How Bitterness Becomes Beauty

“She couldn’t imagine how bitterness could become beauty, but her sovereign God could.” 

These words struck me as I read day 3 my She Reads Truth study on Ruth one recent morning. 

It’s a truth that I’ve been thinking about a lot as I’ve been struggling through my job search in preparation for the final leg of my move to North Carolina. After multiple rejections, I found myself crying in despair and repulsed at the idea of having to continue to put in applications and resumes.

I have a sensitive heart – criticism and rejection hit me hard, even rejection from people who have never met me and judge me only from a piece of paper or an email – or maybe that’s even more hard-hitting! 

But time and time again, I went back to my prayers from before I left Denver. 

All of the details and provision leading up to this move were undeniable miracles from God. So, after years of working in jobs that did not bring me joy, I hoped and prayed that God would prepare another miraculous provision for me – a job that brought me joy and wasn’t the same thing I’d been doing through those years. It would be a miracle because once you have a slew of jobs in one type of role or industry on your resume, it can be incredibly hard to switch to a new kind. So, I prayed for a miracle.

The job landscape I saw showed no hope for an answer to my prayers – it was far more dismal than I had imagined or been prepared for. Still, I couldn’t get my prayers out of my mind. 

Why? Because barren landscapes and bitter circumstances are exactly the kinds of places where God likes to do miracles.  

If you are facing bitter or heartbreaking circumstances or looking at barren landscapes, let me encourage you – God has not abandoned you. He is working in ways that you simply can’t see with your eyes to bring miracles and blessings and beauty from what you see.  

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God collects and counts every tear. (Psalm 56:8)

He hears you when you cry and call to Him. (Psalm 18:6) 

Your faithfulness to Him in these circumstances, no matter weak you feel, is beautiful – He cherishes your heart.  

You were chosen in Christ to do good works, and He will carry out His work in you to completion. (Ephesians 2:10)

So, my dear friend – this is not the end.  


Even during this hard season of mine, God has been providing for me and caring for me. He has given me a friend who has bolstered me through her prayers for me, and He has answered her prayers. He has ministered to me and spoken to me in order to guide me and help me hang on and believe.  

I have continued to hear and see stories of how He has turned hard and bitter and hopeless situations into stories of miracles and provisions.

Believe.  

If there’s anything I would urge someone to focus on in this season, it would be to cling to the belief that the Lord is good.  

Hold on to Romans 8:28: 

“And we know that all things work to the good of those that love Him, to those who are called according to His name.” 

And praise Him for it. Because that’s the thing: 

If you look back on your life, you can see times where He took bad or mediocre things and worked them out for good. If you search the lives of your friends, or heck, even just surf social media long enough, you will see stories of His faithfulness and bitterness turned into blessing.  

The proof of His goodness and His faithfulness is there – will you choose to believe it for yourself in this moment and season?  


Sometimes His faithfulness and provision is different from the specific thing we were asking for – because He knows better, and we can still trust that He’s working all the details out for good. I am certain that the Lord is answering my prayers for the type of job that I wanted, but I’m also positive that it will look different than I imagined before I left Denver.

Still, I can see beauty in it. The beauty is that during this season I have received stunning clarity and revelation on the path the Lord wants me to walk in pursuing my bigger calling from Him, much of which involves writing and this blog, and to me, the beauty is the freedom and time that I will still have to dedicate myself to it. I have a renewed sense of purpose and the level of my surrender to the Lord and His plans and will for my life have deepened immeasurably. He has taken my faith to deeper depths and given me huge revelations about myself, bringing me to deeper repentance and refining me. I realize now that every day, every moment, and every step is a building block, and when you focus on each building block as making progress instead of focusing on the fact that you haven’t yet reached your goal, your outlook is far more exciting and positive. 

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Responsibility & Rest: How To Rest When Responsibility Beckons

It’s 10:30 pm on the dot, and I should go to bed. I’ve been working all day and being quite surprisingly productive in spite of my gluten induced headache (note: buy the certified gluten free oat flour, not the regular oat flour), and I should give my brain and body some rest. I should turn in early so that I don’t keep stretching my bedtime later and later and become a night owl.

But I really want to write! And I really want to post this! I received so much clarity and vision today on how to move forward in where God’s leading me and do it well and I want to get moving!

The early bed time won. 

 And I’d like to think it’s because I’ve become really good at knowing how and when to listen to my body when it’s telling me, “No more, please.”

But just when you think you’ve master the balance between responsibility and rest, a new situation will challenge you. That is because there are all different kinds of responsibilities with different nuances and all different kinds of rest with different nuances. 

I have been in a season of job hunting, and it has been kicking my butt.

The world (and my sweet dad who is helping to carry me through until I find one) tells me that I need to do anything and everything I can to find a job and gain income. Use every avenue. Take whatever I can get. Bend over and backwards and in all directions possible. Hustle, girl..

And that’s the mentality that I tried to work by too, believing that it was wise, that I was honoring God by acting on that wisdom.

Except in my case, it wasn’t wisdom. 

Because in that wisdom, I was using all the same tactics to find jobs as I had used before, and I was applying to all the same kinds of jobs I had done before… 

…which were the exact kinds of jobs I was praying for freedom from – so how does that make sense?

It doesn’t. 

Ar the same time, I kept receiving messages via God and His vessels in my life about resting.

And when you’re in the middle of job hunting and you NEED MONEY, resting seems like the exact opposite of what you should be doing, am I right?


Have you ever been in a season or a moment where God was calling you to do something (like rest) when it was the seemingly complete opposite of what we should be doing (our responsibility)? 

Let me encourage you, friend – this is kind of a common Jesus thing He likes to do sometimes.  

That is code for: YOU ARE NOT CRAZY.  

You are faithful. As in, full-of-faith, and God will catch you when you leap and He bless you.   

And since we’re talking about the culturally controversial issue of rest today, let me doubly praise you for being faithful to rest. 

Rest is holy. Resting is faithful.

TWEET IT: Rest is holy. Rest is faithful.

 

I started allowing myself to enjoy some rest.  

I let myself enjoy downtime, stopped holding myself accountable for using every waking minute for job hunting, and I stopped guilt tripping myself for doing some fun things. When I want to take a break, I take a break.

Now, in my case, God was also calling me to change how I fulfilled my responsibility – I needed to change how I job hunted. I needed to stop using the same tactics and applying to the same jobs which were the ones I didn’t want.  

You know what happened?  

My soul experienced rest.  

A lot of times, our responsibility to rest is not only physical. We must also rest in the Lord.  

When He calls us to do something differently than we have been or to do something counter-cultural or seemingly “crazy,” we must be obedient. Our responsibility is to be obedient.  

When we are responsible by being obedient, our souls can find true rest.

In being obedient to change the way I job search, God has been meeting me in multiple ways with this verse:

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that He is God when He calls you to physical rest, even when it seems irresponsible.

Be still and know that He is God even when He calls you to do something differently. He will be faithful.


I’m grateful to say that I’m receiving more job leads now that I’ve changed my methods of job hunting, and I have an interview this Sunday for a job that I think will fit my perfectly in this season (at least, a main job that will, and I trust that the Lord will provide what I need to supplement the rest of my income.)

I cannot begin to tell you how much more peace and calm I’ve had in my heart since I fully surrendered to obedience and rest in this season and my job hunt. My level of faith and trust have increased, and my level of stress has gone down. 

Honor the Lord in responsibility and rest, and you will find the balance and peace you need!

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Is God calling you to a certain responsibility or rest today? If you feel led, share in the comments, and I will pray for you!

The Things That Really Matter

I sat an a table at a Starbucks located in the center of an outdoor mall. It was 10:30 am, and had the clouds not been there, it would have already been unbearably hot. The clouds were out, and the breeze was just right. The size of the crowd was just right to make people-watching enjoyable.

 I was sipping my ritualistic venti coffee frappuccino with whipped cream. I noticed a mom with her two teenage children. She wanted to buy them each a beverage, but they were so disinterested that they wouldn’t even confirm a selection for her – she had to choose herself. They seemed inconvenienced to be there with her. 

Later, I saw another teenager with her mom and someone who looked like she could have been the girl’s aunt. The teenager was tall, skinny, gorgeous, and well put together. She and the older ladies were talking about a patchwork family of sisters and half-sisters from a first, second, and third marriage and a pastor who speaks “too long” on Sundays.

I remember life as a teenager. 

I remember worrying furiously about how pretty and skinny I was. About impressing boys. About what was cool and popular, which definitely did not include my mom. About going places with my mom being a frustrating inconvenience.  

And now I just…

Don’t.  

I wear clothes that I like and that I find comfortable. Most days my hair is in a ponytail, and my everyday makeup is only mascara. My mom can still be plenty embarrassing, but now I have compassion for her and realize that she is incredibly amazing. Despite her limited resources, she gives generously and lives with a sincere faith. I realize that time with her is a gift not to be taken for granted. Families are a gift, no matter how much they might resemble quilt work.

I remember when I used to care about the things that don’t matter. 

I remember how I used to try so hard to get invited to parties and be friends with the cool kids. How I used to betray my introverted personality type to be more liked or accepted by certain people. How I used to betray my giftings to satisfy others by doing things that were not my gifting and did not bring me joy. How I used to do things I didn’t want to in order to keep up a friendship, trying to maintain a pace of life that exhausted me. 

Eventually when you spend so much time caring about all the things that don’t matter, you get burned out…and you start wondering about and yearning for the things that do.  


Being influenced by this world and it’s misplaced values isn’t something to feel guilty about – it happens to all of us. We all go through a journey of figuring out what matters and doesn’t matter – at least to us personally, if not also to God. 

For me, this was just one of those moments where I was able to see how different I am now.

I think learning to value the things that truly matter in this earthly life is something that comes with time and maturity. Our culture pressures us into valuing the superficial and fleeting things, like youthful looks, but God reminds us,

Man looks at the outer appearance, but God looks at the heart.

— 1 Samuel 16:7

When you stop striving for the wrong things, the wrong people, the wrong goals – you find a quality of life, satisfaction, and joy that you never knew existed – and you’ll never go back to your old ways again. 

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For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

— Philippians 1:21

If there’s anything I’ve learned that applies to learning about what truly matters and lasts in this world and all other types of personal growth and healing, it’s that it all happens a little bit at a time. All of life is a process, and we should give ourselves grace. God gives us more grace than we realize, and He longs for us to give grace to ourselves and to others as well. 

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What were the experiences that taught you what really matters in life? Have you ever had one of those “How much I’ve changed!” moments like I did recently? 

Following Jesus Is Simple.

It’s people and our world that have made it seem complicated.   

You have to lay the foundation. 

When you’re a new Christian, you need to learn the Bible. You need to learn the major principles about how it says we are to live our lives. You need to learn how to study it. You need to memorize it. You need to learn to turn to it to help you make decisions and solve problems.   

When you don’t have this foundation, life gets complicated.  

I suppose life is always complicated, but it’s figuring that it how to navigate it that gets especially complicated and hard when you do not have the foundation of knowing how to turn to and read the Bible for direction and guidance.  

Sometimes people lean more to one side than others. I have always been more of a prayer than a Bible reader. But I’m wishing now that when I had become a Christian when I was young, someone had taken the time to teach and give me that firm foundation of also heavily turning toward the Bible when I faced problems. There is nothing else out there like the perspective it gives you.  

Church is a family.

Your church community is meant to be a family that helps to carry you, support you, encourage you, guide you, and love you through this complicated and challenging life.  

Many churches aren’t like this anymore. Their numbers are too big, and in our modern society, most people are only concerned about their own lives. But this isn’t how church is meant to be.  

It is meant to be a place where people regularly pray for you. Where they look through God’s word WITH you to help you navigate those problems. Where they hug you, cook for you, babysit your kids, and eat meals with you.  

Find a church like that.  

Home is always open.

To strangers. To lost people. To hurting people. To happy people. To neighbors. To family.  

And there should always be food. 

Because we equate food with positive emotions. Making homemade food is a way of loving on people and making them feel AT home in your home, while you share love and Jesus with them. 

There is no such thing as an excuse that you don’t know how to cook. Get a cookbook. And if you really want to comfort people, get a southern one. 

Homemade food is important. At least one person in your home needs to cook, and if you’re single then it needs to be you;)  

Jesus is someone you should be talking about.

Our society doesn’t want you to, and preaching on a street corner is probably not the best way to do it anymore – people receive better in relationship.  

But, what do you have to lose?  

If they reject you, they are not really rejecting you at all – they are rejecting Jesus. That’s between the Lord and them, and you can continue loving them through prayer and kindness. 

If they kill you, you’re going to heaven. Bonus.  

If they persecute you, you have a greater opportunity to show them Jesus. Although, I do recommend taking wise precautions for safety if you need to.  

And if they do none of the above, then they’re probably on their way to a relationship with Jesus. If not then, then over time.  

It can get hairy and complicated. If they’re your family and they decide to stop talking to you, well, then you’re missing your family, and that gets hard. I would say you should still listen to the Spirit to guide you. But in the end, and especially with people you don’t know, what is the harm in taking the chance?  

We Christians more often than not tend to keep our mouths shut these days. It’s time to stop.  

Honor God with your resources. 

Work hard. Spend wisely. Be generous. 

At the end of the day, love is what matters most.

Our society and culture, even and especially our Christian culture, likes to make it so much more complicated than this. We focus on divisions, flaws, and failures. We focus on differences. We focus on tiny details, that, in the bigger scheme of things, compared to THIS list – do not really matter.  

Seek to live by God’s word. Serve people. Bless people. Love people. Tell them about Jesus.  

It really is just that simple.  

 

Making Friends Comes With Mixed Feelings

I’m an East Coast girl. My roots spread all up and down this great coast, from Massachusetts to Georgia. I’ve lived in Florida, Rhode Island, Virginia, and New York and visited my family in Georgia and Massachusetts on the regular. Now, my sister resides in Connecticut and vacations in Vermont, and after 8 years of living away from the East Coast, I’m starting a new adventure in North Carolina. 

See what I mean? We’ve got this coastline covered.  

The Wild West was a hard place for a gal like me. 

Let’s just say that the air out there isn’t the only thing that is rather dry. 

 

Southern Colorado
Southern Colorado

I struggled to find authentic relationships with people who were truly running hard after Jesus and not the world.  

At the church at which I was a member the longest during my time there, there was an active “young professionals” community. They all spent time with each other outside of services without any church organized promptings – the community was established. Unfortunately, the relationships only went so deep.  

I tried and tried to break into the “core” of the group, but after years, it was clear that the cool kids were never going to let me in. The thing was that the cool kids didn’t have the type of walks with Jesus or with each other that I really wanted anyway. Their hangouts were mostly about fun and less about Jesus.  

Eventually, I stopped trying, and I was so much happier when I did.

I was lucky to still have ended up with a solid core of close, Jesus-loving friends and a number of other genuine, wonderful acquaintances.  

Those experiences and the climate there was hard on my soul though, and I’ve come away feeling like they left a bit of a scar. So as I look toward making new friends in North Carolina, I find myself with some mixed and yet decisive feelings about the process.

On the one hand, I’m excited. I’m excited because I get the feeling that the people down here are way more “my kind of people.”  I’m a humble, Jesus loving girl. I don’t need much to be happy in this life. I think there are a lot more people down here who are like me, versus the Wild West. One of the reasons I moved back is because I just never truly felt like I fit in there.

On the other hand, the scars from the Wild West and that particular church experience, as well as others after it, leave me slightly less motivated to seek out new friends. I’m an introvert. I can spend lots of time by myself and be completely happy. I NEED a healthy amount of time by myself. It means I thrive on authentic and personal connections. I’m also an adult and so much more comfortable in my skin than ever before. All of this means that, quite frankly, I’m only willing to put so much effort into making friends. I am content to put in as much effort as I am comfortable with and then wait for the authentic, humble, Jesus-loving friends to reveal themselves. I’m not about to exhaust and betray myself like I did in the Wild West. 

I know that I’m only interested in certain kinds of friends this time around. I want real, humble, Jesus-loving friends. No walls. No hoops to jump through. No world-chasers and people-pleasers. Just “love God and love people,” Bible-learning disciples of Jesus who will build me up in the Lord with love and acceptance and I, them. 

Since before I moved back to the East Coast, I have had a distinct desire for community-based relationships in my life. Friendships and fellowship right in the very neighborhood I live in. I want to know my neighbors, spend porch time with them, and invite them in to eat. And if I can read the Bible and talk Jesus with them, that is even better. I want a neighborhood that’s a community, and I am praying that over the one I’m about to move into. I know that it can start with just little old me, and I hope to do as much as my introvert heart can handle. 

Other than that, I don’t have any specific plans. 

My plan right now is… try to make friends with my neighbors, be friendly around town, go to community/public events, go on my own adventures, and focus on finding a church.  That’s all I got! 

What are your philosophies and priorities when it comes to making new friends? Have you ever moved to a brand new place where you knew no one? How did you go about it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!  

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I’m Waiting On A House

Last year, I knew that I knew that it was time to make the trek back home to the East Coast after living in Denver for 8 years. About the same time, my dad decided to purchase a vacation/future retirement home and asked me if I’d like to live in it? Not without paying rent, mind you;) I immediately said yes. It was a dream come true! It’s in a small town in the south and it sits on a little pond. And, it feels like mine. I have the place to myself and I get to minister out of my house! Host small groups and cook people food and talk to them about Jesus – what could be better? It is a dream come true. 

There’s one tiny caveat that has made things difficult. 

It’s behind schedule. Like, way behind.  

When my dad signed the contract, they were saying end of March. Well, PERFECT, because that’s right when my lease in Denver ended!  

Long story short – it’s July tomorrow, and we still don’t know when this baby’s going to be finished for real. And that has made for an incredibly challenging season, as I’ve now been living in limbo – in between residences, in between jobs – for four months. Going on 5.  

That up there is my future bedroom! Beauty, ain't it? I can't wait to live in it!! It overlooks the pond ❤️  Also, it'll be the biggest bedroom I've had since like, high school. LOL. 
That up there is my future bedroom! Beauty, ain’t it? I can’t wait to live in it!! It overlooks the pond ❤️  Also, it’ll be the biggest bedroom I’ve had since like, high school. LOL. 

I’ve had to fight to get my excitement back. To remember that the reason that I’m here is a blessing. To trust that Jesus has the perfect job, when my job hunt drags out longer than any before. To not be able to plant roots and find a new church and make some friends and discover new places and make new routines. To not have my own space and get to live fully the way I would want to if I was in my own house right now. 

But even now, God says to me, “There’s a reason why I brought you.”

Today I read an Instagram post from a woman which was describing some hard and challenging circumstances that were affecting her this month. It reminded me of how I have often encouraged people in similar circumstances that they can have peace because when it is clearly out of our hands, it is clearly in God’s hands – that’s the only explanation for things that happen suddenly and are out of our control to change or resolve. 

it reminded me that though I wasn’t immediately seeing my situation as the same kind, in many ways, it is. 

I can’t control when I will get a new job, and I can’t control when I will move into the new house. 

I can apply to jobs. I can prepare for moving into the new house. But other than that? All I can really do is rest and trust that His will and His timing are best.  

How often do we make a season unnecessarily extra hard on ourselves by kicking and screaming about what is out of our hands? 

How often have you? Be honest. I am raising my hand, because it’s been all too often. And lately I have started to think, “That’s just NOT how I want to handle this one.” 

Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done. I have continued to have to catch myself and pray through moments when I was letting the seeming obstacles ahead get the best of me.  

There’s this song by For King And Country called “Steady.” The chorus says, “You keep me steady…and I’ll keep steady after you.”  

The other day when I was listening, I just prayed, “Lord, PLEASE keep me steady. Please help me to keep steady after you.” 

Then, their other song on my playlist came on… “To everyone who’s hit their limit, it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet…Even when you think you’re finished, it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet..”

That’s always a tear jerker during the hard seasons. If you need a good cry sesh with Jesus right now, listen to that one!  

I saw another Instagram post that contained this quote:  

“If God wants a thing to succeed, you can’t mess it up. If He wants it to fail, you can’t save it. Rest and be faithful.” (Jennie Allen) 

That’s what I want to do with the rest of these days. 

I want to continue spending oodles of time with the Lord. That is my favorite thing to do and the biggest thing I miss when I have a full time job.  

I want to read my Duck Dynasty books (I love those people! They have reinvigorated my desire to live for God in a new way, and their stories are so cute), and drink my blackberry lemonade. 

I want to give my puppy some extra cuddles, because when I go back to work he’ll be mad as poop!  

I want to think about all the ways that I can prepare for my new season ahead – a new job, a new house, a new town, a new church, and new friends. And I especially want to pray over them. 

I want to do my best to apply to all the jobs that feel like a good fit and a wise option.

I want to work on building some new habits, like trying to do some simple exercises at home every night. 

I want to keep in touch with all of my existing friends. 

And that’s about it. To me, that’s what a healthy version of rest looks like in this season. . 

So what about you?  

What does healthy rest look like to you in your season? What are you waiting on that you need to let go and trust God with?  

He’s up to something, you know. And when He moves, it’s always about the good stuff.  

So, let’s not miss out on the good stuff while He’s working on even more of it for you.  

 “Even the sparrow knows he holds tomorrow.”  (Jason Gray)

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