Spring Forth by Kenika

 

Just do it already.  Forgive the ones that hurt you, let go of the situations that disappointed you, release people from the figurative debts they owe you, and forget about the bad things (and the good things) that once were.  Prepare yourself to experience something better, something newer.  It’s not anything you’ve ever seen before, so it will probably be difficult to wrap your mind around.  It won’t come in the way you’re used to, so it may take a while to convince you. But if you stay bogged down in the “should a” “would a” “could a” of life you’ll never experience anything in it’s fullness.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet, God is speaking through this vessel and trying to get His people back on track, to walk in the full understanding of what He’s done and what He will do. Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  He’s trying to let them know that deliverance from Babylon is inevitable and also that ultimate deliverance from sin, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, will come as well.  (Read the verses surrounding 19) He says “behold” or pay attention; marvel; admire the fact that I’m doing a “new thing.”  A new thing is something that hasn’t been done before.

He goes on to say, “I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” He’s calling to their remembrance how God delivered them from Egypt. The Red Sea was parted for them to walk across on dry land, and God continued to provide and make a way during their 40 years in the wilderness. I don’t know about you, but I would be totally happy if God delivered me in that way again! I’m sure the Children of Israel wouldn’t have minded a repeat either.  This is what makes God great.  He can certainly do the same, predictable, things over and over again but Isaiah is saying, “Stop, pay attention, be amazed” because God wants to do something new. This deliverance from Babylon will be greater than even the most extraordinary ways they were delivered before.  It was probably hard for them to fathom deliverance greater than a sea parting in half, but they are encouraged nonetheless to believe.

The verse goes on to say, “now it shall spring forth” or “already it is springing up.”  It’s already happening! He’s telling them to look at the fact that God is doing a new thing right now, and then Isaiah says it shall spring forth, but a better translation is that it is already springing forth! The new thing they need God to do is already happening! How awesome is that?  That’s why I started out by saying that it’s time to let go and essentially lose some weight. What do I mean by that? Letting go of the dead weight that’s holding you down, whatever it may be, and behold what God is doing.  As Alpha and Omega, God knows our beginning and our end.  He’s already done all that He is ever going to do but to us it will all be new!  It’s already happening, it has sprung forth, perceive it, embrace it, believe it, live it.

Photo Credit:  dreamstimefree_6170074.jpg//© Sergey Kravtsov | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Marriage Journey by Trish

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe it has been almost one year since saying, “I Do.”  People always say that the years go by so quickly and I can attest to how true this statement is. It seems like just yesterday we were planning the day, crafting all of the DIY projects, selecting cupcake flavors and counting down the days to June 25th.

It’s amazing how so much time can be spent planning one day when the reality is, the majority of the effort and energy deserves to be spent on planning the marriage itself.

Needless to say, being married to my true best friend has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever been given yet this new season has pushed me to grow in more ways than I ever thought possible. Transition alone is challenging, but when combined with the loss of a loved one, it can intensify the process of change and the emotions that come with it. However, in the midst of change, loss and dealing with grief, while also celebrating a new season of life, I can say that God’s timing is so perfect.  He knew what and whom I needed at such a pivotal time in my life.

Looking back at the past 12 months I wanted to highlight some of the lessons I’ve learned that have meant the most to me. If you’re married I encourage you to do the same, list all of the ways your spouse has been a blessing to your life and how you’ve grown because of them. If you’re single and desire to be married, I hope there is something highlighted in the words penned that will encourage you, as you believe in faith for your spouse!

1)     It’s not about me

Prior to getting married I read so many books on the preparation process and countless articles on being the Proverbs 31 woman and so on. While I HIGHLY encourage pre-marital council and resources, the truth of the matter is, the crash course of learning will only come when you are united as one. I thought I could just enter into marriage and “suddenly” we would become one.  Ha-ha! Not exactly the case. Becoming one is a process of combining the best and worst of you are, all of it! All the while you have to trust God to shape you into what He desires for your new life as a couple.

This gal right here was 37 years old when she got married and had a lot of UN-learning to do and I still yet more to do. Having been single for so long I developed a pattern of life that worked for me but marriage involves two and there is no room for selfishness in marriage. The balance to this is to prefer one another while not losing yourself in the process. Being married doesn’t mean you lose your voice, but rather you have another one to blend with. A duet is beautiful when both parties know their notes and combine them in harmony.

2)     God First Now and Always

At the very core of your marriage and your home should be Jesus. At our ceremony we played “Jesus At The Center of It All” during Communion and that really was the desire of my heart for our marriage. Whenever there is an absence of peace in our home I can always trace it back to an area where we’ve not made Jesus the priority in our decision-making. As for me, it’s usually when I respond in a selfish way and have chosen to not pray about it first. There’s a saying that states anything without a head would be considered a monster. If Jesus is not the head of the household, it makes for a scary scenario within the home.

3)     Our Lives Are To Be An Example

This life is not about perfection but as believers it does require us to do our best to set an example. God’s first establishment on the earth was a marriage and then a family. The marriage covenant is to be a reflection of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. Our lives should indicate who and what we live for. The most important set of eyes watching besides God is a precious young lady within our home who I have the honor of calling daughter. The weight of being an example to and for her is heavy. It is our responsibility to her to show God’s love demonstrated in our home. Is it always on target? No. But I ask God for wisdom in the areas where I’m still learning and grace to make up the difference where I or we have fallen short.

4)     Friendship First

Before I got married and believed God for my spouse, my sister told me, “Marry your friend. There will be times in your marriage that you will be angry at your spouse but you’ll be able to work through it because he is your true friend.” I’ve never forgotten those words. Sometimes I look at Marc and in my heart, I whisper, “God, thank you for my friend.” I choke up when I think about this because the Bible tells us that a friend loves at ALL times. My husband has seen the best of me and over the course of these 12 months at such a tender time in my life he’s seen the very worst of me and loved me just the same.

The existence of my love for Marc grew from a seed of such pure friendship and from the overflow of that seed I now have a marriage I’m so grateful for.

5)     Letting Go Of “How It Should Be”

When entering the first year of marriage there is often an expectation of how it should go and what it should look like. What I expected looked nothing like what I was experiencing. During the holidays when you’re supposed to be your happiest planning the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first New Year’s I was dealing with grief and doing my best to just keep a smile on my face and not burst into tears at any given moment.

I was bombarded by people with the sweetest of intentions asking if I was excited for my “first” of anything holiday related even through Valentine’s Day as a newlywed. I would politely smile but cry on the inside and then honestly I resented the fact that I didn’t feel that excitement like I had expected I would. The answer was no, I was not excited I was hurting. It’s okay to say that.  It doesn’t make me less of a Christian it simply shows my need of God’s healing power and His loving care in all seasons of life.

Letting go of how I thought things should be or expectations allowed me to see God’s faithfulness to me and repositioned my focus on all He has provided. I remembered the beauty of Mom’s transition, the souls she pointed to Christ, the fact I was able to be with her and the peace she had! I remembered how God granted her the ability to be present for my wedding and she witnessed one of her prayers fulfilled. I remembered that I wasn’t alone…God gave me a partner to share this season with.

I realized the fairytale of marriage doesn’t come in a box that you unwrap the minute you say, “I do.” This so called “fairytale,” which I like to refer to as a testimony rather, is the journey you create along the way by allowing God to write your story.

Letting go of what “should be” gave God the room necessary for His will to be accomplished.

6)     Keep It Simple

The greatest of joys in our marriage are moments we steal from the schedule to go get coffee or watch “This Is Us.” There are times that should include special celebrations and date nights but keeping it simple has afforded us the opportunity to focus on what’s really important, each other. One night my husband randomly asked me if I wanted to get coffee.  My reply is always a yes when it pertains to coffee. As we drove around in his truck drinking coffee we saw fireworks on the way home and he joked saying this was his plan all along, that the firework show was planned just for us on the way home. I’m pretty sure Disney didn’t plan their firework show around our impromptu date but I’ll let him have the points and take the credit. This may have been one of my best moments as a wife. Nothing fancy, just coffee, a truck and us (oh yeah… and the fireworks he planned).

There are more lessons to be learned and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to share. There was a time I prayed for what I have today. God is faithful in all walks of life and answered prayers never eliminate the need for Him, it just brings about new areas for us to stretch our faith for and allow His faithfulness to shine!

PS- Happy 1st Anniversary, Mr. Williams- I’m honored to be your Mrs.

Photo Credit: Omar Galarza June 2016

God’s Joy, Our Strength by Sonya

 

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.

I have had to see God’s joy in each day as I have been mourning the death of one of our dear friend’s daughter. Words can’t describe all the emotion you go through when you lose a loved one. I can honestly say that it is one of the hardest things I have had to go through and it felt like the loss of one of my children. Our friends were like family to us and we would go on family trips together and spend time together for birthdays and holidays. This little girl that passed was only 5 years old and was my youngest daughter Lydia’s best friend. It is hard to mourn as an adult but when you see your child mourn it breaks your heart as a parent. But Lydia has brought so much joy through this time and truly showed me how to have joy in our sorrow and that it each day was a gift from God and to be joyful. She would tell me to cry happy tears and that her friend was in heaven having so much fun and that we should be happy for her. Lydia carries her picture around wherever we go and will hug and kiss it!  She is choosing joy and happiness because she knows her friend is so happy in heaven. My daughter has shown me so much and seeing it through her eyes has brought me so much joy in my mourning. Lydia is choosing joy and not letting anyone take that away from her because she knows she will see her friend and Jesus in heaven one day. As John 16:22 puts it, “ So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Let the joy of the Lord be your strength in your mourning. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.

Photo Credit: dreamstimefree_10088688.jpg//© Alexstar | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Rejection by Bombi

Rejection. By a show of hands, I’d like to see anyone who loves it. Truly, rejection is one of my least favorite things to experience ever. Yet as long as I’m alive I’m going to get rejected and even give some rejection. I know rejection can happen on a daily, from the small to the big.

Then there’s the deeper ways of being rejected. Like a child hearing horrendous abusive words like, “I wish you were never born.” Or even finding out you’ve been cheated on. Rejection is one of those potent serums that once it’s been ingested, well no two people react the same. The kind of make you or break you stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you feel like a lonely afterthought. The kind of hurt that puts thoughts into your head like, “Why try again, I’ll just get rejected!”

Then there’s someone who I think about that is perfect in every way. Always does the right thing. Always brings joy. Always shows up. Always forgives. I mean the most perfect being that’s ever been. How could anyone not want to be around or in this person’s life? And you know what? Even that person got and still gets rejected every single day. It’s a big part of their history. One minute they are getting welcomed into town with a celebration and palms being placed at their feet, and the next those same people are wishing the man dead. Harsh. Yes that man is Jesus. I often think about all the stuff He went through and even what He experiences daily. All the getting despised and being rejected. It can make my head spin. So when I read in Jeremiah 1:5 where it says:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [a] you,
 before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”​It just hits my heart so hard with so much powerful love. ​Because this is proof that God will and wants to do the exact opposite of what everyone else has or may do to us. He thinks so much of us that we are the furthest thing from an afterthought that could ever be. In fact before we even existed, He had and has amazing plans for us. He has plans that our parents couldn’t even dream or plan up. If you don’t know this love and if you’re tired of feeling like everyone rejects you, I invite you to get to know the man who not only knows how you feel, but will heal the wounds of rejection. He has such plans for you. The last thing He ever wants to do is reject you. If you already know Him, then let this be a reminder that before you ever planned on counting on Him, He already planned on making and loving you.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

 

Photo Credit:© Jose Antonio Sánchez Reyes | Dreamstime Stock Photos