“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” ~CH Spurgeon
Growing up in my Mormon world I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect. I believed that I would never be good enough to go to Heaven. As a Christian I know I will never be good enough to go to Heaven, I will never do enough to get to Heaven. I take comfort in knowing that because of Christ I will go to Heaven.
Every day I am so amazed by the love God has for me. It blows my mind to think of His suffering and pain on the cross and although Christ knew of the anguish he would go through when He was put on the cross and yet He willingly went through it all for me. I am so undeserving of His love and grace, and yet, He is so willing to give it to me.
Living everyday life is hard. I try to be the person I want to be. But that is also fueled by the expectations of those around me. I fail every day. The most amazing thing is when I fail God’s love and grace are still there for me. Every day, I try to keep God at the center of my life, and every day I fail. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think back to my life before Christ and I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t answered the phone, or if I hadn’t believed that God loves me. If I still lived in my Mormon world I don’t know how I would survive.
There is a song called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, the chorus states:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
Think about that for a minute…God loves you so much, He would leave his flock to find you, to fight for you. I fail every day. I fall short every day. I can’t earn God’s love or grace. I will never be deserving of Gods love or grace.
I know I am a sinner, a failure, a hypocrite, a disappointment, and yet my God still loves me. He’d leave the 99 to come find Me! In my hardest darkest days, that is what keeps me going. Knowing that I can’t do anything to make God not love me. Knowing that no matter what, He has forgiven a horrible, hypocritical, sinner like me.
Knowing all my failures and shortcomings, “I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.”
It feels amazing to know…
I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in the Reckless Love of God.
One of my Facebook memories from today was an excerpt from the book; Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer it said, “The highest call on your life is to enjoy God. But you can’t enjoy Him if you are convinced He is upset with you. Jesus came to deliver you from the wrong kind of fear in your relationship with your heavenly Father. You should be relaxed in His presence. You need to have reverential fear, the kind that provokes respect, honor, and obedience. But you must refuse to believe any thoughts that the Lord is angry with you.
You are no surprise to God. Jeremiah 1:5 states that before He formed you in the womb, God knew you! He knew what He was getting when He drew you into a relationship with Himself. He already knows the things you will do wrong in the future. God is not nearly as hard to get along with as you think He is. It is not your sin that hinders you, it is unbelief!”
Oh, how often I still struggle with this concept. It is so hard to let go of the thought, “I will never be good enough for God”. Life is hard. Every day is a struggle. That’s one of the things that has been the hardest things for me to accept as a Christian. I want God to make life easy. I want Him to say, “Hey you’ve accepted me, here ya go… here’s an easy life”. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We are our own biggest barriers. The devil uses us as a wedge to get between us and God. He feeds on our fears and our doubts. We fall into that trap and we often feel worthless.
I remember growing up the struggle I had with myself and believing that God loved me. I struggled with feeling that I was good enough. I struggled to find happiness. I spent a good part of my life searching for joy, for happiness, for purpose and meaning. I really believed the mantra of; I’ll be happy when… but when those moments came, I was happy for a moment but it didn’t last very long and then I was focused on the next big thing that I wanted in my life. I had no identity and no real purpose for living other than what my religion told me.
Growing up I often struggled with the thought that God was mad at me. I struggled with believing that God could love me even after some of the things I had done. At times I felt like God wanted nothing to do with me. I believed the more I accomplished in my life, the more God would love me. The better chance I would have at going to Heaven. I believed the lie that I could do enough.
When I found Christ, I was at rock bottom in my life. I was at a point where everything I was afraid of happening was and I had lost all hope for myself and my future. I felt worthless and hopeless. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything good in my life, it was just I was so focused on the big things, I couldn’t see the amazing details of my life.
As I have mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. I love her books and insights, I love watching her Ted Talks and using them to help people improve their lives. One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is, “Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times were so afraid of the dark that we don’t let ourselves enjoy the light. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, or become so afraid of doing things or afraid of the good moments that I don’t take time to enjoy them. But God didn’t create us with a spirit of fear. God created us to draw near to Him when we struggle. God isn’t a god of anger. He is our Creator. He loves us and wants us.
The closer I draw to God the more twinkle lights I have in my life. Knowing God, helps me appreciate the small moments in life. He helps me embrace the struggles and find meaning and purpose in every situation. I think because I have found purpose in Christ and I know He loves me regardless of anything, it is easier for me to appreciate the small things in life. Life isn’t about the big extraordinary moments. It’s about learning to appreciate the small everyday things knowing that God has your back.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of twinkle lights.
I’ve struggled with writing my blog lately. Recently, I even thought maybe, I would just stop writing. I feel God has made it very clear to me that isn’t an option. So, as I was pondering the last few weeks, I thought about the world and all the turmoil going on right now. I thought about a friend who is going through a really rough time, I thought about the church shooting that just happened and that mass shootings seem to be an almost regular event anymore. I thought about my job and the hurt and pain that people struggle with on a daily basis to the point they want to take their own lives. I remembered, my purpose in writing this blog is because people need Jesus!!
There is so much hurt and heartache in the world today. I sit and think about all of the yuck in this world and I remember when I was there. Hurt, broken, feeling worthless and hopeless. When I opened myself up to the love of Christ, when I heard that it didn’t matter to Him all of the horrible things I felt I had done, He still loved me, it changed my entire world. In the past I would have told you I knew who Jesus was, and I believed in Him, and I tried to live a good life. But having a relationship and opening yourself up to God’s love is different, it changes you, it changes your world.
I try not to be political in my blog. I try to just focus on my religious experiences. But as I think about the state of the world today, I can’t help but take more of a political stance. I’ve seen a quote many times that says you don’t need religion to have morals, and while I don’t disagree with that, I feel as a society as we work to remove God from our culture, our morals are going by the way side. I have worked in a school and worked in a prison and it blows my mind that we discourage kids from freely pursuing and practicing their faith in school. We put many barriers in their way and yet if you are in prison, religion is encouraged. I remember sitting in parole hearings and listening to inmates talk about going to church and Bible studies and how God was changing their lives. One of my many hats at the prison was the religious coordinator, I oversaw all religious activities and made sure all religious volunteers were in compliance with facility policies. Just imagine if we put that much energy into assisting the development of spirituality and religion for our children. Maybe we wouldn’t have the struggles we have now.
I’ll be honest, there were many different religions in prison, and several weren’t Christian based, and I could tell those who were genuine in their pursuit of a relationship with Christ and those who weren’t. The difference was, their lives, even in prison, just seemed to go better. They didn’t get in trouble with the jail staff, they followed the rules, and they didn’t argue. They were accepting of their situation and if something didn’t go their way or if they felt they had been wronged, they had a conversation with the staff and tried to work it out. They were different. Their hearts were different.
There is truly something amazing that happens when you give your life over to God. When you are willing to accept that He has a plan and a purpose for you it changes your perspective and changes your heart. I know when I came to that realization, I wanted to know God more, I wanted to know everything I could, I read devotionals, Bible studies, I listened to sermons on the Radio. I began to develop a relationship with this God, who before seemed so scary and condemning, but as I learned more about Him, was loving and kind. It blew my mind as I read the Bible and learned about the people he chose to spread his message. The people he chose to be the ones that would represent Him. They were not perfect people who always did right. They were very much sinners. But…They all had one thing in common. They all loved God. They had a relationship with God and they pursued Him. They wanted to please their God. And although they made mistakes and struggled with their sin, they still pursued Him. It wasn’t just because they believed in Him, it’s because they had a relationship with Him.
In today’s world, God is a foreign concept. Society teaches trusting in God is a weakness. In today’s world, we want to be our own gods. It’s heart breaking to me. As I watch people struggle, I think, “You need Jesus!!” And I struggle to say anything for fear that they will condemn me or make fun of me. I can say, “You need Jesus!!” on my blog because it’s not face to face. That’s easy. And yet, I know that’s what I need to do.
The thing that needs to change most in this world is we need to get back to the basics. The 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. The problems in this world are not about race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, gun control, or any other social issue the media wants to glorify or criticize at the moment. It’s about the heart. It is what is important to us as a society and where our priorities lie. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. In today’s world our hearts are anywhere but with Jesus.
I’m just a Small Town Girl… living in a world in need of Jesus!
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything. I enjoyed a great vacation and am adjusting to new changes in my life. But, I’m back and pray that I can continue to post on a more regular basis.
Facebook reminded me today that 1 year ago today is when I started writing my blog. It’s amazing how fast time seems to go and how many things can change in 1 year. One year ago, my life was so different than it is now and the changes that have happened in my life weren’t even on my radar a year ago. However, there is one thing I have been praying for, for the last 2-3 years and God finally gave me a yes and a wide-open door to that prayer.
For the past 2-3 years, I have struggled with my place of employment. I have spent a lot of time pleading with God to open the doors for a new place to work. I went to interviews and whatever the circumstance, the timing wasn’t right. No matter how many times the door shut in my face, I knew in God’s time, He would provide what I was praying for. Although, the last several months have been very difficult, I know God is watching over me and only wants the best for me. My answered prayer is a new place of employment and for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the future of my career.
I still struggle sometimes with that internal dialogue of not feeling good enough when God doesn’t give me the answers I want when I pray. I often think it’s because I’m not good enough for God or I’m not living right. It’s amazing how quickly those thoughts can over take me when God says, “No” or “Not right now”. I get so caught up in what I want, I forget that God loves me and has a plan for me.
In my Mormon belief system, the ongoing message was live according to what the church teaches you and Heavenly Father will answer your prayers. One high up leader, Boyd K. Packer said, “Keep your covenants and you will be safe. Break them and you will not.” A more recent quote by another high up LDS leader, David A. Bednar said, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently, do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results”.
I feel like when I was growing up, I was never really taught about God’s love. I believed God’s love was contingent on being the faithful, diligent, consistent Mormon; which I was not even close to. So, how could God love me? I believed God’s love was always connected to how I was living my life and when prayers weren’t answered, it was because I needed to learn something or because I wasn’t reading my scriptures enough. I think back now about being a kid and the things I prayed for. It’s a good thing God doesn’t answer every prayer.
As a Christian, I have learned God’s love is unconditional. I don’t have to earn it. I don’t have to be good enough. It doesn’t matter what I have done in my life, God loves me. I am His child. It still blows me away when I stop and think about God, he created the universe and he created me. He wants the best for me in my life.
Now when prayers aren’t answered, I know it’s because God has something better for me. When those thoughts creep into my head and I feel like I have to be better, I stop, and laugh at myself because I know God isn’t going to withhold blessings because I’m not good enough.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of God’s unconditional love.
Well, this Small Town Girl is back at it. Before I get started I want to thank Cheyenne for writing my blog while I was out. She did a great job. I am so proud of her. She has such a heart for God and is a great example to me.
The last several months have been a huge struggle for me. The end of February I fell and injured my hand and shoulder. In the last 3 months, I have had 2 major surgeries and one minor surgery. There have been times when I have felt as if I was being tossed around on the waves and whipped around in the wind and yet I felt God’s calming presence in the chaos. Even though I was in the midst of the storm and most often after a moment (days) of panic and struggle God calmed me and I knew it would be ok. Then there were times when the chaos died down and things didn’t seem to be so bad. God would calm the storm and although, I knew the struggle wasn’t over, I knew it was God who was in charge of the storm.
I’m still in the midst of the storm and have a very long road ahead. Through it all, there were ups and downs and there are many more to come. So many days, I struggled with depression and being overwhelmed by the current life I was living. “This isn’t how my life was supposed to go! Life isn’t supposed to be this hard”. I already overcame that struggle and yet, here I am struggling with many of the same feelings I have fought so hard to move past. Life is supposed to be easier with God. Right?
I don’t think God ever promised anything would be easy. Actually, if you read the Bible, most of the people in the Bible that God used had a very hard and difficult road. People like Jonah, Gideon, Moses, David, Rahab, Rachel, Paul, they all had very hard situations they had to work through. Their situations required God’s guidance and direction.
God had great plans for their lives. Their struggles and hardships are documented in the greatest book of all time. God had a purpose for their struggle. I don’t think Jonah ever thought “I bet I’m going down in the history books for being swallowed by a whale”! He didn’t want to go through the struggle but in the end, he did what God wanted and God used his struggle to help others and we get to read about Jonah in the Bible. Life isn’t supposed to be easy especially when we do things on our own.
Recently, I had a very important but difficult situation I had to confront. The outcome of this situation would be life altering. I was so anxious and nervous. Consumed with my own expectations in life and how limited I was in the situation. I had no control. I knew in the situation I was in there was absolutely nothing that I could do to affect the outcome. And honestly, I was unsure of what I wanted the outcome to be. As I was waiting for this situation to resolve its self, Danny Gokey’s song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” came on the radio and I broke down in tears. I felt it was God saying to me, “I know things have been hard. I know you are grieving and hurt, but you are going to be ok. I have great things for you”.
My life has been altered by this whole experience and it will never be the same. I still have a long road ahead but today is a new beginning for me. The situation I discussed above is still unresolved. I still have a long road for recovery. There is a lot of unknown in my world but the one thing I know for certain is that God is in control of my future and He has bigger and better plans for me than I can ever have for myself.
Every day I still struggle with the overwhelming feelings, I fight the depression and the desire to stay in bed and hide from the world. But when I take time to talk to God and remember He is the one who is writing the script to my life, it makes it a little easier. I’m so glad to be back writing my blog and I’m looking forward to where this new path will lead. I hope you all will be patient and willing to continue to ride through this storm with me.
I’m Just a Small Town Girl… Living in a Stormy World.
Who likes to be in control? Who likes to know what’s going to happen and make plans so nothing goes wrong? Me too. Unfortunately that’s not how life works. Everyone makes plans only to see them fall apart.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve made plans only for them to fall through at the last second or take me in a whole different direction. It happened when I was trying to write this blog. I was trying to plan out exactly what I was going to say word for word before I even opened my computer. Every day we make plans. We create this picture perfect plan and are so disappointed when things don’t work out. What we need to remember is that when things don’t work out like we want, it’s because God is in control and His is the only perfect plan that is going to work out.
Proverbs 16:1 says, “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer,” and verse 9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” God has a plan for each of us, and no matter how much we want to go in the opposite direction, ultimately, God’s plan is the one that’s going to work out.
I want to be an Occupational Therapist, someone who helps people learn life skills that they have either forgotten or never had in the first place. I first decided this is what I wanted to do when I met a little girl from my church that has cerebral palsy. I thought it was amazing what the Occupational Therapists did for her, like helping her learn how to ride a bike. So I started to formulate a plan. At first, everything fell into place. God provided me with a way to get my Master’s degree done in 6 years instead of the traditional 7 by showing me the Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program at ISU, which makes the last year of my Bachelor’s degree the first year of my Master’s. God provided me with many shadowing opportunities to get the observation hours I need. My first three semesters at ISU have worked out so well that I got the credits I need and am able to have a job. Everything was working out perfectly. So I was starting to make my perfect plan. That didn’t work out so well. I needed a reminder from God that this was His plan for me, not mine. My second semester I took an Intro to Statistics class that is a requirement for the accelerated program. I thought this class would be a breeze because I am fairly good at math and my mother, who is not so good at math, passed easily. I didn’t need God. I was going to pass this class and get my degree all on my own and go on to have my dream job. I definitely got a nice little wakeup call from God. Stats was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I had a really hard time understanding concepts. I still didn’t really turn to God, even when I was at a B- at midterms. I thought I could get my grade up. I had to pass with at least a B. But I still wasn’t listening to God. I ended up getting a C+, which is the lowest grade I’ve ever had in my life. Now I have to retake the class and I have no idea when I’m going to have time to do that. But I know God is going to provide. This is His plan. He will provide time for me to retake the class and this time I won’t be going through it alone.
There are so many more times I’ve made plans and forgotten who is really in control. I know all of you have too. We worry so much about making sure everything is going to turn out picture perfect. But guess what? If you trust in God and his promise for a good life, I can guarantee that, after everything is said and done, everything will turn out picture perfect. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11.
I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… living in a world full of broken plans.