A New Song

Having a plan and a direction is one of the most satisfying feelings.

Can I get an amen?

Here’s the kicker, what happens when we don’t have a plan, or when one falls through? Or, what happens when doubt sneaks into our minds and our hearts as to whether or not we are anywhere close to the infamous “right path?” Where do we find our satisfaction then?

Life is going deal some tough hands. Sometimes you are going to feel like you are doing everything right, but somehow, instead of moving forward, you are taking 10 steps backward. However, it is how we respond to those hands that will ultimately make or break our joy.

A wonderful friend of mine asked me this question, and I want to pose the same to you.

“Will you still praise God even when things do not go your way?”

Talk about a hard slap of conviction.

It’s easy to find joy in life when you have a plan and times are good! What’s not easy is getting down on bended knee, palms up to the heavens, and praising God for the unknown.

So today, I want to lay down some encouragement.

Regardless of the uncertainties you may have, whether that be of the future or the “whys” behind undesirable circumstances, God is still God. He hasn’t changed. Therefore, His goodness has changed neither. Furthermore, His promises and plans are not faulty!

You are also not a failure. God is not disappointed in you nor does He love you any less because we, as weak and finite beings, cannot screw up the plans of the Lord. God is as sovereign now as He has ALWAYS been.

And loved ones, remember this, nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God and His plans for our life. God fights for us. He is for us and no circumstance, no fallen plan of yours, no uncertainty, no doubt, no person, no demotion, no fear, and no weapon formed against you shall prosper!

So, where do we go from here?

Let’s start by praising God!

Psalm 98:1 says “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”

Strike up the band people! Usher in Jesus the King! He’s made known to us His salvation and has redeemed us with His only son’s blood!

I will never know for sure what my future holds. I will never even know what tomorrow brings. But, y’all I can tell you what I do know. Today is one more day God has given me to live. Instead of focusing on what’s to come, I’m going to live in the moments He has graciously given me now and praise Him for not only every single one of those moments, but also every single moment that has yet to come.

God is not unfaithful. He will deliver. Be open, be submissive, be willing, and be thankful.

Here is my new song…

By His blood,

by His power,

every breath,

every hour,

I trust in Him.

All my life,

all my days,

I will give Him all my praise.

I trust in Him.

With that, I leave you with one last question:

What’s your new song?

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your hear. I will be found by you, declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”                                 (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Blessings,

LC

The Incomparable God with an Incomparable Plan

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification”

1 Thessalonians 4:3

I’m just going to let this grow on you for a moment…

Still not a fan? LOL join the club.

Lately, the Lord has been chiseling away at a couple of different blemish areas in my life. Although I know that these seasons of growing and sanctification are for my good and a part of God’s will for my life, I find some days harder to get through than others. Some days I just throw my hands up at God and say, “I GET IT! I SUCK! I’ll work on it!”

Sanctification is not glamourous. Can I get an amen on that? Nonetheless, the Lord is SO good. He has truly been teaching me a lot. A few of these things I have not fully come to know all the Lord wants to teach me, but something I want to share with y’all is that nothing will ever come close to the plans of the Lord.

A few weeks ago I was having a fairly sad day. I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me, but for some reason I was in a funk. As I was sitting in the library, I listened to a friend explain his excitement as to what the Lord was doing in his life in terms of his future. He honestly had no clue what he was going to do, but he was filled with this indescribable joy because of his trust in the Lord.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about this indescribable joy. You know, the joy that is an inward expression from the Lord. However, I was dumbfounded. Why wasn’t I joyful? Where can I get that same joy?

Well, this bothered me. So much so, I could no longer focus on the homework in front of me. I got up to leave knowing that I just needed to go spend some alone time with the Lord. I wasn’t sure where to begin though. So I thought, “It’s probably just sin I have not repented.” Naturally, I read Psalm 51.

Nothing. No peace. No joy.

The next thing I thought to do was to start thanking God for things because the only other logical reason I could think of for the way I was feeling was ungratefulness. After listing off what seemed like the most superficial things to be thankful for, I burst into tears. I don’t even know where I was on my list, but all I heard was, “What are you believing?”

Good Q, God.

I knew I believed in God’s existence. That, to me, seemed impossible to deny. What I was not believing in was the Lord’s good intentions and faithfulness.

Ouch.

You see, like most of you, I have dreams and goals, and a pretty good idea of how I would like to see my life turn out like. Giving up control on how my life will play out is not at all attractive. Honest to goodness, surrendering my future plans scares the living daylights out of me. But here is what I am learning and what I want to encourage you with: The Lord will accomplish His purposes whether you go willingly, kicking or screaming, or not at all. The cool thing about our God is that He desires to have a relationship with us. He isn’t some Mr. Oz standing behind a big projector, with green smoke, dictating our every move. He is a God who has called us to intimacy with Him and has given us freedom to choose in life. God wants to use us in this life, the question is whether you will choose to allow Him to.

He has good things in store for us, but if our desire is to live our best life here on this temporary earth, then we are going to bury ourselves into the uncomfortable seats of the struggle bus. This life might not end up being how our flesh desires it to be, or even how the world desires it to be, but if we are living for the Lord, acknowledging Him, and doing what He has called us to do, then we will never be disappointed with the outcome. If you truly believe in the goodness of God’s intentions and His faithfulness, then joy is inevitable, even when life seems to take a turn for the worst.

That might be a little hard to swallow, but think about what would happen if we could get this right…you and I would be a force to be reckoned with. Unstoppable.

Our God is for us. He has never, and will never, forsake His promises. So rest knowing that He knows the futile plans we have created for ourselves, but He also knows the plans that He Himself has for us. Plans that He has to prosper us and not harm us; plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Plans that are not withholding anything good from us. (Psalm 84:11)

 

So wherever God has you right now, He hasn’t forgot about you.

He hasn’t forgotten you when all your friends are getting into relationships, or getting married.

He hasn’t forgotten you when everyone else seems to have a clear idea as to what they want to do after college.

He hasn’t forgotten you when you didn’t get the job or the job promotion.

And he hasn’t forgotten you even when you don’t feel capable of being remembered.

 

The enemy loves to sneak his lies into our minds. Not only is he lying when he tells you that the Lord’s plans are not as good as your own, but he is also lying when he tells you that your performance, or your own being is directly related to how God’s plans play out. God’s plans for your life were created before the foundations of this world was created, and He’ll get done what He has planned regardless. You can’t screw up God’s plans.

Lastly, I want to briefly share a ground-breaking truth found in the book of Philippians.

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Let’s stop searching for joy in other things and allowing the enemy to lead us back to the chains that Christ has set us free from. Let’s stop focusing on the shameful plans the world pushes us to pursue. We have been bought with a price. A very costly price at that—Christ’s death on the Cross. Therefore, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, confessing with our mouths Jesus as Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, then we are CITIZENS OF HEAVEN. Not citizens of this world, citizens of heaven. A place where one day Christ will take our weak bodies and transform them into glorious bodies like His own with the same power which enables Him to bring everything under His control.

He safely holds your life in His righteous right hand. There is no reason to worry or to fear. Nobody compares to our God. No plan compares to His.

“Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
Listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
Look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
Than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
LORD Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.”
Psalm 84:8-11

Blessings,

LC

Do you believe?

Hey friends. For some time now I have felt in a blog writing dead zone. I was unsure of what to write based upon a few wicked thoughts racing in my mind. The first was I was unsure if the things I had to say were even worthy enough to write down and reveal to y’all, and the second was a disgusting desire to say something equivalent to that of a powerful quote from someone like Beth Moore, so that I may receive the glory rather than God. But directly after my pastor spit some absolutely true fire, I went to high school service to hear students give some of their testimonies from camp this past week. I had been blown away by the faithfulness of these students, but knew, from past experiences with camp, that the spiritual high we find ourselves on at camp can easily diminish once we step back into our day to day lives at home and at school. I felt God tugging on my heart to share with these eager high schoolers a passage of scripture, so I began to write down what I felt like God wanted me to say. In the back of the room I had a short page written in my notebook and I could hear God say, “Share.” But you know what…I didn’t share.

After the high school service ended, I knew I had done exactly what the preacher told me not to do. I had quenched the Spirit. God laid it on my heart to share this passage and I didn’t do it.

I say all of this to say, that because of that, I will not let the enemy win. Here and now, I want to share with y’all the passage and the page I wrote down in the back of the room that God laid on my heart.

Acts 20:22-28

“And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and affliction await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to tesitfy to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

(What God laid on my heart/I wrote in the back to share):

I made my high school experience difficult. Not God, not anyone else, ME. I made my high school experience difficult because I did not fully commit my life to Christ. I cared way too much about what my friends, my teachers, and a dad (who didn’t show very much interest in my life), and complete strangers thought about me that I compromised everything I said I believed in. But I want to challenge y’all to listen and do as the passage says. Don’t count your life as any more valuable as someone else’s and begin to SHARE the GREATEST NEWS EVER, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to anyone and everyone. And SHARE urgently. Shout it from the rooftops so that all those who encounter you, all those who God has entrusted into your flock, your sphere of influence, may know and understand that God is much bigger than the minuscule, irrelevant opinions of your peers. God’s love covers everything about you and because of that, you and your friends can know and believe that you don’t need the love, acceptance, and approval of others. All you need for everlasting joy is the love, acceptance, and approval of God.

One thing I want to challenge y’all with is to write down your testimony. Revelation 12:11 says “And they have conquered him [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Every story matters, and alongside the saving grace and power of God, every story conquers the enemy. Write yours down and begin to share it.

If you, while reading this, realize that you do not have a story where you have had a memorable moment of where you came to know the Lord as your personal Savior, I plead you to PLEASE let me know. I would love to talk with you!

Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Blessings,

LC

 

 

No Longer Afraid

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”

Psalm 73:28 ESV

I have coined a new term… “Israelite attitude.”

Let me explain what I mean by this… The Israelites, in Exodus, were held in captivity by Pharaoh in Egypt, but God eventually delivered them out of their slavery after several plagues occurred within the country of Egypt. During their escape they encountered, what to them was an undeniable end to their freedom, the Red Sea. It seemed as though all hell had broken loose as they began to whine and complain, “We made a mistake! We should have never left Egypt! It would have been better for us to stay there instead of dying out here in the wilderness!” After all God had done for them, delivering them from their own captivity in Egypt, the Israelites had the audacity to complain about the position they were in. They lacked faith and trust in God. (Exodus 1-14)

 

I have seen an “Israelite attitude” manifested in my own life over the past couple of years. I have not allowed myself to recall the countless times where my God has delivered me in the past. Instead, I act as if He has never done anything for me, and doubt His power, sovereignty, and character. But what good does that do for any of us, if we are consistently living with this mindset? If we are perceiving God to be some genie in a bottle, who is only good to us when we get exactly what we want, then our theology is utterly wack. This attitude leaves us dry, unsatisfied, and resentful of everything that we are unable to call our own.

 

As I stood toe-to-toe with sin that had festered itself into an ugly fixed habit, I began to see the stupidity and folly in the life I had been living. Like a dog returning to its vomit, was I returning to the gripping chains of fear. But even in my disgusting ways, God grabbed me by the nape of the neck and pulled me out. As I began to relinquish my desire to crawl back to a stronghold, that had for so long, pinned me down, I watched God, in all His might, smash the stronghold into smithereens. It is not until now that I have realized how amazing and great our God truly is!

 

No matter what, our God is still near and He will always be a great Father to His children. He is the same God who delivered the Israelites from enslavement to Pharaoh, the same God who gave Ruth and Naomi a kinsman redeemer, the same God that delivered David from the hands of Saul, and the same God who saved our very own souls from the fiery pit of hell. The Lord our God is constant. He is the same God today as He was yesterday, and as He will be tomorrow. He is mighty, He is powerful, and His name reigns above ALL other names. Our God is good. So good, in fact, that James 1:17 tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift” comes from Him. (ESV)

 

Here’s the deal though. “Perfect” is translated from the Greek word “teleios,” meaning “which has achieved or reached its goal, objective, purpose.” So these perfect gifts that we receive are not always packaged in the ways we typically perceive gifts to be packaged in, like a job promotion, a D1 soccer commitment, a brand new car, or a hunky boo thing to call your own. These perfect gifts are given with the same purpose that Romans 8:28 talks about.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 ESV

So what is God’s purpose for our lives and for these perfecting gifts? Thankfully, it is NOT to grant us everything we ever want, but instead to continually mold us into the character of Christ. And so, it is out of God’s astounding grace that imperfect people like ourselves can receive these perfect gifts from an unchanging Father because they are perfecting us.

 

By realizing our ultimate purpose, we are granted the ability to perceive our circumstances as means of sanctification and not punishment. God is merely making room in our lives so that He can bless us with things that ultimately satisfy. Such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. He is making room in our lives so that we may know Him more and better, and that with Him, we may experience life more abundantly.

 

And NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING, you do for the sake of Christ will ever be done in vain. Don’t ever fall victim to the lie that makes you believe that living for Christ is a drab, unfulfilling way of life. It is only another sad, pathetic, tactic by satan to destroy you. The wicked may seem to prosper, but the finale of their life will be achieved in hell. So, friend, I pray you do not compare yourself to those whose ends are death, to those who set their mouths against the heavens, but instead, that you would continue to fight for your holiness and strive for the “crown of life” that is eternity with God in heaven.

 

Y’all, it is good to be near God. Allow Him to be your soul’s true source of complete satisfaction and delight. Desire nothing on earth more than you desire Him. Know that your flesh and your heart will fail, but God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever. Make Him your refuge today so that you may tell of His great works.

 

“We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your name is near. I recount Your wondrous deeds.” (Psalm 75:1)

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)

 

Blessings,

LC

Freely Broken

Realizing that I have not thought or acted as if Christ is enough for me, I began to reevaluate my life. You see, recently, I’ve only been talking the talk. I claim that Christ has every key to every locked aspect of my heart, but this is not true because I haven’t been living that way. I am still white-knuckling those keys in fear of losing control. And boy, did the question I received from God backhand me across the cheek.

“Lauren, you matter to me. Am I not enough?”

I froze, tears welling up in my eyes, as I began to tremble at the grotesqueness of the way I have been perceiving God. Truth be told y’all, I don’t think God is enough right now. Sitting in my dorm room alone, I became more frightened by this thought of mine than by any other fear I have ever experienced. Am I allowed to think this? Why do I think this? What has happened to me?

I know I sound crazy, but maybe you are struggling with this very same thought. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. However, freedom, from this lie formed in hell, only comes by confession. So here’s what I confess…

I confess my version of OCD—over-comparison disorder.
I confess that I seek the approval of others more often than I seek the approval of God.
I confess that I fear for what my future holds.
I confess that I fear loneliness.
I confess that I fear being the single 50-year-old woman you find shopping for her 7 cats in Pet-smart.
I confess that I fear infertility later on in life.
I confess that I fear failure or not amounting to much of anything.
I confess that I have a broken heart.

That is just a fraction of the junk I am carrying in my life right now. It’s crazy to think that these things I have just made known are all manifested out of a fearful heart. To go even further, they are all stemmed from a wrong perception of who God is. However, it is not until we confess our deeply rooted brokenness that we begin to find freedom from this junk and the lies that whisper to us “God isn’t enough.” It is not until we admit where we have allowed our flesh to screw with our minds and our hearts that we begin to see God regain His throne as the King of our souls, as well as see our lives recapture their sense of undeserved beauty and meaning.

So dear sister and brother, I challenge you to forget about waiting to approach God when you think you’ve got your crazy together! Forget your good running shoes, and take off after God barefoot. Take off after The One who has loved us to the point of death. To The One who holds our lives in His hands, and who knew us before the foundations of this world with a plan already prepared for us. Run to The One whose Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, and is the only true source of complete satisfaction for our souls. Stop seeking security in your phone, or your significant other, or in the substances you use to grant you a momentary escape from the world. None of these things are fulfilling. Regardless of how they make you feel in the moment, they are designed to leave you empty in the long-run. Jesus is the only one who can quench our thirst for approval, love, and acceptance. Run to Him, my dear sister, and brother. Run to Him because He is who fills our empty buckets with HIS approval, HIS love, and HIS acceptance of us. He is who restores our joy.

I am learning this right alongside each of you. By no means, do I have this down pat. However, I want to continue to share with you that just because you have brokenness in your heart does not mean you can’t, or should not seek after God. He loved us to the point of death. Do you know of anyone else that has done that for you? Christ loved us SO much that He came and died for us! He flipping saved us from an eternity in hell, y’all. With that being the case, then our only response should be to run after Him.

But wait…

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of the position I was in only a few days ago, then you are probably wondering, “But how, LC? How do I run to Jesus? How do I get freedom?”

Friends, freedom comes through the simple, yet arduous task of surrender. Surrendering ALL of your brokenness, from the ugliest piece to the most decent piece of it. And once you begin to give the pieces of your broken heart to Jesus, He will begin to restore, and revive the ticker He gave to you in the first place. He will fill EVERY empty space, every hollow spot, every pore in your being with Himself. However, you have to give away your one broken heart first. You have to release your grip on your life, your future, your brokenness, your heart COMPLETELY.

God is a faithful God. He will not let you down. He will not abandon you, or leave you hanging once you let go. In fact, once you finally surrender and allow God to be your only source of joy, satisfaction, approval, etc., you will begin to see the remaking of a new you. With the power that the Holy Spirit grants you, you can break the measuring sticks that the enemy wants to you to use in order to compare yourself with the rest of the world. No longer will you seek the affection of others to heal the hidden rejection in your heart, but you will begin to seek Jesus every second of every day because you know that it is Him who heals you perfectly and fully.

So be the man and the woman who are brave enough to walk in vulnerability. Be the man and the woman who are strong enough to admit their brokenness to God. The world has enough people who know how to do what the world asks of them. What we need are men and women who know how to do hard and holy things. Be gutsy, and take off the mask that tells people “Oh, I’m fine. I’ve got my life together.” Newsflash, none of us have, or will have our life together until we reach heaven. So take off the mask because the only thing you are hiding is Jesus. It is through your brokenness that He is revealed, and it through the emptying of your brokenness that you are healed.

And lastly, SHARE your brokenness. Revelation 12:11 says “And they have conquered [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Your brokenness is a testimony, and it is what will defeat the enemy in the end. Help your brothers and sisters out. Just as you are finding freedom in the jagged parts of your life, strive to share your story in order to help others experience that same freedom.

Y’all are loved beyond what you may think. The God of the Universe has redeemed you, called you His own, and made a way for you to experience life in the most fullest way possible.

Go do crazy things for the Lord, and live in freedom!

I leave you with a few of verses to meditate on:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Romans 12:1

Blessings,

LC

Commited

It’s days like these that I wish I could take a pin to every heart-shaped balloon I come in contact with.

I know what you’re thinking. “Here we go again. Another sad blog about a bitter girl who had her heart broken, and has now decided to stick up her fist at every couple she sees.”

However, you would be wrong in thinking this. I enjoy Valentine’s day just as much as the next person. From the chocolate, to the flowers, to the awkward couples, I find great joy in this day! What I don’t appreciate is all the hype we place on a day that celebrates a value we should be observing every day. This applies not only to relationships with the opposite sex, but also to relationships with our friends, family, and our Heavenly Father.

Our culture has exaggerated the definition of love. Today, love is characterized by how we feel. It is short-lived and self-gratifying. We engage in relationships based solely on our desire to get something out of it, and we only stay in them until we don’t “feel” anything anymore. This isn’t real love though. Real love is characterized by it’s longstanding. Real love is a verb.

So on a day where love is emphasized, it seemed only fit to proclaim what real love is. Firstly, real love is found in Jesus. No matter what we do, if we have placed our faith in Him, there is nothing we can do that will separate us from His love. There is nothing anyone else can do that could separate us from His love.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

This unconditional love that God has for our sinful selves is unfathomable. He doesn’t look at me and say, “Ya know, I just don’t feel like I love Lauren anymore. This thing between us just isn’t working out anymore.” God knows me. David says in Psalm 139 that God searches our hearts. He knows all of our ways and all of our thoughts. God knows EVERYTHING about us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide my face in the corner. How could God ever want me, or love me if He knows and understands my plans, my thoughts, my sin, and my past? But this is where He displays His real love. That even in our sin, God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He came down from His throne in Heaven to bear our shame, our guilt, and our sin. He loves us so much that He died a bloody, gruesome, and violent death so that we may know this love.

John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one that this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends.” Christ did just this. He demonstrated His love by taking our place on the Cross. If this is what real love looks like, then why are we celebrating this “half-in, half-out” love. Real love is a commitment. It is patient, kind, never-ending. Real love doesn’t envy or boast, it isn’t arrogant or rude, it isn’t irritable or self-centered. Real love is a commitment. There is a reason why we have vows like “for better or for worse,” or “till death do us part,” because infatuation does not always last. We live in a broken, corrupt world. Hard times will come and people will piss you off. That’s life. However, it is crucial that we recognize this and begin to love as a verb.

Again, I am not trying to take the fun out of a cute holiday! But if you realize, like I myself did this morning, that you aren’t expressing your love as a commitment, then it’s time for us to start. Let this Valentines be a turning point in our lives where, together, we begin to genuinely love not only our boo, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ!

I leave you with these verses:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Blessings,

LC

Joy: How about Dat

It has been quite some time since my last post and I want to apologize for that. Lately, I have been caught up in a cloud of mixed emotions in which I am not sure how to digest. I have neglected to write partly due to uncertainty on what to write about, and partly due to fear of who may be reading these posts. It wasn’t until today that I was inspired through a good friend to write a little something. Ultimately, this blog is not to please others, but to give glory, honor, and praise to my Heavenly Father, who has blessed me with a love and desire to write. A true disciple hears, obeys, and shares. With that, I will now share what has been laid upon my heart.I recently came across a quote that cut right to the soul. Lana Bateman, chaplain of Women of Faith, claims that “the sign of true maturity is when joy and sorrow walk hand in hand.” 

Deep, right? 

It is crucial that we accept that life is going to be hard. We must live with full awareness that there is a ruthless enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy anything good or God-given. Only once we come to terms with the fact that we will not get our way all of the time will we fully experience true joy. Understanding that there will be suffering and trials will make it easier for us to roll with the punches and live life freely. 

Easier said than done though. I am currently realizing that as I experience this very lesson. I hesitated in sharing the following personal struggle, but then I realized God has not given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and He calls me to be vulnerable, something I am not the best at, in order that I may testify of His greatness.

I want to preface this personal story by saying that I love my biological father with every fiber in my being and I will honor him till the day I die. However, it has become somewhat of a struggle relating to him since I do not live with him, and he has another family to take care of. For some time now I have had this overwhelming desire to obtain his full approval and love. From this I have only come up short; I have only met disappointment. As I am pulling closer to God, I am beginning to see the barriers and walls that have previously prevented me from experiencing a fuller version of life. Barriers and walls such as insecurity in my identity and abilities, and fear of rejection, failure, abandonment. Through the power of self-reflection I have realized it has all stemmed from my inability to find the love and acceptance I crave from my dad. After seeking wise counsel and putting a lot of thought and prayer into what to do, I could not think of any other way to heal from the hurt and pain that has built up over the years, or any other way to overcome these barriers than by distancing myself. I am NOT bashing my dad. Without him, I would not be alive right now. I love him. I just need space to heal, and grow. 

This process has been difficult and more painful than I wanted it to be. However, I will rejoice in this difficulty and hurt. God is working in me. He is maturing me and giving me definition in life. By giving me an array of emotions to experience, He is strengthening me and enhancing my faith. I am seeing a spike in my spiritual growth from this hardship, and it has only spurred me to seek Him more. Everyday I desire to sit in His presence, eat up every word and promise that He has spoken, and receive the love, grace, and mercy that He freely lavished upon me. 

Loved ones, I want you to know that you can find joy in the screwed-up mess life deals sometimes. Joy is not found in our circumstances, but in Jesus Christ, who first surrendered His glory so that we may have eternal life! We are not bound by what happens to us. Give your full heart to Jesus and set Him before you always. Surrender your struggle to Him, and let the Ultimate Healer do His thing. He has got you under His wings and promises to never let you go! Live confidently in this promise knowing that the Almighty God has your back in whatever situation you are facing. 

I know it’s hard, y’all. Trust me. However, I also know that once we realize the abundance of joy that accompanies our struggles, and we let God have complete control, we will finally get to experience a full, fruitful life. Embrace these trials; own these emotions. God has an amazing track record of faithfulness and He has a tailor-made plan for each and every one of us. We are not placed on this earth without purpose. We are not accidents. God formed us in our mothers womb. He created us to one day experience heaven if we give Him the opportunity to do so. And believing this, I know that whatever God allows to happen, there is a bigger purpose behind it, regardless of whether or not my finite mind can comprehend it. 
The crosses we must carry, the trials and the struggles we must go through in order to become more like Christ Himself are painful. So, expect life to be joyful and rugged. 

I leave you with a few last thoughts:
Follow the narrow road, for it brings the widest joy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Blessings, 

LC

Credit Where Credit is Due

Why is it that we often have “senior moments” when it comes to remembering the greatest gift we as christians have ever received? God’s free gift of salvation, found in the form of His ONLY son bleeding on The Cross for our sins, seems to slip our mind like a past birthday gift. This is at least something I experience at times in my walk with Christ. Those spiritual “ruts” in our lives…why do those even exist?? Better yet, why is that a frequent use of terminology? Should we ever have spiritual “ruts” in our walk with Christ? Granted, the Christian life is not the easiest path, but should we not just trust in God and let our joy be found in who God says He is and not in our circumstances? Let’s face it y’all, we live in a culture that desires immediate gratification. If we were to look at the core of our spiritual ruts, they are generally stemmed from some sort of lack of joy. However, God says to be joyful always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16) So what is our issue? What is my issue??
This week is labeled as one of the most generous times of the year. Thanksgiving reminds us of all the things we are thankful for in life, and for a short moment, we open our eyes to see how blessed we are. As I was sitting in the sauna at the gym (my favorite pastime), I began to contemplate on what things I was thankful for. The typical things like family, friends, food, a house, a gym membership, etc. all popped into my mind. I began to become frustrated with myself as I thought, “I literally Thank the Lord for the same superficial things every single year!!” I began to doubt whether I am ever truly thankful, and wonder what things I let pass my mind that I should be deeply grateful for everyday. 
The scene of Jesus on the Cross from the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion, came into mind. I thought, “Surely God that’s not it. I’m thankful for what Your Son did for me everyday.” 
What happened next gripped me. God’s still, small voice spoke and said, “really Lauren?” Sarcasm and all. True story.
But in all seriousness, this is the one thing I forget to be thankful for everyday, when it is the ONE thing I should be thankful for everyday. Yes, my family, friends, education, clothes, food, health are all important to me. I am very grateful for all those things. However, they do not compare to the gift God has given me. He died on a tree for us! He allowed Himself to be put in a humiliating circumstance so that we may have eternal life, even when He was completely innocent. How amazing is that??
This Sunday confirmed my need to remember my story and the grace God has shown me. A pastor at my home church taught from Ephesians 2:1-10. The verses that stuck out were verses 8-10. The funny thing about these verses is that they are not unfamiliar. Whether it was for school, or for my mama, I have memorized these verses before. Although they had some value to me at the times I had committed them to memory, they had an even greater meaning now that I had a new pair of lenses on. 
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10 ESV

I have been saved by Jesus Christ. I am made alive in Him. My story has value and it must be remembered. I am God’s masterpiece.

Blessings,

LC

Hope! (There it is)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it feels good to sit down and finally write down what I’ve experienced over the past month. College has been an unexpected whirlwind for sure. Between all the classes, homework, and starting over with new friends when I’ve had a solid group of them since third grade, it’s been insanely hard for me to take time to sit down and write out my thoughts. However, amidst all this chaos and uncertainty, I have come to find that the most critical thing we all need, no matter what season of life we are in, is hope.

Hope is crucial. Without it, we would all be walking through life with these “Negative-Nelly” attitudes, incapable of anticipating a positive and fulfilling future. For believers in Christ, hopelessness cripples our faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The very Word of God alludes to the fact that if we don’t have hope, we don’t have faith. However, essentially ANYONE who lacks hope, also lacks insight on their life having purpose and meaning.

Over the past month, I have developed a deeper understanding of true hope. Attending Liberty University was not my initial plan. In fact, it wasn’t my plan at all. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “I’m not going to Liberty. That’s not the plan.” I knew that Liberty was not the path many people took. It was the road less traveled for sure, and LC did not want to be separated from her friends, and the reputation she had built in high school. (Yes…I just referred to myself in third person.) No part of me wanted to rebuild my identity and establish new friendships. But God works in mysterious ways and we see where I ended up.

I am also not playing soccer, which has been a devastating experience. All I’ve ever wanted to do was play soccer at the Division 1 level, and I believe with all of my heart that I could have played anywhere I wanted to. But, many times doors close, and the bone spur on my hip said, “you’re done playing soccer for right now.” Honest to goodness, I would do anything to be back on the field. So, I mean it when I say that I have truly been buggin’ this past month. I’m in a season in my life where a lot of things don’t make sense in my mind, and I’m tempted to see the future as bleak and empty.

However, there’s this cool aspect of the God whom I like to call Dad. He has revealed to me so many nuggets of hope, it’s unreal! In the middle of my struggles, where my normal response is to dramatically sprawl out into the middle of a floor and throw a tantrum about the things the world says I’m missing out on, I am instead responding by actively committing my life into God’s hands and HOPING for the best.

More often than we should, we allow circumstances to define our identities. I think we can all relate to having thought why we aren’t being blessed for the “good” (emphasis on the quotation marks) we’ve done in life, when those around us seem to be on cloud nine with all of their accomplishments and accolades. Ultimately, our issue then becomes lacking hope in what our future holds. However, living without hope is senseless. It leads to nothing but despair and depression. Two miserable emotions that no one wakes up in the morning wishing they felt.

So, what has God revealed to me that I can share with y’all.

For the past few weeks, I am constantly shown that this sad season of my life is not the definition of who I am. Neither are my circumstances prior to this season, the definition of who I am. Yes, it sucks that we have to experience some degree of biblical suffering. It doesn’t seem fair that while we are in a season of personal dormancy, those around us are flourishing. But for me, I would much rather be in the will of God and struggling, than be outside of the will of God and thriving.

It’s not easy for me to admit, or believe this, but in the end, God has something greater for me, and all of us out there. You and I need to hope and expect something far beyond our own interpretation of greatness.

You may ask, “How do you know that you will experience something great at the end of all of this?”

My question to you would be, “Why wouldn’t I expect that?!” I don’t serve a God who does things without a reason behind them. I don’t serve a God who allows sad seasons to appear in my life just to reward me with more sadness. It’s just not who He is. The God I serve allows me to enter into specific struggles to glorify Him through my weaknesses, and prepare me for the greater victory that comes after I am molded into more of His likeness.

The willingness to sacrifice your pride and control over your future is a narrow, less traveled path. But, the outcome is so much greater!!!! I literally can not stress that enough. I am pumped, excited, stoked, elated, thrilled to experience the victory on the mountaintop that is coming to me soon. This season of my life may feel like trash, and let me tell you, I am so tempted sometimes to give up hope.

I’m not going to though. I prayed a prayer for God to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…where my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. Folks, He is definitely answering my prayer by calling me out onto some scary waters. I have hope though, and I trust that no matter what God is faithful, and “I will be confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Ephesians 3:20

“Be strong and take heart all you hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

 

Blessings,

LC

 

Dear _______ ,

One of my favorite movies growing up was High School Musical. I would watch that movie over and over and over and over again until my parents grew weary of it. I imagined that the movie accurately portrayed what high school was like. Boy, was I wrong!

Although the goal of High School Musical is to enact normal aspects of high school, it fails to encompass the “messiness” of life. Personally, high school was full of stress. Stress over my grades, my friend groups, my appearance, what people thought about me, sports teams, making my parents proud, being who God called me to be…you get the picture. I’m certain every one of us has felt the overwhelming presence of stress whether you attend a public high school, private high school, charter school, or you’re homeschooled.

However, in the midst of all the chaos, drama, and stress, there were some sweet memories made in high school. Memories such as Friday night football games where we would all badger the refs and the opposing team’s players even when our own team was getting their butts handed to them. Or, memories like when we hiked up a mountain at one in the morning, in the rain, on a school night, in order to see the blood moon, but ended up having the perfect view of a large cloud. It’s memories like these that I wish I had more of. I wish I would have let go of all the stress, and just enjoyed my life as a high school student more. That’s why I wanted to write this post. As school is about to begin, and many of you want to make the most of these four years in high school, here’s a few things I want to share with you in order to make that happen.

 

1. Seize the Day

Seriously, take advantage of every God-given opportunity to have fun, or to do something beyond yourself. Don’t just float through life waiting for the world to hand you stuff. Make the most of the life you are given. There were so many times in high school that I gave up on opportunities that I wish I hadn’t. The result of leaving these opportunities behind was missing out on some awesome memories. In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul warns us of the brevity of our lives, and how we shouldn’t waste them away.

“Be very careful, then, how you live     not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)

Even Christ calls us to live for every moment. So find the courage sit with the lonely kid at lunch, or to talk to the dreamboat you catch yourself staring at in the middle of class. Find the nerve to ask for help when you need it, or to share Jesus with someone even if it means getting made fun of. Find the audacity to go to the Friday night football game even when you don’t feel pretty, or to go to the prom without a date on your arm! Live in the now. Forget the past, forget the stress, and, as the saying goes, “Carpe Diem.”

 

2. Boyfriends/Girlfriends are overrated.

You don’t need a boyfriend, or a girlfriend (for my fellow male readers) to complete you.

*insert gasp here*

Yes, I said it. Whoever made up that standard anyway? I can honestly say that during high school, I felt more complete without the one “boyfriend” I had. Granted, having someone who likes you and buys you things is nice, it is not necessary for you to have this person. Especially in high school, because let’s face it, the odds of a couple lasting after high school is slim to none. I have only ever known a select few whose relationships have lasted after high school. I’m not saying that if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend right now you should break-up with them. Kudos to you for having one. However, I am saying that being single in high school is not a horrible thing. I enjoyed it! I felt closer to my friends, my family, and to God. I had more time to do the things I wanted to do, and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not my actions were going to upset my so-called other. So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t being asked out. Don’t let the annoying couples in the hallways get you down. Your time to date and experience love will come. You just have to trust that God will provide.

 

3. Cast your worries on God

Man. I really wish I would have relied on God more. I honestly believe that if I would have, high school would have been a whole lot smoother. High school, like I said, is stressful. It is full of good days and bad days, and full of questioning God’s sovereignty over our lives  We must learn to laugh at these bad days and trust in God’s plan, though. So often, I rely on my thoughts and opinions of how life should be and of myself, instead of God’s thoughts and opinions. I lead myself to believe that I am not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. to succeed in life. I let the hurtful words and actions of others get to me, and more often than not I let life get the best of me. I disregard the will of God and try to live life on my own strength. (Fyi, trying to do life on my own NEVER works out.)

BUT…

Christ offers us freedom from our burdens.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Psalm 55:22

So throw your worries, your insecurities, your burdens, and your desire to control your life to God. He’s a big God; He can handle it. What’s better yet, He wants to handle it because He loves us, and cares about us. Trust God, and let Him relinquish the heavy burdens you carry.

 

4. Read more.

Here’s a short one for you.

Read, read, read.

Reading is undervalued. There is so much knowledge out there, and all you have to do to find it is to open up a book and read about it. So enlighten yourself with the hopes and dreams of people in a world before your time. Educate yourself on how to be better at something. Edify yourself with the knowledge that comes from reading God’s word.

Read, read, read.

 

5. You are beautiful in every way

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be. You do not have to look like the model on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine in order to be beautiful. That isn’t even real beauty. It’s all photoshopped so that girls and guys, like us, can feel horrible about our body image.

But guess what?

I have scripture for you 🙂

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:13-14

I’ve talked about this before in a previous blog. (Beautiful Soul) We are all beautiful in every way and there is no need for us to beat ourselves up over whether or not we meet the world’s standards. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If God sees you as beautiful, is there really anything more that you need to say that you are beautiful?

 

5. Listen to your parents

My parents, your parents, are not stupid. I am so so so so so thankful for the TWO sets of parents God has given me. Whether we’d like to believe it or not, they have walked a mile in our shoes before. Our parents are our biggest fans. They want to see us succeed, so when our parents give us advice or make rules for us to follow, chances are they are giving them to us for a reason. I know that sometimes we think our parents are crazy and that they literally want us to never have any fun. But that is far from the truth. If your parents are anything like mine, they would lay down their life for you because they love you and care about you! Don’t see them as a hindrance. See them as the nurturers they are. They want what’s best for you, so don’t be a fool and not take the advice they give you.

 

6. Always stay humble and kind

Last, but most certainly not least, always be humble and always be kind. Humility is hard to come by in this day in age, but it can open up more doors than you thought were possible. In high school, everyone feels they have something to prove. Truth be told, you don’t have to prove anything. Even if you are all that and a bag of chips, it’ll be more gratifying to you and everyone around you if you don’t show it off. Humility also means putting others before yourself. This is something I struggle with because I instinctively think that this life is all about Lauren. Reality check…it isn’t. It is crucial that we live to value others before ourselves.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain

conceit. Rather, in humility value others

above yourself.”

Phillipians 2:3 (NIV)

Kindness, is a rare gem. Even though it is not all that hard to offer it has such a significant impact on those around you. Don’t be afraid to show a little generosity and grace to others, especially if they may not deserve it. I don’t mean to Jesus juke you here, but the Man himself died on the Cross to save all of our undeserving selves. The least we can do is show some kindness to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“She opens her mouth and the

teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

Proverbs 31:26 (ESV)

 

I could honestly go on and on about things I wish I would have done or known differently in high school, but the six above are at the top of my list. I guarantee you, if you try at least a couple of these out, you’ll see the difference I’m talking about.

Don’t let the stress of life, and of growing up crush you. Embrace the fact that life is life and things happen. Make the most of what you’ve got and laugh at the days to come. This is going to be an awesome year for a lot of us, and I’m so excited for anyone reading this post.

Make it count for Him,

LC