I’ve never really been big on puzzles, but the other day God reminded me that He uses all the pieces in our lives for His plan. The revelation brought me to tears, tears of joy. I began to think about pieces of my life that I deem mistakes or unusable that are all part of His plan. I can’t wait to look back and see how a painful stage in my life was laying the groundwork for how I could inspire or encourage someone else.
And that’s where the faith comes in. The faith to know your present pain serves future purpose.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)
My favorite chapter in my book No Shame in Sharing: Discovering Yourself in Life’s Un-Postable Moments is Chapter Twelve: Jewels in the Dark. This chapter resonates with me because it wasn’t the season where I got the job I had been waiting for, it was the season God poured into me future plans; He didn’t give me a present gift but a future revelation. He revealed why He planted a passion in me to volunteer in certain areas and how He would use that passion for His glory.
Excerpt from Chapter Twelve: Jewels in the Dark:
“I had been mulling for some time about an idea for a non-profit to help young women and the homeless, the two areas God led me to serve in months prior. Then in that same entry, God revealed an organization that would help both groups and utilize my MBA to grow the idea! I was blown away. God didn’t have to share all that, but He graciously did. God doesn’t stop pouring out blessings in barren seasons; if anything, the blessings are easier to see because we’re less distracted.”
I don’t know what season of your life you’re in. It could be a season of increase; it could be a season of drought. In either case, I encourage you to draw near to God.
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58: 11)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 105)
Rugrats was one of my favorite shows growing up. For anyone who’s unfamiliar or needs a recap, Rugrats was an animated show that focused on a group of babies and toddlers and their wild adventures. Some of the main characters were Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica. In short, Tommy was the adventurous leader, Chuckie was scared of his own shadow, Phil and Lil were eccentric twins, and Angelica was a bully. Growing up I longed to be Tommy but more identified with Chuckie. I was timid and shy. But recently, I realized I’ve grown to be a Tommy. I most identify with Tommy in the area of faith. I see myself as bold in my faith and expectant of God for His promises to come to pass. I had gotten frustrated recently and I questioned why God had me where I was at. I felt isolated, like, I didn’t have fellow bold people around to encourage me. I think my spirit had to be reminded that people didn’t have to be geographically close to me to encourage me. I was also reminded that no matter how difficult the journey may seem; God always has a way to refresh me at the right time.
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31: 25
That’s when I thought of Tommy. Was I placed where I was at to be the Tommy of my group? Not in the sense of leading wild adventures but in the area of faith walk. Metaphorically, I see myself carrying a lit torch leading people. Am I called to encourage people with my bold faith walk? Are you?
At my moment of discouragement, I was reminded to press on. I’ve heard a lot of messages recently about challenges and being broken. These messages each have an undertone of trials and training. As weary as the process may be, I’m hanging in there because I know I’ll be able to benefit in some way.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6: 9
God can use us at any point in our lives. Sometimes I get in the habit of thinking God can’t use me until my life is “together.” But is our life ever really fully together? In our mess God can use us. The other day a friend was down and texting me. I told her to write her blessings down and she would quickly see how they outnumbered the bad things in her life. I had just been instructed by the Holy Spirit to do the same activity a week prior. As much as I feel like I’m in a bare, stripped season, God is still allowing me to pour into other people. I’m grateful for this season of peace, growth, and insight. I know if my life would have taken a different path post MBA aka diving right into a job I would not have gotten a chance to reconnect with my family who in the previous two years I saw once or twice each year. I wouldn’t have the chance to do a bible study with my parents and put the finishing touches on my memoir (which I’m tentatively planning to have on shelves fall 2020!) Not to mention the food is great and free at home! I say all that to say—in an uncomfortable stage God is still working and I’m discovering in every stage I can help someone else. Despite my circumstances I can see God’s goodness. I’m grateful to have a home to come to and recollect. Every day I saw homelessness right outside my door in LA. People who slept on the sidewalk and were thankful for even half a sandwich. My perspective is forever changed.
I also noticed in this stripped down season that I learn from God the most. In this season I was reminded that my value and identity doesn’t come from a job, a title, or a relationship. And I know that this season will pass. I have hope in the Lord.
“But those that 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
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25.
In this season I am waiting patiently and I know that this period will be a testament to me later and even an inspiration for others right now.
Ahh breakups, so hard but so necessary. As I go through this process again the lyrics to the 2007 Leona Lewis “Better in Time” song come to mind.
“Thought I couldn't live without you
It's going to hurt when it heals too
Oh yeah (It'll all get better in time)
Even though I really love you
I'm gonna smile because I deserve too
Oh (It'll all get better in time)
Since there's no more you and me (No more you and me)
This time I let you go so I can be free
And live my life how it should be
No matter how hard it is
I will be fine without you
Yes I will”
During this hard time, I have to comfort myself and keep putting one foot in front of the other. When I get down, I tend to get lethargic but now is not the time for lethargy. Like most breakups, I saw it coming but put it off. I think because the relationship started when I was in a point of transition (the summer in between business school years) that I believed I needed the relationship to carry me through the next transition (graduation and life beyond business school). I think the fatal flaw in that thought is I became too dependent on that person and was placing burdens on them meant for God; our relationship was supposed to last a season and I was trying to carry it into another. And now I’m depending on God to heal me and carry me into the next season.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isiah 46:4
Friends and family have been helpful in this process, and honestly I’ve cried more from their words of encouragement than from the actual relationship ending.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27: 9
What makes a lot of breakups difficult is that they don't end badly and the person wasn’t a bad person. So feelings will inevitably linger but in the end I know that differences between us would make for a contentious marriage that ultimately wouldn’t bring God glory. Here’s a quote from the late Billy Graham,
“The ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. That is, it exists to display God. Now we see how: Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to His redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.”
As I move forward, I’m seeking God for next steps. I’m excited to grow closer to Him and get more involved in ministry.
When I came to California I had an idea of what the first year of my MBA program would look like: I’d breeze through my classes, get an entertainment summer internship, and be THE sought out 2nd year to speak with when classes resumed in the fall. Whelp I was wrong on all accounts. While there have been many high moments in business school and great experiences there have also been many trials and struggles. Thankfully I was pretty solid on my sense of self before business school started but there would have to be a lot of professional growth that needed to take place in between business school years.
I had to get some tangible internship experience and I had to get my hunger back. When I first started the program, I would have been content interning at a big company and taking cute pics, but my naivety and immaturity probably wouldn’t have gotten me far in the role or helped in my campaign for full time positions. So God led me somewhere unexpected: an e-commerce art company, a position I almost didn’t apply for. It is in this role working alongside the company founder that I am being molded and equip. As the business is only comprised of myself and the founder I have a lot of responsibility and a vested interest in wanting to see the company succeed. As there are only two of us, there is nowhere to hide, no one to pick up my slack if the work doesn’t get done. I also take more pride in my work and try to make every minute count because I know my hourly rate is coming from an entrepreneur and not a major corporation. In my role, my voice is heard, and I get to wear a lot of hats. Creative direct a photoshoot? Sure! Reach out to potential business partners? Check! Find opportunities to participate in promotional events in the city? Got it! I know I wouldn’t have gotten this kind of varied experience anywhere else; like positions prior to business school I may have slipped through the managerial cracks and simply done my role, not seeking out additional projects or new ideas.
Furthermore, in regards to getting my hunger back, the process of landing a summer internship was long and full of many highs and lows. But I’m grateful to be in the mode of seeking out opportunities, keeping relationships warm, and constantly keeping my skills sharp as I will need this same energy to begin looking for full-time opportunities in the fall.
So as you go about your life and see things aren’t unfolding as they seem, look a little closer and see if God is redirecting you. That redirection may not mean you won’t get to your same final destination but God needed to take you a different route because there were some things He needed to show you along the way.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25: 4)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 56: 8-9)
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21: 2)
I feel like life is a constant balance of being content in where you are while striving to reach where you want to go. I know I get frustrated sometimes feeling like I’m so far from where I want to be but I have to remind myself how far I’ve come and how richly God has blessed me. God doesn’t owe me anything; He’s not indebted to me in anyway. The fact that the Supreme Being of the universe sees fit to wake me up every day and has a plan for my life is enough to put a spring in my step. And the fact He saw fit to send His Son to die a painful, shameful death on a cross for us is reason to shout but I also have another reason to be especially grateful for life: May 19, 2008.
Now the fact that God spared me on May 19, 2008, reminds me that at 17 I had not yet fulfilled the purpose He had for my life. While I near the 10-year anniversary of my wreck I still cry when I think about how God spared me and how so many people in less severe accidents weren’t as fortunate. I’m really blessed in that whenever I’m feeling down I can quickly flip through a book people signed during my hospital stay after my accident; the posts keep me going.
“I’m very proud of you for being so strong and hope you realize that God has you in His favor. You are a living testimony and your perseverance will impact people’s lives in ways you will never know.”
“You are the apple of God’s eye. God has a beautiful plan and purpose for your life. God used you for His glory. God’s love and protection will always be wrapped around you.”
The other day when I was in prayer, God really shook me in my spirit and let me know what I’m going though and the route I take to get to my dreams isn’t necessarily about me but the people I can inspire and affect. And that really humbled me and gave me fuel to carry on; it helped to adjust my vision long term. When you focus your vision on long-term goals and dreams it helps put the short-term in perspective. Problems in the present become minuscule; issues and moments of opposition become teaching moments that help you grow. I’m convinced every pain we go through is not in vain but if we don’t let it defeat us, that pain can be used for our good.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
I hope you’re encouraged to keep striving towards your dreams even when things look discouraging in the short-term. With a little work and faith, I believe anything is possible.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Recently, I’ve seen the truth in this scripture first hand. I had to tap into the power of positivity to carry me through what I thought would be a grueling stretch: 8 work days in a row with each day being 9-10 hours in a high-stress environment. And while at times it seemed each day crawled by, before I knew it, I was looking up and I was on day 8…in one piece.
And the crazy thing was I can recall other instances where I’d been tasked to work 6 days in a row and by that 6th day I was crawling on my knees to reach the finish line. So what was the difference this time? My mindset.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Throughout the whole stretch I knew I had to lean on God. I looked ahead to my glorious 3 off days on the horizon after the stretch was complete but kept a tunnel vision to each day’s tasks. I asked God to help me not focus or dwell on the people who were coming and going in the midst of my 8-day stretch; who were embarking on vacations as I produced and managed two newscasts a day but rather just focus on my portion.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3: 22-24)
And although I wouldn’t be the first one to volunteer to work 8 long days in a row; I’m glad I went through the experience. It is another experience I can use in future days if I need to dig deep. I’ll know I have the strength to make it though the next obstacle and I’ll remember God’s past faithfulness.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 12-13)
I’ve been running since middle school, and I think it’s a great analogy for our spiritual life. Running takes mental and physical strength; it’s difficult to stop your usual routine, pick it back up and fall back into place. (Those practices after holiday breaks were BRUTAL.) Not impossible to get back where you were but it will take some hard work and pain. When I ran track and cross country in high school our team used to wear shirts that said: “our sport is your sports punishment.” We considered ourselves an elite, hard-working group.
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Cor. 9:25-27
We’re all running in this race of life, but are you going anywhere? Are you using the tools that God gave you and your time wisely? The race may seem daunting and never ending but don’t give up.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen [rain, what’s that?!?] in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
Commentary: As you obey God, don’t be surprised if other regard you as “different.” Your obedience makes their disobedience stand out. Remember, if God asks you to do something, he will give you necessary strength to carry out the task. Let the enemy ridicule, scorn, and mock, but God will have the last laugh!
I don’t know what God is leading you to do (or stop doing) but I have faith He will guide you.
“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
This race of life gets tiring sometimes but God always supplies us with a second wind, a cool breeze, and people to encourage us along the way! Don’t give up, you can make it to the finishline with God’s help.
I don’t care about a lot of things and I think you should adopt this mindset too. Some things we put so much weight on and it won’t even matter in a year or even a month. I’m writing this message to encourage you and remind you that life is so much bigger than the situation you’re going through. I can say this because I know. For instance I work in a very people-oriented field and don’t get me wrong I like people some of the times and other times I’m like leave. Me. alone. But as I deal with different personalities, egos, and personas every day I just have to step back and realize it’s not that deep. No man holds my destiny or fate in his or her hands.
“ ‘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.” Jeremiah 29:11
The commentary for this scripture goes on to say “This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship, but that God will see us through to a GLORIOUS conclusion.”
Talk about encouragement! When you see the big picture and see that what you are going through is only a small fraction of the big picture you are encouraged to keep pressing on; when you keep your eyes on God and the destiny He has laid out for you no man or situation can hold you back.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 7-11, 16
The commentary for this scripture says “Because Christ has won the victory over death, we have eternal life. When opposition, slander, or disappointment threaten to rob you of the victory, remember that no one can destroy what God has accomplished through you.”
Be blessed my friends! ;)
While the Giants still have a losing record, they’re on a two-game win streak! Not bad considering they started off the season losing six straight. They may not win the Super Bowl this year or even make the playoffs, but they won a few games and they won’t finish the season winless. Memories are still strong for me of the last Super Bowl they won that was just the year before last. So, I won’t let this rough stretch define quarterback, Eli Manning’s, legacy.
I think life is all about perspective; the glass is always half full and God has a re-fill on the way!
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)
I am able to keep such a positive outlook because I know God’s power and what He’s brought me through. Minor issues at work or dealing with tough co-workers is nothing in comparison to fighting back from a traumatic brain injury while at times being completely alone. Perspective, it keeps me going. I encourage you to stay positive. If you find yourself leaning toward the pessimistic side of things a majority of the time, I suggest you pray about it.
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7-8)
Hi! I'm Marilyn!