11 Years as a Christian

Today marks 11 years that I have been a Christian!! I am still so grateful that God saved me. My life has been forever changed.

Jesus truly is the answer to everything and He is our unshakable hope. I was once dead, but now alive. I was blind, but now I see. 

I can’t wait for Him to come back and redeem all things to Himself… soon. 

If anyone is interested in learning more about Christianity, my inbox is always open!! 💗

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”—Romans 10:9

How to Overcome the Fear of Loss

Have you ever been let down in a big way?

Maybe a failed relationship.

Perhaps childhood experiences that left you unable to feel as though you could trust anyone.

Or even a death of a parent, friend, or child.

It changes you doesn’t it?

The slow sting of brokenness and death almost become paralyzing.

Will I ever love again? Will I ever trust again? Is it even possible for me? I am afraid to get hurt. I’m petrified of experiencing loss and grief again. It’s easier to stay back in the safety and comfort of isolation.

I struggled with these feelings A LOT. The experiences of brokenness in my home as a child led me to believe I should expect the worst will happen to me. And then as an adult, sometimes the worst did happen. The death of my father in my 20s was at the top of the list.

What do we do when we’ve experienced loss after loss and disappointment after disappointment?

It is easier to stay safe and not open ourselves up to the opportunity of another loss.

It’s easy to say we’re a “strong independent woman who doesn’t need anyone.”

But what kind of life is that? What if God was offering you more?

I met Matt (my now husband) in the late summer of 2019. We dated and sadly most of the time I was waiting for the next shoe to drop.

My previous relationships clearly didn’t work out, so why would this one? There were times I struggled with a deep sense of fear of loss. In a weird way, I looked for the “red flags” and reasons for it not to work. Reasons for me to to stay in the “safe, dark, motionless, airless” casket as C.S. Lewis would say.

But the red flags weren’t there. The reasons for me to walk away weren’t there. The self-preservation wasn’t needed. God was with me.

I had to ask this very serious, but simple question:

Where does my trust lie?

If my trust lies with myself or in man, it will always be broken because this world is broken. I will get hurt again. I will be let down. I will be disappointed. We live in a fallen world and even our best friends will fail us.

But do you know what will never fail us?

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.—Psalm 18:2

You see, we can’t go through life trying to be our own refuge, our own shield, our own deliverer.

Jesus makes it very clear what will happen if we try to save ourselves:

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” — Matthew 16:25

The moment we attempt to play God over our life, is the moment we’ve lost; we’re out of step with the will of God.

Can the will of God for my life be heartbreak? Or grief?

Well, if you believe that God is the creator of all things, that everything holds together through Him, that He knows the number of hairs on your head, the days of life you will live, that He thought of you before the foundation of the world, and named every star in the sky… If you believe in this almighty, all-powerful God who is in full control of all things – then yes.

Of course we know from scripture that He hates to see His children suffer. But for reasons that are above our understanding, He allows certain events to happen in our life (even horrible, terrible, seemingly pointless ones) that ultimately weave together into the promises that He has for those who follow and trust Him.

What good could come out of such loss and suffering? is a question I’m sure the disciples thought as they watched their Lord get crucified. But little did they know the good that really was to come from that horrific event!

Job experienced more tragedy than most of us will ever face in a lifetime. He had every reason in the world to develop a hard heart. But look what God did through his life and how much the story of Job has helped millions of people throughout history.

In a strange way, I am thankful for many of my hardships. They have not only humbled me and shaped me, but they have shown me the love of God in deep and tangible ways — ways I may have never have understood had I not suffered.

So how do we overcome the fear of loss?

Like any other fear — we face it head on. We surrender it to God. We trust that when we get hurt, disappointed, or lose a loved one, God will never leave us nor forsake us. We remind ourselves that this world is not our home. It is a dim depiction of what is to come.

We can hold loosely to the things of the earth because we are held tightly by the arms of our father.

Life is fallen and broken here. We can choose to hide and protect ourselves OR we can put our faith in the one who calms a storm with the mere sound of His voice.

You get to decide every single day.

My days look different now. 🙂

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” — 1 Corinthians 2:19

FAITHFUL OVER LITTLE

It’s been a weird, but helpful season for me. Two months before I got married, I was laid-off from my job due to Covid-19. I was really upset because not only did I loved my job, but I would be entering our marriage unemployed. Luckily the months following the lay-off were extremely busy – planning a wedding, moving, home renovations, actual wedding, honeymoon, and holidays. 

But then came January 2, 2021 and everything was over. My to-do list dwindled, my errands became one errand (weekly grocery shopping), and sinking thoughts of “What do I do today?” filled my mind daily.

I became a full-time housewife, which for many women, that’s a dream! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but for me, I have always loved being out in the community and working with people. Plus I assumed I’d be a stay-at-home mom for a while once we started having kids, but staying home now? 

As I began to pray more fervently and share my thoughts with my husband and gal pals, I kept thinking about a few verses:

Matthew 25:23 – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Luke 16:10 – “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

Proverbs 28:25 – The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.

FAITHFUL OVER LITTLE. The conviction set in.  Am I okay with what God has given me today – even if it’s what appears to be “little” to me? Am I okay with spending my day on making my husband’s meals, cleaning our house, washing clothes, etc.? It is the complete opposite of the lifestyle I am used to. I mean I cooked and cleaned for myself, but that was in between my “real work.” Spending all of my time in that regard was vastly different than I ever imagined before children.

BUT, do I trust that the Lord knows what’s best for me? The common theme in the verses above is not the work itself, but the heart of the matter. Am I being faithful in the little and remembering that whatever I do “in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, givings thanks to God the Father through him”..?

Jesus is always more concerned with our heart rather than the work. We learned that all throughout the Gospels as He ministered about the Kingdom of Heaven and called out their Pharisees for being “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28).

I decided to start ministering to women online. I figured since I am home caring for my husband and looking for a job, I could also devote time to pursuing my dream of starting a ministry. And well, I don’t know if you know anything about producing and growing online content, but it is HARD and EXHAUSTING!!! I watched YouTube videos and read articles about “growing your platform” and I just wanted to curl up into a hole.

Friends, there are SO MANY tricks and techniques and you basically have to live online. I quickly realized, I am not made for dedicating my life to growing an online ministry and that it would have to be a miracle from God to have a large following online to minister to. And then I thought, “Why do I need a large following?” Yes, more followers, would mean more people hearing the truths of the Gospel, but what about being faithful over little?

Culture emphasized more, more, more. But as Christians, we are set apart. We are not like the culture and God often does incredible things in the little. Look at Christianity. It started with Jesus teaching 12 below-average guys. And yet, here we are 2,000 years later, still reading about those little, but significant lives that God used to bring the Gospel to the world. Do you know what we often don’t read about? The little everyday teachers, mentors, moms, dads, siblings that live a life unto the Lord and teach His truths to others. Most are often not written about or publicly recognized, but their faithfulness over little will be rewarded with the much of Heaven. So whether three women or 30,000 women, I know the Lord would want me to be faithful with whomever He sends and trust Him with that.

AND THEN LAST WEEK I RECEIVED A JOB OFFER. It is for a ministry doing incredible, Kingdom work! But then they showed me the salary – significantly lower than what I am used to getting paid. After a day of contemplation with God and a few friends, those three beautiful, yet convicting words came to mind – faithful over little. Could our family survive with this salary and my husbands? Yes. Would we be able to save as much? Probably not. Would I have stricter boundaries around my online purchases, LOL? Yes. (sorry Amazon) But again, this was the Lord’s invitation to be faithful with what He has given. 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). And what a good gift it would be to work at advancing His Kingdom, while being given means to live. For the believer, there is no good thing that He withholds (Psalm 84:11). Being a housewife, having a small ministry following, and a work-from-home job with a lower salary are the good things that He has for my life right now – regardless of my feelings or my thoughts or my perspective. He is ALWAYS right. He is ALWAYS faithful. And He is ALWAYS loving. And because I know His character and what He’s sacrificially already done for me on the cross 2,000 years ago, I can trust Him in the little and in the big. He is faithful because I’m often not. May God be the glory. Amen.

3 months of marriage.

I still can’t believe I’m married, let alone celebrating three months of marriage today! Never would I have imagined the story God has written for my life and/or the events leading up to October 25, 2020 (my wedding day). I met Matt (my husband) in September 2019 after only living in New Jersey for a month. After about two months of friendship and some fun dates, he asked me to be his girlfriend. And after eight months of being his girlfriend, he asked me to be his fiancé. After three months of being his fiance, I became his wife. I know many would say we are in our “honeymoon phase” of marriage, but truly, it’s been the sweetest three months of my life.

MARRIAGE IS A GIFT FROM GOD
I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get married and frankly there were times when I didn’t know if I even wanted to! Once I became a Christian at 24, I wanted to dedicate my life to telling others about the truth, hope, and freedom of Jesus. I thought a spouse could possibly be a distraction. BUT the more I learned about the covenant between God and His people, as well as the beauty and joy of marriage and family, there was a part of me that desired to have that. I grew up in a difficult home with multiple divorces and lots of instability. I hadn’t really experienced what a healthy marriage or family looked like until I started hanging out with families at my church. And after babysitting and dinners at these families’ houses, I knew I wanted those things and that they were good gifts from above. It’s so weird to think that nowadays if you’re a woman and desire a husband and children, it can be looked at as a “weakness” because we are supposed to be “strong, independent women who don’t need a man.” But why? Before I was a Christian, I used to buy into that narrative for a sense of identity and worth, but I was so wrong. I love having a husband and being his wife and cooking, cleaning, and serving him because I love him. He loves me SO WELL and my natural response is to do the same. He is my lover, my protector, and my best friend. He’s my partner in this life to help me, correct me, embrace me, and lead me. He is by far God’s greatest gift to me outside of salvation; marriage is such a gift.

Trust God with a future spouse
Thinking through these past three months, I’ve also been reflecting on the waiting/hoping for marriage season. I’d love to write more on singleness (stay tuned for future blog posts). But I’ll be real and say that it was a rollercoaster at times! FRIENDS, I didn’t meet Matt until I was 32!!! Which I know isn’t as old as I’m making it out to be, but when most of your friends around you are getting married and poppin’ out kids, it can be discouraging. However, I will say if I didn’t have those many (and I do mean many) years of singleness, I don’t think I’d be as close to Jesus as I am, or have as deep of an affection for His Word. Being single gives you a lot more freedom in stewardship of time (which can be good or bad). But during my single years, I am SO THANKFUL I gave much of my time to my church, education, family, friends, mentoring young women, leading Bible studies, mission trips, apologetics, etc. I really think the Lord used those areas to help in my sanctification (i.e. being made more into the image of Jesus). But do you know what else helped in my sanctification? Bad dates and failed relationships. 

Let me tell you, dating kinda sucks in 2019+!!! If you’re reading this and have been married for 5+ years, you may not get what I mean. So let me explain – All the dating apps and websites, the wishy-washy, social-media infused dating experience can be just terrible. If you were sitting across from me on my couch right now, I’d have plenty of stories to tell you, just ask my friends Whitney or Taylor. BUT, to be an encouragement to any single friends reading this, there ARE incredible, godly men (and women) out there! They could be on the dating site, or they could be at your church, but they are there!! Since my job for literally 5 years was to meet people and still did not meet my spouse, I was pretty discouraged. Yes, I was on staff at a church and it was literally part of my job to meet new people at weekend services. For a while I struggled with “There really must be something wrong with me..” But then I would get the confusing question people asked me “How are you still single?” Which gave me some sense of relief that maybe I am normal and it wasn’t my fault. LOL (not joking) But after many heartbreaks and disappointments of falling in love with the idea of someone, I finally started to realize that the answer to how or why I was still single is: the sovereignty of God. 

Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

Lamentations 3:37-38 – Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?

Matthew 10: 29-31 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Yes, I believe it was God’s gracious, loving, perfect plan that kept me spouse-less for all those years. He is my loving Father and no good thing does He withhold from me (Psalm 84:11), and the reality is, if I didn’t have it, it wasn’t a good thing for me at that time (no matter how much I thought otherwise). And although I think I stewarded much of my single years well, there were some very hard times when I felt deep despair and doubt. BUT God being richin mercy kept me close to Him (even when I didn’t feel Him at times). I love Ephesians 1:11-12: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

So whether married, single, widowed, divorced, childless, or a house full of crazy children – TRUST IN THE LORD ALWAYS. Even when things feel horrendous and out of control and you want to give up, CLING TO THE GOSPEL. Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us and as women of the truth, we must trust in the truth of the gospel above everything else.

another year.

Today marks another year of life the Lord gave me. Wow. What a gift!  It’s so easy to walk this earth in assumption of another day, another week, another month, and dare I say another year. But every breath is a grace from Him, the One whom by day commands His steadfast love and by night gives me a song of mercy to sing. He is the God over my life. If we only knew even the tip of the iceberg of miracles He performs in our lives on a moment-by-moment basis, I think our response would be nothing more than to melt into a puddle. 
I remember last December 9, I was at my new job in New Jersey, teaching the Bible to a group of incredible ladies. I couldn’t wait to go home that night because my new-ish boyfriend, Matt, would take me to dinner to celebrate. Little did we know that just a few months later, a global pandemic would begin, my new-ish boyfriend would turn into my fiancé, I would get laid off from the job I moved to New Jersey for, my little brother and sister would each have babies, I would move to a new house, plan a wedding, my fiancé would turn into my husband, and by December 9, 2020, life would be completely different – all graces and mercies of God (even the hard moments). By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me. The best days, the worst days, the confusing days – Jesus is the same. His love never ends. His salvation is free, and His words are true. I am so thankful for His unfailing love for me and for you. I pray for many more years to advance His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Praise His Name Forever!

first week of marriage.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9

I have been married for almost a week now to the most incredible man I’ve ever known! He’s my best friend and my favorite partner to do ordinary daily life with. I can’t imagine a day without him. 💕

And as sweet as that may sound, I know it’s no where near as amazing as it will be to stand in the presence of Jesus one day.

Which I know to some, that might sound crazy! But if we belong to the Lord, we know that even the most incredible, beautiful gifts on earth are just dim depictions of eternity.

My wedding day was so beautiful and outside of my salvation, the most important day of my life.

But The Wedding Day when Christ is finally reunited with His bride (the church), will be a day that no eye has seen or eat heard, or heart imagined… We will finally be one with our Maker.

but take heart.

One of my favorite attributes of God is his sovereignty. It has brought not only a deep sense of comfort in hard moments, but provided a lens to see all of life through. I think back to conversations I had with my unbelieving dad about what God was doing in my mind and heart when I first became a Christian at age 24. He would listen and often say, “Well, that’s great to hear, Pumpkin” (he rarely called me by my real name). As time went on, he began to ask questions about eternity, salvation, morality, science, etc. He was being drawn to the things of heaven. His 58th birthday was coming up in September 2015. I decided to be a little bold and purchased a large-printed (he liked anything large-print) bible. I went through this Bible and highlighted answers to many of the questions and conversations we had. I put tabs that said topics like heaven, suffering, hope, salvation, science, and miracles. One of my favorite scriptures I had highlighted under the tab of peace was John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” My dad had fairly severe neuropathy, diabetes, and other health conditions that made his everyday life very difficult. I reminded him quite often of the hope and comfort in the life to come if he put his trust in Jesus. He liked John 16:33 because it affirmed the hardship of his life, but spoke of a peace from another world that seemed possible to have right now. I remember picking apart this verse with him over the phone. I said, something along the lines of, “Dad look what it’s saying…”

I have said these things to you – Jesus first reminded the disciples of who He was. For Jesus to have been able to tell them everything we read in chapter 16 and before, they would have to recognize He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and fully sovereign over all things. Literally in verse 28 He said He came from the Father into the world, and was about to go back to the Father. He’s the Kingdom on earth.

…that in me you may have peace – He reminded them of what they have in their relationship with Him – something that nothing this world could offer – true peace. He is their unbreakable rock, their strength, their hope, their salvation – they would soon know, he was the Savior of the world.

In the world you will have tribulation – Jesus doesn’t say they might have hard times, he says they will. He’s preparing them for the days to come in which he would be crucified, but also the reality for life here in the fallen world.

But take heart – Don’t lose hope; be encouraged because…

I have overcome the world – He shared the hope and saving grace that was about to come – Jesus conquered it all. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live, He died the death we deserve to die, and just when things looked horrible and impossible, He raised himself from the dead to give us new life with Him. He won.

I remember shortly after my dad received this Bible, something in his heart began to soften. That December, he sent me a birthday card with words that were different than anything he’d written before. He said, “You have done so much in a short amount of time. But I’m most proud of you getting saved by God. -I’m so thankful-“  My eyes filled with tears. Was God answering my prayer for my dad’s salvation? A few months later, I got a call from my aunt letting me know my father was admitted into the hospital. I flew to Indiana to receive the news he had Stage4 cancer and his body was shutting down. I sat in his hospice room for six days reading scripture to him, praying, and laughing. One night he looked at me and said, “Pumpkin, you were right this whole time. Jesus is real and I’m going to see him soon. I wasted so much time here, but not anymore.” Three days later, on May 26, 2015 my dad looked up smiling and said “I can see it, I see it,” and closed his eyes to pass into glory a few hours later. That night, John 16:33 became a reality for my dad. He experienced what Jesus conquered for him, for you, and for me.  “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13