“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!

“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.

“There’s Mercy in Your Anguish Prayers” 

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭116:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Are you going through a "dry spot" in your life at the moment? Are you reading your bible, knowing you see the words of Jesus, but they're not affecting your heart at all? Are you sitting on your knees, with crossed hands, just trying your hardest to spew out words of prayer to our invisible God? Let me tell you, friend, I have been there. There have been numerous moments in my walk where I have been considered "spiritually dry". Where every passing moment I spend with Jesus, I just don't feel anything affected in my life. I have had moments where I read the word for 10 minutes, and I see a notification light up on my iPhone, and I'm more intrigued by how the world sees me instead of God. Then after that spur of the moment ends, I'm right back to feeling hollow. 

What is important in this post today is this simple statement: faith in God is not run by our feelings or circumstances, it is run by the intimate connection provided constantly by the spirit of God. What I mean by this is, it's very easy to worship God when our life has had great things come along. Like for me, I finally was granted a full time job with weekends off so I can attend Sunday service. I have been very happy about that, but then a storm came over me. I just recently found out that someone I was once so intimate with has taken the heart of a former close friend. I have had feelings of betrayal, anger, and disappointment. Which I don't want to have those feelings. So my prayers and reading time have been cut short due to my heart being so entangled with sadness. 

God spoke to me deeply yesterday about being "spiritually dry." We cannot depend our own emotions to stay in tuned with the spirit. God wants us to pray at his feet when we cannot say the words we need to say. The word of God is our shield against evil, our love story with Jesus, and it speaks truth of our identity. Satan has been pressing into my brain that I need a man still to be loved. But I read these words this morning in Psalms 117 and I felt the love of God fall upon me: “For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” Psalms‬ ‭117:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

My dear friend, God loves you forever and always. He loves you when you are distant. He loves you when that person is the center of your attention. He loves you when you are questioning your existence. He loves you because He made you. Go through your day knowing that the mighty lord of heaven has your best intentions💛

“How I learned to smile in the midst of agony.” 

I am aware I have shared my story of how I overcame the pain of last storm I endured. I just find it very important to express the lesson I’m wanting to share: you can still choose to smile in the midst of agony. I’m sure there are some eyes reading this feeling heavy, tired, and wanting them closed forever. Before you click the exit button of this blog, friend, just leave with these words: your past doesn’t define you. Your pain isn’t your thoughts. Your sadness isn’t your feelings. Your anger isn’t your heart. 

If you just endured a heavy burden, I understand that these words may have just went over your head completely. Go through the process of anger, denial, and sadness. It is okay to feel like getting out of bed is the hardest thing. It’s okay that looking at your blank phone screen makes you feel hollow. It is okay to miss that person who you never thought would walk away. But, it is not okay to stay in that dark place. Clouds cover the sun at times, but it still does its work to keep shining it’s light and work. So should we. I went through a trial of isolation. This isolation was beyond difficult. 

There were moments I felt like I had everything, and more moments I felt like nothing. There were times where being at the grocery store was too much work for one day. I always felt like I needed to be with someone. I usually tried my best to stay as far away from my room because being alone frightened me. Instead of running away from loneliness, I delved into it. I became friends with myself. I started to take walks in nature, write poetry and blogs, and be more organized. I started to see myself the way I should have: beautiful, kind, and enough. The more time I spent alone, the more God made home my heart. 

Up until now I have been so content with me. I always have found my security and self worth in men. Now I find it through me. I learned how to love others the way I want to be loved. I learned more about my flaws and how to cope with them. I learned to be happy with what I have, instead of dwelling what I lost. And you, my beautiful friend, can have that same luxury. You can see past your pain, and smile