You have reached the peak.

You have reached the peak.

Far in the distance you see a deep and dark cloud.

The peak, the pure bliss felt from this perch is beyond every feeling.

Feel the Sun and the happiness.

Be able to breathe after the long journey up.

The wind is in your hair, the air is clear.

The world lies at your feet.

Full of pride, you stand and breathe.

Shouting at the top of your lungs, you yell in victory.

You have reached the peak.

You have made the journey out of the valley.

Far in the distance you see a Dark cloud shaped as a man.

It comes and its name is Fear.

It reaches you with a ferocious force, and you plummet off the peak.

The top of the peak disappears in your decent.

The pit of the valley is met with a hard smack and a loud laugh from Fear.

Fear follows you down into the valley and engulfs you in its black cloud.

Alone, unwanted, failure, mistake, hated, unloved.

All are whispered in your ear as the cloud circles you.

You are blinded with the bad memories playing over and over again in the Fear.

You trip and fall on the thorny ground and cry for help while Fear laughs.

You paste your hands to your ears and tightly shut your eyes.

On the sharp and cold ground you feel Fear.

It is weaving its way through your mind and soul.

Again and again it whispers its name to you.

Fear's dark hands claw your eyes open and rip your hands from your ears.

Fear will be met, and it won’t be ignored.

Beyond Fear you see a small glimmer of Light.

Fear sees it and gets darker.

You stand and walk for Light.

Fear pushes you back down to the ground.

You crawl to Light.

Fear grabs your legs and pulls you back.

Still you crawl.

Fear gets louder as it says its name.

You hear it, but you so badly want Light.

Fear is angered and lifts itself and falls on you from above.

You are forced into the cold and the thorns.

No longer can you move toward Light.

You reach for Light and cry for help as fear laughs in victory.

Holding your hand toward Light you close your eyes while fear dances around you.

Suddenly it screams and you open your eyes.

There is a hand from Light, and it is reaching into Fear for you.

Fear cannot touch Light.

Fear retreats back some, but won’t let you go.

Mine, mine, mine Fear screams toward Light.

Through Fear the Light grows ever brighter, and you drag yourself to it.

The Light is inches from you; you just need to grab it.

With a cry you take the hand, and Fear screeches reaching for you.

Light pulls you out of Fear and lifts you in its arms off of the ground.

Exhausted, you cling to Light.

Mine, loved, chosen, treasured, planned, cherished.

Light whispers in your ear.

Light carries you up the valley.

As it walks, you see the fear inside you flow out in a black smoke.

Light continues to pour into your mind and your soul.

Light carries you up the valley to the peak.

Near the top Light seats you down.

Go and plant your feet, Light whispers.

You walk the rest of the way up to the top of the peak.

Light surrounds you, and you are a beacon on top of the peak higher than before.

In the distance you see Fear coming toward you bigger and darker than before.

You shrink back into Light.

Light surrounds you more as Fear reaches for you saying mine, mine, mine.

Light grows and thunders MINE, MINE, MINE.

Fear screams in retreat to Light.

You will not be knocked back off of the peak.

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When God Says No, How Will Our Trust React?

The power of prayer.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven .. He has made everything beautiful in its time."

If college (perhaps even life before this) has made me realize anything about myself, is that I have a type A personality. I wouldn’t say my whole persona is like that of type A, but a good portion of it.

First off, I’d like to say I’m very organized. I can’t make it through a day of class without my planner. I like to know exactly what I have going on, planned out, organized accordingly, color coded and the whole 9. Take finals week for example. I wrote out in my planner what time ill get up, which hours I’ll be studying which topic, and even when I can have a study break. I like to be in control of my circumstances, and aware of whats going on around me.

God has three answers to every prayer; Yes, No, and Later. I want to explore the No and Later answers with you. Like I said earlier, I am an avid planner. To every little detail, I like to plan. So when I encounter things in my life that don’t go the way I anticipate or plan, they really give me a run for my money.

The past few weeks, I have really enjoyed listening to Steven Furtick on YouTube. I highly recommend him if you have never listened to him before. He’s one of those guys that says the deepest intellectual thoughts and applications of the Bible that really make you sit back and just think WOW, he is so right.

I wanna share with you two quotes of his that he said in his video “Don’t waste your angel”. Steven says, “Sometimes God uses the no’s to lead you to a greater yes”. Sometimes God will give you that no answer because He has something far greater for you. Understand that the premise of patience within His No and Later answers, is faith. Without faith, we have no hope. Faith is what ties our soul to His, and allows us to trust Him and His promises. We must have faith that although we aren’t getting the answer we want now, it is either coming later or specifically if that isn’t, something better is.

Steven’s second quote is this; “Later you will see if I had gotten what I wanted when I wanted it, it wouldn’t have been a blessing because I wasn’t ready.”. Take a second to reread that. If you had gotten what you wanted when you wanted it, it wouldn’t have been a blessing because you weren’t ready. When God tells us "later," it is for our best interest. When God is holding us from something, it is so we will be ready to appreciate the blessing he is giving us.

Have faith in Him. Have trust and patience in His answers. Focus on yourself, and analyze yourself. Am I in a position to appreciate this blessing? If the answer is no, build and strengthen and prepare yourself for it. Within myself, I have recognized God is trying to teach me that I am not in control. I cannot plan out these things that I am not in control of. He is. God is. God’s timing will prevail, every time. I recognize I am not ready and am not capable of a blessing of that type of magnitude yet.

That is, if that blessing is meant for me.

If not, and it won't always be, pray for the understanding and patience to prepare yourself for the even better yes that is waiting. And again remember, he who seeks the Lord lacks no good thing (Psalms 34:10). Trust His timing, for He is faithful!

Cover Image Credit: Jaylah Goodson

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"And as You speak a hundred billion galaxies are born, in the vapor of your breath the planets form. If the stars were made to worship you, so will I"

As the new year is ringing in, I can't explain to you the many feelings that I am encountering. This last year was not one that was easy by any means. I often found myself asking "why me?" The amount of heartache, heartbreak, and mental break downs that I have gone through proved to break me down, and I didn't understand. On one hand, I am so glad that this last year is over and I can start again. On the other, I refuse to take it for granted. I learned and grew so much last year, and I feel so blessed to have had those many heartbreaks.

I felt broken, scared, and lost. Everything was spinning and I didn't know which way was up and which way was down. But I made a promise to a friend that I would always get back up whenever I fell down. So I continued. My legs quivered as a struggled to rise again. My lungs ached as I gasped for air and my eyes stung as I wiped away the tears and the debris from my towers that had just collapsed. I felt empty and alone. Everything I felt that I had worked for was slipping away. The plan that I had so carefully put on paper with nice bullet points had been ripped to shreds. The map of where I was going with my life had blown away in the hurricane that took place in my heart. I had to start all over in what felt like complete darkness and I felt so hopeless."Lord," I cried out, "I don't understand! How could you let this happen?! How could you let me feel this way?!" And for the longest time it felt as though I was hearing silence and it was the most deafening sound.

I don't know when it started happening, all I know is now I look back and I realize that healing was taking place because here I am now, standing taller than before.

I recently found a book that opened my eyes and helped me put words to these feelings and experiences that I was having. It was comforting to know that I was not alone in struggling to stay afloat. My wave days had tripled and my ripple days had grown fewer and fewer and I learned that I was not alone in feeling as though I was drowning and spiraling out of control. I tried going out with friends and drinking to the point of no return because I would rather feel the hangover than the hole in my chest. I'd rather feel the headache than hear the screaming in my head. But now I know that all this did was make me feel emptier and more tattered. Everyone around me seemed to be doing just fine but I was alone in my bed discovering the effects of mental illness for the first time. "Lord, why me?"

I finally got my answer today as I was reading my devotional. I hadn't spoken to God in months. I wasn't even entirely sure that my prayers were making it through the ceiling. But for some reason I got out of bed today and started reading "The Lipstick Gospel" by Stephanie May Wilson. I felt her pain in the first few pages but a couple more pages in and it wasn't about her anymore, it was about me. I related and I cried and I clenched my chest as my heart ached remembering what I had endured this last year. I spent hours pouring over these 80 pages and highlighting and writing notes and my thoughts and feelings. After I was done reading, I followed her example and I prayed.

"Lord," I said, "I don't understand. But I would like to." Sitting at my desk with my eyes closed I began to cry. I felt as though I was Atlas, holding up the world on my shoulders but in that moment I felt God take that from me. I let out a breath that I didn't even know I was holding in. I felt peace and I understood. I felt God's hands around my heart as He filled my cracks. And I finally understood.

I can't speak for everyone out there, I have no idea what's going on in your lives. I can't pretend to know because even if we are going through the exact same things (which we are not) everything impacts people differently. However, I was reminded today that God does things in His time. I know that if He would have answered my prayers when I asked I would not have understood and I would not have appreciated the struggle as I now do. Even at 112 years old God will still be shaping us and molding us. He has a bullet point plan tucked safely away that is far greater than the one you drew up for yourself. He has a map rolled up neatly and tied with a bow that only He can see all of the pieces to. We may see the hills and valleys but He sees it all.

We must remember that it's okay to feel broken. To be broken. It just means God's still shaping you. And what He has coming next is far greater than anything we could ever hope for.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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