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. 
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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. 
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Calming the Storm Within (Part 1: Understanding Pain)

Calming the Storm Within (Part 1: Understanding Pain)
Most people approach their pastors in times of pain, so shepherding people through the dark nights of their souls is what I do.
Pain is merciless.
And oftentimes, the question is simply, “How can I go on?”
Whether it’s a slight rejection from the job you wanted or the traumatic tragedy of losing someone you love, pain is pain. And unfortunately, internal pain is the hardest to find a resolution for.
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What My 30’s Have Taught Me…

What My 30’s Have Taught Me…
I’m what people would call an “adult” now. Not a “young adult.” Just an “adult.” There’s a crucial difference.
People tend to think that growing older is depressing.
And admittedly, it can be!
Birthdays are usually a happy affair, but there comes a point in your life when they are no longer that exciting. The 1st, the 16th, the 18th, the 21st — all milestone birthdays that celebrate increased freedom, growth, and expectation.
Then there’s 30.
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Mistakes to Avoid with the Holy Spirit

Mistakes to Avoid with the Holy Spirit
When I was younger, I always envied those that seemed like they were close to God. There were moments when my pastor would come out of his prayer room and share what the Lord told him that morning. I wanted that sort of intimacy with Jesus for myself.  
Many Christians are discouraged when developing a deeper relationship with the Spirit of God because He can be such a mystery. It can feel like you’re just trying to grasp the wind. In the beginning of your journey, He may feel unpredictable and, sometimes, maybe even unreliable.
Yet, everyone who is a Christian has the blood right to be able to walk in close friendship with God. And as you do, you will inevitably realize that He is realer than the wind and more reliable than any human on earth.
However, there are some things to avoid as you begin to press in for a deeper relationship with Jesus. The following are the top mistakes people tend to make in allowing their flesh get in the way of what could be a deep and genuine friendship with God.

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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.

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