The Fall

I bought my first house last May. I prayed intensely hard for my house every day for almost a year. Every moment my future abode came across my mind, I made a mental note of things to update Papa on. My requests extended past the personal into the impossible. I was specific in tree type, layout, color. Everything. Give or take a year, and God gave me more than my prayers demanded. He blessed me not with the pool I jokingly wanted, but the dragonfly wind chime, the Camellia japonica trees, the basketball hoop. He gave me the ability to run through all the rooms on the first floor without ever going back into the same room, the windows… I could go on for days. He heard every prayer. He had me wait, and then there was my house. I knew it was mine the moment I drove up the driveway.

I always knew my house wasn’t going to make me happy. It was never supposed to because that wasn’t its intended use. I moved in and still had the same issues I had at my apartment, but I stopped talking to God about them. I spoke with Papa only about surface things. It was as if He moved Heaven and earth to give me more than I could’ve ever asked for, so I couldn’t bring myself to lament to my Lord who blessed me something so big. You know what I did instead? I went out and tried to satisfy my loneliness, my depression, my dissatisfaction with work with worldly things. These things would eventually cause me to compromise my integrity over and over again.

I read a book by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited. It’s about rejection. Man oh man. This woman, God bless her. She is radiantly transparent, which makes almost every situation she mentions in her book relatable. At one point she writes about these tiny compromises she started making with her then boyfriend. She writes about how what started as her boyfriend sleeping over on the couch, turned into her justifying her desires, until it snowballed into something larger than she expected: an abortion. Her tiny compromises rolled into a giant.

My giant wasn’t an abortion. It was quitting. Don’t like them? Drop them. Don’t like working there? Quit. That man is unreliable? Leave him. Do what makes you happy. Never once did I stop to A) inquire of the Lord and B) fight—push past the negative. Not once did I think, “This rough patch is where I am supposed to be. Maybe me being uncomfortable is what grows me.” Instead, I manipulated everything in my power to create a pretty picture for myself. Truthfully, all I did was make myself more lonely and depressed and broke.

I Kings 19:4 says, “‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” That’s exactly how I was feeling. I was ready for the rapture. Beam me up, Scottie! However, a few weeks ago, I heard that same question that God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Honestly, I couldn’t answer until last week. I must go back the way I came. I have to walk through every last thing I attempted to run away from, and that truth stings.

I thought who and where I am now would eventually circle back to pre-fall. I did. I’m just not where I expected. Who I was pre-fall was someone who was steadfast for God, but she didn’t want to bother her Father. The woman before the fall was someone who tried to people please God. I won’t be there again because I fell. I hurt myself on the way down, but I’m wiser for it. I’m going to push a little bit harder now because I know my footing is supposed to be in Christ, and if He’s willed it, then so it will be.

I’ve been watching Sing a lot lately, and one of my favorite lines is, “Do you know the beauty about hitting rock bottom, Eddie? The only way to go is up!” That’s so true. I might fall again. Actually, I will most likely fall again, but not in the same way and not with the same force and not as far down. Even now, there is great beauty in this breakdown.

During this almost year detour I learned I will never be satisfied until I live on God’s terms. That means loving God with all my heart and all my might, and everything else will flow from the relationship I have with Him. He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me. So, my goal in life should be to run towards Him and not away from Him. I could let my inadequacies build up against me, but I shouldn’t. Where I fall short is where God picks up. That truth alone makes the journey of life worth it.

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Who Were You Before the Fall?

My word! I’ve been MIA for a long while.

I mentioned in a previous post that I quit my job. I mentioned how okay I was with whatever direction my life took. That was true then, but the longer I stayed unemployed, I realized how not okay I was.

I ended up getting a job working 3rd shift at a homeless shelter that was only willing to work me as a volunteer until they wanted to finally pay me. After a couple of times of being duped, I quit. Things taken out of desperation rarely work out.

Then, I was hired as a substitute for the county I live in. Great! I get to work with kids, stretch my legs as a teacher. All good in theory, but children in real life are crafty. I will admit I lost my way (and my nerve) the first week, but by the second week I was prepared. I got really good at it and was recommended often. I enjoyed it and the kids enjoyed me, but I couldn’t afford to pay every single thing that I was responsible for, so yet again I went looking for something else to satisfy my financial needs.

Now, I work as a debt collector or “professional negotiator.” Either way, it’s about collecting money from people who are probably gonna use their credit card to avoid bad credit. Oh, the irony. I digress. All of this moving and shaking sounds like what? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an O and ends with compensating.

Since October, I have been overcompensating with everything in my life. I’ve overcompensated with jobs, with church, with my finances, with family obligations all to cover up the fact that I was freaking out about a decision I made which seemed irreversible.

Admittedly, in my self-denial and self-pity, I became self-consumed. I checked out of the blog. I checked out of my friendships. I checked out mentally because why hold a conversation when it wasn’t about me? Consciously, that wasn’t my thought process, but it might as well have been. We all have our own stories. Some stories have a lot of highs and little lows. Other stories start out dipping low and maybe a few times get high. Most stories, I like to believe, fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever the case, I lost sight of the bigger picture. I lost sight of everything that once made me love my life.

Fortunately, Christ is real. The hole that took me years (this extends way before me leaving my job in October…more like when I accepted the position) to dig, will take some time to climb out of, but it’s not impossible. Brick by brick I am being pieced back together because Christ is the Redeemer. He is the Ultimate Fixer. I’ve been trying to do things how I want to do them because I thought I had the “best possible outcome.” That’s not true when you’re walking with God. He creates the best possible outcome. He determines my destiny.

My level of transparency in this post is intentional. I do myself, this blog, and my walk with God a great injustice if I don’t paint the entire picture. Life ain’t all rainbows, sunshine, and good feels. Sometimes it’s walking through the valley and keeping a brave face. Currently, I find myself actively battling my indifference towards every situation in my life.

So, where am I now? I’m sitting in my car reciting a question prompted by my manager this morning: “What made you successful in the beginning before a slump happened?” Truthfully, I have no freaking idea. I’m on a road to finding this vocation that everyone seems to think I have, and I’ll tell you what, I think I’m not where I’m supposed to be, and that truth makes me uncomfortable enough to move in the right direction.

Give Your Dreams to the Wind

Say your dreams out loud. Let the wind carry them off to the right ears.

Say your dreams out loud. Watch God as He takes the smallest of seeds and grows it exponentially. Delight in every part of the process.

Say your dreams out loud. Give specifics and be excited about them! Do not hoard them or save them up for a rainy day.

Say your dreams out loud. Appreciate those who help you attain them. Love those who doubt you.

Say your dreams out loud. Give them away freely to people on the train, in the park, or at your job. Know your softly spoken dreams are protected against all threats.

Say your dreams out loud. They are your dreams, and they are worth having. They are worth pursuing. They are worth every hurdle and every frustration. Your dreams are where you will find life’s simplest treasures, so say your dreams out loud.

Walk like Who?

I like asking people their favorite parts of the Bible. I feel like it helps me know them a bit better. Most of the responses come from stories I know well. Occasionally, I’ll get a story I don’t know well at all. Those are fun. People tend to get creative with their answers when I’m unfamiliar with the story. Personally, my favorite part of the Bible isn’t a story. It’s a little detail in the grand scheme of greatness that the Word is–a raindrop in the ocean.

Genesis 5:21-24 says, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”

I love this. How, I ask, how did Enoch live? Even Abraham could not escape the jaws of death, yet Enoch did! This paragraph has generated countless opinions and historical perspectives of who Enoch was and why God took him. Every time I read these verses, I have a plethora of questions. Why isn’t there more about what he did? Who was Enoch? Why at 65 did he begin to walk faithfully? Is God still taking people away pre-rapture? When I tell people my favorite part, they give me an, “Oh yeah, him,” or a confused, “Who? In Genesis?”

Truthfully, I get excited every time I read this. I get lost in the possibilities of everything I imagine Enoch to be. I’ve dabbled a bit into the history of Enoch, but I read everything with a discerning eye. I have yet to find an answer that satisfies my mind. I long for Enoch’s story to be laid out in front of me. I want to be able to revisit his life. I want more than a paragraph, so my true questions can be answered: What did God see in Enoch? And could He see it in me too?

A Friend Loves at All Times

My friend, A, who is very near and dear to my heart, recently unveiled some things about me that I hadn’t realized I did. What I thought was me simply arranging words out of my mouth was actually victimization or putting myself below other people. Now, as much as I adore A’s straightforwardness, it stung. It stings a bit every single time she points something out. When she gently says something, I react with a defensive response. Being on the defense is what I know, so I fall back on it often.

Yesterday I met with her, and she said, “I’m gonna stop telling you things cause I don’t think you can handle it.”

And in an instant I said, “I’m doing my best!”

“There you go being on the defense again.”

By that time, I was a little less than irked. I went home, took a nap, and when I woke up I was screaming about war veterans.

“It’s like when someone has been in a war and they get home and realize that some of the things they’re doing aren’t normal, but it takes some time to adjust. I’ve been fighting a battle for 20 years! I need some time to adjust!” I felt justified, yet I was still wrong.

It finally clicked after I spent 90 minutes tutoring a 3rd grader who refused to speak to me because I told him he needed to focus more and study or we’d have to discuss if I would return. He listened to what I said. He silenced all his hyperactivity to reach the expectation I had of him. He thought about every problem we went over, and he responded exceptionally well for someone who was not speaking. That’s when I got it. A just wants me to do better, to be better, to grow up.

I’d been walking through this life for a long time believing that my trauma was on my face, but my trauma does not determine how someone responds to me. My trauma does not justify impartiality, victimization, or defensiveness. It explains it, sure, but it is not a resting point for projecting my life off of.

My 3 year old nephew’s Bible memorization phrase a couple of weeks ago was Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” A Friend sure does, but sometimes, that love comes in the form of a gentle rebuke that begins with, “I love you, but you’re incorrect.”

The Daniel Fast

Last year I participated in The Daniel Fast. It was the first time I ever desired to push my spiritual boundaries. The fast lasted for 21 days, and it was one of the most powerful experiences I have had. I received so many revelations about my current walk with God. Mental and spiritual blocks were removed. God was clear, and His love made my cup overflow with goodness.

This year I wanted to have a game plan, so I could be focused on God as much as possible. Below are a few tips I have to keep myself focused on God and not on temptation.

1. Pray beforehand. Ask God what type of food sacrifice you’ll be taking. I’ve known I was fasting since December. As the days progressed, I got more passionate about the fast and began asking God for His guidance. He revealed to me what my sacrifice would be. Ultimately, your sacrifice is between you and The Lord. You’ll know it’s a sacrifice by how The Holy Spirit impresses you. This means you don’t need to justify it to anyone or worry about it. If God told you to make this sacrifice, then He will provide you with the strength to succeed.

2. Prepare your meals as far in advance as possible. The last thing you need to be focused on is what is going into your mouth. Prepare it. Pray over it. Store it. Move on.

3. Get an objective. Why are you fasting? What do you need clarity in? What would you like to be stronger in? You have 21 days to dig into a facet of your life that needs clarity, healing, or attention. This requires some self-awareness as well as some prayer time. Once you know what to focus on, you’ll know the kinds of seeds you’ll be sowing for your situation during this time.

4. Plan out prayer times. Make time for God. Have a set time or times that are solely dedicated to prayer. Don’t focus on fleshly, soulish matters. Dig in deep. This isn’t just a time for you to know God, but this is a time for God to know you. Open up to Him. Cast your life upon Him. Allow Him to flood every part of who you are during these times. Last year, this happened for me in the middle of my fast, maybe around day 12 or 13. Once I allowed Him to fill me up, I found myself praying without ceasing. When I truly began seeking God, I couldn’t go a moment without thinking about Him, praising Him, or seeking His heart.

5. Know His Word. It’s nice to have words of encouragement to meditate on while fasting. I have index cards with a verse or two around my room. These cards are what I read before I go into my prayer closet or when I leave my room. I even have a board on the refrigerator. Welcome His Word in all your spaces. Some people plan out Scripture to read for all 21 days. I even think the Bible app has a devotional for The Daniel Fast. I think that’s wonderful. If planning out your Scripture works for you, then go with that, but be flexible enough to be led by the Spirit. Dig into the Scripture as much as you can. This is the time to seek knowledge and wisdom from God.

6. Keep a heart of gratitude. Jesus Christ laid down His life to reconcile us with God. He is the ultimate sacrifice. This is a sacrifice for us to be dependent on God and to seek His will over our lives. This 21 days will be powerful and intimate. It’s life-changing and having a heart that is grateful, regardless of your hangry stomach, will allow you to push into the promises of God. Seek God’s Word for your life and believe that whatever He says will come to pass. His Word never returns void.

As my Pastor taught me, this world parallels the spiritual one. Remember that during this time you will be sensitive to spiritual shifts. You could be more vulnerable as well, especially if this is your first fast. So make sure the only voice you’re seeking and hearing is God’s. Read His Word. Speak to Him. Praise Him. Worship Him. Be discerning of others speaking on His behalf. This time is for you to know your King for yourself.

Father God,

I lift up my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to you Lord who are about to embark on a journey to know You more. Father, may they find peace, joy, and strength that come directly from Your heart. Lord, may you impress upon them the power that they have in Christ. Father, during this time please remind them that You are always with them. You are around them. You are for them, and no weapon formed against them will prevail. Lord you are working through them to build up Your Kingdom, and You have an extraordinary plan for their lives. Father, may they put down themselves and exalt who You are. I thank You Lord God that we are in a moment of sacrifice for our King. All glory and honor belong to You and You alone forever and always.

In Jesus name I pray, amen.

**Always consult your doctor before you undergo any dietary changes.**

The Details

Do you know God thinks about you? Do you know He hears every desire of your heart? Do you believe me as you read this? Well, He does, and you don’t have to go far to know it. He hears every outcry of your heart. He’ll bless you in the littlest of details to the life-altering moments just to remind you that He’s there. He’s listening, and you don’t have to wait for the big problems to arise before you call on the Lord.

I serve as an usher at my church, and we receive our schedule Thursday morning. I skimmed the email about halfway through, knowing I wasn’t on it for that week. I sat for a moment and started thinking about all the other ministries and for a few minutes set my mind on one in particular.

I said to myself, “I’m going to serve on that ministry.” My heart pointed to it, and I put that desire away for a rainy day.

Today, I was at church, and I had to excuse myself during the Apostle’s preaching because my allergies got the best of me. I was sitting in the lobby at a table watching the sermon on the TV and pouting about it. I was disappointed I wasn’t in the sanctuary. Every time I tried re-entering the sanctuary, I would cough so hard and loud that I became a distraction.

I strained to hear the remaining parts of the sermon. Five minutes before the closing prayer, I see, Mrs. C come out of the sanctuary. I hadn’t realized I was sitting at her table. She wasted no time in saying how she’s seen me around. She asked me what else I was involved in at the church. We talked for not even five minutes before she asked me if I was interested in serving with her. She runs the ministry I was thinking about Thursday morning.

The last words the Apostle said that I could hear was, “God’s got it!” And He does. He holds your life in His hands. He has every little detail planned out. He knows what you’re going to want, when you’re going to want it, and how He’s going to get you there. However, if I was really disappointed about my lobby seat, I could’ve waited in the car or gone completely off the grounds, but I didn’t. I sat at that table and tried my hardest to focus on the sermon, and there came Mrs. C extending an invitation I knew eventually would be mine.

So, I’m asking you again: Do you know God thinks about you? Do you know He hears every desire of your heart? Do you believe it?