I Love You… Eternally

I Love you Eternally

Photo By Daniel Dockweiler

So many emotions the last few days have taken camp on my heart as I face the 1-year mark of Cody being home in heaven. But of all the emotions I’ve faced—Thankfulness is the most prevalent. I am so thankful for having experienced the Love of Cody Lusk. I am thankful to raise the life we created. I am thankful for the new appreciation of life I have. I am thankful for the people the Lord has brought into my life this last year. I am thankful for the deep grief, pain and sorrow, because it has allowed me to experience true joy and peace on a new level.

Tragedy doesn’t have to define you. We do not have to be victims of tragedy for the remainder of our lives. God does not allow tragedy to penetrate our lives for it to be forgotten in the ground… He put in us a strength and a faith that can erupt like a volcano when we Surrender to HIM. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t mean questions don’t come—but it means we can accept and TRUST that God has us in the palm of His hands—“We are covered under His feathers and under His wings we will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4. I don’t know about you, but there is no place else I’d rather be than covered under His wings.

The word eternity has pierced my heart this last year. I now have a deep desire to be more eternally focused. Over the last year I have re-read dozens and dozens of letters and love notes from Cody over the years of our marriage. Every single one ended with, “I Love you, Eternally”. The definition of eternally is, “in a way that continues and lasts forever; permanently.” That makes my heart smile. Over the last couple of months I am ashamed to admit I have struggled with anger in regards to unresolved things in our marriage. I would angrily cry out to God hundreds of WHY’S?

On New Year’s Eve while praying in my special prayer area, I had my face buried in my hands sobbing and I felt a little hand on my shoulder. I looked up and baby Abby was standing inches from me with her arms outstretched. In that moment I felt the Holy Spirit say, “It is finished. Cody is with me. He Loved you with all that he had and I left the best part of him with you.” In that moment the burden of the unanswerable ‘why’s’ that were haunting me dissipated. The anger was released and replaced with that unexplainable peace that exists when we surrender. In that moment as my daughters little body was wrapped around mine, her little face nestled in my neck, feeling her heart beating and her breath on my skin, a new strength and love arose. I began to see a part of my heart neatly wrapped up with a pretty bow on it—that part of my heart was Cody’s and our life together. I then saw a huge part of my heart beating that I never knew existed. I’m realizing it’s okay to desire certain things again. It’s okay to look to the future with excitement. It’s okay to stop asking why.

It doesn’t matter why.

It doesn’t matter what happened.

It doesn’t matter.

That may sound cold, and I don’t mean it to at all. I just mean I am coming to a place, a new stage of healing and I’m realizing no amount of screams and cries to God or Cody in anger will change anything. Accepting that it was ordained for me to only get 4.5 years with him and Abby was only to get 9 months with him… But we have eternity to look forward to.

When I read the words “I Love you, Eternally” written by my husband, my heart soars and breaks at the same time. But you know what is marinated in my soul even deeper than my husband speaking those words? Is my Heavenly Daddy speaking those same words over me—He Loves me eternally. He will never leave or forsake me or my daughter. He has more than taken care of us these last 12 months and I trust and have faith He will continue to do so.

Romans 5:2-5 tells us “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

I’ve had people ask me over the last 12 months if I have felt guilty for laughing or having fun. My instant answer is ‘NO’. I will never feel guilty for laughing or for exuding joy and God’s Love. Because joy and love is the essence of life. Cody was one of the most exuberant souls you would have ever met.

He would never want me to live my life in darkness and sadness forever.

So I refuse to.

Grief changes you, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent sad kind of change.

It can be a strengthening change.

A brave change.

A learning to Love deeper kind of change.

A let’s not take life for granted kind of change.

So yes, grief and tragedy has changed me, but not in the worlds way of thinking. God’s eternal love has penetrated my life on so many new levels this year that wouldn’t be had it not been for experiencing deep loss. I would have never chosen to walk this walk, but here I am. So every day I ask the Lord for help and continue to repeat…

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

2017- The Worst Year of My Life & The Best Year of My Life

 

vashon island

Photo By Shala Gean

I have found myself saying lately, “This has been the worst year of my life, but has also been the best year of my life.”  How is that possible?

January 14, 2017 will forever be a day that divides one section of my life from the woman I was to the woman I am now.

The woman I was… was lost that night when the Lord called my husband, Cody into glory.

This has been a year of pure trust in the Lord.  Though as a Christian I should have been living in that trust with the Lord for years now.  But I wasn’t.  Experiencing the disappearance of Cody and going through the gut wrenching 5 days of the search before his body was recovered from the lake… Those 5 days were dark and scary.  Those do not seem sufficient enough words to describe it.  Breathing was agony.  But I’m thankful that his body was recovered.  So many families are not that fortunate when a loved one disappears.  For that I will be forever grateful.  That was the beginning of the Trust I found in The Lord.

Walking this season as a widow—(I despise the title of widow by the way)… The Lord has ‘wooed’ me to Him in such an eternal romance type of way.  To say I am head over heels in love with Jesus is an understatement.  To witness Him take such brokenness and despair and begin to remold all of the broken pieces together again for His Glory—has changed me from the inside out.  I don’t want to be the person I was the day before deep tragedy struck my little world.  I realize how selfish I was.  I was living to build ‘Jessica’s Kingdom’…not Gods Kingdom.

I didn’t look at every faucet of my life through the lens of Christ.  I looked at it through the lens of Jessica.  I was living inwardly, pleasing myself.  Though as long as I’m on this side of glory—I will struggle daily with fighting my flesh—but I can say it has definitely gotten easier to get myself off my mind.

I have learned to enjoy the simplicity of life.  I find such beauty and laughter in the smallest of things.  I have learned to love more selflessly, to cherish the people I care about.  I don’t want to take people for granted, ever.  Because they may not be here tomorrow.  We never get a better chance to grow relationships and friendships than the present.  I have learned to truly enjoy and be thankful for the mundane of everyday.

In May of this year the Lord pressed upon my spirit the revelation that all of the trials I have faced in life and may face in the future… are not about me.

Every trial we encounter in our earthly lives is to ultimately glorify God.

A couple of months ago while preparing to speak at a women’s conference, I came across a note in my journal.  It was Cody’s handwriting. He had written notes from a sermon by Jason Harris at Evangelistic Temple on October 2, 2016.  These words are full of truth and are almost prophetic for me to read after his death.

God is sovereign over all suffering.  All suffering infinitely exists for God’s glory.  God’s aim in your suffering is to take your mind off yourself so you rely completely on Him.  Suffering in the life of a Christian is an opportunity to show the world that Christ is worth more than life itself.  The proper response to suffering is Faith and even Joy.  Suffering points us to the HOPE we have in Christ.  God is a good, good Father.”

Every single word above is pure truth and is exactly what the Lord has revealed to me this year.  Joy and peace can be found in the midst of the darkness of this world.  The Love the Lord has showered on me and my daughter this year has been so real and humbling.  It has changed the way I view the body of Christ.  There is power in prayer and power in Gods people coming together in unity while standing in the gap on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is power when we surrender everything to the Lord. For me this consists of surrendering the grief, the guilt, the bitterness, all of my desires, my dreams, my fears… letting go of it all.  I have to do this daily.  It’s hard, but it’s necessary.  I have to trust God that He will continue to grow beauty from the ashes.  I have no doubt He is sovereign.  I have no doubt He has a great plan for me.  He has a great plan for you.  I am praying Jeremiah 29:11 over all that are reading this, “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.”

I am excited to bring in a new year.  I am excited at what the Lord is doing.  I am looking forward to growing more in Christ, growing more in love, growing more into the woman the Lord has called me to be.  Though this has been by far the most trying and saddest year of my life, it has been the most God seeking, and love abounding year of my life as well.  When we have no place else to run but the arms of Christ—oh the love He lavishes on us.
I will forever be grateful for 2017.

As Danny Gokey sings, “Tell your heart to beat again.  Close your eyes and breathe it in.  Let the shadows fall away.  Step into the light of grace.  Yesterday’s a closing door.  You don’t live there anymore.  Say goodbye to where you’ve been.  And tell your heart to beat again.

Beginning—Just let that word wash over you.  It’s alright now.  Love’s healing hands have pulled you through.  So get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the sun.

Your story is far from over and your journey’s just begun…”

I pray 2018 is a year of restoration, a year of deep peace and joy overflowing.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”  1 Peter 5:10

It’s time to tell your heart to beat again…

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

It Is Well With My Soul

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Though these 6 words are so simple—It Is Well With My Soul—they are the difference between spiritual life and death. Literally.

For the last 10.5 months I have been dreading this holiday season. The first holidays without my Cody. When I allow my mind to think too much, my heart feels as if it will palpitate out of my chest. Memories of Cody holding tiny 8-month old baby Abby across his lap as she opened her first Christmas presents invade my mind. The smiles on both of their faces are forever burned in my memories. Never imagining his smile would forever vanish on this earth only 3 weeks later.

But…

It Is Well With My Soul.

No matter the pain, no matter the memories, no matter the grieving times… It Is Well With My Soul.

To say those words and mean them, is truly freeing.

I have such a pressing in my spirit to share what a good, good Father we have. His love is so real. His faithfulness is never failing. So many people base their trust in God on their circumstances—I’m so guilty of this too. But that only hurts us. It’s easy to love someone when they love us and give us what we may think we need or want… But to love when it’s hard—that is the true test of our character.

Our love relationship with our Heavenly Father is the most epic never ending, adventurous love story of all time. I don’t want to stop loving Him or seeking Him because His plans differ from what I had pictured for my life. His plans—though not of this world—are so much more beautiful than we can fathom.

Let go, and let God.

Let go of the hard stuff. Let go of the un-forgiveness. Let go of the shame and guilt. Let God take your burdens. Let God restore your relationships. Let God heal your life and make you white as snow.

He yearns for His children to say—‘It Is Well With My Soul’. No.Matter.The.Circumstances.

“Oh, my soul

You are not alone

There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know

One more day, He will make a way

Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

‘Cause you’re not alone…” Oh My Soul, by Casting Crowns

These song lyrics stir my spirit. They are words testifying that our troubles and trials do not have to dictate the status of our soul.

Jesus took care of that status at the cross. He sacrificed His life so we can say ‘It Is Well With My

Soul’.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. Though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:1-10

With God as my fortress— I have the confidence to enter a new year and a new season of deep healing as the Lord writes the rest of my story. I pray I will always sing… It Is Well With My Soul.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Higher Perspective

Higher Perspective

I leaned my head back against the seat, my face turned toward the small window to my right.  My eyes could not take in the beauty fast enough. They darted to the left, right, up and down.  My heart was pounding so fast.  I turned to my friend and said, “This is as close as I’ll get to heaven on this side of glory.”  The tears welled in the corners of my eyes thinking about my late husband… But they weren’t sad tears.  They were happy tears.  Seeing the beauty of the sky, the clouds the sun setting, the raw artwork of the greatest painter—God. The One who created the Heavens and the earth and all that lay in between.  He painted this sky I was flying in.  I couldn’t help but ponder how much more beautiful Heaven must be.  My tears were caught by the corner of my lips forming a smile out of such awe.  I whispered, ‘it’s a Higher Perspective from here’.

For the last several months the Lord has impressed upon me the words ‘Higher Perspective’ during my quiet time.  This past Sunday, my Pastor, Jason Harris at Evangelistic Temple spoke words that centered around having a Higher Perspective from our earthly seats. He referenced Hebrews 7:25 “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Knowing that we commune and have availability to partake in a personal relationship with The One who ‘lives to make intercession for us’ baffles my human mind.  Prior to Pastor Jason preaching this message revolving around Hebrews 7:25—I can’t say this scripture has ever stuck out to me in the past.  But wow, what weight it holds. Knowing Christ’s eternal purpose is to constantly be in intercession for us to the Father definitely gives me a Higher Perspective of my everyday life. Details, even mundane, seemingly unimportant details are not forgotten.

Having a Higher Perspective is focusing our minds eternally.

Even when we’re hurting.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 tells us, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to have that Higher Perspective in every faucet of my life.  I don’t want to be so engaged in self, and the worldliness that engulfs us that I forget to look up… that I forget to make a conscious effort to find that Higher Perspective in all things.

As a child I remember knowing who Jesus was.  I could sense Him in my spirit and have memories of praying and talking to Him at the young ages of 5 and 6.  As I grew older and came to realize not everyone believes in Christ or understands the concept of having a personal relationship with Him, but watching their lives I began to see how we are all searching for something.  Some of us it is the continual seeking to know Christ more.  Some of us fulfill that void (that ONLY a personal relationship with our Savior can fulfill) with riches of this world, lust, over-indulgences, titles, power… the list could go on.  Nothing satisfies like the love of our Jesus does.

If our perspective is focused horizontally and inwardly, we will never reach our full potential in who God has designed us to be.  When our focus is more vertical and outward—it opens our minds and hearts to new levels. It allows us to step back and allow God to dream for us even in the midst of devastation and loss.  After all His ways are much higher than our minds could ever begin to fathom.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

These scriptures beautifully depict that Higher Perspective that God has for us. I challenge us—my-self included—to search our hearts and minds and study our perspectives on our less than perfect lives and some downright scary circumstances. Where are we putting our hope and trust? If our perspective is one through the lens of Christ then we know that Romans 8:28 will prevail. “…That in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I pray daily for a Higher Perspective.  Whether in moments of gut wrenching grief, moments of unexplained peace, entering new seasons of life, facing un-answerable questions, charting new territory… I crave the wisdom to face all things with the grace and Higher Perspective that is rooted in knowing and surrendering to Christ.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Finding Healing

Finding Healing

Photo By Shala Gean

This picture speaks 1000 words. The water. The stump. The wind. The sky. The sadness. The beauty. The healing.

There is deep healing happening in this photo.

A moment can change our lives. On November 14—10 months to the day my husband never came home from the water during a fishing trip—I was on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. We decided to go to Vashon Island. The ferry ride to the island was a quiet one. My friend and I were eager to go to the island, but didn’t quite think it through. Being sensitive in the spirit like she is—she knew I was having trouble being on the water. It was an unspoken silence. But deep down I knew I needed to get to the other side of the water.

Arriving to Vashon Island—it was unique and beautiful. We drove miles to Point Robinson Park. As we were walking through the trails of the park—I felt the Lord walking with me. It was a visceral sensation. The trails parted and in front of us was a lighthouse overlooking miles of water. The beauty was breathtaking. The overcast skies were appropriate. They represented the deep sadness I carry in my heart. Though the skies loomed dark, they were encompassed with boundless beauty. They were engulfed in a sweet tranquility. I couldn’t get to the water’s edge fast enough. Walking the shoreline, I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew the Lord brought me to Washington, to this island, to this shoreline, in this moment for a special and deep healing in my heart.

I looked up and saw a stump overturned. Tears filled the corners of my eyes. “A serenity stump”, I whispered. Cody and I had a stump on the end of our pier—we called it a serenity stump. Lots of quiet time, prayers and laughter were shared on that stump. I made my way down the beach and climbed to the top of the stump. I knew it had been waiting for me.

I sat there in silence. Looking around me. Studying the water. Studying the waves. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run into the cold water. But I sat in silence as soundless tears streamed. In that moment I felt a release. My shattered, throbbing heart began to throb a little less. I gulped in cold air. The wind felt like it was turning my tears into ice. But it felt refreshing. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to sit in silence. It’s okay to reflect. It’s okay to heal. It’s okay to be excited about the future. It’s okay to let go of the guilt.

I don’t talk much about the guilt I felt over the death of my husband. I don’t talk about the guilt the enemy dangles at me daily since his death. But sitting on this stump, listening to the waves of the water crashing, taking in this raw beauty, I could hear the Lord telling me to lay the guilt down. It’s not mine to carry with me anymore—it never was mine to carry.

I could feel the Lord’s sovereignty blanketing me. Through all of the sadness this year, confusion, fear, grief, He still reigns supreme and boundless. He is still a good, good Father.

I am thankful to know my Heavenly Daddy on a deep and intimate level. When you can feel His unending love covering the depths of your heart, telling you to, “keep trusting, keep digging deeper, keep putting one foot in front of the other,” His love is unshakable, impenetrable, and always abounding.

“You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand” Hillsong

When we go through the deep waters of life, it’s so easy to want to run away. To run from God, but it’s through the deep waters The Lord has the greatest opportunity to mold us from the inside out. I am forever thankful for His molding in me. Though many times my flesh has fought to run—I’ve realized there is no power in running. Our power begins when we surrender our lives and tragedies to our Creator. He is never finished with us.

The story isn’t complete. My story isn’t complete. Your story isn’t complete.
Lean into the Lord through the joy, sadness, mundaneness, and deep grief of this life. Seek His will in all things. Let Him dream for you—His plans will far exceed our own. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior” Hillsong

I left a piece of my heart on Vashon Island.

Sitting on the ‘serenity stump’ at the water’s edge, I found healing.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

#Fearless

 

me&Abby

Photo by Brianne Campos Photography

“But now, this is what the LORD says—He who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Isaiah 43:1

Last week I had the honor of speaking at River of Praise Church in Palestine during their revival week.  While praying about what the Lord would have me speak the word fearless kept coming to mind.  Studying scriptures on the Lord commanding us to not fear, I could not get away from Isaiah 43:1.  I love the NLT version above as it uses the word summoned.

The definition of summoned is “to authoritatively or urgently call on someone to be present—especially in a courtroom of law.  You could be summoned as a witness.”

It is past tense—meaning The Lord has already summoned us.  We are His.  It is already done.  That alone should make us #fearless.  What are we so afraid of?

The feedback I received after speaking this message was confirmation that fear has undoubtedly seeped into our churches and in the hearts and minds of God’s people.  It has become an epidemic.  I want to do what the Lord has commanded of us hundreds of times in the Bible—‘DO NOT FEAR!’

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

These three scriptures should be etched into our minds.  These words should be our weapons against the enemy when he throws arrows of fear at us.  After speaking about the Lord calling us to be fearless—guess what happened?  The enemy tried to attack me with fear tactics.  Keyword tried.  Over the years I have come to recognize the enemy.  We are called to be warriors for the gospel of Christ.  Like any good warrior prior to stepping on the battlefield we need to study our enemy.  We need to understand his plan of attack so when it happens we can cast him down with the Word of God and stand fearless in our rebukes.

But what happens when we don’t draw our swords against attacks of fear?  Fear can become a momentary eclipse over glory.  I use the word momentary because John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Though fear/darkness will never defeat us when we have Christ as our Savior, fear can ail us.  Each time we fear, we give the enemy more power over us.  Our trust in the Lord falters when fear arises.

One of my favorite biblical testimonies is of David and Goliath found in 1 Samuel chapter 17.  Goliath of Gath a Philistine Champion was described as having a coat with the weight of five thousand shekels of bronze, he had a helmet of bronze on his head, bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spears head weighed six hundred shekels of iron, and a shield-bearer went before him.

David was just a young shepherd boy, the youngest of eight brothers.  Three of his brothers were with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah fighting the Philistines.  Per his father’s request, David took food to his brothers.  While in Elah David witnesses Goliath of Gath challenge any Israelite man to go to battle with him.  Goliath said if an Israelite man could defeat him to death then the Philistines would serve the Israelites and vice versa.  Goliath was feared by the Israelite army.  “All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.”  1 Samuel 17:24

But David did not fear Goliath.

“And David said to the men who stood by him… “ For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”” 1 Samuel 17:26

David went to Saul and requested he fight Goliath.  Saul said no.  “But David said to Saul “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father.  And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him down and delivered it out of his mouth… The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  1 Samuel 17:34-35, 37.

Can we take a second and think about David’s fearlessness?  His unhindered TRUST in God produced a fearless nature in him that I guarantee every man on that battlefield envied.  David knew the power of the Lord we serve.  He knew he had nothing to fear because the Lord was with him.

Having no armor and only 5 rocks and a sling David fearlessly approached Goliath.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 is some of my favorite words in the entire Bible.  “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.  For the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.”

David defeated Goliath with one stone and his sling.  Goliath falls to the ground and David grabs the giant’s sword and uses it to cut his head off.  The Philistines fled.

This was the beginning of David’s fearless nature and unshakable trust in the Lord.

I keep thinking about how much thicker the Bible would be if everyone the Lord summoned to be fearless in His name had been obedient to the calling and anointing on their life?

I don’t know about you—but I want to walk in a fearless obedience to the things the Lord has called me to do on this side of glory.

I want a faith so big that I run fearlessly into the battlefield ready to cut a giants head off —because I know Who fights for me.  I don’t want to fear anything.  I think we can all say that.  So why has fear made itself so cozy in our lives?

The past 9 months of my life have been what some would describe as fearful.  Being widowed at 27 with a 9 month old baby has ‘fear’ written all over it.

But God.

In April the Lord gave me a vision—I was standing on a rock in the middle of a large body of water.  I am alone physically.  I see the word fearless above me.  In my spirit the Lord is calling me to trust Him, to take His hand and live fearlessly with Him.  I think of this vision daily.

I am not going to lie and say the enemy doesn’t parade fear around me, and oh how easy it is to give into the fear of the unknown of life.  The fear of another devastating tragedy taking camp in my life.  The fear of being alone.  The fear of my daughter not having an earthly father.  The fear of being a single parent.  The fear of grief.

So.Many.Things.To.Fear.

I have to choose daily to be like David.  I choose to face my Goliath’s knowing that my God will never leave me or forsake me.  He will deliver me.  He will protect me.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4

We have nothing to fear when the Lord of hosts, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything in between, is holding us up.  Even when our lives seem turned upside down, we need to take our eyes off ourselves and look at our situations through the lens of the Gospel and Christ.  The sooner we understand that our lives are NOT ABOUT US, the sooner we will begin to truly live a life of fearlessness that eludes freedom.  Everything is designed for the Glory of God.  He is worthy of that glory, all of the time.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27:1

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

The Lord is calling all of us to be #fearless.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Diamond In The Rough

Diamond in the Rough by Erik Johansson

Photo Credit: Erik Johansson

A diamond in the rough. I’m sure you’ve heard this analogy before. The last several weeks I have had an urge to research the formation process of a diamond…and now I know why.

A diamond is a rare gem. A diamond is formed deep within the earth’s mantle at depths plunging to sometimes 118 miles. It is formed with carbon containing minerals that provide the carbon source. These minerals undergo high temperature and pressure to form a diamond in the rough. This growth occurs over periods from 1 billion years to 3.3 billion years. That is a long time to be “in the rough” before the diamond is discovered for its eternal purpose. Which brings me to my next point- the “discovery” process of the diamond in the rough is fascinating to me. I learned that nearly 50% of diamonds come from Africa. The diamonds that emerge to the surface of the earth were forced there by volcanic activity through kimberlite pipes. A kimberlite pipe is a pipe containing a vertical shaft and tunnels running from the main pipe. The mines run deep into the earth with hundreds of tons of rock, gravel and sand that need to be blasted, drilled, crushed and processed.

We are diamonds in the rough.

This is the revelation the Lord gave me during my research of diamonds. We are sometimes plunged deep into the chaos of this life. We face extreme pressures, we seem to always be under stress. Some of us experience devastation and tragedy to the degree of comparing our lives to an erupting volcano. We feel like we are being blasted, drilled, and crushed with trials and tumultuous seasons of life. These high temperatures, pressures, blasting, drilling, and crushing, all help mold us. Sometimes the molding reflects harshness, defeat, exhaustion, loss of hope, anger, bitterness, and depression. The beauty of the diamond (Jesus in you) cannot be seen. It is stuck in the rough.

And then the diamond in the rough reaches the market.

The destiny of the diamond in the rough changes here.

The diamond in the rough is purchased by a manufacture.

But the pruning process of the diamond in the rough isn’t over. It then reaches cutting centers. The diamond in the rough is examined intricately and then cut to yield the greatest value. “Taking into consideration the rough’s shape, as well as the quantity and position of its internal inclusions, the stone is marked and usually sawed. The stone then goes through a series of diamond cutters who each have their own specialty. Finally, the diamond is polished and cleaned.” Diamond Net

Just as the diamond in the rough is purchased by a manufacture, we were purchased with the blood of Jesus at the Cross. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior—it doesn’t mean we will have a pain free life. We will continue to be pruned. Our flesh will be cut and sawed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the goal of reflecting the image of Christ during our earthly lives—so we can yield the greatest value—an eternal life with Christ.

We are not defined by how we came into this world. We are not defined by how deep in sin we used to live. We are not defined by how many internal cuts and scars we have.

We are defined by who we are in Jesus.

We are marked by the blood of Christ. He chose us. He purchased us. He accepts us. He yearns for a personal relationship with us, His diamonds.

Henry Kissinger said, “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did really well under pressure.”

Through the trials, tribulations and the pressures we face during our earthly lives, we have the greatest opportunity to shine like a diamond. We have the greatest opportunity to represent our Heavenly Father here on this earth. Our seasons of “being in the rough”, may very well be the majority of this life—It doesn’t negate that we are diamonds, destined to shine the light of Christ.

When you look at a diamond, you don’t see the “rough” that underwent high temperatures, pressure, crushing, drilling, cutting and sawing. All you see is the beautiful gem in all of its glorious glimmer. You see the final product. You see this rough yielding its greatest value as a beautiful diamond, worn on your finger, or around your neck.

“…She is far more precious than jewels.” Proverbs 31:10

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

“So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7

When God looks at us, He sees a diamond. Through Jesus, we are able to yield our greatest value. We are able to walk with the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us. We have a new name and a new purpose. We are beautiful diamonds shining through our “rough”.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Sources: Wikipedia, diamondonnet.com/knowledge/

Keep Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other

Maternity 04.07.16 (47 of 72)

Photo By KT Photography

“I can’t go anymore,” I thought to myself. I was defeated. The sun was beating on my face, my shoulders, and arms. My feet felt like they were on fire. The sweat poured from my face as if someone had dumped a gallon of warm water on me.

Just when my feet were about to stop, I heard… “Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep doing that over and over. Focus on one step at a time… Keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

I smiled through my pain. He me made it look so easy. He made it sound so easy. Then I thought, “What if it really is that simple?” I could do that. I could keep putting one foot in front of the other. I turned to my right and watched this man, who I was falling in love with, cheer me on. He wasn’t giving up on me. He wanted me to succeed. He wanted me to become stronger. He was lovingly pushing me to the invisible finish line we had set.

My strength rose. My ears tingled listening to his Marine Corps Cadence’s, as he ran beside me.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other… and it will lead you to the finish line.

I woke up this morning with such heaviness in my heart. I feel pulled in many different direction in life as of late. As I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, my heart skipped as I saw a beautiful picture of my husband that my father in law had posted along with a story of how Cody’s soul lives on through the many lives he touched.

It wrenched my heart, it pierced my soul. I love hearing stories of how Cody impacted others through his testimony and passion for life. But it wrecks me to the core at the same time. My flesh screams that it was too soon for him to leave this earth. My flesh aches with not getting to hear his laughter and feel safe in his strong arms. Or get to see him hold my baby girl again. So many torments. So much that is unfair.

So many times the last 8 months I don’t think I have the strength to make it through a tough day. I hear these words… “Just Keep Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other”.

I can hear my Husband’s voice cheering me on.

But… to top his voice… I hear my Heavenly Daddy saying the same.

The words, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other” have helped me tremendously the last 5 years- since they were first spoken to me. Cody and I would often remind one another of them when we faced difficult things in what was our life together. We would repeat these words often while running together. One would give the other strength when needed. But these words have come to my mind countless times since Cody departed to his eternal home.

When I want to give up, throw in the towel, so to speak. Shut down, shut the world out. When I want to give up progressing and moving forward in what is now my new life… I hear the Holy Spirit prompting me… “Keep putting one foot in front of the other”.

As I an avid runner, I have many times thought of the analogy that our daily life and faith walk is much like running a race. There are many times during a difficult run that I am having an internal conflict. One part of me is screaming to walk or stop all together. The other part is passionately saying “Keep putting one foot in front of the other.” I am proud to say the latter usually wins that battle.

But what about the spiritual race I run daily? That is what really matters. Proverbs 4:25 instructs us to “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” When I meditate on this verse, I see a finish line in the distance.

What is the finish line?

Jesus.

My eyes are to remain on Him. He is the finish line.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24.

After the 5 days of searching for Cody’s body in the lake came to a devastating end, the next morning I woke up with a strength that can only come from the Lord. As soon as my eyes opened that morning, I had a strong urge to go for a run. My mom was staying with me during this time so she watched Abby while I ran. About 2 miles into my run, my feet slipped. I was running up a slight hill and millions of pine needles had shrouded the road. A truck had just passed me when my feet gave way and I fell to the ground. I felt the sting of the pavement against my right knee and shin. I had used my hands to block the majority of the fall so my hands were throbbing and scratched.

Without hesitation, I jolted up and continued my run. I pushed the minor embarrassment out of my mind and I ran even stronger than I did before I fell.

Walking this faith walk is not about never falling.

In fact, get ready to fall.

This faith journey is about how you get back up when this ugly world knocks you down. It’s about Who you turn your eyes to even when you’ve fallen. You have never fallen too hard or too far for you to call on the Name of Jesus. He will hear you. He will give you the strength you need and even some you didn’t know you needed.

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11.

Keep running your race.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Rise Up and Walk Right

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Do you ever feel like you’ve reached a Y in the road regarding your life?  I am sure most of you are shaking your head “Yes”.  I am at that fork in the road so to speak.  I am standing in front of this gigantic Y.  Not moving.  Just standing still.  I envision myself looking way down each road.  The road on the left is glittery and shining beautifully, calling to me, enticing me.  I just want to run into the fun glitter.  It appears to be the easier path.  But I can only see the beginning of that road.  I only see the glittering lights.  I don’t know how far those lights actually shine.

Then I look to the road to the right.  It’s kind of dark in the beginning— I would have to be brave to step into that unknown darkness.  I envision myself having to put on armor to protect myself against any enemies or any discomfort.  But I can see further down that road.  The path brightens up.  An out of this world brightness of colors shine to no avail.  And keeps going and going into more illuminating purity.  But it’s so dark in the beginning.  How could I bravely step into the darkness not knowing when I will actually reach the luminescence?

I’m still just standing there.  I’m straining my neck and standing on the tips of my toes.  I’m trying to see further down each road.  But I cannot.

I step toward the left a little, the glitter has me mesmerized.  But I hesitate.  That still small voice that has guided my life for so long is telling me to go back.  I run back to the beginning of the Y.  I look to the right.  My flesh does not want to step into the unknown.  It doesn’t look pretty and captivating until way down the road.  My flesh has been through so much.  I just want a break.  I just want instant glitter and shininess.  I just want to walk left.  No more trials, no more tests, no more loneliness.  My flesh is tired.  My flesh is weak.

But God.

Can I take a moment and say that those two words are two of the most powerful words in my vocabulary book.

But God…with these two words the plans of the enemy become ruined and undone.

I fall to my knees in between these two roads.  My flesh is torn.  “… you shall weep no more.  He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry.  As soon as he hears it, he answers you.  And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.  Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images.  You will scatter them as unclean things.  You will say to them, “Be gone!”  Isaiah 30:19-22

I know in my spirit, this is a pivotal moment in my walk with the Lord.  I bow my face before Him.  I am reminded of trials in the past.  I am reminded of being in the middle of life and death situations.  Physical death and spiritual death.  I am remembering the darkness of those trials.  I remember Who saved me.  I remember who I am.  I am a Daughter of the most High King.  I am a Daughter to the creator and King of the Universe!  I am made for a time such as this.  I am an overcomer.  I have the wisdom of the Lord.  I have overcome by the blood of the lamb and by the Word of my Testimony.  I may be weak, but He is strong.  I may be weary, but He gives me my strength.  He never leaves me.  He never forsakes me.  He makes a way out of danger.   The power of God tears down the veil.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, and He has given me new life.  Though I fall, He makes me new again.

Lauren Daigle sings the perfect words, “You plead my cause, You right my wrongs, You break my chains, You overcome, You gave Your life to give me mine, You say I am free, How can it be?”

For years I have struggled with perfectionism.  I have tried to maintain an image of perfection, an image without stains.  God is bringing me to a place of transparency in my walk with Him.  Perfection doesn’t exist.  If it did, we would not need Jesus.  There is a world full of broken people who are at a fork in the road.  I can feel the loss of strength in them.  I am here cheering you on, I am here shouting, “Rise Up!” The Lord is your strength.  His Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. (Psalm 119:105)

Now Rise Up, and Walk Right.

It may be dark and quiet for a little while, but His light will guide every single step on the path He has ordained for your feet.  And oh, once you reach the pure luminescence, you will understand the battle will have been worth it.  The momentary darkness, the fear of the unknown, and the discomfort of your flesh was all preparing you for an eternal victory.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Make Me Broken

Fear of the Lord

Lord, Make Me Broken…

I didn’t know this is what it would feel like to be broken.  When I prayed that prayer, I didn’t know what I was praying.  I prayed to be broken, so I could be healed.  What does that even mean?  They say “why fix something if it’s not broken?”  Why pray to be broken so you can be healed?

About 2 years ago, the Lord was drawing me deeper to Him.  I remember being on my face begging the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His.  I didn’t know this is what it would feel like.  I didn’t think about the “breaking” process, until now.  The song “Keep Making Me”, by Sidewalk Prophets comes to mind.  “Make me broken, so I can be healed, ‘Cause I’m so calloused and now I can’t feel.  I want to run to You with my heart wide open.  Make me broken.  Make me empty so I can be filled.  Cause I’m still holding onto my will.  And I’m completed when you are with me.  Make me empty.  Until You are my one desire, until You are my true Love.  Until You are my breath, my everything.  Make me lonely so I can be Yours.  Until I want no one more than You, Lord.  Cause in the darkness I know you will hold me.  Make me lonely.”

Who in their right mind would pray this prayer?  I didn’t really know what I was praying for.  Until this moment.  Until relentless episodes of grief have hit during this new season of my life.  I get it now.  I get what broken is.  I get what empty is.  I get what lonely is.

And I am thankful.

Through the pain, confusion, tears, I am thankful to be broken, thankful to be empty, thankful to be lonely.  Because that means I can see the Lord shine bigger in my life.  I can feel His presence overpowering the brokenness, emptiness, and loneliness.  I feel his love in an all-consuming way. When I am weak, His strength comes in and turns everything around for His glory.  “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31.

I don’t want to be “complete” in myself.  I don’t want to be “full” in myself.  I don’t want to be so distracted by this world that I don’t know what loneliness feels like.  If I didn’t experience life altering brokenness, I wouldn’t be experiencing the depths of God’s Love.  I wouldn’t be able to witness firsthand Him build something beautiful out of the broken pieces.  After all He is the Master creator.

Walking this faith journey has made me more sensitive to real things.  By “real things” I mean getting out of the way of God’s plan.  I mean stepping out of my comfort zone when He calls me to do so.  I mean helping others even when I may not feel like it.  I mean getting myself off my mind, even on a grieving day.  I mean trusting in God when I see only darkness surrounding me.  Those are real things.

Jessica is weak.  Jessica is broken.  Jessica is empty.

But God.

With God, Jessica is strong.

With God, Jessica is made whole.

With God, Jessica is filled up.

It is a freeing place to be to admit I am weak, broken and empty.  I am nothing without God.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Make me broken.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.