the wilderness

When you think of the wilderness, what do you picture? I picture a place that is expansive, open, pleasing to the lungs to breathe in and refreshing. The wilderness is a place of freedom and isolation. It’s a place that can be beautiful and scary. It is intimidating, yet enticing. It is wild: uncultivated, uninhibited and harsh. The wilderness can often be a place of intimate encounters. It is common knowledge that it takes courage to step into, remain in and survive the wilderness. The wilderness, though known, is an unfamiliar place no matter how many times you step into it. It is ever-changing; constantly adapting to survive itself. It takes willpower, strategy, wisdom and endurance to survive the wilderness. Yet, Jesus willingly stepped into it.

He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.

Luke 5:16

In Matthew 4:1, the Bible says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Led by God, only to encounter fierce attacks.

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:1-11

What are we being shown here? Why was Jesus drawn and why did he go into a dangerous, lonely, harsh place without counsel, community or protection to pray, not just once, but frequently? Throughout the Bible we see that Jesus would not just go into the wilderness for morning prayer, at times He was there for a season. I think it’s easy for us to discount the significance of this lesson scripture. Many of us simply think, yeah, He’s Jesus, He is different, maybe He needed that time to get away from the world or to refresh. But it’s quite the opposite, isn’t it? He would require less time than most to hear from the Lord, to commune and to refresh. What if this passage is about more than a relatable scripture to show us Jesus can relate to the temptation we face? What if He intended us to use this scripture to show us how to truly live.

In this wilderness season of 2020, I believe all people are being shown the importance of getting alone with God, getting out of the noise, getting still, so that we can really hear with our heart (our whole understanding). After all, we were created in the beginning, in the garden, to always have a necessary balancing element of wilderness about us. We must always remember that we are creatures of balance, designed by a God of order. What if there was a necessary element of wilderness that must remain in order for us to stay close to God. I know, most of our workplaces, and even some of our social environments, feel like we are in a den of hungry lions, but I am talking about the wilderness Jesus stepped into “often,” willingly, despite the attacks and danger that would undoubtedly ensue to draw close to God.

I believe that we are being shown that this was a necessary battle and trial for Jesus to show us that even Jesus had to face the condescending, negative, hateful talk of the devil along with hard choices, inconveniences, heartbreak, hardships, trials, loss, devastation, depravity and pain. Which leads me to my favorite part of this passage – how Jesus handled Satan. He immediately identified Satan, saw him for what he was, and responded with the sharpest weapon in his tool belt, called him by name and dismissed him. Often times, I know I struggle with doubting my discernment. I find myself asking, is that God, temptation or my flesh? Jesus knew in a moment who he was dealing with and he quoted to Satan’s games, lies and accusations the Word of God. I want to be so close to the Spirit of God that I know in a moment when Satan is setting a trap or whispering lies to me, and I want to know the Word so deep that it springs from my lips the moment evil comes upon me. There is only one way for that to happen, to stay close, to repetitively have intimate encounters with God.

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

James 4:8

The Bible teaches us that there will definitely be trials in this life, but it gives us hope, and reassures us that the trials are meant to forge us into Christ’s image and keep us on our path.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

As a matter of fact, Paul writes in 2 Timothy chapter 3, advising the Christian body, he states “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” as he had been many times in his life, and goes on to say, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul is not only teaching us to use and live by the Word in all things we encounter, but he is conveying that trials and tribulations are useful for sanctification if we steward and survive them according to the Word of God.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

This year, 2020, has been a season filled with nothing but wilderness. It has felt like a camp that is constantly falling prey to the wild in the middle of the night. For most of us, we feel out of balance, out of control, isolated and lonely, hungry for change, angry at inconvenience and circumstances. But I want to challenge those thoughts and feelings and ask you the question of “what if;” what if we are closer than ever before to how God always intended us to live, on the edge fo the wilderness? What if this year truly was fulfilling that notion of “2020 vision” that so many prophesied? What if 2020 was a necessary wilderness moment in time? What if the purpose was to challenge us and to show us that we need to “often” visit the wilderness, and with Christ we will survive it.

Will we come out of the wilderness transformed like the butterfly, or will we look like livestock running back to our old herd to learn how to live a different version of our pre-wilderness life? Have no doubt that the wilderness marked us. Rest assured that we will be tested on the lessons taught. Will we be maimed by the same lessons again and again? There is purpose in the wilderness. God will come back for you again and again, but how many times must we endure the same season before we catch hold of Him and cling to Him to pull us out of the storm?

 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 5:10

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

I choose development and transformation. I’ll put in the work, because I have somewhere to go and I need those tools to get there. As this year comes to a close, I strongly encourage you to fast and pray for advent. As the Christian body celebrates the birth of our Savior, and in unison we sing His praise, He will be close. Draw near to Him. Willingly step into the wilderness seeking God alone. All it takes is a moment, a touch, for your heart (your understanding) to be enlightened to His vision, His will and His way.

To the wilderness season of 2020, may we never be the same.

Moment in time captured by Lori Youngblood Photography

A psalm of David

1O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. 2Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. 3The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. 4So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. 5I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. 6I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah 7Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. 8Let 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 lift up my soul. 9Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. 10Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 11For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. 12In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Pslam 143

a Safe Space

This is an open invitation and word of encouragement to those of you that know you have words inside of you that will help others navigate through life’s mountain top and valleys, and the crossroads on the path between. I would like to invite you to write with me. HisDLight was a space created with you in mind. A place not for just me, Danielle, to write, but for many to write and share their story.

A place where the call to write, disciple, ingest and growth can be exercised. A place where we can all be a good and friend and neighbor. A place where we can come together without coordinating schedules and share our experiences with one another.

It is not a question of whether you were called by God to do, but what and who you are called to? You were called to create….. something. God loves to create as much as He loves his creation, and he continues to create through us. The question is, what is that something he called you to create? Second question, what are you going to do about it, and how long will you wait to start that canvas?

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10

Some advice for those of you still wondering if God has a plan for you, and those of you still trying to wrap your mind around what that plan is.

  1. Spend time with the Lord. Pray and ask God to reveal your purpose to you.
  2. Get. In. The. Word. Read your Bible every day. One verse is sufficient.
    • “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16
  3. Understand God’s definition of purpose. Read Purpose Driven Life.
  4. Discover your design, and the beauty of your uniqueness.
  5. Identify where God has placed you and who He has placed you with for this season.
    • “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  6. Tell someone about the calling God has placed on your life, or what you think you are hearing from him. Get it in the light.
    • “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
  7. Know that it’s okay to misinterpret it, or to only get bits and pieces of it. He has a plan and purpose for that too. I cant tell you how many times Ive heard and learned to be true, “God will illuminate the path you are on, but just enough to see your next step.”
  8. Know that there are multiple callings, giftings and talents on your life.
  9. The importance of continued steps and surrender.

I, personally, know that I am a visionary with a love for people, adventure and growth, called to cultivate content and environments that bring people together. I am directed to lead, teach, give and serve.

If you have a story, I want to hear it, and not just me, there are many who need to hear your story, many that yearn for a friend to walk beside in their journey and share your journey with you. There are many who need a friend like you, and need your testimony (or at least a part of it). If you’d like to be a part of a community that loves God, loves people and want friends to walk alongside and glean Godly wisdom from, this is the place for you. This is a safe space. Welcome Home. Comment on the blog or email to connect.

HE GRANTS VISION

Have you ever had a dream that changed your life?

I hadn’t until Wednesday, June 10, 2020. My husband, Brandon, was out of town for work. I had had a long night of discussion with a dear friend of mine discussing the race dispute going on in America at the moment. At 10:00 p.m. my kids were still awake playing and I had not called my husband to tell him goodnight, because I had been so engrossed in the discussion with my friend for hours. When I realized the time, I quickly put the kids to bed and did an abbreviated and combined version of their bedtime routines, and I immediately following called Brandon.

I explained to him what the delay had been and apologized for not calling sooner. To which he responded that he had been working late anyway, so it was really perfect timing. Now, normally, when Brandon travels our conversations consist of catching up on the day for all parties, I usually have at least one funny story to share about one of the kids, our conversation carries wherever the wind blows and we end with I love you and goodnight. We normally do not pray together when he travels. With all that we have been through as a family for the past year and half, we have begun bathing ourselves and our kids in prayer despite any obstacle. The past year and a half, how God has been showing us the power that comes with our agreement in the spiritual and physical in prayer out loud are stories for another day. After we said goodnight and our I love you’s, I interjected that we had forgotten to pray together. To which Brandon responded, okay… go ahead. I always want him to pray, but for the sake of my exhaustion, I didn’t dispute, I said a quick prayer of gratitude and covering, and we ended our call. I was so exhausted I didn’t even put my phone on the charger or rollover. I dropped my head face down into my pillow and I was out.

Now for the good part, the dream. My dream was intense. It was the kind you sweat in, but in this dream I actually thought I was dying and I fully believe that in the physical my body was responding in accordance. In my dream, my heart was physically hurting. I felt like my heart was being smashed together and pulled apart at the same time. But, you see, physical pain is no stranger for me, so just like in my everyday life, I had things to do, so I went about my work. There were friends and family in my dream, all distantly spaced (about six feet apart, go figure), and I had this urgency and understanding that I needed to be quick about my business and complete my mission well and with haste, because my time on Earth with them was ending, and I had to give them the answers and solutions they seek to live life abundantly before I died. It was that serious. You can imagine the conversations I was having with each of them. Stop worrying, God has you. Believe. Have Faith. Adopt that baby. I was speaking on behalf of God and quoting scripture. Squeezing them with every ounce of humanity left in me. And leaving them with words of wisdom.

As I hastily conversed with each person, around me a cyclone had formed. We were in the middle of a tornado/hurricane like formation (yes, very Dorothy in Kansas like). In the cyclone were Polynesian warrior men doing the Haka war chant adding intensity to the moment. My heart pain continued to worsen. Grasping my chest, I had just concluded conversing with one person and I was looking up deciding which person to go to next, and, suddenly, from behind I feel Brandon’s hands on my shoulders and his calming presence overwhelm me, he leaned forward and whispered, “what about us?” And in that moment, the cyclone faded off into the distance, I lost sight of everything else. Everything was pure and white around me. My heart pain dulled, I could no longer hear the chants, it was calm and peaceful in that moment, in Brandon’s presence, hearing his voice, feeling his hands on my shoulders. After a moment of stillness and peace, it occurred to me that I had been so focused on everyone else that I had not even seen what was missing; what Brandon was asking about, those closest to me, my husband and my two precious children were not there. And in that moment, I questioned why he was asking me that and responded to him, “what about you?” Was there something wrong i was unaware of? Were they not okay? Doubting the question as it formed in my mind, because I knew they were good.

But that was not what Brandon was asking me… was it?

Never seeing Brandon’s face, my eyes opened. As I stared at my ceiling fan processing what just happened and questioning which experience was reality. My chest pain returned, and what happened next was almost an out of body experience. I do not feel as though I was consciously making these decisions, I fully believe my spirit-man was driving the ship and my body was simply following orders. Even the words that came out of my mouth seemed involuntary, as if the depths of my mind was speaking for itself, without hesitation or filter.

In one fell swoop I reached over and dialed my last call, “My Love.” As the phone rings I notice the time, it was 3:33 a.m. This stuck with me as significant as Brandon answered on the third ring. [You see, throughout 21 days of prayer that we did with our church earlier in the year, God had woken me up as if I had had a full nights rest at 2:22 a.m. many mornings and compelled me to have my time with him and prepare for my time with Brandon and the Lord, which happened at 5:30 a.m.] But back to that night, Brandon answered as most would to a call from home in the wee hours of the morning with their wife crying on the other end. “Hello?” “Are you okay?” I simply and tearfully exploded with, “yes, everything is fine. I just need you to pray for me. I’m having a moment and I need your prayer covering. Please pray for me.” I pleaded. To which my sweet husband did not hesitate. He rustled his covers and began to pray. I laid the phone on my chest, speaker down, facing my heart, and I began to pray in my spirit language.

“at the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words.”

Romans 2:26

Brandon prayed the most beautiful sincere prayer I have ever heard anyone pray. I can honestly say that for the first time I was fully listening to Brandon’s words while letting my spirit utter using my mouth as it needed. It was truly the most beautiful moment.

During Brandon’s prayer, my heart continued to ache, and the pain moved down into my entire midsection, almost overwhelming me. This painful deep groan came from deep within me and then released out of my mouth and into the air of bedroom. And just like that, the pain was gone, and I was laying there with Brandon still praying in the most peaceful, blissful, joyfilled, relaxed state.

Brandon concluded praying and paused for a moment, then asked me, “Danielle, have you forgiven [person’s name]?” Another involuntary, unwarranted, unwanted, unbridled response arose out of me. I replied, “No, why would I?” “[Pronoun] came after me and my family, and attacked me.” Brandon just paused and replied ever so sweetly, “let’s pray about that.” He began to pray. The water works came, along with the most amazing heart change, right there in that moment; I had an understanding of true forgiveness dropped in my heart. I had been living it wrong all these years. I was missing a key element, a cornerstone. Having the mentality of a survivor my whole life had misconstrued the true pure forgiveness God intended for me to have for myself and extend to others along my journey.

After a long pause, another burst of raw beauty came out of my mouth. With my whole heart I cried out to Brandon apologetically and deep gratitude. I apologized for ever taking him for granted and for ever leading when I should have been following his lead. I apologized for doubting him, and for putting church or my mission before him and our family. I ended by simply saying, “I am so so sorry. Please forgive me.” To which he replied, “You don’t need to apologize to me. I love you. I’m here for you. We’re good. it’s going to be okay.” We exchanged I love you’s and got off the phone.

I gathered myself, took a deep breath, thanked God for his goodness and love, and got up to go check on my kids. To my surprise, the commotion did not wake them. I obviously did not go back to sleep. I dug into the Word, and that is pretty much where I have been for the past three weeks where the Lord has given me much revelation. [I cannot wait to share with you.]

For the first time in my adult life, I experienced a heart change. I got to experience a touch from the Holy Spirit. In the middle of mass chaos and need in the world, the trinity came to my bedroom at 3:33 a.m., touched me and gave me the sweetest gift of understanding. And my precious husband, walked me through it. What a delight…

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:3

The Right To Choose

Today, I want to talk to you about a matter of the heart. A heart and mind perspective shift that will resolve and redeem the imbalances and misaligned priorities that are destroying our country from the inside out.

My fellow Americans, we are some of the most highly favored and influential people on this planet at this time. Our great country has come far since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and Dr. King’s address of 1963, but we, the American people, have not come far enough. This country was founded on a dream. It is the ability to dream and choose that liberates us. However, Americans continue to abuse our right to chose. We continue to make the wrong choices. We chose to fight against one another, rather than lift one another up. We chose to step on our neighbor for personal gain, rather than pick them up and take them with us. We have the freedom of choice and the freedom to act on those choices. The issue is that we continue to choose our feelings and selfishness over common sense, decency, and respect for human life and the law put into place in order to afford us the liberties we use and abuse.

Our ancestors fought for a place where you could live – truly live – freely and more vibrantly than they were afforded. Our ancestors fought for us to have opportunities they didn’t. Look at what they did for us! Just take a breath and look around you, where ever you are, what ever you’re doing; because of what they did, because of what they went through, because of the governance in place you can… it was given to you. They fought to protect a set of ideals and values. They gave it all and risked their lives for what you have today, and we are not treating it like the gift and privilege it is. History matters. People matter. The freedom we have to choose matters. Protecting and standing for what we believe matters.

To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.

Calvin Coolidge

The facts are that slavery has existed in every race, but there were two races in American history that were oppressed and persecuted more than most, the Native Americans and African Americans. Both have suffered grave tragedies, and are still suffering today. Generations have worked to right the wrongs of our ancestors to afford all American people equal opportunity. While society has progressed, we as a nation have still not healed from the persecution of our brothers and sisters generations before us. Many harbor hate and resentment that has been passed down from generation to generation. Many are ignorant. Many accept their fate and choose to live as if they are already defeated. Many choose to turn a blind eye to the suffering right in front of them. Many, like me, work tirelessly to make certain their children are not influenced by racism, prejudices and unhealthy behavior and thought patterns. I’d like to believe that the cards are no longer stacked against any person, that prejudices no longer exist, that we have evolved past that, but that is not the story the information before us tells. The information before us paints a picture of violence, rage, hate, racism, biased opinions, a corrupt legal system, oppression, fear and tragedy. The ending of the story, given the information at hand, if it stays on its current trajectory is one of division, chaos, darkness and violence. What is true and should be held firmly and tightly to our hearts is that which is widely known as the golden rule, “love your neighbor as yourself.” The Bible also puts this beautifully…

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

The American dream is not one of activism, competition, racism, oppression or fear, in fact, it is the opposite. The American dream is one of opportunity and freedom. Every American should have equal opportunity to embrace and embody what it means to be an American, regardless of gender, color, or any other physical identifier, or when their family came to America. If nothing else, consider your brother.

We are all ONE race – THE HUMAN RACE.

May we stop the division and competition, stop thinking and acting as if freedom was given to us without a price, and behaving as if living freely means doing whatever you feel, when ever you feel like it. I hope we can choose to dream the dream of those that came before us. May we choose to be gracious, humble, respecting, working, innovative dreamers that live in gratitude, kindness, joy and love. Let us not be driven by greed, competition, fear, hate, revenge or jealousy, but, instead by all things good and pure. It is our right to fight for what we value, believe and love. It is our right to choose how we fight. Let’s choose grace for one another, choose to listen, to love, to help and heal. Let us fight our battles first in our prayer rooms, with dignity and honor, think before we speak, and raise the next generation up to value and give thanks for life. May we make better choices. May we not be tyrants or victims, but choose actions of peace and love in all we do. May the American people be known for strength of heart; deeply rooted in compassion, honor, humility and virtue. May God heal our hearts and our land. May His favor be upon us for a thousand generations.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

Transformation

Persistence and Perseverance. God always shows up and shows out when I press in with intentionality. Twice a year I press in along-side my church family as we pray and fast. If you’ve never fasted, don’t waste your time questioning it, just do it! Pick something that you value, that’s pleasurable, that you do everyday, and stop. We see fasting many times throughout the Bible. The most prominent fasting period being that which was recorded when Moses produced The Ten Commandments (Exodus).

Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 34:28

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

This year, in January of 2020, I fasted with my home church as is tradition for us. My church was praying collectively for this year to be the year of God encounters.

Wow. I could just stop right there, being just a little over four months into 2020. I won’t though. I want to tell you a little more about the return of answers to prayers when fasting…

This year, just two days after twenty-one days of prayer and fasting ended with my church, I was woken up at 2:30 a.m. and knew with everything in me that I had to pry myself out of bed and go spend time with Jesus three hours before I intended to get up. oofh. The struggle was real. That morning was one of the most significant moments of clarity I have ever had to date. The other happened during twenty-one days of prayer and fasting in preparation for my wedding, now, eight years ago. I am so thankful I was obedient this particular morning and got out of bed to hear God’s whisper. That morning in a moment between prayer and scripture, He whispered “it’s been a decade of transformation.” My mind froze. Had it been a decade? How am I even old enough to have been doing a single thing for a decade? After all, I have only lived three decades in my lifetime. To my stirring the Holy Spirit softly replied to the depths of my spirit, “becomming the woman I need you to be.”

Ten years… it took ten years of growth. Or did it take ten years for me to get a message? Had I missed a repeated sign? Ten years? Really?

I began to ponder on twenty-two year old Danielle. Twenty-two year old Danielle thought she was a woman and enough for anything and everything that could come her way. She had lived a lot of life and overcome more than most in her twenty-two years of life. Now, I wasn’t clueless, I knew I didn’t have all answers, but I did know that I was able and capable of doing any job and getting anywhere I needed. As I stepped out of my college years and landed my “dream job” (of that time), I believed with everything in me, I had made it! Life was good, and it was only going to get better. I had made it! I accomplished two decade old dream of escaping my hell of a childhood, and proved my abusive father wrong, I was worth something. I had the man of my dreams, graduated from the college of my dreams, got out of my hometown, landed a job before graduation, had been making it for some time on my own. I had checked all the boxes on my goal list. I fully believed in myself. I think that was the most beautiful part of 22 year old Danielle; she believed in herself. She was a get her hands dirty, all in, go for it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of girl. She believed she could, so she did.

But at 22 her world turned upside down… I had not thought of the spirit, the girl, I lost that year until this very morning. Twenty-two changed me, and it took a decade to understand and to find what was lost that year, some of which I know better than to reclaim. Reflection gives perspective.

I am certain if you examine the last ten years of your life you can say the same. I’m not going to take you down my timeline. I simply wanted to share that I have to take a deep breath and think really hard to even remotely bring that girl back to life. Time just keeps turning, life events keep happening, and as we unveil new life experiences and evolve with every gift God has for us in this life, we eventually find ourselves far from that previous version of ourselves. I love her, but she is far in my rearview mirror. Some of you reading this article, I know, have many decades between you and the twenty-two years of age version of yourself. But take a moment and reflect on who you were just ten years ago.

What has God done for you in this last decade?

What have you learned?

How have you transformed?

Most of us have survived more pain than we want to admit, and most more than we will ever let anyone know. We have all made hard choices and been put in terrible situations. If you are reading this then you survived, and are on this journey becoming the person God always intended you to be with blessings in store He has yet to unveil. We all have to walk through the fire at some point. I did literally in 2011. We all have to get in rare form at some point in our lives, to be melted down, in order to be forged into the warrior He has always intended us to be. We are all warriors, and with Christ we are more than conquerors, because “the victory belongs to Jesus.” He has already won. We survived and we are better for it. His desire is for us to use our battle stories to point people back to Him. Our stories are meant to be shared. We are meant to live life in the light!

It’s a journey. It takes learning and growth to reach the destination. We are born into this world to experience, to love, to learn, to grow. That’s what changed me; His love – grace-filled, romantic, deep, profound, father-like love. He never stopped pursuing me. It was always intended for this life to be based around relationship. God brought us into existence, made in His image, to have companionship with Him, to live a life of relationship, to walk in the garden with Him. Life was always meant to be a journey where we lived in relationship with our Creator. When the “fall” happened (when Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) we were separated from God’s intent of our lives here on Earth. However, we were never separated from Him, but, now it takes pursuit. It takes intentionality. Then, Jesus came and made that easier than ever before. And, in addition to his sacrifice that pays for our sins, Jesus left us the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit, which mends that separation. He gave us the ability to walk in the garden like Adam and Eve, the ability to basque in God’s presence and have a relationship with Him.

Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope

Romans 5:1-4

We are born into this world separated from God. The beauty of the life journey is for each of us to find our way back to God. His plan is for us to experience His beautiful creation, relationally connect with others around us, and the ultimate goal, the one that brings a smile to your Heavenly Father’s face, is to shed that sinful nature. How do you do that? By keeping the holy part of you (your spirit) nourished and first. Keeping our spirit nourished and prioritized is how we continue to look more and more like Jesus everyday. We do this by spending time in relationship with God, pursuing Him in prayer and reading the Word. He speaks through His Word. Keeping our spirit first and at the forefront of your being is why fasting produces such supernatural fruit, in short, because through prayer and fasting we quiet our bodies and minds, where we can better hear our spirit as it communicates with Holy Spirit.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:26-27

Here we are in May of 2020, just a few short months after one of the largest groups of believers in the United States followed the charge of our pastor to pray earnestly spirit-first for a year of God encounters, and life as we knew it has come to a pause. If ever there was a time for a God encounter, COVID-19 has created the perfect space for it to happen, even for non-believers. Why? Because we have all been isolated from some of our greatest distractions. We’ve stopped consuming as much as started serving, because we are slowed down enough to see the need, and with many people without jobs, those of us that are still financially stable are transforming habits from consuming to donating. For those of us working and our children are out of school, we are using all of our time providing and caring for our families. There has been a cultural shift in the matter of two months that is cultivating the perfect space for spiritual alignment, balance in the way the Bible says we should steward our time, and we are finding ourselves forced into healthier behaviors and habits (i.e. more cooking and less eating out). The change that has taken place for the majority of the nation has been scary in many ways, but from where I am sitting, seems to have been a necessity. I do not think God created this virus, but I certainly think He is using it for good and His glory.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

I say all of this to say, do not take this season for granted. it’s a season of radical, supernatural, miraculous transformation. Don’t miss it. Pray and fast. Make your list of petitions, spend time in the Word and with the LORD, and watch God work. Dare to ask. Dare to be. Dare to truly live. There has never been a better time to seek God’s face and favor.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18

…I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions….So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Ezra 8:21-23

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

Isaiah 58:6

This spiritual discipline of fasting and praying was important in the Old Testament, impactful in the New Testament, and is still a powerful way to approach God on a deeper level.

Becky at So Very Blessed

A Season

Hey there, stranger!

Wow, a lot has happened since we encountered one another. I am still trying to get my head around all that has been going on in my life, and all God has shown me in the last 6 weeks. All I can say is, I am glad to be on the other side of it. I am still brushing the dirt off, but I am grateful for all I have been blessed with and thankful for another day in this beautiful crazy life, even if it does smack me in the face like a ton of bricks from time to time.

This season has showed me much. Has anyone else besides me found themselves realizing that this season started in 2019, that this past 6 weeks have simply been the climax to a long-building story and you actually play the main character. Plot twist, it actually has been all about you!

I don’t know about you, but COVID-19 stopped me dead in my tracks. I thought that 2020 was going to be about conquering some personal goals I had set; completing two books that I have been working on, finishing some home improvement projects, losing those pounds (always seems to be a carry-over goal for me), getting a few certifications, serving more at church, having longer and more structured quiet times, going on a girls trip, not missing a birthday or celebration for or with my people… the list goes on. You get the idea. I’m sure we all had only knocked one or two things (if any) off of our 2020 goals list. Little did we know in the first quarter of 2020, we’d have to go into survival mode and all ambitions would be sidelined as our little worlds came to a screeching halt.

Most of you following this blog are my personal friends and family, so you already know this next part, but some of you were not on my emergency prayer warrior list, so allow me to enlighten you. A few short weeks before the COVID-19 breakout, my youngest daughter began to have inconsistent daily seizures that were mostly accompanied by a low grade fever. Jade’s seizures were terrifying and as she continued to have them everyday, the seizures seemed to be getting worse. She was turning blue around her lips and they were lasting anywhere from 5-9 minutes, all looking different and happening very sporadically. As my husband and I searched for answers and finally got some tests scheduled the COVID breakout happened. You know what that means, all healthcare appointments cancelled and we were left without answers.

Now, if you don’t know me personally, if we polled my friends and family on their top 10 words to describe me, the words persistent and motivated would definitely be in the top percent of results. I did what I know to do when I need an answer when my head is spinning and facts are not adding up – I fasted – and my quiet time goal (longer and more structured) was getting fulfilled. I went to the Father for answers. I prayed harder, cried out, worshiped, and spent every hour that I wasn’t working in the Word, researching and talking to God and those in my circle that I swear have a direct line to God as I searched for a remedy for my baby girl.

One morning during my quiet time the words “air quality” dropped in my heart. The other word that would likely be on the list my for my close family and friends when naming my qualities is that doer. I can get things done. Yep, I got on task. That very day I informed my husband of the word I received and I had our home’s air quality tested. In just a few days I had results back that showed severe counts of mold spores in our home. The process of discovering the location of the mold and remediating the mold from area identified as the source began immediately. This was week one of COVID. Remediation included evacuating our home in the midst of Alabama’s Shelter in Place order being passed. Six weeks later, as the COVID-19 pandemic declines, we believe we have completely remediated the issue, are back in our home and Jade is on the mend.

For many this season has looked different. The one theme that is consistent for all is that we have all been stretched and had some growing pains during this season. Whatever your vice or idol is, if you have been paying attention during this season, God has exposed that thing you hold too tightly, those habits you need to kick, your distractions, how your time is spent, and what you put ahead of Him and His agenda for you; He is likely using and in some way removing it or making it very uncomfortable duting this time as He draws you in during this season and forges you into the person you need to be for this next season, for your next step. We should all look different after this season. I challenge us all to examine what this season has shown you, and make a plan for how you will keep hold of the new and keep off the old as the sun rises on the dawn of a new day post COVID-19.

May 2020 continue to be the year of God Encounters. May you encounter Him in a fresh new way that fans the flame inside of you to be the best, brightest version of yourself that is a beacon for Christ. If you haven’s slowed down in the strange season, take a moment, breathe deep, get up your courage and ask God to show you what it is He wants you to see in this very strange season. It’s a season of quick returns, my friend, go all in, ask the hard questions, and ready your heart to hear the answers and the courage to do what He asks of you for your next steps.

You are not alone. We are in this together.

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Join In!

This kick-off post is later than I would have liked, but better late than never, or so I keep telling myself. You know that when you start running after Jesus the enemy starts rapid fire on all things in your life. That’s where I have been the past two weeks, in the trenches on the battlefield, but the fight isn’t over, and I’m not stopping the pursuit.

I would like to invite you all to jump into a group with me. A group where we do life together. Where we interact with one another. Where we love on one another, relate to one another and lift one another up.

This group will be called The Kingdom Chasers. There will be men and women in this group. We will all participate by reading, writing and praying for one another. There will not be a set schedule. Although I commit to you that we will have a weekly interaction. I do promise to not overwhelm you, and ask that you commit to reading your Bible or devotional daily, so that you stay filled with the Word of God, that you read the weekly blog posts, participate in commenting, and simply saying a prayer when led.

Together, we will be pursuing a better version of ourselves. A version of us that looks more like Jesus. Together, we will stand in agreement for one another’s calling and God-given purpose, and build one another up so that we each may have the confidence to step where God is leading us.

LOVE

There are so many topics on love.

So much to be said.

Love is what gives us life. It is what makes life worth living. It is because of love that we have breath in our lungs, a beautiful world to live in, the ability to relate and connect with other humans; it is because of love that we have freedom, hobbies and passion.

Love is also the reason we can feel loneliness, despair and loss. The lack of having love or not being able to express love brings fear to most.

This past week Pastor Chris Hanna, Highlands College Professor and Master of Divinty, said that the passage in scripture that we know so well as the marriage or wedding scripture, because it focuses on love, “is not about marriage at all. In its original context, 1 Corinthians 13 is actually about ministry leadership.” I found this concept perplexing and convincing.

Pastor Chris Hanna taught our Highlands College first semester evening students on Tuesday night that 1 Corinthians 13 actually tells us how to not only lead, but live. This scripture of truth (that we normally read with heart eyes) actually tells us without love all we say is ineffective, all we love is insignificant, all we believe is insufficient, all we give is incomplete, and all we accomplish is inadequate. In Paul’s letter, he tells us how important it is to love well, not just in loving our significant other, but in loving all people in all that we do, all that we say, all that we give; to love first and foremost in all things, and in that scripture he tells us how.

It is vital that we understand the importance of love and it’s role in our life. It is of the utmost importance that we steward our love well. After all, the ability to love is a spiritual gift. Our God so loved that He created (us and all that surrounds us), He loved so He gave (His son, crucified so that we have a way back to Him, despite the times we’ve failed Him); He first loved us.

Today marks 3 years since my grandfather’s eternal homecoming. He left this world on Valentine’s Day three years ago. My Pawpaw was a great man. He was everything a wife searches for in a husband. He was everything a daughter wants in a father. He was good. He was kind. He knew how to love and let himself be loved. His life and most everything he did was an expression of love.

I spent last night on the phone with my grandmother for a while. We laughed, we cried, we told stories and dreamed of what life today would be like if Pawpaw was still here. How he would have been over the moon with all of the great-grands he now has roaming the Earth. Oh, how those little boys and my little mini-me would have loved their Pawpaw.

But on this day, three years ago, on the day that the whole world celebrates acts of love, God chose to take His good and faithful servant home. This life in it’s day to day activities (especially in today’s day and age as we hustle and grind), it is easy to lose focus, easy to forget that this is not the end game, but it is the pre-game. This is only the beginning, and it is so very important to do it well and with purpose.

I pray that I get to live this pre-game long enough to see my great-grands, or see Jesus return. If He does not come to take us home during my lifetime, I pray my great-grands reflect on my life with the words I used to describe my grandfather’s life – loving, good, faithful servant.

I am blessed to come from a lineage on both sides of my family with that a man of this caliber gave life and love to women that would pour those values and beliefs into me. I have walked many trials and tribulations, but thinking of my maternal grandfather and my paternal great-grandfather, my Papaw, are sweet reminders that God is the great orchestrator. He knew what I would face, and He made sure that I had strong women in my life to lead and grow me spiritually. He knows. God is such a good good father.

As we celebrate today, Valentine’s Day, may we reflect on the gift, art, act and charge we have from God to LOVE, and love well. May we remember the motive behind this day, Saint Valentine, a man that was a martyr and a legacy celebrated by people all around the world, Christian and non-believers, by showing others kindness and generosity, and acts of love.

I share, from my heart to yours, words and an “attitude of gratitude” (#HCFamily) that I hope imprint in your heart and mind, as they have mine. May they empower and encourage you. Words to live by, “Our Life + Our Love = Our Legacy” – Pastor Chris Hanna.

We <get> to love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

What an honor it is to love and be loved.

The Greatest Of These Is Love

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13, – Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth

New Year + New Goals = New You!

Alright peeps, it’s almost February! Saturday, yep, tomorrow, is day one of the rest of our lives (link to tune). We are one month into 2020!

How are you feeling?

How are you doing with those goals you set?

Did you set goals?

I Do you want to be better than you were last year?

Yes? …In what ways?

And if your answer is no, then I am going to challenge you to dig deeper.

WHY? Because we can always get better. We can always get closer to our goals, grow closer to God, become closer to the best version of ourselves, and closer to all He has for us.

Albert Einstein is quoted having said “once you stop learning, you start dying.”

If you always accomplish, reach and obtain your goals, then you should probably push yourself harder to create bigger goals. Dig deeper, dream bigger; we can go further than most of us give ourselves credit for.

Want to know the key, the secret of you will, to accomplishing more goals, and even dreaming bigger, thinking greater and living larger lives than you are today?

A dear friend of mine, Gina, quotes our pastor all the time… with a smile and a glow she says, “the answer is always the same. It’s the three r’s.” Meditate on that first part for a moment. There is so much wisdom in that statement, “the answer is always the same.” It’s the same because He is always the same. The same yesterday, today and forever, always standing there waiting on you and watching you with a simple truth and a smile. He’s a simple God. He’s the same constant good, good Father, full of love, mercy and grace.

“The 3 R’s… they are:

  • Run
  • Rest
  • Rely

To set the tone of these 3 R’s queue Cody Carnes’ Run to the Father. This song has been top of mind as of late. There is so much truth, beauty and freedom in this song. We should consistently run to the Father with everything, and fully submit ourselves, our whole selves to Him. We need to constantly humble ourselves before the cross, to be still and know the He is God and He is good, and rely on Him to order and orchestrate our will, our mind, our emotions, our bodies and our lives. His plans and His will are perfectly made for us. We have to trust Him.

Commit. Go all in. Take it all to Him. He is our counselor, our friend, the One who created us… for a time such as this.

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

Want know what you were made for?

You were made to pursue. In order to live this life to its fullest potential, in order to grow, you have to go all in for God. Pursue Him and only Him consistently. Fix your eyes and your heart on His goodness, grace and mercies. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Read His Word.

“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 22:19

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

That’s it. That’s the key. Take heart, have faith in His promises, move toward Him, and He will bless you.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

James 4:8 tells us “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex 14:4

How beautiful is that promise?! He is fighting, protecting and warring on your behalf. He just wants us to run to Him, rest in Him and rely on Him! That is the God we serve. I, at times, cannot even wrap my mind around that, the creator, author, alpha omega, Jehovah Jirah, King of all Kings and LORD of all Lords wants us to just run, rest and rely on Him… to sit in His knee and talk to Him.

My friend, He created the human race to enjoy the garden and take walks with Him! He’s our Father and our friend. He wants you to abundantly enjoy this life and He has given us the simple Truth for generations, and for our generation, He lives us so that He gave His son, and the Living Word to live by. He just asks us to read it, spend time with Him, have faith in Him and trust the process.

If you agree with me, and even if you don’t, try this – I’m begging you! Write down your goals, your dreams; for dreams are birthed from the heart. Write it all down, the outrageous and the simple, and submit them to the Father.

All throughout scripture we are taught the importance of writing things down, as if the Bible were not proof enough of the importance of making accounts of what is taking place. Take note so that you can give an accurate account of your testimony. By submit, I mean to take your written notes, your heart cries, your requests, your confessions, your healings, your plans, your money…. take it all to Him and pray… pray over each item and ask God to align the desires of your heart with what He would have you to do this year.

What would He have you focus on?

What does He want to heal?

What is He telling you to walk away from?

Ask for Him to speak into you, to breathe fresh vision and revelation on you, ask Him to ignite the Holy Spirit inside of you that you might know His ways, so that you can take your next steps with purpose, provision and certainty.

Submit it all to Him. Take it all to the cross, lay it down and leave it. This act will help differentiate what is being driven by your desires and what is His desire for you. Ask Him to orchestrate your attitude, your tongue, your time, your choices and your intentions, so that you can honor Him. And be thankful, because your beliefs shape your reality. He will bless your request and protect you, because He loves you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Run, Rest and Rely.

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

And when your mind starts doubting, when you want to go pick up what you left at the foot of the cross, remind yourself of God’s promises, His sacrifice, His love and the fact that each day is a gift from above and we should do with it as He would have us.

Ultimately, God’s desire for our life is the best life. In alignment with Him, pursuing Him, we will find an abundant life.

Do you want all He has for you in 2020? Let’s dig in and go get it. He is there, with His hand out waiting for us to grab hold. Side-by-side, let’s leap toward him, hands stretched out… together pursuing. He is going to catch us and carry us.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7

We will plea, pray, and plan together here at “His D. Light”. “For where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them” Matt 18:20. I cannot wait to see what blessings our good Father has in store for us in 2020. It is going to be the best year of our lives.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

a year of radical obedience

Many of you reading this are probably my close family and friends. Many of you may not know that on a warm summer’s night at 16 years old, on a youth retreat in southwest Georgia I answered the call to ministry. For me, in that moment, that meant that I would chase God harder than ever, no matter where and what that meant. In my heart it meant, “Here I am, Lord. Send me, I’ll go” just as we read in Isaiah 6:8.

In that moment at 16 years of age, I didn’t truly know the weight of my words, but the beauty of that moment is that I didn’t care how costly, I was so in love and so believed that I was willing to give all of me, all I was to the cause of being whatever, however, whoever Jesus needed me to be. (My heart looked a lot like Jesus’s desire for our hearts at that time of my life.)

My whole childhood I never took my eyes off of Jesus. I always looked for Him and to him. For as long as I can remember, I clang to the truth of the Word and believed whole-heartedly in God and Jesus. I will explain this more at a later date, but, I will say, I had to in order to survive. Church, God and Jesus were my sanity and my sanctuary.

I graduated from Samford University in 2010, and in 2011 walked through a personal tragedy that is a huge part of my testimony that I promise to share (this is a book in progress), in 2012, as I told you previously, I married the love of my life. In 2013 I felt that same pull I had felt so many years prior to be in full-time ministry. I jumped into my church’s ministry leadership development program, Highlands College. My husband and I got unintentionally pregnant with our son only months after entering Highlands College, and while difficult, I finished strong in 2015. Those were two years that hollowed me out and emptied me clean so that God could begin to rebuild me as the daughter I was called to be, a rebirth of that 16 year old girl on the river bank that sold out for Jesus. As I walked across the stage in 2015 and shook our lead pastor’s hand and he handed me my certificate, I felt the peace, joy and proud at-a-girl spiritual hug from our Heavenly Father. I often reflect on His presence in that moment. I also reflect on the many messages, values and lessons learned in those four semesters at Highlands College. I grew monumentally in that season as a person, a wife, mom and Christian.

Current and personal confession: I am a Proverbs 31 and Lysa TerKeurst fan girl. I have loved everything she has ever produced. This past year I read a book she wrote, “When women say yes to God.” Y’all… this is a must read. The book, she explains, was previously titled “Radical Obedience.” She jokingly explains that no one bought it and so her publisher had her retitle it and it flew off of the shelf. Shamefully, I admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought a book titled “Radical Obedience” either. I want to be radically obedient, but if I am being honest it just seems so hard and unattainable…. but why? Ever since the garden we as humans have struggled and will continue to struggle with obedience until the return of Christ. And while it is impossible to always be obedient ever since that choice in the garden, there is a lot of room for obedience for many of us. The obedience our good good Father is looking for is not always taking the right action, it’s a condition of the heart. We should be taking daily steps to make obedience a habit. Most of us do not take daily steps that contribute to our goals. Most of us unintentionally self sabotage on a regular basis. We, the human race, are entitled, emotionally-driven, pleasure seekers, and while most of us like the idea of being in lock-step with God, being right and obedient, very few of us are willing to put in the work it takes every day to truly make a change in our nature to fulfill the level of obedience that God desires us to pursue. That’s the key word, pursue. He wants His children in pursuit of Him and all He has for us.

Lysa’s book, 21 days of prayer and fasting, and the Word, have motivated and inspired me to put in the work everyday that will result in a year I can proudly reflect on. I am fully prepared to take 2020 head on. Someone wise once said, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This year, I am planning to be radically obedient, and I am inviting you to come along.

A sneak peek of what my interpretation of planning for success as a Christian looks like:

  1. Get a planner! I chose the Full Focus Planner this year! “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Prov 21:5
  2. Bible reading. His Word is our daily bread, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto out path. It is as essential for living as water and oxygen. I am thoroughly enjoying my new Bible by my one of my favorite apps, She Reads Truth. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt 4:4 | “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov 3:5-6
  3. Set financial goals with a monthly budget in place. Tithe. “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 | “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” Malachi 3:10
  4. Create a reading plan for 2020 and purchase books in advance if possible. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Prov 15:22
  5. Self-care plan in place. Practice self-care at least 3 times a week. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
  6. Create tangible weekly and monthly goals that equate to an outcome that will be pleasing at year-end. “
  7. Observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
  8. Plan margin. Plan for attacks and distractions, because they will come. “Some are like the seeds along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” Mark 4:15 | “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

I’d love to hear some of your resolutions and planning you have put into place to ensure success. What does obedience mean for you and your journey? Comment below so the community can see!

If you have not read “What happens when women say yes to God,” by Lysa TerKeurst get it and read it this week. It is a quick and easy read, and trust me, you will not be able to put it down. Get a planner that works for you! And spend time in prayer and godly counsel to prioritize your schedule and tasks according to the Word and Will of God.

It is my prayer that as we usher in a new decade that we all look more like Jesus this decade. What would the world look like if we all had the Isaiah 6:8 (send me, I’ll go) and John 3:16 (He loved the world so that He gave… and he just didn’t give anything – He gave His best, his son) mentality?

Deuteronomy 11:26 says “Obey and you will be blessed.” and John (14:21) states “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Together let us enter into this decade and mark this year as the most obedient year of our lives. It’s not going to be easy. We need one another. We need accountability and a partner when things get hard. I want this place to be that for you. Let’s hold one another up and help each other dance through this next decade.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20

In Him

– D