Sunday, August 16, 2015

Joy in the Waiting...

Life is busy.  I get it.  We all have 101 things we need to accomplish before the end of the day and an even longer to-do list weighs heavy on our shoulders that needs to complete by the end of the week and yet another list by the end of the month. 
Bosses need reports and budgets.  Emails need to be sent.  Dishes are piling up in the sink. Laundry is never ending.  Kids need help with homework. The baby is crying and the husband can’t find his keys.

Okay, so that whole crying baby and husband scenario doesn’t exactly apply to me.  Hahah

But the pressure to get it all done still rings true, no matter our situation or status.

Right now I am looking at my handy-dandy dry erase board.  It is tattooed with a list of 12 things I would like to accomplish today.  ­­­­­My fellow Type-A-ers will understand when I say that just looking at it gives me a little sense of harmony. For years I have known that I harbor some traits of a type-a personality. I love making lists. And I love even more to cross things off when they are completed.  (Again, I know that several of you know exactly what I mean by that!)  J 
However, since living in Africa, I have been forced to adopt a more go-with-the-flow attitude.  I now realize that it is more reasonable to believe that only half of the items on my list will actually get done today…and I am (somewhat) okay with that. 
Yes, I am doing my best to adapt and assimilate into this nonchalant culture…but it would be silly to think that I have been cured of my list-making, type-a, get-it-done personality. Truth is, I have yet to fully integrate into this new way of doing things.  There are days when I get frustrated and I just can’t seem to understand why nothing can get done.  And when things finally do get accomplished…it is days or even weeks later than expected.  Needless to say, there is a lot of waiting that happens here.
Which should not be much of a surprise to me at all. 
For a while, it seems, I have been in a season of waiting.  And while somewhere deep inside me, there is a little voice saying, “Hurry up already!” there is another voice—a quieter voice, saying, “I’ve got you right where I want you.”

For months and years I have been waiting…for a lot of things.  Each time my prayer or circumstance returns results different from my expectations, I catch myself thinking petty little thoughts like, “Should’ve known,” or “Of course.”  Fortunately, I can say that such thoughts are becoming less instinctual.  No, I don’t want to wait.  It think it is human nature—more specifically, American culture, that makes me desire immediate results.  But I am confident that there is deeper meaning rooted in each circumstance that requires me to wait.  Most importantly, God has been using those times to teach me a thing or two.  Rather than asking Him to hurry the process along, He has been teaching me to be patient.   Instead of looking so far forward, stationing my eyes on the final result, He is softly saying, “But look at what I am doing now.”  He is asking me to be still.  To trust Him.

Trust…what a deeply complicated concept…but more on that another day.

For now, I feel like the life lesson God wants me to know is that He has not forgotten me.  He hears each prayer and He knows the desires of my heart.  He is not putting my cries, tears, or yearnings on a shelf while he deals with more important things.  I am a child of God—I am what is important to Him. 
No, He is not forsaking me.  Instead, He is softly reminding me that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  (But not always according to my timeline.) His timing is perfect and my good and perfect gifts are on their way.  He is just taking a little extra time to make them more perfect; more grand and more extravagant than my mind can even imagine.  It is going to be worth the wait, I am sure of that.

In the meantime, He is giving me little gifts each and every day.  It is up to me to receive them.  What a shame it would be if I allowed my waiting to distract me from seeing the beautiful work He is constantly doing around me each day.
So, as my heart is stilled by His constant and overwhelming love, here are a few glimpses into the sweet gifts He has been giving to me every day:
 
My students radiate joy in all they do.
Despite some of their painful pasts,
they love to sing, dance, and praise Jesus.

 
This young man LOVES Jesus and aspires to be a
pastor of his own Deaf church some day.
Several times each week he asks me to teach him
a new scripture.  He watches intently and is
always excited to share with the other students.

You can't beat the beauty of a Ugandan sunrise.




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Its Gonna Be Worth It...

As a born-again Christian I know that I cannot escape the grip of of God's hand. Nor can I be hidden from his sight. He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omniprisent.
Still, there are times when it doesn't quite feel that way.  There are days when full-time ministry is exhausting--physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  There are times when life in a foreign country is lonely, when nothing seems to be going right, and the presence of God seems miles away.  And there are times when it really tough and really ugly and packing up and going home sounds like a good idea...
Then, there are days when all of the tears, the pain, and hours upon hours of prayer is finally worth it.
Today was one of those days.
I was asked to teach P6 R.E. (6th grade Religious Education)  As the substitute teacher, I grabbed a hold of the teacher's guide and skimmed over the curriculum to see what was planned for the day.
The topic: Jesus fed the hungry
It was suggested that the teacher use John 2:1-11 (Jesus turned water to wine) and Matthew 14:13-21 (Jesus feeds 5,000) to teach the subject.
I began with John 2.  The students were somewhat familiar with the story, but reading and understanding the words in the Bible often proves to be difficult for them--it can be tough, even, for a native English-speaking person to understand scripture...even harder if English is your second language...that you can't hear. So, we spent some good time transforming the words on the pages into a tangible picture for them to see and better comprehend.
After interpreting the first story into Ugandan Sign Language, we moved on to the second story.  I first let them read the passage of scripture...determined that they didn't understand...and began to interpret it for them.
We started with the events leading up to the story and discussed the issue of John the Baptist being imprisoned, which later lead to his death.  Slowly, we made our way through the whole story.  And what happened from there...my goodness, my heart is still smiling!  Before I could ask them a single question, their hands were being thrust into the air.  I immediately began getting questions like, "Did John the Baptist go to heaven?" "Why didn't God save John from being killed?" "Did Jesus go to secondary school? or college?" "Did Jesus have brothers and sisters?"
I was in awe of how their young, inquisitive minds had been able to see beyond the words on a page and begin to interact with the people, places, and events withing the story.  John the Baptist was not a story character to them.  He was a real person and they were concerned for him and his eternity!
One question would lead to another, which lead to even more.  I found myself in the middle of such an amazing conversation!  At one point I was answering a question and telling my students that God knows the number of hairs on each of their heads; that God can hear (and see) everyone's prayers...all at the same time!  I could see the bewilderment in their eyes and I smiled as one of my girls sweetly replied, "Wow, God must have  realllllly big eyes!"
Their body language began to change as they became more and more captivated by the conversation.  I repeatedly had to tell them to take turns; that, unlike God, I could not see all of their questions at the same time.  But they were all so curious and eager to know more that questions overlapped and comments were being hurled at me from multiple directions.
They asked about the disciples and I was able to tell them that many of the disciples didn't have an education, but God still used them in a powerful way.  And similarly, they might be deaf, but GOd has made them that way and He has plans to use each of them in a unique way too.
The conversation eventually flowed into the miracle of creation.  We talked about how God created everything, from the smallest baby bird to the largest of elephants.  From the littlest fish in the sea, to the giant sun, moon, and stars.
"But who created God?" one of them asked...Oh, to have the heart of a child.  The innocent, unblemished perspective of God and all His glory.  What an unbelievable blessing it is, that God has called me here for such a time as this. I can't imagine NOT walking this journey with Him.
I will be the first to admit, life over here is not easy--for me, or for the people God has called me to serve.  This road all-too-often becomes messy and uncomfortable and down-right scary.  But I am learning to be thankful despite the circumstances that surround me.  I am learning to trust Him when the road I am walking isn't clearly marked.  And I am learning to wait on Him.  Because at just the right time, He gives me days like this--reassuring me of His presence and reminding me that these kids, their hearts, and their eternities are worth it.  They are worth every tear, every busted toe, every heartbreak, every sleepless night...
They are worth it to me.
And they are worth it to Him.




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pondering Life and Death...

It is never easy when someone we dearly love, dies.
Even in the case of terminal illness, when we know that death is inevitable…our hearts cannot fully prepare for the pain and grief it will feel when the time finally comes to say ‘good-bye.’
And I imagine it is even harder when the news of someone’s passing comes out of the blue.  Everything is fine one day; we are laughing, enjoying life, and going about our business.
Then, POW!!
Your heart, and your head, and every little part of you receives the terrifying, blind-sided impact—almost as if you have been hit head-on by a rapidly-moving freight train. 
That special someone that you love so much…is gone.
We try to comfort ourselves and each other with words like, “May his soul rest in peace,” and “She is in a better place now,” or “He is no longer suffering,” and “She is with Jesus now.”
But what if those words we are speaking are just the opposite of the reality? 

I, no doubt, believe that ALL of us are going to see Jesus one day.  Scripture tells us that each of us will have to face judgment and give account for our lives.  In that moment, we all look forward to hearing Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” We will be ushered into His eternal presence in a place that He calls paradise.  
But what if those words of welcome are not spoken?  Rather, what if God says, “Away from me, I never knew you.”
It is a terrifying thought…but it is going to be the reality for so many.  People will continue to say, “Rest in peace,” but what if their time here on earth WAS there peace? This WAS their heaven…and because of poor decisions, or lack-of decisions, they are now destined for eternal life of unimaginable pain, torture, and regret.  What if the ones we love so much reach the pearly gates of heaven, only to be turned away and sentenced to life without parole in the fiery depths of hell?
Surely, no one wants to think of that.  Our bodies want to live in a state of homeostasis.  So, when someone we love slips from the grip of our hands, we naturally do and say whatever we can to return our hearts back to a state of contentment and normalcy.
Now, while I can’t guarantee that my soul will see heaven, I have a confident assurance that it will.  This confidence comes not from what the world says about death (or spirituality, or afterlife, or any other worldly perspective). It comes from my faith in Christ and the hope that I have in Him, when I first believed and trusted in Him.  This assurance of faith says that my sins are forgiven and I am marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit. 
But for now, I wait in anticipation of that day, joyfully expectant of the moment when I can lock eyes with Jesus…

But I would be lying if I said that all my thoughts about heaven are blissful.  It seems almost un-Christian of me to even suggest that heaven would be anything but perfection. 
My hang-up lies in this:
What if I get to heaven…and everything is just as it should be.  I am walking along streets paved with gold.  The angels are singing their praises and their music is radiating songs of worship.  As I continue along my way, those that have gone before me are smiling, greeting me with an unexplainable joy and excitement…
Then…as my eyes scan about…I begin to feel an immense pain in my chest.  I search frantically to be reunited with the people I love the most—my mom, dad, sister…but I can’t find them.  I begin desperately asking others to help me find my family as the pain grows worse, and no one says a word. All I receive are blank stares, almost as if they are saying to me, “Don’t you know?...”  Tears begin to well up in my eyes, my hands begin to tremble, and my knees start to weaken.  Then, in the distance, I see Jesus.  Using what little strength I have left, I run to him, falling at His feet.  Knowing exactly what I am feeling, and knowing the very thoughts running through my mind, He gently turns to me.  His eyes are serene and his movements are slow and tender.  And before I can utter a single word to him, he kneels with me, wraps his arms around me and says, “I am sorry.  They chose not to believe; they chose not to follow.”
And that’s when it happens—every ounce of my strength vanishes, my heart is violently ripped from my chest and my emotional walls come crashing down as I lie there in his arms, sobbing.
Nothing brings me to tears faster than when I play this scenario out in my head.
I don’t want my experience in heaven to be like that. 
So I pray; I pray harder than I have ever prayed in my life. To my God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the Alpha and the Omega, the Giver of life, the Sustainer of all things,  I pray that He not give up on my family, that He continues to pursue them as relentlessly as he pursued me.  I pray that their hearts will be receptive to His love for them and that all their fears and doubts and insecurities will be washed away by His gentle grace and mercy.  I pray that their eyes are opened to see themselves the way that God sees them.  I pray that they are able to experience the forgiveness and love that was poured out for them on the cross; the unconditional love that says, “I don’t care where you have been, or what you have done.  I love you. And those scars where my flesh was torn apart, the thorns that pierced my head, and the nails that penetrated my hands and feet...it was done for you.  And I would do it all over again—why? Because I. LOVE. YOU.”  
I pray that my family, and lost souls around the world, are able to humbly accept the salvation and peace that only comes from Jesus.  And in doing so, lead a life that is glorifying to Him as they begin their journey into eternal bliss with Christ.

When someone dies, it is common for us to say things like, “He is in a better place now.”  I think it is our body’s defense mechanism.  We entertain these rainbows and roses scenarios because the alternative is just too painful to consider.  But the reality is, the only way we are going to experience heaven and live in that ‘better place’ is if we make a decision on this side of heaven.  God does not want to be separated from us—that is why He sent His son, Jesus, to die for us.  And He says that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Postponing that decision could have catastrophic, eternal consequences.  We don’t know when our time here on earth is up, so we must ensure our place in heaven today.
  
“The only opportunity you will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God affords you right now.  If you dream of coming to God after you die, you are nursing a vain hope.” Ray Pritchard

So, for all of you that have already made the decision to believe and follow Christ, I pray that you continue to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.


For the rest of you, I pray that today is the day you choose life over death.  Today is the day you choose to give your life to Jesus in exchange for eternal life with Him in heaven. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Becoming A Samuel...

There have been so many thoughts floating around in my head these past few weeks--some are cohesive (and productive); others, not so much.  I know I need to put some tangible words to all these ideas and revelations, but I am pretty confident that I won't be able to do that in just one post.  So, I have taken a few notes and plan to address them at a later time.

Meanwhile, I am continuing to be reminding of the story of David.  Before he was David the King; David, friend of Jonathan; David who defeated Goliath...before any of this happened, he was David, son of Jesse,

A quick review: God had recently rejected Saul as King of Israel and had sent Samuel to anoint a new King--one of the sons of Jesse.  Upon reaching the home of Jesse, Samuel is greeted by seven of his sons.  God reveals to Samuel that none of these young men are the chosen king, which leads Samuel to ask, "Are these all the sons you have?"

And this is where my heart sits so heavy today:
Jesse replies, "There is the youngest, but he is tending sheep." 
This was to be a very important day for Jesse and his family--one of them was about to become the king of Israel...yet David was not even considered for the ceremony.  It is almost as though he was an afterthought--less worthy than his older, stronger, and more capable brothers.  The fact that Jesse left David in the fields and failed to even bring him to the event revealed his heart and diminished expectations of his youngest son.  Little did he know, this left-behind (literally) child would grow up to eventually lead God's chosen people.
Jesse, I am sure, underestimated the power that his words and actions had on his young son.  
For some of us, this story may seem irrelevant.  After all, what is the likelihood that my child is going to become king,,,or president...or cure cancer...or whatever!  But that is exactly my point; we don't know.  And we can't even begin to imagine what our children are capable of, particularly when they walk hand-in-hand with the Creator of the universe!
I am beginning to see the story of David played out in the lives of my students here in Uganda. Similar to David, many of these children are outcasts in their families.  They are often despised and rejected with no expectations to succeed in life.  Their brokenness and physical handicap¹ is simply disgraceful and unwelcomed in their communities.  But like David, these children are rising above the odds and surpassing the limits that have been placed on them.  They are succeeding in school, making friends, raising their own standards, and paving futures for themselves and others that will follow.
It is easy to look at these deaf children and see their disability...but why not look deeper to find their ability?

As parents and as Christians, we need to recognize the power our words have on our children.  We need to be very cautious as to what we are saying to our children and about our children.  Throughout scripture we are told that our words have the power to build others up or tear them down.  It is up to us to decide how our words will be used.
Of course, we don't intentionally criticize our children's appearances or abilities, but what are some of the ways we are unconsciously influencing our children's self-image in our day-to-day lives? Moms, are you constantly standing in from of the mirror, complaining about the few extra pounds you have gained, inadvertently implying to your young daughter that a woman's worth is measured by the size of her waist?  Dads, are you talking smack about the athletes on t.v., throwing out insults based on one man's performance that day? 
This is not to criticize anyone's parenting styles at all, rather to call our attention to the delicate needs of our children.
We need to be the voice of truth in their lives.
We all know the phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me..."  Wrong!  They do.  And we need to stand in the gap and ensure that our children know who they are and Who's they are.  The world will, no doubt, come at them with insults and offenses, tearing apart their character and the idiosyncrasies that make them unique.  Therefore, it is essential that our children grow up knowing that they are made by God, in His perfect image.

So, we have a choice to make: We can either be the Jesse in our children's lives, setting low expectations and standards for our children; or we can be the Samuel in their lives, calling them forward to bigger and better things with Christ at the helm.
While our bodies may not appear to be perfect to the world, He made each of us EXACTLY how He wants us.  And in the end, it is not our physical frame, but our heart, that God is after.

¹While mainstream America and countries around the world view deafness as a handicap, the Deaf community disagrees.  Deaf people have chosen to stand--their inability to hear is not a disability.  Instead, it is a ticket into a beautifully unique culture with its own language and opportunities.
  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Celebrating What I Love...

February 14 is here! And in the spirit of Valentines day, I thought I would dedicate this post to Love. 
Typically, Valentine’s day is meant to celebrate that ‘special someone’ in our lives. 
However, as a single woman, I have decided to re-purpose the holiday this year
and highlight some of the loves of my life.

 

1. Family

Yup, they are pretty amazing.

 

 

2. Friends 

"A friend loves at all times..."  Proverbs 17:17

  

 

3. Uganda

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

  

 

4. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!

Need I say more...?

 

5. "My" Babies

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

 

6. Hope

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3

 

7. Friends

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy”  Job 8:21

 

8. Hot Cocoa

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..."  James 1:17

 

9. Hugs

"Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ..." Eph 5:2

 

 

10. Purple Pens

Sometimes it's the little things in life...

 

 11. Laughing babies...

“Sarah said, 'God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me'” (Genesis 21:6).
  

 

 12. Butterflies

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Cor. 5:17

 

 13. Smiles

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10

 

14. Sign Language

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."  1 Cor. 13:13

 

 

 

 Single, dating, married...whatever your situation, I pray that love radiates from your heart this Valentine's Day.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." 1 John 4:7
 
 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

His Grace is Sufficient...

I have not cried in months. 
But those of you who know me well, know that this is not uncommon for me.  For years, I have had to be the ‘strong one.’  I have had to be the shoulder to cry on and a source of comfort for the people around me.  I have had to restrain my emotions and face uncomfortable situations head-on.  In other words, I’ve had to put my big-girl panties on and just get the job done.  This has been true in my career as well as in my personal life. 

Thankfully, I come from a fabulous home and a wonderful family, full of love.  My heartbreaks growing up were limited to the few instances when we lost a family pet or when I realized that the tooth fairy was not real.  But early on, I was expected to perform well, to get good grades, to excel in life.  Failure was not an option and I feared disappointing anyone.  As I entered adulthood, I had to be the stoic one. Showing strength and courage after a disastrous house fire. Comforting Mom through a painful, unforeseen divorce.    Listening patiently as my sister sheds her own tears and vents her frustrations as a wife and mother.  Calling Daddy, hundreds of miles away, and telling him everything is alright…even when it’s not.

At work, it was all-too-common for my heart to be crushed.  Informing my patient that her cancer has returned.  Watching a mother cry, knowing that she can’t afford the quality treatment to help her daughter detox off heroin.   Telling a young, newlywed couple that their infant child may not survive his 13-hour heart surgery, scheduled for tonight. Hearing hearts break as a room full of people say their final goodbyes to a husband, father, grandpa, and friend.  Explaining to a wife that the doctors did all they could for her husband…but he won’t be going home with her tonight…or any night thereafter. 

All of these situations have contributed to the building up of my emotional walls and reinforcing them year after year.  It is not something that I am necessarily proud of. Rather, it is more of a defense mechanism—a way to protect my heart and ensure that I will be strong enough to handle the next heart-breaking situation that is right around the corner.  Because, truth is, this is a fallen world and pain is inevitable. Some people may interpret my lack of tears as being insensitive, but that is not the case at all.  I see your tears and I feel your pain.  I WANT to cry with you, but I can’t.   I can’t let my guard down and risk being crippled by the pain.  I can’t be vulnerable or show weakness.

Vulnerable.  Weak.

What is it about those words that sting so badly? What is it that makes them echo and pierce us so deeply?  It is almost as if such qualities are shameful…as if opening myself up and admitting that I ‘just can’t do it’ is somehow admitting defeat.

But what if that is exactly what we are supposed to do—Admit defeat.  Admit failures.  Admit short-comings.  Admit my need for a Savior.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us a story of the prodigal son—a boy that wants to be grown.  He wants to do life his own way and prove that he is mature enough to make his own decisions and take care of himself.  But as the story unfolds, we see that the boy begins to fall apart.  He has reached a dead end and begins to recall and appreciate the safety and security he once had with his father. And the most beautiful part of the story is the picture scripture paints for us of a father who longs to care for his son.  His arms are open wide, anticipating the reunion with his son and the opportunity to, once again, be the father his son needs. 
This father’s desire is not a foreign concept.
God created men to be leaders of their families. Therefore, it comes natural that men want to effectively execute their role as a father.  There is something in the chemical make-up of a man that he desires to be the backbone of his family and provide for his children, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

The same is true of God.  As our Heavenly Father, He wants nothing more than to have His children run to Him.  With arms open wide, he wants to hold us tight, comfort our hurting hearts, and wipe away all our tears.  He longs to embrace us with his unconditional love and strength.  He wants to counsel us, lead us, and make our paths straight.

So, it is okay to show weakness.  We don’t always have to be the ‘strong one.’ I don’t have to always be the strong one. In fact, I am beginning to see that it is best that I stop striving to be strong because when I don’t measure up, which is more often than not, I can find strength and comfort knowing that He is able.  It is okay for me to ‘fall apart’ when the pain is just too much, because as a child of God, I belong to the One that can restore me and rebuild my heart. He will be there in the pain to pull me up and strengthen me to continue His call.

All that being said, I realize that it is easier said than done.  As my time here in Busega continues to dissolve like the sand in an hourglass, I can feel my walls beginning to reinforce.  I don’t want to leave my family behind.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  I don’t want to experience the pain that is bound to come…


But I can hear His still, small voice reassuring me that He is here. 
And He will continue to be here.
He sees my fear and my pain and He is quietly reminding me that it is okay. 
And then He whispers,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Being Made New...

As my first year here in Uganda begins to draw to a close, I have been spending a lot of time evaluating (and reevaluating) the past few months. 
What has God accomplished?
How have lives been eternally impacted?
Where has God made the biggest changes in my life?
What about the ‘little’ changes?
What changes still need to be made in me?

That last question is one that I can’t seem to shake this morning.  God has done so much in my heart over the last year.  There are countless times when I just stand in awe of Jesus and all that His name represents.  Other times, my heart has been broken into millions of unidentifiable little pieces; shattered beyond repair.
But then, it is as if God reaches inside my chest, grabs hold of all the pieces, and tenderly molds my heart together again. 

The Bible reassures us that he makes everything new.  There is no doubt that I have seen my share of ‘new’ this year…but today I feel like God is saying, ‘I’m not done yet.”  There is still more that He wants to accomplish. 
The only thing stopping him? 
Me.

As many of us know, choosing to walk with God leads us into the middle of a battlefield.  Our adversary has an arsenal of weapons he uses in an attempt to weaken us and dissuade us from walking in righteousness with Christ.

Several months back, this battle became very real for me when someone I thought I could trust, joined forces with Satan and spoke awful accusations against me.  I wish I could say that the slanderous lies went in one ear and out the other.  I wish I could say that I wasn’t affected by the whole mess. 
But words hurt.
The situation caused me to question the intentions of the people around me. 
It made me keenly aware of my ‘outsider’ status and it was a painful reminder of the sinful nature of people—even those that claim to follow Jesus.
When the drama struck, my people-pleasing nature shifted into second gear.  I immediately wanted to do damage control and win over the heart of my accuser.  I wanted to defend myself and make the person understand that what they had said was a lie straight from the deceitful mouth of Satan.
I wanted to do and say a lot of things…but I didn’t.  Instead, God caused me to be silent. 

Looking back, I can now see how much the attack affected me.  In the past few months I have seen myself holding back, in more ways than one.  I have been afraid of exposing my heart—afraid that my sincerity and genuine desire to love the people here and serve God will be misinterpreted and used to damage the ministry God is doing here.  I have been afraid that Satan might seek to deceive others.  I didn’t realize it, but I have been afraid of being rejected by the ones I am called to love.

I have been walking in fear of what Satan might do rather than walking in the TRUTH of Christ.

This morning God has really poured out his love on me.  He has been revealing my faults and has extending his grace and forgiveness.  There is still plenty more that He desires to do in and through me.  He has made it very clear that His work is not finished.  Likewise, the work He has put before me is also incomplete.  He has not called me to be timid; He has called me to walk boldly with Him.  He wants me to run this race with perseverance while he secures my steps and make straight the path before me. 

This road that God has called me to travel is not easy but He promises that I will never have to walk it alone.  As a follower of Jesus, I have become a new creation.  But becoming ‘new’ is not a one-time event—it is a process.  The woman I am today is not the woman I was last year.  And I am thankful for all of the ways He continues to make me new.  Walls are being torn down, bridges are being built…and I am becoming the woman He desires me to be.