cover it up with temporary, sinful pleasures or another relationship. I just reached a climax into these “uncleaned wounds” pattern and it broke me entirely. I discovered that God has been trying to tell me something all along: “Covering up infected wounds won’t provide any healing, just more collateral damage for the next wound.”

I have always been the kind of girl who HATES pain. I try to avoid it at any cost. I stay away from dangerous sports or drinking parties because I am afraid my life will be in fatal danger. Which, that is a good mind set to have. But when it comes to facing our wounds developed into a broken relationships, secret sins, or self loathing, I have been even more eager to avoid facing pain. Instead of living in fear, God DESIRES us to face our pain and work through it. I know He understands everyone’s healing process varies, but through God’s grace and the strength He provides, we can persevere and gain in what is called a “once-and-for-all-healing.”

“If we confess out sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

I am not saying at all this is easy. It took me YEARS to finally accept that pain is apart of our lives, especially in the walk of Christ. Jesus endured all of this kind of pain, and was incredibly faithful. Why? Because He trusted in the One who knows all, sees all, loves all. Our cleansing starts when we reach the end of ourselves. When the wound grows deep into our veins, throbbing deep and we feel our souls dying. Jesus wants you to be healed. Will you do the very hard thing and just letting go and trusting?

“He heals those who have a broken heart. He heals their sorrows.” Psalms 147:3

Growing Your Soul Garden.

I have not written in almost a month, which that does bring a sting of sadness to my heart. I read a quote today that said, “our hearts wither when we love ourselves more than we love God.” Now, I am not stating that we should not love or focus on ourselves. That is vital. What I am saying is when we withdraw ourselves from a daily dosage of precious time with Jesus and we focus on our own plight, we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. I have been in the pit of the valley my friend. It has been emotionally challenging and painful, but seeds have to root up out of the dirt before they can become beautiful flowers.

Today I want us to focus on this amazing Proverb. It is found in Chapter 8 of this book and the whole topic is on the word wisdom. I am going to go backwards just a tad bit to Proverbs 7. This chapter is all about the “Immoral Woman”. It depicts a woman who is seductive and full of sin and lures a married man into the darkness, knowing well the consequences and the damage he is leaving behind him. (All at once he follows her, as an ox goes into the slaughter or as a stag is caught fast. Proverbs 7:22). I was this man. I was attracted to the lust sin creates. I craved the taste of deception. My heart raced with the adrenaline of enticement. It was blinding and I slowly drifted into the wilderness. I searched and searched for ways to fill the void and pain I felt in my heart. I was reluctantly surprised that I let myself fall that hard. So here I am, laying on the cold, damp soil. But the goodness out of all of this, I am beginning to grow.

Now, back to Proverbs 8. This chapter is labeled in my New Living Translation bible as “Wisdom Calls for Hearing”. What a profound title! Wisdom calls for absolute quietness, seeking, and openness that God does provide. Wisdom in this chapter is portrayed as a woman who was present at the creation and works with the Creator. God is close to those who desire wisdom in their daily lives. Those who loathe wisdom are filled with deception and only crave death. Wisdom should affect every aspect of our entire life, beginning to end. Be sure to open corners of your life to God’s never ending direction and guidance.

The more a individual, especially a follower of Christ, fears and respects God, the more they will despise evil. Here is an important statement to keep close: “Love for God and sin CANNOT co-exist.” This is called a lukewarm faith. I fell deep into this entrapment. I picked up my bible, I rose my hands in prayer, but my mind was filled with lustful thoughts. My eyes were dimmed by the darkness sin instills. The hard thing I had to do was make a clean break with sin and commit myself completely to God. God states that wisdom has to be primary and fundamental in our present souls.

Jesus says, “Happy are those who listen to me, waiting for me outside my home. For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord. Today, if you are examining your soul garden and all you see is weeds, do not rip them out. Weeds need proper digging and pruning. It is painful, tedious, and a long process. Just remember though, a seed starts out small. With the proper watering and fertilizing of wisdom, love, joy, self control, and perseverance, your seeds with sprout into your life. Every person you encounter will become attracted to your soul garden, and you can help re-plant their’s as well.

“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.

“As We Forgive Our Debtors.”

“For is you forgive men for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive them, then your Heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Last month, I was really stumped with emotions. The full time job I signed onto caused me a great deal of stress, to the point my health was being affected. For the past few years I have been dealing with a great deal of pain on the top of my right rib. I was working my first job right after high school at a coffee shop when I realized it was time to start the closing procedures. I finished resetting the cash register and ran to the back to grab my items when I completely disregarded the bold black letters on the yellow sign, “CAUTION: FLOOR IS WET.” As I glided past the sign, my foot slipped right in front of me and fell right side first onto the concrete floor. Up until this day, I have been to a few doctor’s appointments, one trip to the hospital, and an X-Ray exam. All to find out I have a hairline fraction on the 11th bone. It is not really a big deal, but it made me think and reflect about my body and how to take care of it.

Just like how Jesus wants us to take care of our hearts when He sees damage or pain starting to inflame. Jesus really made me take a step back and examine the word forgiveness. I have done several posts on forgiveness, but I really want to share with all the importance of it, how it affects our lives, and how to react when we are struggling to forgive each other and ourselves.

One statement that I wrote is the utmost important when it comes to forgiveness: our greatest risk when we choose not to forgive = losing heaven.

If we hold fast to an unforgiving spirit, we will be handed over to our tormentors. We will lose heaven and gain hell. “Forgive each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Here are 4 reasons to forgive and how it will affect your life and relationship with Christ:

  1. Resist Thoughts of Revenge: Never take revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God. When we try to get even out of spite, we dishonor God and create a longer distance to the path of forgiveness. The enemy loves when we take our pain into our own hands because that is how he will use them to only destroy. Leave your ill will where it should go, at the root of the cross. Let God handle the other person they only way possible. Begin to pray for that individual and start the process of reconciliation. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Says the Lord. Romans 12:19.
  2. Don’t seek mischief: This ties along for the number one reason. We think getting back by spreading rumors, spatting out a few mean texts to get our point across, or jumping into a new friendship/relationship is the answer in hurting that other person. By doing this, we dragging some innocent outsider into our vengeful chaos. Seek the kingdom of God, not the next hateful text that you’re dying to send. “See that no one repays evil with another evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:15. 
  3. Grieve at their calamities: This may be the toughest one yet. God literally want us to pity on those who have betrayed us. When we hear our “enemy” has fallen short or “reaped what they sowed” the first initial action we take is: “YES!” That is not how Jesus wants us to react. There is a famous verse where Jesus says, “if your enemy slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other.” Basically, when someone we know who has hurt us tremendously, instead of getting glee when the storm crosses their way, we need to love and pray for them. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” Proverbs 24:17
  4. Pray for them: I have found this from personal experience the most effective way to a path of forgiveness. Last summer my heart took a huge blow when it came to forgiving someone I sadly truly hated. I asked God, “seriously? There is no way I am doing this.” But God pressed more and more onto my heart, so I began first with prayer, then I began to email this person for 10 weeks straight different lessons in the bible. The person was very intrigued and stated he was experiencing the love God had for them. It was a very humbling experience. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.

Choosing to forgive shows that God is evident in our lives and that we trust Him.

So the question to ask yourself is: “When do we forgive others?”

The answer is when we strive against all thoughts of revenge. When we will not cause any mischief against our enemies, but instead grieve for them when adversities strike and to wish them well when they are having high peaks in their life. When we begin to pray for them, seek reconciliation, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relive them. That is what forgiveness looks like.

 

“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.