Give it to God

Clinging to bitterness and anger like it’s my life support. On days like these, I need to take a step back and refocus on what really matters and who is really in control. My circumstances should not be dictating my mood. I should not be allowing trials and unmet expectations to make those around me suffer, to ruin my day, to not give my all in serving the Lord.

Beauty from ashes, not built bitterness and resentment. Beauty. God will use whatever He is allowing you to go through for His glory. Cling to Him. This is my reminder to let go of past hurts and everything else that is dragging me down. Give it to God.

Turn to Joy

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.” John 16:20 ESV

Sorrow will turn to joy. I find that so comforting! This sorrow that I am facing will turn to joy. Sorrow, mourning, pain, all of our trials will turn to joy. See also Jeremiah 31, it’s a fantastic read, and I truly recommend taking the time to pour over the verses in Jeremiah 31. Verse 13 for instance, I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 

As Christians, our lives aren’t marked by perfect health and constant prosperity. In fact, Jesus promised that we will experience sufering. But with that promise of pain comes the hope that our sorrow will be turned to joy.

“Turn to Joy” from The Weekly Prayer Project

Turning to joy when we are facing painful trials isn’t always our first reaction. It should be. Our first reaction should be to turn to Christ and find our joy in Him. We are going to experience pain and suffering, but that doesn’t mean we need to wallow in bitterness and anger. What a testament to Lord if we react to trials with joy and love and a closer relationship with Him. Beauty to ashes, what Satan meant for harm God will use for good! Don’t suffer in the trials, grow in them! Turn to joy!

Acts 14:22 “…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God,” they said.”‘

Romans 8:28  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. “

 

His Grace

The grace and mercy of God is unbelievably overwhelming. Looking back on all of my mistakes, sins, and regrets I would never expect God to use me how He is. I am serving Him in student ministry as a life group leader for senior girls, in children’s ministry as a preschool teacher, and now starting up the young women’s ministry. It’s so exciting. I feel incredibly unworthy to be so involved in ministry for the Lord.

God knows my past, He knows everything I’ve said and done and He still loves me and still uses me. I’m beyond blessed.

You are never ever too far gone for God. There is no such thing as being too far gone. He met me where I was. Rock bottom, cursing Him, never wanting to step foot in a church again. I told myself I was unworthy of joy, unworthy of a life serving Him, unworthy of having a relationship with anyone who loved the Lord. And here I am today – I strive to find my joy in the Lord, I try to serve Him every day, and my relationship is centered around God.

His love covers all. It covers a multitude of sins. Don’t listen to the lies that tell you that you’re used and ruined or too far gone. You’re not. God has a purpose for you.

 

 

Love > Bitterness

Lysa TerKeurst has been through the wringer. Satan has attacked her and her family because she is allowing God to work through her and use her. She has been strong through it all and so filled with the grace and love of Christ. 

I strive to get to the place where my circumstances will not destroy my relationship with God or my mood. Even a little bit. I pray that God will use my pain and suffering and trials and that I won’t become hardened and bitter. 

Her circumstances over the past few years would have left me bedridden and destroyed. The ultimate human rejection. I don’t think my bounce back from that heartbreak would be filled with as much understanding and grace as hers was. I don’t know what her time of mourning looked like after finding out of her husband’s infidelity but I know that how she wrote about it and used the pain to showcase the love of Christ was monumental and incredible. Truly a mirror image to the love of our Lord. 

She is a representation of beauty from ashes. Learning from her pain. Growing and building her relationship with God despite her grief. What Satan meant for destruction the Lord used for good. The forgiveness and grace for her husband is huge and beautiful. Their love for each other and the rebuilding of what was broken is just such a testament to God’s love. 

I want to hug her so tightly and thank her for her testimony. I pray the Lord can work on my heart and soften it so that I pour out love instead of bitterness. 

Isaiah 41:1 God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble. 

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. 

You just have to laugh…

What a week it has been. On Sunday evening I had a heart episode while in the hot springs in Ouray, Colorado. Since then it has been an exhausting week of going to urgent care in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday, being advised not to fly, going on two flights traveling back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, being met by EMT’s at the Philadelphia Airport, and going to the ER on Thursday.

It is now Friday and I’m beat and I still don’t have any answers. An MRI, neurologist visit, and psychologist visit are my next steps.

Josh has been incredibly supportive this past week. He has been by my side through the entire thing and has been constantly pointing me back to relying on the Lord by how he shows Christ’s love to me. He epitomizes what it means to be unconditional. And I’m so grateful God has him by my side.

With everything that has happened since November and everything we’ve gone through together, I know for a fact we’ve survived it because God is the center of our relationship. And we laugh….a lot. That definitely helps.

 

Youth Ministry

In July 2018 I began to burnout serving at church. At the time I was the preschool and nursery lead, junior and senior high girls youth leader, part time front desk helper, part time assistant to the communications director, and a menagerie of other things.

In April 2017 I went through a much needed breakup and returned home and returned to the church. In an attempt to justify my actions that happened while I was away from home being a reckless stupid moron…I threw myself into serving at church. I spent every waking second helping at church or thinking about church.

I never sat in the service. Instead I would serve all three services either at the desk, in the children’s ministry classrooms, or the sound booth being the assistant to the communications director. I didn’t fellowship. I didn’t worship. I was working. I was trying to balance the last 5 years of transgressions with burning myself out serving. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My intentions were to say yes to every need.

In July 2018 I was also saved. So I wanted to start sitting in the service. I wanted to start worshiping. I wanted to start pouring all I had into my students at youth group. I wanted to build relationships with fellow Christians. But I was being pulled in so many directions that I started to hate church. My idea that fixing my sins by serving was starting to ruin me. I met with the director of student ministries and told him what was going on. He had me seriously pray about each area I was serving in the church. He told me it wasn’t my responsibility to say yes to everything. That it was okay to say no. And it was not my responsibility how other people would react by me stepping down. And it hit me like a truck…my heart is in student ministry. My heart is with those teens.

So I stepped down from everything else. I still serve 2 times a month in children’s ministry but that’s because I have a heart for those preschoolers. Since then my relationship with God has flourished. My faith has grown stronger. I’m still at church at least 3 times a week, and I’m still meeting outside of church with students, but I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what God wants me to be doing.

My point to all this is you don’t have to say yes to filling a need just because it’s there. Pray about it. Talk to God asking Him where He wants you. It is so easy to burnout and want nothing to do with the church or God by over-serving. It totally is possible to over serve. Trust me.

If you’re burning out – take a look at where you’re serving and what you’re filling your time with. Are you serving just to fill a need? Here’s some daily Christianese for ya: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

I would sooner quit my job then leave youth ministry. That’s how serious I am about pouring into those kids.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

God’s Chisel

Josh’s lesson with the youth praise team, as well as an in-depth conversation with one of the member’s of the praise team afterwards, inspired this blog post. I’m sure you’ve seen the Skit Guy’s video God’s Chisel – if you have not here is the link.

The video portrays God taking a chisel to a guy who is struggling with his sins…and he isn’t exactly welcoming the changes to his life. The changes, the cutting out sin, the moving on from our old ways and living for God…it’s a process that is filled with mourning and pain. Giving up control isn’t easy. Quitting sins, allowing God to transform us, it isn’t easy. We cling to our sins, they can be a source of stress relief, and they can be comforting, and feel familiar.

When we actually look at ourselves and fail to see God’s craftsmanship it can be a lonely place. Hiding away completely ashamed of ourselves is lonely. We are either going away from God or closer to Him. There is no standing still. There is no lukewarm. So when we find comfort in our sins, in attempting to control our own lives instead of turning from our sins and living for God…we are moving away from Him.

I should rewatch that video each week simply for the intense and much-needed conviction it brings on.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. Romans 12:2

If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes. Deuteronomy 30:16

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Joy

Joy has been on my mind lately so I asked my good friend and sister in Christ, Jayme to help me write about it! Thank you, Jaym!

Well what’s poppin people of kaito’s blog! Allow me to introduce myself…..my name is Jayme. I also have a blog called Just Getting Started. 10/10 would recommend. So anyway. I’m just hopping on here to write a little blurb on joy!

The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of joy is a little kid eating popsicle on a hot summer night. Maybe he’s frolicking in a field? You get the picture. Now here’s a little secret. That joy this kid has is going to end. It will stop. The joy that popsicle is giving him at the moment will end when the popsicle is gone. I feel like that’s what everyone is doing these days. They are trying to find joy in something that will melt, isn’t going to last. Everyone is looking for something that will satisfy them. Quench their thirst. Hate to break it to you, but everything on this earth won’t satisfy you, won’t bring you the joy you are striving so hard to find. So what’s the solution? God. God is the only thing that can satisfy you. Bring you real everlasting joy. You may be asking how does he do that?

So when God created the earth, he made man and women. He let them live in the garden of Eden. God gave them one rule and that was to NOT eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. One thing let to another and they ate from it. This separated them from God. Separated the rest of us from God. They could feel shame and they were embarrassed. Now every one who would ever live was destined to Hell. We were all going and should go because we are all so screwed up. What did God do? He found a way for us to go to heaven and be with him. A few thousand years after the Fall, God sent his son to earth. This is who we call Jesus. Jesus lived on earth like man but never sinned. He lived the perfect life. The next thing that happened? He was crucified. He died. Do you want to know why he died? For you. This is where I find my joy. Knowing that God sent His son to die for me so I could go to heaven. This makes me want to jump up and down. Go full disney princess and scream it from a mountain top. This is joy will last forever. You will still have it after you die. In heaven, it’s literally a party celebrating how rad our God is. Pretty freakin dope if you ask me. That’s all I have to say so i guess back to kait with our regular scheduled program!

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I struggle with finding my joy in the Lord. I need daily reminders to check my heart and not dwell on my circumstances or try to find my joy in things that only provide temporary happiness. I’m grateful for friends who keep me accountable when I am getting overwhelmed and not relying on God. My joy…my excitement…it all needs to come from Him.

Here are some photos of us being our crazy selves.

Go follow Jayme’s blog for more awesomeness. Jayme’s Blog – Just Getting Started

Self Worth

Unfortunately I am no stranger to low self esteem and self worth. I allowed my circumstances and the lies to dictate my relationship with myself. I allowed being in an abusive relationship to dictate my worth. I allowed my eating disorder to control how I viewed myself. Instead of finding my worth in the Lord, I looked elsewhere and it was devastating. The only thing I found was pain and heartache.

I used to laugh saying I was the type of person to light myself on fire to keep others warm. I didn’t realize how completely wrong that mindset was. I saw no value in myself. Little by little I gave pieces of myself away to keep others happy. I was numb and depressed. There was no joy, no self respect, no value, and no God.

Slowly I am realizing I am so valuable and my worth is immeasurable. Slowly the negative comments from others and myself are being replaced with positive and uplifting comments. It’s taking time, but progress is definitely being made.

My relationship with myself sets the tone for every relationship in my life. I need to love myself and find worth in myself in order to be valuable to others. I need to have a life that honors God. I need to talk to myself in a way that honors God. When I am constantly beating myself up and believing the lies, I am not honoring God in any way. I am insulting His creation. He did not create me to live a life of negativity and belittlement.

As I pray for those close to me to see their worth and their value and see how loved they are…I will also pray that I see those things as well. God is working to change me but I need to put in the work. I want God to work in me so I need Him to work on me.

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isaiah 64:8  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Psalm 46:5  “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

1 Peter 3:3-4  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Psalm 143:8  “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Proverbs 3:15-18  “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

 

Rescue

Trigger Warning: Suicide

The shame I hold onto about this part of my testimony is heavy and covered in guilt. But the more I celebrate my life, the more I want to open up about this so that hopefully God can use my ashes for His beautiful purpose.

Here I sit at Lake Nockamixon, it’s 32 degrees and extremely windy, but the sun is shining on my tear soaked face, the seagulls are singing, and Rescue by Lauren Daigle is playing in my ears.

When I was 20 I tried to kill myself.

I wanted to end it. End everything. End the pain and the depression and the anxiety. End the frustration. End the never ending struggle. But more than that I would have ended moments like this one. Sunshine on my face looking out over the lake. I would have ended coffee dates with my mom. I would have ended heart to heart talks with my dad. I would have never seen my brother graduate college as valedictorian. I never would have poured into my youth kids who mean the absolute world to me. I would have ended the possibility of ever meeting Josh and beginning this immaculately designed chapter of my life. I would have ended any possibility of the Lord using me for His purpose. In the blink of an eye I would have ended every single thing that I hold so valuable.

I was desperate and numb and in searing pain all at once and I thought my only option was to kill myself. I thought the only option was to give up. To give up ever having a future. As I write this I vividly remember the amount of emotional and physical and spiritual pain I was in. I remember throwing myself on my bedroom floor shaking uncontrollably, sobbing and screaming for God to take the pain away, take away the pain from my disease, take away my depression and anxiety. I was shrieking. I was done. I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t imagine continuing to live one more second.

I am grateful for the nurses and doctors that took care of me at the hospital that night and the next day. I am grateful for the security guard that was posted at my door and didn’t take his eyes off me. I am grateful to the nurse filled with compassion and warmth who didn’t treat me like an insane person, she kept me company and brought me heated blankets, I don’t remember her name but I am grateful to her for treating me like a person. I am grateful for the support from my coordinator and therapists. I am grateful to my mom who never ceased praying, never ceased crying out to God, even in the midst of her agony, and the fear of losing me. She never ceased praying. She was my rock when I couldn’t stand on my own. She fought for me when I couldn’t care less.

Suicide doesn’t just end the bad stuff, it doesn’t just end the pain. In fact it causes pain, intense unmeasurable amounts of pain. Suicide ends all of the good things and any good thing that’s to come. It ends more than just a life. Praise the Lord I am alive. I am experiencing what it means to actually be alive. I will not let my depression and anxiety win. This will not steal my joy. I refuse to fall victim to my mental illness.

I have way too much to live for.