Getting Through The Storm

This week we have a friend of mine–a fellow blogger, Nicolette Pennisi, at https://thesoignesoul.wordpress.com–joining in with a guest post. Nicolette is a recent add to my world, but she has quickly found a dear, sweet spot in my heart.  A young adult, a Senior at Regent University, she has a mature, yet sensitive soul. Thanks for stopping by this week. I know you will enjoy her perspective.

photo-1459427601922-b0701209fb27

Last week, Amberly wrote an insightful post on the Lord being the Great Designer of our lives. Walking by faith and not by sight is something that even the most seasoned believer has to be reminded of. This involves having faith during our sun-filled seasons and our torrential downpour seasons.

It seems the biggest confusion amongst new (and even mature) believers is the concept of following Christ on smooth road. It seems easy to follow Christ when we’re feeling the blessings of clear skies and calm waves. The minute the clouds cover and the waves clash about, my faith can falter. Often I find myself thinking my salvation is a guarantee for an effortless life, when I find that it’s the exact opposite.

photo-1443948308135-d57fc66de368

Your storms are meant to sprout you not stunt you.

Relationships start off positive. Never do we expect there to be any troubles because how could we ever disagree with the person we find wonderful from the start? Our relationship with Christ starts off on a high note: we are diligent in reading, praying, and worshipping.

We are hopelessly in love with our Savior. But just like our earthly relationships, our relationship with God is meant to grow. After I experience a hardship in a relationship, often that relationship is stronger prior to the complication. Christ expects that after our trials.

IMG_7745[1]

When Jesus calmed the storm in Matthew 8, verse 23 tells us that the disciples followed Him into the boat. The next verse tells us that a storm arose while they were out at sea; the tempest wasn’t present when they came on. It was easy for them to willingly follow when there was no difficulty in sight. The moment the storm came, they allowed their fear to consume them. I bet they questioned why they even got in that boat in the first place. If they had known there was going to be turbulence, I’m sure they wouldn’t have placed a step on there.

photo-1447655513720-7da85ed1fa57

When difficulty arises, I question my choices in the same way. Had I known I was going to face the trials that I have, I wouldn’t have gone into certain situations. Some difficulties derive from bad choices and some are simply the result of following after Christ. What we fail to realize is the minute we follow Christ, a storm arises. That is, immediately, there is spiritual warfare being fought. The last thing Satan wants is for us to devote our lives to Jesus. He will do anything to deter us from our final destination.

photo-1440999189875-aec750e026f4

Salvation salvages your eternal destination and your earthly dilemmas.

If Christ is big enough to save us from Hell, He can surely handle our problems. In the midst of the storm, Jesus was asleep while the disciples were freaking out! Jesus knew it was coming. God knows the difficulties we will face, but He uses those to grow us into a beautifully new creation in Him. It’s up to us to choose to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Trusting in Christ is the only way for us to sail through all storms of life. Our faith will be made stronger through these.

photo-1460753311952-cf4606955685

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

His victorious right hand will lead us through. Just as Christ rebuked the winds and the sea, He will do the same when we put our complete trust in Him. We can’t allow our fears to keep us from doing so.

photo-1416163026265-0bc340a710e4

Jesus’ glory is bigger than your fear.

“And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:27.

When Christ calms our storm, you will stand in awe of it.

photo-1462733441571-9312d0b53818-3

When we go through the fire, we are purified and are strengthened after it. It sheds away the new to reveal the new and improved. At the end of it all, we have nothing left but to praise our Savior for making it through.

Jesus told us that He overcame the world so that we may have a greater life. To live a greater life is to walk faithfully with Christ, letting Him rebuke the storms that may come our way.

photo-1445090909078-0217954421ec

A Grand Design(er)

photo-1429277158984-614d155e0017

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Ain’t that the truth?

How many times have you looked around at the details of your life and wondered?  Wonder what it all meant.  It’s often for me!  I imagine if we were all sitting around talking over coffee, we could attest to the fact that there is quite a bit different from what we ever imagined for ourselves.  Perhaps there are plenty of unanswered questions.

When you are young, you’re not sure what this life will hold and what the painting of your life will look like.  You often have hopes and dreams and plans.  And yet, the twists and turns many times lead us on adventures we never anticipated.  Some good; some less than stellar.  But, they are your journey.  And as Jesus followers, He takes the canvas and paints a beautiful picture out of the pieces and parts.

photo-1414058862086-136de6c98e99

Your picture is beyond beautiful.

He has shaded in hues and tones and textures you hadn’t even thought of.  I know that’s the case with me.  So many times the twists and turns seemed like detours and dead ends.  Some looked ominous and scary; some looked bright and brilliant!  And all blended together, a masterpiece is created. A one-of-a-kind original!

We are focused on the grit and grind. The battle scars and worn out spots.  We wonder what the heck this is all going to look like at the end. He sees around the curves and bends in the road.  He sees the light shimmering in the trees just beyond the rocky terrain.

So, rest assured.  He has a plan.  We don’t win a prize for working ourselves into a frenzy trying to figure it out. 

His ways are not ours.  He orders our steps.  

photo-1438211891462-006dc8998ef1

My oldest, who has just finished his second year of college, changed his major once again.  This is awesome!  I’m proud of him.

A year ago, he took a leap of faith and followed a path that was beyond scary for him, but felt compelled to launch into.  During this last semester, he began to question his purpose and calling.  He knew what he wanted, but just didn’t know if it would work or was even doable.  After thinking long and hard, facing some tough questions, and seeking solid advice, he was shown a way to do both.  And seamlessly!

He doesn’t have all the details or plans worked through.  But, he is learning his purpose. He’s on his journey. I couldn’t have asked for more from or for him. It looks amazingly different from anything he would have planned for.  And that is beautiful!

photo-1444807294837-6c4a5293b555

His masterpiece will look vibrant and lively and multidimensional. And who knows the plot twists and detours and roadblocks he will face.  But, that is all part of the portrait. God’s ways are higher than ours.  Our thoughts, however masterful and wise, can never match the all-knowing heart of God.

And, I’m fine with that.

I don’t understand it all.  There is much that is unexplained and confusing in my own journey.  I don’t necessarily like everything I see.  But, there is beauty in it.  And I will leave it at that.

photo-1420802532821-8a885e88e95c

So, rest assured.  He has a plan.  And it’s the most amazing and breathtaking masterpiece you could NEVER imagine on your own. 

His ways are not ours.

Let go of your preconceived ideas and even the disappointments.  There is no life in that.

But, there is exquisite beauty in walking by faith and not by sight.

13254630_10209997367917321_1753225866503136646_o

May Surprises

photo-1454944338482-a69bb95894af

Happy May and sunny days!

I can’t sufficiently celebrate the fact it is May!

Winter is over.

Dark days and grey skies are behind.

It was a difficult winter for us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad winter is over!  Honestly, it feels like a blur in so many ways.  And, even though in the middle of it, it felt long and dark, looking back I’m surprised it is over!  One more thing to be grateful for!

This has been a season of intensity and a crash course in faith and endurance.  It has been one of letting go and moving forward.  I would be lying if I didn’t say this has been one for the books as far as disappointment and hurt goes.

photo-1443146517630-ac1e04dfed9a

But, I feel the winds shifting with the May breezes. 

I have learned a great deal about perseverance and the faithfulness of God.  When life throws some major curve balls, God is at the home plate right behind us.  He’s got us and isn’t leaving.

People disappoint and betray, but God never will. 

And, it is amazing how He uses even these moments for good in your life, if you let Him.   Yes, He is always working on our behalf, but we have to partner with Him and allow Him room to work.  We can sabotage the glory He desires to bring.  We can sink ourselves further in the mud.  We certainly don’t have to cooperate.  But, oh my, the beauty that comes when we do.

photo-1434689367603-7bacaed8c1a6

Grace.

There isn’t enough of it going around.

Accountability and owning your wrongdoings is essential in growing spiritually.  We can’t keep doing the same old things and expect to get better results.  Sometimes, we work ourselves into tight, deadly spaces.

But, God. 

He knows and sees far beyond anything we ever can.  He sees where the road leads and the life we are creating for ourselves.  Yes, but, God.  When He intervenes it is only for good.  We have to allow Him to work.  And, work with Him.  Hand in hand.

What people intend for bad, He ultimately will turn for good things in our lives. 

bnW1TuTV2YGcoh1HyWNQ_IMG_0207

Often, people live out of their insecurities and jealousies.  I’ve seen the effects of such living.  Like monkeys with a match, they destroy everything around them instead of giving life.   Confession and openness can’t live in a place like that; they are birthed in a safe place.  Are we creating grace-filled environments for people to be whole?  I wonder.  Or does self-righteousness rule?

I’m not talking about excusing fault or turning a blind eye. 

I’m talking about creating a place for people to feel safe in addressing their struggles. It should be the norm, but, alas, it is not.  Anyway, we are called to grace.  Grace is not excusing and overlooking.  There is no grace in that.  That only leaves the person struggling, alone and isolated.  Just right where the enemy of our souls wants us.

Aren’t we called to be grace to one another?  Scripture encourages confession.  Grace opens the way for confession, which opens the way for hope.  We have to create a safe path.

photo-1447699080189-1506569a2c4d

God is good. 

He knows exactly what is needed—when, where and how.  He always has his eye on us and is fully aware of our deepest need.  He works even beforehand to have His resources in place, ready to dispatch to us.  It is always on time.

So many graces.  So much care.

I am grateful for this new day; this new season.  It’s breathtaking…all He has done and continues to do on our behalf.  So much beauty!  Our resource and supply is not in man, but comes from the very hand of God.  The answers on the way and the strength for each new place—it is always just what I need.  Right on time!

photo-1455038894923-19f3608c9609

I have learned a lot.  I know that is not an incredibly complex sentence.  And, all of the editors out there are cringing, I know. But, sometimes, simple is best.  I have learned a lot.  I have been challenged and stretched beyond my comfort zone.

There has been tremendous pain and disappointment, but God’s goodness far outweighs any of that.

This is one lesson is branded into the fibers of my being.

Unfortunately, I continue to be amazed at the unkindness and the lack of grace we humans are able to pour out on others.  But, God’s graciousness and everlasting kindness far outweighs anything humans can come up with.

photo-1460533893735-45cea2212645

I am learning to rest and live in peace.

Having surrendered all to Him, knowing He is for us, knowing I am His and He is mine, I am healing and I am finding joy.  Know this, no matter what has come your way, whether by your own hand or by someone else’s, God is working on your behalf.

We are going to make it!  

Now, go soak up some rays and turn your face to the sun! 

Let the shadows fall behind you!

photo-1420593248178-d88870618ca0