Book Update

The “Fun” Part of Writing a Novel

When I went on the ReNEW writers retreat two weekends ago, I received some great feedback from friends that share my passion and can help me sharpen my vision. It was a pleasure to hear what everyone was working on, and the triumphs they’ve made this past year. Though, I wondered when it would be my turn to release my book and celebrate my accomplishments.

At lunch one day, I caught up with one of my friends from last year, who encouraged me to start my novel.

“How’s your book going?” she asked.

“It’s a train wreck,” I said.

“Oh, really? What’s wrong with it?”

I explained how I met with a literary agent and he gave me some good pointers, but I feel like my book is total trash.

“Okay, so, what’s wrong with it?”

I shrugged. “The setting doesn’t make sense.”

“So, basically the setting is your problem?”

With those words, it clicked. That was the only problem with my book! The characters were solid, the writing was legit, and the theme was evident. I just didn’t know where to put my little cherubs. What location, what time period, would serve them best, and help me get the message across?

Well, the literary agent I met with suggested Christian fantasy, because the island of Verdaria, where my characters are currently meeting, is a fictional country. I might have made it more complicated than it is. That’s a good story in and of itself. I wanted my main character to travel to Spain and found out some dark secrets from her past, but why does she have to leave Verdaria? Verdaria has some nasty secrets too! Tori can find out all she needs to know through this fantasy world, while encouraging the reader to explore a new land that has never been discovered by us in “reality.”

As you know, the temptation for me is to write a completely new book. I already have the idea for a new book, and I’m super excited about it, but I have to finish my current book first. My current book is not a train wreck. It’s not trash. I just have to be the master of my own world and mold a world for the theme to shine and the characters to thrive. Or not. Muahaha!

I told Lenny yesterday the plot for my new book. When he heard that the characters had the same name as my current manuscript, he stopped me mid-sentence. “What? You’re rewriting your book again? Stop it! It’s fine. Just finish it and make this book another one.”

My husband is an IT professional, not a writing professional, but God used his blatant honesty to open my eyes and see that I need to edit this thing! Did I mention that the literary agent I met with told me my book was good enough to be published? I don’t think that translates to “total trash.” That means I actually have a shot at having my book traditionally published! Hallelujah!

It is so much easier to write a whole new book than to fix the pieces of my current book. Freewriting is my favorite. I love telling stories, and stringing words together, even if they don’t make total sense. But editing is the fun part of writing. It’s using the mind that God has given me to figure out the best way to communicate a message, to use these words I love to bring out a compelling story, and to use my perseverance to grow my faith and increase my endurance. By self-editing, I have the privilege of reading my book before anyone else! It’s a free pre-release copy that I don’t have to order.

As I improve my self-editing ability, my writing ability will also improve. I’ll be making less mistakes as I learn what my common mistakes are. So, overall, self-editing is a win-win!

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


The Teacher is Here and is Looking for You

Waiting does not come easy for me.  Thoughts rush to my head about what could happen rather than what is currently happening at the moment. I think about all the different scenarios and try to get a plan based on where I think things are going.

Waiting prolongs the process. Waiting interrupts my rhythm. Waiting is not fun.

Jesus had a different perspective on waiting. The story of Lazarus (John 11) serves as a great reminder when I am suffering with anxiety caused by waiting for my plans to produce fruit. In the waiting process, God is growing my faith and redeeming the brokenness of my heart.

Jesus grew the faith of Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus had died.  He waited four days after Lazarus had died to come visit them. I’ve heard the reason for this is that the Jews believed a soul hovered over the body for three days before going to Sheol. So at this point, Mary and Martha believed that their brother was gone.

When Jesus casually strolls up to see Martha, her response is blunt and honest: “If you were here, my brother would not have died.” Although it looks like she’s reprimanding Jesus for not being at her side when her brother was sick, she is actually exercising great faith in that she knew He could have healed her brother. She also was honest with how she felt. She wasted no time with pleasantries as she expressed her sadness and anger at Jesus’ obvious delay in helping her brother. Jesus has a conversation with her that grows her faith, and as you’ll see later in the story, He ends up fulfilling the desires of her heart.

But lately, God taught me something special about this story, the beautiful news that is for me and for you. Martha went to find her sister. I noticed that Mary, the one who had sat at Jesus’ feet, the one who had chose “what was better,” did not meet Jesus when He came to visit. She was at home. Does that mean she had chores to do, that since Jesus had disappointed her that she wasn’t eager to sit at His feet? Does that mean that she was speaking to those who had come to give their condolences? We’re not completely sure, and I may be reading a lot into it, but she demonstrates a different attitude from how we had seen her earlier in the gospel of John, sitting at His feet and soaking up His words.

Mary is about to hear the news that could melt her heart of stone.

When Martha looked for her, she said: “The Teacher is here and is looking for you.” Jesus, the one who had taught Mary how to trust in God, was looking for her. He wanted her to sit at His feet again. Only this time, He would be teaching her through example.

Even when we are obedient to God, diligent to sit at His feet and learn from Him, He still may have a waiting period in His plan for us. In the midst of our waiting, God is right there with us. The one who teaches us is waiting for us to trust Him. The one who loves us is looking for us as we wander around, waiting for our next step. He is waiting for us to sit at His feet again. He is waiting to grow our faith. He is waiting to do the impossible in our lives.

As we all know, Jesus does the impossible for Martha and Mary. He brings back Lazarus from the dead. Despite their lack of faith, and despite the fact that Lazarus had been dead for several days, Jesus is able to perform this wonderful miracle.

What are you waiting for? Let me encourage you that nothing is out of God’s ability. Jesus, the teacher, the one who wants you to grow from this experience, is here, and he is looking for you. Put yourself in a position where He can find you. Sit at his feet, and listen to his teaching. It is only a matter of time before He will do the impossible in your life.

Photo by Stephen Blenman on Unsplash


Write Down to Calm Down

It’s no coincidence that I have anxiety and I love to write. When I’m anxious, I could spend hours writing in my journal, processing my thoughts, making sense of the world around me. I can articulate my emotions and better communicate them to people when I write. As a result, I’m able to maintain my anxiety. I’ve noticed that when I don’t make time to journal, I’m more restless and I’m not as in tune with my emotions.

Truthfully, I haven’t journaled in the past couple of days, so I’m finding it hard to sit still as I’m typing this. My mind is also swimming with ideas to a point where I don’t know what’s going on up there. So maybe this advice is just as important for me in this moment as it is for you.

Make Time to Write
The #1 response I hear to why people don’t journal is, “I don’t have time.” The truth is: We don’t have time for everything. Life is busy, but I believe it’s because we want to be at all places at all times, but we can’t. God gave us twenty-four hours in a day, no more and no less. If journaling is something you want to try, you should make it a priority to carve any amount of time out for your day.

Think about the things that consume your time. You say you don’t have time, but you unwind by watching Netflix or scrolling any one of your social media sites. You make time to spectate other people’s lives, and yet you don’t make time to process your own. If you want a better life, make time to assess where you are now and make measurable goals of where you want to be later. Journaling is the perfect first step for that.

Face Your Fear of Yourself
Before I had a dishwasher, I used to dread washing the dishes. Days would go by and my dishes would pile up. At the end of the week, I wouldn’t want to know what disgusting crusts and smells would arise when I would finally turn on the hot water and start rinsing off my old plates. Although the process was nauseating and painful (I would often burn my hands in the hot water), I would get through washing the dishes and would have sparkling clean dishes.

Similarly, I don’t want to journal when I know I’ll be confronted with my depression or anxiety. I have this fear that I’ll process my feelings for hours only to find out that I’m overreacting and that, overall, I’m a mess. I’m comforted by the fact that God doesn’t look at me that way. God does not despise my broken and contrite heart. He accepts me with my mess, and He helps me sort through the murky waters of my emotions.

If you are afraid of what you will find when you journal, start by affirming yourself with Scripture. God has a lot of great things to say about you in His word. Psalm 139 has been my anthem lately as I’ve struggled with truly feeling beautiful in God’s eyes. God had me in mind before I was even born, and He crafted me to beautifully reflect His glory. Knowing this, I feel less disgusting as I search the depths of my heart.

Journaling Prompts
Pinterest has plenty of prompts to help you start your journaling journey. I’ve taken a few and created my own list. Keep in mind that I assume you’re journaling in the morning when you first wake up, because that’s when I normally do so. If you journal at night before bed, replace “yesterday” with “today,” and “today” with “tomorrow.” Let me know which prompt resonated most with you, and which one you want to try! I think I’m going to try a few of these!

  1. Where did you see God show up in your life yesterday? How are you expecting Him to meet you today?
  2. What success happened yesterday that you would want to achieve again today?
  3. What makes you feel most loved? When was that need met/not met recently?
  4. If you knew God would give you whatever you requested, what would you pray? (Forget what you’re not “allowed” to pray for, like a million dollars or for your ex-boyfriend to break up with his girlfriend. This is your journal, and if the desire of your heart is to win a million dollars or to see your ex-boyfriend suffer, God wants you to be honest with Him. I’m not saying He’ll answer your prayer, but He will give you clarity in how to align your desires with His will).
  5. Write a letter to your past self (at any age, or at a point during a traumatic experience in your life).

Your turn:
-If you’ve never tried journaling, what is stopping you from trying? Is it intimidating or boring?
-What prompts would you try from this list?
-What prompts would you add?

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Love is a Safe Place

Love always protects.

Growing up, I always wanted someone to protect me. Sexual abuse is scattered around our family tree, and although it thankfully has never happened to me, it was something I feared was always right around the corner. I used to have nightmares that someone would climb in through my window and sneak into my room in the middle of the night. I dreamed of the day when I would have a husband to protect me, when I could snuggle him close in the middle of the night, knowing that no bad guy could break through those strong arms.

When I hugged my husband for the first time, listening to his heart beat out of his chest and into my cheek, I knew that I was safe in those arms. His heart was set on protecting me even before we dated. He wanted me for himself, and he wanted me to pursue my greatest dreams. Those dreams began with feeling connected, and feeling protected.

The word used in 1 Corinthians 13:7 paints a beautiful picture of a roof protecting the house from rain. Honestly, tears come to my eyes as I think of how the love in our marriage has protected us from all of life’s storms. Although we’ve only been married for 19 months, we have been through a lot together. From the death of family members to medical issues, from financial strain to work drama, we have covered each other and have built each other up through love. Whatever storms we’ve faced together, the love that we share has kept our faith from wavering, our hearts from breaking, and our souls from wandering.

Love is what covers us when the storms of life threaten to ruin us.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.”
-Psalm 91:4-6 (NIV)

My favorite word picture of God is of an eagle, protecting us with His feathers. He loves us so much that He wants us to be secure. That’s doesn’t mean that we will have a problem-free life, but it means that when the storms come, we have an anchor that will keep us steady through those difficult times. Those who know Christ are completely and totally hidden with Him (see Colossians 3:3). We are protected by His care.

Since we live in an apartment complex, we hear noises all the time at night. The noise from our neighbors is so loud that we sometimes think that they are in the next room. Every night before bed, we pray, and then we sleep soundly. I know that my husband protects me with his love that does not want me to get hurt, and I know that God protects us with his infinite love that knows what is best for us.

Love always protects.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash


Don’t Be Afraid, but Prepare Yourself

Warning, there may be triggers in this post for people who do not like reading about violence or psychosomatic responses. Proceed with caution, hug an animal/teddy bear, and breathe.

When God created us, God gave us reflexes, which are meant to protect us. If we’re driving on the road and a giant truck is speeding the wrong way toward us, we have every reason to respond in fear, since that truck could potentially kill us. In the face of dangerous situations, adrenaline rushes through our body and tells us to fight, flight, or freeze.

I love the reminder that “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” However, I think we need to define what that looks like. God calls us to do impossible things with his strength, but he does not leave us empty handed. We may be unqualified when he calls us to a task, but when we actually do the task, he will have prepared us through trials and acts of faith. When we look at Scripture and the people who were used of God despite their fear, we see that God prepared them to conquer the giants in their way.

Due to his prejudice and the reputation that the Ninevites had, Jonah, despite being a prophet of God, did not want to speak judgment over those people. He ran in the exact opposite direction of where God was calling him. Nevertheless, God chased down Jonah and prepared him to follow his will. Jonah spent two days in the belly of a large fish, praying and seeking God. God used those trials to grow Jonah’s faith and to prepare him for the task of calling the Ninevites to repentance.

Moses was eighty years old when he got the call from God to lead the people out of Egypt. Although Moses was afraid, God had molded Moses’ life as a shepherd who was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, so that Moses had influence to speak to Pharaoh and had wisdom to lead the Israelites.

Mary was a teenager when the angel Gabriel spoke to her and told her that she would give birth to the Messiah and then raise him to walk in the way of God. Her response? She was afraid! She was engaged to Joseph, who probably would be wondering how a baby got inside of her. Also, did I mention that she was a young teenager? Nevertheless, God had prepared her to hear the prophecy from Gabriel through her years of faith, and I am certain that God used the pregnancy to grow her faith to where she could raise the Messiah and give glory to God through His birth.

These people from the Bible, in addition to several others, were scared, but they were also prepared. When you’re faced with fear, it is important to take several steps. First, think about what actually makes you afraid. “What about flying on an airplane or confronting my boss or walking around my neighborhood scares me? What’s the worst that can happen?” You may get some healing from simply asking yourself that question, especially when your fears are irrational.

However, if you discover that your fear is legitimate (whether you’ve faced trauma that almost killed you, or the fear paralyzes you), you need to ask yourself, “Am I prepared to face my fear?” I personally have a fear of planes, but I love to travel. Once I buy a plane ticket, I research how long the flight will be, I think of fun activities to do while on the flight, I stock up on essential oils and natural calming products, and I pray. Even if I book a flight months in advance, I do all these things, because I obsess about my future safety.

If you’re afraid of getting attacked by a person with a weapon, unless you are an armed police officer who is trained in self-defense, you are not prepared to face your fear. If you’re afraid of skydiving but you want to jump without a parachute, you are not prepared to face your fear. Fears are healthy when our bodies know we are not prepared to deal with that dangerous situation. Before being a hero, be patient with yourself and go through the training you need to conquer your fears.

How can you use these steps to prepare yourself for the next time you face your fears?

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Wisdom Wednesday

Feeling Overwhelmed?

I’m writing this post after an overwhelming day.  I woke up, left late for work (but by the grace of God made it to work on time), worked eight hours straight under pressure, had a wicked stomachache (which is an absolute nightmare for someone with a fear of throwing up), dealt with crazy drivers on the way home, quickly ate dinner with my husband, and then washed the dishes for two hours.  All the while, I tried to keep a smile on my face and plow through the day without having a breakdown.

Trust me when I say, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed.  I honestly feel like God puts me in these situations not only to grow me, but to encourage someone else who may also be feeling overwhelmed.  So, if you’re overwhelmed, this one’s for you!

For a long time, I wished that the craziness would stop and that I could just live at peace.  I thought that if I just worked a little bit harder, spent time with the right people, and prayed a little more, I would sort of get to the next level of life, which is the relaxing time.  My older friends lovingly pointed out that the craziness never stops, that life will grow busier and busier as I progress.  This fact honestly just makes me want to dig my face in my hands and cry for a little bit.

What if I told you that God actually wants you to be overwhelmed?

I looked through the Scriptures to find out what to do when I’m overwhelmed.  Although I wish that I could have found evidence that God wants to completely eliminate our chaos, what I’ve found is that God actually wants us to be overwhelmed.  Think about it: Do you think Abraham was overwhelmed when God called him and his wife to start a new life in a foreign land?  Do you think Jacob was overwhelmed when he had twelve kids and two quarreling wives, and he eventually thought his son was dead?  Do you think Gideon was overwhelmed when God shrunk his army from 22,000 to 300 to fight an army that was considered innumerable?  Do you think David was overwhelmed when Saul literally vowed on his life to kill him? (David was so overwhelmed that he wrote several psalms about his experience!)  Do you think Jesus was overwhelmed when He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Friend, if you’re overwhelmed, you’re in good company.

When you are at the end of your rope, that’s when God reveals His strength to hold you up.  When you are running on empty, that’s when God wants you to run to Him.  When you feel like there’s no hope, that’s when God wants you to find hope in Him.  When you’re overwhelmed, that’s when you need to take a deep breath (in through your nose, out through your mouth) and pray that God would give you what you need in that situation.  And when He reveals Himself to you, you realize that your problems aren’t so big anymore.  That’s when your faith in God grows.

So, if being overwhelmed is supposed to happen, how come it feels so wrong?

The difference between being overwhelmed in the way we understand it and being overwhelmed in the way God understands it is the source of our overwhelming.  In other words, what overwhelms us defines whether or not we can live at peace.  Being overwhelmed by the things of this world (our jobs, our families, our school, our health, our chores, etc.) will drain us, but being overwhelmed by God will fill us.

When the people of the Bible were overwhelmed, what did they do?  They looked up. They remembered that their Heavenly Father was bigger than anything they could face. As Abraham walked, God revealed all the land that He had created, the land that Abraham’s descendants would one day inherit.  When Jacob had doubts, God wrestled with him and overtook him, reminding Jacob of the Lord’s mighty strength.  When Gideon doubted that God could use the weakest member of the smallest clan of Israel, God used him and 300 willing men to defeat an innumerable army. When David was overwhelmed, he meditated on the greatness of God, and it brought him peace.  When Jesus was overwhelmed to the point of death, He spent the last few hours of His life on Earth praying for God’s will to be done.

If you’re overwhelmed, you’re in good company.  You’re also in good hands.  If you trust in God, He will guide you in the way you should go.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed, look up at Him and remember that what you are facing is no match for your great God.

Oh, and did I mention how I actually made it through the day today?  I started the day with worship.  My commute to work was so much easier knowing that God was with me in that car.  The prayers I prayed and the moments I shared with Him in the morning planted the seeds of hope that I needed for the rest of the day.  I sat in the car, overwhelmed by God, and not overwhelmed by my circumstances.

Next week, I will address practical steps to handle stress in the heat of the moment.  But for now, I think it’s time for bed!

Photo by Rich Lock on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday to the Desires of My Heart

I wrote this blog on my previous blog five years ago.  I was going to put the site on here, but it looks like my Blogspot account was deleted! Thank God I copied and pasted it before I lost all of the other content.  Enjoy the musings of a single young woman, a yearning college student with her whole life ahead of her!

The Desires of Your Heart
(Originally posted on August 9, 2012 on Blogspot)

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.-Psalm 37:4, NIV

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.-Matthew 6:33, AMP

Did you ever wonder if you were completely following God’s plan?  Being a college student, I see people constantly asking themselves if God actually wanted them to major in such and such.  Students change their major numerous times to find that perfect plan that God has for them.  Although it is great to seek God’s counsel in your life, while considering what God wanted you to do with your life, did you ever consider what you wanted to do with your life?

For the past two days, God has been waking me up with the desire to study Psalm 37:4.  The first time that God woke me up with this verse, I had a dream that I was talking to one of my friends about the calling on his life.  He was really worried that he had chosen a major in college because it was what he wanted to do, not what God wanted him to do.  He felt that he had wasted his time in college studying at an expensive school instead of pursuing a degree at a Bible college or seminary.  In my dream, I was telling him that God gives us the desires of our hearts.  Although God has a plan for us, He gives us interests and uses those interests in His plan.

I have mentioned before that I am studying TESOL in a small Christian college.  Before I started going to this school, I had wanted to be a writer.  I had a passion for writing.  Writing was what I wanted to share with the world; I wanted to write books that children would enjoy.  I loved reading, and I wanted to give children something to read so that they could be entertained just like I was by books. Although I had felt that writing was in my future, when I went on my first missions trip, I felt God calling me to be a missionary.  As a result of this call, I completely threw away my desire to be a writer.

Over time, I realized that I still loved writing.  During my first semester at college, my friends would constantly complain about writing papers.  I could not relate; even if it was a research paper about the long history of the Baptist church, I loved getting my ideas written out in words.  I had no problems helping my friends write their papers for classes.

When I transferred to my current school, I learned that many missionaries are now pursuing a degree in teaching English abroad.  When I first heard of TESOL, I ran from it.  I had stuffed my desires deep into my heart, hoping never to have them touched again.  God had given me the desire to be a missionary, and that should supersede my desire to be a writer.  That semester, I was required to take a class about starting a transforming spiritual journey with God.  My professor confessed that he had liked art as a kid, but he had suppressed his love for arts.  Later in life, he had explained, God had told him to start writing, singing, playing music, and painting again.  God had given him the desires of his heart; He had given him the desire to creatively express himself and share his emotions with the world.

When my professor said that to us, it spoke to me.  God asked me, “Why are you hiding your love for writing?  I gave you that love.”  I did not want to start writing yet.  I wrestled with what God was saying to me for about a year.  As I have posted before, after starting a job at the Writing Center, I realized that I could use my love for writing to help students who did not like writing.  I could still use my ideas to inspire others to have a voice.  Nothing made me happier than knowing that I could please God and still enjoy life.

The second time God woke me up with Psalm 37:4, I was wondering when my husband was going to come into my life.  About two months ago, I broke off a relationship that I had had with my boyfriend for two years, and I feel that God wants me to wait before I go back into another relationship.  God has taught me that being in a relationship takes time and energy that I do not have as a college student.  However, the yearnings for a husband are still there.

During my quiet time, I desired to know the meaning of the verse.  I looked in my study Bible for answers, but it had almost nothing to say about Psalm 37:4.  Finally, I asked the Holy Spirit to bring light to the words I was reading.  As I started saying the words to the verse out loud, I thought of Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  These words from Jesus are like the New Testament version of Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  As I started thinking of this, I felt the sense that desires are not wrong.  To act on that desire and choosing to ignore God’s plan for me right now would be a sin, but the hope that I will be married in the future is not a sin.

It amazes me that something could be a sin just because it is not what God has for you at that time.  For example, it is simply showing love if you have sex with your spouse, but it is sexual immorality if you have sex with a stranger.

As Jesus said, we need to seek first God’s interests.  Your love for God should shine in everything you do.  Obviously, because of your sinful nature, you have desires that go against God’s will for your life.  However, by surrendering your desires to God, you can discover that the wants that you have actually stem from a necessity to know God more.  Instead of praying for that perfect man or woman to come into your life, acknowledge your desire to be loved and to show love to someone else in return, and be encouraged that the Creator of the universe loves you enough to listen to your prayers and to forgive you.

After I meditated on my desire for a husband, I gave it over to God.  I declared that, even if I did not get a husband, I would still serve Him and honor Him in everything that I did.  When I meet someone, I proclaimed to God, I would love him with God’s love and I would honor God in our relationship.  Later that day, I went to my church and I saw two couples that are truly in love with each other.  Instead of being grouchy and asking God where my Prince Charming was, I stopped and admired what these two couples had.  I had hope that, if God had someone for me, we would love each other like the members of these couples did.  Instead of lusting for a husband to come into my life immediately, I had hope for the future.  I had hope that God had given me the desire to love someone unconditionally, and that in the future I will have the opportunity to do so.

Think about the desires you have and surrender them to God.  You do not have to stop doing what you love, but you do have to let God take control of those desires.  God knows that you want things for the future, and He loves you.  In His timing, if you put Him first in everything you do, He will give you more than anything you could ever imagine having on your own.


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Wisdom Wednesday

Wisdom vs. Discernment

At church a few weeks ago, our pastor gave a message on faith.  He taught us that faith doesn’t just believe; it also acts.  He challenged us with a question: “Are we asking in faith, or are we just asking God to fix it?”

When I first heard the pastor’s question, I thought to myself, Aren’t those both the same thing?  Don’t we ask in faith when we can’t fix it ourselves?  Don’t we trust that God is going to fix our situation because He has greater strength and resources than we do?

Almost as soon as I began to think about this, I realized the answer: Yes, but you need discernment to know when you’re boldly asking for God’s will to be done and when you’re just cowering in fear because you don’t want to go through pain.

Merriam-Webster defines “discernment” as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.”  When you first start reading the Bible, it appears to contain obscure and almost contradictory statements.  You are saved by faith, but you need to do works to show your faith, but don’t do works just to look like a good person.  If you save your life, you will lose it.  Bad company corrupts good character, but go into the world and preach the gospel to those who are far from God.  Be all things to all people in order to win some, but do not love the world or anything in the world.  Although these statements look like they contradict each other, they are all true and they all exist in perfect harmony.  However, you need discernment to comprehend the meaning behind the text, as well as to know how to apply the text to your life.

Wisdom involves the tools you need to live righteously; discernment is the way in which you use those tools.  But how do you get discernment?

  • The Holy Spirit.  Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the one who opens the eyes of our hearts and helps us to live righteously.  Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ because God revealed it to him (Matt. 16:17).  When Jesus resurrected on the third day, He revealed the Scriptures (and who He truly was) to some of His disciples (Luke 24:31-32).  When you need help understanding the Scriptures, and in turn understanding God’s will for your life, you can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you.
  • The Bible. Despite what people may tell you, the Bible does not contradict itself. When you read a passage that does not make sense, read it in light of the context in which it was written, as well as in light of the rest of Scripture.
  • Wise Counsel (Accountability). I love the fact that there are people around me to help me interpret the Bible and to unpack what I feel God is saying to me.  You don’t have to live life alone; you were created to live in community.  If you are struggling with discovering where God is leading you, call a friend that you trust to encourage you to walk in faith in God.
  • Sermons/Devotionals. There are pastors, writers, and teachers who have dedicated much time and energy to studying and applying discernment.  Listen to what they have to say.  Spend some time praying over what God has spoken to their hearts, and see how those words can apply to you as well.  It is also helpful to do a devotional in community, so that you can come up with ideas together that you would not be able to on your own.

These beautiful words from the Apostle Paul summarize my prayer for those who read this blog:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” – Philippians 1:9-11

This featured image has been uploaded to Subsplash by Diz Play.


Let Go, and Let it Out

When classes were over and most students went home, the seniors had a BBQ to celebrate graduation.  Everyone was having a good time.  Some students were squirting each other with water, and others played with glow sticks.  I was enjoying some food while talking with some friends.

Over time, it became chilly outside.  I turned to one of my friends and said, “I think I’m going up to my room to get my jacket.”  She smiled and told me to go ahead.  As much as her answer was fine, our interaction caused me to miss one of my best friends.  Normally, when I needed to go to my room (or anywhere for that matter), my friend would hop up from her seat and insist that she accompany me.  But at the time, she was on her way back to her home state, on the other side of the country.  Suddenly, I felt the urge to cry.  While everyone was having fun around me, I could not help but feel sad.

I went back to my room, grabbed my journal, and wept.  It had finally hit me that my time as a college student was over.  Most of my friends were back in their home states (or even their home countries) far away from me.  There I sat, sobbing in my room, as the sun set and darkness filled the sky.  I wrote whatever came to mind in my journal.  I wrote down what I was honestly feeling, knowing that no one else would read it.  I was raw with my emotions and how I expressed them.  In between sentences, I would take breaks to cry.  I would also take breaks to pray, giving my burden to God and trusting that this pain would not last forever.  At the end, I felt much better.

Over the next few days, I put my emotions to the side again.  My senior class went on a trip to Washington D. C.  I couldn’t cry on a fun trip like that!  Then the next day I saw some friends for the last time.  I wanted to enjoy seeing them rather than talking about how much I would miss them.  The day after that, I graduated. Between packing, cleaning, eating, driving, seeing family, and taking pictures, I had no time to process how I was feeling.

On graduation day, my friend gave me a piece of paper that helped me sort through my emotions.  The paper had questions printed on it, such as “How are you feeling?” and “Why do you feel that way?”  When I finally settled back into my house – after sitting in traffic and then driving around just to let off some steam – I looked at the note. Well, this looks great, I thought excitedly, let me fill this out.  As I started to think about how I felt, all the emotions that I had stuffed finally welled up like a geyser inside of me.  I ran for my journal and started writing again.  I felt a random assortment of emotions.  In one sentence, I was happy to be finished with school.  In the second sentence, I was angry that I had sat in traffic.  I was sad, excited, and scared all in one moment.  While I was processing my feelings, it seemed like there was a deep burden in my chest, like a rock was weighing down my soul.  As I cried, as I was honest with my emotions, as I gave my emotions and my confusion to God, the burden lifted.

Last blog post, I talked about the importance of enjoying the last moments of a season.  However, it is also important to grieve what was lost.  I write in my journal every chance I get, filling the pages with my thoughts and feelings.  These emotions are normal, even if everyone else appears joyful and excited.  Give yourself time to grieve. I know that you cannot turn off your emotions like a faucet. However, if you stuff your emotions, they will be more uncontrollable when you finally deal with them.

I encourage you to write down how you are feeling and why you think you feel that way.  Write about how you honestly feel.  If you do not like to write, find a person who could support you as you grieve.  Do whatever you can to deal with your emotions in a healthy way.  If you need to cry, make sure that you are comfortable as you do so.  Cry with someone who could hug you or listen to you as you process your thoughts.  Cry squeezing a pillow or curled up in your bed.  Do not be surprised if you feel a mix of emotions, especially if you are used to stuffing your feelings.

When you leave a good season, let it go, but let out your emotions. Give up your emotions to God.  By trusting him with your situation, you know that your tears are not shed in vain.  Letting out your feelings with help you to move on into the next season.