Thursday, March 31, 2016

10 Incredible Results of Easter

"The cross is the lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God's wrath to Christ. so that only the light of His love remains for believers." 
A.W. Tozer

Please tell me you didn't skip over that quote. It's one of those that needs to be read at least three times. Believe me. It gets better each time. The cross. The resurrection. Where would we be without this beautiful Gospel?

With Easter season come and gone, I've been pondering the effect that the gospel has on my life. You see, around Easter, it can all become a little too "cliche-ish". (I probably just made that word up, huh?)  We sing the Easter songs and watch the skits and shed tears about Jesus' suffering. But how long does that last? Does it actually pierce our hearts?

I've been taking notes of my own life and it scares me. I. forget. so. much. I fail to realize the lies that subtly replace His truth. I profess something so grand, but often don't live in the reality of it.

So, here it is. I've scratched down 10 truths that I need to remember. 10 incredible results of this precious gospel that I forget. Often. I'm hitting the print button on these right now, so that I can stick them in front of my face everyday and read them. Over and over, if it'll help. Anything to keep me remembering these truths.

     1) There is only love for me now.
          Yeah. Say that one several times. Breathe it in, because that is GOOD NEWS, people! I am a sinner deserving punishment. But because of the cross, I will only, ever, for all eternity know the love of God. No more anger. No more wrath. I could stop right there at #1 and that'd be enough to think on for the rest of the year. Goodness!

     2) Christ has authority over the bondage of sin, every weapon of hell, and the inescapable bonds of death. He is not weak or incapable. Am I living, praying, acting like it?
          If somebody looked at my life, would they say, "Yes. 100% yes, she believes this"? Or would it sound more like, "Well, she says she believes this, but the way she lives in fear over ______ or still is addicted to _________ or can't let go of ___________- it doesn't really match up"? Oh Lord, help me.

     3) Jesus didn't just free me from the penalty of my sin, but the power of it. 
          How often do I focus on this? I'm saved from death, I'm saved from hell, I'm saved from the punishment I deserve. Yes and amen. Those are amazing gifts. But the gospel doesn't stop there! The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is living in me to be victorious over sin today. We might hear that all the time, but seriously. Do we realize what we're saying? "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14)

     4) I am as accepted in Christ now, as much as I will be in heaven. 
          I struggle with this one, friends, I really do. I wish I could pound this one into my heart and never believe the lie that His sacrifice wasn't enough. There's NOTHING extra I could do to have Him love or accept me more. Nothing. His love is complete, full, and unconditional. Hallelujah.
     5) His grace is free, but the cost was not. How dare I live with a light regard of sin. It cost Him everything.
          Flippant. I really hate that word. Especially when it defines my attitude toward sin. When compromise is easy and comfort is more important than holiness. Dear God, remind me of the great cost.

     6)  The cross bids me come and die. Surrender. Not I, but Christ. I give up my rights to rule my own life.
          What does Paul tell us? "..He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2 Corinthians 5:15) The Christian life isn't about finding "my best me". We've been liberated, set free from our old ways - the "me" way of life. And the only true freedom now comes from laying our lives down and submitting, bending, surrendering our feisty wills to His. That's where true life is found.

     7) The curtain was torn in two; that means no more separation. I'm invited to go boldly into the Throne Room of God Almighty.
          I know this sounds uber obvious. But step back and look at this. Do you put up barriers in your prayer life? I know I can, without even realizing it. Those barriers named Failure or Feelings or Fear. I don't "deserve" His love right now. I don't "feel" like praying today. What if He just ignores me? What if He never answers my prayer? 

     8) I didn't save myself. Am I allowing pride to steal His glory? And my joy?
          This is a biggie. That scoundrel loves to swagger right in and remind me of all that I've done, of how much better I am than all the other Christians around me. And then, my nose tilts up just a bit. A bit too much. But then, what happens when I fail? It all relies on me, right, so where does my joy go? Out the same door that Shame creeps in. It's a destructive cycle. But what sweet peace comes when we rest in His finished work and His promise of further sanctification.

     9) Christ is risen! That means He's alive. Why do I pray like I'm talking to a deceased relative?
          Do you find yourself in this same rut at times? My prayers can start sounding like I'm sitting at the grave site of a loved one. I wish You were. I wish You could help me with this problem in my life. I just want to know what You'd do in this situation. And then, I sigh and go back to my life, my problems, and my solutions (which usually stink). Friends, Jesus is alive! He's not powerless. He's not distant. It might feel like it, but what does He say in His Word? He's alive in me, He's promised to lead and guide me through ALL of life, and He won't ever leave or forsake me.

     10) When I question His love, look to the cross. There's no greater display of His affection. 
          Painful circumstances. Unmet promises. Crushed dreams. I could shake my fist at God and demand answers, question His love. But when I look back at the cross and see how God didn't spare His own Son for me - how could I question that? I might not understand what He's doing, but because of the cross, I can know that He'll paint every situation into a picture of His redeeming love.

So, which of the ten stood out to you the most? What do you find all too easy to forget in your life? I would love to hear...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Day God was Silent

It's Saturday. The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter.

The day we kinda just want to skip over. The day when Jesus was dead. In the grave. Gone. I mean, what is there to celebrate today?

Yeah, I know. This whole weekend is a celebration of the Resurrection. But put yourself in the disciple's shoes. They didn't know the end of the story. They didn't have the cheat sheet. All they knew was pain.

Saturday was the day God was silent. 

When death reigned and darkness seemed to have the upper hand.

When shattered hearts wept for their Messiah with no hope, no light, and no answers.

When confusion hammered into the foundation of belief and doubt clouded firm conviction.

Jesus was dead. And with Him, every hope that He was the One He claimed to be. What now? How could He be dead? I thought He was the answer. Where was God? Why would He allow His Son to be killed?

But why should we ponder all of this? Why does Saturday even matter to us?

Because we need to remember this in our "Saturday seasons". 

When tragedy strikes and the pain is suffocating.

When our faith is shattered and we turn to God with clenched fists and scream, "I thought you promised!"

When the unknowns are more numerous than the answers and Heaven appears to watch in silence.

It's in those moments, we need to be reminded. That this is NOT THE END of the story. Did you hear me, friend? This is only Saturday! Don't lose hope. Hold on to your God. Flood your heart with His promises. Trust, even in the silence, and know that He is working behind the scenes, unawares, and unseen.

Hold on. Because Resurrection Sunday is coming. 

He is not a passive God. His love is not cruel or unjust. He is using the pain and frustration and confusion of this season to grow and strengthen and mature you in ways He couldn't in the easy. And His love will not stay silent forever.

He is coming, dear one. In His time, He will wipe away your tears and bring healing to your heart. He will provide the answers. Fulfill the promise. Burst through the darkness with His victorious light.

And that's something to celebrate. Even on Saturday...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The King's Reign

Easter is only a couple days away. We tend the hear the same stories around this time of year, don't we? The triumphal entry on Palm Sunday or the Last Supper with Jesus and His disciples, the agonizing crucifixion, and finally the triumphant resurrection.

But I love how deep the word of God is. Do you know what I mean? Like, how you can read it year after year, and new truths and concepts stick out to you at different seasons/times in your life. It's like digging for treasure. Sort of. Except without all the sweat and dirt and back-breaking shoveling. But, you get what I mean. Right?

I was reading the story of the triumphal entry this past Monday (confession time...yes, I was a day behind). Instead of stopping at the end of that story, I kept reading. And it led me right into another interesting passage.

Somehow, I forgot that Jesus went directly from being hailed as the Messiah and ushered into Jerusalem with celebration, to entering the temple courts and cleaning house.

He entered Jerusalem on a donkey's colt, which was a symbol of royalty and the fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy in Zechariah. The crowds were going wild. Finally, the Messiah had come to free them from the oppression of the Romans! Hosanna was their chant, which literally means "save now!" I can just imagine the excitement, anticipation, and ache for it to be true. The longing for the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies was centuries old and driven deep into the heart of every Jew. Could this Jesus really be the One?

Do you think the people of Jerusalem expected Jesus to establish His earthly rule on that day? To gather His disciples around Him and set up positions and military plans and smuggle weapons? Can you imagine the excitement of the disciples in that moment? After three years of following Jesus, it was finally going to pay off. Who would be Jesus' advisor? Who would be His military leader? If I expected this Jesus to be the Messiah, I would have expected Him to show some sort of military agenda. But what does He do?

"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers.." (Matthew 21:12)

Wow. He pushes through all of their preconceived ideas and reminds them that His reign is spiritual, that His kingdom is heavenly, not physical. That He wasn't there to get rid of the Romans. He was there to sanctify His bride.

If I was in that crowd, I'd be really disappointed. Like, what was that? Did we just get distracted on the way to overthrowing the entire Roman empire? What's the big deal with a couple of salesman in the temple?!

But isn't that how I can often be? I can sing the worship songs and get excited about certain passages of Scripture. I can do ministry and _______. But when the Holy Spirit puts His finger on those certain areas of my heart - those dark, dusty corners that I've kept hidden for so long, I shirk away and try to protect myself. The attitude I've grown accustomed to, the lies I don't even realize I believe, the thoughts I would rather no one see.

When Jesus comes as King, He comes to reign. And a good king doesn't allow the enemy's fortresses, weapons, and laws to stay around in his kingdom. He comes to cleanse, to purge, to purify. He purchased every single nook and cranny of our lives with His blood. He has the authority to shine His light over every dusty, cobwebbed crack and corner. No matter how uncomfortable or painful it is in the process.

Because He's also coming to heal. 

Matthew 21:14, the verse directly after the temple cleansing, states: "And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them."

Really? The Messiah? The One, who just might be the Long-Awaited One? He might have been sidetracked on the temple cleansing, but now this? What is He thinking? A king doesn't associate with the outcasts of society! Doesn't He know the importance of His mission? We're talking about the Romans here. Not the sick!

Yes, this is Jesus. The Messiah. The Chosen One. And His reign is spiritual dominion and redemption and compassion. He reaches into the dirty and messy of our life. He moves into the dark to cleanse and heal and restore with the strength and authority of a king, but the care and tenderness of a friend.

Jesus could have just spoken a word and sent mass healing to all the sick, all the blind, all the lepers, etc. But what does He do? Throughout the Gospels, we see Him healing one-by-one, talking with the outcasts, touching the unclean, and liberating souls as well as bodies.

So don't fear His reign. Don't squirm away from His touch. He brings life. He brings holiness. He brings healing

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Trip on the Merry-Go-Round

Yep, you read that title right. And no, I'm not giving any secrets away. You'll just have to wait and see what that means. First, it's confession time.

Let's see. It's been, oh, nine days since I wrote the post about letting go. How has everybody else done with that one? Because this girl right here has some serious short-term memory issues.

Last week, it was really something. It was a normal Friday morning. I had my to-do list full of hopeful expectations for the day. Morning to early afternoon was devoted to homeschooling my cousin, Corinne, and getting through my to-dos. Afternoon to evening was given to my nanny job. There wasn't much wiggle room.

But what I didn't account for as I carefully scrawled in my plans was that within the hour, my mom, dad, and younger sister would all start feeling sick. Like, really sick. Awesome.

It felt like I put my planner in a blender and watched it get mushed into a million, tiny pieces. Yeah, it wasn't pretty. I was running around the house, juggling teaching with setting up activities for my two youngest siblings, while making lunch for everyone and caring for the sickies - all before I had to get ready and leave for work.

I'm fine, I told myself. This is no problem. I can serve my family. That's great.

My emotions weren't buying it. NO! This is not okay. This is an absolute disaster! Serving your family was definitely NOT on the to-do list!

And unfortunately, my emotions were winning out.

How dare they all get sick like this! I thought, as I rushed up the stairs and stormed into my parent's bedroom. "Can I get you anything?" I punctuated that question with a deep sigh, just to make sure they knew exactly how much this was inconveniencing me.

I know. I'm cringing over here, people. And umm, this is probably not a good time to mention that the sickness my family had was the same one I had had a couple days prior. So, I was mad at them for getting the sickness I gave them? *cough* Not a star moment, huh?

The joy I had felt during devotions was gone. I mean, like, packed-up-and-went-hauling-to-the-airport kind of gone. All my good expectations? My desire to abide in His presence and let go of my control? They must have all decided to take a family vacation that day.

And I was left, stuck on my own merry-go-round of bitterness, self-pity, and straight up angst. For those of you who know what I mean, that is not a fun merry-go-round to be on. Or get off of. Because once you're on that thing, it only spins faster and faster and faster. Eventually, the world around you is just a splash of colors and you're feeling so sick that you'll give anything to make it stop. But the longer you stay on the merry-go-round, the faster it goes. And jumping off that flying circle is going to hurt. A lot. It's either that or puking your guts out. Neither of those options sound very appealing.

Why, oh why, do I ever get on the merry-go-round?

But even as I hesitate in that swirling chaos, I hear His voice. In the jumble of color, I catch a glimpse of His outline, standing there. His arms open wide. He's calling to me. Me? The one who disobeyed Him in the first place by getting on this wheel of death. He's standing there and I can just make out His voice, "Come to Me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

And I jump.

On the morning I acted like a decapitated chicken, I could sense His prodding, sense His voice calling me back to Him. I knew I was wrong. I knew that my attitude was downright rotten - and that it was only getting worse as I allowed it to continue. But I didn't want to stop and admit it. It felt better to be upset.

Remember the story of Martha in the Bible? What were Jesus' words to her? "Martha, Martha, you are worried and burdened about so many things..."

Yikes. Am I the only one who can relate to that? That word "worried" means "to be anxious, troubled with cares, to seek to promote one's interests, caring or providing for". Wow. How often I seek to do good, but allow the cares and concerns of the logistics or the busyness to overwhelm me? But that's not just all. I was frustrated with my sick family because I wasn't able to get to the things I wanted to do. Selfishness. It goes back to the heart posture.

I love the contrast of Mary. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, simply looking up at His face, enamored with all that He is and catching every word as if it were gold. It was as if she didn't even hear Martha's shrieks of injustice and demands for help. She was undistracted. Undisturbed. Focused on her Lord.

That's where we have to have to start, friends. At His feet.

Because eventually, that to-do list does have to be attended to. That housework won't vanish on its own. That college paper won't write itself. That volunteer work is wonderful and right. We're not called to do nothing. But where is your gaze? What is your focus? What is your heart posture?

" thing is necessary..." Those were Jesus' words to Martha. Is He saying the same to us today? In all your striving, all your busyness, all your good intentions, have you misplaced your One Thing? Your One Love? Your One Need?

Don't let the merry-go-round entice you. I'm telling you from experience, that circular contraption is not worth it. Ever.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Let Go

I'm just going to get this out of the way. I'm writing this post for me, okay? Because I desperately need to hear these truths right now. This is soul-preaching here, people. Let's go.

See the picture on the right? Go on. Turn your eyeballs over there and read it. What do you think?

You know the verse, right? "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) We use it all the time - on our mugs, our wall decor, our jewelry.

But if we know this verse so well, what's the big deal about "letting go" versus "being still"? Why does it matter?

The difference might very well be insignificant to you and that's alright. Remember, I'm writing this to myself. And self needs to be reminded of the difference. ;)

I like control. I like planning. I like feeling like I know where I'm going and understanding the steps needed to get there. But unfortunately (actually it's quite the opposite, but my controlling self likes to think it's unfortunate), being in control isn't exactly my job description. There's Someone else who owns that title. No matter how often I forgot - or simply ignore - the fact.

It amazes me. I've been through several major seasons in my life where He's had to teach me to trust His guidance - and He's always proved faithful. In spite of that, when I find myself looking at an unknown, an uncertain future or a big decision that needs to be made, I feel the pull to try to take control again. My fingers begin to itch and I slowly inch my way toward the steering wheel, hoping no one notices if I just use a couple fingers to help with the navigation.

Like, really? When I sit back and think about it, it's absurd. It's really the most illogical thing ever. I have a perfect Heavenly Father who's promised to work everything in life for my good and His glory. Out of anyone in the world, I should be the most fearless, uncontrolling, peaceful person.

So, why do I still feel my fingers itching for control?

Because for some crazy reason, I think that I know more about my life than the One who dreamed it up before the world was born. I think that I can figure out this next little unknown better than the Author of Redemption.

And it's in those moments when I need to be reminded to let go. Not just "be still". But let go and know that He's God. 

Let go of that doubting little voice. Let go of those past experiences that keep me shackled in fear. Let go of that desire for control. Let go of that worried grasping and clutching for answers NOW.

Let go and know that He is God -
   that He is my good Shepherd,
   that He means it when He said I shall not want;
   that He will lead me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake,
   that I need fear no evil, for He is with me;
have faith,
   that He supplies everything I need and will need in Christ,
   that He can direct my heart as simply as water running over His hands;
   on His promises of good,
   His proven faithfulness and my Father's heart for me;
be confident,
   in the revealed character of my God,
   that He will make me know His ways and lead me through every season.

Okay self. Don't let the reminder of these truths keep you from letting them impact you. Yeah soul, these questions are for you. One quick note. Letting go doesn't mean inactivity. Sometimes it does. But other times, it'll simply mean letting go of the fear of moving forward. Dropping the excuses you've been hanging on to for so long.

What are you holding on to today?
Are there areas in your life you've been fighting for control?
Has the Lord been whispering to your heart to let go of something? To let go and give it
to Him, because you trust Him?
Have you been holding on to excuses for inactivity? Do you need to move forward in something you know the Lord is urging you in?

If you answered "yes" (like me) to any of those questions, the next question is: What are you going to do about it? No, don't move on to another website, another task, another distraction. Right now. Do you hear Him?

"Let go and know that I am God."

Will you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When I Don't Accept His Gift

"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous..."
1 John 2:1
I was reading 1 John this morning and came across the above gem. Advocate. I wanted to know the full meaning of that word, so I looked up the Greek definition. This is where anyone who's followed my blog for awhile can shake their head and say, "There she goes again." Yes. I love words. And definitions. And particularly words with rich, deep definitions. It's like searching for buried treasure. So, let's go digging! :)

Parakletos - advocate, helper, aid, assistant, comforter, pleader, counsel for defense, intercessor, called to one's aid

Isn't that rich?! And let me tell you a secret. You probably already knew that Greek word. John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, was the only one who used that word in the New Testament, both in John and in 1 John. In John, he uses it to describe the Holy Spirit. What are some of the most common names of the Holy Spirit? The Helper. The Comforter. You've heard that, right? Well then, you already knew the word. Yes, you have my full permission to go do a celebratory dance. We need to celebrate the little things, right? So, go. Dance it up. 

You back? See. That was fun, wasn't it? Now, even though you're super smart and already knew a Greek word, I want you to look at that definition again. But this time, read it like you've never heard it before. Allow the Lord to amaze you by what He's promised to be for us.

Jesus is your Parakletos.
Your advocate.
Your helper.
Your intercessor.
Your comforter.
Your assistance and aid.
Your counselor.

I was struck by what a gift I've been given in Jesus. And how little I expect Him to be what He's promised.

You see, this word "parakletos" is just one title of our God. Think of the hundreds of other names in Scripture. Bread of Life. All-Sufficient One. Beloved. Captain and King. Good Shepherd. Righteousness. Everlasting Father. The list goes on and on. All this in Christ. 

But how often do I run to Him to be my Helper when I'm struggling? Or seek my Counselor when I don't know His will in a decision? Or keep my eyes on the Shepherd when plodding through a day?

Oftentimes, I don't need a Helper, because I've already gushed my problem to my closest friends.
I don't seek the Counselor, because I've sought the latest self-help books and websites. 
I can't keep my eyes on the Shepherd, because I'm too busy running my own life.

It's sad, but true. How has my thinking become so backward?

I want to be a wife someday. (I know it seems like I've jumped ship and abandoned any thought flow I had. Just stick with me and I promise this will make sense in thirty seconds.) I want to be the best wife ever. (Go ahead and roll your eyes. I don't mind.) I want to be my hubby's eager helpmate, passionate lover, best friend, greatest encourager, and closest confidante. 

But what if six months into marriage, he started spending most of his free time with his buddies instead of me? And what if he no longer asked my advice, but depended on his boss? What if - what if he no longer found delight in my body, but turned to the fake reality of pornographic images?

Is my marriage analogy starting to make sense now?

"Sure," my husband could say, "I might not be the perfect guy, but I wake up and kiss my wife every morning, provide for her financially, and spend fifteen minutes or so of quality time with her, explaining the errands I need her to run and the chores that need taken care of. Oh, and I say 'please' and 'thank you', like, all the time. I don't see what her issue is." 

Ugh, this hurts. How do I slip back into that mindset so often, when it's SO ugly? I've been given the greatest Gift this world has ever known - and I'm disinterested

Oh friends, do you see Him? 
  • The One who joyfully agreed to go through one of the cruelest forms of torture and endure the full penalty of His Father's wrath for you, before an atom had ever been created. 
  • The One who single-handedly defeated all the powers of hell and sin and death combined and is right now Lord. Over. All.
  • The One who watched your entrance onto the grand stage of life, seeking you out in love, as you turned your back on Him. 
  • The One who's heart has been beating with this consuming, unconditional love for you, even in your moments of deepest rebellion and darkest shame.
  • The One who found you at the worst, led you to the cross, and showed you His adoption papers. 
  • The One who bids you to run confidently, boldly, excitedly into His throne room, because you're covered in His very righteousness.
  • The One who knows all the lies the Enemy keeps whispering, all the shame he keeps replaying in your head and bellows over it all, "That child is Mine." 
  • The One who provided His very life and power to you, so that you don't have to "stick out" this holiness thing yourself. 
  • The One who is now waiting for you and looks with anticipation for the day He gets to enjoy uninterrupted communion with you forever. 
  • The One whose name is Jesus. 
Let's not seek lesser things, friends. Let's not allow other things to satisfy and tear us away from the Best. Let's not walk around like spiritual paupers, when we're filthy, filthy rich.

Let's accept the Gift.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Expectant Joy

Happy New Year, friends! Anyone else out there still finding themselves writing 2015? It's okay. We'll get it...eventually. Maybe by 2017? ;)

A new year - a fresh canvas with endless possibilities.

Last year's canvas is a bit painful to look at. Yes, there are colorful splashes of exciting adventures, new seasons, and great blessings, but there's also more brush strokes of brokenness, confusion, and disappointment than I've seen in previous years.

At the beginning of 2015, I believed the Lord was leading me to focus on the word "trust" for the upcoming year. It makes me smile to think of it. He brought that up in far more ways than I could ever have imagined - or would have wanted to.

In the past few weeks, as I'd been pondering a new year and what it might hold, there was a sense of apprehension and fear. The Lord had allowed much of my beliefs to be upended in 2015. I thought He was working in a specific way, only to find out He was doing the opposite. A saying that a dear friend framed and gave to me as a gift, sums up what He was teaching me: "And if not, He is still good."

And He is good, friends. So good. Looking back at that dark time, I'm amazed at the patience and love He showed me, as I struggled through doubts and confusion and anger at His will.

He's brought me through, but it wasn't until I began to think about 2016 that I realized there were still some lies rooted in the deep, dark corners of my heart. Where was this fear and apprehension coming from? Why was I seemingly preparing myself for another year of pain and unanswered prayers? Why was I so negative about the future?

Even though I still believed that God is good and He causes all things to work together for my good and His glory, there was a little lie that said, "God might give good gifts to the rest of His children, but not to you. His good for you is pain and suffering." So as a result, I was expecting the worst.

Friends, that's a miserable way to live! It is definitely NOT walking in the hope and life of Christ! And what is hope but the confident expectation and assurance of God? Yes, sometimes His good comes in the form of a "no". It's what I've been calling His devastating grace.

But hope is based, not in what I am or am not getting from God, but in who He is and the unchanging nature of His character. And because of that, I can expect good from God in chaos, I can be confident that He's still working good in the shattered pieces.

Because His name is Faithful and True.

Because He is NOT cruel to His children. Ever.

Because He is a dearer Daddy than my mind can comprehend.

My word/phrase for this year is expectant joy. Purposeful, hope-filled, moment-by-moment joy and delight in Who He is and all that He's doing. Not seeking to rush ahead to when ____ happens, but living in grateful contentment right here, right now. Rejoicing because in His presence is fullness of joy, not a situation or a person or a specific season.

One definition of expectant is watchful, with bated breath. That's how I want to approach 2016. I have so much to learn in this area, so far to grow, but I pray that He would make me like the psalmist who said, "Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul." (Psalm 66:16) That as I go through this year, with all its uncertainties and questions, I would watch for the testimonies of grace and excitedly declare, "Look! There He is again! Look at what He's done! Isn't He good?"

In the pain. In the triumph. When He gives and when He takes away. Through the desert and through the mountains. When I can see the next mile ahead of me and when I can barely make out the next step.

I'm excited for 2016, friends, incredibly excited! I know the One who's promised to lead me by the hand every step of the way. Let's watch for His goodness together!

So, what about you? What has the Lord been laying on your heart for 2016? I would love to hear about it!