By the Water

Absolutely LOVING these verses in the Message version. With all of your passion AND intelligence, not by brute strength. 
“Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’” Matthew 22:37
because 
“Cursed is the strong on who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.” Jeremiah 17:5
but the man who trusts in the Lord 
“will be a like a tree planted by the water, and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

The photo of me above is during a drought season. A life-drought: a tough string of years. A time where I tried to stand by the water but I think my roots were only nourished by my tears. One Sunday afternoon, my parents and I went down by the River. The wind was blowing something fierce (can you tell by my hair?). It was a little too late in the day to be down there without a sweater. But I love this photo in front of the giant tree down by the water and the fact that somehow, somehow there is light in my eyes. 
Looking at it reminds me: 

Let’s go to the water, my dears.
If we are in a year of drought, perhaps its time to think, am I loving God with my passion, prayer, and intelligence? Or am I setting him aside and using my own strength? 

xo
Natalie

Fear vs. Faith

Decision-making models are practically countless. Just take one business class and you’ll find that out! But we, as Christians, as Good Girls, have really only two options: world-based decision-making, or Heaven-based decision-making. Or, as a more pleasingly alliterative alternative, “Fear vs. Faith.” Have you ever seen someone make a decision based on worldly assumptions, convictions, and desires? I truly believe it comes down to a decision made in fear: I have to do this or I won’t be good/cool/rich/thin enough. Or the worldly decision is based on selfishness, which is really just fear cloaked in self-righteousness.

What does the alternative look like? Well, it looks…scary and humbling, if we’re being honest. It looks….unpredictable. Oh dear. This is really making me want to put on that cloak of self-righteousness and cower under selfishness again. A faith-based decision is based on two things that seem at odds: a knowing and a not-knowing. We may not know why a decision makes sense, we may not know the full details of how it is going to work out or what glory God will be given, but we know with utter certainty that God has our backs. God does not want us to be fearful or selfish. Jesus equates little faith with fear.

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 
Matthew 8

 A faith-based decision allows God to show us how strong He is, and often allows us to learn a lesson and be refined. “Giving in” to a faith-based decision may mean letting go of long-held ambitions (that whole cool/rich/thin thing?). It may mean de-focusing on the scary 10% of something and focusing on the rewarding 90%. It may mean relying on the kindness of strangers, or taking a pay cut, or riding the city bus next to that not-so-clean looking person. Sounds scary right?

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:14-16

Fear enslaves us. But when we receive the Holy Spirit, we are freed from fear! Embrace that truth. And we can cry, “Daddy, Daddy!” to a Father who blesses our faith.

Dear Abba, 
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have not given us a spirit of fear or timidity! Thank you that you allow us the grace of your strength when we step out in faith. When we call to you, when we cry out to you, you answer. Help us to make decisions based on your convictions and promises, Lord, not those of this world. 
Your Daughter, 
Natalie

End of the Night

It’s the end of the night and the end of yet another pretty journal filled with my life.

I always feel like the start of a new journal marks some sort of significance in my life. What will it be this time? What year and a half worth of life will I capture within its pages, within my heart? My journals are my prayer journals. They hold cries of my heart, longings, prayers answered, prayers unanswered; they hold all of my foibles and all of my fears. They hold the triumphs when there is no one else to share them with, the little inconsequential battles won. They hold all of this so I can remember. So I can see later. Indeed, there was an answered prayer. Thank goodness God didn’t answer that prayer! See how He was preparing me for that?

He is always preparing us, molding us. He is always refining us, defining us again with His love {this song}. Shaking the dust off us and saying, “Now try again, my child.”

At the end of the night, I run to my Heavenly Father. I run to Him and I say, “Daddy! Daddy! Did you hear about today?! Did you see that? Did you know?” and He says, “My daughter, my dear, I was there with you. I ordered your steps today, and it gave me great delight to sing over you.”

And tonight, I run to Him and I am all smiles. You know how a happy little girl runs to her daddy and says, “Daddy, I LOVE you!”? That’s what I do tonight. I lavish my love and praise on Him. I raise my hands and I sing Him a new song. My heart loves to bring Him praises.

I have a feeling good things will be in this new journal. Very good things, indeed.