For those who have been David and not Joseph

I walked away from the straight and narrow.

I. Walked. Away. No one led me, no one tempted me, and no one forced me. I. Walked. Away.

In an event that had more mental and spiritual hardship than I was expecting, I was ill equipped to handle it. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I was unequipped and my only answer is that I thought it could never happen to me. I thought I was spiritually invincible; I was much too steady to be shipwrecked. I read my bible every day. I prayed regularly. And last but not least, I was a missionary. My pride gave me a false sense of successful living without the healing hand of Christ.

I spent 3 years of my life giving up everything to serve the God that I came to know and love. I gave up relationships, comfort, decent internet, and smooth skin without any bites for the sake of knowing Him better and serving those that He loves, and I came to find out that I’m not sure I knew Him much at all. I knew the idea of Him. I knew the characteristics of Him. But as far as truly knowing Him, I was ignorant because I hadn’t shared in His sufferings, and when I did, I didn’t handle it well.

All those great guys of the Bible that went through hard things; that was because they did bad things, right? David’s son died because he sinned. Samson had his eyes gauged out and he was imprisoned because he broke his Nazarene vow. Those were the ones I latched on to… As long as I wasn’t “like them” I’d be fine… But here’s the thing… There are those who suffered blamelessly. God gave me an opportunity to be like Job and Joseph; the innocent sufferers of the faith. And. I. Blew. It.

When I returned I was HURTING. Maybe it was the fact that I lost my identity as a missionary. Maybe it was the fact that I lost a family I came to love as my own. Maybe it was the fact that I was reintroduced to a world that was so vastly different from what I came to know. All I know for sure is this: I had the opportunity to walk with God through these things; I had the chance to suffer well; to be a Joseph of the faith. But as time drug on, and as the process got deeper, darker, and more difficult, I chose to walk away. I chose to find things in the world that were bringing a reprieve that this God I forfeited my life for wouldn’t give me, no matter how much I begged and pleaded.

As I sit here looking at the last six months through my hindsight 20/20 I’m not ashamed. I’m not condemned. I’m in awe of a loving God. I’m in awe of the God that loved David after he slept with Bathsheba. I’m in awe of Samson’s God who restored his strength and allowed him redemption. I’m in awe of the God of Peter who had 2,000 years of church structure built on his comeback after the denial of His relationship with the Lord. I’m in awe.

God is gracious, guys. He’s so gracious. In the midst of my worst decisions He was there. He protected me from things I didn’t deserve protection from. He allowed things that made me look at myself and ask “who even is this girl?” and when the day came that I didn’t like the answer He was gracious and took me back. He never took away my seat at the table. He only heaped up portions as He patiently awaited my return.

You can’t have a comeback without a fall. You can’t get up eight times until you’ve fallen seven. You can’t experience a loving return until you’ve ran away. I would never suggest anyone run from God; it’s a lot of pain and consequence, but if you’re in a season of running; if you’re questioning everything, I know from experience He will be there. He’s there now, and He’ll be there for your return. His love is steadfast. He’ll rebuild bridges you’ve burned. He’ll restore relationships you’ve forfeited. He truly does restore the years the locusts have eaten.

One of my favorite quotes I’ve read through this entire process is, “second and third repentances are not met with half-ass parties in the Father’s house”. I’m sure there will continue to be struggle, sin, doubt, frustration, etc… but every time I take a thought captive, every time I choose to repent I’ll be met with loving arms that throws a party for my decision to trust in His truth instead of my fear of God. A fear that is tarnished by wounds that were inflicted by the sin of the world.

So where do I go from here? Well. I’ve gone the David, Prodigal & Samson route. I’ve messed up and tried to clean it up. I took advantage of the grace and gifts of our God. And I’ve done most of the things I swore I’d never do. So now I get to know experientially that those ways don’t work. Masking my pain, my hurts, and my sorrows with worldly remedies doesn’t work. I need supernatural healing. I need the only one who’s able to clean up my heart one prayer at a time. I need this healer to strip away my fears of rejection and betrayal, and replace it with the value I once believed I had in Him. I. Need. Faith.

Faith is the root of healing.

Faith in His word: His word stands the test of time. When the lies that He can’t be trusted because He hasn’t felt trustworthy come to my mind I need to stand firm in His truth that, “for those who know Your name put their trust in You, for you, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek you” (psalm 9:10). I can’t quit seeking Him. That’s where the battle is won.

Faith in His hope: He gives us a hope, and a promise that is so farfetched that in times of darkness it seems unbelievable. I get to go to heaven? A place without sin. A place where my tears will be wiped away. A place where I will be able to lie down in peace…? Me? This sinner? This prodigal? This rebellious daughter? Don’t get me wrong… I know all of this is TRUE. But after the fall, it seems too much for my brain and heart to handle. I don’t deserve this hope, but I get to put my faith in it. And every time I’m reminded of the fall, or every time I stumble I get to be reminded of a gracious God whose arms are stretched out still.

Maybe next time suffering comes, or more so as it continues I’ll be a Joseph. I’ll be able to stand firm in the truth. I’ll be able to suffer well. Maybe I’ll be able use my prison to prepare for the larger picture. Maybe I’ll be a Job who stays steadfast through the trial. Next time I’m called to share in the Lord’s suffering I truly hope I’ll let Him shoulder the burden while I walk in faith & hope. But for now, I’m just thankful that God still loved David, and Samson, and Peter… And He still loves a rebellious, fallen missionary like me.

Hosea 6:1//Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up

In Search Of: Hardworking Prison Cellmate

Where are You, Lord?
What did I do wrong to get here?
Will this ever end?

Anyone else ever have these thoughts while in prison?
Anyone else never actually been to prison?
Please tell me I'm not alone...

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a specific area in my life where I’m helpless. And the circumstances that got me here weren’t of my own doing. God put a trial in my life that I have to trust is for my good and while dealing with this I just happened to be reading through Joseph’s testimony in Genesis.

Genesis 39 gives us the account of Joseph who was unsuccessfully seduced, falsely accused, and wrongfully imprisoned; all because the dude was attractive. He was probably rocking the dad-bod, man-bun, or whatever else was the aesthetically pleasing trend at the time. Here he was just minding his business, honoring his God, and obeying his master... and he ends up in prison. What the heck?!

I feel like I’m there. Physically speaking I’m nowhere near where Joseph is, but spiritually speaking I’m most definitely there. There’s a lot happening outside the walls of my life that isn’t necessarily fair; a lot of pain, hurt and sin going on with people I love. But my hands are tied. I’m a sitting duck. I have no control.

So what now? I guess since we’re using the example of Joseph, and because he was a Godly man it’s safe to follow his lead.

Verse 21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Okay, step one: recognize that the Lord is with me and shows me steadfast love and favor even in the midst of my prison. But I don’t feel like He’s with me… So now what? Stand on the truth of the Word instead of how I feel. Tell my feelings they’re stupid and irrational, because they are, (yours probably are true. Yeah, I said it) and press into the truth of God. Alright, let’s see, how about Romans 8:38-39? “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. No prison, no circumstance, no powers. Nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus. 

Okay, got it. I’m loved and Jesus is with me no matter how I feel. But I’m still in prison… Soooo now what?

The account of Joseph continues on to tell us what God’s favor did for Joseph in his prison. “And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” What did Joseph do in his prison? The same thing he did outside of it; honored God. Joseph worked hard, proved himself faithful and trustworthy and was given responsibility based on his actions and God’s favor. I especially like that it says the keeper paid no attention to anything in Joseph’s charge. Joseph could have used the keeper's trust to his advantage but instead He used it to glorify God. Joseph probably could have manipulated certain areas, put himself in advantageous situations, or gone to the right areas of the prison to possibly escape. But instead he honored God and worked hard and diligently in the tasks he was given. Would I do the same? 

You know those inmate clean up crews you pass on the highways? If that was your job in your prison would you be filling as many bags as you could? Or would you be trudging along, doing the bare minimum until it was time to leave? I think of their overseers and how much they must appreciate the ones who don't need much direction. They see their task and they do it. I would bet there are highway clean up crew inmate workers with better attitudes than I tend to have in my spiritual prison.

My current prison is being a missionary. Don’t get me wrong, I like the role God has placed me in, but I’m on another continent where circumstances elsewhere with family and friends seem to be crumbling. I could choose to dwell in my prison, and try to escape it OR I can use my prison to glorify God, walk with Him, work hard, and trust that He knows what’s best. Trust that His word is true and His hand is on these situations better than mine could ever be. Besides, contrary to my own pride He really doesn’t need my help.

What’s situation do you find yourself in that feels like a prison? Stay at home mom? The Oregon Coast’s lack of sun? Your own mind; anxiety, depression? Situations you can’t fix with people you love? A sin you were introduced to and you can’t break free from? Less than ideal finances? Sickness? Marriage? Singleness? 

Please know this; your decisions and choices didn’t necessarily land you in your spiritual prison. Sometimes it’s solely because there’s a lesson, or a refining characteristic being woven into you. Sometimes it’s a consequence, and that’s okay too, because God wants your freed as much as you do. And sometimes we go to prison to minister to the other prisoners. God wants to comfort us in all our troubles SO THAT we can comfort others in theirs. God is going to use your prison for good. He promises. 

I wonder if Joseph knew his time, hard work, and authority given to him in the prison was preparing him for something bigger; to have authority over the land of Egypt. I wonder if he doubted the dream he had early on of his family bowing down to him? I wonder if he felt abandoned?

It’s okay to admit you’re in a prison, it’s even okay to admit you don’t like it, but it’s not okay to wallow there. 

You won’t be in prison forever. God specializes in setting captives free.

Hope in Christ.

Luke 4:18//The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives...

No One Asked You

Alright. Here goes. I'm never one to give my two cents on controversial topics. I don't shy away from them when asked, I just know fighting, controversy and placing your opinions where they're not asked resolves absolutely nothing when it comes to the kingdom of God. I wasn't won over to the church by people throwing in their opinions on my life. I was won over by people loving me in spite of their opinions of my life. With that said, please hear my heart on a topic that means more to me than most would ever know. And I was asked, and asked, and asked... and asked about it... So here goes...

I grew up extremely tolerant of the "homosexual lifestyle". I also grew up extremely tolerant of the "drunk lifestyle", the "abusive lifestyle", the "pride lifestyle", the "divorce lifestyle", the "drug lifestyle", the "sex outside of marriage lifestyle", the "gluttony lifestyle", the "anger lifestyle", the "hate lifestyle"... should I go on? After all, we've got a lot of tolerated legal lifestyles to cover. I digress.

The legalization of same-sex marriage isn't something that should infuriate us any more than the legalization of divorce; did you really not see this coming? If it infuriates you and makes you post horrendous things and opinions that weren't asked of you then I struggle to believe you've spent ANY time in prayer over the situation. Prayer changes our heart to look more like God's heart, and scripture makes it pretty clear what God's heart looks like towards those in anything other than "saved by grace lifestyles."

As the most commonly referenced scripture that I've seen on this topic, I'm going to dissect the story of the woman at the well and see if I can explain to you my heart towards this issue and why I think putting in two cents without being asked or invited in for opinion is absolutely detrimental to the task we're trying to accomplish as christians. 

In John chapter 4 we find Jesus headed to Galilee from Judea and on his travels passed through Samaria. While in Samaria Jesus "happened upon" a well. Verse 8 says, "Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey was sitting beside the well. It was the sixth hour."
BEFORE WE MOVE ON, can you PLEASE take note that it says Jesus was "wearied". Jesus was a man, and He got tired. He had been fighting crowds, walking miles and miles, waking up early to pray; the man was probably exhausted! My favorite part about this verse is that his weariness had NO effect on how he carried out the rest of this woman's God story. He walked in the Spirit and did the work of the Father and put his feelings, emotions, needs and desires aside. The reason I note this is because I'm seeing SO many reactions to sin based out of discomfort, anger, patriotism, ignorance, etc... and very few based out of the Spirit.

Verses 7-9 tell us a woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." The Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that you, a Jew ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?"
Jesus addressed her out of humility. Jews back then had no interactions with Samaritans because it was seen as improper due to the social status of the times. Rabbis especially never had any interaction with women in public, not even their own wives. The Samaritan woman must have immediately taken note of Jesus' friendliness. It would have been EASY for Jesus to get his own water, He wasn't incapable but God chose to set up this appointment for the Son to humble Himself and reveal Himself through His own physical need. He didn't shy away from asking her for her help, I believe, allowing her to see the gentleness of Himself.

Verse 10 says Jesus answered her, "if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
Jesus spent this time after making a point of friendship with the woman to make her curious about three things: 1. The things and gifts of God. 2. The person of Jesus himself. And 3. What He could give to her. When you're in friendship with others and you're getting to know each other you don't have to work very hard to spark their curiosity. Christians do weird things if we're walking in the Spirit. Pray before meals, say "praise The Lord" a lot, tip well for mediocre service because we're representing Jesus, forgive when people make false claims against us, see past others flaws. When we're walking in the Spirit our friends notice we're a different kind of people and it piques their curiosity.

The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock."
I have a hard time deciphering whether the woman was being sarcastic and cynical or actually hungry for an answer. Jesus was walking in the Spirit, obeying the Father's leading and the Samaritan woman opened up the door for God to speak into her life by asking a question based on the curiosity he had brought out in her. Whether she was being cynical or sincere, it was still an INVITE. This is a key point that is missing when we projectile vomit our opinions everywhere. Did anyone actually ask you? I'm all for freedom of speech; if you want to give your opinion without being asked, do as you wish. But the example of Jesus, who was a gentleman, waited for an invitation to speak into the lives of the broken and those who were curious about Him. Have you been invited to speak into the lives of people who live the way you're combatting?

Continuing in verse 13, Jesus said to her, "everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Jesus knew that this woman, although looking to satisfy her physical thirst, had a craving for a bigger thirst. The spiritual thirst every human has is addressed through the Holy Spirit. We can't manufacture a thirst for people, only the Holy Spirit can do that. We need to be proactively praying for people in ALL "lifestyle choices" (see second paragraph for reference) that they would thirst for what we have and set up divine appointments for Christians to befriend them and love them where they're at. 

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water." 
The response the woman had was more about convenience than anything holy or spiritual. "Great, I won't have to walk to this well anymore and fill up buckets of water to carry home, cool. Sign me up." A lot of times the initial draw to church, or a bible study or even friendship with a Christian isn't based on spirituality, it's based on ease and convenience. And that's okay. I first started going to a church because I was stoked for a weekly home cooked meal! They met my physical need and that was convenient for me! I didn't care about anything else they had to offer. But what happened after the physical need was addressed through friendship and food is what shifted my heart and changed me, and I believe what changed the Samaritan woman.

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband, for you have had five husbands and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." The woman said to him, "Sir I perceive that you are a prophet.
Jesus brought up the sin in her life that HE wanted to deal with in the way HE saw fit. I would bet you everything I own, which isn't much, that she had other sin in her life, but Jesus chose THIS ONE to address first to bring her to Himself. We don't get to choose what Jesus brings to light in people's lives in order to bring the knowledge of salvation to the person. We have to let Him do that by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the persons life how He sees fit, it's not our job to bring up their sin when they're still sinners, our job is to be a living example of Jesus' love. God will reveal sin the way He sees fit, it may be through us with a conversation being opened about the things the Holy Spirit is convicting them about, but it may be through a verse someone shares online. Or a video posted. Or a sermon. Usually for me they move somewhere else and "happen to" meet other Christians and get converted that way. Some are called to plant, water and never reap. I'm cool with that.

Our father worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship."
Boom. Argument. Don't be surprised when arguments arise with the person or community you're praying over, but don't let it derail or distract you from the true fight. Focus on winning souls, not debates!

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain or in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit and, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Jesus got to the heart of worship, he showed the woman that it's not about the semantics or show of worship, it's the heart and truth behind the worship. He told her the Father is actively SEEKING her, He told her that she's wanted by the Father, and judging by her past that's probably not a concept that came easily to her. Instead of saying "Don't you see you're this way because of a, b, c, and d" he says "The Father is seeking true worshippers, and He wants you and your heart right where you're at."

The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."
Jesus reveals Himself to her. Jesus revealed His character to her and loved her IN her sin. He showed her His friendship, He showed her that she is wanted, and He didn't give up the fight for her soul when she wanted to argue semantics for the sake of winning the argument. 

That's the life I want to live. I want to reveal Jesus to people by befriending and loving them IN their sin. In their divorce, in their gluttony, in their pride, in their greed, in their brokenness. I want to go to battle for them in prayer. And if/when God chooses to open the door for them to ask me my opinion on their life, I want to give them what the bible says, seasoned with the love and grace of our Father.

Jesus came to SEEK and to SAVE the lost. That's our mission, show people through our actions and our love that He is seeking them, and let Him save them. I don't care what "lifestyle" you find yourself in, I just want to be your friend. And I hope that in being your friend you see Jesus in me, because I have something in my life with Him that I would NEVER give up, and it's something I unashamedly want everyone else to experience for themselves.

Christians, stop giving your opinions and bible knowledge until you've been asked. God will open the doors to interject the truth of the word, and He'll give you the words to say when it happens.

Your Emotions Are Stupid

Your emotions are stupid. And it's okay to say that, because it's true.

If you're watching a movie and it makes you cry, laugh, get angry or anxious... It's because your emotions can't separate fact from fiction. Those are made up characters, scenarios and scenes. They're not real. But our emotions react anyways. Why? Because they're stupid. They can't differentiate reality from fiction.

I've been thinking about this lately as I've been convicted in my own life of how often I react out of emotion. I got told what to do so I responded with sass. I've been made angry so I've responded with a less than pleasant attitude. I've been embarrassed so I've responded with arrogance. Emotional responses are responses stemmed from stupidity. Because emotions have no intellect. Sorry, not sorry if that offends you. 

What if we chose to respond from conviction instead of emotion? What if we chose to let our reactions be stemmed out of what would bring Jesus the most glory instead of what we're feeling in the moment? I think the world would look vastly different. 

We would work harder. Our serving would be more joyful. There would be less passive aggressive posts on Facebook. There would be more love for the unlovable. There would be more forgiving of enemies. There would be more orphans adopted. There would be more widows being cared for. There would be more Christ followers sent out. There would be more friendships within the body of Christ. There would be less murmuring. There would be more rejoicing. The list goes on and on.

Could you imagine that? A bunch of believers choosing to live by their calling instead of their comfort? Not allowing their emotions (fear, anxiety, pride etc..) to hold them back? Can you picture it? I love that picture. The more I walk with The Lord and with friendships based in The Lord, the more I realize most of what is holding people back is their own emotions. 

The word says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take EVERY thought captive into obedience of God. You see Jesus doing this in His own walk on earth. When He says "Father if there is ANY other way, please let this cup pass from me". He didn't want to go through the pain of the cross. But nevertheless, He said, "not my will, but Your will". Jesus took His thoughts into subjection under God's plan. He was led by His convictions instead of His emotions, and through that marvelous act He made a way for His beloved children to be with Him in paradise.

How do we allow conviction to be the control of our life instead of emotion?

1// Spend time with the one who convicts. Grow attune to His voice and leading. Be in prayer and the word. It's a growing process. Be intentional in prayer and stillness before The Lord. When it's hard do it anyways.

2// Keep Godly friends. Make sure that in the hard times that evoke emotion you are going to friends that push you towards Godly wisdom. And on that note, BE the friend that doesn't say what necessarily feels good to someone, but instead brings glory to God. I was told a story that has always stuck with me: My friend knew someone who early in her life was engaged to a guy that everyone knew wasn't right for her, but everyone went and supported her on her wedding day anyways, except two friends who told her it was wrong and would end disastrously. Well, this woman ended up divorced, and I'll bet you can guess who she holds as true friends to this day, the two who said something. Even in my own life the company I choose to keep has kept me from making regrettable decisions just by pointing me to reactions that honor Christ.

3// Be confident and okay with repentance. Sometimes we DO let our emotions decide anyways. Don't spend a minute in regret, shame or defeat over it. Because we have a God who delights in our repentance and loves us in our failures. He takes joy in setting our feet on (or back on) the path of His destiny for us.

This week I've chosen to be led by conviction over emotion, at times it's not easy, and at times I've failed. But the change in my own heart has been noticeable and freeing. 

Proverbs 3:5-6// Trust in The Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.

And I Will Give You A New Heart

You ever had a best friend who was unable to talk back? I've been feeling like that. My best friend as of late has been Abraham, formerly knows as Abram. I feel like he gets me. I think we'd be homies if God put us on the earth at the same time. 

Abraham made a lot of mistakes, took some wrong turns, rushed some decisions, walked in steps of presumption and always found his way back to the loving arms of God. I get that. I really, really get that. 

I've always struggled with times of waiting, dealing with struggles, and resolving issues with patience. Whether it's an appointment, a friendship, a promise to be fulfilled, a busy season or an expected phone call. I'm SO bad at the patience. I get anxious, worried, jumpy, irritated and all emotions in between that can come with times of waiting and living the day to day life with what looks like no end in sight. Recently I've been waiting on The Lord for some answers in direction. I thought I had the direction, and I was moving in said direction but then He switched up the plans on me and uncovered an unexpected path that I wasn't ready for! Yikes. But before I get to that, can we talk about what The Lord did leading me up to this potentially life changing, future altering, crazy and unexpected path?

First let me tell you a bit about my past; I can sum it up in one sentence: When things get hard, run

When things got hard for me I didn't stay long. I went to the closest person who could get me out. Church family hurt you? Run. Fight with a friend? Run. Caught doing what you're not supposed to? Run. Work gets hard? Run. Finances get tight? Run. Until more recently in my life I had never stuck around to fight when things were hard or face the consequences of things I'd done wrong. All I knew was to run. 

Until God intervened in a big way. It was actually a subtle way, but it was big to me...

I started going to my current church and was being taught the bible verse by verse. The simplicity of this helped me to see the way God desires His children to do things. God doesn't call His people somewhere just so they can back out when it gets tough, He calls them so they can be given and fulfill a great purpose. Look at Abraham, the father of a nation; Moses, the deliverer of a nation; Peter, the rock the church was built on; Paul, the author of doctrine; or the best example, Jesus, the reconciler of souls to God the Father.

I started to see that if I've truly been called somewhere I have to fight to be there. Fight my flesh and it's desire to run, fight the enemy's lies and fight the battle in my mind to flee. Now, I never necessarily consciously thought it all through in this way in the midst of it, but through the word The Lord instilled this new way of thinking into me. Things I would never have done before started happening.

1. I've been attending the same bible study for four years! I've never even attended a school that long! And to be real, there were HARD times. Trying times. Times when people got annoying. Times when I would get angry. Times when it seemed like too much to handle. Times when unchanged me would have ran, but The Lord had prepared my mind, heart and soul to fight.

2. I've been going to the same church for a little over five years, it wasn't always easy. I had no friends for the six months, I don't even think I knew anyone's name. But I stayed and bided my time until the six month mark when I could start serving and that's where I met people. The church also comes with trying times. I've been talked about, not talked to at all, corrected, falsely accused, accurately accused, judged and treated poorly. If you've gone to a church for any length of time I'm sure one or two of these hits home for you, too! But in those times I can guarantee you that the old me would have ran. 

3. I've learned it's possible, and even rewarding to work through things in friendships. I have a friend who means the world to me. We've been through the ringer together. When you're living in a two bedroom apartment with four people and a toilet that doesn't work so you have to drive to the closest public restroom together to get your business done, you tend to get close. But you also tend to have conflict because being THAT close to someone can be hard. You see all of them, positives, negatives, annoying habits, bad jokes, and quirks. Turns out they also get to see yours. Tensions would rise and fall, some days would be more awkwardly quiet than others and in those times the old me would have packed her boxes and hit the road! But the transformed me stuck it out. And I learned that the wonderful laugh-until-you're-snorting-honking-and-crying-days far outweighed the silent, awkward days. And The Lord blessed our friendship. She's one of my greatest teammates, friends and encouragers to this day.

Much like my buddy Abraham, God changed me, too. Gave me a new destiny so to speak. Abram to Abraham, Flight Dana to Fight Dana. I'm not at all saying this to pat myself on the back, I'm just saying it to encourage you that when you may feel as if your life isn't amounting to much, maybe when you're in the day-to-day grind; God is doing something. He's working in your heart to prepare you for the mission. He's using His word and His closeness to refine you, cleanse you and CHANGE you. 

It's amazing to see now what He was preparing me for. A new path. And He may change it again if He sees fit, but I can see looking back on all that time "waiting", there was more going on than I ever would have thought. God changed me from someone who runs, to someone who fights for faithfulness. Sometimes it's simply taking a thought captive; fighting your mind. Sometimes it's fighting to stick it out at work; fighting my flesh. And sometimes it's fighting the lies you're hearing with the truth from the word.

To sum it up I think it's clear that I'm not doing the real fighting, I've just prepared my mind for the battle by being in the word, fellowship and prayer. God's doing the real fighting, because based on the examples given that power clearly doesn't come from me. 

Ezekiel 36:26//And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.