The struggle is real…and that’s okay. Just in case you’ve never been acknowledged in your struggle, I wanted you to hear it from me. Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk to you for a bit. This may touch a very tender part of your heart, but I promise it’s worth it to stick with me until the end. This post is a call to action of sorts and is meant to encourage your heart and motivate you to move your feet toward meaningful action. To take some pressure off of you, I’ll start.
What happens when God releases you but you’re too afraid to walk in freedom?
Over the last few months, God has been making it clear to me that He has released me in certain areas of my life to walk in territory that I was once kept from due to His pruning hand of protection. He had been doing a work in me that needed to be completed before I could safely walk in true freedom. It has been a journey that has taken me down many roads I never saw coming and revealed parts of myself I never knew existed. To sum it up in one word, it was cleansing.
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There is something about movement of the body that can express what words simply cannot. My entire life, I have gravitated towards dance as a form of emotional expression, often without realizing it. When there were no words, I would turn on a song that belted them for me and move my body until I didn’t have any energy left. I remember wanting to join ballet but never having the opportunity to fulfill that desire. I also used to love watching figure-skating, often adorning socks and “skating” around my kitchen on the tile floor, pretending that it was ice. I also kept a Michelle Kwan poster on my bedroom door, which is one of the few, if not the only poster I’ve ever put up. Similarly, I have always loved wearing heels. So, naturally, I would put them on during some of these dance sessions and I would follow along with my favorite music videos of that era. I “performed” in my room for hours on end and what I now realize was an audience of One. God has been with me along this journey and has helped me to understand my emotions through the songs I gravitated to in each season.
During one season, R&B was my dominant genre of choice. All of the relationship-focused and break-up songs expressed deep, painful emotions that I related to on multiple levels. I remember distinctly, listening to “Too Little Too Late” by JoJo and weeping in my room with only the thought of my mother and how empty I felt without her. While those lyrics never seemed to match up to anything I was going through at the time, that song encapsulated those emotions and still brings that memory back a vividly as if it happened yesterday. In another season, I heavily gravitated to music by Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and Evanescence. That season, which ebbed and flowed throughout my adolescence, represented a persistent depressive state where I couldn’t feel anything but emptiness, pain, and anger. I loved the energy of the music because it helped me to express what I was never able to otherwise. Beyoncé was a major influence of mine at that time and I would dance my heart out to songs like “Crazy In Love” and “End of Time.” Performance has always been in me, it was just hidden behind all of the weight of my insecurities and the pain of my childhood.
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There are many instances in the Bible where God makes it clear that He is well acquainted with the heart of humanity. In His choosing of David over all of his other brothers. In His acceptance of Abel’s gift over Cain’s. God is no respecter of persons and He makes it abundantly clear that living a life of honorable service to Him is primarily a heart issue. With this understanding of the God who created the universe, who exists outside of time, and has all power in His being; Shouldn’t we be able to trust Him at His word?
The short answer is yes. However, our thoughts and behavior often show otherwise, complicating what God originally intended to be a simple solution to address our needs. You may be familiar with the quotable found on many t-shirts, mugs, and other collectable items: “Keep Calm and…” The end of that statement has an extensive list of suggested things, people, and places to put your faith in. Yet, every believer is aware, to some degree, that the only true source of stability that we can put our trust in is God. This year, 2020, has quite rudely interrupted the norms that humanity has created for ourselves and made it abundantly clear that many of the things, people, and places we have put our faith in are not able to hold us up when life takes an unexpected turn.
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And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
-Isaiah 6:5-8 ESV
In this passage, the biblical prophet, Isaiah, went from insecurity in his present circumstance to boldness through swift obedience. There was a crucial process that occurred in the few lines between those two versions of him. His lips were touched with burning coal (he went through a refining process, brief but transformative) and life-giving words (blessing) were spoken over him. In that blessing, he was made aware of the purpose of the process, which encouraged him to let go of the guilt he felt and step confidently into his calling.
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Good habits are so hard to build sometimes. This is why it’s crucial that we surround ourselves with a positive, encouraging environment. If you want to finally achieve that goal of eating healthier, it is counterproductive to fill your space with junk food and non-nutritive snacks. In the same way, if you desire to live a life of integrity and high moral fiber, or even just make better decisions in your day-to-day, then it would be to your detriment to remain around the people in your life who encourage you to do otherwise.
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