Friday, March 17, 2017

Always good...

2017 has started out beautifully. I'm looking forward to watching it continue to unfold.

A few truths are jumping out like massive billboards. Maybe you can benefit from the reminders, too.

1) God is always good.

Whether we're headed up the mountain or down to the valley before we get there we must decide whether or not He is good. While it's easy to hold to that promise in the ease of calm, it's harder to remember in the storm. Deciding ahead of time and trusting He is good never guarantees freedom from sadness or pain it simply yet profoundly means we don't carry the burden. It means we can have peace.

2) My dreams are not too big AND He is not too small.

I've always believed God loves me; I've even believed He likes me. Surrendering fully to His purpose  and plan has meant giving up control, saying no a LOT and learning to trust no matter the cost. I'll likely never completely master this until Heaven but it's been amazing to watch the fulfillment of some of His promises in recent months. No means being willling to stand by yourself. Trusting means staying strong when it would be so easy to settle or take the comfortable way out. I'm more confident than ever that waiting on Him is worth it. I'm also pretty certain God likes me a lot better than I ever dreamed. Chances are if you're willing to take the risk to wait on Him and say yes only when you feel Him leading you'll start to discover that, too. He truly is the great designer, the master artist.

3) As long as people are praying it means we aren't alone.

I recently felt God drawing me to visit a specific church. I couldn't pinpoint all the reasons why but the tugging on my heart would not subside. It wasn't the easiest of mornings as for some time church has been a reminder of painful things but I went and have never been more grateful that I did. My parents know many people there and I had met a lot of them previously, too. From the moment we walked in there were smiles and hugs and nothing but pure love. The pastors are young but so wise beyond their years. The catalyst of the morning came when almost everyone had left. I was introduced to the Lead Pastor and suddenly came a familiar question. One I hadn't heard in a very long time. "So are you THAT daughter? Are you the one?" The next part I wasn't expecting. With the greatest sincerity he said, "We PRAYED for you. So hard. We truly prayed for you." This may seem small but to me it meant the world. You could see in his eyes he had been before the throne on my behalf and part of the faithful warriors who had prayed me home. Suddenly church felt safer. I was reminded that even though years may pass, whether we're on the mountain or in the valley not only is God always good but as long as people are praying, we do not walk alone.

Be blessed my friends. I hope if you have found peace you guard it with all that is in you and if you're still searching that you won't give up until it comes because walking in it means more joy than can be expressed and a deeper understanding of His heart, which is for you regardless of your circumstance.

Much love to you all,

Rebecca 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year of No

It's hard to believe that today begins, 2017. Ready or not, she's here!

When I look back at life a year ago I'm amazed that we came so far so fast. It was a hard year that ended beautifully, the year of no.

I heard and said the word, no, more this year than at least any in my adult life, maybe even my entire 37 years.

It all started Mid-December 2015. I had no idea then where it would lead but I'm so grateful it was here.

Have you ever had a conversation with God where you could swear He spoke out loud? Where you heard Him so clearly it was like He was sitting right next to you? That was me Mid-December 2015.

My heart was hurting and I was wrestling with God on what to do. The next move was clear but it wouldn't be easy. He wanted me to trust Him. To walk in faith knowing that this next step would lead me to another and finally right where I belong. But really God, you couldn't work it out another way?

Because I know His vision is so much more clear than the mere lamplight I follow, I walked where I knew He was leading and all year long I waited, watching for Him to reveal the fulfillment of His promise. The next step... where I belong.

One by one doors seemed to open and one by one they closed just as fast. I was begging Him to slam shut the doors that were not His and slam them He did. Some because I heard no and the best ones, because I said it.

With each no, and these were coming in many aspects of my life, instead of lingering pain there came a greater sense of peace, a greater sense of my identity and a greater sense of trust in Him to keep His promise.

That same December day came around again, exactly one year from that impactful conversation, and here I sat, experiencing some different circumstances but overall, not much had changed. The view from my window was exactly the same, I still took the same route to the same job, my favorite restaurants still on rotation. Nothing, and yet everything, had changed.

Today, I have a greater peace than I have had in years. I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been and as a result, I am more comfortable with the world around me. I feel a sense of community and belonging that I have never known. I breathe more clearly and sleep more peacefully. I will still say yes, but now that I've experienced the power of no I will be even more selective.

The best part of the fulfillment of the promise is that it wasn't about anything external. It was about allowing Him to open my heart, to get to know myself and to gain a greater confidence in my identity, which is simply, His.

Ladies and Gents, this is a life long journey. Until we are on the other side of eternity we will constantly be growing, changing and learning. The best news is we are never alone and if we trust Him, we will experience the best of our temporary home. Trusting Him means we can more greatly impact the world around us and we can live in peace regardless of the external circumstances we encounter.

Trust Him on your mountain, trust Him in your valley and above all be brave enough to find your own unique identity in Him and live it. I promise, He made no mistakes in creating you and His love for you does not wish for you to fail.

Brave is the word He gave me for this year and I am excited to experience all He has in store.

Happy New Year! I hope this is your best yet.

Rebecca

Monday, August 22, 2016

Enough - Take 2



Three years ago, I wrote a post on being "enough", on finding living hope and confidence through Christ and His grace. Three years ago, I had just returned from a life changing 17 months in the desert. Three years ago, I had finally realized that peace comes best when we're standing still, that making your mark on the world is more about the lives and hearts that you touch rather than how far you climb the corporate ladder. Three years ago, God had changed everything. He had changed me.

Oh the greatness of His power, the goodness of His love. He sings a song my heart can hear, He woos me and wins me every day, His love is not temporal, His grace never fails, He stills sees beauty where men see scars and He only continues to move closer as the days and years pass on. He keeps every promise, He dries the sad tears and rejoices in the happy ones, He brings the sweetest gifts and His arms are always available for me to find my rest. He is my best friend, my faithful lover, my constant, my everything.

But what about earthly love? What about our short sighted vision, our needs and wants and desires? What about the one who loves your heart but not your shell, the one who seemed cold when in reality they were hurting and just needed to be sure you would stay? What happens when we feel God speak and walk toward what we're sure we heard Him say only to find a confusing twist in the road? What happens when enough from Him just doesn't seem like it's enough for them...

My friends, life is complicated and hard, we are fallen people in a fallen world. Our fears overwhelm us, cause us to lose sight of the beauty He places before us, cause us to run when He's urging our hearts to stay. We place our bets on the temporary because we believe all we have is what we can see, we lose sight of His promises and feel as though He failed us when His gifts don't arrive in exactly the packages we dream that they will.

I saw a quote recently that said, "I would ask for different gifts if only I could see what He could see." No idea of the author but this resonated deep within me. I focus so much on the temporary. My vision is so limited and flawed. How often might I miss His best because it just doesn't appear through my foggy short sighted lenses to be enough? I fear He hasn't heard me, that He may be withholding His goodness, when in reality there is so much joy waiting on the other side of faith and oh the glory He will reveal when I simply keep my eyes focused on Him.

"Lord, may we fix our eyes on you, the author and finisher of our faith. May you give us your clear vision so we may more purely see your gifts, may we trust when you speak and follow when you lead, may we not let our fear overwhelm us, may we walk worthy every day of the fulfillment of your promise. May we trust closed doors and praise you even when we don't quite understand knowing that in you the best is yet to come. May we seek your heart more than your hand, may we show your grace, may we rest in the hope that our enough will never not be enough to you and trust that in your time and in your way it will flourish to the world around us as so much more."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Together for Good...

Since I was a girl I've been told that life is like a puzzle all the pieces somehow fitting together one after the other to make up the whole. I've heard that every moment leads you to the next and that maybe if you're lucky one day you'll get to see how one thing prepared you for another all to get you to your life's calling. I've heard that nothing is without purpose and that though this world can feel incredibly big in reality it is very small. I've heard that one day it will all make sense...

Until I went to college we moved a lot and travelled even more. My dad had the kind of job that made our circle of friends big and took us on a lot of adventures. It gave me my love for people and cultures. It gave me my wandering heart. I wouldn't trade it for the world and I'm especially sure of that now.

Until I came back from the desert in mid-2013 I didn't feel like I had roots. I didn't know what it was like to grow up living in the same house, in the same town or to go to the same school year after year and that was just fine with me. I loved not staying still. I craved it. Then after that last adventure, even though in my head I still wanted to always be on the go, there was something in my heart that started to become more settled. I fought it for a long time but in 2015 God finally began to open my eyes to see that this place is home. I began to understand what it meant to have roots. People here have gotten to know me and I know them and we've begun to share our stories. It's beautiful.

These last few months though have been especially incredible. My mind has been blown as I have become reacquainted with my past in the most unexpected way. I have been reminded of the best times and been reconnected to the most wonderful people all because of a crazy chance I took one Sunday afternoon. The outcome of that day has proven to me just how small this world really is and that our lives really are like puzzles, each piece connecting to the other. The best part is that every day I'm learning just how deep my roots really go. These last 37 years have been one step leading to another all bringing me full circle to this moment in time and back to this place where I feel like I belong.

What I love most about this first part of 2016 is that I've seen once again how beautiful and wonderful the love of Christ shown through His people can be.

Whether you're going through a great time, a hard time or are somewhere in between, savor it. Find the beauty where you can. Let the best people love you. Always keep a window open for the pieces of your past you believe are beautiful enough to revisit. And above all, never lose sight of the promise that everything really does work together for good. (Romans 8:28)


 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Choice

Several years ago I was presented with a choice. A very difficult one. A choice between two. One that I had wished for so long to return and another that was new and different.

Through a series of events, I finally chose. It was a choice that changed everything. It was a choice that lead me to the desert.

For years I have wondered what might have been had I chosen differently that day. Had I chosen with my heart instead of my head. In one way, I've wished to return to that time and choose again and in another I've known without a shadow of a doubt that the desert was God's plan. That HE put me there. It's been a struggle.

Recently, in a moment of meditation, I got my answer. It came out of the blue and could not have been more clear. I had made the wrong choice AND the desert truly was exactly where God wanted me to be. My struggling heart was right on both sides and with that understanding I could move forward.

In the middle of the situation, I could only see two choices. In reality, there were three.

My choice. My forever choice should have been the third.

I should have simply chosen the lover of my soul. I should have stepped away from the choice of two and made it about one.

The beauty of it all is this, the desert was His way of causing me to stand still until I would. Until I would choose Him for life, for love, for everything. Until I realized that He was enough.

My heart no longer asks "what if" because recognizing the true error of my choice has allowed me to move forward without changing the past. I get to keep the beauty, the wisdom of experience and the opportunity to walk forward toward the future in peace.

He is my forever choice. The lover of my soul. My choice is clear. And for now, I'm more than content just to walk with Him. He woos and wins my heart all over again every day. He showers me with gifts of grace, redemption and love. He is enough.

Today is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow we will celebrate the day redemption began. We will celebrate the King of All coming to a manger. We will celebrate freedom. We will celebrate the only choice that really matters. The choice that leads to every other right thing in our lives.

My wish for you this Christmas is that you will find the courage to make your choice about one as well.

Take hold of redemption. Make your way to the manger. Leave your burdens at the cross. Find your peace in the arms of the one who will never let you go.

Merry Christmas.

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

He knows...

Have you ever been so full from time spent with God that you thought you might burst unless you shared it?

This past week I took some extra time and just focused on me and God. I was looking for peace on something and knew the only way I would find it was if I blocked out everything else and just spent time with Him. I determined to focus not on studying to share but studying for me. That was not the easiest task as I am so excited about all that He is showing me as I'm putting together studies on the women of the Bible. But, it's a very true statement that in order to be able to effectively share with others, we must first feed ourselves.

One thing I wasn't expecting was how a verse that is so popular would come alive in a whole new way. Even though the point of my study was not to teach, I couldn't keep it to myself and so when I was asked to briefly speak in the service Sunday morning I jumped at the chance to share. Here is a brief recap. My hope is that you are as encouraged by it as I am.

Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Everyone, including people who do not go to church or study the Bible, has probably at least seen this verse. You can Google or better yet run a search on Pinterest for "Inspirational Quotes" and this verse will pop up near the top. You can walk into any Christian bookstore and see 1,000 (or more) items with parts of it printed on them. It's everywhere but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means?

If you're like me, you've thought of it when going through a hard time remembering His promise that it's temporary and for our good. But, what I realized last week was that's not the most beautiful part of the verse.

The truest beauty lies in the first statement, "For I know the plans I have for you". I meaning - I AM, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End. Jehovah Jireh - The Great Provider, Jehovah Raffa - The Great Healer, The Soon and Coming King, JESUS has a specific plan for me!

We could take hours and even days going through scripture to find all of the names listed for God and do all kinds of searches on who He is and still in our human finite minds only begin to grasp the greatness of Almighty God.

And in all of His greatness He crafted a plan for me and it's good?!?

I look forward one day to being at His feet and understanding why He created me, much less took such an interest in me. We live in a vast universe and with millions of other people here on this tiny planet we call earth and for some reason He cares enough to even know how many hairs are on my head.

Luke 12:7 - Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (ESV)

Matthew 10:30 - And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (ESV)

Have you ever thought about creation, recognizing the simple fact that He knew before time even began that the first humans He created would screw it all up? He knew when He gave them every good thing that they would fall and in return so would every person after them. He knew what it would take to redeem them... and yet, He created them and subsequently all of mankind that followed them, any way...

I do not understand it but oh how grateful I am for it.

He knows you. Every fiber of your being, every little nuance of your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, everything. He crafted you and not just you, a beautiful master plan FOR you. One that regardless of how you fail Him is for your good and ultimately for a beautiful future.

So next time, you're going through a trial that seems more than you could ever conquer remember what is waiting on the other side and not just the other side of today but the other side of eternity. For you see, no good thing that you experience here regardless of how great will ever compare to the glory that lies beyond this fallen world we live in. And the difficulties will only make it that much sweeter. He gave everything to redeem you. He gave everything so that even though we are imperfect now, through Him perfection could still be attained.

It's a gift. A priceless gift.

Be blessed today and know that this life with it's good and bad is only temporary. The best is yet to come.




 

Monday, June 30, 2014

When God Says, "Not Yet..."

Hello Everyone!


I saw a quote on Twitter last week that said, "God only gives three answers to prayer: 'Yes', 'Not Yet' and 'I have something better in mind.'" I did some research to try and find out where it originated and came up with nothing. Regardless, I love the perspective.


I learned the power of prayer at a very young age. I was four or five and wanted a bicycle badly. I'm not sure why but probably at the suggestion of my wise parents, I started praying for that bike and I remember praying very specifically. I would ask God every night to deliver a bicycle and leave it against the cherry tree outside. Then, every morning I would wake up and run to the front door believing He had answered. Night after night, morning after morning this went on. For how long, I'm not exactly sure. In reality, it probably wasn't very long but for a young child, it must have seemed like an eternity. Finally, one morning just as I had prayed a bicycle was leaning up against the cherry tree. After a period of waiting or "Not Yet", God had answered, "Yes" and that time, exactly as I had requested.



For most of us, the times we feel most heard and loved by God is with an immediate, "Yes." It's such a joy to realize in those moments that He actually listens, right? I certainly have been happy when I've asked God for a specific thing and He grants it just as I wanted.


We know God is listening when we get, "Yes" but is He also listening in the waiting? We're running to the door every morning with child-like faith believing He has answered and still, the bicycle has not arrived. He promised to hear us so why doesn't He answer?


It's so easy in those times to feel let down or even get angry. Especially, when we're praying for something that is very close to our heart.


As adults, our prayers turn from bicycles and puppies to jobs, a spouse (for those who are single), good health, healing and other important things. The anticipation and frustration of waiting hasn't changed much though. We're still expecting an immediate result from a God who promises to provide, from a God who promises He hears, from a God who surely loves us enough to grant our requests and, Now!


I've been in a period of waiting for a long time. Obviously, with me being single, I've been waiting for God and my forever guy to get their act together (lol) but I've been waiting in other ways as well. I was waiting in the desert with so many unknowns and then once I came home, the waiting didn't stop. I've been waiting for the pieces of this part of my life's puzzle to come together. It's been wait, after wait, after wait. And you know what, I've actually come to have a fondness for it.


You see, when I get the, "Yes" I know God heard me sure, but when He says, "Not Yet," I get a chance to walk through a journey with Him to the "Yes" that I would have missed had I gotten my answer in my time instead of His.


The longer I live and the more that I am willing to be honest with myself about the short comings of my humanity, the more I actually look for the "Not Yet" and/or the less specifically I pray.


My favorite way to pray now instead of just asking for a certain thing, is to ask God to show me His heart. A former pastor at a church I attended for several years once said, "The desire of every believer should be to seek God's heart, not just His hand." We see this played out through King David in the Bible. Did you know he was the only man that God has ever called, "a man after His heart?" As we read through the prayers of David we can see why, even through his many failures His heart was always tender toward God and his relationship with Him was very real. Many times when he prayed, he asked for God's heart in the matter, not just His hand.




When I was in the desert, for a very long time I didn't ask God to bring me home. I couldn't. In my spirit I knew that when He had brought me to a specific place in my life and when He was finished with the work He wanted to do there, He would make it happen. Did I have my days where I questioned why? Sure. But I also knew the same God who created Heaven and Earth, who chose the cross when He could have let me take the burden of my own sin, the same God who knows every hair on my head could have ended the whole situation before it even began. It was for a purpose... I'll never know this side of Heaven all the reasons why but I know enough to know it was all for my good. It was both a time of preparation and for my protection. He used that time to keep me from marrying someone other than my forever guy and He grew me and healed my heart in many other incredible ways.


It was my aim to ask Him often to show me His heart and for Him to reveal a why and when He stopped showing me the why's then and only then did I ask Him to either show me another reason I was still there or to send me home. Three weeks later, His answer was clear and I stepped foot back on US soil.

Waiting is hard, but it's also quite amazing to watch Him put together the puzzle pieces of this journey in ways I could never be creative enough or have the power to do for myself.


In the times when I've been brave enough to give it all to God and just ask Him to show me His heart on the journey to His answer, I've been so much happier when I reach my destination. So hear I am again watching, waiting and yet, still walking.


You see, though I'm not responsible to know the end at this point, I am responsible to continue walking as He leads. The light of the lamp is often very dim, so it's step by step by step, but I am moving. For otherwise, how could I ever reach the destination?


Every day, He is leading me closer toward His ultimate plan. Is it hard to be in this time of waiting? Yes! But I know in the end, when the period of waiting is through, I will look back and be so blessed because He did such a beautiful work in designing the outcome and answers to my prayers.


He is still the Master Designer and where I would create a pile of rubbish, He creates a work of art.



I challenge you this week to join me and ask for less of His hand and more of His heart. I'm excited to hear what happens.


Until next time,


Rebecca

Photo #3 - AV Nelson Photography

Monday, June 23, 2014

35 and Single... What's wrong with you?

It was our first date. We're making small talk and he looks at me and says, "So you're 35 and attractive but STILL single... What's wrong with you?" That was our first and only date and I believe he reads this blog from time to time so to his credit I will say he was repeating something another guy had recently asked him and I believe he was trying to be funny but nonetheless, it got me thinking...


When I was a girl, I dreamed of being married yes, but my fairy tale included tailored suits, and stilettos, board meetings and whatever else my childhood self thought an executive level job would look like. What I wanted was to be at the top of the corporate ladder. In fifth grade, when other girls were going to school on Career Day as secretaries I was going as the boss. In sixth grade, I carried a briefcase instead of a book bag. At 16, I knew for sure my life's calling was the business world and for as many years after, I pursued it with a fervent passion. I got my dream and I'm grateful for the journey and so much of what getting there taught me. Today, I'm on a different path. My dreams have changed... but that is for another day...


I haven't always been single. I was married at 22 to a man who turned out to be very different than we all had believed. It was difficult. I survived. It made me strong. And though I never want to experience anything like it again, I am grateful for it both because it taught a naïve girl a lot about the real world and because it made me relatable to a group of women that otherwise I may not have been able to love quite the same had I not walked a mile in their shoes.


It's been nine years since my divorce was finalized and I was legally separated for nearly two full years before that. I have been single more than 30 of my 35 years. So, like so many of you out there in cyber space, I am often asked "Why?" or like he said on that first date not too long ago, "What's wrong with you?"


(A selfie just seemed to fit...)


I'm a human being... I laugh, I cry, I have no diagnosed psychosis (those of you who know me in real life should focus on the word "diagnosed" here... haha), I will not say I'm normal because who really knows what that means... You get the idea right?!?


You see... I'm single by choice... I'm not sure at this point if it's mine or his or God's or all of the above but at the end of the day, I'm single because I haven't made it to the altar with my forever guy yet and you know what? That's OK.


I have a good life. Would it be more fun sometimes if I wasn't single? Sure! But I refuse to focus there... I'm not wallowing at home waiting to be rescued... I'm living a life, as Mandy Hale (The Single Woman) so beautifully put it, that I "don't wish to be rescued from."


One day... he or I or both of us will finally get all of our ducks in a row and we'll both be at the same place at the same time and have a light bulb moment where we realize "this is it!" But, until then... when you're tempted to ask what's wrong with me or other singles over 30 out there... Consider that maybe it hasn't been for lack of proposal or epic storybook romance and maybe I don't even have a crazy psychotic tendency I'm trying desperately to hide... Maybe it's just because I'm waiting on the soul that was created to walk with mine and our journeys just haven't merged like they need to for our "happily ever after" yet.


Does single life suck some times? Yes. But from what I've seen and experienced... Marriage to the wrong person is often much, much worse.


The right forever will always be worth the wait.

Until next time...

Rebecca




Thursday, May 29, 2014

One year...

Good Morning Everyone!


It's hard to believe this day is here. As I write its 5:40am EST and in 35 minutes it will be exactly one year to the minute (6:15am EST, May 29, 2013) that the front wheels of the plane touched down on US soil and I landed at Dulles Airport from my 16 month adventure in the desert.


I've thought many times over the last year what this day and this post would look like and now that it's here I'm almost without words. 


I didn't sleep much last night because I was so excited to release my video and thank you all for sticking so close to me these last two and a half years as God has taken me on this incredible journey. It's not been without difficulty for sure but the blessings have far outweighed the pain.


It's almost impossible to explain why from day one, though I've certainly had my moments, I have been at peace and even happy to be on this journey. Early this morning, before I finally went to sleep, I prayed "Lord, give me some way to share what's really been on my heart."


I woke up this morning to today's devotional from Daily Hope with Rick Warren. The title appropriately, Happy People See God's Bigger Picture and a scripture verse that could not be a more perfect way to end this post.


"I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News." - Philippines 1:12  NLT


What an adventure. Thank you all for your love and support. You are a big part of the story and I'm excited to see how God is going to continue to use all of us for His greater purpose.


Until next time...



 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Old and New

Since today is the last day of the year it seems fitting for one final update of sorts on my situation.

There really isn't much to share except that life here in the US has reached a new level of normalcy. It is wonderful and beautiful and for now, just as it should be. My wild heart is craving and excited for my next big adventure and I'm looking forward to all God has in store for the future.

Thank you for praying. Your love, and support has been incredible. It's been amazing from my perspective to see so many hearts bound together through this time and watching that has been a beautiful gift.

As I look toward every new year, I also spend a good amount of time reflecting on the moments and people I'm most grateful for from the present one. My family, friends both old and new, my Summit family, and the beautiful friendship and exciting times my best friend and I have shared have all been amazing. It's been a year of gain and a year of great loss. A year of new beginnings and a year where some chapters came to a close. Its been a year where God has shown me His faithfulness in amazing ways and beautiful reminders each day that I have never walked alone.

I'm excited for all that is to come in 2014. Thank you all for taking the amazing journey of 2012 and 2013 with me. I wish you all... enough.

"May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely shadows that fade in the sunlight of love. May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to keep you happy, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, enough friends to give you comfort, enough faith and courage to banish sadness, enough wealth to meet your needs, and enough determination to make each day more wonderful than the one before."
— Irish Blessing