Proposal…

BlogBannerStanding at the tree line I closed my eyes and let my senses take in everything around me. It was important to me that I do this, so I could take in every moment of what was about to happen and let it forever live inside the depths of my heart. All around me, and in the distance, I could hear birds singing unknown songs while water raced and crashed against timeless rocks before free-falling into the depths of a beautiful water fall. The wind pressed against the leaves of the trees and blanketed my skin revealing the invisible nature of God who was, in fact, there with me sharing in on everything that was about to happen. I breathed in deep and let the smile that crossed my lips hang there as nervous anticipation tingled through my chest and sped up my breathing. The palms of my hands were sweaty and my feet began to shift my weight back and forth from one to the other. The moment I had been planning for–had prayed for so much–was finally here. I couldn’t wait to see Courtney, knowing that soon after I would be down on one knee asking her to marry me. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and I checked the message sent by Courtney’s friend.

She’s coming.

WaterFallThe first time Courtney took me to Flat Lick Falls was during my first visit to Kentucky.  I can remember details of that trip so vividly, as it was an incredibly life-changing experience for me… for both of us.  After months of dating and getting to know each other online, through letters, Skype, and hours of conversation, we were able to see each other in person and shared our first hug, kiss, and I love you. This beautifully God-breathed place touched my heart, and as I stood on the edge of the waterfall with Courtney, gazing into the pools of her perfect blue eyes…I knew this place would always be important to us.  It would always be a place we came back to.

So, it made sense that as I started to plan my proposal, my heart and my thoughts immediately went to this place… as well as another place that is close to our hearts.  The other spot I had in mind was a place Courtney calls her, “High Rock Mountain”… a beautiful lookout in the middle of the country, where she felt the power of God, and laid her life in the hands of Jesus.  She also shared this place with me during my first visit to Kentucky, and I can’t even begin to describe how honored I felt gazing out at the mountainous horizon, knowing that this is where this amazing, Godly woman began her journey with Christ, completely surrounded by His creation.  It took me a while to decide which location would be the perfect setting.  Both places are beautiful and special, but as I prayed and thought about where I would propose…I could feel God telling me to let Him have “High Rock Mountain”.  “Let that be ‘our hiding place’(Psalm 32:7)… Courtney’s ‘safe-house’(Psalm 61:4).”  So, with this confirmation, I chose Flat Lick Falls… a place where our love of God and our awe of His creation collide.  It was my heart to do something worthy of Courtney… an experience that would paint a picture of how much she means to me and how much I love her.  In order for my proposal to happen the way I was planning it, I needed to trust that God had everything in His hands—from the weather to getting her to Flat Lick Falls—it required a faith that Courtney and I have always strived for and exhibited throughout our relationship… and God did not disappoint.

Next, I had to find a ring… and I knew it couldn’t be just any ring.  My plan was to find something for Courtney that she would love forever… something that would match her beauty perfectly… which is basically impossible, because we all know that next to Courtney, any ring—no matter how beautiful—is just a ring.  I’ve grown so much with Courtney and have fallen in love with her passion for Jesus and her faith that God has a plan and purpose for everyone. Courtney has a servant’s heart, and is the most selfless person I’ve ever met.  She genuinely tries to put a smile on the face of every person she meets, and she has shown me more love and pursuit than I ever could of dreamed of or imagined… not just for me…but my daughters as well.  With all of that in my heart, I went about finding a ring that could somehow encapsulate all these things that I love, respect, honor, and cherish, about this amazing woman.  It wasn’t something that happened quickly…I searched many stores, both physically and online, looking for the perfect ring…and then one day I found it… and I knew with all my heart that this was Courtney’s ring.

Ring2Courtney is a woman that loves history, and I’ve sat in adoration for hours listening to her describe her love of older styles in buildings, homes, decor, and fashion.  I knew she liked white gold and I couldn’t help but smile at how her ring would shine and sparkle in any light… but this ring has so much more to offer than just it’s color and shine.  The center diamond is set permanently in a beautiful cathedral design that reminds me of massive churches, with vaulted ceilings, beautifully crafted ages ago.  As I took in the ring, I could picture Courtney singing in one of these places, her angelic voice resonating through the dark arched wood.  Every fiber of my being wanted to praise God as I held the ring in my hand.  Within the cathedral setting is a design that looks breathtakingly Celtic to me… a design that definitely went along with the vintage theme I had envisioned.  Within the band, closest to Courtney’s finger, is a design that is intertwined—much like if you took two ropes and started to braid them together.  I thought this was a beautiful picture of Courtney and I’s relationship and the eternal bond we would share.  I don’t think I could have dreamed up a symbol more beautiful or more perfect.

The destination was determined and I’d found the perfect ring.  Now, I had to ask both my daughters and Courtney’s parents’ permission to ask for her hand in marriage.  I will forever be blessed and honored by each conversation that I had and each blessing I received.  In every conversation I was met with excitement and love.  In every conversation I was given support and wisdom for the future.  For as long as I live, I will hold close to my heart the smiles, tears, and warm embraces I experienced during these blessed conversations.  For as long as I live, I’ll never forget the looks on my daughters faces as they cheered and clapped and told me how much they love Courtney and can’t wait for her to be a part of our family.  Everyone welcomed the news with open arms, my own family included, and each blessing was one step closer to one of the most amazing days of my life.

Everything was falling into place, and I knew it was finally time to prepare for the big surprise.  Courtney is one of the most perceptive people I know, and considering we talk pretty much 24/7 when we’re not working or fulfilling other obligations, surprising her is far from easy.  I was strategic in my planning, and made sure to do absolutely everything possible to keep her from finding me out.  From buying a plane ticket for a date only a few days after we’d seen each other to making sure one of her best friend’s roped her in to go on an “adventure” with her after work… I did everything I could to ensure that this would be surprise that she would never forget. I even got my parents in on the fun, and coordinated with them to pose as my “alibi”.  They offered me a reason to be out of town with them, therefore establishing that I was going to be in Dallas all day, helping them pick up a few things, then visiting with family… giving me plenty of time to follow through with “the plan”.   All I needed at that point was for God to keep the rain away and for the woman I love to say, “yes”.

God did His part and so much more.  There was no rain at all on April 18, 2015, and I’ll be honest… I feel like He even held the sun up just a little longer for Courtney and I.  Throughout the day of the proposal my family and Courtney’s family stayed in contact with me, offering support and encouragement.  They were all excited and nervous with me and I felt like this proposal was being backed by a united front of family.  How blessed am I to get to say that?

Text Message CollageWhen I finally saw her coming toward me—running toward me—her beautiful smile, glowing eyes, and tears starting to trail down her face, flashes of our relationship began to run through my head like a film reel.  Our first messages on Facebook…the first time we heard each other’s voices in a phone conversation…our first Skype date over Spaghetti…our first Skype movie date, cracking up at Anchorman 2…the look in her eyes as I walked down the stairs at the airport and we saw each other in person for the first time…our first hug….our first kiss….the first time she told me she loved me…chocolate dipped Twinkies and Ale-8-1…our amazing hike at the Pinnacles…hearing Courtney sing in person for the first time…playing songs that I’ve written for her at her apartment…surprising her on her birthday…watching as my daughters rushed into Courtney’s arms after months of anticipation, skipping rocks together as a family…enjoying Dublin Black Cherry on the back roads of my hometown…sitting together in front of the fireplace on Valentine’s Day…traveling with the girls to Kentucky… our first trip to “High Rock Mountain” and this place… this waterfall…  our waterfall.  When I look into Courtney’s eyes I’m reminded of the realness of God… and I was reminded of that again as she finally came into view and leapt into my arms.

∞∞∞

I was fully prepared for an adventure; boots, Summer, and the open road.  Little did I know where this “adventure” would lead me.

We headed out to Flat Lick Falls(one of my favorite spots in the entire world!), and spent the whole ride chatting about my latest trip to Abilene and her latest stories from work.  Just another day with one of my best friends, traveling down back roads, taking in the scenery…the fresh country air, and enjoying abundant conversation—it’s what we do.

After a 45 minute commute, Summer and I finally arrived at our destination, both of us leaping out of the truck, ready to hit the trail.   As I walked around the back of the car to the driver’s side where Summer stood, she asked me to grab something in the back of her truck for her.  As I popped the hatch to the back of her SUV and reached in the left pocket, I froze… tucked inside the pocket was a very familiar journal with a marker sticking out of the top of it that said, “Read Here”.

What?

JournalCoverI was immediately confused.   You see, this wasn’t just any journal… this was OUR journal.  Jeremy and I have been passing this notebook full of memories back and forth between our visits since his first trip to Kentucky back in October.  It’s full of our thoughts, dreams, & adventures—all noted during our time apart, and shared when we are together again.  It’s become something that I absolutely LOVE doing together.  When I first met Jeremy, I was drawn in with his beautiful writing(my first introduction to Jeremy was through this amazing blog, actually!), and for the first month of our courtship, we shared beautiful letters with each other.  We talked about our lives, our interests, our feelings for each other and how unexpectedly connected we were so early on—it was undeniable that we were going places.  Being able to physically hold something in our hands, full of that writing and laced with photos of our time together has been such a huge blessing through the distance.  I adore it.  With that said, you can imagine the mess my brain was in when I saw our journal here … in Kentucky? …in my best friend’s vehicle? Huh?

To make matters worse, my mind raced back to earlier that morning when I insisted with the poor lady at the Post Office that the yellow slip that was “accidentally” put into my box HAD to be for me—I was expecting a package! Under normal circumstances, Jeremy would have given me the journal before I left Abilene during my last trip… but he said that he was doing something different with it this time, and that I needed to make sure to check my mail, because it would be arriving one day this week.  I checked my mail relentlessly, but the journal never came, and after a week of frustration(and fear that our precious book of love had been lost in the shuffle), I finally unleashed my aggravation on the USPS… in the sweetest way possible, of course, but still… I didn’t make the clerk’s morning easy.  I don’t know what the lady’s name is who was working the lobby on Saturday morning, but I owe her an apology… and maybe a cookie.  And you’re about to find out why.

When I looked up at Summer, she was smiling.  While I obviously knew what I was holding in my hand, I was still baffled as to why she had it.  After a few seconds, she piped up and informed me that she had bad news. She had to go…. and I had to find another ride home.  Exasperated, I immediately panicked, and got even MORE confused. Then, with a smile still plastered on her face, full of secret, she assured me that if I just read my journal, I’d find that there was someone there who’d be more than willing to take me home.  So, I began to read…

Journal3My heart sank as, with each word, reality set in that he was HERE!  I ran to Summer, hugged her tightly, and bolted for the tree line.  What an amazing surprise!  Jeremy and I have grown used to going months without seeing each other, and I had just been with him 4 days prior—this was a dream come true for us!

As I neared the forest, I could see his tall, lean shadow.  Soon I caught a glimpse of his boots, his jeans, his plaid, pearl snap shirt… and I was immediately taken back to the day that I first saw him face to face.   Seeing him appear before my eyes in that exact same pattern as he walked down the steps at the Bluegrass Airport is a moment I’ll never forget.  It was a moment that changed my life … and though I didn’t know it at the time, as I raced down that path toward him, I was running toward another monumental moment… one that would change my life forever.

When Jeremy finally came into clear view, I saw him smile at me, and I was immediately breathless.  He looked so handsome standing there amongst the many trees of Kentucky, alive and jubilant as the plentiful world around him.  I was so excited he was there… that we were HERE!  We’d visited this place together 6 months ago, and I can still recall how completely awed Jeremy looked as he took in his surroundings.  The trees, the moss-covered boulders, the sunshine glistening on the water as it flowed over into a pool, 40 feet below us.  It was a special moment then, and I was touched that he’d chosen this place to surprise me with a visit to Kentucky.

After plenty of apologies for having to misinform me of his whereabouts, and TONS of hugs and exclamations of excitement, we walked toward the falls.  This makes the 2nd time that this man has surprised me with visits to Kentucky, and I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart, not only to be surprised… but to know that it hurts him to be dishonest with me.  Trust and honest communication is such a huge thing in a healthy relationship, and he never ceases to confirm that we have that.  That, in and of itself, is pretty amazing… when you factor in the trouble he went through just to make this moment possible, it truly overwhelms me.  The love this man has for me is incomparable.  I am so lucky.

Once we reached the top of the waterfall, he told me that his mom was really interested to see what this place was all about.  His parents had known about this surprise for a while, and were excited to see a place that was so special to us, so when Jeremy whipped out his iPad, I didn’t think anything of it.  Most of our interaction in the last 9 months has occurred using this snazzy gadget, so it made sense that he would use it to capture a few pictures and video for his mother—anything he could do to capture the essence of this amazing place for his parents, I was on board with.  I should have known something was up when he paused before he began, laid his iPad down on his backpack, and told me there was one more thing in our journal he’d like for me to read aloud… but I didn’t.  Jeremy is an extremely romantic man, and never ceases to find unique ways to display his affection for me.  Our entire relationship has been such a fairytale, and the fact that he works so hard to make me feel special is a gift that I treasure and appreciate more than words could ever describe.  From childhood, our tiny minds are trained to believe that there are knights in shining armor… amazing men that adore us, provide for us, love us, cherish us, fight for us, and want to spend a lifetime growing old, building families, and living happily ever after.  I don’t think that dream ever really goes away… and I am blessed to say that I have found my prince charming. So I read the words he had written without question… and was immediately blown away.

Journal1He left plenty to the imagination… but as I looked up at Jeremy, his eyes wet with tears, I knew something was different. He gently touched my face, and with shaking hands, began speaking the sweetest words I’ve ever heard; words about his love for me, this place, our amazing God who had brought us here.  He told me that he always knew this place was special… that I was special… that he knew, from the moment he stepped on the ground of Kentucky for the first time, that I was the woman for him.  Before I knew it, he fell to one knee and lifted his hand, the most beautiful ring twinkling between his fingers…

∞∞∞

Her surprise was evident in the tremble of her lip, and as I bent down to one knee, I couldn’t help but admire the look of excitement in Courtney’s eyes. In that moment I realized that, despite our surroundings… the crash of the water against the rocks, the rustling of leaves in the wind, the chatter of people roaming about… it was truly just Courtney and I. Nothing else existed in that moment but the incredible woman before me and the overwhelming presence of the amazing God who brought us together. I held up her ring, and with tears in my eyes, asked her to marry me.

I’ll never forget the look of love on Courtney’s face. I’ll never forget the joy that swelled my heart as she said “yes” again and again.  I never in my life thought I would find a woman like Courtney. I honestly never felt deserving of someone as incredible, beautiful, and Godly as her; but in that moment, as I slid the ring on her finger and pulled her tightly into my arms, I was reminded that, first… this woman is a gift entrusted to me by God… second, love is real… and third, this woman in my arms… this woman that I will cherish for the rest of my life… loves me for all that I am and more. I am blessed beyond every possible measure, and I knew in that moment, I was experiencing our love take the next step in our journey together.

I am so excited to build a life with Courtney.  I believe God has an amazing and purposed future for us, and I can’t wait to walk down that path with her and our family.  As I think about the future God has for us, I do so with closed eyes.  I know by doing this, I am putting my trust in God to guide our steps as we take on this adventure together, hand in hand. I can already picture God’s plan unfolding with visions of purpose, joy, and a life lived well for Jesus… and while our walk may not be perfect, and won’t always be easy… it will always be good. I know that even when we’re old and gray, we’ll always remember April 18, 2015, and smile as we recall the day that I surprised her on a water fall… the day we said yes to forever.

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Capture….

CaptureMake the most of every living and breathing moment……” –Ephesians 5:16

Sometimes we just need to sit still and take it all in….for just a second…a minute…maybe even five minutes….we need to sit still and capture what’s around us.

By doing so we may encounter beauty and amazement we’ve never noticed before.

For some of you that take time to sit still and capture the moment…you’ll look out the window and see individuals in a hurting world walking concrete streets or grassy wooded paths. You’ll take in the weight of their walk and suddenly realize how blessed you are. You’ll understand that though God has saved you from that very weighty walk; you still walk it sometimes. The difference is you know the truth of God’s love now and how He makes our burdens light, and you can share that truth! Will you? Will you capture the moment?

For others that choose to sit still and capture the moment…you’ll find that you’re seeing and experiencing love for the first time in the eyes of the man or woman that has won your heart. Your chest will feel like it’s on fire while your heart seems to flutter and pound at the same time. The smile that spreads across your face is uncontrolled and you know with all your heart that God has brought you someone far beyond what you ever thought worthy of yourself. Your breath will catch and shudder as they smile back at you and you’ll thank God for revealing to you just how much He truly loves you. This moment cannot be taken for granted…will you capture it?

Somewhere….someone is hiking a steep hill towards an even higher mountain. As they walk they take in the full canvas of God’s creation. Tall trees lost in age surround them while wooded foragers race their limbs and grab ahold of their next tasty meal. Birds sing beautifully as the unseen wind presses lightly against the hikers face…it’s one of the few evidences that there even is such a thing as the wind. In that moment the hiker realizes the same is true of our creator. You can’t see Him with your eyes, but you feel the effect He has on your heart and you see His influence on the lives of the people around you. Yes, you don’t see Him, but you know He’s real. Standing in the midst of His wonder you know God’s real. Will the hiker let this moment leave them as soon as they leave the confines of the mountains? Or will they capture the moment and take it with them?

Do you see the importance of capturing these kinds of moments?
Are you taking in their value and what they mean to our hearts?
Not just for today…not just for tomorrow…but for eternity.

If we can take in these kinds of moments regularly…if we can capture them…then soon we won’t have to be standing in the mountains to realize God’s best in our lives; because we’ll see His love and splendor all around us, wherever we are. And in that moment we will feel blessed beyond measure.

These experiences will cause us to love more deeply, forgive more quickly, listen more carefully, and speak more hopefully.

Are you willing to capture the moment?
It’s there…take it in…let it bless and change your life…capture it.

Who Are You?

WhoAreYouSometimes when we look in the mirror…we don’t like what we see.

It’s more than our physical appearance…in fact our disappointment goes much deeper than that. As we see ourselves our minds dig deeper than our flesh and we begin to deconstruct ourselves.

We pin-point and focus…we memorize and fixate…anxiety drifts over us in a cloud as we stress.

I’m weak
No one understands me
If they only knew how I’ve been hurt
How would they see me if they knew what I’ve done in the past?
I’ve made so many mistakes
No one will ever love me
I don’t deserve to be loved…
I can’t trust anyone
I’m alone
When they see me, they only see my past…
I can’t be who I really am…
I have to be someone else

I have to act like someone else…
I need something…anything…to fill this void in me!

I am weak…

On some level each and every one of us has thought at least one of these things at some point in our life. Like a song on “repeat” we judge ourselves again and again…our weaknesses and shortcomings…our failures of the past…our feelings of loneliness and being unloved…all these things overwhelm our thoughts and we feel helpless and worthless in the wake of it all.

Sometimes in the aftermath of our negative feelings we make the choice to try and be someone we’re not…we even act out and make choices that we know are not consistent with who we are or what we’re about. Acting this way stops the hurt, is a thought sometimes given internally to justify our change of behavior. We also act differently because we feel we’ll be more “accepted” by others who can’t seem to accept who we really are.

So that begs a question…

Who are you?

Brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that if you can answer this question…then you can begin building a life consistent to who you REALLY are.

No more living a life defined by shame or guilt….no more letting our weaknesses overtake us…and no more acting like someone or something we’re not.

You might be saying, “Jeremy, do you even know who I really am? Have you seen the things I’ve done? Do you know the hurt I’ve experienced in my life?”

And the answer is; no I don’t.

But what you need to realize is this…you’re not accountable to me. You don’t have to live your life dependent on how I feel or how anyone else feels you should live your life! The truth is we all need to be living our lives in accordance with someone greater, and that can only be, Jesus Christ.

Why?

Because He proved by way of dying on the cross, that you are loved and that you have worth and value, just as you are.

You don’t have to be or act like someone else to be worth what Christ did for you. You don’t have to live in shame and doubt…you don’t have to be defined by your past for the rest of your life and feel worthless. Jesus died to save you…to show you that you are worthy of sacrifice. As ugly as your past may be…as worthless as you may feel…as much as the world or your friends and maybe even your family may be lashing out at you…these things do not reveal how much you are loved by a God that knows you better than anyone else ever could.

Never forget brothers and sisters that we are not the worlds…we are not alone to ourselves…we are His.

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His…” –Psalm 100:3 (ESV)

If you don’t remember anything else from this blog, please remember this: You are special…and loved…and awesome just the way you are. You are amazingly unique…if you need further proof of that then just look at your hands. No one else has fingerprints like yours…no one else has the exact same patterns of lines etched masterfully into their skin like yours.  You are set apart…you are unique…and you have a purpose.

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” –Ephesians 2:10 (Voice)

He knows your name (Exodus 33:17), He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), and He knows you from the inside-out (Psalm 139:13-16).

The next time you look in the mirror, understand that you are not alone in your struggles to be yourself…beyond your past…beyond your friends…beyond your own guilt…we all feel these same things.

So if we all can relate to each other, then maybe it’s time we all reach out and let each other know our secret. Maybe it’s time we unload our burdens and let people see who we really are. The truth is, there ARE people out there that will accept you for who you are, and you can live a life that’s beautiful and new.

Finding this life is not always easy, but it is worth it and best of all its purposeful. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it always…God will not waste anything you’ve experienced in your life…somehow and someway, He will use your life to proclaim His glory.

Are you ready to be who you really are?
Are you ready to be who God has always meant for you to be?

Then its time to get to work…seek out God and dare to believe…see how He reveals who you really are…then look in the mirror.

Beyond the Struggle….

BeyondTheStruggleAll it takes is a look out the window to see that the world and the people in it, more than we even care to admit, are walking against the wind.

The struggle is real…the elements…the trials…the tribulations…they all can make our walk through this life feel like we’re weighed down or taking slow steps through deep mud that want to stick us in place.

We can grow weary and tired in the reality of it all.
Sometimes we can even throw our hands up and call it quits.
This is just too hard
Life shouldn’t be like this
When am I ever going to catch a break
This decision is hugewhat should I do
I’m so lost…I’m so tired of the fight…
I can’t beat this…
It’s bigger than me…

We all have said at least one or some of these things in our life, haven’t we? We all have felt like we were walking against the wind.

But here’s the thing…

All these things we’re facing…did you know they’re making us stronger? Not just in and of ourselves, but stronger in our faith and purpose for God!

Just like steel is strengthened in the fire, so are we made stronger with every trial, hardship, and test of faith that we encounter.

“We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance…” –Romans 5:3 (Voice)

Never forget that though life can be hard and seemingly unfair…God won’t waste a drop of that struggle…He’ll use it to build you up and make you stronger and better able to stand up to the next challenge.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the struggles we face in life either.

“Dear ones, don’t be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual…”—1 Peter 4:12 (Voice)

And maybe you’re at a point in life where you’re like, “No kidding, I’ve come to expect them now since they come up so often.” Ok, well if that’s true, then let’s stop making excuses whenever struggles crop up…let’s stop acting out the part of the victim in the wake of trials and tribulations…instead let’s prepare for them…lets show the world what God can do through a prepared heart…lets show the world what God can do in the life of a person willing to be put through the fire for His glory…because remember, it’s not about us…not ultimately…it’s about Jesus and this amazing life He has stretched out before us beyond the struggle. It’s there…so will you grab it? Or will you let the struggle keep you standing still?

Brothers and sisters, in the middle of your trial…always remember that hope is just around the corner. I’m not being cheesy or attempting to be trite…I’m just being real. There is always reason to hope and there is always reason to push through the hard times in life.

“Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer.” –Romans 12:12 (Voice)

So why should we rejoice in times of struggle?
Why should we strive to push through the hard times?

Well firstly, it will strengthen our faith in God….drawing us closer to Him and allowing us to realize that we can’t make it on our own…we need God.

And second, I believe Hebrews chapter 11 spells it out so beautifully why we should rejoice in times of struggle and push through the hard times with all we have.

“Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen.” –Hebrews 11:1 (Voice)

Did you catch that?

Because of the struggles we face in life…our faith is tested and strengthened…and in that process our eyes will be opened to a world of realities we never could have even imagined had we just given up.

“What realities? What possibilities are out there? “ You might be asking.

The truth is, I don’t know what realities and possibilities are out there for you…but isn’t that kind of awesome?

Isn’t it exciting to think that God has beautiful greatness designed specifically for you…your family…your life…beyond the struggle?

Isn’t it worth pushing through to find out what He has in store?

It’s there…so will you grab it? Or will you let the struggle keep you standing still?

Changes…

ChangesSometimes intentionally or unintentionally…we as Christians can alienate and dehumanize other brothers and sisters in Christ that we don’t understand.

This is especially true if we think they’re being, “Holier than thou” or “Over the top” with their faith.

Maybe they’re exhibiting their faith much more than before.
Perhaps they’re presenting Jesus in a way you’re not comfortable with.
It could be that this person you’ve known for such a long time is changing the way they live their life for God…away from how they use to live it.
As this person moves towards Christ passionately…you find yourself confused by the changes they’re making…you question if it’s a genuine transformation.

For some of you these thoughts may sound outlandish…but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard Christians criticize other Christians for being too passionate about their faith. Instead of seeing it as something positive and obedient to God, their actions instead are seen as self-indulgent and self-serving.

While these things can seem confusing there is one thing that is certain…not one of us in this world knows the inner workings of another person’s heart. Not one of us can see that deeply…only God can. So at the end of the day it’s up to us to decide how we’re going to respond to the changes we see in another person.

Will we accept them for who they are?
Or will we judge them because they’re not who we think they should be?

There is something we all need to understand about our brothers and sisters in Christ…honestly, it’s something we need to understand about everyone we have a close relationship with.  We have to come to a place where we realize that loving people for who they WERE is a dead-end street…we have to start praying and loving this person instead for who they are BECOMING….and who God has purposed them to be all along.

Let the words of Paul in the book of Philippians fill your heart when he says, “Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission.” –Philippians 3:13 (voice)

We have to understand that our brothers and sisters in Christ are going to change by way of maturity and growing older…but they’re also going to change by way of leaving some of their old life behind…the parts that God might have called them to leave behind in order to become who He desires them to be.  Honestly, this shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us…we should expect a renewing of the mind of all our brothers and sisters in Christ as they grow in their faith…just as you yourself are experiencing this same growth.

Listen to what Paul also says about our spiritual journey’s in the book of Romans:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” –Romans 12 (msg)

It’s important that we all remember that God is working to bring out the best in us, and that as each one of us pursues Him; we will change from the inside out.

So maybe it’s time that, instead of laying a critical eye on our brothers and sisters in Christ and how they live out their faith…we look inward and ask God what changes we can make in ourselves, in order for Him to bring out the best in us.

Perhaps it’s time we start asking God who HE wants us to be.