You Won’t Sink

My last post I wrote about that God has been prompting me to give Him my dreams, and in exchange He will refine them and give me even better dreams because they’re His dreams for me. A few days ago I felt the Lord prompting me to step out of my comfort zone and into a place I have never been before, literally. I have been feeling like He wants me to move to a place that’s not Missouri. This is a really big deal for me because I’ve only ever lived in Missouri. It’s where I was born, it’s where my family is, but if this is part of God’s plan for my life, then I’m not going to question Him, but trust that He’s going to begin to put the pieces together for me. 

A few months back, I was reading and studying the book of Ruth, and that is the story that God brought to my mind and heart when I felt He was leading me to step out into this new adventure. Ruth left the only home she had ever known to go to a place she had not ever been before. It would have been really easy for her to listen to her mother-in-law and go back to her family, but she chose to go anyway. I’m sure she felt scared and unsure of what she had just gotten herself into. I’m sure there were times when she questioned her choice to go, but she never turned back, she continued on her journey and God blessed her for it.

I do not consider myself in any way to be a modern day Ruth. She is one of my biggest heros in the Bible, and I don’t think I can ever be as amazing as her, but what I can do is choose to obey God and go where He leads me. I may not have all the answers yet, but I trust God with everything I have and everything I am. 

I’m going to be taking this giant leap of faith, and I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen, but no matter what, I know that it’s going to be good, because God has nothing but good things for me. He wants to lead me where He wants me to be, and He wants that for you too. You just have to trust Him as He leads you across the waters, like Peter. 

In Matthew 14, when Peter started to doubt, he started to sink, but Jesus took his hand and pulled him up out of the water. I’ve often wondered if maybe Jesus thought to himself, “Peter, if you would only keep your eyes on Me, I won’t ever let you sink.” I think that’s what He’s telling all of us. If we would only keep our eyes on Him and not worry or get scared by the things going on around us, He won’t ever let us sink. We might get a little wet, but we won’t ever sink. 

Give Me Your Dreams

The past few weeks God has been kind of dealing with me about something that I do all the time, which is dream. I dream all the time about what I want to do in my life, aside from my profession as a teacher. There’s so many things that I want to accomplish, and so many things that I want to see happen in my life, and while dreaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, God has been really dealing with me about this and just wanting me to give Him my dreams, and in return, He will give me His dreams for my future.

This is a BIG deal for me. As I’ve already said in previous postings, I am a planner. I love to plan things and my family, who aren’t planners at all, think I’m a big weirdo for loving to plan things, which I think they’re all weirdos for not planning anything…Back to my point though…

I find it to be really hard to let go of these dreams that I have. Some of them I’ve carried with me since high school, others I’ve had since college, and He’s just been reminding me a lot lately that He can do so much more than I ever could. His plan for me is much greater and better than I can even begin to know or understand.

I was blessed to be involved in praise and worship teams in high school and college. I’ve always loved to sing ever since I was a little girl. At the house I grew up in, we had a swing set in our back yard at the bottom of this hill, and it was located close to our next door neighbor’s home. When I would go and play on the swings, I would always sing, and I guess my neighbors were outside sitting on their deck one day when I was playing and singing, because when I was a teenager, she had said something to me about how she always loved to hear me sing while I was playing as a kid. That kind of surprised me, because I was a really shy kid, and I didn’t like to sing when anyone was around.

Then in high school, I had the opportunity to join my church’s praise and worship team, and I did that through 2 years of college as well. During that time, I would go and work various teen and kids camps every summer, and one of the speakers that had come a couple of times during these camps I would work, his wife was a praise and worship leader, and she would write and perform her own songs. I was really inspired by her, and I ended up buying a lot of her music, and she has this song that she wrote. In the song she says, “Give me Your dreams. Open my eyes so I can see through eyes of faith. Your reality is much greater than me. Oh, help me to believe.”

The song is basically about asking God to help you to believe in what He wants and believes for your life. It’s actually still one of my favorite worship songs to sing, but I love how the song really talks about giving God everything we have, including our dreams, because He can take those and give us back something much greater than we can even know.

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in the future. I’m hopeful that I’ll have my own classroom soon (I’m still working on this), and hopefully one day I’ll be able to be a wife and a mother, but all of those are just examples of dreams that I have that I’m just giving to God, and while it’s really difficult for me to give God these dreams that I have, in exchange He’s going to give me something even better. I’m not saying that He’s not going to give me any of those things, but what I am saying is that by giving God my dreams of having my own classroom and being a wife and a mom someday, maybe He’ll give me an even better teaching opportunity than I could ever dream up. He’ll give me a future husband that’s even more amazing than I could ever imagine myself.

I don’t know if maybe you’re reading this and you struggle with surrendering to God your dreams and plans for the future. Maybe you’re just like me and you have a hard time doing this because you’re a planner too, or maybe you just have trouble turning everything over. I honestly get it. I still struggle with this, but eventually we have to come to a point where we understand that whatever we give to God, He’s going to bless that and He’s going to make it even better than we can even begin to fathom. We just have to trust Him and know that our dreams are in good hands.dream

Flood

It’s currently 1:00 in the morning, and I just got done helping my sister pack and move things out of her condo because just a few hours ago we were told that we had to evacuate because we’ve had so much rain the past week that the nearby rivers and creeks are rising rapidly and there’s a chance that her condo will be flooded. In all honesty, we’ve never really had to deal with flooding before. I grew up in the country, and we always lived on a hill, so I’m not used to preparing for anything like this. I’m reminded though, of the story of Noah in the Bible.

God told Noah that He was going to flood the Earth and to build a boat for his family and the animals. I’m sure that Noah was made fun of and people probably treated him like he was crazy or a big weirdo, but instead of letting the opinions of others get to him, he chose to listen to God. He continued to build the boat exactly the way that God told him to.

How many times have we let what others think of us hinder us from listening to God? I can tell you that for a really long time I really cared about what people thought of me. I was so focused on pleasing people that I lost my focus on God and that the most important opinion of me is God’s. In Galatians chapter 1 verse 10 Paul writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Whenever I have trouble remembering that other people’s opinion of me doesn’t matter as much as God’s opinion of me, I read this verse, because it reminds me that I’m just one person. I’m not going to be able to please everyone or make everyone like me. There is only one person that I can do my very best to please, which is God.

Maybe you’re like I used to be, and let’s just be honest here, like I can still sometimes be. Maybe you struggle with worrying about what other people think of you, but I want to challenge you to really think about what Paul wrote to us about how it’s not our job to please the people around us or care about what they think of us. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be kind or caring with each other, but it’s when we start to put our focus on other’s opinions and trying to please them instead of God that will get us into trouble. So, instead of trying to please everyone else or worrying about what others think about us, let’s put our focus back on God and do our very best to please Him.

**While this post is mainly about not pleasing others and instead pleasing God, I wanted to say that my sister and I made it out of her condo before all of the roads closed. It took us 2 hours to make it to my house, which is normally a 45 minute drive, but we’re thankful that we were able to make it out safe. The river is supposed to crest tomorrow, so it’s just a waiting game right now. The picture below is the condo. It was taken today, and we’re praying and believing that the water will not make it through the sandbag wall. 

The Single Girl

Eveyone has their own group of friends they hang out with, and whether or not you like it, you have a label in your friend group. Maybe you’re the nerd, the athlete, the sassy one, or even the leader, but my label has always been the same no matter what friend group I was in. It didn’t matter if I was in middle, high school, college, or even now. My label has always been the single girl. I’m 29 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend.

Yup, you heard me right. I’m 29 years old, and I’ve never been asked out on a date, I’ve never been on a date, I’ve never had a boyfriend, I’ve never held hands with a guy, or kissed a guy, or gone further with a guy. I’ve never been in any kind of romantic relationship at all with anyone. I know, I know. I can hear the shock going through the Internet right now… In all seriousness though, I know that’s not something you come across every day. You don’t hear a whole lot about people my age never being in relationships before, and maybe you’re thinking that I’m a weirdo. I would probably think that too, but before you go and label me the weird single girl, let me tell you my story…

It’s not that I haven’t been interested in or had crushes on guys before. I defiantly have, but I was always the shy girl growing up. I was the girl who always had a hard time talking with guys that I was crushing on. I have a twin sister and she could always talk to guys and be their best friend, and pretty much the girl next door, but I was always the quiet girl that usually went unnoticed by guys.

It was never my goal or intention to be single my whole life. I was like any other teenage girl growing up. I had crushes on guys, I craved a romantic relationship like the rest of my friends were experiencing, and I dreamed of getting married one day, and like most girls, I always thought I would have gotten married by the time I was in my mid 20s and would have had a family of my own by now, but it’s never happened for me so far.

I went to college on the other side of the state, which was about 3 and a half hours away from the small town I was born and raised in. I met a lot of people during that time, and made a lot of friends. I had a few crushes, and was even close to starting relationships with a few guys, but every time I got close to making those relationships romantic, it never worked out, and I couldn’t figure out why that always seemed to happen to me. I thought that maybe I just had really bad luck with relationships, but after college I moved back to my home town, and a lot of my friends were getting married and starting families, and then the kids that I had taught in Sunday School and in Kids Church were getting married and starting families of their own, and here I was still single.

There’s quite a bit of difference when a guy is single in his mid to late 20s, and a when a girl is still single in her mid to late 20s. When a guy is still single in his mid to late 20s, most people don’t give it a second thought. They accept it more than a girl who is the same age and still single. When you’re a girl who’s in her mid to late 20s, you start getting questions from friends and family about why you’re not married and why you’re not in a relationship. I started getting these questions at the age of 21. The older I got, the more these questions surfaced, along with suggestions ranging anywhere from, changing my physical appearance all the way to maybe if I lowered my standards I would finally get a boyfriend or at least a date (that one came from a family member by the way).

After getting asked these questions and given suggestions about what I should do if I ever wanted to have a boyfriend or a romantic relationship at anytime in my life, I started to ask myself those same questions and pose those same suggestions to myself. I started to believe what everyone was saying and I started to wonder if there’s anything wrong with me because everyone else didn’t seem to have a problem finding someone, but there I was starting the descent to my late 20s, and I still had never had a relationship before. I knew that God was good because I had seen His goodness and faithfulness in my life, but I started to feel like maybe He had forgotten about me, which looking back on that now seems really silly.

A lot of people look at being single like it’s a curse, and I think that’s especially true for girls. We tend to base who we are on whether or not we’re in relationships instead of who we are in Christ, and I’m ashamed to say that I was one of those girls earlier in my life. I based my worth on whether or not the guy I was crushing on liked me back and I was so unhappy. At one point, I was really depressed because I honestly felt like I was cursed that no matter what I did or said, I could never get the relationship part of my life right.

I love to write and journal about my life, and one day I was writing, and I honestly don’t even remember what I was writing about, but I remember that it seemed like everyone had been talking to me a lot lately about relationships and so I guess something I was writing reminded me of one of those conversations, and all of a sudden I remembered a prayer I had prayed back when I was 14 or 15 years old. I had prayed to God that He would keep my heart safe from guys that He knew would not be right for me, and all of a sudden that part of my life made so much sense!

I was so convinced for the longest time that I was cursed because I could never seem to make these relationships work, but I realized that this whole time God was just being a good Father. Just like an earthly father would protect his daughter from guys that weren’t good enough for them, He was protecting me from guys that didn’t get His seal of approval. I didn’t realize it before because I’ve never had a good earthly father in my life. My parents got divorced when I was really young, and my father decided he didn’t want to be a part of my life. I really didn’t know what a good father looked like, which made it difficult for me when I would read in the Bible and hear sermons and people talk about how God is a Father. The idea never really became tangible to me until that point in my life.

I instantly felt really stupid, but also very grateful and blessed that I’ve never experienced a relationship before. A lot of people who have been in relationships have experienced heartbreak and they have baggage from their previous relationships that they will/are bringing into their marriages, but I won’t have any baggage from previous relationships to bring into my future marriage. When I get married one day, I’ll be able to give my whole heart freely to my future husband because I’ve never given my heart to another man.

I’m not saying that everyone should be like me and not have relationships before they meet the one that God has for them. This is just me. This is my story. If you’re reading this and you’re like me—you’ve never been in a relationship before and you wonder what’s wrong with you or why you’re still single, maybe the reason you’re still single is the very same reason I am. Maybe God is keeping your heart safe for the man or woman who will one day be your forever.

I’m really happy with my life right now, even though I’m still the single girl (and will be 30 later on this year). Instead of looking at being single as negative or like a curse, I look at it as a blessing and an opportunity to focus on my relationship with God and grow in Him. I know that God has someone out there for me. I know that He will bring that person to me one day, but until that day, I will be the single girl, and even though the waiting is hard sometimes, I rest on God’s promise to me that He will bring that person to me in His perfect time.IMG_1327

Learning to Trust God

School is almost out for summer break, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the future–next fall to be exact. See, I’ve been substitute teaching the past year, and while I love the variety of teaching in different classrooms and schools, I’ve been wanting my own classroom for a while now, and I feel like I’m ready.

I don’t know how teaching jobs are posted anywhere else, but here in Missouri they start to post them around the beginning of the year since teaching contracts are ending and teachers are either retiring or moving to different schools or other positions within their districts. Where I live, a lot of the schools and districts prefer to hire more experienced teachers instead of hiring teachers right out of college. The teaching jobs in my area are also very limited as well, so it makes finding a teaching job more competitive. I remember when I was doing my student teaching. I was so worried about the competitiveness of trying to find a teaching job after graduation and having some anxiety about whether or not I would be able to find something. I remember it being such a big deal for me then, but God has really been working on my heart in the year that I’ve been subbing.

I can honestly say that if I don’t find a teaching job for the fall, I would be fine with subbing again, or even being a paraprofessional for the upcoming school year because I’ve learned to lean on and trust God so much more than I did before. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn by any means, and there are still some areas of my life that I’m actively learning to trust God every day, but I’ve learned that if things don’t go the way I think they’re supposed to, it’s not the end of the world. God already knows what He’s doing. He doesn’t need me to tell Him what to do or to question Him. Yes, there are times when I’m like, “Okay, God. I don’t know what you’re doing right now,” but trusting Him is a choice I have to make every day–and sometimes more than once every day.

For those reading this that don’t know me personally, I have always been the planner in my family. Every other member of my family can pretty much fly by the seat of their pants, and they’re okay with that. I, on the other hand, had to have back up plans for my back up plans. I remember when I graduated from high school and I pretty much had my whole life planned out. I knew where I was going to go to college, I knew what I was going to major and minor in, and I knew (or at least I thought I did anyway), where my life was going to go after I graduated from college. If you didn’t read my previous post, to recap, none of those things worked out like I had planned them. God threw me a curve ball and took me the long way around to finish my degree, and it wasn’t at the college I started out at. At the time, I was so brokenhearted about why God was taking me down that road, but what I came to realize was that it was in that brokenness that God really started to work in my heart and in my life. I couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back now, I can see exactly where God was leading me and why He took me down that crazy, long road.

Trusting God is still something that I struggle with at times, but when I’m struggling with it, I always look back at my life and then I pray and remember the scriptures I memorized about trusting God. I have always loved to write, and I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager, and sometimes when I struggle with trusting God, I will get out some of those old journals and just read about my life–the things I was worried about, the things I hoped for, and just the things that I was doing at that time in my life. It’s not hard to see God’s hand and faithfulness in it all.

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in Him.” What I didn’t realize then that I do now is that faith and trust go hand-in-hand. You can’t have faith without trust. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Putting my faith in God also means that I have to trust Him fully that He knows what He’s doing more than I do. He can see things I can’t see and He can protect me from things and people that I am blind to. It’s not always easy to trust Him, but it’s necessary in my walk with Him.

I don’t know if you’re reading this right now and thinking that you need to work on trusting God more, or maybe you don’t even know where to start because you’re like me and you’re a planner who has to have back up plans for her back up plans. This might sound a little cliche to some, but honestly the two things that helped me the most is by praying for God to help me to trust Him more and by getting into His Word. Whatever I’m struggling with, whether it’s trusting God more or learning to be patient, I write scriptures that talk about whatever it is that I’m struggling with and keep them in places where I look at them a lot, like the mirror that I do my hair and make up every day. I read those scriptures over and over again until I’ve memorized them, and then whenever I struggle with that particular thing, I pray those scriptures.

If you’re struggling with trusting God, I encourage you to start praying and getting into His Word, and maybe start keeping a journal so that you can look back and see how God was leading you and guiding you through those tough situations. When I go back and read my journals I’ve written, I always feel so thankful for God’s blessings and guidance in my life, and I pray that you will be able to do the same.

The Long Way Around

For the past few years of my life I’ve been in a really long waiting period. Not to say that I haven’t grown or made progress with my job or anything like that, but it seems like the more progress I make in my life, the more I realize that I have to go though a long waiting period to get to the next thing. It would be really easy for me to try and speed up the process and take matters into my own hands, but I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes the way I think things should go isn’t always the best way, and I have to trust God that He knows what He’s doing in my life.

For the longest time I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I got through high school with really good grades and a high GPA, then God totally threw me a curve ball in college that made me have to start all over again, and because of that, it ended up taking me 10 years to finally finish my degree. At the beginning, it was really easy for me to see it as a setback and view it in a negative light. I would think, “Well, if only this hadn’t happened, then I would have my own classroom by now instead of still working on my degree.” It was really easy for me to dwell on that, and I’m not going to lie, I did for a while, but I ultimately decided that dwelling on this was going to do nothing for me. All it was doing was leading me down a bitter road that I wanted nothing to do with, so I decided to get more involved in my church. I decided to start serving others, because when we focus on serving others, suddenly our problems don’t seem so bad; suddenly our lives are put back into prospective, and we realize that it’s not all about us.

Even though I have my degree now, and I’m teaching like I always wanted, I’m still in a waiting period, and some days it seems like I’ve been waiting for forever and I wish I would just get to my destination already, but it’s in those moments I have to remind myself that God has a bigger plan than I can see right now. He knows things that I don’t, which is why He sometimes decides to take us the long way around. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I ended up figuring out a lot of things during that 10 years that I probably would have never figured out had I not gone through all of that. I grew a lot in that period of time, and looking back at those 10 years, I don’t have any regrets because I know that God was with me the whole time guiding me, just like I know He still is during this waiting period I’m going through right now. I may not know when I’ll reach my destination, but I’m learning a lot and cultivating my relationship with Him in the process, and maybe that’s why He’s taking me the long way around. Either way, I know I’ll reach my destination when it’s His perfect timing, and I’m trusting Him to get me there safely.