“I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain joined to me, and I to you, you will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me…When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to my Father. It shows that you are my disciples.”
John 15:5-8, NIRV
A couple of weeks ago, I got to share with my pre-teen students about how to continually keep learning. This is something that I have learned over the years, I always want to be a learner no matter what season I find myself in. I want to grow in wisdom and maturity, because God calls me to follow Him and not become satisfied by being stationary. I think we can all look back at past versions of ourselves and be thankful that we are not the same person. I know for me, I’m thankful I’m not still middle school Joshua, high school Joshua, or even early twenties Joshua (turning the bog 27 in October, what what!). When we look at our younger selves, we weren’t as mature as we are now, and we should never stop learning and growing.
“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.”
I’ve learned in life that there are always going to be awkward unknown moments. They happen and it’s normal, but doesn’t always feel great. I’m sure you’ve been invited to a party where you knew one person, but at the party that person leaves and you’re forced to talk to strangers. Or maybe you flash back to a first day of school and you have to figure out where to sit. When I think about these moments in my life, there are people who stand out that made the effort to be that joyful moment. They broke the ice, invited me to sit with them, and took on the awkward feeling and changed it with joy.
We can be joy to everyone around us.
“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.”
Hello there, dear readers, I decided to take a break off and on during the summer. I love writing, but with seminary, I write a lot of papers, and some days need to rest my brain. I am so excited because August kicks off my favorite part of the year. The heat starts to fade (thankfully being in North Carolina after two years away, I can put on jackets), and a season of fun begins. My dear Danielle’s birthday, the fall season, our anniversary, my birthday, and then of course the holidays!
This season reminds me of the joy in my life, the blessings that God has given us, even in the moments where life gets difficult, I am reminded to have joy. If you know me, you know I love having fun. I struggle with anxiety and not feeling worthy, but when I choose to remind myself of who has created and called me, I find joy. This comes directly out of Philippians 4, Paul reminds the church in Philippi to be joyful because they belong to the Lord. He then says that because of this, we can have joy and not let our worries consume us; when we choose to have joy, we are a light to everyone around us.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13
In the elementary ministry I serve in, we have been talking about the idea of confidence; confidence, being defined as learning to see yourself the way God sees you. I love the way that’s defined, because I often don’t see myself the way God sees me. Whether it’s because of my past mistakes or things that have happened, or maybe it’s the enemy in my mind, I can often feel like I’m unworthy. I live with this cloud over me that I can never be good enough, but that’s simply not true. That’s a lie the enemy is trying to convince me is truth. The truth is, that I have been made in the image of God, all of us have been made in the image of God, meaning that there is great power we possess and God has placed many talents inside of us. We are not perfect, scripture says that humans were formed out of the dust, so, we’ve got some issues.
This is where confidence is key, we need to start learning to see ourselves the way God sees us.
It has been a busy few weeks for me! As I finish one semester, there seems to be another right behind it, then of course there is travels and the general day to day that life brings. I know I have been MIA for a bit, but hopefully my schedule will be back to normal. All the hectic nature of the past few weeks, has allowed me to reflect on my life and what is driving me. If you have read my blog for a while now, you will know that I have a heart for people. I want people to know that there is a seat at the table for them, and I would love to be a friend at your table.
That’s the way I look at ministry, I want everyone to know who God has created them to be and help them remember who they are.
May is mental health awareness month, something that I have a passion and desire to help people understand that it’s okay to not be okay. Emotions are a great thing, but if we’re not careful, we can just start living out of those emotions. Doing that, can cause us to live like we’re on a roller coaster, high highs and low lows. What’s difficult about these moments is that we can begin to forget who we are, who we have been created to be. If everything is tied to how we feel, we will become trapped in a cycle of doubt and lack purpose in our lives. I know that in my own life, feeling unworthy or that I am never enough can cause we to doubt the calling that I know God has placed on my life. It’s difficult in these moments to get outside of my head and really understand what is true about me.
The truth is, I have been fearfully and wonderfully made, just like you.
Over the weekend, dear Danielle and I went to the store and decided to do a little springtime shopping. We picked up some herbs and plants, a bird feeder for the robins and cardinals around our place, and some new soil for plants we already have. A couple of those plants have not been thriving, so we figured some new soil and an upgraded pot would help. It was so much fun being able to spend a day breathing fresh air and giving life to new plants. As we got our hands dirty, we re-potted our snake plant, as I pulled out the plant, we immediately noticed some root rot, due to it having too much water. On the surface the plant looked fine, but when actually dealing with the root, we saw it needed to get rid of the old before a new thing could thrive.
Sometimes I have a hard time in prayer. Not that praying itself is hard, but sometimes it feels like the things I deal with are either way too massive in my head or feel incredibly small. I want to pray that I see the doors as God opens them and that I follow after the path that I know I have been called into, but it just feels so big and so unknown. It’s not specific, there’s not always a yes or no answer needed for clarity. Then, there are the little things, bumps in the road that happen daily, and there is always a moment of, “does God really care about the small stuff?”
Over the past year there have been massive prayers that many of us have had. Prayers over safety, healing of loved ones, and figuring out how to provide. There have also been small things that we deal with, that sometimes give us a guilt factor of wondering if compared to the pandemic, I should even be coming to God about this.
Every so often I like to re-read the book of Habakkuk. I read it because often I find myself in the same place as Habakkuk, he was a prophet and watching the world around him fall into chaos. Habakkuk is watching an army invade the land of his people, and he starts to lose hope in what God is doing. He starts to lose faith in God.
I love this book because it is such a raw emotional place, and in that state, Habakkuk cries out to God in hopes of finding his faith in the midst of uncertainty. In my own life, I find that there are seasons of unknowns and growth, and in those moments, it becomes increasingly difficult to have faith that there is a plan in all of this. What I love about this scripture, is that Habakkuk turns to God in his struggle.
Feelings are okay. Talking to God about your feelings is okay. Being vulnerable with God, is the point of a relationship with God.
Welcome back to my blog! It’s been a couple of weeks, and that’s been due to a busy moment in life, starting a new batch of classes, settling into our new space, as well as battling my own mental health. Life is always in flux, moving and changing constantly, and many times we can adapt, but there will be moments where adapting breaks. We become unfamiliar with the new rhythms that show up, and often this leads to confusion and cloudy heads. I’m being a bit honest today, not in order to gain your sympathy, but to help you know that it’s okay to not be okay.
This season in particular has showed most people that life is in flux. I like to laugh with dear Danielle about how everything shutting down gave us a minute to breathe, because the majority of our marriage has been the art of shifting and changing with the new environments that present themselves in our lives. The goal of life is not to find the easiest route, it’s about growing and changing into who you are called to be.