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August 2015

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Carpe Diem

So I have been almost dreading the day that I leave, I have been having panic attacks; I have been allowing fear to affect my trust in God and affect my perspective on my upcoming adventure. I have never been good with change, I usually face change kicking and screaming or dragging my feet attempting to brake the inevitable. Lately I have been pressing down the panic and refusing to admit that I was stressed, until that stress caused me some outward physical side effects. Then I realized that maybe I needed to reevaluate this situation and stop trying to take care of all these emotions on my own. I had been avoiding my time with God; yes, I know that I am being a hypocrite. I preach about taking that time with God and trusting God in all aspects of our lives, but I fall short and don’t always take my own advice. Sometimes I even avoid God (refer to a previous post Avoiding God).

I know it sounds counterproductive but with this stressful time I did not go into conversation with God for a week and a half. Now let me explain, I didn’t turn my back on God; I still prayed, I still trusted God and deep down I knew that God would bring me through it and that everything would work out. But I avoided quiet time, I tried to calm myself alone rather than go to God. With that being said this past week I have been going into conversations with God. I knew the message God was going to send but I needed to hear it again. I needed to be reassured by God and God delivered.

God has blessed me this week with different little reminders to trust him and to remind me that it will all work out. One of these blessings came in the form of a stranger I met in the store. Her words helped me refocus my perspective on this adventure. She told me “it will be a memory before you know it.” And it will, if I am not careful I will blink and the next year will be gone. No, I have to cherish this incredible opportunity. I have to live into each day and make the choice to live into the woman I am being called to become.

Rather than dread the unknown I have decided to try and embrace the unknown, look forward to this adventure rather than focus on the fear and anxiety. I want to focus on the beauty of trusting God and feel the peace that comes from depending on God. I know there are going to be mishaps during this adventure but rather than dreading those bound to happen mishaps I want to look forward to them! I want to see how God can turn those mishaps into miracles and how those mishaps will develop me further into the Margaret I am meant to be. The more I change my perspective to a positive one, one where I recognize that all the things that go right and all the things that go wrong are incredible growth opportunities, the more excited I become. I am getting ready to enter into an adventure, one where I am going to meet myself and one where I am going to meet my Lord and Savior in a variety of new ways. How could I not be excited!?

Tonight I felt a peace deep within my heart. I felt the reassurance that only God can offer, I thought back on the 22 years of my life and its clear God has been continually preparing me for this moment. I have always wanted to be the type of person who jets off to new and exciting places without the safety net of home and familiar people and places. Now I am getting the chance to do it! I am ready to take the leap of faith and grab God’s hands with both of my hands. I am as ready as I will ever be. Now all that’s left to do is fly.

Take the chance. Whatever it might be that God is calling you to. Do not let fear have the final say. Do not let the fear of failure stop you from trying. Take a leap of faith.

Proverbs 31:25

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

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This summer has been amazing, one of the best summers I have ever had. In the last four months I have grown so much and can proudly say I have transformed into a much better version of myself than I was when I graduated. This summer has been one of growth and development. I have been seeking out God more fully and seeking out my true heart. I have noticed that I am becoming more open to love, more open to putting myself out there, more likely to be grateful than hateful and less likely to allow bitterness and anger into my heart. God has washed my heart and I find myself seeking God out continuously asking for my heart to be continuously washed. I cannot imagine anything better than having God continuously working on my heart.

When I look at myself in pictures or in the mirror I see joy. I see a joyfulness that has never been there before, a joyfulness that only comes from God. I see the face and heart of the woman I am proud and so incredibly thankful to have become. I say this not to be vain, because this joy does not come from me or this world. This joy is the fruit of the Spirit that lives and works in my heart, the Spirit that I want everyone to allow into their hearts.

Galatians 5:22-23

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against such things.”

Romans 8:6

“To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

If I am going to be honest, I want to spread the Good News of the God that I worship. God is not a selective God, all are welcome in God’s arms and heart–God already loves you.  I want to share with you my experiences because that is the best way for me to express my faith and the faithfulness of the God I worship. My life, my heart and my perspective has completely transformed since I have committed my life completely to God. This amazing grace and amazing love I have experienced is for everyone, all I want is for people to go to God and let God transform their life.

Clarification: I have always been a Christian, but in the past year I have felt God’s tug at my heart and I have worked on drawing closer and closer to my Lord and Savior. I have been striving to commit my life fully and completely to God. I often go through phases where I realize that I need to alter things and commit myself even more fully to God. We are here to bring glory to God and I have realized that this is an incredible and humbling honor. Our purpose is to live our lives in a way that brings glory to the One who created us. All of my gifts are from God, none of them come from me, they are to be shared with the world for the glory of God. And slowly I have realized that this is what I need to be working on. My pastor’s benediction sums this up nicely, we should live a life so: “May everyone who meets you see the face of Jesus Christ in you and may you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet.

Brothers and sisters let God into every crevice of your heart and soul. I promise you will not be disappointed by the transformation that most likely will occur. Give God complete access, it does not work if we have one foot in and one foot out- God requires and deserves our full body, heart and attention.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all .

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The Call of God

Yesterday, I received a message from someone who had read A Flight of Faith and asked about God’s call in our life. She asked if I had taken notes on my pastor’s sermon that was dedicated to discerning God’s call in our life and if I could share with her what was said. So I prayed about it and asked God for the words to answer her question, with the little I remembered from the sermon, and the things I have discovered from my own personal experiences and from the conversations I have had with God on this subject. I asked her if I could share what I wrote her on the blog. The following is the response to the question.

I am going to be honest, my pastor’s sermon was good, but it just didn’t say all that I wished and hoped it would. Maybe that is just how it is with the call of God; there is no clear cut way to help someone decipher their call in their life. The one thing that he did say that stuck out to me was that maybe we have a choice. Sometimes we are faced with a lot of options, and God did give us free will, so maybe we get to choose the path that we feel is right. I fully believe I have experienced God’s hand at work in my life when I made certain choices. As I went down one path, I could see how God used that choice and the choices that followed for God’s greater purpose. But I also know when the call of God was very deliberate and when God really wanted me somewhere. I think God really does work in mysterious ways.

When my pastor mentioned that maybe we have a choice sometimes, I will be honest, I wanted him to say a little bit more on the subject, something a little bit meatier. So when you contacted me, I prayed about it, and I was hoping that maybe I could offer you some insight from my own life and from the conversations I have had with God about this.

I have prayed that the words I write will be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. I hope that you will, not only, read them, but also further question and ponder this issue in conversations with God. I am going to use myself as an example, please do not take this as me being vain, it is just easier for me to use myself as an example because it is not my place to judge what others believe their call is.

The Call of God—Well this is a very big subject, and I am not entirely sure how to jump into it but here I go. The selected passage from the sermon was Ephesians 4:1-16. What I really love about this passage is that it refers to the God given gifts we have each been blessed with. I think this is key to understanding God’s call in your life. I think it first takes recognizing how unique and special you are to God and how unique and special you are in this world before you can begin to realize your purpose in this life. I have to be honest, I have no clue what God has planned for me, I am not one hundred percent sure of my call in life. I feel a call to ministry, but I do not think that it will be in a church with a congregation. I feel a tugging on my heart from God to do something but that something is hazy and I cannot clearly see what it is. But I can tell you these feelings have grown stronger, the call maybe a little louder ever since I began a journey to write and share. My call has grown clearer especially when I began to embrace the unique creation I am and began to trust that no matter what God has a brilliant plan for me and for my life just as God has a brilliant plan for you and for your life.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

I can tell you that there have been two experiences in my life when I have truly felt the call of God. One was the summer after my senior year of high school. I graduated in June and had been committed to the College of Charleston for months at this point. But something happened and it did not seem that College of Charleston was where I was meant to be. The Wednesday after my high school graduation my mother sat me down and asked me to go tour Presbyterian College, of course I was mad, but I went. After I left that campus I knew where I needed to be and more importantly where God wanted me to be. The week I received my housing information at College of Charleston, I also received my acceptance to PC and I told my mom I wanted to go to PC. God had a bright red flashing arrow pointing to PC. God used PC to shape me and mold me into the woman I am today, all the triumphs and failures, joys and heartbreaks I experienced there have challenged me and pushed me. Choosing PC has put me on a completely different path than the one I might have chosen if I had decided to go to the College of Charleston.

The second sure calling that I have heard is the calling to Scotland. God has led me directly to Scotland and I am putting my trust in this new journey I am about to embark on. I fully believe that I am going to meet my Savior in a new way, and I am going to meet the amazing destiny that he has in store for me.
You see, I don’t think the call of God is always black and white. I think the best advice I can give you is to grow deeper and more fully in your relationship with God. God is an amazing friend to have and when you are in a constant communication with God, I think you can never really go wrong in this world. Yes, we will stumble and stray but if we continually turn to God and ask God for guidance and forgiveness then we can never really be lost.

Psalm 37:23-24

“Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.”

I think that the best way to discern your call is to continually strive to develop a deeper relationship with God and not worry about trying to decipher it. God will reveal it, as always in God’s perfect timing.

Psalm 32:8

“I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Psalm 40:1

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”

I think with God it is sometimes a waiting game, one where we have to be patient.

Psalm 130:5

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…”

Psalm 27:14

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage: wait for the Lord!”

I think that you are on the right track—you are wondering and questioning what your wonderful purpose is. I know that God has something magnificent in store for you. Trust in that, and also know it might come to you in stages, it might come to you in fullness one day. However, the most important thing is trusting God no matter what. Realizing that God has chosen us to be his vessels in this world is an incredible feeling, ultimately we all have a shared purpose: to love God and spread this love throughout the world. Develop your gifts in communion with God and continue to have conversations with God. You are already on the journey of your calling, and I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for you. You are a precious child of God and I am thankful that you reached out to me. I pray that God will bless you, be with you and continue to guide you.

May the peace and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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A Flight of Faith

I am scared, actually terrified. It has come down to about a month before I leave to go to a school an ocean away. Away from my family, away from my friends away from all that is comfortable. I know no one in Scotland–I am not even really sure if I will like their food. I was the girl at summer camp who cried–a lot– because she was homesick and missed her mom. I was never the brave one, the one who could make friends and talk to anyone, I was never the one who seemed to thrive anywhere–especially far away from home; no that was never me, that was Fleetwood, my brother. My brother has always been someone I admire, though I hated always being known as “Fleetwood’s little sister” in high school and sometimes even now at 22. But I took a page from my brother’s book when I went to PC, I told myself I would have to get out of my shell and make myself be more outgoing. Fortunately, PC was God’s special place for me to grow into my wings. I was challenged, I was pushed, I was taught, I developed, I grew strong, I loved i fought battles and I slowly but surely sprouted wings. By the time I graduated, just a few short moths ago, I had become a full fledged butterfly.

But this butterfly is scared. Though I have tested my wings a little here and there this summer I have fluttered close to home. I have been working out, strengthening my wings. I have been strengthening my self confidence, I have been strengthening my faith and I have been strengthening important relationships–my relationship with God and my relationship with myself. I am learning to trust my wings and trust the One who has given me these wings. And now it is coming time to actually have to use these wings and I am scared. A lot of “what ifs” will crowd in my head at times. What if you fall? What if you aren’t strong enough? What if I get there and I don’t make friends? What if I fail? Fear has a way of drowning your rational voice and more importantly the calming voice of God.

Despite my fear, I have a deep, sure, steadfast feeling that I am on the right path. Yes, I am going to be away from my support group, but thankfully technology has shrunk the world. But I think God is calling me out of my comfort zone. This is a flight of faith. One where I can no longer base my life on those around me, I am fully forced to depend on God. I no longer will be able to depend on my friends and family here. I am jumping off the cliff and praying and trusting that God will grant me with the gift of flight, that my wings will be able to flap and I will be able to fly. I have read a couple of books by two different women who both use the terminology of depending completely on God. They both speak of situations that God has led them to and they were, and continue, to be tried and tested and forced to turn only to God. That is what Scotland is going to be for me, a test of trust.

Mandy Hale, states in her book I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has, “And here’s the thing I was learning:what you are most afraid of is probably holding the key to your destiny” (164). These words penetrated my heart because back in April I remember telling multiple people that I was going to Scotland to find my destiny. I do not know what I am going to find there, but I am excited to grow and develop further into Margaret. I am excited to see what God has in store for me. Today at church the pastor preached about deciphering what God’s call is for us. I am not sure of much, I am not sure how God will manage to neatly tie up the ends and make everything in my life come together, but I know God will make it happen. I don’t know what my destiny is but I know that God is calling my heart to Scotland. And I know that I refuse to allow my fear stop me from answering God’s call.

I am learning to trust God and trust in the plans that the Lord has made for me. I know a lot of people who are in similar situations as I, and I know that they are just as scared and anxious as I am. Jeremiah 29:11 seems to offer the best consolation:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

God has beautiful plans for us, especially when we are standing on the edge of a cliff, that requires a leap of faith. But we are assured that God knows the plans for us, for our welfare not harm. God is offering us a future one full of hope–will you be willing to take the risk and accept it? Are you willing to test your wings? Are you willing to take a flight of faith? It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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Let’s Be Real

Let’s be real, raw and honest. The other day I read a raw post written by a blogger I follow. This woman laid her deepest darkest fears out–she was honest with herself, with her followers and with God. I left a comment on this woman’s post saying that she had been brave and that she had just invited God into a dark place so that God could illuminate it with light. She allowed God an opening to come more fully into her life and to help her heal more fully. I took a cue from this woman and I was brutally honest with God tonight, I was honest with myself and honest with God.

It was time for me to be real with God. This week I seem to have fallen back into my old patterns: worrying about the future, comparing, falling into my old insecurities and not trusting. It is nothing too bad or too extreme, but I know that if these issues are not dealt with immediately they can turn dangerous fast. So rather than wait until I fell down the rabbit hole I decided to be real with God and bare my heart and naked soul, which included some fears and confessions I was trying to hide and did not want to face. I was ashamed to say that I had been questioning God, that I was scared and that I was selectively trusting God, not fully trusting God. (I need to take some of my own advice at times.) But I know the only way to get through these obstacles is to admit them to myself and to God. Because once these little demons have been aired, they lose some of their power and become much easier to manage and eventually destroy.

You see, I think that the more we hid these little demons the stronger they become, the more power they have over us and the further we drift from God. God knows our hearts and minds fully–God sees everything, there is nothing we can hide from God. But we still try to hide the imperfections, the fears, the worries and the doubts that plague us. But if we become real with God and share our grief, anger, fears, doubts and pain then, we allow an opening for God to come more fully into our lives. We lay down the demons at God’s feet–but the key is we cannot pick them back up. Once they have been surrendered they are out of our hands and hearts, and we must use our free hands to grasp God’s hands more fully. We empty ourselves so that we may be filled with God. I tend to have one hand tightly grasped on my demons and one hand barely dangling from God’s hand. We have to let go of those demons so that we can completely grasp God’s outstretched hands. That is what getting real with God is all about–airing our dirty laundry to the Lord removes the blockades and allows us to begin to experience the freedom that Christ offers us.

It is hard to go to our loving wonderful God and admit that I am having doubts, that though I preach trust, I severely lack complete trust. It is difficult to be honest with God about the irrational, yet real fears that plague my heart. It is scary to know that my lack of faith and lack of trust in God may hurt God, but as in every relationship, we owe it to the person we love to be honest. As the saying goes “Honesty is the best policy.” Even though it is scary, hard and nerve racking it is worth being real and raw with the One that I love and the One that loves me.

Psalm 62:8

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (Emphasis added).

Even though my honesty was hurtful to God, I can almost envision God understandably smiling and taking my now empty hands. After I was honest with the One that I love I read my devotional and the first sentence was “Trust me in the depths of your being” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, 222). This devotional was about how God wants me to trust and wants to bring my heart peace. It was exactly what my raw heart needed to hear. God reassured me that even though we are both a bit raw from my honest confession that we are still in a loving and strong relationship–that God is still right there holding on to me and gentle soothing my exposed heart.

John 20:19

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.'”

Just like those locked doors–Jesus finds a way into our hearts, but wouldn’t it just be easier if we unlocked those doors and made an open way for the Lord? Open your hearts and lay down your demons. Let God come in, wash your wounds, kiss them, soothe them and patch you up.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.