Changes, Remembrance, and Resolutions

"but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

     I went blog hopping tonight and thought to myself "it has been a few weeks since you have blogged." So I came by my own blog only to discover it has been almost a year since I have written. A. YEAR.

*shakes head

     I began this blog 5 years ago to try to get a better handle on my bipolar and the emotions that seemed to be drowning me during my waking hours, shortly after I began, my life began to take some drastic, and (at the time) unwanted, changes... 

*Funny thing about change, if allowed, it can turn your life into something pretty amazing*

     The changes I have experienced have been spoken of here time and time again... However, the last year has brought even more changes, good ones, amazing ones. 

I will summarize... 

*I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Religion (last month) and was accepted into the Masters of Divinity program (which started one week ago)... 

*December 6, 2014 I was ordained as an itinerant Deacon (but still look for my Pastor when I hear someone call "Rev")...

*My oldest graduated high school and my youngest moved into middle school...

*I have found a job that I actually love!! 

     There are still some things that I would like to change, however, I see how His timing is so much better than my timing, therefore I am patiently (go ahead and laugh you all that know me in real life) waiting on Him. 

     With change (at least where I am concerned) comes tears... Anxiety at a new fork in the road, fear about what cannot be seen up ahead, uncertainty at taking the first step forward, and so on and so forth... 

     The morning I was to be ordained had to be (emotionally) one of the worst days in my life, when technically it should have been one of the best days. 

     I had reached the point in my ministry where I was comfortable, where I knew what was expected of me, where I knew what I was doing... Going from "Minister" to "Reverend" felt like I was tossed out of an airplane, into the middle of the ocean, alone, surrounded my hungry sharks, without a life preserver in sight... all the while forgetting that nothing about this walk has been smooth sailing and even more sadly I was excluding to remember the fact that my true Life Preserver walks on water. 

     Just that quickly, the enemy moved into my train of thought and plowed rampantly through my confidence... Tearing apart what little self-esteem I had left, leaving me doubting, anxious, teary-eyed, and fearful... 

     Worried about what others were thinking, instead of relishing in the favor He had bestowed upon me, I sat in the front pew and contemplated what in the world I had gotten myself into. As my name was called to come forth and kneel before the Bishop, I could see the door in my vision and I debated how quickly I could run out of it... I cannot even accurately describe the emotional turmoil that was going on within, but I can say this... As I was kneeling, face about to be buried in the Bible, tears streaming down my face, panic setting in, and hands on the brink of being laid upon my head... 

There He was. 

     I could see the purple color of my Bishops' robe, yet everything else fell from my line of vision, I could not hear a single word that was being said, however... I could sense His presence and I could feel His peace.

     The turmoil which had taken a hold of me earlier that morning was lifted, the thoughts of unworthiness which moments ago had threatened to overtake me were replaced with the Words from the Gospel of John 15:16; "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you...."

     While I would never claim to fully know what God is doing, I am blessed in that He allows me to see Him working, in my life, as well as in the lives of those around me. Normally around this time I would make my New Years resolutions, however this year I did not make any, nor did I choose a word for the year, instead I want to focus solely on what He is doing. 

     If I had to pick a word for the year, it would be Remembrance. I want to remember how He moves me from one degree of grace to another, how He works in my life when everything else seems to be falling apart, and how He loves me, even on the days when I cannot muster up enough strength to love myself. I want to remember He sent His only Son to die for me, so that one day I may live with Him. 

     If I had to make a resolution, it would be to write more... I miss writing so much. It is one of the ways for me to work out what is going on within my head, whether it is ever read by anyone else. I would also resolve to work on my spiritual life more, and my worldly life less. I would resolve to live each day as He has planned it, knowing full well I may not get another tomorrow. To be at peace with all that is placed before me, to go to sleep at night knowing I treated people the way He wanted me to treat them, and not how they treated me, to be an example for my boys in how to live a Godly life, regardless of what other people may say, and to shine before all people more fruits of the Spirit and less trash of the world.

Blessings to you all.

Well, Every Single Day Your Grace Reminds Me
That My Best Days Are Not Behind Me
Wherever My Yesterday May Find Me
Well, I Don't Have To Stay There


One Word

"God’s riches are so great! The things He knows and His wisdom are so deep! No one can understand His thoughts. No one can understand His ways."
Romans 11:33 (NLV)


     Three days ago I still did not have a "word" for 2014. I had a verse (right at the top of my blog), but the "word" eluded me. Perhaps this year I would not receive one, I mean a verse is plenty, if you downright think about it and God is pretty busy, therefore He may not have had time to send one down from the Heavens above.

     I stood in the backyard and looked up at the sky, trying to see through the clouds that the "Polar Vortex" had blanketed most of the US with. Everyone I know is sick with some sort of flu/cold. I felt lucky (as if!) that I had already been sick (3 times to be exact) and (praying fiercely) that this time I would not be touched with whatever was going around.

{That prayer must not have made it to Heaven because I am sitting here with a horrible sore throat and a stuffed up head.}

It came as a whisper on the back of a bitter gust of wind, softly, but boldly spoken.


My first reaction was "no." I do not have any spare time to dig.

Then I tossed up the reasons as to why I did not have the time...

Parenting, school, studying, preaching, ministering, looking for a job, teaching Bible study, teaching Sunday School, Board meetings etc...

As if that was not enough, I then went on to list what I already do for Him and how I felt I needed a break...

"I want more than a performance, My child" was the answer I received.

Well said, Father.

     Almost instantaneously a light-bulb went off over my head, taking me back to the post I wrote a few days ago, about feeling a need to always "be on." Somewhere in the past 4 years, my mind has tricked me into thinking that performance was the key to having Him on my side. Basically a "to-do" list of things I made sure to check off before I went to sleep at night.

     Everything I did, had to be better each additional time it was done. I took criticism to heart and changed the way I stand, speak, and preach. Each time I received a copy of a sermon I had preached, I would sit and watch it over and over again, picking out each miniscule error... "Look at your hands, stop talking with them and put them somewhere. You stumbled on that line. Look up and make eye-contact more. You are moving around too much, stand still." And the self-inflicted beating goes on and on.

     Same goes for Bible study. There is another female minister and we share the Women's Bible Study, taking turns each month picking out a woman from the Bible, writing our own Bible study, and then bringing it to whoever shows up. We have been doing this for almost 2 years and I never leave without questioning something I wrote.

     For days I would do this, compare myself to the other 2 preachers in our Church and find myself failing (in my eyes) miserably. Sadly, I know better. I preach against this same mentality of a performance based relationship with the Father, yet here I found myself entangled in the snare of the enemy.

     Living a performance-based life is normal within the world we live. From almost the moment we draw breath, the gauntlet is cast, challenging each of us to not only succeed, but to triumph in all that we do. Then somewhere along that path, we start to believe that our performance is a way to measure the value in ourselves. However, there will be tremendous discouragement if our value is only based on what we do, because someone will eventually come along and be better at it.

     The moment I stopped to take a self-inventory of my walk, the spotlight shone on "performing" too much, therefore if I am always "on," I cannot be resting in Him. The Word tells us; "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. The Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Hebrews, remind us that the Lord rested... Why do we think we are any different?

     Deeper is a comparative adjective of the word deep, meaning; "very intense or extreme; extending far inward from an outer surface, to a great depth."

     Inward is where I receive my identity; a daughter loved by Him, outward is living out the love that He has given to me.

     My prayer for the year 2014 is this, that I may grow deeper in love with my Savior, that I learn to see past the surface of those He places in my path, & that I put aside the notion that my walk is based purely on my performance, and rest in Him.

     He loves me for who I am at this very moment in time; deeply loves me & He deeply loves each one of you.     

What is your word for 2014? Tell me in the comments or better yet, link up with Bonnie over at Faith Barista and share with the community.

Many blessings!

 "Spirit Lead Me Where My Trust Is Without Borders
Let Me Walk Upon The Waters
Wherever You Would Call Me
Take Me Deeper Than My Feet Could Ever Wander
And My Faith Will Be Made Stronger
In The Presence Of My Savior

Hillsong United


Receiving Strength... Through Doubt

"A Message from the high and towering God, who lives in Eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed,
And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again."
Isaiah 57:15 (the Message)

     My first post for the New Year and I have sat here for the past few hours just trying to quiet my thoughts and get to the heart of what I want to write. This is not going to be a post on resolutions for 2014, because quite frankly I make them and break them quicker than you can blink. Instead I chose a verse to live by for the New Year; one to pray on, to look at every single day, to make my own. The verse comes from the Book of Luke, 14:33 "Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple." (emphasis mine) I am still trying to figure out my word for the year, but back to the verse... These are the words spoken by the Master, stating that one needs to let go of everything, in order to follow Him.

     In my way of thinking, I have already done this... Time to think again. The past few weeks have been a time spent on reflection. I am on a Winter break from school and in the process of trying to find a new job. With each new interview and subsequently with each new rejection, I found myself questioning Him and why He has me on a path that is so hard to walk. I allowed my mind to take me back a few years when everything seemed to be going along perfectly. I loved my life and everything in it. My boys were happy and free from the pain of outside sources, my marriage (imo) was perfect, I lived in a great house, had a job I adored, a car I loved, and a big fat cat who was a fan of cuddling. Fast forward to today and all of those things are gone.

     Today there is brokenness. Today there are unshed tears that burn my eyes and make my throat seize up when I try to swallow. Today there is a heaviness in my soul that is unwanted. Today I need my Savior more than ever. Today it is harder to call on Him than yesterday.

      As I sat here, looking at the verse from Luke, I realized that the brokenness had to be let go of as well. However, I heard the question being asked within my heart; "Are you ready to let go?" You see my brokenness is a part of me, from as far back as I can remember. I have never felt like I "belonged" anywhere. I wear it like a second skin; it protects me from having to be vulnerable with people, cloaks me from having to trust too much, envelops me from having to open up, and shadows me wherever I go. Without that, what do I have?

     We live in a world where broken things are thrown out to the curb, expectantly waiting for the trash man to come by and sweep them up and away, no longer having to look at the mess, instead living in a façade of perfect beauty. Brokenness is not relegated to only "things," it applies to people as well. If you look around you will notice that when relationships break down, people have a horrible tendency to walk away and find someone new, instead of working on reconciliation. The world we live in is full of people with broken hearts, broken spirits, broken emotions, and broken relationships; I am one of those people.

     I have had a tremendously hard time reconciling the fact that as a Minister, I still fall short in so many areas of my life... That I still have so many areas of brokenness. (sigh) For whatever reason, my mind figured that once I accepted my calling, that once I was on board with the fact that He chose me, all would be smooth sailing from there. The Book of Acts tells us that "...through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (14:22)

     I will not even begin to understand why I did not think that would apply to me in any way :)

     With every loss, I see His hand move in my life. With every nasty word spewed out from someone who does not believe I look "the" part, another comes along with a kind word of encouragement. With each curious glance from the eyes of someone who does not know me, comes a look of comfort from one who does. There are times when I walk into a Church that is not mine and I feel like a circus freak... (We do a love service once a month where we go on the road to other Churches around town or in our district, and bring service to them. We do this to promote unity in the community, as well as a way of getting to know others.) There are nights when I get home that I just want to curl up into a ball and weep. I want to quit while I am ahead, yet there is a spark within that whispers "give it one more day" each time I feel like this.

     In the midst of all these swirling emotions, I wrestle with how I "should" feel versus how I "truly" feel. You know those conversations you have within your own mind about yourself, your looks, your choices, and your decisions? This is what I am referring to... Goes something like this...

Me: Geez what is wrong with you? Get it together, get a grip, do what you have been chosen to do.
Me: And they call you a preacher? What kind of Minister are you??
Me: You know they don't like you... See the way she just looked at you? You are not wanted here. You look different and they will use their last breath to remind you of that.

     (I never claimed to have a kind mind) These are just a few of the conversations that I have with myself and I realized that these conversations are not of Him, but antics of the enemy to make me doubt myself, but more importantly they are used to doubt Him.

     On this journey, I never expected doubt to come into play. As a child I went to Sunday School and Church every Sunday... Then I reached a point in my life where I figured that my way was better so I put those notions that I learned to the side and entered into the big bad world, head first. However, my belief in Him did not get lost along the way. I still prayed before I went to bed every night...

That's it. I prayed and to be honest it was mostly done just to escape eternal hell in case something I was doing caused my death that particular night... That is painful to admit.  :(

     As I was researching the cause of my "internal" doubt, I came across a statement that read "you are moving from the merely inherited faith of your childhood to an adult faith that is truly your own. You should expect that by growing into a mature faith, even though you are a Christian, doubt will come into play at some point. The process can be very painful, but it is really an important part of spiritual maturation. So don’t be distressed; this is something you need to go through." (Read here)


Something else that I "need to go through."


     Doubt is not anything new. If you go into the Word, you will find several examples of doubt coming into play. With Moses, Thomas, Jacob, Job, David, Elijah, and even with John the Baptist... The one who baptized the Son of Man, eventually had doubt enter his mind. I figure if John the Baptist can have a moment of doubt, I can as well.

     I have found out first hand that a Minister (Pastor, Preacher, Reverend, Priest etc....) is expected to always be "on." People expect them to go from strong faith to stronger faith and they are expected to adequately have all problems resolved so that they can be counted on for the unchanging Word. The responsibility is huge, and I have found that it is enough to take away my breath and it is not limited to the Pulpit on Sunday morning. I can no longer run to the grocery store in my pajamas (sue me, they are comfy and I am human) because I will undoubtedly run into a Steward from my Church.

     Gone are the days of going to the mall fresh-faced and make-up free. Gone are the days of gossiping with my close girlfriends. In place of those days I find myself scrutinized in ways that make me shake my head and swallow a scream. From the way I wear my hair, to pantyhose or tights, to my heels being too high, to whether I talk too fast or too slow, to whether I eat or not ( yes, this has actually been a point of discussion that made its way to the ears of my Pastor *eye-roll*) I have been chewed up and spit out, all in the name of Jesus.

     However through the thick, choking, clouds of doubt, He sees, He knows, and therefore He answers in ways only He can...

    With people He places in my life, like my Pastor who believes in me, even on days I cannot muster up enough belief in myself.

     With an unexpected email from a new friend, like my secret Santa, which came in during the writing of this post. :) So sweet!

      With a song lyric, that has been heard many times before, but now has new meaning.

     With a message from G, after not hearing from him for months, due to a move on his part.

     With 7 (the number of completion) blood red cardinals prancing around in the backyard.

     With the reading of John 20:24-29 and "understanding" for the first time that Jesus gave in to the doubts of Thomas by taking the words Thomas spoke eight days earlier to the other disciples and turning them into reality.

     With a mentor I can call day or night, that makes time to answer questions that frustrate me to the point of pulling my hair out.

     With a ray of sunshine that hits my face, on a cold day (it is 27 degrees here... in Florida!)
     He hears the cries of my heart, He sees the unshed tears, He feels the ache of loneliness, He acknowledges my doubt, He drives away my insecurities, He silences my fears and with that understanding, He strengthens me...to "give it one more day."

Many blessings upon you my friends!

"There Are Times When You Feel Like You Can't Go On
There Are Times When You Feel Like Giving In
And There Are Times When You Feel Like You Can't Try Anymore
There Are Times Of Trouble In Believing
This Test Of Your Faith Will Last
As Long As It Takes To Pass
Till You Have No More Doubt You'll Endure
And Your Faith Will Emerge True And Pure



SSS ~ What A Blessing!

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
(First let me apologize for the sideward pictures... I could not get the rotated ones to save for some reason)
My package came almost a week and a half ago and I feel horrible it took me this long to get a post up. I was smack dab in the middle of finals and just could not squeeze anymore time out of my day, however, now I am on Winter Break (Thank you Lord!) so here is my (albeit) late post.
My Secret Santa lives in Texas.... Home of my beloved (though fiercely hated by some) Cowboys! I have not had a chance to do any digging so I truly have no idea who my SS is/was, I will say that whoever she is, she was indeed a blessing to me.
If you look sideways (ha ha again sorry) at the top left you will see w slip of paper with the word "joy" printed on the top, in the white is a portion of the song "Joy To The World." I love it! It is now hanging above my bed. Santa socks and touchscreen gloves... Shut up ~ I did not even know they made touchscreen gloves (Side note ~ I have an iPhone and DESPISE fingerprints so this is SO cool!)
Hot cocoa, my absolute fav as y'all know, complete with mini marshmallows ~ Yummy!
Butterfingers and white chocolate covered pretzels, along with cinnamon discs and spearmint discs... My SS must have known of my love for spearmint discs, if you look in my purse, you will see no less than about 50 of them on any given day. Don't judge, I like "good" smelling breath :)
2 books which I am so looking forward to reading over my break, one of which is a devotional to start on the 1st of January... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE devotionals!
The tan cloth with the Crosses on it is (I sure hope so anyway) a scarf. Being that I sit in front of the congregation I always have a scarf to cover my girly bits (even though I wear long dresses/skirts/just to be safe). If it is not intended to be a scarf, please let me know lol!

The wooden Cross. Nestled under this Cross was a note from my SS.... Her Dad made this. Hand made.
I read the note and instantly I was in tears. This I hung in my room, immediately. It is in a place where it is the first sight I see when I get up, and the last one I see before I go to sleep. I touch it as I walk out the door and find myself lingering over the fact that it was hand made, and my SS willingly sent it to me. 
Had nothing else come in the box aside from the Cross, that still would have been the biggest blessing.
The note stated that she had a story for me (after the reveal). A story of how God always has a plan. I cannot wait to hear the story.
Another side note ~ Each item was individually wrapped so beautifully and as usual, I forgot my camera until after the fact (sorry!)
To Suzanne ~ Thank you for once again hosting the SSS. This has been (I think) my 4th year participating and the time and effort you put into it is appreciated and it is something I have looked forward to all year! You are a blessing!!
To my SS ~ I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You were a bright light in the middle of a stressful week. The thought and care you put into the package you sent me, went beyond my expectations. No matter how long I walk this road, I pray that He continues to surprise me in the ways that He shows His Grace. Whether by people I know, or people I have never met, in a song, or in a Scripture, in the clouds, or in the sunshine. No matter the trials, tribulations, circumstances, or emotions, I pray the same Grace showers upon you and your family. Please extend my deepest gratitude, a big hug, and speechless appreciation to your Dad.
Much Love.

"There In The Darkest Night Of The Soul
There In The Sweetest Songs Of Victory
Your Grace Finds Me
Yes Your Grace Finds Me


Changing Seasons

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Romans 12:1-2 (the Message)

      I woke this morning at 6:30am and as I do every single morning I walked outside, checking to see what the weather is like. The anticipation of fall has been heavy in the air lately, however, it has still been unbelievably hot for the majority of the day, and we all know I do not like the heat.

      As the garage lifted up, I felt a breeze on my bare feet and then on my face as the garage came fully open... Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! Autumn is here! A glorious 63 degrees greeted me and the foul mood I could feel hanging over me from the moment I got out of bed, disappeared.

      I adore the Fall season, every aspect of it. From pumpkin patches, to the leaves changing color. From shorter days, to chilly nights. I would be in Heaven if the weather stayed at 60 degrees year round, however like everything else in life, it is just a season. Here for a few months, and then gone until the next year.

      Everything changes and I have been brought to a place in my life where I am now realizing that any change can be a good thing. People say that some changes are good, and some changes are bad... I no longer believe this. I believe that every change is good.

      Whether it is used to grow your faith, used to slow you down, used as a reminder of what is most important, it really does not matter... What matter is your perspective.

      My life has changed immensely in the past four years and to be able to sit back and look over those years, I now know that I would not change a thing. People have come into my life for a season and then I have people who have come in and stayed. Whether here or gone, each of them brought something to my life, as well as to my walk. They may be unpleasant people to be around, however, I now look at it as a lesson, in what not to do with others in my life.

      I feel the season shifting in my life... For the past few months I could feel an undercurrent, yet I could not quite place my finger on it and to be honest, I still cannot name it. At the same time though I had a peace come over me tonight, that I am unable to put into words.

      As I stood outside this evening, feeling the cool air blow across my face, I could feel Him standing with me. Staring at the stars that were twinkling, no longer concerned about why I have been feeling foul for the past few days. And as the peace settled, I knew that I was right where He needed me to be.

      I know that life is not easy and I know that each of us faces trials and tribulations, and I am not going to sit here and state that all is going to be well... What I will state is that each of us has a Friend that is always there, always cares, and always has a helping hand extended to us... Change is never easy, but if you look at it with a different perspective, it can always be good.

You have all been missed so dearly and I pray all is well with each and every one of you!



I Feel Seasons Everywhere,
And I Feel Blessings In The Air;
(Those Seeds That You've Sown),
(You're Gonna Come Into Your Own, Seasons),
Walk Into Your Seasons.


2009-2015 Serenity ~

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