God reveals His best through a coffee station

At my house, we have an overflow of mugs. The kitchen is pretty small, and one cabinet is filled with mugs. That’s a lot of space designated to mugs. My roommates started talking to me about building a mug wall. It took a couple months before I started seriously thinking about this plan. At first I had all these great ideas for a shelving unit, but then I remembered my plaster walls and how difficult it is to hang anything on them.. so we came up with a few ideas that seemed okay and I asked my friend, Brad, if he could help us create this mug wall.

A few more weeks went by as we began talking about the plan, and the mug wall transitioned into a coffee station. The coffee station morphed into a coffee hutch with a place to hang some mugs and a shelf to house extra coffee essentials.

Last night, I sat down looking at the coffee hutch that finally adorned the corner of my dining room. This beautiful piece of furniture that looked nothing like I had originally planned was the perfect finishing touch. It opened up tons more space not only in my kitchen cabinet but also on the counter. It was everything I never knew I needed and now I can’t imagine what I did before having it.

As I was sitting there, it hit me. This coffee hutch was more than just a place to store and make coffee. It was a promise from God. It was a promise in regards to my future spouse. During this time of waiting, I think I know the type of guy who could be my perfect spouse. I think I’m ready and I am eagerly anticipating him. God’s reminding me to continually be patient in His timing. I may think I have a plan. I may think my “mug wall” is perfect, but God’s waiting around, taking His time, because He wants to gift me with something far greater than a mug wall. I won’t settle for the mediocre mug wall when I know God has the perfect coffee hutch in mind. Now every time I go to make coffee or walk through my dining room, I’m met by not only a beautiful piece of furniture, but a promise for the future as well.

Break the Mold

So Saturday, I was at my gym, and I was getting some cardio in before lifting. A few weeks ago, I pulled my hamstring because I dropped to do a push-up too quickly in a game of reverse charades.. I’m getting old, I know. (Everyone 30 and above is rolling their eyes, but seriously, my body feels old), and I digress.

My gym is set up with a floating upstairs area. All the cardio machines are upstairs and you can look down at the first floor area that houses the free weights. As I was on the elliptical, I was looking around and I couldn’t help but notice how the free weight area was 90% occupied by men while the cardio area was 90% occupied by women. I started to think about the standards society throws at us. Guys are supposed to be macho, built, strong, chiseled. Girls are supposed to be skinny and toned. It makes sense that all the girls are doing cardio while the guys are bulking up. We are trying to fit into the molds society has forced upon us.

For years I fell into the lie that I had to burn so many calories through cardio or I wasn’t really getting a workout in. If I didn’t go for a 4-7 mile run I felt like I hadn’t actually worked out. I knew the more muscle you built up, the more calories you burned at a stand still, but I couldn’t make myself give up my cardio to lift. I couldn’t give up cardio. This past August, I began to lift regularly. It took awhile for me to break the need for cardio every day, but as I continued in this routine I began to see my body get stronger. It’s been such a freeing experience to be able to change up something as simple as my workout routine.

So why am I writing about my workouts? The point is that everyday we are bombarded by a slew of ideals and molds that the world sends our way. Instagram is filled with perfect model pictures and fitness guru accounts. The checkout area of the grocery store is lined with magazines showing you how to achieve the perfect body. In reality, everybody is flawed, and everyone has insecurities, we just don’t highlight them. It’s so hard to break out of the mold and step into freedom. It’s something I’m working towards achieving. I want to live in freedom rather than in a life of restrictions trying to fit the world’s molds.

These molds go way past body image. Society tells us we have to be successful and work towards our big house with a white picket fence. Society looks at us funny when we are 24 and single. What’s wrong with you? Why are you so picky? Society says we need to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and do a certain thing. If our life doesn’t fit inside that tiny mold, then surely we are doing something wrong.

But God says that we are uniquely and wonderfully made. He handcrafted us for a specific purpose that no other person on this planet could fulfill. There’s no mold for that kind of life. Break the mold with me and lets start living in the freedom Christ died for us to attain.

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Finished Renovations

Today, I am finally posting the “after” pictures from my home renovation! I know it’s been forever, but I was waiting until I had a wide enough lens to show the rooms. It just so happened that the day I took all the pictures, we had a cloudy day which created some awesome natural light, which in turn made me look like I know what I’m doing with pictures. Don’t be fooled. I borrowed my sister’s GoPro. I couldn’t figure out how to charge it (Thank God that my roommate is a videographer – shout out to Maddie Short). I then took about 15 videos that ranged from 40 seconds – 2 seconds because I thought I was on the camera mode and then realized I didn’t know how to stop recording. The struggle was real people! But, I persevered, and cannot wait to show you my house.

In all honesty, I love how my house turned out. I’m so glad I chose a fixer upper. It was so fun to pick out everything, from the cabinets to the floor color. I’ve loved decorating every inch, and look forward to one day fixing up the basement (another “bathroom” and our laundry “room” is down there). Getting to work alongside my parents, grandparents, and (at times) my siblings was such a neat experience. I learned a lot during this renovation and cannot wait to use my knowledge on future endeavors.

I want to take you on a tour of the house as if you’re walking in for the first time. Hopefully, these pictures will give you an idea of the layout of the house.

The Living Room

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Before

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Which leads into the Dining Room

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Which leads into the Kitchen

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After

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From there, a hallway off the Dining Room and Kitchen leads to 2 bedrooms and a bath.

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After

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Finally, a staircase off the dining room leads to the second floor.

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After

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I realize all of the pictures aren’t the highest quality, but hopefully that gives you a rough overview of our home make over! Leave a comment with your favorite room, favorite transformation, or thoughts on possible upgrades.

Everything is meaningless

For those of you who aren’t new to the blog, you know that 50% of my posts (back in the day) were about soccer and surgeries and the pains, struggles, and joys I found through competing at the collegiate level. Recently, I read an article about a former coach who had recently resigned. Unfortunately, the further into the article I read, the more I felt disrespected. I was hurt to read some of the words written about my class and classes before me. Words written about experiences people weren’t even involved in but had suddenly become experts in. Initially, I felt a lot of anger, but then it hit me..

At church, we’ve been studying Ecclesiastes. For those of you who haven’t read it, the whole book is based on how life without Christ is meaningless – a mere chasing after the wind.

I spent 18 years of my life training for soccer. I spent 4 years training and competing at the college level. During that time, I ran countless sprints, I woke up early before my summer internships to workout and came home from my internships to work out some more, I went through 2 invasive surgeries (ACL and Compartment Syndrome), I spent countless hours in the athletic training room. I pushed my body to places I didn’t think I could go. I gave up countless hours to invest and mentor underclassmen, to lead by example, to create a family where our team was unified in the common purpose of serving Christ on and off the field. I cried countless tears. I gave my life to the sport and to my team.

I remember fretting over games, starting positions, injuries, etc.

For what?

It’s all meaningless. Now 2 years out, the legacy my class worked so hard to build has disappeared. The hours I spent working to earn playing time mean nothing. What once seemed to matter so much now matters very little.

Tonight I was reminded that life truly is pointless without Christ. Anything of this world has no lasting meaning. It may satisfy for a minute but that too, soon vanishes. Don’t work for the glory from those around you. Work hard only for Christ. The only thing lasting, the only thing eternal, is Christ. What we do for Christ will last a lifetime.

Last, I wanna say that success isn’t measured by wins or losses. To me, success is measured through relationships, Spiritual growth, and experiences. When I look back on my college soccer experience, most of what I am grateful for isn’t even soccer related. Soccer brought me my best friends, it made me stronger, and it brought me closer to Christ. I learned how to dig deep and fight. I have memories that will last a lifetime, and nothing and nobody can take those away. That’s what matters – the relationships, the lessons learned, and the journey.

The Posture of Waiting

I keep a prayer journal.. I have been doing this for the last 5 years. Last night, I was going back and reading through my prayers. It’s so cool to see how God showed up over the years..seeing both the prayers he answered in ways I expected or wanted, and also seeing prayers He answered with a no. As I read, I realized a common theme to a lot of my prayers has been wait.

This past December I wrote about waiting, and I thought I’d share what I wrote.

“Wait. Waiting.

So often we wonder where God is during the waiting. But He’s all around! God does His best work in the waiting.

What does a posture of waiting look like?

I have come to know that a true posture of waiting looks like someone knelt, with arms spread open and palms faced upward – emptied. It’s a posture of hope and expectancy. Only God can fulfill our greatest desires and deepest longings. It’s only when we come to Christ without our own expectations – without any power of our own, in a humbled posture that God can work.

How often do I think I’m waiting, but in reality, I’m that little kid in the car asking repeatedly, ‘Are we there yet?’ How often do I come to the place of waiting claiming to be patient, but really expecting exactly what I’m waiting for to show up right when I want it. That is not the appropriate posture of waiting. Lord, I’m sorry for how I come to you with an improper posture of waiting. Help me to hold on to the flame of hope, no matter how small it is! Help me to remember what you are capable of and what you can do! I want to wait with expectancy – not an expectancy that’s regarding me, but expecting that you will meet me without fail. Rather than demanding the things I want and calling that belief, I am simply going to expect you to show up. I want to know joy here in the waiting. Help me to know joy here.”

Going through life in a posture of waiting is hard. It’s hard to be fully expectant and reliant on the Lord even when the next step is uncertain or the waiting is long. One thing I know, the Lord is in the waiting. He sits with us, and He’s working for us. Whatever you’re waiting for, whether you’ve been waiting for a day or for 10 years, know that He is working and waiting alongside you.

God is good.

So, I gave up social media for 3 weeks in January to kind of reset my mind and where I place my time. When I wake up, I want Christ to be the first thing on my mind rather than my instagram newsfeed. Anyways, this morning I was scrolling through Instagram for the first time in awhile (seems I learned a lot in those 3 weeks…of not just scrolling through instagram right away… hah). I came across Lysa TerKeurst’s post and it stopped me mid scroll. She said this:

God is good.

God is good to me.

God is good at being God.

Take a second to let that sink in. Re-read it if you need. Do you believe that? As I read it, I realized that so often I believe in “the plan” being good. And if something drifts apart from the plan then I wonder what is happening and what is God doing. When my life begins to look a little…or completely different from the plan do I still believe that God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God

At church this past Sunday, we talked about sadness and how as humans, we like to hold sadness at an arms length away. Sadness is hard and it changes you. Surely sadness cannot be apart of “the plan.” But in sadness we see Jesus. In sadness we experience God, and God is good. I think it’s a perspective change that has to happen. We are raised to believe there’s a certain path that we are to follow in our lifetime. We are raised to search out the joys and happiest times of life. Can we change our perspective to believe that whatever comes, it’s good – because God is good and God is good to us?

You might be in a really tough place. You might be in a really discouraging or hopeless situation. You may have just lost a loved one, or maybe your dream just died. Can you believe that God is still good in that and he can work all things for good? Maybe you can say God is good, but you struggle believing God is good to YOU. I’ve been there. Honestly sometimes I’m still there..struggling to see that God is for me specifically. He is.  When we put our hope and our trust in “the plan,” we will be let down every time. The plan isn’t God. The plan is our own conjured up ideals of what God is going to do and what God wants for us. This is built by humans and humans are fallible and wayward. Rest instead in God – in whatever plan He takes you upon. Don’t look 10 steps ahead, focus on the 1 right in front of you.

God is good.

God is good to me.

God is good at being God.

Finding Your Stride

Have you ever been running and all of the sudden you just find your stride. I mean your running and then you hit this stride and you feel one with the road (or treadmill). Your body movements are so smooth and it almost feels like you’re flying.

It seems most of my life I’ve been running the wrong way. I was a college soccer player and I’m just now figuring this out? haha. Rather than this effortless movement, I was always pushing, sprinting, trying hard. Instead of listening to my body, standing erect, and letting my feet feel the rhythm, I was leaning forward pushing towards the destination in front of me and ultimately ending tired, and worn out.

It’s not that I had a weird running form. To anyone it would probably look normal. It seemed normal. I thought it was normal – until I began to hit my stride. I’ve just recently begun to experience this effortless running and before that I had no idea what I was missing out on.

As I was finishing my run yesterday, I couldn’t help but compare this scenario to my walk with Christ. So often I’m pushing towards a goal. I’m trying to fit my “workout” in rather than enjoying His presence. My relationship doesn’t often feel effortless. In fact, at times it seems to be a lot of persistence and work. But when you experience “your stride” with Christ, oh. You know there is so much more. You know you’ve been missing out on such an experience – such a relationship. Running in stride with Christ is effortless. It’s enjoyable. It’s the way we were meant to live.

There are times where going for a run feels terrible, and I have to make myself do it, and while I’m running I’m dying, but I’m always glad I ran. In the same way, there are days where trusting and hoping in Christ is hard work. Where you feel like you’ve been waiting forever and it should finally be “your turn.” But I know at the end, when I look back, I’m always glad I pressed into the Lord even when I didn’t feel like it.

Fittingly, I finished my run yesterday with the song “Born To Run”

I finally found the answer to my purpose
It turns out you were closer than I ever thought
And now I’m gonna live my life on purpose
The way I could’ve all along
I was chasing me now
Looking for a feeling
Now I found Your freedom
And I know it’s here to stay
When I’m restless
I run to your presence
There’s no better promise than Your way

I was born to run
This heart was made to run

Here’s to living in stride with Christ.

Dare to Hope

“We have this hope as an anchor for our soul..” Hebrews 6:19. What exactly does that mean? How do we live that out? This post is kind of a follow up to my last post. I’ve been learning a lot recently about, as Katie Majors would call it, “Daring to Hope.” Hope is a beautiful and yet dangerous thing. Hope brings you to a place of complete and utter vulnerability and reliance. To hope in the Lord is to fully lay everything down and trust that God is who He says He is and that His plan is higher and greater and better than anything we could dream up. It’s allowing yourself to believe that even when it feels like your world is spiraling out of control – even when your world looks nothing like you had planned – even when you feel helpless and alone or even if you are on a mountain top. Daring to hope is, in fact, one of the most courageous things a person can do.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had lost my hope. I had lost my trust. I want to be the person that leans in even deeper when I’m confused, but instead of leaning in to the Lord, I had found myself at this place of utter indifference. I had scales over my eyes like Paul, but I hadn’t yet taken the steps to remove the scales. I couldn’t see the Lord. I couldn’t see the good. I was focused on the darkness.

But wow the Lord is faithful. He pursues after our hearts, and he works to take off the scales. Even once when we can see, we have to come to a place where we are courageous enough to hope. to trust. It’s hard to give over my dreams, my aspirations, my plans, and my thoughts/ideals. But why is it so difficult? I know the truths about the Lord – that He works for the good of those who love Him. That He is just and merciful and good, yet there are times where it’s hard to see all of those attributes. I want to keep the Lord an arms width away because I’m scared to hurt. I feel as if I’m the only one who can truly protect my heart. This is the exact lie the devil wants me to buy into. That God is good but maybe not good enough? This philosophy is so skewed, yet I buy into it.

Oh Lord, forgive me for my skewed perception of you. Forgive me for believing that I know better. Forgive me for believing the lie that you aren’t enough. Forgive me for losing my hope and my trust. Renew in me a pure heart. Continue to pursue after me, I will pursue after you.

And, recently, those scales have fallen off, and I see my Jesus with fresh eyes. I am again daring to hope. With these new eyes, I continually feel on the verge of tears at the passion and pursuit of the Lord. When I allow myself to feel the gravity of His love, it is reckless. It is life altering. It brings dead to life..that’s what He’s been doing in my life. He’s bringing me to a place of courage where I can again dare to hope. I can hope in my Savior – that He will bring beauty, that His plan is higher, and that He knows better than I. Thank you Lord for fresh eyes. Thank you Lord for your pursuit. Thank you for wanting whatever I have to offer… whether my heart is empty or whether it’s full, you just want my heart.

Questioning God’s Voice

It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything on here. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to… Life has been so busy. Today after work, I stopped at Menards to get a snow shovel and some Christmas ornaments, I dropped things off at UPS, I stopped at the post office, and then I mowed and edged the lawn. It seems owning your own house and living on your own keep you very busy! I have a lot of different topics rolling through my head, but today I more wanted to talk about seasons of life, where I’m at, and what I’ve been learning.

What do we do when God answers our prayers in a way we didn’t expect?

I think that is something that actually happens quite a lot. It’s also something that is rarely addressed. So how do we respond? What do we do?

This is something I’ve experienced deeply and really struggled with recently. I’ve talked about this with friends and family over the past few years but never really voiced it here. It seems in the last 4 years, 80% of the things I’ve prayed for and felt the Lord leading/guiding/answering have gone in a way I didn’t expect.

My sophomore year of college is when my prayer life really changed. I began to pray boldly and expect God to work miraculously.. after all, He is the God of miracles. Since that day, it seems that repeatedly things that I really prayed for, things I specifically heard the Lord speak and move in, turned out completely different from how I expected. This seemed to happen time after time. I began to wonder, am I actually hearing from the Lord? That’s a dangerous place to be and a dangerous thought to think. That’s right where the devil wants you. Doubtingconfusedunsure… and vulnerable.

After the most recent situation didn’t go in the way I felt the Lord leading I became so confused and hurt and frustrated. There was a guy (typical girl’s start to a story right.. haha). Well let me back up. I’m not sure what inspired this, but back in high school, I began to pray for my future husband (I still do), and I would always pray that God would anoint our first meeting and that I’d just know. So, fast forward to my junior year of college and I was going away for the weekend with some friends. One of their boyfriends was coming and so he brought along a friend. When I first saw him walk out of the dorm, the weirdest thing happened. I just had a sense. I just knew. There was a small whisper.. he’s the one. What the heck?? I brushed that aside and continued on, but I definitely paid closer attention to get a feel for who he was and what he stood for.. (you see in high school, I had learned that while dating could be fun, it really wasn’t worth settling just to be in a relationship. So to anyone reading this who feels like they’ve settled, or they have to settle… DON’T. You are worth so much more than that. You are worth so much more than a guy just trying to conquer his next conquest. You deserve a man. A man who will fight for you and for your relationship. A man who will lead you to Christ every day and place Him first. ok.. I’m off my soapbox). Anyways, I was impressed by this guy. (I couldn’t remember the last time I had been impressed by a guy, a guy that I could actually see myself dating.)

So as the story unfolded, basically, I felt the Lord so clearly saying to me that this was who He had planned for me. It seemed crazy because we weren’t talking, I honestly didn’t know a ton about him, but I knew his heart and that he loved the Lord and loved others well. I knew he was a leader and worked hard, and the Lord just kept drawing me back and saying be patient, wait. He would send me little signs throughout the day and the week, and I was confident in Him and patient in His timing.

After a few years, we finally did end up going out a few times. Conversation was easy and time flew by. I felt like all of my waiting and patience was coming to fruition. That the Lord had prepared someone who fit so easily and who could be a leader. But after a few months, it became clear that although I had heard something so clearly from the Lord, he had not heard that same thing. (And that’s okay… but it’s hard).

More than anything, the situation left me wondering how God could have been orchestrating everything to end in the way that he did? You see I had gotten over this guy once before, but then he randomly came back into my life and started pursuing me only to leave me confused and hurt trying to figure out why God let him come back into my life. I heard so clearly and believed so deeply what the Lord was saying even when I thought it was ludicrous. I followed in faith and acted boldly in the Spirit, yet I was left with an incredibly different outcome. So what does that mean? Did I not hear from the Lord? Did I make it all up? 

I share this story, because what I truly believe is that I did hear from the Lord. I believe those words were spoken to me, however I think I placed my own interpretations/expectations on the situation. I also think it’s possible that the guy didn’t hear the same things. That either he chose not to hear the Lord or the Lord didn’t speak to him in that way. Just because we hear a certain thing from the Lord doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out exactly how we dreamed it to be. God could have been leading me through that situation to teach me something completely different while I’m over here thinking this is how I’m meeting my possible future husband.

Because I felt closer to the Lord than ever before throughout this whole process. Because this situation was so tightly coupled with my walk with the Lord, my relationship with the Lord was left in confusion. I struggled to pray. I stopped listening. You see, apart from this situation, I’d prayed boldly for a few other family struggles we’d been going through, and they seemed to turn out the opposite of the way I had felt led to pray. I prayed for people to be healed. I boldly prayed and they died. In my mind, everything that I prayed for turned out the opposite way and I was scared to come boldly before the Lord. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Were my desires not aligned with Gods? Was I not delighting myself in the Lord? No, I was, and I believe my desires were God’s desires. We live in a fallen world. We live in a world of free will. We live in a world where things do not always go according to plan…things will happen that are out of our control.

I share all this because I stopped praying for a little while. (I mean I prayed, but I didn’t really seek the Lord. I didn’t come before Him with my whole heart). I haven’t heard the Lord’s voice in awhile, and I’ve dwelled in the pain of loss, and the struggles, and the distress that’s been surrounding me and my family and my friends over the last year. I’ve realized that, but I haven’t realized how to get out of this rut I’ve come to. I stopped seeing the great things He’s done. (He blessed me with an awesome company and a job that’s allowed me to purchase an incredible home, with some great neighbors so I can live with my 2 amazing roommates. He’s given me some great friendships post college as well!) So, how did I stop trusting God. I know He’s good. I know He does good things, but for awhile I’ve struggled to believe He will do them for me/my family. BUT, last night I heard this song: Pray Something, by SEU Worship and this line hit me.

“I’m gonna pray something i’ve never prayed before because I wanna see something I’ve never seen.”

It was a challenge to my heart and I think a call from the Lord to come back, to seek His heart, to pray boldly yet again. Praying boldly can shatter you, but it can also take you place you’ve never been. I want to go to those places with the Lord.

I think we all go through seasons in our lives where we feel the Lord’s presence SO closely and seasons where we struggle to catch a glimpse. No matter how we feel  He’s always right beside us. We go through seasons of waiting as well. Those don’t change. Once we receive one thing, we will be waiting for another. I’m currently in a place of waiting, and this song has been such a blessing in my life. The words are incredible. It’s called Seasons and it’s by Hillsong Worship. Go. Check it out. Pull up the words while you listen to it.

If you made it to the end of this, kudos to you. If you’re in a place where you feel that your prayers are falling on deaf ears, I just encourage you to keep praying. He hears. He’s listening. If you are questioning if you’re hearing from the Lord because a prayer wasn’t answered in the way you thought it would be, I challenge you.. rather than shutting off communication with God, pray all the more. Pray that He will open your eyes. Pray that He will reveal His heart and His plan. Rest in knowing the Lord is the King of Kings and yet He desires relationship from us. That’s what I’ll be doing, praying and trusting.

The Master Cleaner

Today, instead of heading to church, we spent the morning at an elderly man’s home where the shrubbery and trees were overgrown and the outside of the home was filled with mildew. I spent the entire morning power washing the house, steps, windows, and gutters of the home.

As I sprayed the side of the house, I couldn’t help but find satisfaction in the disappearance of the green mildew on the plastic strips of the home. Cleaning away the filth and seeing a clean home so similarly parallels what happens to our hearts when we begin our relationship with Christ.

We were filthy on the inside, but Christ washed us clean. While Christ dying for us saves us, we are being sanctified day by day – made to live more and more like Christ.

As I sprayed the wall, it wasn’t a one time pass and done. I had to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, multiple times. My arms got tired from continually holding them up and pressing the trigger, and at times I wanted to stop. Christ too has to continually work on our hearts. We are creatures of habit and continually step back into our own ways and He never tires of picking us back up and cleaning us off. Unlike me, Christ never thinks about stopping. He is constantly pursuing us, loving us, and dusting us off.

I’m grateful to serve that type of God. No matter how filthy I am, He continually fights for me and loves me. He can clean up anything. We are never too dirty for Him. Praise God for his faithfulness and grace.