You are not alone. {Maggie}

You are not alone.

This concept is what has been running around in my heart the past few weeks. I’ve heard this one song over and over on the radio called “Never Once”. It has definitely been reminding me of God’s constant presence in my life. Through every long and lonely day, He is always there, and He. Desires. You. Two verses from the song…
“Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
    You are faithful, God, You are faithful”
Love it. God is faithful, and He will never leave us to fend for ourselves. Summertime is always weird for me. The environment I have comfortably adjusted to for the past 9 months is dramatically changed within just a few days. The people I’m usually surrounded by have gone home for summer to work or travel, classes have stopped, and I’m not near any of the community I’m used to having. Each summer after college I’ve had to make that transition, and this summer it’s hit me even harder that I yearn for other people’s company and thrive when I am surrounded by people who love me. Some of you might be feeling the same loneliness while you are home. Being an amniovert (both introvert and extrovert, it’s a new concept…) There will be times when I feel like I am going to go crazy because of how alone I feel, yet feeling exhausted when I would find a big group to  hang out with. Know that you aren’t ever actually alone, Jesus is with you, and wants  you to spend time with Him! He is jealous for you. He loves you and LOVES when you give Him your time.

While raising support this summer, I’ve noticed I have more time on my hands now that all my students (you guys!) have gone home. For the first week of the summer I followed my roommate around and begged her to let me help with anything that had to do with being around people. I was a volunteer for most senior week events, and loved it. But I also realized that I actually needed time alone to rejuvenate with Jesus, and just be quiet. I’m bad at that whole being still and listening thing. I’m all about go, go, go what can I do next? When is the next thing happening? Who wants to hang out with me? Other more negative questions run through my head when I am alone such as: Why hasn’t someone asked me to hang out? Do I actually have any friends? Am I not good enough to hang out with that one group? These are LIES. Satan will pick and prod at every insecurity you have and use it against you to speak lies to your heart that you aren’t good enough, wanted or loved by others. Run to Jesus when this happens. Do things that bring you joy!

A few weeks ago, I literally wrote out a list of activities that bring joy and life to my soul, then I proceeded to do some of them!  I was amazed at the end of the day that even though I was by myself the whole time, I had such a great day. God has given you passions and desires for a reason. It is a way to connect with Him! I love thinking of simple pleasures that make me smile too. Like Brooke wrote about a few weeks ago…you have to fight for joy. It’s not just something that comes to you. The next time you feel sad because you are home alone on a Friday night…like me the other day woops…I challenge you to do something that gives you joy and life. For me it was playing guitar and being outside.  You don’t have to sit and wallow- dance!  Dance for Jesus, play volleyball for Jesus, paint, run, sing, laugh for Him! Joy comes from the Lord.
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.”
– Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV).

“Never Once”- Matt Redman

For your Friday (Meg)

Here are a few things I’ve stumbled upon on the Internet this week. Why not share some of the goodness that’s out there? So much of it is junk, but SO much of it is treasure. Take time to peruse these, or maybe others you love, and fill your mind with Goodness and Truth and Grace and all the things that are just so beautiful about this life we live as daughters of the King. Soak in some of these, and may your Friday be filled with a little bit of love, a good bit of joy, and a whole lot of Jesus.

This song on repeat {{Rend Collective, Finally Free}}:

This daily Bible study and general concept {{If:Equip and Jennie Allen}}:

This blog post {{Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky}}:

This art print {{Ashlee Proffitt}}:

This recipe, or any of hers listed {{Averie Cooks}}:

This book – which completely changed my perspective on what it means to be adopted as God’s child, and I still vividly remember his illustrations! – {{Russell Moore, Adopted for Life}}

This prayer:

Rest. Soak up. Enjoy your weekend.

Brooke’s Story

At about 5pm on a October 23rd many years ago I was born into this crazy & wonderful world.  The doctors told my mom she would never get pregnant.  Looks like they were wrong–here I am!  I was born into a small family- a mom, a dad, and a dachshund(duh!).  God/Jesus was kind of important to them but not top priority–until my mom got sick.  My mom got breast cancer when I was 1 and when I was 5 she passed away.  But during those 4 years of sickness her spiritual life soared and so did my dads.  My moms outward body was wasting away but inwardly she was being renewed.  She was in many Bible studies and prayer groups– I have a book of notes that all her prayer group, neighbors, Bible study friends, and sisters wrote me after she passed away sharing about her love for God and others.  It’s the most precious gift they could have given me.

After my mom passed away my Dad made it a huge priority for me to grow up in the church.  And I am so thankful for that.  I got plugged in immediately to missionettes, youth group, youth choir– you name it.  I loved all these activities.  I heard many stories about Jesus and I loved hearing about him–I even traveled in a choir singing about Him.  I knew He was someone Special–I just didn’t know how special yet.

Then in February, during ninth grade, it all clicked and made sense.  I can still picture where I was sitting at the youth retreat. Our youth pastor gave a super clear Gospel presentation. He shared how people are sinful and separated from God. I knew I was sinful—I was sassy, snappy to my Dad, continually lied, was jealous….the list goes on and on.  He explained how God is perfect and Holy and unlike Anything I have ever known. God made me and wants to be in relationship with me on this Earth and forever.  But because of my sin I can’t know God because He is perfect.  But…God came into this world in the form of Jesus—he entered into our pain, lived a perfect/sinless life and died on a cross for my sin, our sin. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23  His death(because He was perfectly God) was enough to cover my sin and all sin for all time. (He also rose from the dead!).  He came to bring us life-forever. We can have a relationship with a perfect God today-amazing grace.  All we need to do is believe.

For God so L O V E D the world that He G A V E His One and Only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

My dad picked me up from the retreat and when I got home I went straight to my room and spent the next 3 hours writing out prayers and singing and crying tears of thanksgiving that God would save my soul.  I prayed that night that God would lead and guide my life.  I prayed that I would honor Him and live out His dreams for my life.  This is still something I love to pray.

It wasn’t too long after that that this desire to be in ministry(to help people know about God) started to grow in my heart. I know that not every Christian is called to full-time ministry, but I found myself sitting on the the youth room floor praying that God would open doors for this to be true for the rest of my life.  With every year that passed the desire got stronger and stronger. When I went to Longwood University I majored in Psychology only because I thought it would one day help in ministry. It’s interesting the things that God puts in our hearts once we put our trust in Him.

About 4 years ago Brian and I were meeting with one of my moms friends and also a sweet supporter of our ministry with Cru at a Starbucks in Richmond, Va.  She mentioned to me as we were winding up our time with her, “You know, before your mom died she asked to have her friends gather around her to specifically pray for you—she prayed that you would come to know Christ at an early age and that you would go into ministry.”  amazing.  (At that point I had been in full time ministry with Cru for 6 years.)

Prayers never die.  I’m so thankful for the journey that the Lord has me on.  I’m thankful for the highs and lows and everything in between. I’m so thankful to get to do what I do– i love working with college students.  I’m so thankful that in the Lords kindness that He let me get a glimpse into my mom’s prayer life.

“The Lord will fulfill His purposes for Me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.”  Psalm 138:8

The Story that the Lord writes for your life is always the best….it may not always make sense, and it definitely won’t be without trials and sorrow, but Joy always will come. always.  

“But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.” Philippians 3:20-21 

Thanks be to God.