Top 10 Lessons I Learned from the Past Decade

Top 10 Lessons I Learned from the Past Decade

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” // Psalm 90:12

Happy Last Monday of the DECADE!! This is the second blog that I put out this week, because not only is it the last few days of the year, but also of the decade. And if you know me at all, you know I love to reflect on what I’ve learned and am fascinated by how time defines things.

The 2010’s decade has been an interesting one for me. I spent more years out of school than I did in, (which didn’t occur to me until I thought about writing this blog. Seems like I spent more time in school than not!), and a lot happened this decade.

When I think about a span of ten years, I think about how much happens in that time. How much our lives change. The next ten years have the possibility to bring us the most unbelievable joys, the best surprises, and discovering more of our Creator. But before we jump into 2020, I want to take a look back at the 2010’s. Without further ado, here are the top 10 lessons I learned from the past 10 years.

  1. Your obedience to God, no matter what you’re losing now, will always be worth it in the end. This has by far been one of the biggest lessons to span this decade. Obedience is so, so, SO important. And it’s always worth it.
  2. Anxiety is scary, but it’ll pass. I struggled with anxiety like I never have before this past decade. But instead of trying to fight it like I have been, I wish I would’ve known that the body naturally clams itself down–so I don’t have to try obsessively to. Also, to know God as a loving Father instead of a God who expected perfection is a lesson well learned.
  3. Make a difference when and where you can. God gives us seasons–at jobs, with people, in certain areas. Don’t waste that time blending in, trying to hang with the cool crowd, or letting the world bog you down. Make a difference for Jesus in those places and in those moments while you have them (Matt. 5:16). One day it’ll be too late.
  4. Just because the answer is “no” now does not mean it will always be. If you read my blog that came out yesterday, you’ll read that this year was a big one for the two letter word “no”. And honestly, these past few years I’ve seen what I thought were the desires of my heart go left unfulfilled. But in the past decade, I’ve also seen things that I thought were gone for good come back and bring me the most joy I’ve ever had, because they were God’s thing and in God’s timing. No is not always not forever. You can trust God with your hearts desires (Psalm 37:4).
  5. Take time to get alone with Jesus–often and whenever else necessary. There was a period of time during my senior year of high school when I went through a period of losing all of my best friends. (Yeah, you read that right. All.) It was extremely tough, but that’s when I started reading the Bible when I had breaks in between classes and started seeking Him more, and that changed e v e r y t h i n g for me. Even now, I’ve learned that getting alone with Jesus–especially to start my day–is critically important. Seeking His face, His Word, and being with Him in prayer will allow you to grow in your relationship with Him and make space for Him to reveal all He has for you. Do it!
  6. Talking about relationships–don’t romanticize. I didn’t know the damage this could cause until recently. Stay present, keep your head out of the clouds, and seek God in all your romantic endeavors. Trust me, it’ll save you a boatload of heartache.
  7. Ask God to show you His best. This was a h u g e lesson for me a couple years ago. Sometimes our vision can get clouded by doubt, worry, confusion, or impatience that we are tempted to settle for what’s easy, or what’s available now, or simply put, less than God’s best. Do not do this! Ask God to show you His best. But when you do, be prepared to have Him show you what is not His best. That may be hard, but that too will be worth it.
  8. Guard your heart. There’s a reason we’re instructed–above all else–to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23). Whether it be against bitterness, lust, jealousy, comparison, or something else, it is vital for us to ask God to help us guard our hearts. As the Scripture says, everything we do flows from our heart. If everything flows from it–we better make sure we’re guarding what we allow in it.
  9. You are set free in Christ–start acting like it. This decade, I learned that I am truly loved by the God of the universe. I am set free in Him. He is glorified when I embrace my freedom as a Child of God, when I am who He’s created me to be in ways that honor Him (Psalm 139:1-18). And above all else–He loves me! This was a huge revelation I experienced, and look forward to continuing to learn and walk that out in the new decade.
  10. Enjoy life. Goodness, just enjoy life! I can be so uptight and worried about everything, and yet God gives us all good things to enjoy (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 6:17)! Food, adventure, family, friends, work, whatever! It’s okay to have fun, to enjoy things! So glorify Him and feel free to enjoy life.

Well friends, that’s about it! There are so many more lessons I learned, but these are ones that were big and had lasting impacts from the last ten years. I cannot wait to see what the next ten years brings, and I pray that it’s full of blessing, abundance, and love for all of you.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

P.S. — Remember to check out my year-end blog from yesterday, too!

2019: What I Learned From My Year of “Almosts”

2019: What I Learned From My Year of “Almosts”

“Yet I will wait patiently … Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” // Habakkuk 3:16b, 17-19

2019. Can you believe it’s the end of the year–*ahem*–decade already? I feel like I say this every year, but it’s worth saying again, this year flew! And while I had hopes and aspirations for this year, when I look back, it looked way–and I mean WAY–different than I thought it would.

And if I’m being honest, not in the bestest ways.

Until God gave me a different persective.

When I started to reflect on 2019, I wondered how I would remember this year. When I thought about it, one thing came to mind.

This was my year of “almosts”.

I ALMOST made the move across the country I had been hoping and praying for. But didn’t.

I ALMOST went on vacation to California. Until that got canceled.

I ALMOST instead went on vacation to North Carolina. Until our car didn’t want to cooperate.

I ALMOST accepted an offer of publication on my book. Until I realized it wasn’t the right publisher for me.

I ALMOST met a guy and started a relationship I so longed to be in. Until I got my heart broken before it even started due to circumstances out of my control.

Do you seem the theme here? When I looked back on 2019, this is what I saw. I saw a year of false starts, false hopes, and unfuliflled dreams.

I saw “ALMOST”.

If you’re like most people, almost isn’t good enough. It falls just short of expectation. No one ever achieved or celebrated anything that ALMOST happened. Because simply put, it just didn’t.

I didn’t move across the country. I didn’t go on any vacations–anywhere. I didn’t publish my book. I didn’t get to date that guy.

It seemed like in 2019 … I didn’t almost do … anything.

This isn’t going to be some blog about how we should shift our perspective. That we should cheeringly looking at what DID happen, and what DID make 2019 awesome. I’m not going there at all.

Where I am going is this: Even when dreams are left unfulfilled and the heart aches more than it can bear, God is still faithful. God is still in control. And God has better.

What’s interesting is my word for 2019 was “faithful”. The idea that because God is faithful to me, I will be faithful to Him. And because of His faithfulness, He can be trusted. So, while I ALMOST did a lot this year, here’s one thing I know for sure: God was faithful through it all. And I learned a heck of a lot through it.

I didn’t move across the country because God’s timing wasn’t right.

I didn’t go on vacation, because God was protecting me.

I didn’t get my book published because there’s a better home for it out there I can’t see yet.

I didn’t date that guy because simply put:

GOD. HAS. BETTER.

That was the lesson I learned this year. It’s funny because 2018 was all about pursuing God’s best. 2019 was all about trusting and seeking His better. What hard about “better” is that we often get so blinded by the here and now, that we can’t see what could possible BE better than what’s in front of us. And because of that, we question God when things don’t go the way we want them to. We kick and scream when He takes things away from us because we can’t see what’s just around the bend. But I have learned time and time again that God always has better. A L W A Y S.

I love the book of Habakkuk (some of y’all are trying to figure out where that is, so lemme help you — Old Testament, almost to the New 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I’ve ever read the whole book (all 3 chapters!), until recently, but I always knew of it’s concluding verses. But when I read the whole book of Habakkuk recently, it amazed me. Simply amazed me.

The book starts out by Habakkuk complaining to God, frustrated that He is not seeking justice against those who have wronged Israel. He doesn’t understand why God is allowing Israel to be pursued and destroyed by these foreign countries. It opens like this in Habakkuk 1:2-3:

“How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but You do not listen?
Or cry out to You, “Violence!”
    but You do not save?
Why do You make me look at injustice?
    Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?”

You hear the frustration in Habakkuk’s voice while He cries out to God? That’s real. That’s relatable. The book then continues, recording God’s response in 1:5:

“Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.”

This conversation between Habakkuk and God spills into chapter two. But this time, God’s response silences Habakkuk’s frustration. In 2:3, God says this:

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay. “

That’s a word for someone today — your time will come. It may linger … but WAIT for it. It WILL come. It may not be in our timing, but it’ll be in God’s perfect timing. By the end of the book, we see a different Habakkuk. In the closing chapter, we see Habakkuk trusting in God’s timing, trusting He is powerful and will indeed do what He’s said, and concluding that he will wait for God patiently. The concluding verses show us that God has become Habakkuk’s strength, and therefore can endure–not only anything including famine and hardship–but do it joyfully. We read this in Habakkuk 3:17-19:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.”

So, what is my point in all this? Though 2019 seemed to be a year of disappointments, a year of “almosts”, a year of getting my hopes up to get them let down–God walked me through something similar to what He did Habakkuk thousands of years ago. He’s showed me that He hasn’t forgotten. He is still working. He is still faithful. And He is up to something better.

So while my year may have been a year of “almosts” and false starts, this is how I will remember 2019:

The year God taught me He has better.

And I hope that if you had a disappointing year, or if disappointments meet you in the future, you can remember Habakkuk. That you can trust God, even when the promise lingers. You can wait patiently because you know He’s always working to fulfill His purpose in you. And You can rejoice always in God your Savior because He is enough for you.

Until next time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

The Classroom of Pain

The Classroom of Pain

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” // James 1:2-4

Happy Sunday! (+ Thanksgiving Week!)

Last week we talked about seasons of hurt, and how God is not only present in our hurt, but can relate to our situation. This week, let’s talk about reasons God sometimes allows seasons of pain and hurt, and maybe we can get a good perspective change on how to handle and go through life’s trials.

  1. God uses trials to make us more like Him. This is by far the number one reason God often sends trials. We see from our opening verse that we should count it joy when we face trials. I don’t know about you, but when I encounter a trial, joy is not the first thing I think of. But let’s dig deeper. The reason why we should count it joy when we find ourselves in the midst of a trial is because we can recognize that God is doing something within the trial to make us more like Him. Trials often teach us and exposes a weakness that maybe we weren’t aware of before. Once we become children of God through accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God doesn’t leave us where He found us. The end goal of this life is to become more like Him. More like Him in things like character, conduct, and speech (1 Corinthians 1:11, Philippians 1:6, 1 John 2:6). If you ask most Christians about a time in their life that God used to change them, more than not, they will tell you of a time when they endured a hardship, and not only saw God through it, but became more like Him because of it. Count it joy, friends. God is always up to something greater and of eternal value in trials. Our job is to allow Him to do that within us.
  2. God uses trials to change our course. Sometimes we get a little … what’s the word … self-dependent in this life. We starting thinking we’re capable enough to make our own decisions, choose our own path, walk our own way. Take this from me, friends, this is not a good path. We were designed to listen to God, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit within us, and to obey God in this life. We know that obedience brings blessing, peace, and closeness with our Lord. It also produces maximum effectiveness in our life and our ministry. When we get too self-dependent or wander a tad too far, God will use trials to get our attention, to get our hearts and minds to turn back to Him. He doesn’t do this because He’s cruel or demanding, but because He knows your best life will always be one that is lead by Him and in His way (Psalm 18:30, Proverbs 3:5-6). Trials remind us that we are never in control to begin with. Count it joy, friends, because God’s way is best, and I’m so thankful He’s stops me from wandering too far. There’s no better place than to be than in His will.
  3. God uses trials to test us. Back to our opening verses. James also tells us that trials test our faith, and in turn give us perseverance, which then mature us so we don’t lack anything. It’s trials that are defining moments in our lives — they show us if what we believe about our God is real enough, deep enough, and pure enough. A lot of times people follow God to avoid hardship. Or they just want to follow Him for what He has to offer (see Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Hardship will expose these motivations. On the contrary, they will also expose if our hearts are genuine, and if we will choose to praise God even when trials come. Trials test what we know about God, but if we seek Him with our whole heart, they will strengthen what we know about Him, and in turn increase our faith and trust in Him even more. This is one of the most beautiful things about trials. Our intimacy with the Lord grows, and He teaches us new things about Himself that affirm our faith even more. This then produces in us a testimony we can use to tell others about our faith and what God has done for and in us. 1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us it like this, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Count it all joy, friends. God is who He says He is, and He often shows that powerfully in the midst of trials.

Know this — if you’re going through a trial today, God is not mad at you. He has not forgotten you, He has not forsaken you. He knows the pain, He’s there to comfort you in it, but He’s also looking to accomplish something of eternal value in you through this season. And that is worth it.

Take a moment today to reflect on seasons of hardship and hurt in your life. How have you seen God work in those seasons? If you’re going through one right now, ask God to show you what He wants to, and ask Him to open your heart for all He wants to do in you through this season.

Until Next Time ❤

Stephanie Jaye

@stephjayewriter

A Lesson from my Favorite Flower

A Lesson from my Favorite Flower

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” // Psalm 16:8

Hey all! Happy Sunday (and October…where is this year going!?). I hope fall is settling in wherever you are. I know our poor friends in the south are still sweating the summer heat out, while our friends in the PNW are digging out from a massive snowstorm. Where I live, it’s just been cold and rainy. And I mean rainy. Like, send me all your pictures and memes of the SUN you can find because I haven’t see it in DAYS.

It’s no secret that I love sunshine, but what you may not have known about me is I love sunflowers. They’re yellow (my favorite color), and they’re just happy. Cheery. Fun! There was something I didn’t know about these lovely flowers though, and that was how they got their name. They’re actually called sunflowers because they have special motor cells at their base that change size as they absorb water. This causes the sunflower to move their faces towards the sun throughout the day.

This activity is actually known as solar tracking. The sunflower actually shifts directions as it follows the sun in the sky all day long. How cool is that!

Maybe you knew this, or maybe you didn’t. But either way, I think we can learn a lesson from the sunflower. As Christians, there is a Son we follow. Scripture talks repeatedly about keeping our eyes on the Lord, about fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2), and turning to Him at all times. What if we were just like these sunflowers? No matter what time of day, we’re facing towards the Son. No matter what is going on around us, we’re facing towards the Son. No matter where we are, we’re facing towards the Son.

I believe that this is not only a Biblical posture, but an amazing one. We all know the world we’re living in is quite chaotic, but that doesn’t have to impact our joy, our strength, or our ability to stand and follow Christ. But the key to living in a chaotic world unhindered in the ability to remain in a posture of always look towards–or facing–the Son.

I’m convinced that now more than ever, Jesus is the answer. He’s our only hope.

I’m convinced that now more than ever, Jesus is the answer. He’s our only hope. The only One we can put our full faith in. The One who walked on water in the storm is the same one calling out to you today (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus hasn’t changed since His time on earth (Hebrews 13:8). He hasn’t forgotten, His plans haven’t been delayed, and His purpose in coming is as important and life changing as it always has been.

We influence this world as much as we allow Jesus to lead us.

We influence this world as much as we allow Jesus to lead us. We were never meant to do this life on our own. We were never meant to follow our own way. We were never meant to face something else, following it as it shifts. Just Jesus. Just Jesus.

This week, take some time to think about what impacts your perspective and position in life. Are you turning towards Jesus always, or are you looking towards something or someone else to lead and guide you. It’s never too late to become like our pretty yellow sunflower. I believe that when we spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, He will help us stay focused on following Him always. And when we do, someday we might just change the world.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

“Come, follow me.” // Matthew 4:19

Hey all! Happy Sunday! Well, summer is in full swing and I’m enjoying all things sunshine, sweet tea, and summer festivities. While it’s insane to think summer is almost halfway over (for us, anyways. Our summers are so short), I’m savoring and enjoying every moment of this amazing season.

One summery thing I did recently was attend Lifest, which is the largest Christian music festival in the country — and it’s less than two hours from my house! I’ve never been, but always wanted to attend. So last week I made a last minute decision to go with a friend, and I am so glad I did! One of my favorite bands was playing, and I knew I couldn’t miss it.

An interesting thing happened while I was there, though. I found myself in a place I’ve never been, and I had absolutely no idea how anything worked, where anything was, and was completely helpless to help myself. Usually circumstances like this freak me out, but not this one. The friend I was attending the festival with was a pro. She attends the festival every day of the three day event, and she’s been going for years. She knew where everything was, down to where she parked her car (which was a complete maze and almost a half mile walk from the main stage). But I found that in this situation where I was completely helpless, I was calm because I was being guided by someone who knew the ins and outs of what they were doing, where they were, and where they were going.

Life is a lot like this. We can get freaked out over circumstances where we can’t see the way ahead – and understandably so. But it’s in these moments that we have to remember Who we go with, and Who goes before us. God knows eternity past to eternity future. Nothing surprises Him, and He is always on His throne. He existed, taking care of His people and planet, before we were born. He is still being faithful now.

We can get freaked out over circumstances where we can’t see the way ahead – and understandably so. But it’s in these moments that we have to remember Who we go with, and Who goes before us.

Jesus gives us a simple invitation to follow Him. This has to be one of the simplest commands in all of Scripture, yet it’s one we have the hardest time doing. We like control, we like to know all the answers. But the truth is, there is no safer place we can be than to just release that control and follow Jesus who not only knows the way, but IS the way.

There is no safer place we can be than to just release that control and follow Jesus who not only knows the way, but IS the way.

Following Jesus takes childlike faith. The older I get, the more I realize why Jesus wants us to be like little children (Matthew 18:3). Little children can chase life with wonder, their hearts are carefree. And even though life often tries to steal these things from us, when we follow our heavenly Father, we are free to be like a little child. When our heart trusts Him and submits to following Him, peace, joy, and childlike wonder will develop. And nothing is better than following the God who has the best in mind for us and finding things we’ve lost along the way.

Nothing is better than following the God who has the best in mind for us and finding things we’ve lost along the way.

The way to true life is to lose it (Matthew 16:24-26). A faith worth having is worth a life worth losing. It’s then we can follow Jesus wholeheartedly. And it’s there we’ll find everything we’ve been made for.

This week, try loosening the grips on your life and instead follow where Jesus leads, and see what happens to your heart, emotions, and life. And if we do, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

Image (5) - Edited (3)

@stephjayewriter

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

“Come, follow me.” // Matthew 4:19

Hey all! Happy Sunday! Well, summer is in full swing and I’m enjoying all things sunshine, sweet tea, and summer festivities. While it’s insane to think summer is almost halfway over (for us, anyways. Our summers are so short), I’m savoring and enjoying every moment of this amazing season.

One summery thing I did recently was attend Lifest, which is the largest Christian music festival in the country — and it’s less than two hours from my house! I’ve never been, but always wanted to attend. So last week I made a last minute decision to go with a friend, and I am so glad I did! One of my favorite bands was playing, and I knew I couldn’t miss it.

An interesting thing happened while I was there, though. I found myself in a place I’ve never been, and I had absolutely no idea how anything worked, where anything was, and was completely helpless to help myself. Usually circumstances like this freak me out, but not this one. The friend I was attending the festival with was a pro. She attends the festival every day of the three day event, and she’s been going for years. She knew where everything was, down to where she parked her car (which was a complete maze and almost a half mile walk from the main stage). But I found that in this situation where I was completely helpless, I was calm because I was being guided by someone who knew the ins and outs of what they were doing, where they were, and where they were going.

Life is a lot like this. We can get freaked out over circumstances where we can’t see the way ahead – and understandably so. But it’s in these moments that we have to remember Who we go with, and Who goes before us. God knows eternity past to eternity future. Nothing surprises Him, and He is always on His throne. He existed, taking care of His people and planet, before we were born. He is still being faithful now.

We can get freaked out over circumstances where we can’t see the way ahead – and understandably so. But it’s in these moments that we have to remember Who we go with, and Who goes before us.

Jesus gives us a simple invitation to follow Him. This has to be one of the simplest commands in all of Scripture, yet it’s one we have the hardest time doing. We like control, we like to know all the answers. But the truth is, there is no safer place we can be than to just release that control and follow Jesus who not only knows the way, but IS the way.

There is no safer place we can be than to just release that control and follow Jesus who not only knows the way, but IS the way.

Following Jesus takes childlike faith. The older I get, the more I realize why Jesus wants us to be like little children (Matthew 18:3). Little children can chase life with wonder, their hearts are carefree. And even though life often tries to steal these things from us, when we follow our heavenly Father, we are free to be like a little child. When our heart trusts Him and submits to following Him, peace, joy, and childlike wonder will develop. And nothing is better than following the God who has the best in mind for us and finding things we’ve lost along the way.

Nothing is better than following the God who has the best in mind for us and finding things we’ve lost along the way.

The way to true life is to lose it (Matthew 16:24-26). A faith worth having is worth a life worth losing. It’s then we can follow Jesus wholeheartedly. And it’s there we’ll find everything we’ve been made for.

This week, try loosening the grips on your life and instead follow where Jesus leads, and see what happens to your heart, emotions, and life. And if we do, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

Image (5) - Edited (3)

@stephjayewriter

God’s Love Casts Out Fear

God’s Love Casts Out Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” // 1 John 4:18

Happy Sunday! This week we’re continuing our series on God’s love in celebration of February, Valentine’s Day, love. You know, all that good stuff.

Something that is crippling in our day and age is fear. Fear, anxiety, depression … all the things. I’ve struggled with this myself, but I’ve learned a lot through it. And one of the things I’ve learned is that if we truly believe God, if we truly take Him at His word, there is nothing to fear.

Now, before I continue, I understand that there are serious conditions that make this subject rather complicated. Please know that this post is not insensitive to that, and this is certainly not medical advice. However, I believe (as an anxiety sufferer myself) that there is nothing more powerful, more healing, and more freeing than believing and standing in the power of God’s promises.

We’re told in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love drives out fear”. When I read this, I wondered why, if this were true, fear was still penetrating my heart. But when I read on, the verse tells us why. “Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

When we fear, it’s usually because we aren’t trusting God for who He says He is in some aspect. Here’s a list of reasons, based in who God is, we have no reason to fear:

  1. God is who He says He is. God has given us promise after promise that He is with us, He is for us, and that if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are sealed for eternity. We are no longer under wrath but under grace (Heb. 13:5, Rom. 8:31, 6:14).
  2. There’s nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. God doesn’t love us based on what we do, He loves us based on who He is. Because of this, there’s nowhere we can go, and nothing we can do that will make Him stop loving us (Jer. 31:3, Matt. 28:20).
  3. He’s promised to be with us. Because God is over all, through all, and in all, there’s nowhere we can be that He is not (Ps. 139:7-10). Plus, if we know Jesus as our Savior, He’s given us His Holy Spirit that lives in us, and we can never be separated from Him (John 10:28, Rom. 8:38-39).
  4. He already knows every day of our life before we do. Psalm 139:16 tells us, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be”. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Nothing takes Him off guard. We can run to Him, secure in His love, because He is unshaken by our storms.
  5. The Bible tells us we haven’t been given a spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-discipline. Literally, as new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), fear isn’t apart of our DNA. It’s not who we are, and we don’t have to bow to it anymore (2 Tim. 1:7).
  6. There’s resurrection power in us. Romans 8:11 tells us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. Think about that. That same Spirit that raised the King of Kings from the grave is in us. Think about how powerful that Spirit is. If that Spirit can–and did–raise Jesus from the dead, He is certainly powerful enough to break the spirit of fear in us and set our feet on the path of trusting in God, His love, and lead us in the path of freedom and peace (John 8:36, Luke 1:37, Isa. 26:3).
  7. Because He loves us. This is what 1 John 4:18 talks about. We don’t have to fear God … we don’t have to fear anything! God loves you. You are His child. He sees you as you are and wants you anyways. He knows that you’ve messed up. He knows you’ll mess up before you even do. But that doesn’t change the fact that He loves you. That He sent His Son for you. He is your father, and you are His child. Where there used to be fear, God now offers mercy, grace, and His unending love for you, His child. There is no place for fear in that.

Love is the opposite of fear. And because of Jesus, there is never a reason to fear. Fear is everything opposite of what the Scriptures tell us, everything opposite of who God is, the way He loves. This week, mediate on some of these promises. What is causing you fear in your own life? Is it because you’re not trusting God in some area? What promise of Scripture can you apply to that. Even when you don’t think you can go another moment under the weight of fear, remember His promises and proclaim them. This is where your freedom … and His love … is found.

Because of God’s love, we don’t have to fear. And if we believe that and live like it’s true, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! The topic of fear is HUGE, and so I’ve decided to dedicate the whole month of March to this topic. Stay tune for that series in just a couple weeks and let’s experience freedom together!

His Sovereignty Over Our Surrender

His Sovereignty Over Our Surrender

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.” // Psalm 25:9-10

I think one of the biggest reasons we as human beings get into trouble is because we’re trying to take hold of our own lives. As humans, and especially as Christ-followers, we’re not made to do this. We know that from the very beginning of time, God created us for a relationship with Him. He was going to be our Father, our Provider, our Protector. And while we sinned and went astray, His design and heart for our lives never changed.

We know that from the very beginning of time, God created us for a relationship with Him. He was going to be our Father, our Provider, our Protector. And while we sinned and went astray, His design and heart for our lives never changed.

If you’ve been around the church for any amount of time, you’ve heard the word surrender. In fact, when you got saved, you probably heard someone tell you about surrendering your life to God. It’s funny how we can trust our eternity to God by accepting Jesus as our Savior, as sufficient payment for our sins, but yet we have a hard time trusting-or surrendering-our every day lives to Him. Yet that’s exactly how we’re supposed to live.

If you joined me a couple weeks ago, I talked about the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in life. Today’s post kind of goes along with that same theme. But I’m convinced the only way to God’s best in life is to trust Him and follow Him every step of the way. And the only way we can do that is by surrendering to Him.

The thing is, surrender is scary. I think a lot of Christians are afraid to surrender their lives to God because they fear God is going to make them do something horrible.

The thing is, surrender is scary. I think a lot of Christians are afraid to surrender their lives to God because they fear God is going to make them do something horrible. Like marry the weirdest guy on your street, or make you pursue a job you’re going to absolutely hate. But guys, that’s not how God works. He may call us to places we’d never expect, situations that might even scare us at the moment, but when we lay down our pride, our expectations, and our desires, that allows God to give us His very best.

Think of it this way: He made you. He made you with certain passions, certain interests, and certain gifts. He knows the best way for you to use what He has equipped you with.

Think of it this way: He made you. He made you with certain passions, certain interests, and certain gifts. He knows the best way for you to use what He has equipped you with. He knows the kind of guy you’ll like, because He made you to like someone like that. He knows the kind of job that’ll light you up inside and bring Him glory because He put that fire inside of you when He was knitting you together so beautifully in your mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16). He knows the ministry you’re going to love doing because that’s what He equipped you to do.

When we surrender to God–going where He leads, doing what He’s made us to do–not only will we find joy, peace, and relationship with Him, but He’s going to get all the glory from us, and ultimately from others impacted by your obedience. If we as followers of Jesus would just let go and trust the very One who created us, we’d find ourselves right where He wants us. And no plan of our own is better than that.

If we as followers of Jesus would just let go and trust the very One who created us, we’d find ourselves right where He wants us. And no plan of our own is better than that.

I love Psalm 25:9-10. It reads, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant.” Did you see that? All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful. Guys, that’s who God is. Those are His intentions. Every. Single. Time. Loving and faithful.

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful. Guys, that’s who God is. Those are His intentions. Every. Single. Time. Loving and faithful.

So when you find yourself scared of surrender, remind yourself of this verse. This God who made you, who sent His one and only Son to die for you, is sovereign over everything. All His ways are loving and faithful. And because He can’t change, that simple truth never will.

When we let go and let God take control, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephjayewriter

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24

P.S.!! Next Sunday I’m starting a new series for the month of February on GOD’S LOVE. See you next week!

Set Apart to Stand Out

Set Apart to Stand Out

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” // Philippians 2:14-16

I was reading a devotional book the other day when I came across a quote that really struck me. This is what it said:

“There is no point to a life in Christ if we lose the one thing that makes us different from the world. God wants you to display a life that shows how wonderful salvation is.”

Janelle Anthony Breckell

This made me stop and think for a moment. In today’s culture, it’s so easy to blend in. We think by “blending in” that we’ll somehow win others to Christ. They’ll think Christianity is “cool” because we do what they do. But if we think about it, what message is that portraying to the outside world? It sounds to me like that’s saying, “If you decided to follow Jesus, that’s cool. You can even keep doing what you’re doing right now.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s fine that Christians laugh, have fun, and do cool things. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when we as Christians try to blend in instead of being set apart.

Can we meet the world where they are by having fun, doing “cool” things, without actually being apart of them? I think the answer is yes.

The thing of it is, that’s a hard yes. It’s hard to get close to culture without getting sucked into it. It’s hard to stand our ground against temptation and the lure of the world, especially when we’re trying to engage it. But as Christians, it’s imperative that we go and meet the culture where they’re at without getting sucked into exactly what they’re doing.

The Bible talks about us walking a different path in life. Ephesians 4:1 tells us, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This is a strong exhortation from the Apostle Paul. He’s pleading with the church at Ephesus to live a life worthy of the calling they’ve received. When we came to know Jesus as our Savior, our old self was done away with. We were given a new name. A new identity. We were brought into a new family (2 Cor 5:17, Galatians 4:3-7).

You probably have some resemblance to your family, your loves ones. Maybe you have your mom’s hair, or your dad’s eyes. But what about to your Heavenly Father? Is your heart reflecting His? When people see you, are they seeing your resemblance to Him? Are you standing out, shining bright in this dark generation? Are others questioning why your life is soaked with joy and your peace unshakable?

This is the kind of life we are called to as followers of Jesus. If we look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, and live like everyone else, how is anyone supposed to see Jesus in us? How are people supposed to experience the life changing power of Jesus if they’re not seeing it in us?

In short, what is the purpose of following Jesus if we’re doing life the same way as the person who’s not?

In short, what is the purpose of following Jesus if we’re doing life the same way as the person who’s not?

I’m convicted to hide God’s word in my heart, to invite Him in every day, and by the power of His Holy Spirit to live a life that’s different, one that’s shining on the brightest and darkest of days. It’s not an easy life by any means. But Jesus didn’t call us to an easy life … He Himself didn’t live an easy life. He served when He could’ve been served. He gave when He could’ve received. He sacrificed His life when He could’ve just stayed in heaven, seated on His throne, and worshiped day and night for all eternity. But instead, He came to rescue us. To rescue us out of our life of sin and darkness, that we may have an eternity filled with Him. That’s why our life should look different. That’s why we want people to know Jesus. Because He’s not only changed our life, but the course of human history!

As you wade into this week, pray about where God might want your light to shine a little brighter this week. Maybe at school? Maybe at work? Maybe to your unsaved family members? How can you be salt and light and bring the hope and power of Jesus to other’s this week?

When we recognize we’re set apart by God to stand out for Him, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.!! This week’s blog was inspired by the devotional Whatever Is Lovely by BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC & 100 Things God Loves About You: Simple Reminders For When You Need Them Most by Zondervan. Please check these wonderful books out!

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.” // Psalm 111:7-8

Happy New Year 2019 everyone!

I feel like I say this at the beginning of every blog post, but I literally can’t believe it’s New Years. 2018 went by so, so fast! I mean, I literally remember last year at this time, thinking about 2018 and all I hoped and believed it would hold.

What’s funny about looking back at the hopes and expectations you had for something is seeing how much of it actually came to be, and what actually happened that was completely unexpected, things you could’ve never saw coming.

This year was a pretty good one for me, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve had a few rough years in the recent past, so the fact that 2018 was a good year is something I’m very grateful for.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be. What I thought would happen in 2018, didn’t. What I didn’t think would happen in 2018, did. And I think that leads up to a big lesson I learned just recently (stay tuned for that blog in the next couple weeks). But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

Sure, we can set goals and work hard to accomplish what we desire, but overall, things happen. Life happens. God moves in ways we could never even think of. And while 2018 wasn’t anything I expected, it was literally one of the best I’ve had in a while.

For example, I didn’t [ever] think I would actually rewrite a manuscript I’ve been wanting to get published for years in 2018. I couldn’t ever imagine the hope and the joy I experienced in 2018. And never did I think I’d be at the end of 2018 so full of hope and excitement for the future as I am.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either.

But, if 2018 wasn’t everything you hoped for, or maybe it even left you more disappointed and discouraged than you thought you would be, know that every moment God is in control. And if you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either. God is that kind. God is that faithful. If we just choose to trust Him and follow Him, He’ll bring us into the best plan He has for our life.

So, here we are. 2019. Every year I pray and pick a word for the upcoming year. For 2019, my word is faithful. The Lord gave me this word while I was reading Psalm 111. Verses 7-8 read, “The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.”

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

1. That God is faithful

2. That because of God’s faithfulness, I will choose to be faithful to God

Late this year, God showed me a picture of what it looks like to believe and live as though I believe God is faithful. Faithful to provide all my needs — material, spiritual, and emotional. That He is faithful. Constant. Unchanging. And while these are all things I “know”, this year, I want to live like I believe those things. And that leads into the second part of my word. That I will choose to be faithful to God.

I think a lot of us get carried away in the things we “should be” “doing” as Christians, but that’s different than being faithful to Him. Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

When I speak, whatever I do, wherever I am, I want to be faithful to Him. When others see my life, I want them to see a King who is still alive and active, a King who sets the captive free, a King who erases anxiety and fear. A King who brings peace, hope, and joy. A King who is peace, hope, and joy.

Do I have hopes and dreams for 2019? Sure. But more than that, I have hope in my God. My faithful King. That whatever He desires would happen in 2019. That He would lead, open doors, shut doors, and redirect as necessary. That I would be able to look back in one year and be just as hopeful, just as excited, just as joyful heading into 2020, no matter what happens over the next 365 days. That my hope in Him would be stronger than the fear that tries to reign. Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

I came across this Scripture that I love in Psalm 119:35-37 that I thought would be a great prayer to start off 2019 with:

Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.

I hope you all have an awesome 2019! I can’t wait to take the journey with you. May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine on you and be gracious to you, and may He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

May we ever seek His face in 2019, and by doing so, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! Here are some other Scriptures I found relating to the theme of my word faithful for the year:

Psalm 112:6-8:

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Psalm 116:12:

“What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?”

Psalm 119:30:

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on Your laws.”

Isaiah 25:1:

“Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.”