As I look back on the last few years, it’s been pretty incredible the amount of growing that God has done in my heart and in my knowledge of Him and His Word.
For so many years I depended on a church, a leader, a staff, a pastor to form my beliefs. If you asked me, I would certainly call them “my beliefs”, but where did they come from? Not directly from the Bible, because I wasn’t digging into it myself. Sure I read it here and there, but I left it to my pastor and my spiritual leaders to interpret what the Bible says. Their interpretations were above mine because they have “authority”. Because they have degrees or theology knowledge.
When Max and I decided not to go back “to church” as the building, we quickly realized how much noise was present in our lives. The noise of programs, services, voices, etc. It was quite shocking how quiet that it became. Though it was a bit scary at first, we soon realized that this moment was for a purpose. It was to drown out the noise and listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives. After all, he had led us to this moment.
Some like to use the word desconstruction, but I am not a fan of that word. That implies that you completely disassemble something. You take it all apart. This is not what we did. We trusted the Lord to help us hold onto what is true and never let go. I don’t like to give things a title, but what we went through was more of a quieting.
A quieting of the traditions of man. Quieting those beliefs that we had taken on from others. At the same time, allowing the Holy Spirit and the Bible to speak loud and clear to us about what was really true.
We had to start over with our faith at ground zero.
Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve written. Almost 3 years. To think of all that has changed in those 3 years is quite incredible. God has a way of taking His time in showing us what we need to know, when we need to know it. Doesn’t He?
There’s no way that I would have believed the things that I do now, just 5 years ago. Heck, 3 and 1/2 years ago. And there are also things that I believed then, that I absolutely do not believe now.
There’s quite a bit to unpack about the changes that I’ve gone through spiritually over the last few years. I have no idea how to even start, but I knew that I needed to come back here and write them. I honestly don’t even know if anyone reads this anymore, but if it’s meant to be read, it will find the one who needs to read it.
The one change within my life that I would say is the biggest, is one simple word.
It’s a word used all over Christianity on the regular, but I wonder how truly understood it really is among the saints. I never had a firm grasp on its real meaning until the last couple of years and God has faithfully used the Word to show me His grace.
More change to our 2020? Why not. Let’s throw something else on this big old heap of uncertainty!
Max and I both came to walk with the Lord together, truly, after we were married. 7 years into our marriage, the Lord did a serious work within each of us and it not only transformed us separately, but it transformed our marriage and relationship with Him. God is so good. His timing is perfect and when He moves in a marriage, it’s life changing. I’d love to share our testimony with you over coffee sometime.
Church. This is perhaps the biggest change we have gone through in 2020. Completely unexpected.
We started going to church on a regular basis after we had our first daughter. It’s always been a place that wewould go. We went to church on Sunday morning. We served on teams and helped with programs and events. It was a sweet time. So many good memories.
When Covid-19 hit, it changed the way that everyone across the country went to church. While there was a rush to figure out how to maintain the normalcy, we were being drawn to something different. The Holy Spirit had given us a nudge in January, but Covid became a catalyst for seeking what that nudge meant. We knew that we had to read His Word. We dug deep. We prayed. And we prayed.
My grandmother has prayed this verse over me my entire life. It says that we don’t walk this path alone in the dark. That what He says is light and it will show us the way to go.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
We read about the New Testament church and our spirits lit up! It was as if the Holy Spirit had given us a new lens with which to read these passages through. We read Acts and Romans, and 1st and 2nd Corinthians. We read and read and the early church unfolded out of these books and into our hearts.
We were being called out.
Out of the typical. Out of the traditional. Out of the building.
We didn’t know what to say. We only knew that we had to be obedient to what the Holy Spirit was speaking to us.
When I left our church’s staff in December, I knew that we would take a break from going to services, but I had no idea that we would end up leaving the building. We love the people there and value that season. It’s not easy to leave what you have always known as church.
This has been a journey like no other. We have had to weed out a lot of things in our lives including the fear of man. We’ve had to move forward and step out in faith. We have had to trust the Lord as we walk into this unknown path even though it is much less traveled.
We aren’t on this journey to carve out our great ideas, patterns and plans. Quite the opposite — we know our striving and plans fall far short of God’s glorious plan for our lives.
It’s so weird to know something so for sure, but not know exactly what it is. But what I can say for sure is that leaving the building doesn’t mean leaving Jesus. The Holy Spirit is drawing us back to the roots of the early church. When the church met in homes and shared meals together.
We don’t know what we’re doing, and that’s ok.
We don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok.
Some may not understand our decision, and that’s ok.
In all of this change, it has been easy to get overwhelmed. I have my moments. Boy have I had my moments. When I get overwhelmed, I go back to my favorite verse. It gives the assurance of peace and two things that we can do while we wait on God and His timing.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
So we will trust in Him. And we will keep our thoughts fixed on Him.
This year started off with a freaking bang. I was transitioning to being a full-time mom again. And transitioning from sending my middle schooler to school, to being my middle schooler’s school.
And then, a little thing called Covid-19.
Was this virus going to get us? How do we get groceries?
HOW WILL WE WIPE OUR BUTT???
2 months into getting the hang of this schooling at home business, ALL schools in the area were sent home and I now had 2 at home. The husband joins and it’s one big happy(ish) family over here.
Even though things were uncertain, I could see the hand of God working even then. The very thing that I had been missing, family time. Connecting with each other. It was like a fog had lifted. We prayed together for the all of the unknown happening in the world and for the health of those we love, and those around the world.
We were together and we made the most of it. We took walks together daily and we played a LOT of cards. Praise Jesus for cards.
The only thing that was certain is that things were certainly changing. Not only in our lives, but in the world around us too. I know that if you’re reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone has been experiencing it. But what we can certainly lean on is this:
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
– Psalm 9:10
We still, just keep trusting in Him. He’s not surprised and he hasn’t forsaken us.
Little did I know that this was not the only the change that the Lord had in store for us in 2020.
The holidays. A fun and festive time to spend with your family. Yep, that OR you can jump feet first into one of the hardest parenting situations of your entire motherhood. That’s basically what the end of 2019 and walking into 2020 looked like for us!
Just when you think you have this parenting thing figured out, you find out that you literally have no idea what the heck you’re doing. In other words, you may have yourself a middle schooler. You may have yourself a middle schooler with a questionable group of friends and somehow you missed all of the signs.
Our daughter was in a battle for her identity.
Middle school is no joke. I remember it well. It’s a crucial time and it’s often when kids begin laying the foundation for who they will become. The perfect time for the enemy to come in and attempt to steal, kill, and destroy. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit had other plans!
We had a few come-to-Jesus meetings and this parenthood thang got real. It was messy. Hard. Deep. Spiritual. And yet, somehow, it was connecting us. How much we loved her was revealed. We lead her back to the Lord. Our relationship with her and our relationship with Jesus was strengthened through it all.
I think that I’m catching on. Parenting is leading your child back to Jesus. Over and over. Just like so much of my relationship with the Lord is coming back and choosing Him. Over and over.
In January 2020, we made the decision to pull her out of school.
This was not part of my plan. I have never had the desire to homeschool. In fact, I have literally said the words – I will never homeschool. Yet here I was, filling out an Intent-to-withdraw form.
This is alllllllll you, God.
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. – Proverbs 3:5,6
We had just pulled our daughter out of school. My dreams of coffee in the quiet mornings after lovingly seeing them off to school, fun times folding laundry and watching TV, and cleaning without anyone there to mess it up weren’t exactly coming true.
Stretched. I think that’s a good way to put how I was feeling about the beginning of 2020. I also had what I could only describe as a Holy Spirit peace.
For years when my girls were smaller, I stayed home with them. It was never something that I had planned to do, but when Addie was born and I looked into those deep blue eyes, it didn’t take long for me to realize that with her is where I wanted to be. I pulled up my mom jeans and that became my purpose.
After we got connected at our church, I was excited to get involved. It was refreshing to be appreciated and have another purpose. After a few years of volunteering, I was now on staff at my church working as Communications Director. I really enjoyed what I did. I loved the people I worked with. I loved working at my church. God had revealed gifts in me that I didn’t even know that I had! It was a huge blessing.
I’m not sure of the exact moment that it happened, but I felt a pull to stay home with my girls again. My priorities were out of whack. I found my time was mostly consumed and I didn’t have much left for them at the end of the day.
There’s that little voice.
Shame. I felt shame when I even considered talking about my thoughts of leaving. Who in their right mind would leave working at their church? You’re helping lead people to Jesus. You’re making an impact. I was also, worn very thin. The go, go, go life was really taking its toll on our family life. I knew that I had to tell my husband, but I stalled for quite some time. I’m really great at avoiding things. Especially hard things.
On the way back from a trip to see our parents, I finally told him. I tensed up and waited for the pushback. There was a little silence and then he said, “Amy if you feel like the Lord wants you to be home with the girls, that’s what you should do.” Whew. Huge relief. I couldn’t believe that I had worked myself up over that!
That began a season of prayer. We knew this was only in His timing.
Fast foward to December 2019. The time had come and I stepped away from working at my church and excitedly stepped back into being a full-time mom.
Ok God, I need you. Years of being heavily involved at church. All that time. This is what I was used to. This is what I knew so well. Will I remember how to do this mom job?
That same week, we discovered that our daughter had been hanging out with a few friends at school that were influencing her in a negative way. They were convincing her of things that had shaken her faith. Momma bear came out and that purpose in me? It was reassured.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8
I was 100% convinced in that moment that this was the reason that the Lord wanted me home with my girls. He wanted my attention on them. They are the ones that we need to lead to Jesus. They are where we need to make an impact.
Thank you Lord for these two purposes, Addie and Britton, that you have given me.
That word and me have never gotten along. You can go all the way back to the beginning of my life and you would most likely see a scene of me kicking and screaming because I didn’t want to get my diaper “changed”. God bless my parents.
I’m not a fan of changing my password on any of my accounts. I’m also not a fan of figuring out the math to give someone change. (my carhop job at Sonic was a challenge! Ha!) I find it hard to do something that I’m not used to.
I like my groove, my routine, my comfort.
The Lord and my family have been on quite a journey this year. It’s 2020. Hello? Hasn’t everyone? This has certainly been a year of change for the errrrrrrbody.
Change for me, started before 2019. It wasn’t necessarily a visible change, but one in my heart. The Lord was stirring something inside me for quite some time. Sometimes I question that little voice. I think it’s the enemy instead of the Lord because it sounds so outrageous. But isn’t that usually the case? The Lord hardly works in ways that are cozy and comfortable. I often have to repent for my lack of obedience and, you know, the kicking and screaming.
Even though the seasons change and 2020 has proved to be a challenge, the Lord says in His Word that He does not change.
“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” – Malachi 3:6
I want to sum up what the Lord has shown me in a series of posts. I think that Satan would love to claim 2020 as a jewel in his crown, but I’m going to declare my year of change for His glory.
Years ago when I was growing up, my dad used to listen to Carman and JAM IT OUT on Saturday mornings. I mean, we were some Carman-loving freaks. I just dated myself, but I have no shame. Carman was the Toby Mac of back in the day. If you haven’t listened to A2J, then you have missed out on a terribly important part of life.
I digress. I’ll get to why Carman matters later.
The other day I was on the struggle bus. I started having some pretty intense body image feelings. I was feeling down about my weight and my figure, and all those things that we girls worry about, even though we know we shouldn’t. I’ve struggled with these most of my life.
So I went about my day. Reminding myself to eat right today. I thought about all the things that I was doing wrong. Maybe I should go for a walk? Maybe I should find a new diet?
But as I was driving down the road after spending the better part of the day beating myself up, something in faith rose up inside me. Almost like a Holy Ghost fury.
I’ve been delivered.
NO DEVIL. The Lord delivered me from an eating disorder 5 years ago. He delivered me from the grips of something that could have controlled my life for years, maybe even the rest of my life. From the constant striving to be a certain weight. From the unrelenting lies that haunted my thoughts.
From the dark.
Now that I am in the light, I recognize the lies that the enemy throws my way to bring me back down. The battle is won and everyone has gone home!
I am free. I’ve been delivered.
Jesus has declared me not guilty. My prison doors are WIDE open. I’m on the other side and I’m not going back in.
I just want to stir something up in you right now. If you have things that you have overcome and the enemy is trying to bring them back up or draw you back in, take heart. You have been delivered.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all of my fears. – Psalm 34:4
He is a God of deliverance.
In the moments when I could have easily tanked back into fear and let that old, sinful part of me take over, I decided to stand firm and declare my freedom. I love what it says in Galatians 5:1:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yolk of slavery.
Do not let yourselves be burdened AGAIN. We were all in slavery before we found Christ. Now we serve the Master of the universe and creator of everything. He freed us from our bondages! Hallelujah!
If you find yourself struggling with some of the same things over and over, here are a few things that have helped me over the past few years to walk in freedom.
Confess. Whatever it is, tell the Lord. Hold nothing back. Or tell a trusted friend! God never meant for you to walk this road alone. It helps to bounce thoughts off of a friend who will help point you toward truth. 1 John 1:9
Declare. Use your authority to speak truth against the lie. Speak it out! Find a scripture or two that you can use every single time you feel those thoughts creep in. 2 Cor. 10:5
Praise. He has brought you through this before, so praise God for his faithfulness! Praise him all the way through this trial! Psalm 34:1
Fight. Don’t wallow within your circumstance. You may not have a plan but take the next right step! Then take the next right step after that! One step at a time, God will bring you out of your wilderness. Psalm 37:23-24
After I hopped off the struggle bus, I began to declare out loud over and over, I’ve been delivered.
And allllllllll I could think about was Carman’s song, I’ve Been Delivered. It’s a good old gospel-type song that fires me up folks! I’ll leave you with some of its words.
“I’ve been delivered. I’ve been delivered.
Well the hold the devil had on me,
He ain’t got no more.”
Have you ever felt God lead you to reflect on something? I’m more of a let’s keep things moving kinda gal, but when God shows me something, I long for the revelation. It means being still and quiet and allowing His Word and the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
My husband and I just finished a time of prayer and fasting. It was powerful for me. I tried to truly hear what God was speaking to me. He brought my attention to His goodness. I used to think that the word goodness is such a general word that doesn’t have a heavy meaning. Goodness meaning anything not bad. But it’s really so much more than that. It’s the opposite of evilness. The very summit of grace and mercy.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you… – Psalm 31:9
I spent some time looking back over the last 5 years. There were some really hard times. God, in His goodness, brought me through each one. Lessons of faith and trust. Being a minor (heh) control freak, trusting in what I couldn’t even see was and is one of the most difficult things that I am called to do.
There were many moments of wondering where God was within my circumstance. The pain, the tears, the anger. It was easy to find those things, but harder to find the good.
But as I look back now, all I can see is good.
I see Him.
When my husband confessed deception in our marriage, there was repentance and forgiveness. Goodness.
When I questioned my worth and wished that I didn’t exist, there was affirmation and love poured over me. Goodness.
When I was so deep into an eating disorder that my body almost couldn’t function, there was conviction of sin. Goodness.
When I was consumed with a lack of relationship with my father, there was a reminder of my eternal relationship with my heavenly Father. Goodness.
This list could go on. The Bible says in Romans 8:28 that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him. And for His goodness, I can’t help but love Him more.
It doesn’t make sense. I can’t understand it. The only thing that I do know is that He freely gives it when I don’t deserve it. And for that, I will praise Him.
Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness… -Psalm 107:31
As long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist.
It’s a blessing and a curse. It helped me back in English class, but it was a straight-up nightmare in art class. All those abstract shapes and colors. I threw away so many things to start again. It often felt like the very definition of insanity.
For a large part of my life I have struggled with my self-esteem. I have often felt like I wasn’t good enough. Just like those pictures I would paint back in art class, I wasn’t good enough. I would start over trying this or trying that thinking that it would make me feel accepted. I imagined that my self-esteem issues could be fixed with approval.
If you have ever struggled with this, then you know that it can turn you into an approval-seeking monster. Your life can become a cycle of ups and downs where an approval can send you soaring to the sky and what you consider failure can send you down into the depths of despair.
The striving. The works. The people-pleasing.
We sometimes create a level of standard for ourselves based on what we *think* others will approve of. A world-based standard if you will. I want you to know today that you were never called to live in this cycle. To live up to those standards.
Paul tells the church in Galatia about this very thing…
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
They were living by legalistic law and Paul came in to tell them, it’s grace. It’s grace. The same applies to you and me, dear sister.
A revelation came to me a few years ago when I really began to pursue Christ. I had a meltdown one night. That awful people-pleasing cycle had led me to a very dark place. The Lord showed me a scripture that spoke to me. You have probably heard it, but let’s dissect it together.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world… Wow. That’s hard to do. We live in the world so how can we not be like it? The answer is by being conformed to HIS Word. Not this world, but His Word. Oh if you can truly grasp that, many things will change in your life.
…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… My mind wants to believe that I need to be a certain way. To get approval from him or her. My mind wants to believe that my acceptance lies within people. Why would my mind need to be renewed? Because Jesus wants me to be like Him, not the world. He wants me to get the Word of God into my heart so that I will be transformed and KNOW that I am accepted.
…that by testing you may discern what is the will of God… Once we get into His Word and know His character and commandments, then we can live out His will. We can more easily discern how it is that He wants us to live. There is so much more rest when you live out of the Spirit and not the flesh.
…what is good and acceptable and perfect… There are those words – acceptable and perfect. I know them all too well. Through Christ we ARE acceptable! Perfect? Only Christ will ever receive the glory of that description, but we know that His will is just that!
Dear sister, if you struggle with never feeling like you’re enough then I want you to see something today that you may never have seen before. The revelation that God showed me that night when I was in darkness.
You may need to lower your standards.
Sometimes we hold ourselves to a standard that is above Jesus Himself. Are you striving for perfection that will never be attainable? Lower your standards. God says that His grace is enough. He says that in your weakness, that His power is made perfect. (2 Cor 12:9)
There is no standard above that of Christ. Take rest in throwing all of that approval-seeking, people-pleasing, and perfection-needing out the window. The only striving there is to be done, is to be like Jesus. Be conformed to His Word, transform yourself by renewing your mind, and discern His will because that is what is acceptable and perfect!