Road to Damascus

 


Saul devoted his life to upholding the law (because he was a pharisee) and then saw that Christians threatened his religion, so he wanted to silence them. In Acts 9, Saul sets out to physically bind those who follow the Lord.  But God switches that story up pretty stinkin’ quick.

On the road to Damascus, God shakes up Saul’s world. He gently asks “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”. Saul asks who it is speaking – but he knows who – he had spent his life seeking those who knew the Lord. Here, on the road to Damascus, God held Saul’s sight for 3 days. Saul didn’t eat or drink for those 3 days – but he laid there and prayed. – I wonder what he was saying to God at this point. I wonder if he was angry, or was he humbled? Maybe a little bit of both?

God reaches out to a man named Ananias in a dream. He tells Ananias to go to Saul to give Saul his sight back – and ultimately fill him with the Holy Spirit: to fill him with passion for Jesus. But this scares Ananias (go figure, right?). I would be terrified too. Ananias has heard of Saul and all of the destructive acts he has done, but in spite of that, God is telling Ananias to go. That takes some serious trust and boldness.

Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” vs 15. 

 Ananias goes. He heads straight to Saul, Saul is healed and gets baptized; his life is completely flipped. Saul, now Paul, is given a purpose. He has God-given confidence that ignites hope in those around him.

Hope

Our stories do not have to be written by us.

There is an Author who can write a story from our “Roads to Damascus” into something absolutely incredible.


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I handed my life fully to Jesus in November of 2012. Unlike Paul, there wasn’t an instantaneous moment when my life flipped, but gradually I knew I wanted a life that I didn’t have to do on my own. I knew I wanted a life that had meaning and purpose.

My “Road to Damascus” looks different than Paul’s, and I bet yours does too. Regardless, if you have chosen to abandon your life for Jesus’s life you have encountered your own sort of “Road to Damascus”.

Pause and think on that for a second. Let your story be reminded to you.


Through these past 4 years I have felt more peace than ever before. I have felt overwhelming joy. I have felt God-breathed passion.

But there have also been a lot of challenges mixed in too. I have been gently convicted along the way. The thoughts and state of my heart are usually messy and oftentimes I give into comparison and doubt. I compare myself to other women who seem to have it together and I doubt that I will be used in any sort of awesome way.

By comparing myself to other’s I am not allowing my heart to celebrate who God has made His other daughters to be and what story He is writing with their lives.

By doubting that I can and will be used for big Kingdom things, I am telling Jesus that the life-story He is creating isn’t worth writing.

Now friends, I know for a fact that those thoughts are not rooted in truth.

I know and believe with my entire being, that my God is a God who challenges and convicts gently. I know that He walks with me through life; doubts and all, and doesn’t harshly punish me because of them. He calls my name gently and confidently because I am His daughter. I am a daughter who has hope rooted in TRUTH.


I have learned a ton about myself on my life-road. I have learned that my heart breaks for those who have broken families and no hope. My heart beats faster when I sit across from other women and tell them they are not alone and that God does not give up the fight for their hearts. I have learned that my soul is knitted together in a way where I feel deeply for others.

I have learned that “my” story is not my own, but instead it is a beautiful piece of paper that my Father is writing a masterpiece on.

There are days that I feel incredibly unworthy and insignificant, but God always always, always gently reminds me that those words are not truth. 

The truth is that this life I live is HIS and HE is worthy and so very significant. I must live in a manner that is worthy, because if I don’t, I am knowingly denying His grace and His Kingdom-sized story.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

 

Read Paul’s story. Find ways that you can relate it to your own story and look for hope. Ask God what He will do with your life-story. Ask Him to bring you to a place of complete surrender for what He has for you on your “Road to Damascus”, and the roads that will come after.

 

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An Anxious Heart

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Have you ever not known where to put your right foot and how to make your left follow?

That’s me. Right now.

I get stuck in doubt and assumptions- anxiety.

I want so badly to stop gripping onto control like it is my childhood comfort.

I want to leave room for God to do what He has planned, beautifully wonderful adventures that I can only see a glimpse of in this moment.

Freedom is given to me freely, by the One who carries me everyday. I am not limited to what I can only do. I have Someone so much greater on my side. Someone who has calmed the storm for Peter to walk on water, Someone who has made the blind see and the lame leap, Someone who has taken the despised and rejected and called them “child”.

I have had several wonderful friends tell me lately that I need to “only, only, ONLY, chase after Jesus, and the rest will follow.” “Yeah I know, but…”

But job changes? JESUS

But my home? JESUS

But family tension? JESUS

But money? JESUS

But anxiety? JESUS

Only Jesus can calm the sea in a storm. Only Jesus can be my rock that I build my house on. Only Jesus can move the mountains in front of me.

He shows up guys, He shows up big time.

I will trust and I will walk with joy held high because I am here for one reason only. JESUS.

& He’s got me.

My Very Thanksgiving

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A wish. A prayer. A whisper. A return.

I wish for peace, I pray for renewal, I whisper to my Savior, I return to thanksgiving.

Do I proclaim thankfulness when I am in a tough season? Do I lay my life at His feet when I feel crippled by fear? Do I grasp onto moments when I know it’s His gentle whisper guiding me?

To be completely honest, I haven’t lately.

I have felt worn, anxious,  and consumed the past couple of months with my worries, my nagging fears, my unknowns. I haven’t given my sweet Lord my every breath. I give Him the quickened whispers when I feel these things, but I don’t go to my knees at His feet abandoning every breath right there at the Throne. The breath when I am feeling my heart pound with anxiety, the breath when I feel incredible accomplishment, the breath when I take a look at all of the coming changes. I have been holding onto these moments and calling them my own, but they aren’t.

My life changed in my later high school years. I gave myself to the Creator- the One who knit my heart together, the One who placed the freckles on my nose, the One who never gave up on me. I lost friends and I gave up a whole lot of self-made comfort. I handed my very breath away and vowed to live a life continually working to abandon my very self.

Because I worry about tomorrow and stress about the haziness in front of me all too often, I forget how to be thankful for this precious gift of life that was created. Ann Voskamp writes in her book “One Thousand Gifts” these words; “Thanksgiving – giving thanks in everything – is what prepares the way for salvation’s whole restoration. Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks. In everything?”

In everything.

Everything.

When I feel unvalued, unappreciated, unraveled, or unworthy I will remember to whom I gave my life. I will remember who it was that hung on a cross to offer me a life worth it all. I will remember to give my every breath,  seeped with sadness or joy, ending in thankfulness.

Over the next month or so I am going to be sharing my very thanksgiving on these pages. I am coming back to a heart of awe for the gift of life that has been placed in my lungs.

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“I breath deep, like a sojourner finally coming home…” -Ann Voskamp

Invest in Intent

We are a little over a week into this new year. With all the talk of New Years resolutions and goals, we are inevitably pushed to think of our own. Mine for this year is to live with intent. A pure purpose in everything. But, what does this really mean?

I want to walk with intentionality wherever I may be and whatever I may be doing.

I want to be all there no matter where there is, instead of daydreaming of what is to come.

I want to live being content in this time of singleness.

I want to focus completely on the person I am spending time with; not being distracted with my phone or my own problems.

I want to spend time with my friends getting to know them on a deeper level. Adventuring with them through our thoughts and allowing those thoughts to take us places.

I want to meet strangers with a joy that radiates through me, not of my own, but Jesus’s joy.

I want to see the simple things and see the wonderful beauty in them.

I want to live this one life I have been given with a sense of love and enjoyment for things, instead of a sense of urgency.

What happened to being a child? Waking up in the morning to live the day out being a princess, or a mermaid, or a superhero? Living for that very moment, not what could be in the future, not for what lies ahead, but instead, what you can do that very second?

Jesus came to this crazy world with an ultimate intention, an intention to die for us, and that He did. But while He was waiting for this time to come, He changed lives. He called lowly fisherman to follow Him. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He made children laugh. He rescued prostitutes. He fed the hungry. He showed us how to live our lives. Lives that are capable of showing His love, His grace, and His joy- we are called to follow His example and to serve the broken.

My soul longs to be more like Jesus. To take this journey on with a fierce presence. To move daily with purpose. To live with intent.

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We will be given rest

Rest: A renewal

This idea of rest is a foreign concept to those of us living in this hustle and bustle society. We fill our days with so much crazy and because of this we never give ourselves the opportunity to be exposed to the little things.

I am on my winter break currently, a break from school and the abundance of homework it comes with, and a break before I take on a second job. I have been filling up this break with many many books, a lot of baking, a bunch of coffee dates with friends, enjoying the brisk and somewhat snowy days, a new excitement in crafting, and a whole bunch of drafting for this here blog. I have found Jesus in all of these; this is rest.

I am craving the rest I need, and I am taking full advantage of the little things that I find in this rest.

but…

I view it as a ticking time bomb; once this break ends there it all goes; no more rest for me, and no more basking in the little things.

I am wrong though and my view of this is not God’s intention nor His desire.

.My God says that He will provide rest. He will provide rest in the busiest of seasons and He will provide rest in the slowest of seasons.

Work, school, parenting, and whatever other responsibilities we carry may hold some weight, but that does not take away the opportunity to rest. Yes, we may have responsibilities and things to get done, and yes, it may be tough at times, but if we ask for rest we will be surprised. Our God does not sit up in Heaven and demand that we work our tails off until the end. He demands that we take moments for revival. He doesn’t ask us to do this on our own. In fact, He knows we cannot do it on our own. He asks us to come to Him for the rest and stillness we desire and He promises to give it to us.

So in the hustle and bustle, take time to be still and enjoy the little things.

Go to Him; exhausted and broken, ask for rest and you will find beauty.

Authenticity

“Am I holding onto control with white knuckles?”

This question is circling around my mind a lot lately. Oh goodness-New job opportunity, new semester, new friends, and an overload of change. This season has me freaked out.Really all of 2014 has been a journey. This past year has just been one freakout after another and I am just beginning to realize I have no control in the matter, all I have is the illusion of having control. No matter how much comfort I seek in any situation, I have learned that if it is in my form of control it will be broken in a matter of seconds. So the solution here: give the reigns to someone who can handle it. That is easier said than done though. This control defines me as a being. It defines my past, my present, and my future. My past control was ruled by attention. Attention from guys, from school, or simply attention from anyone I could get it from. I went seeking for this attention; the attention where I based my worth. I had control over what or who I allowed to give me attention and I soaked up every second of it.Then it broke. I broke. I gave up. I gave up my control. I let go and then I waited.

Then, Jesus.

Jesus took control. I allowed him to form me into someone I never knew before. He formed me into someone with joy. Joy in the simplest of things such as laughter. He took a broken little girl and placed happiness into my heart; a happiness that could only flourish under her Creator’s wings.

Present; the now. Gosh, the now. A foreign word to me. I am learning to stop dwelling on my past and to stop seeking my future. My control, in the present, is so focused on trying not to be the person I was in my past. I focus on this so much that I forget who brought me out of that messiness. Someone who is so powerful, someone who created the universe and all that is in it. That someone transformed my life and I am battling Him for control. Battling my Creator for control, that sounds absolutely ridiculous- but I am doing it. I continue to think if I just look put together in my present state, that nobody will remember my past state. And I do this to keep myself feeling safe and secure. I am denying a chance to share the story of grace, of mercy, and of never ending forgiveness. I trade these in for a sensation of false control; false control. My control lasts but a second, and then it is gone. In the present, my Lord is replacing my shame with passion; passion for books of all kind, of crafting, of continually redecorating my room, of drawing and of so much more I never thought myself capable of. He is revealing His glory in my life; in my present.

My present

A daughter, a niece, a friend, a nanny, and a student. In all of these roles, He is showing me my gifts and providing me ways to use my brokenness. He is not asking my brokenness to disappear or even heal, He is demanding my brokenness to reveal Him and His grace.

He is working in my present, paving the way for a future; a future that points back to my past; a past I can embrace because it points directly to a Savior- a loving, forgiving, and grace-giving Savior.

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My list

Today has been rough to say the least. Things seemed to crash in on me in a seconds time; whether it be a.) financial issues, b.) family issues, or  c.) body image issues. On a day like today, if this was a checklist, my answer would be d.) all of the above. I was looking for Jesus and questioning Him why He wasn’t totally showing up. Once i stopped asking God why or where He was, and I allowed room in my heart for expectation, He showed. What a coincidence eh? Today God showed up where I desperately needed Him to- through His daughter, Janae. She shared with me something that someone once shared with her. You see, I have felt overwhelmed with a feeling that i need to journal and read my Bible continually to please God. Not once has it crossed my mind, that simply by being who He crafted me to be and enjoying the things He taught me to enjoy, are also ways of worshiping my Lord throughout the day. I had an “Ah-ha!” moment, yes, this thing Janae shared with me, ah ha!- “make a list!”. Simple as that, “make a list of things you like to do, and do them expecting to meet God in the midst”. Oh Lord? Really? I can do that? Yes, daughter, you can. So for as long as it takes me to get it through my mind that He is continual, constant, and never changing, I am going to concentrate on my list and invite Him into my most passionate moments as well as the most mundane tasks. I am going to gain back my childlike wonder for my maker.

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1. crafts (many, many crafts)

2. read a book with a nice cup of tea

3. organize my closet (including my abundant collection of shoes)

4. sketch

5. hike

6. go for a walk

7. paint with friends

So, through this list, I will be expectant for my Jesus to show up. I will dwell in Him through my hobbies, my enjoyments, my little tasks. I will allow Him to pursue me, chase me, and love me through it all; moments of true bliss, confusion, temptation, and yes, even my brokenness.


Our God created me.

He crafted me.

He taught me to enjoy the things I enjoy,

He gifted me with many talents; all in which I can glorify Him in.

and for that, I am thankful.

Covered in grace

I am completely, shamelessly, wonderfully covered in grace

I didn’t ask for it

 I need it desperately

and

Jesus covers me with no end

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Once we truly begin to accept grace for what it is, a gift, we begin to see the Lord for what He truly is; our Savior.

His death was based in grace.

His love is based in grace.

His acceptance is based in grace.

By turning to the Lord we cannot hide from His grace.

He is grace

We so often view God as unreachable because we believe we have to be “fixed” in order to be worthy of His grace. We will never be “fixed”. We will always be broken, hurt, and messy beings. By humbling ourselves, by realizing our weakness, and by accepting the grace that is daily extended to us, we can begin to see ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ as grace-filled, grace-accepting followers of our grace-giving Father.

Let’s just think for a moment…

Today I have constantly been shown how much our Jesus loves each and every single one of us. How much He forgives us for. How much he suffers for us, not just on the cross- but every single day, and how sad it is that all those sayings have become somewhat of a “cliche”, in our Christian lives. Continually being thrown around; sometimes with true intentions, and other times as a word filler-not knowing what else to say.  Those sayings come the quickest to us often time…well truth is…everything in those three sentences is so TRUE. Stop and think for just a second… forgiveness, grace, mercy. Jesus died to give us hope in these promises. He went through a lot to free us from these pits we have slipped into, or just jumped right in. HE, the GREAT I AM, jumped into the pit with us, and lifted us out. He doesn’t stop to think about it, He doesn’t hesitate, He is all in. I daily need to be reassured in that truth. The truth that we are loved though all the muck we have rolled in willingly, all the down-right dirtiness that completely covers us, yet He washes us white as snow.

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