a spiritual challenge I encountered while watching Wonder Woman

in faith / inspiration

This post might seem random, but Holy Spirit has been teaching me about strength. And we recently watched the new Wonder Woman movie. So there’s that.

Besides her tear through “No Man’s Land” in the film (definitely my favorite part), her battles throughout the movie feel extra realistic – her inner wrestle with good and evil, belief in humanity and in herself, confidence and uncertainty.

On the car ride home, God prompted me to take a look at my “stance,” if you will. What I saw was insecurity, fear and shame, shrinking back and letting discouragement rule.

Not a strong battle stance for a child of Almighty God, right?

I read in Romans 13, The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.… put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Do you hear confidence dripping from those phrases? I do.

John Piper’s encouragement on these verses lights a serious fire in my soul,

“Put on Jesus Christ” means put him on as the parachute because you are skydiving behind enemy lines. It means put him on as the high-impact, protective, anti-explosive suit when you disarm the bombs of the devil. It means put him on as the fire-proof suit when you rescue sinners from the flames of hell. It means put him on as a bullet-proof vest when you confront the pistols of sin and unbelief. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means put him on as a badge that admits you to all the resources of heaven that you need to do his will. It means put him on as the best intercom system that ever was so that there can be constant communication with the one whom you love above all others and who is himself everything you need.

Then I experienced Wonder Woman in all her sword-yielding, armor-wearing, stick-it-to-them glory.

Her lasso of truth, her powerful sword, armor on her wrist that treat bullets as if they were candy. In the scene I referred to earlier, her storming “No Man’s Land” to save a village from a German stronghold was ignited by kindness for the people, and an attitude of power and confidence in who she was.

Quite inspiring.

Even then, I began preaching to myself, 

You are a child of God! Put on His armor, wear Jesus as your protection and provision, and fight the good fight of faith

And I encourage you with the same message! Let’s fight dishonesty, gossip, negativity, insecurity and shame. Let’s battle unbelief and doubt. Let’s fight for Truth, strong and confident, for holiness and for God’s glory!

When you put on the armor of light—daily (or hourly!) fresh faith in Christ, hope in Christ, love for Christ—it is hard for the works of darkness to cling to you. They are pushed out by the light. If your eye is good (if you see Christ as your treasure) your whole body will be full of light. John Piper

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thoughts from a sick day

in faith

I write this post from my couch.

Where I’ve been sitting for the past 8 hours.

Surrounded by books, pillows and blankets, a tea mug, a water glass, and tissues.

Yes, I have a cold, with a fever attached.

Although seriously bummed I couldn’t go about my normal day, for it was full with a need for productivity and a fun meeting over God’s Word, Holy Spirit has been teaching.

First, I struggle with sitting still. I’m fidgety, restless, and almost always multi-tasking.

“We often use outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises.” Henri Nouwen

In the quiet is where I experience His presence, because He doesn’t shout over the television. On a day like today, stillness is where I encounter Him. Reading His words, I am refreshed, and challenged.

Second, a friendship with Jesus means honesty with Him.

This is a lesson I learned earlier this year.

“God insists on artless transparency to enable Him to mold me into a woman of grace and beauty, a woman who listens and hears and knows Him down deep… When I confess my flaws, my guilt, my failures, my frustrations, to God, He takes the softest washcloth to my mess and bathes me in beauty. I lean into His warmth, breathing in the scent of Him, wanting more.” Diane Comer

It took multiple circumstances, and Holy Spirit’s gentle convicting, to help me see that I’m not honest with God. It’s a funny idea, though, since He knows my thoughts long before I think them. I held things in own strength, pretending for appearances, weighed down by legalistic guilt and fighting spiritual battles on the grounds of deeds. 

Read more…

what will it be like to look into God’s eyes?

in faith

My friend Emily is doing exactly that.

I say ‘friend’ a little loosely, because while I went to the same school as she and her other three siblings, and even knew the family well, my younger sister was much closer to each sibling.

That’s usually how it is with our grade school though, once you get in and get connected, you’re family for life.

Emily is their youngest daughter, and second youngest child, and through a car accident over the weekend, is looking into the eyes of Jesus.

From what I know of Emily, she was a free spirited, cheerful, compassionate to everyone, beautiful soul, who loved life and reached people with the message of Jesus and love in a unique way. 

Upon hearing the news, my sister and I both start weeping. As more hours pass, the seemingly endless flow of tears fades slightly, and it then comes in waves.

In my honesty to Holy Spirit, I wonder if she was in pain, and pray she wasn’t. I ask for the most tangible of God’s presence with each family member and close friend. I imagine what she must be experiencing – whole, beautiful, gazing into the eyes of Love and Light, Father and Friend.

I then am prompted to focus on reality: this life, birth to our last day on this earth, is fragile, fleeting, temporary, and not where we truly belong.

And I ask, Abba… do I love You more than this life?

Fear makes an attempt at my mind, shouting that I don’t know what’s around the corner, that things can seem hopeless. Anxiety makes a stab at my heart, threatening to move in and make itself at home, telling me to white-knuckle hold on people and my own effort, to avoid pain (which we all know is impossible).

But He is there. Letting me run through my feelings, letting me race through my self-reflection, wrestling with lies to embrace Truth.

I write in my journal,

being with You is what You have always wanted for me, what You still want for me.

being with You has been Your plan from the very beginning in the garden. it’s why You sent Jesus, it’s why You made a way.

thank You for the gift of Your Spirit, a gift of love, to be present with me constantly now. a part of You, to be my life Companion until the day I arrive at Your true side.

leaving this life is how that happens for me. dying here means being there, being home, with You.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world,” Jesus says (John 17:24).

I ask for His help, because I sometimes have a hard time putting all the wonders of this life, as marvelous and beautiful and lovely as they are, in their proper places. There are so many joys that we get to taste here — family, friends, adventures. And I am a deep feeler, an emotional, passionate being. I soak up life with my whole self, and am unabashed in it.

But I know, in the gut of my soul, that nothing can compare to the pure delight of unbroken, constant fellowship with Jesus.

I needed a new mindset. A new perspective. And something about picturing Emily at His side, walking Heaven’s grounds, radiating peace, love and joy, is profound. 

It’s still incredibly, incredibly difficult. We lose temporarily, because we aren’t There yet. While some are There, many are here. Thankfully, He is with us in our confusion, He is present in our anger and pain. He is near when we are broken, and He surrounds us as we grieve. 

But one thing is sure, a glorious reality, that the worst of the worst for each of us, death, delivers us to our greatest Love, our forever Home, to the side of our Heavenly Father.

Friends who knew Emily, friends who have lost a loved one… shed tears to fill buckets, but remember that these streams of tears running down our faces will beam a little with joy when we continue to see our loved one’s death as an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17 of being with Him to see His glory.

This may turn out to be one of the greatest tests of faith, so I encourage you, and myself, to lean in to God, pour out your heart to Him, and cling to His Words.

I don’t always do it well, but He says even my mustard seed faith is enough. 

Jesus grieved himself so that we will never have to endure hopeless grief in the face of death.

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better…… Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” Paul in Philippians 1

I know what I said….

in lifestyle

“I desire to more clearly and confidently get my direction, my passion, my ideas, my motivation, from Jesus, from my loved ones, from trusted counselors, not from what and how others are appearing via Instagram, ” I shared.

“I hope to no longer be distracted during a great moment, because I’m trying to find a way to document it well or beautifully,” I wrote.

“I am passionate that this is a faithful choice with the Father and will make space for more growth spiritually and experience of Him,” I said.

And praise be to God, all these things have become reality, even in 5 short (short?) months.

I dove headfirst into discipleship. Began teaching middle school girls sunday school and mentoring a young friend each week. New friendships were found and cultivated, full of laughter, discovery, and excitement. I looked up from my screen in the grocery store or restaurant, and saw people more clearly. I asked questions, and listened. I laughed, prayed with, encouraged and shared my own deep feelings. I’ve discovered a deep love and fascination with people and their stories, that’s probably been a small seed my entire life, but is now a full-blown flower.

Oftentimes, I wouldn’t carry my phone on me, because the compulsion to share or document a moment was removed. I said more “thanks” under my breath to Heavenly Father than ever before, because the fullness of a moment took up all my senses. I allowed the weight of a joyful interaction or sad, confusing situation to sit, instead of escaping to the distraction of scrolling through a feed. I love capturing moments with my camera – it’s truly one of my favorite hobbies – but the freedom of not chasing down a particular instance, but to simply enjoy it, was amazing. What I did document, I discovered a desire to pair it with conversation or memory, not to share it with the world.

And the greatest of all, like I hoped and prayed, more space was made for spiritual revelation, and presence of God. Wowzers. I have encountered Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in new ways, unearthing treasures and growth I wasn’t even aware I needed or desired. I’ve learned new things about myself, even a few painful realizations that begged for His healing and touch.

I asked, and He is faithful. Graciously and lovingly chipping away mindsets that were unhelpful, weighed me down, and distracted me from Him and abundant life.

In case you’re wondering, I will continue not posting or checking my social media accounts, but I would like to jump back into public writing with this blog.

I didn’t realize how much I would miss it, though the break was super healthy for me. But in the words of my kind and encouraging best friend, “You have a gift. Why keep that to yourself?”

Having an internet following for this blog, being known for writing good content, or even validation by kind words from friends are not the goal. Focusing on those things only cause me anxiety, and they tempt me with the lie that success and reputation are more important than treasuring God wholeheartedly. NOT a good place for me.

One desire is 1 Peter 2:9-10:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

I hope to do this with my life – proclaim the goodness and greatness of God – but writing is a pastime I enjoy. This blog is another way to speak out for Him, to tell anyone who reads of the night-and-day difference He made, and continues to make, for me. From nothing, to something. From rejected, to eternally accepted.

The struggles, the joys, the lessons learned, the funny stories, the sad realities — He is the greatest adventure and romance, always.

Another goal is to refresh and be present in my small corner of humanity with words, whether they are mine or another’s.

So here we go… 5ish months of a much-needed, uplifting, marvelous blog break, but I’m too excited not to write here.

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