You-Yes, You-Are Known, Seen and Loved.

You-yes, you-are known, seen and loved.

I was thinking about this simple fact this weekend.

Known.

Verb. Meaning “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.

Seen.

Verb. Meaning “be or become aware of something from observation or from a written or other visual source.”

Loved.

Verb. Meaning “like or enjoy very much”.

You, regardless of what you have done or who you are, are known to the very depths of your soul and loved by the Creator of the Universe.

I think about the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. He didn’t listen to his father, squandered all his money, and severely grieved his father’s soul, but his father knew all that he’d done and STILL welcomed him back with open arms.

God does that with us. He pulls us into His arms and welcomes us home-even after we have tremendously grieved Him.

In the same way, God knows, sees, and loves us, we need to know, see, and love others. I listened to Angie Smith at IF gathering this weekend. She compared faith to solitaire. In Solitaire, you have to start with an ace. What’s the ace of our faith?

Love.

It has to be love. That’s the foundation. Everything else is based on that. If you throw down a five or seven, it won’t work and no one will listen. If you start with the ace though, everything else falls into place. It can be still be challenging at times, but you’ll keep building on the ace. It’s the same way with faith. Love comes first.

Can you honestly say you love everyone regardless of political views, sexual preferences, and religious views?

Love comes first.

You won’t argue anyone into heaven, but if you start with love, and see them, I mean really see them flaws and all, you give them a glimpse of how the Heavenly Father loves them unconditionally.

Throw the ace.

You won’t regret it.

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Anchored to Hope

Anchor.

That’s my word for this year.

Anchor.

Recently, I was challenged that I’m exactly where God wants me and that He has put people in my life that are meant to be there. When I think of “anchor”, I think of a ship’s anchor. The thing about that is

the anchor locks the ship down temporarily. It stabilizes it for the time being so the sailors can do what

they need to. When it’s done in that part of the ocean, it pulls up anchor and sets sail again.

That’s a lot less scary than the idea of putting down roots and God asking me me to uproot in a couple

months or even years. As I’ve begun to think about the practicality of anchoring to hope, here are a few

things I’ve learned.

  • Be open to the unexpected

Sometimes, the sweetest things come in the most unexpected packages. Things that I never expected

could be exactly my what I need in the moment. I’m learning to keep the door open to possibilities-both the

unexpected and expected.

  • Self-care is not selfish, but it anchors you.

Slowing down could be the exact thing I might need to help you remain present. It’s hard to slow the mind

down but sometimes I just need to breathe in and out. Breathing in and out anchors the soul and reminds

me that I’m exactly where I need to be. I need to take care of myself in order to take care of others. I could

get frustrated because I seem to need more rest than the average 24 year old, or I could use this time to

grow mentally and spiritually.

  • Here is where I need to be right now.

Two years ago, I wanted to be anywhere but here. Honestly, I wanted to be halfway across the world, but

I settled for Akron. Through a series of events, God brought me back to Mansfield against my will. I fought

against it for awhile, but recently, I realized that this actually is when I’m meant to be. This place-the littles

at school, my bible study and my small group girls-have a piece of my heart.

So here we are – almost a month into 2019 – and I’m figuring out how to be present and anchored in my

corner of the world. Here’s to anchoring myself to God and hoping/believing that God is moving.

ABBA-Good Good Father

Father.

When people hear that word, they have different emotions. Some people smile a soft smile remembering,

long walks and being carried on shoulders at amusement parks. Others grimace remembering the fights

and the fear.

We sang “Good Good Father” at church the other day and I really listened to the words.

Regardless of your view of that word, God desires to blow the top off the box of who we think He is. I

mean, the lyrics say, “I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night”.

We hear stories of who God is, but we’ll have to find out who He is for ourselves.

His quiet voice in the dead of night.

His breeze when you are dying of heat.

These things seem like coincidences but they may be God kisses.

I knew God loved me before my accident. I knew He was a good father, but through different things that

have happened recently, I’ve understood it in a different way.

The moments when I’m at the end of my rope, something happens to give me a little extra energy to

finish whatever I started.

A gentle breeze.

A touching note.

A baby cuddle.

An encouraging text message.

A soft smile.

I could go on.

No matter the hard times or the good times, Jesus-ABBA- is waiting with arms wide open to welcome

us into His arms.

Let Him encircle you in His arms-you don’t have to face this world by yourself.

Anchor

Anchor: a reliable or principal support

: something that serves to hold an object firmly.

This is my primary word for 2019, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

The other word that goes hand in hand with “anchor” is “content”. The two words

together fit what I desire for this next year. Recently, I was challenged that I’m exactly

where God wants me and that He has put people in my life that are meant to be there.

When I think of “anchor”, I think of a ship’s anchor. The thing about that is the anchor locks

the ship down temporarily. It stabilizes it for the time being so the sailors can do what they need to.

When it’s done in that part of the ocean, it pulls up anchor and sets sail again.

This is how I view this year. It’s not a coincidence that I’m back in Mansfield. I don’t know how long

I will be anchored here, but I’m (for the first time) excited to put down roots in the corner of th world

God has placed me in. It warms my soul that the barista at the local coffee shop knows my name.

That I can see the littles outside of school and they get excited that they saw me. Here’s a few practical

things to help me stay anchored and content in my corner of the world.

  • Be present-truly present-right where I am.

If I’m at school, I’ll be all at school-my mind won’t be focused on what’s next. This exact moment in

time will come around again, so I need to give my all to the littles and teachers. If I’m with my small

group, I need to be all with them. Wherever I am, I need to be all there so I can put down roots

effectively. Multi-tasking is nice, but sometimes people want/need your full attention. I never want

anybody to feel less of a priority because they don’t have my full attention.

  • Uncertainty is alright.

I want to have everything figured out now. I want to know everything that could possibly go wrong

and have a backup plan in case it does. I rarely take chances because I don’t know the ending. If I

desire to put down roots and anchor myself here for the time being, I have to embrace the

uncertainty-of a job, of dating, of figuring out this season. I have some control over those things, but

nothing will ever be without uncertainty. I need to stop living in fear of uncertainty, and learn to see the

possibilities laid out in front of me. Just learn to take it one day at a time.

  • Take opportunities as they come.

When I was viewing everything as temporary, I turned down a lot of opportunities because I didn’t

want to commit to something when I only planned on staying here temporarily. Now that I’m working

and looking to put down roots, the opportunities are not as scary. I’m figuring out more of my place

in the world.

  • Be intentional with the people God has placed in my circle of influence.

Part of being anchored and putting down roots is the people alongside you. God has called me to this

place and put people in my life. I desire as I learn to be content to be intentional with those walking to my

left or right. Even those walking the journey behind me have a story to tell, they just need someone to listen.

Honestly, I’m thinking of my small group girls. I saw one at church today. Her face brightened up with a huge

smile when she saw me. God placed me as a leader in her life. I’m not able to be a faithful leader in her life

and the lives of the other girls without the strength of God.

A Year Full of Expectation

I chose expectation as my word for this year. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I chose this word.

Man, was I unprepared for what God had in store for me this year!

Here are a few things that I learned from this year full of expectation:

  • God doesn’t like to stay in the boxes we tend to put Him in.

This has been a lesson I seem to learn time and time again. I try to put God in a box of what I think He can accomplish or how I think He’ll heal me. Time and time again this year, I put God in a box, and time and time again, He burst out of the box doing more than I ever imagined. I sent out letters for Ukraine and within week…WEEKS…I was fully funded due to generous people. I didn’t expect to fall in love but I did. Ukraine wormed its way into my heart within minutes of touching ground. I finally got content with being in my corner of the world, and God put hospital nursing back on the table. Through an unintentional interview, it was like God was saying “Your story is not over yet.”

  • Bravery and expectation go hand in hand.

Living with expectation takes a lot of bravery. I mean, if you expect God to move, you have to say the next brave “yes”. You can’t expect to sit on your butt and wait-just wait-for God to do something. Living with expectation means listening to God and saying the next brave “yes” that falls in front of you. It means making plans, but holding them loosely as you expect God to move in them.

  • Rest is not selfish. It enables you to be your best self later in the week.

Rest. Self-care. In some circles, these words make people cringe. Honestly, 2 years ago, they would have made me cringe. It wasn’t until I was literally forced to slow down that I realized how necessary it is. My energy is like an opaque coin jar. I keep taking change out of it not realizing I’m close to the bottom until I hit a wall, get a TBI headache and I’m put out of commission for 24 hours. I hate it. I hate that I can’t do everything. I hate that I seemed to need more rest than an average 24 year old. I realized something this year. If I plan time into my schedule for rest, it doesn’t feel unproductive or a waste of time. Over time, my mentality changed because I didn’t view it as selfish rather I viewed it as necessary for me to be my best self. I couldn’t help the littles feel better if I was at the end of my rope.

  • My story isn’t over yet. Your story isn’t over yet.

I don’t know where you are or where your story has taken you. You may be reading this and you are on a mountaintop. God has never felt closer, and life is perfect. I’m happy for you. Cling to that feeling. Soak it in, and capture it to remember in the hard times. On the other hand, you may be reading this thinking “What has she got that I haven’t? Why is life so hard right now? Why is God so far away? Is God even good?” Don’t…and I mean don’t be ashamed of those questions. They are real. I’ve been there. All I can say is try and remember the mountaintop experiences. It may not seem like it but that God is the same God in the valley. This is why reading the Psalms is good-oh so good. David lamented about where He was but he always said “remember when…” You may feel like your story is over. I’ve felt that way many of times in the past two years, but GOD. He has redeemed what I thought was lost, and put my mind and my heart back together. 3 years ago, I begrudgingly settled for Akron, OH when I really wanted the ends of the earth, 2 years ago, I had no choice in moving back to Mansfield, OH. Today, I am realizing that God is up to something at MCS and in Mansfield. I am honored to be a witness to what God is up to.

This has been quite a journey, and I’m not there-wherever there is-yet. Thanks for walking this journey with me. This has been a year full of expectation. I started out the year hopeful, but depressingly realistic of where I was. I end the year overwhelmed with how God has blown those seemingly realistic thoughts of who I would be out of the water.

There’s Always Room for One More

There’s always room for one more.

This was a saying I heard all the time growing up. In Nigeria, there was always room for one more in the car and our lives.

In Haiti, I encountered this thought  process again as we fit as many people as we could into transportation to get from place to place. Personal space wasn’t really a thing, to be honest.

Now we kind of laugh at this because in our culture,  personal space is a big deal and time is a commodity that can be spent. But, in thinking about it, it really speaks to a deeper, beautiful thing.

There’s always room for one more.

No one is excluded. Everyone is welcome.

I think Jesus thought that way. No one was excluded from His friendship. No one unworthy of His time and energy.

This mentality is one I want to cultivate in my heart. There’s always room for one more-in my heart and life.

I think western society has cultivate this image of scarcity. It’s weird to say because we have so much excess, but we have cultivated-unconsciously-this idea that we don’t have time and space. This idea that we have to plan for exactly how many people are coming so we don’t run out. This idea that if someone is better at something or prettier, than we are less. The idea that there’s not enough of anything to go around.

I want to cultivate the mentality for more in myself.

Just because someone has something that I don’t doesn’t mean there is not enough of that thing to go around, or that God is withholding some blessing from my life, it just means it’s not my time to acquire that thing.

I want to embrace this idea that there is always room for people in our hearts. Some people camp out in your heart for a while, and some just stopped by on their way to somewhere else, but that doesn’t mean we should stopped making room for others.

There’s is always room for one more. There’s room around the table for you so pull up a chair and sit for awhile. Richness is found in relationship whether the people are in our life for awhile or just for a season.

There’s always room for one more.

Step Off The Ledge

So.

I’ve been challenged this week on taking risks. I tend to play it safe when it comes to certain things.

I tend to stay inside my comfort zone-willing everything to stay the same.

God is not about letting everything stay the same.

Following God means taking risks. If you don’t take risks, you’ll never understand and experience  the

presence, power, and peace of God.

Sure, if you take the risk, it very well could end badly, but it might end up being SO much more than you

expected. You don’t know if you never tried.

I had a boy in swim lessons this week say, “I’m terrible.” He proceeded to pout and cross his arms. “I quit.”

I looked him square in the eyes and said, “The only true way to fail is to not try or quit.”

Oftentimes, we are like that boy. We pout and won’t take the risk because it’s scary stepping of that ledge

into the unknown. We like our comfy lives, just the way it is.

Sometimes, God upends our comfy lives. When we get a semblance of order in our lives, we cling to it,

like a little clings to a safety blanket. We fear chaos again.

I know I did.

Life has been pretty good lately.

Too good. Or so I think.

I keep waiting for the other foot to drop. At the same time, I find myself clinging to what I do have afraid

that it will get ripped from me again.

I’ve fallen in love with the littles at school.

I’ve found my corner of the world-right now. I’m content.

I was challenged this week to keep taking risks strategically. Keep pushing my limits for God because

He has shown me again and again that He does more.

He continually bursts-like fireworks-out of every box I try to put Him in. Even this year, He did more than I

ever expected-allowing me to go to Ukraine and fall in love with the littles at school. I returned to 

driving. I crossed oceans by myself and added two new countries to my passport. I 

grew closer to Him as He sought my heart. I returned to swimming.

Like my Mom reminded me tonight, it’s like God’s provision and goodness is like a rope tied around our waist.

The other end is tied around a tree, but the only way we feel the tension on the rope is if we step off the edge.

It’s the same with God. The only way we are going to see-like really see God’s goodness-is if we step out into

the unknown and step off the ledge.

That’s my prayer for the last month and a half of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.

Let go of whatever is holding you back and step of the ledge with me.