Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)
A few months back, my husband and I drove past the hospital I gave birth in. We just got a glimpse of the building, and, immediately, my reaction was, “Aww… that’s where our babies were born!” 
And to that, my husband gave me the most bewildered look.
“Did you forget that all you did was cry in there? How do you feel so warmly about a place that caused you so much pain?” 
That took me back quite a bit, because my husband was right. 
That hospital was the place where I spent 20 plus hours in labor, only to find out I needed an emergency C-section for my firstborn. It was the place where two of my children were rushed into the NICU and I wept by their breathing machines for days. It was the place where I almost fainted in the middle of the hallway because I lost so much blood after surgery. It was the place where I had to complete my seminary finals in a medicated daze because my son came a month earlier than expected. 
And, yet, when I drove past that building, all I felt was pleasure. 
Continue reading “Calming the Storm Within (Part 3: His Presence in Your Pain)”

Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)
I blacked out once in my life. It was during a time when I was morbidly ill, to the point of months of hospitalization. My fever was so high that I became extremely dehydrated. But I didn’t know that I was that dehydrated until, one morning, I got out of bed and walked towards the living room. It only took a few steps for me to know something wasn’t right. I was walking and seeing, but everything went topsy-turvy. I knew I had to keep going, but I began to lose control of my limbs. And what started out as black specks in my vision turned into a big black wash of blindness. 
Then I fell.
And I fell hard. 
It’s a good analogy for what painful times sometimes feel like. 
Continue reading “Calming the Storm Within (Part 2: Leaning on His Promises)”

Should I Love Myself?

Should I Love Myself?
I used to cringe when I heard the catchphrase “Love yourself!”
It just felt very typical to be in agreement with that saying, and it felt like it was used as an excuse to grant oneself an indulgent amount of liberties. It’s an Instagram post waiting to happen, with the millennial pink background and calligraphy and all.
That was, until, near the end of 2018, when the Lord showed me otherwise.
Truth be told, I have a very tumultuous emotional life. I have a high-stress lifestyle that requires too much coffee and too little sleep. In result, I get sick easily. My hormones are still balancing out from the 6 intense years of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I get tension headaches on the regular. With all that being said, I asked the Lord what it would take to simply make things easier for 2019. I know, it’s not a grand prayer, but it was an honest one.
He said, “Love yourself.”
Upon hearing this, I was initially confused because I’m not one who typically dwells too deeply in self-hatred or crippling insecurities. So, why tell me to love myself?  
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The Supernatural Effect of Confidence

The Supernatural Effect of Confidence
When you hear the word, you can easily brush it off as daytime talk show material or a title to a self-help book.
In other words, it doesn’t seem like a spiritual thing to focus on.
But it is.
What does confidence have to do with the salvation of souls, healing, redemption, and all things revival?
Because it has to do with faith. True confidence is displayed when faith is alive in ones’ heart. It’s a character trait of one who believes in the goodness and sufficiency of God.
Yet the concept of confidence scares many Christians. It almost feels safer to not be confident for fear of being prideful. There’s the worry that you’re wrong in some way. What if you don’t even have a right to be confident? What if you are, in fact, just as inadequate and underwhelming as you think you are? In that case, confidence feels like a lie.
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Repentance to Redemption (Finale: Redeeming Weakness)

Repentance to Redemption (Finale: Redeeming Weakness)
No one’s perfect.
Although Christians are God’s children, we are still fallen children, no matter how polished we seem on the outside.
As a preacher, I am all about seeing the good in everyone, but, truth be told, I am also very aware of the struggle within the dark caverns of our souls.
You could have had a myriad of mountaintop experiences, victories, and even accomplishments. You could have been wrecked by that altar call at church, marked by that mission trip with orphans, witnessed power and miracles. Yet, at the end of the day, when you go back to your room and lie in your bed, you’re still flesh and bones. You are still a sinful person living in a depraved world.
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Miracles in the Mundane

Miracles in the Mundane
Everyone loves a good testimony —the miracles, the love encounters, the crazy coincidences that all point to God’s goodness.
Testimonies remind us that God is good. They remind us that God is real and working today.
Yet, sometimes we overlook the fact that testimonies are usually centered on a particular event or a moment. Although we are supposed to remember those moments (Deuteronomy 8), sometimes we can easily place them on a pedestal, without really understanding the implications for our everyday lives.
On Sunday mornings, you may have heard an amazing sermon about radical faith and were challenged to be more radical, wholehearted, excellent for the Kingdom of God. Yet, afterwards, you leave the sanctuary and you go to lunch. After your lunch, you go home, watch a few episodes of Netflix, and then you go to sleep to start the following week. And you don’t know what radical faith looks like afterwards.  
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Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)

Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)
A while back, when I was a volunteer at a ministry, I was faced with the need to take a step back from serving the church in order to allow some sanctifying and healing work to be done in my life. I was going through an extremely low season that led to my making poor choices left and right. Consequently, my pastor at that time recommended that I step down from my serving position to go through a “year of restoration.”
If I were to go back, I would have asked him to clarify what a “year of restoration” actually entailed. To me, it sounded like time-out, a probationary period where I held the responsibility to earn my “good girl” status again. And although this pastor most definitely did not intend it to be so, this placed me on a year’s journey of attempting to rebuild my life through my own striving. During that season, I did anything I could to fix myself, and I definitely failed. If anything, the attempt just left me more burnt out and jaded.  
Most Christians desire to be holy in character and pure in heart. Most would desire to be in good standing with the church community and their pastors. Yet, once the choice to repent is made, one still faces the challenge of rebuilding what’s been broken. This part can be hard.
Restoration is work.
But, it’s important to know that it’s God’s work.

Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Part 3: The Work of Restoration)”

Beautiful Failures

Beautiful Failures
My firstborn plays the piano. She started at the age of five, and she’s always loved the challenge of learning music. However, one day, I saw her fumbling over the keys during practice, and, although it was dinner time, she refused to leave her seat. I figured she just wanted to finish practicing and did not think much of it. But, by the time the rest of the kids were done with their dinners, Moriah silently closed her books and quietly left the piano to sit at the table. She whispered, “Okay, I’m done,” her face downcast and half-hidden behind her long, tangled hair.
I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, so I took to her to a private place on the stairwell, and I brushed her hair back to see her face flushed and her eyes brimming with hot tears. In the midst of how hectic it got during mealtime, I did not realize that she was extremely stressed during her practice. I asked her what the matter was, and she just released a deep, sorrowful cry.
“It was too hard. I hate it when I make mistakes. I just hate it so much.”
I don’t know how a 7-year-old could have such high standards for herself. Yet, I was able to resonate with her pain, the pain of not seeing progress and only seeing failure.  
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Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)

Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)
God is an excellent Creator. His intentions for humankind were nothing less than spectacular. After Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden, they were not commissioned to just survive and eat their way through existence. They were created to thrive, conquer, and expand their lot. Life was supposed to be about victories and progress, never-ending fruitfulness and unadulterated peace (Genesis 1).
In other words, you were created to be amazing, which makes sense because we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Continue reading “Repentance to Redemption (Part 2: Reclaiming Your Identity)”

How Chosen Do You Feel?

How Chosen Do You Feel?
I’ve always struggled with the idea of being chosen by God.
I know He saved me.
I know He has a seat for me in heaven.
Strangely enough, I used to believe that because of His charitable goodness, I could just be a recipient of God-given welfare, rather than be someone in His genuine favor. It’s easy to feel that God cared enough to save your life, just the way we allow a bug to live or place a fallen bird back in its nest. However, to feel that He favored me like you would favor your own child, that required a breakthrough of faith.
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