Tagged: dreams

When You Want to Stay While Everyone Goes

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I wrote this over a year ago, but stumbled across it today. Here’s a piece of my heart for you to read. This is why I stay, even as everybody around me goes.

. . . . .

I want to be a stay-at-home mom. And I don’t mean that being a stay-at-home mom is my back-up career for when I’m done working in the office or traveling the world or pursuing my dreams. No, being a stay-at-home is my dream. It’s not my back-up plan; it’s my plan A. And not only do I want to be a stay-at-home mom, but I also want to be a stay-at-home mom who stays. 

Unlike the adventurous-types who pack their bags for Europe after finishing college and have a bucket list consisting of thirty-nine countries to see before they die, I don’t want to go anywhere. I have no post-graduation traveling plans. I don’t have a long list of places to see and things to do. I’m getting ready to plan a wedding with the man I love in the city I love, and we want to build our home here even while knowing many around us are getting ready to leave.

Honestly, a part of me does want to see the world, but not as much as I want to make roots. I know this desire of mine isn’t glamorous or popular, particularly within this young generation that is busy planning study abroad trips, road trips, and mission trips. But this desire of mine… is mine.

When you’re the one who stays while everyone else goes, they’ll make it seem like you’re missing out on a grand adventure. But sometimes making roots in one place is where you feel led, and that is a grand adventure, too. 

Traveling is scary and freeing and breathtaking, but sometimes so is waving everyone goodbye as you keep your feet on the ground and return to the home you’re building. Following your dreams can be the journey that changes everything, but sometimes so is letting God move through you and around you in one place and under one roof.

What a humbling act staying can be, to sit back and watch others fight lines at the airport while you fight battles within the home. You know your life won’t be as popular on Instagram as the cups of tea in India and the chapels in Italy. You’ll be buying diapers and insurance as your friends buy tickets and handwoven scarves. Staying is a humbling act that often comes with doubt and heartache when you know you won’t get the same cheers and encouragement for chasing your dreams as they do.

But when you want to make those roots as I do, you still make those roots because you know in your heart where you belong. And when the world tells you that you’re wrong and there are things waiting to be discovered, you will fight to hold on to the peace that comes from knowing you have a home too good to leave. It’d just be waiting for you to come back. You will fight to remind yourself that they might have a calling to go, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a calling to stay.

Faithfulness to who you are is a beautiful adventure, no matter where it takes (or doesn’t take) you. You are still on a mission, an arduous journey that is filled with bumps and bruises and beautiful blessings.

For those who want to leave, you have my blessing. I understand the deep longing to see and taste the world. I know that as you step foot in foreign lands and breathe in foreign air, you may very well find a second home that brings tears to your eyes when you know you have to leave. You’ll meet people you will never forget and your heart will ache every time you remember. You’ll come home and tell the ones who stayed all about the trip and you’ll feel like they just can’t relate or don’t really care. You’ll plan to leave again and count down the days until you do, yearning for that adventure just as you yearn to live.

For those who want to stay, you have my blessing. I understand the deep longing to settle down and make roots where you are. I know that as you build a routine and pass the same sights, you may very well discover a feeling of belonging that brings tears to your eyes when you think about leaving. You’ll form relationships with people you will never forget and hopefully keep them through the years through tears and trials and pain. The ones who left will come home and you’ll tell them about your family and your fulfilling job and you’ll feel like they just can’t relate or don’t really care. But you’ll plan to stay and count all the sweet memories you’re making at home, continuing to yearn for the adventure you wake up to each day just as you yearn to live.

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The Dead Man’s Mother

Photo by ozgurcakir via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/6nWHbx)

Photo by ozgurcakir via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/6nWHbx)

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

. . . . . .

I have been this dead man’s mother.

I have carried broken, dead dreams. I have cried alongside coffins containing my hopes and wishes and prayers. Sometimes my heart.

And Jesus has met me on my way to bury these things. He has stopped the funeral procession in progress. Moved with compassion, he has stepped out of the crowd, lifted my chin, and whispered words of relief.

Sometimes when he does this, I look first into his eyes and then back at the coffin and say, “but they’re still dead.” What I have been carrying with me is still unmoving, void of life. I continue on with the funeral procession, desperate to bury these things in the ground and bury myself in sorrow.

But he replies, “You don’t have to bury this at all.” And with one swift motion, he approaches the dead and reverses the damage. He breathes life into what I never thought I’d see breathing again.

And I am reunited with my beloved.

I am rejoiced, overcome with gratitude and awe.

. . . . . .

This is a beautiful story of a mother whose hope was revived as Jesus interrupted a funeral procession and brought her dead son back to life.

And this, too, is my story as Jesus revives my hope and brings my dead things back to life time and time again.

I have been this dead man’s mother, yet I have also often forgotten it.

I have witnessed Jesus interrupt my funeral processions and breathe life back into my hopes and dreams, and then I have thrown accusations at him. Why didn’t you come sooner?

I have seen him change my life. I was even once that dead man. Jesus saved me as crying, praying mothers walked alongside my coffin. And yet I live as though I’m still dead, unable to move or see a future ahead.

I have been given by God what no other could give: revived hopes and dreams, a healing heart that once felt irreparably broken. And then I have felt the call of death come again, rendering me forgetful of His healing hand.

I find myself crying out as if nothing has ever happened. As if I have never seen dead things rise. As if I never was this dead man and never was this dead man’s mother.

. . . . . .

The Spirit inside of me contains the power to move mountains, yet I have been staring at mountains without making a move.

I forget the power that raised this mother’s dead son lives in me. I forget the work that has been done and the promises that have been given.

Most of all, I forget that God is good.

I question his desire to move my mountains because I’ve been staring at nothing but these mountains all my life.

Of course they’re going to seem insurmountable when all I do is gape at their largeness and question God in His faithfulness.

How is He ever going to prove His faithfulness in my life if I’m so quick to forget my once-dead son?

In Scripture, we read of stories where God came to His children’s rescue and they then built an altar to declare and remember what God had done. So where are my altars? Why am I brushing past healing, victories, and resurrections in my life? No wonder I can’t remember. No wonder I’m quick to doubt and fear.

Where is my good Father? I’ve been demanding.

Where is He not? is the better question.

. . . . . .

My declaration over today: I once was dead and now I am alive. My broken heart is being tenderly mended. My hopes and dreams have been renewed.

What has taken place is worthy of remembrance.

So today, God, I remember you.

The Immeasurably More

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).

What is the “immeasurably more” that God has in store for your life? What are the things that He is going to bring to fruition in your life that you wouldn’t even think to ask for or dare imagine? What will be the result of the work he is doing within you?

These are questions I want you to start asking yourself because I’m beginning to question the same things.

It’s funny how obvious God’s work is when we look back on our lives yet how doubtful we can become as far as His work in our future. We’re so quick to look at our present circumstances and think, this must be it.

There couldn’t possibly be awesome things awaiting me. God isn’t going to use me to change the world. I’ll be lucky if I meet the right guy and find a job I actually enjoy that will pay the bills. I’ll scrape along like my parents have and my parents’ parents did before. 

These are things I have often told myself, particularly in times when it seemed like nothing was going according to plan. Or at least, according to my plan.

Sure, He’s completely changed my life from the inside out and has provided for me physically, socially, and emotionally since birth. He has transformed me from a self-consumed brat to a woman whose heart contains love that she has no idea what to do with. He’s brought me an amazing group of friends and mentors who have challenged me and been there for me during the roughest times of my life. He’s given me a family that not only supports me with their wallets, but also supports my dreams by their encouragement and “nudge” to the next step in life. I went from thinking that money and fame was all that mattered to realizing that nothing in this world compares to the beauty of Christ and the eternity He has waiting for His beloved.

I’ve done three life-changing internships that involved me in ministry. He’s used me to speak to others and make a difference in people’s lives. Within the past year, I’ve been given several opportunities to use my vocal talent for the glory of God through worship. I’ve led Bible studies and fallen in love with an amazing group of middle schoolers that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and leading for over a year. I’ve had visions, I’ve had dreams, I’ve been given callings for my life. And I’m still just nineteen.

Yes, God has done all these things and more.

I say all these things not to boast, but to show you my weakness as a human who cannot truly perceive the work of God. Even though I can see such good that God has done in my life, I still forget and doubt His goodness. I still question if He’s really doing anything in my life.

And I know I must not be the only one. There are many who have been wondering if there is such a thing as the “immeasurably more” that Paul speaks of. Could God really have a great calling on our lives? Will He really do more than we could ever dream of?

I think the answer is already staring at us in the face.

He already has done immeasurably more, hasn’t he?

Look at your life. Look at where you started and where you are now. You most likely are not the same person you were when you first began your walk with God. In your former life, did you ever expect such grace and joy to fall over you? Did you ever expect such freedom?

We’ve already been given more than we could’ve asked for, yet we forget the power of God so easily. The truth is, we have NO IDEA what God has in store for us. The dreams you used to have can still become a reality. They may not look how you imagined, but God knows the desires of our hearts and what will truly bring us the joy and peace we’re searching for. He knows what to do with the dreams we’ve discarded and questioned.

It’s time to find that faith again. We may not know what this “immeasurably more” is, but we know whose hands will deliver it.

The Grey Area

This semester has been a wreck- not in an entirely bad way, but in such a way that there is still beauty in the broken pieces and perhaps this wreck will eventually become a monumental piece of art in Jessie history.

What is the true cause of this wreck, you may ask? Simple.

The answer is God.

Now hold up. I’m not blaming Him, accusing Him, or talking negatively about Him. He is to thank for this wreck because without it, I’d still be living in fear, relentless pressure, and maybe even twisted theology.

The truth that He has been revealing to me gradually over the past couple of months involves choices. Let’s face it- life is full of them. I can’t even get out of my bed in the morning without making at least one choice (which is usually choosing to even get out of bed at all). What I’m typing to you guys is so real to me and still very fresh. I don’t know everything and I’m sure that God can flip my thoughts entirely upside down in a matter of seconds. Just hear me out and see if maybe this is the answer you’ve been looking for but never were told.

Back story: I applied for an internship in January. More specifically, I applied for my dream internship. The job description, the environment, the organization was everything I had dreamt of. This internship was like my Disney World. I believed wholeheartedly that God was leading me to this internship so I planned my whole summer in faith that He would work this out and let me go. It made perfect sense for me to go and I knew my All-loving Daddy gives His children the desire of their hearts (Psalm 37:4). Why wouldn’t I be accepted? It looked like God literally planted this internship in my lap and there was nothing that could stop this (what I presumed to be His plan) from happening.

Long story short: I got rejected by the organization last night.

These past few months have almost looked like a cycle that has still not fully returned to the beginning. I began with wholehearted trust in God. Then waiting followed. More waiting. A little bit of doubting. Some crying here and there. Then A LOT of doubting, which turned into anger at Him. Then praising Him despite the doubt and finding joy in Him despite the confusion. Until last night’s news came, which was pretty much the despair portion of this cycle. And now I’m at the stage where I’m learning to trust Him again regardless but I know there is still quite a bit of doubt, confusion, and mixed feelings inside of me.

The thing that I’ve been learning through this, along with the other serious choices I’ve been faced with lately, is that not everything is black and white. I always thought that proper theology taught we need to follow God’s leading in obedience and that’s it. That was what I believed and held on to for dear life.

Now I’m realizing there’s a lot of grey area. A LOT. For example, where do both free will and predestination come into play? Now that I know I’m not doing the internship, I have to decide what I will do with my summer.

Do I get a job? Do I continue working at my church? Do I just relax and be lazy? Do I register for summer classes? Do I find a new ministry? Do I have a summer romance?

Even more important, why isn’t God revealing what I need to do? Why has he let me walk down this path of complete dedication to this internship I assumed I’d be accepted into? Why didn’t he intervene and let me sign up for summer classes earlier or start applying for jobs? Why didn’t he spare me the pain and confusion and the awful waiting?

If there’s a right path for me, then what is it? That’s the question I’ve been asking God.

And this is where the grey area comes in because maybe it all comes down to me just having to choose. That’s a scary thought because all my life, I just assumed God had the best plan picked out for me and everything I did had to align with that plan. But that sort of thinking is wrong because where’s the free will in that? We are not slaves; we are beings made with creativity and interests and passions. Yes, God does know best and He does lead us to where we need to be, but why does that mean we have to lose the power to choose?

Instead of seeing God as holding out two different options and asking me to pick the best one, the one that will make Him happy, I think God is really just holding out many different options and asking me to pick what I want to do. Granted, I’m not going to pick a life of stripping at the club because I know that’s definitely not His will for me. But I’m not going to just wait for the “right” thing to plop into my lap either.

I was reading Ezekiel 15 this morning where God is referring to the Israelites as a “useless vine” because they have fallen away from Him and have been unfaithful to Him. Instead of bearing righteousness, the fruit they were created to bear, they were running to all the wrong things. The last verse in that chapter really spoke to me.

I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord (v.8).

The Israelites were a community that contained just as much creativity, passion, and free will as we see people have today. Some people were craftsmen. Others were musicians. Some just simply grew food for their family day in and day out. The point is that they were called to bear righteousness, but they were called to do so in different ways. And my guess is that they chose how they wanted to do that. The reason why God was upset with the Israelites is because they were unfaithful and chose sin. If they had continued doing what they were doing instead of idolizing other gods and things, I know God would have been happy with His children. It was their faithfulness that mattered.

Look at Abraham. In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his country and go to a land He will show him. He didn’t even reveal the destination! He just told him to walk in faith. Later on in Genesis 15, it says about Abraham that he “believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 6).

Notice that it says Abraham’s belief in God was what bore that righteousness, not making all the right moves and knowing everything God had planned for him.

It’s the faithfulness that’s key. I might have all the choices in the world to make and none of the answers, and that’s okay. What matters is, am I being faithful to God? Am I trusting that He’ll open doors that need to be opened and shut doors that need to be closed? Am I going where He leads me but still maintaining a faith even if He doesn’t seem to be leading me anywhere?

Do I trust that He loves me enough to let me choose things for myself and make decisions, let me make mistakes, let me live out my passions and enjoy what I enjoy?

Sometimes we think He’s walking ahead of us on a path He has designed for us. What if He really is walking next to us on a path He is designing with us?

Yes, there’s a lot of grey area. We never truly will be able to comprehend this whole concept of free will mixed with predestination and a whole bunch of other theological terms. What we can grasp on to, however, is His love for us. And as we walk with Him, we must not forget how deep that love  goes and how far it is carried as we press on in this life. The decisions you make, the places you go will not change that.

He loves you just as much today as He ever has and ever will. Because of that, you can walk in freedom.