encounters.

So, a little over a year ago, I quit my job, moved to California and tried to spread my wings again. As we all know, my wings got clipped. I couldn’t find a job, I was out of savings, I was out of options and I came home with an opportunity to work at a coffee shop. That really doesn’t sound glamorous at all, and really, it isn’t. Part of my reasoning, that I’m still learning about, behind it all was to be around people that need more of Jesus’ love. Don’t get me wrong, I saw people at the Church all the time that needed more of Jesus’ love, but I wasn’t really in a place to be that person. I was really comfortable with where I was and most of my interactions were with people that already had enough Jesus in their lives. There are lots of holes to poke in all that, but this isn’t the reason for this post… For me, I needed out, I needed to be in the world and I needed an outlet for what Jesus was speaking and doing in my life.

Over the last months it has been my prayer that my day-to-day life would impact those around me, that people would experience Jesus just by being around me.

Today I was talking to a customer and she was asking me questions, a Bible verse came up and we kept talking while I was making her coffee. The verse is Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (my version, in my head, ha). In the beautiful chaos that is life, we need to just be still sometimes and let the Lord fight for us.. This is a little bit of what we were talking about. Her drinks were finished, and I carried on with my afternoon, I actually headed to lunch and when I came back she saw me as I was headed to the break room and grabbed me, she was writing me a note, but wanted to talk to me real quick instead. She told me how my words had spoken to her about where she is at in life right now, how she sensed this peace and beauty in me. She told me that she was a believer and just going through a tough time. She had tears in her eyes as she was telling me how incredibly encouraged she was by her encounter with me. I kinda stood there a little dumb found, but was so encouraged by her seeing Jesus in me.

She ended up asking me if she could pray for me since I had blessed her, so, of course, I couldn’t turn down prayer! In the hallway outside work, I had a stranger lay her hand on my shoulder and pray over me… I’ve had other encounters, some have been amazing and so memorable, but i think that this one takes the cake.

All this to say, be who Jesus has created you to be, He’ll work through you no matter where you are. Let your life, your demeanor, the way you carry yourself reflect Jesus. Have a confident humility in who He has created you to be. Love Everybody!

deeper.

Life has its ups and downs. It has its successes and failures. Often I find myself focusing on those “failures” but I also find that a lot of the time I’m the only one who may see something as a failure. Some days those so called failures try to drag me down, and sometimes they do. That’s the honest truth. Then I stop and look at all the wins along the path, those little wins may add up to something big and noteworthy or they may just keep you moving forward looking for the next win.

I also believe with every one of those disappointments I have put myself “out there” in a place of risk to even come to a place where I may fail. Without taking those risks, I’m living in a safe place. If anything I’ve learned this last year it is that Jesus has NOT called me to live the safe, risk-free life. He has called me higher. He has called me deeper. He wants more of me with every step along the way, the risks become bigger and those failures even more evident.

Do you ever find yourself in a great place with God then it seems the walls start to fall around you? Those safety walls were never meant to stay up. He’ll let you rest for a time safely, but then He’ll call you back out again. Back on the road less traveled, back out where the walls won’t save you. Out where risks can be taken, where you have to trust Jesus with all that you are. Out where you have to go deeper with him, and if you don’t you’ll probably end up at the beginning, running back to the safety instead of building a new refuge in the deepness of Him.
He never said that you’ll succeed at everything. But he does say that he’ll fight for you, you just have to be still. Wait. Be still? Where does that fit in? It fits into the place where you’re trying to do everything for your win instead of trusting his plans. I bet it’s pretty hard to be still when there is a battle raging around you. Imagine giving him that control though… Could you do it? Have you done it? Do you need to do it?
Go deeper with him, give him all control, just be still. As I was reading this morning I came across the story of Jehoshaphat when the “vast armies of Edom” were coming to fight him and his army. (2 Chronicles 20) His army wasn’t big, it wasn’t strong, his army was no match for the armies coming toward him. He stopped and cried out to The Lord, he had all his people do this, and a Word from The Lord came down. Go to battle, step out, march out and you won’t fight, but just be still. By the time they got there, all of the other armies had turned on each other and almost everyone was already dead. They just had to step out in Faith and watch God work around them. They only had to go where he called them, then be still. Talk about going deeper in your trust of what you hear from The Lord!

The risk is worth it, He’ll be by your side, he won’t leave you. Go deeper, go to that place, he wants you to join him in the depths of his love that you’ve never experienced. Spend time with him, talk with him, listen to him and then obey. That’s where the depth is.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

time.

I’ve spent the last month digging deeper into who I am in Christ and part of that is learning how I love and how I love to be loved. This weekend has been spectacular in learning this. I’ve been working hard all weekend, work has been crazy with the holiday weekend and I have been a barista the last couple of days. I’m mainly a baker, but I get a few shifts out front each month. I enjoy interacting with the customers and making beautiful drinks for them. Anyways… working hard, on bar, but the best of all is that I had friends and family come visit me three days in a row! i know that most people don’t care if they see people they know at work, but for me, I know that it takes time and intention for most of my friends and family to come see me. Pike Place Market isn’t somewhere that most people are at everyday, people that I know anyways. So, for someone to come visit, get a hug and a cup of coffee, let’s me know that they care about me. I know it sounds silly, but when one of your main love languages is quality time, I know that they spend their time, to come see me and that means the world to me!

Along those same lines, my brother and his family are in town this weekend, Friday-Tuesday… basically my work week. So, I haven’t seen them in almost 8 months, but taking the time, even when I’m tired to stay up  late for that quality time or to get up early for that time is something that I’m totally willing and love to do. Yes, we all need sleep, but somethings are more important. Relationship is more important than a couple more hours of sleep!

All this to say, spend time with those that are important to you, go out of your way for those that you love. Love each other in the way that each needs it, which is usually different! Be intentional about relationships and know that if you desire to be loved, you have to love other too.

Also, take some selfies… it’ll make you giggle, and that’s good for you too!

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perspective.

In life there are times of  growth and there are times of getting through each day and there are times of thriving. I like to choose the latter. The other day we were doing a big event at work, there was a lot to get done in a short amount of time in a small space. Someone threw out that we just needed to survive the night… I never want to just survive. I told him, let not just survive, let’s thrive. I wanted the night to be fun and didn’t want to just get through it, but I wanted to feel like I did my best work for the people that were a part of the event, they deserved that!

All this to say, in order to thrive, I have to have a bigger perspective on life. I have to have a God size perspective. A lot of the time it is so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day, trust me, I know! I also have to step back, look at my life and realize that I am so blessed. I have amazing friendships all around me. I have so many different walks in this life and so many amazing people in all of it. I’m building such a great community of friends in Seattle that I get to work with everyday. I have my friends that live in Kitsap and those that are around the country and around the world.

I can let the words of few so often get me down, but when I stop I realize that I am who I’m supposed to be and who God has created me to be, I’m ok with being questioned. I’ll seek truth in statements, but also know that everything that is said isn’t a reflection of me, but also of those asking the questions.

When taking this God-sized perspective I see things so much clearer. I see that I don’t have to battle loneliness, or a heavy heart. I know that I’m loved by so many. I have battled my way through this life to find who I am in Christ and I still have many more battles to go through, but I can go back and re-fight those battles. They have already been won. There is no need to go back and really no desire either. As I’m questioned as to who I am, I know that I can confidently approach the subject.

I am a woman who longs to be loved.

I am a hard worker that puts her best foot forward everyday.

I am sarcastic and funny, but don’t always like to be in the lime light.

I am creative and adventuresome, looking to express those in new ways.

I am talented in many areas, maybe someday I’ll be excellent in a few.

I am capable, I am enough, I am strong, I am lovable, I am confident.

I make mistakes and I always will, but that’s ok too.

Stepping back and looking at all these things that I know about myself, I know that I am all of this because of one reason. Jesus. My Savior and most of all my Lord. He is in control of all this. I’m but a mere human, He sees all, hears all and is in all. This life, it isn’t about me and my wants, needs or desires. It’s about honoring him and bring glory to his name on a daily basis. I have to so loosely hold onto all of these things knowing that he is the Lord of my life, free to give and take as he sees fit. 

These are my thoughts, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts from John Piper that really hone into what I’m saying.

“So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life. All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life. And if he ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, and a hundred things will be out of control, and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.” -John Piper

May Christ reign Supreme in our lives as he holds it together for us. May he always be the center of my universe.

Natalie

reminder.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that Jesus is on our side, He’s cheering for us and He wants us to succeed! I was reading in my daily devotionals today and Psalms 23 was a part of it. So much good stuff and so many promises. These are a few of my thoughts on it.

The lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.

He’s taking care of us, when you look at the big picture of life, you do have hardships, but most people that I know have a roof over their head, clothes to wear and don’t worry about their next meal. Your shepherd has your back covered.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

There will be times of rest and peace that He will guide us to. They won’t be forever, but they will be long enough to soak in what He has for us if we allow the time needed for green meadows and peaceful streams. Don’t tromp right through them, enjoy them with their creator.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

He MUST be the source of our strength, when we trust him enough to lead and guide us, we’ll feel renewed and strengthened. I’ve found when I’m fully strengthened, fully rested, not running on fumes, I bring the most honor and glory to His name. I know we all have seasons where tiredness and weariness are upon us, lean into him for your strength.

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.

There will be times of dark valleys, there will be times of struggle and turmoil, but don’t assume that in those times you’re alone. You have some one on your side, close beside you. He’ll walk with you through any struggle big or small. 

Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

He will comfort and protect you, those valleys don’t have to be as scary as they may seem, they are an opportunity for growth and when Christ is your protector and comforter, you can rest in the darkness, the adversity and know that He’ll be in that place with you. You can cast all your cares upon him.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.

He loves to bless His children, He loves to do the unthinkable in crazy circumstances. Enjoy the feast He has laid out for you, remember he’s close by your side. Expect great things and He’ll do great things in your life.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

When you honor Him, from the heart, He’ll anoint you, He’ll bless you, your cup will overflow. He really does want the best for you.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the lord
forever.
Psalms 23 (NLT)

He is goodness, He is unfailing love and He is chasing after you. Turn to Him in times of trouble and in times of rejoicing. Let Him know where you’re at, He already knows, but He really enjoys being in communication with each of us. Let Him speak to you, listen to His words and follow after His heart like David was doing when he wrote this Psalm. I’m no Bible scholar, but I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts that were rolling around in my head this morning as I was reading this Psalm that I’ve read hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. Let the scripture be illuminated to you in a new and fresh way.

Leaning in,
Natalie

redeemed.

re·deem
riˈdēm/
verb
past tense: redeemed; past participle: redeemed
  1. compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).
    2. gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my redemption story, about how even when I was a believer, I needed his redemption in my life. This isn’t something that I bring up lightly, it isn’t something that I dwell on much at all, but it is something that the enemy likes to remind me of. That one time or when I did such ‘n such. I have to counter those thoughts with the reminder that my debt has been paid in full, that I’m forgiven completely, that the battle has already been won for me.
I don’t have to walk around in shame or regret, but in victory and in power, because Christ has overcome so much for me. I am redeemed, it’s a past tense word. It has already been done and there isn’t any going back. Life may try and cycle you back to where you once were, but you don’t have to go there. You don’t have to be that person you once were.
Sometimes I have a hard time believing in my redemption, that I’m still being punished for past mistakes, that once I’m really forgiven, then I’ll get those things in my life that I desire that everyone else seems to have. It just simply is. not. true. It’s more of a process for us humans to realize our redemption than it is for God to pull us from the depths and tell us we are forgiven.
What’s it going to take between you and God for you really to believe He is who He says He is?
Think about that, is there something in your relationship with Him that is hindering you from believing in him and trusting him completely?
I recently had my own revelation moment. I was journaling about Hope. It is a word that believers use all the time. The thing is, I didn’t realize how much hope I put into things of this world. We put hope into people and situations and if it doesn’t go exactly like we hope, we’re disappointed. Which, honestly, is most of the time. But Listen, we need to put our hope solely in Jesus, we need to put it all in him and we won’t be disappointed. I’m still walking through and working through what that even looks like in my life. I hadn’t realized how much hope I has put into others.
hope and redemption.
They do go together. We have so much hope for the future if we live in our redemption. Not take advantage of our gracious God that forgives, but living a life worthy of the calling. If we weren’t redeemed or didn’t believe we were redeemed how much hope would we have? probably not much. But living in redemption and putting our hope in Christ, is the best scenario.
I guess that’s my own personal challenge. Know that I’m free from the past and that I have hope for the future if I put all my hope in Jesus.
This song sums it up pretty well for me.
 
He’s not done with me yet,
Natalie

independence.

I feel like most of our lives we’re searching for independence. It’s something that our country strives to protect and flaunts it everywhere we go. We’re the land of the free, we have independence day! Nothing wrong with either one of those things. I’ve been learning though about my independence and how it isn’t always about the streamers and BBQ.

I’ve come to this place where I feel like I am working to provide for myself, finding this independence financially, which is a really, really good thing. At the same time though, I see myself no longer crying out to God in ways that I have been in the past 6 months, and that’s no bueno.

I have found it really interesting working in a place where I’m around people day in and day out that need to see who Jesus is. It has been awhile since I’ve been in this scenario. Smiling to a customer or encouraging a co-worker has been some of how I’ve been able to be a light while working really hard. I’ve also found that in my striving to be everything that everyone around me needs, I keep emptying my cup without fully refilling it each day. I spend time with Jesus daily, but it isn’t as focused as I would like it to be, I’m usually on the go or rushing through it to check it off the list.

In finding my independence again, I’ve lost my dependence on God.

Just this morning, as I have a couple of days off. I’ve spent a few hours, reading the Word, writing down my thoughts, processing through relationships that I have, and listening. Some of my most refreshing times are when I’m gut level honest with Jesus and He is gut level honest with me. When I listen, he speaks. When I cry out, he answers. He has all the time in the world for me, I just need to make time for Him.

There has been such a pendulum swing in my life this year. So much learning, so much growing. Just when I think I find this groove of what life looks like, I see where I’ve failed in different areas. Focusing too much on one area, leaves the others to unravel. I’m constantly on this journey to be who God has created me to be, and I’m finding that those times where I see things unraveling is way shorter than it used to be. I’m still connected to the vine and He speaks to me. There is fruit in my life and I’m learning and growing. I don’t get as discouraged as I used to and I don’t let things unravel too far before God shows me what is going on. I’m finding that place of dependence in the midst of independence.

I’m learning to not let my life be a bunch of different areas that I have to keep tabs on, but rather that it is one holistic life that God tends to for me. No more compartmentalization. No more “I got this part God, you get that one,” but more of “here take all of my life and all of me to do what you desire.”

 

The Spirit of the Sovereign lord is upon me,
for the lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
Isaiah 61:1-4