29…single…and the lessons learned

I can honestly say that in my dreams of what I imagined my life to look like…being 29 and single was never it. I was the girl that was going to meet my husband freshman year of college, date all the way through, marry after graduation and have at least 4 kids by 30 and be going through the process to foster/adopt. Now some may think I’m crazy for even having that dream, and I probably am. But apparently I have a personality that likes to plan things out. I like to know what’s going to happen.

I sometimes think that God looks down and shakes His head at me. Here He is the creator of the universe, that already has a calling and a plan for my life, and I seem to act like I know better than Him how the timing of my life should work. (Cue…laughter here)

I say all that to say that there are days that being in a single season is hard, and there are days when it doesn’t bother me as much. But as I sort through these emotions there are some things I have learned about living life as a single (especially when you don’t want to be single).

  1. Acknowledge the sadness or frustration, but don’t live in that place. Take it to God…He’s big enough to handle it.
  2. Serve couples with kids as you can…give them a date night when you can, send an encouraging note, hold the baby when you’re out to eat so they can eat a hot meal.
  3. Do read books to improve yourself and the relationship you would like to have…but don’t assume its your fault you’re still single.
  4. Seek the Lord…get to know Him more intimately then maybe you have before.
  5.  Do keep your standards high even when others say you are being too picky.
  6. Don’t feel like you have to give online dating a try if you don’t feel like its for you….let me be clear here…I don’t think its wrong, but I don’t think its for everyone. Seek the Lord and see what He says.
  7. Watch the marriages around you and take notes…both good and bad.
  8. Do seek to excel at your career.
  9. Take that trip…even if its by yourself.
  10. Understand that as your friends get married the relationship you have with them WILL change…not for the worst, but it WILL change. Be understanding of your friend’s new adjustments they are making and in turn be honest about adjustments you are making.
  11. Don’t take people’s comments to heart. You know the ones…”Oh, honey when you give it to God your man will come.” “You’re just so beautiful and amazing; I don’t know why you aren’t dating.” “In God’s timing it will happen” Let me take a minute and reiterate that these statements, while made with right intentions, can create doubt and discontentment and can be extremely hurtful. 
  12. Realize that according to Colossians 2:10 we are complete. It says, “And our own completeness is now found in him. We are completely filled with God as Christ’s fullness overflows within us. He is the Head[a]of every kingdom and authority in the universe!” As hard as it is to battle my emotions over this…I DO NOT need a man to complete the calling that God has placed on my life. He created me complete in Him. End of Story.

Those 12 things are not the only things I’ve learned, but they are the main things. One thing we must all do (no matter our situation) is STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD and STAY THANKFUL! There have been times in this journey that my emotions have been up and they’ve been down. I’ve had moments where I wallowed in self pity and moments where I took those emotions to the Lord in a torrent of tears. But therein lies the question….

Do I choose to take those broken emotions to the Lord and lay them at His feet, or do I choose to wallow in self-pity and discontent? I would like to say that I always take it to the Lord, but there are times when my flesh gets the best of me.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” Give thanks…NO MATTER WHAT!! That is so easy to say, but much harder to put into practice.  It doesn’t say give thanks for the situation…its says give thanks in spite of the situation. There is something that happens to our hearts when we choose to stay in a mode of thankfulness. It is hard to stay mad, discontent or self-absorbed when I am choosing to be thankful.

Let me end with this…

Can I offer some suggestions to my married, engaged, and dating friends on how to love singles in your lives?

  1. acknowledge that your single friends may be emotional about this topic occasionally. Let them talk and give them truth from God’s Word…not Christian cliches you’ve heard.
  2. Make sure they have a place to go on holidays.
  3. Check in with them…they may be sick or have car troubles. They may not want to bother anyone or have trouble asking for help.
  4. Have them over for dinner…not to watch your kids
  5. Celebrate their successes…promotions, goals completed, etc.
  6. Invite them to Sunday lunch instead of them going home alone
  7. Ask them for advice…even if they aren’t in the same life stage…you would be surprised the wisdom that some of your friends have
  8. Love them…just love them

I am so thankful for the women of God that He has placed in my life. The married ones, the engaged ones, the dating ones, and the single ones. These ladies have no idea how they bless me, encourage me, strengthen me, and push me to be a better person.

God has people in different life stages in your life for a reason…ask Him how you can be a blessing to those around you…no matter what your life stage is. Look for people that have the same passions as you. Create an eclectic group where everyone has the same passion or create a service project group. We need each other, but we also need to be sensitive to one another and lift one another up in encouragement. We need to speak God’s truth into situations…not our truth.

Stay near God…Stand on His promises…and Stay Thankful!



Some promises for you to copy down...

His love will not leave us and His peace is always before us… (Isaiah 54:10)

His love goes before us and He will never leave us of forsake us… (Deuteronomy 31:8)

He has set us free… (John 8:36)

He will meet all our needs… (Philippians 4:19)

He is forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to Him… (Psalm 86:5)

He covers us with joy and peace… (Isaiah 55:12)

The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still… (Exodus 14:14)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…(Isaiah 40:29)

He will give us wisdom…we only need ask (James 1:5)

He will guide us…(Psalm 32:8)


(picture found on pinterest and says reneeannsmith.com)


The in-between

I have never really liked waiting…I’m much more of an instant gratification type of girl. Which in reality is probably not a good thing…Lord help me to please learn and practice patience!!!

But, I have found in the last several years of my life that there is a special place that ALL of us enter at some point in our lives (or sometimes multiple times). Its been called many things by many people…a valley, a waiting room, a holding pattern, etc. I have started to call it the in-between. And if someone has already called it this, I apologize…not wanting to steal anyone’s ideas.

But to me personally, this place represents the place between receiving a promise/praying for something and then receiving the answer or fulfillment of that promise. Let me give you some examples…

the couple that is desperately believing and praying for a baby…

believing for a healing whether personally or someone they know and love…

waiting for an adoption to be finalized…

waiting for some type of provision…

praying for clarity for the next step or season in life…

and while not a specific promise…those of us with a desire for marriage that is unfulfilled

The list could go on and on… Before I go any farther, I want to take a minute and acknowledge the real feelings of pain and grief that can occur in this in-between place. It is real…it is hard…and it can be lonely at times. Please don’t ever think you understand EXACTLY what a person is going through just because you went through something similar. You can absolutely pray, empathize, and sympathize with them, but PLEASE don’t ASSUME you know the emotions they are processing.

I want to look at an example of the “in-between” from the Bible. One of my favorite examples is the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

Hannah, up until this story in the Bible, had been unable to conceive because it says in 1 Samuel 1:5, “that the Lord had closed her womb” I won’t even try to understand that, because I’m not the Lord. However, this obviously bothered Hannah because she longed to give her husband a child. Year after year her husband’s other wife provoked her, and this probably caused Hannah great sorrow. However in looking at 2 commentaries on this story from Blue Letter Bible I have come to understand this story in a very different way. Chuck Smith’s commentary suggests that while Hannah was praying year after year for a child, she was praying a selfish prayer of her own wants and needs instead of praying with a God focus.

At this time historically, Israel was fraught with ungodliness and pagan practices even amongst the priests. Chuck Smith suggests something interesting, and I will let you read it as he wrote it, “Now with Hannah there was a reason why God delayed the answer, and with us. If God delays the answer of our prayers there’s a reason for His delay. Often times, with Hannah, the reason being that God is seeking to bring us around to His purposes. The Bible says, “The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely towards Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). So God was waiting, bringing Hannah around to where her heart was completely towards God, and the things of God, and that which God wanted.”

WOW…talk about something to process. Something to ponder for sure. For me personally I won’t sit here and judge other’s prayers and heartfelt cries to the Lord. However, I will say that there have been times, as I reflect back, where I have prayed prayers that were incredibly selfish…and selfish not because what I was believing for or asking for was bad, but I hadn’t sought the Lord about it or prayed that His will would be done…PERIOD…END OF STORY. I will speak for myself here. In my prayers for a husband they have largely been centered on making me happy or content. I am NOT SAYING that the reason I am unmarried is because I prayed “selfish” prayers. However, what I am saying is that the Lord has a plan and calling on my life that is specific to me…He knows the timing things need to happen in. He knows who needs to be in my life and when. Instead maybe my prayers should look or sound something like this.

“Lord, you know my desire for marriage and motherhood. I believe that it is a God given desire. Lord I choose to give thanks in everything because it says in 1 Thess. 5:18 that giving thanks always is God’s perfect plan for me in Christ Jesus. Lord I thank you I am your sheep and therefore I hear your voice clearly.”

Obviously, its hard to pray a prayer where the outcome may not happen the way you hope, but either I trust in the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord as Lamentations 3:21-25 says, “But this I call to mind, Therefore I have hope. It is because of the Lord’s loving-kindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul; “Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word].” Or I choose to not trust in His love and faithfulness. Isaiah 55:8-9 speaks about the Lord’s thoughts and ways being higher and more than we could ever process or imagine. I AM NOT GOD…therefore I MUST TRUST that His plan is for my good and His glory. 

Back to Hannah’s story…Later in 1 Samuel 1:19b it says, “…and the Lord remembered her.” Now, the word remembered does not mean that God forgot her, because He is incapable of forgetting His children as it says in Isaiah. I LOVE this part of the story. This is after Hannah had come before the Lord yet again in prayer, but this time her prayer was different. She prayed for a son and then took it a step farther. She said that if she had a son, she would give the baby back to the Lord in His service for all the days of His life…whoah…I don’t know about you, but that is a BOLD prayer. And STILL this answered prayer wasn’t instantaneous. Hannah had to return home and rest in and stand on the promise the Lord had given her. I’ve heard multiple times throughout the years that God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials and when it is a no…many times the no is given for protection or because we don’t see the greater plan. 

So all this to say…it has really just been burning in my heart to meet people where they are. We are all in different stages of our walks with the Lord. We all may have different backgrounds and different upbringings. But ONE thing we ALL have in common is an in-between season. The best thing you can do for a friend walking through this season is…

  1. acknowledge that this season can be painful, sad, sorrowful, and lonely
  2. check in with this friend and let them talk WITHOUT correcting them or trying to give them a “Christian” answer
  3. encourage them with scripture (through text, phone calls, letters, cards, etc)
  4. pray for/with them when they are too weak to do it for themselves

God shows Himself faithful in every season we walk through. I will say that this LONG (seemingly never ending) season of singleness has been both a joy and trial at different times. There have been many a time where I was frustrated with people’s lack of understanding. BUT, the Lord ever so gently reminds me that I am not to seek other’s understanding. God sent His son, His only son, to a world that rejected and ultimately killed Him. Thank God that Jesus rose from the grave and now sits on the right hand of the Father.

But have we ever stopped to think that Jesus feels the same as us about an in-between season?

Jesus is waiting for the word from His Father to gather His bride (the church) up to Heaven. Mark 13:32, ““Concerning that day and exact hour, no one knows when it will arrive, not the angels of heaven, not even the Son—only the Father knows.” He has been in an in-between season since the day He ascended into heaven over 2,000 years ago.  Now, Jesus wants as many people to have the opportunity to know Him as possible, but still…that’s a long time of waiting. That is a long time in which those that He loves have died for His name, those that He loves have misinterpreted His precious words and committed grievous acts in the name of God, and those that He loves have denied His name. However, I must always remember my season of “waiting” pales in comparison to that Jesus’ in-between season.

So be encouraged today. Jesus understands an in-between season. He understands the emotions of this season. He isn’t asking you to walk through it alone. He has sent His Comforter, His Holy Spirit to walk through and guide us through every season of our lives. That doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. It doesn’t mean we won’t get angry or frustrated walking through this season. It just means that we have someone who sticks closer than a brother in the middle of this crazy, mixed up, fallen world. It means that Jesus still looks at with love and tears in His eyes.  It means that even in the answer is different than prayed for we can still trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God.




Mothers Day…Joy or Sorrow

Mother’s Day…unfortunately a holiday that can bring much joy to some can bring much sorrow to others…

for the women whose arms are empty because she is struggling with infertility…

for the woman who has known the joy of a positive pregnancy test only for it to end in miscarriage….

for the mom who has lost a child far too soon…

for the woman who has lost her own mother…

for the woman who never had a safe, loving relationship with her mother…

for the woman who thought her only choice was an abortion…

for the woman who gave up her baby for adoption…

for the single girl who has always longed to be a mother and isn’t yet…

for the single mom who just maybe wants a little help on this parenting journey…

for the woman who has lived a lot of life and never saw her dream of having her own children come to pass…

for the mom whose child doesn’t speak to her anymore…

My heart breaks for all of you. I have friends in each of these categories and I am myself in the “longing to be a mother” category. In Romans 12:15 it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice {sharing other’s joy} and weep with those who weep {sharing other’s grief}.”

And today I do that…I rejoice with all the moms and moms to be. I’m so thankful and joyful that God has and is answering that prayer. I pray blessings over you, your spouse, your current and future children. May God give you the grace and wisdom to steward them so that “when they are old they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

But today I also weep with those who weep. To the ones who find themselves in one of the aforementioned scenarios I want you to know that my heart hurts for you. I know its hard to walk into church today and see the cute mother’s day photo-booth…to see the matching outfits…to see the handmade crafts from children’s church.

I want you to know that God sees your pain…not only does He see it, but His heart hurts for you personally as well. In Psalm 56:8 it says, “You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle-not one will be lost.”

So today instead of comparing our lives with others; may we take stock of the many blessings we do have. Good health, peace, church family, husband, friends, etc. Let’s choose to have a mother’s heart for the children of this world that are hurting. Let’s choose to have a mother’s heart for the young mother that is frazzled day after day. Let’s have a mother’s heart for the “baby” Christian that needs shepherding.

I don’t say any of this to lessen the pain, sorrow, or grief that you may feel. Not at all…there is a time for that.

But lets look to be daughters to the daughterless. Let’s look to be mothers to the motherless. Invite those people into your raw spaces and grief.

And I pray and hope that today you may know…that even though you may not be a mother in the traditional sense there are many ways you can be a “mother” to those around you.

So today I say, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!!!

P.S. I wrote this post in my journal before leaving for church this morning…little did I know what God had for me there. See below…(as posted on my facebook page)

“Feeling undeservedly blessed today. Today I woke up feeling really emotional. 1st, I hate being away from my mom on mother’s day and 2nd, my heart’s desire has always been to be a mom, and I’m not yet (in the traditional sense). To be honest…I thought about skipping church today. But God…
I walked into the service and Pastor @kendallrhatley and @rachaelhatley got up to welcome everyone. Then they said they were going to recognize a few people. The first one they said isn’t a mom yet, but see if you can guess from the video. They then proceed to play the video and up pops the Nelson family with beautiful words to say about me. And then the Pastors said beautiful and uplifting things as well and presented me with beautiful flowers and a card from my Woodlake family.

Once again I am in complete awe of God, and how He sees me and not only sees me BUT makes sure I KNOW that I am seen. I am so privileged to be able to “mother” many kids both at my church and in my classroom. I may not have carried them, but they are my precious babies, and I love them.

So thank you to my church family for loving me and allowing the Lord to use you to bless me. It means more than you will EVER know.


Walkout Thoughts

There are so many emotions rolling through my head at the moment. The last 2 weeks has out me on roller-coaster of emotions.

This is my 6th year of teaching, and I can honestly tell you that I never imagined I would be part of a state wide teacher walkout. Never in my wildest dreams. But, whether I wanted to or not school districts were closing, and I was going to step in with both feet and advocate for my students.

April 2nd came and the day dawned cold…so very cold, but still myself and multiple teacher friends got up and boarded a bus to head to OKC to rally at the Capitol. I must admit that I was nervous and excited all in the same breath. I am not one for confrontation…AT ALL…but I want what is best for my students and that includes funding education in Oklahoma.

That day at the capitol we were greeted by sound bites of different representatives telling us to get back in the classroom and “do our job”, by people posting on facebook that we should all be fired,  and by representatives telling us “they had done all they could do”.

The next 2 days I was a on a street corner holding a sign raising awareness or the need for sustainable education funding for our public schools in Oklahoma. Then Thursday and Friday I spent at the Capitol attempting to speak to representatives. Some representatives were helpful and others closed their doors…it was disheartening to say the least…to fight for something you believe in so much and to have others not understand is hard.

Then came the weekend…I worked my 2nd job and then decided to join the march on Sunday. For 3 days I watched teachers come together from all across Oklahoma to walk for our kids. I watched teachers lose toenails, I watched them sleep on mats in gyms and libraries, I watched them have giant blisters/multiple blisters treated each night and then get up the next morning to continue walking. But you know what I never heard…I NEVER heard a discussion about our teacher pay. I NEVER heard a discussion about what teachers deserve. Everywhere I looked teachers talked about their struggles in the classroom. They talked about their students. They talked about missing their students. They talked about education funding so their students could have the best possible education. I was inspired and in awe.

Fast forward to today…in a couple of days I will get to see my 23 precious babies again that I haven’t seen in over 14 days. I am equal parts excited and sad. Excited because I missed their smiles and hugs. Excited to continue to teach them. Sad because I have to look them in the eye and  feel like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to for them. Sad because we still have people “representing” us that DO NOT have the education of our children first and foremost in their minds. BUT, this is not over…

It is far from over.  In the words of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in regards to the attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” We are not going away. I am not going away. I will continue to email. I will continue to call. I will actively campaign for those that are pro-education. This teacher is not going away….I will continue to do what is in the best interests of both my students and the state of Oklahoma.

So all that to say…I am a bundle of emotions today over what was and was not accomplished at the Capitol. BUT, teachers, families, and community members have been mobilized. A record number of candidates filed to run for office this week. A historic increase on GPT was passed when they said it was impossible. Year 2 and 3 will still need to be funded, and I will do my best to make sure that they are!

Thank you to those that supported me through words and deeds. You will never know the difference it made. I pray God blesses you back exponentially!

Serving…Especially when in a Painful Season

I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile, and its one that I believe many Christians avoid. Not because we don’t all walk through seasons like this, but because many of us are afraid to admit it.

If you were raised like I was then you might have heard the term, “fake it till you make it” or “put your big girl panties on and deal with it”. And while I believe there is some validity to those statements I think the worst thing we can do when walking through a painful season is to close ourselves off from Godly counsel and God himself.

At the end of October of 2015 I was put into a situation that made my life for the next 9 months very unsettling and unstable. I was angry. I was hurt. I was confused. I was devastated. I was fearful. It felt as if the world I had carefully constructed had fallen down around me just like the walls of Jericho…only I wasn’t feeling victorious. BUT…you’ll notice I said “I had carefully constructed”. I am a firm believer that although God does not cause evil in our lives, He allows it for our good and his glory according to Romans 8:28.

Anyway…the night I received that news I was scheduled to serve at my church’s Halloween outreach. I cried the entire way there and was still crying when I entered the church. Let me stop here and express how thankful I am for my church…many people loved on me, hugged me, and prayed over me that night and in the coming months.

That night I was in the room monitoring the game “Hungry Hippos”. All I wanted to do was be the one to start and stop the music for the game. One friend in particular let me have my several hours of the on the outskirts serving, but then she pushed me (literally) into the middle of the game we were monitoring with the kids. And do you know…I needed to push my own pain and hurt aside and serve…and in the midst of that and the coming 9 months I learned some things about serving…especially when you’re in pain.

1. God honors our service

I could have chosen to skip serving that night…most people probably wouldn’t have blamed me, but I did it anyway. I showed up to be a blessing to others. Oh, trust me…its not because I’m amazing or because I’m super spiritual. I just knew I needed to be with people that loved me and supported me and could lift my arms when I couldn’t seem to. And do you know…that very next day I received an answer to prayer for the situation I found myself in. I truly believe that God would have provided whether I had served or not, however I tried to honor Him in my service, and He longs to take care of His children.

2. Serving changes who I am

Serving takes the focus of me and puts it onto others. I forget that I am hurting (at least for a bit), I forget that I have needs that need to be met, I forget about my pain and focus on someone else. Even when Jesus was tired or hungry He had compassion on the crowds…He took care of them (feeding of the 5 thousand). I am convinced that Jesus does His best work when we are in such a painful place, and we choose to serve His people…His precious daughters and sons whom He loves just as much as He loves us. My parents always taught me that when I am hurting to pray for others instead of myself…I learned so much more about myself and the character of God in those 9 months than I had in the year prior to that.

Jesus leads us and that can be in several different places as Psalm 23 suggests…the valley of the shadow of death, the still waters, or to lie down in green pastures. Those are all vastly different places…BUT it says Jesus is there in the midst of us. He is incapable of forgetting about his children. Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..” Jesus is there…and because He is there I can run to Him in the middle of pain, in the midst of the valley of shadow of death and HE IS THERE!!! And because He is there, I know I am safe. And because I know I am safe I can take my eyes off my pain and turn my eyes towards helping others.

DISCLAIMER….I am not saying this is easy…its a process, and I still don’t have it down pat.

3. Painful times are not about me…its about others seeing the greatness of Jesus in me

Nothing that I experience in this life is about me. Everything is about Jesus and people seeing Him at work in my life. When I can walk through a hurtful, devastating, painful season and still have joy, peace, strength, and to serve with a smile on my face that has NOTHING to do with me. That has EVERYTHING to do with the Jesus on the inside of me! It says in Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;” I could not have continued to serve, let alone with a smile on my face if I didn’t have faith in Jesus. God is faithful…it says in Philippians 1:6 that “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That is powerful…Jesus will do it…I just have to be faithful to do as He has asked. People…a hurt, lost, hurting, hopeless, dying world needs to see Christians living in joy no matter our circumstances. They need our testimony…they need to hear what the Jesus on the inside of us has carried us through!

In conclusion…I realize that there are many people that have suffered far worse times in their lives than I have. However, may I humbly suggest that you go to the Lord in the middle of your pain and ask how He would use you. It may be to provide a meal for a new mom, it may to greet at the door of your church, it may be to clean out your closet and give it to goodwill, or it may be to provide school supplies to a classroom in need.

I promise you that God is with you. He sees your tears. He is for you. But, I also promise you that you will gain so much when you can set aside your pain and serve someone else. God has a funny way of meeting needs you didn’t even know you had while you are serving.

This is the picture of me the night my world fell apart…I never want to forget how God carried me through that night and beyond. Jesus was there, and I was able to serve even when on the inside I was broken. 


So…long time no write friends…

Seriously…its been awhile.

Things have been crazy the last several months. Between the end of school, going home to see my family, summer school starting, and my best friend’s wedding next week there has been a lot to do!

BUT…in all that I have found such sweet moments with the Lord. There are many verses in the Bible about seeking after the Lord such as…

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

I can honestly say (being practically born in a church) that I have had periods of my life where I searched or sought harder than others. However, I really believe that although we may go through hilltop and valley moments in our walks with the Lord, He can truly give us an earnest desire to still seek after Him, and The BEAUTIFUL thing is that according to Proverbs 8:17 if we seek Him diligently we will find Him.

Anyway needless to say the last month or so I have definitely noticed that the Lord is wooing me…its not audibly, but more of a desire to seek out His word and study it…not just read it.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t say this to pat myself on my back, but to encourage others….ask and God will do it…but we have to ask. He wants it to be our choice.

So all this to say…the last several days I have been learning and studying the book of Ruth (which is one of my favorites).  But not only have I been reading the First 5 app for their daily devotion on Ruth, but using the Blue Letter Bible app as well to read study guides and commentaries on the book as well. IT HAS BLOWN MY MIND!!!

There is so much cultural and historical significance in this book of the Bible, and if we relegate ourselves to just reading the text in a 5 minute devotion we are going to miss the richness and beauty of this book and its place in the beautiful redemption of mankind by Jesus.  DISCLAIMER…IF ALL YOU CAN DO IS 5 MINUTES OF DEVOTIONS..DO IT!!! GOD WILL HONOR THAT!

So on to the book of Ruth. I read a study guide by David Guzik and commentaries by Matthew Henry on each chapter of Ruth and just filled the pages of my journal and to be honest I am still processing many of the things I read. But here are some of the nuggets that stood out to me and blessed me and I hope they will bless you as well.

  1. Ruth was not sitting around and bemoaning her fate being a childless widow in a foreign nation. She stood up and went to work gathering food for herself and Naomi.
  2. Even though Ruth was allowed by Levitical law to gather wheat among those working she did so with a humble and servant attitude. And because of that attitude she found something several things in Boaz’s field…not knowing yet that Boaz was her family’s kinsman redeemer. (companionship, protection, and refreshment)…hmmm…sounds a bit like what we find in our kinsman redeemer, Jesus.
  3. The role of a kinsman redeemer was to safeguard the persons, posterity, and property of the family.
  4. As kinsman redeemer Boaz could have forced himself onto Ruth because it was his right, but he didn’t. He waited until Ruth desired it…again what an amazingly accurate picture of Jesus as our kinsman redeemer.

There are many more things that I could share with you, but suffice to say my heart is so excited. I have heard before that Boaz is a embodiment of Jesus as our kinsman redeemer, but I didn’t know the cultural significance of a kinsman redeemer’s job, and knowing that makes the role of Jesus as my kinsman redeemer even more amazing, humbling, and beautiful.

More than ever I want to be a woman of character, virtue, and humility like Ruth…even Boaz and the neighborhood noticed! Check out chapters 2 and 3 of Ruth! More than ever I am determined to look at Jesus as my kinsman redeemer. More than ever I am convinced that the wait is worth it…settling will only lead to heartache. We don’t know how long Ruth waited…we don’t know how long Ruth gleaned in the fields. But we do know that once Ruth spoke up to Boaz, he did not way to make her his…what a beautiful picture of Jesus making us His. He does not tarry….as soon as I call out to Him I am His and He is mine.

This is a picture of a earthly marriage as well. Boaz was a man that had a good and virtuous character so therefore Ruth did not have a problem submitting. On the flip side Ruth was a woman of virtue, character, and respected Boaz  so he had no problem treating her with kindness and respect.

Like I said…I encourage you, search out the Lord…He is waiting for you. Search out commentaries, books, or study guides and the Bible (that is alive and active) will truly become that for you.

Have a blessed day!



Its okay to not be okay…

Does anyone else go through seasons where you feel as if you have lost your passion for life? Lost your motivation? Lost any kind of drive at all?

Its not a fun place to be is it? I recently watched a part of a sermon by Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation church. This sermon described the place between where we were and where we are going as the “middle”. As I watched it I felt tears in my eyes because that is where so many people (myself included) get stuck. We have moved past where we were or who we used to be, but haven’t quite made it to the next “season” yet. His next statement BLEW me away. The grace of God that brought me to the “middle” is the same grace that will enable me to keep stepping towards the next thing.

Think about that for a minute. The “middle” could also be described as the wilderness, a mess, our mistakes, loneliness, chaos, process, change, a storm, etc. But this is a different way of seeing it. When you see that God is in the middle with you…in the middle of the mess, in the middle of this season where you feel alone, in the middle of the storm, in the middle of the process, it changes our focus if we allow it.

Now I am not going to sit here and pretend to be spiritual with you guys. This past year has been wonderful and hard all in the same breath. Wonderful because I have felt and seen the hand of God in my life, but hard because there have been significant changes in my life and the lives of friends around me. I’m a creature of habit…usually it takes God pushing me out into the middle or gap to get me moving. I tend to want to stay in what is familiar and what is safe. I insulate my heart so that it can’t be broken or damaged (been there and done that…have the t-shirt in fact).

But I am learning that safe doesn’t always work. God is calling me to a level of vulnerability with Him and with others. Its time to take the focus off of myself and what is happening in my life and put it onto others that are hurting or don’t have the hope of Jesus to rely on.  As my pastor talked about at church today we need others around us in order to be growing. Growth doesn’t happen in an insulated heart…it takes being vulnerable, it takes letting people know that you’re not okay, it means letting people know that you’re in the “middle” and that its hard…that life is tough at the moment.

I think its okay to not be okay. To realize that you can’t do it alone…nor were we ever asked to in this life. God doesn’t promise an easy life, but He does promise to be beside us as we walk through this life. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My loving-kindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.”

Think about that…Webster’s dictionary defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given humans..” We don’t deserve it, but God has said His grace is sufficient. Its enough…its MORE than enough. We just need to simply latch on to it and never let go. God’s strength is made perfect when we realize how ineffective and weak we truly are in comparison to the mighty God that we serve.

Don’t let your weaknesses, struggles, addictions, etc. burden your heart. Of course deal with them…find an accountability partner, confess, see a counselor…whatever it is you need to do. BUT, GOD….BUT, GOD. He shows His strength in the middle of our weakness…in spite of it God shows up and God shows off! You never know…the thing that puts tears in your eyes today, that you haven’t told another living soul you’re dealing with could be the very thing that God uses to show His power to someone else and bring them into the family of God.

Again…its okay to not be okay. Its okay to be struggling in that “middle” place. But precious friend as I myself am feeling stuck in a “middle” place…

I encourage you to reach for the Lord. Psalm 46

I encourage you to reach for His grace. 2. Cor. 12:9

I encourage you to reach for His strength. 2. Cor. 12:9

I encourage you to reach for His promises. Luke 1:45

I encourage you to reach out to those men and women of God in your life. Prov. 11:14

I encourage you to stay focused on Him and not the things swirling around. Matt. 14:22-33

I encourage you to speak out truth (God’s Word) over your life. Prov. 18:21

I encourage you stand firm, and when you’ve done all else to keep standing. Eph. 6:13

I am praying for you…God has not forgotten you. He isn’t capable of it. Deuteronomy 31: 6 says, “ Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.” and Isaiah 49:16 says, “Indeed, I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the [a]palms of My hands;
Your city walls [Zion] are continually before Me.”

My God isn’t capable of forgetting about me or you…We are continually before Him. He sees us in this place and He has not left us alone. He is walking through it with us….whether we ever see or hear Him.

And who knows…your “middle” could become one of the most beautiful times with the Lord and become a “rock pile” (like Jacob), a remembrance of God’s strength, grace, protection, and provision.



Deal With Your Mess

So several weeks ago I was hosting my wing in my apartment for a movie night!! Lots of fun right?!?!? Yes, it was, but due to a busy week I did not get to come home and clean like i wanted so things ended up being thrown in the closet and on the other side of the bed.

my mess….
blog pic 1.jpg
my other mess

Anyway, as you can see its not the worst mess, BUT it is definitely a mess. As I woke up the next day and started to clean I felt like the Lord was trying to show/teach me something. Our lives may look beautiful, clean, pristine, and perfect from the outside BUT in reality waiting just around the corner or behind a closed door is a MESS that needs to be taken care of.

That got me to thinking…how many times do we put on a face to the outside world when inside we are hurting, holding onto baggage, or in addiction? We put on a brave face when inside we feel dirty, ashamed, guilty, out of control, and etc.

Well ladies one thing the Lord has taught me as I deal with my own, personal messes is that His grace is sufficient…His grace is sooooo sufficient! Does that mean I don’t have to do my part? Or make good, Godly choices? No…I still have to step forward into the unknown and trust God, and trust in His healing process.

I have to let go of the tightly held mess that I hold onto because it feels safe and normal and allow the Lord’s grace, healing power, and comforting presence to come through and permeate every area of my life. I am working on this process and I think we all need to work through the process. I was watching Elevation church’s Code Orange Revival and Christine Caine was speaking. She made a wonderful point. She said, “Unless you deal with your yesterday, TODAY…there will be no tomorrow!!!

Don’t wait, but deal with it TODAY!!! If we keep putting things off then we may put off God’s blessings and God’s voice in our lives. Its time we step into the fullness of the life that God has called us to. That doesn’t mean hard times and it certainly doesn’t mean pain, but it does mean that God will be right by my side as I stand on firm ground whole and healed! I am taking this to heart and asking God to continue to shine a light on those areas of my life that need to be fixed and healed. I encourage you to do the same.

Remember that your story may be the story someone else needs to hear someday!



The Holding Pattern…is it worth it?!?!

Have you ever found yourself in what seemed like a holding pattern? You know the type of holding pattern when you are on your way home for Christmas, but the plane cannot land yet so its just endlessly circling?!?!?!? If you are anything like me then you find holding patterns an unnecessary evil in life. I could honestly live without them if I had my way, BUT Jesus has taught me something about the holding patterns of life.

Oh, I could say that I now LOVE when I’m in a holding pattern, but that would be lying. I still don’t like them, BUT I have come to see the necessity of them. For the last several years on my birthday I have really asked the Lord for a scripture that would help set the tone for the following year. On my 26th birthday it was Luke 1:45 AMP “And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favored by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.” Man, did I ever have to cling to that scripture with both hands!

Let me back up a bit. When I moved back to Oklahoma the goal was to either have my own apartment or to room with a friend. Well, because of student loans and the fact that teachers don’t make very much money my options were limited. However, God provided a nice place to live within my budget. November of 2015 I moved out of that place and began a HOLDING PATTERN season of my life.  In the natural nothing seemed to be adding up, nothing seemed to be moving, it just felt like I kept circling.

BUT GOD…BUT GOD in all His infinite wisdom, grace, and mercy allowed me to walk through that season to learn several things.

  1. Waiting is and can be painful…

There is no magic formula or time period listed and there are tears, anger, and more during the waiting process…embrace it. God is big enough for your tears and anger. He already knows what you are thinking and feeling so TELL Him.

2. Waiting is and can be frustrating…

Oh, I would love to say that I clung to Jesus during this time and never let my temper or attitude get the best of me, BUT that would not be the truth. There were days where it seemed all I could do was get out of bed and put a robotic smile on my face. BUT JESUS was there even then…He never left my side. He sent me little reminders of His promises and His love.

Example: December of 2015 I wanted to go to Rhema lights, but no one else was available or they didn’t want to go. Well, its not as much fun to go by yourself, but I did it anyway. I found myself tearing up as I saw the cute, happy couples so in love, the beautiful little kids tugging on their parent’s hands to go faster, and the groups of friends laughing. I asked the Lord to show me His love…oh I “know” He loves me, but sometimes I need reminded. I was leaving so I had to go back over the lighted bridge. Well needless to say it was CROWDED (think Friday night)  and EVERYONE was stopping to take a picture. I was determined to keep a good attitude…well all of the sudden the song “Believe” came on by Josh Groban. Guys, its one of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs. Because of the traffic on the bridge I stood there and was able to listen to the entire song. I felt as if God had wrapped His arms around me and was holding on so tightly. I may not have had that same experience without the holding pattern season of life.

3. But…waiting is and can be beautiful and necessary

I don’t believe that I would be the same women writing this post today if I hadn’t experienced this holding pattern specifically and many others in my life. Throughout the last 9 months I have experienced God as my provider. I have experienced God as my comforter. I have experienced His tender mercies and little love notes as never before. I have grown stronger in my faith. I have grown bolder in speaking the Word over my life. I have become more aware of the devil’s schemes.

Throughout this season women from my church have wrapped me in their arms and stood for me when I felt I couldn’t. These same women have been on their knees in prayer for me. These women have spoken life into me. These women have pointed me back to Jesus because He is a good, good Father.

I don’t know what season you are walking through today, but know this GOD IS FAITHFUL. GOD IS A GOD OF RESTORATION AND HEALING. GOD IS WORKING AS THE PLANE IS CIRCLING.  

I never thought that I would be settled in a place that I could call my own (really didn’t think I could afford it). I never thought I would get to decorate it just the way I wanted. I never thought I would get to be a wing backer for ORU and invite girls over.  BUT, I’m here to tell you that God has provided each of these desires and has fulfilled them. I am sitting in MY apartment writing this today. I am looking at MY decorations hanging from the wall. I am planning for MY ORU wing of girls to come over for a movie night this weekend.

I can’t say it enough…GOD IS SO FAITHFUL…even when I am not!!! I will leave you with this, although I could continue to tell you story after story! 26 was a year of me letting God have the dreams I was holding so tightly clenched in my fists, AND believing that He would fulfill them.

On my 27th birthday I believe the Lord spoke Ecclesiastes 3:11 (AMP) to my spirit, “ He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.”  There is a plan…there is a divine time schedule. God may have you or me in a holding pattern because the time is not appropriate. God only makes beautiful things, but He does it in HIS time. Don’t rush the process…there are beautiful things that God wants to show us and perfect in us.

I would love to pray for you if you find yourself going through a holding pattern in life. Leave a comment below.


Growing Pains

I’ve never understood the phrase “growing pains”…

What does it mean to have pain when growing?

What does that look like?

Does it look like the same for everyone?

Well, all I can say is that there are indeed seasons of growing and those seasons can indeed be painful. The last several months have definitely been along those lines.  I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that it has forced me to go to God in a new and real way that I hadn’t done in a while to be honest.  But, is that a bad thing? Looking back at the last 2 months on the “other side” for lack of a better word, I think it is the BEST thing that could have happened.

When we are forced whether by our own choices, those around us, or just because we live in a fallen world to run back into the arms of a loving Savior where we are safest it can be the BEST thing for us.  For me personally, I picture Jesus standing there orchestrating my life, but I’m too busy running around to acknowledge His presence and assistance in my life. He is softly calling my name and desperate to talk to me, but I am acting too much like a Martha to stop and take notice. So since I won’t do anything about it Jesus steps in and forces me to become like a Mary.

But is that so bad??????

My first response is YES….Don’t you know how busy I am? Don’t you know how busy for your kingdom I am?

And then I step back (only because I’m forced) and look at the beauty of the gift of growing pains. Wait, what?!?!?!?!? Beauty in the midst of growing pains? Stay with me for a minute….

When a piece of pottery is being formed there is shaping, reshaping, and sometimes the potter has to restart. That, I imagine, if the clay could speak is a painful process. Its the same with us spiritually, physically, and emotionally. There is pain as we grow… When you want to lose weight you are going to feel pain running , lifting weights, and training your body to eat healthier. When you are trying to be more stable emotionally you are going to feel pain. And Jesus himself experienced pain when he was growing spiritually. Jesus asked for the cup to pass Him, but He also was willing to go through the growing pains to sacrifice Himself for us so that we could be with Him. But just because Jesus experienced growing pains all those years ago, doesn’t mean we don’t have to experience them as well.

1 Timothy 4:15 in the amplified Bible says “Practice and work hard on these things; be absorbed in them [completely occupied in your ministry], so that your progress will be evident to all.”  That last part “…so that your progress will be evident to all.” hits me square in the chest. The evidence of my growth should be noticed by all. Not in a prideful, look at me I’m awesome way, but in a wow, look at what the Lord has done in her kind of way. But what is the evidence? I believe that operating in the fruits of the spirit is evidence of maturity and growth in a Christian.

So all this to say I am embracing (most days) the beauty of growing pains. I am embracing the growth and maturity that needs to happen. I am embracing the spirit of Martha and sitting and learning at Jesus’ feet. Is it a perfect process? NO Will I probably mess up? YEP  But I am excited to start this new journey with the Lord and excited for all that He has to show me and I am excited to watch Him move in my life and show himself mighty on my behalf!!!