The Rhythm of Rest

The Rhythm of Rest

“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.” // Genesis 2:2

Happy Sunday, Friends!

I don’t think I’d be too far of a stretch to say these last couple months have been anything but ordinary. What’s been interesting about this time is we, as a whole entire planet, are going through the same thing, at practically the same time. Nearly every nation on planet earth has been living through this thing called quarantine, social distancing, Cornavirus.

The other interesting thing is that this pandemic has hit everyone differently. Some have had to deal with the economic impacts. Others or their loved ones have experienced the actual virus themselves. But all of us have been impacted by this one way or another. And while I’m a firm believer that God has a purpose and a plan behind everything, I think it’s our job as a Church to be listening to what He wants to say to us during this time.

One thing I’ve been noticing through this quarantine is how nice it’s been to be able to rest and not feel guilty about it. Instead of thinking I should be out on a Friday night doing something productive, I’m resting, reading a book or just laying on my bed while observing how beautiful the blue sky is through the blinds. And honestly…it feels really, really good.

It reminds me that God has built rest into the fabric of creation, and the fabric of our lives.

It reminds me that God has built rest into the fabric of creation, and the fabric of our lives. We were not made to drive on high speed for days, months, or years at a time. We were meant to stop, pause, rest. Physically, spiritually, and mentally.

We are only human. And the beautiful thing about rest is that it reminds us of that very fact. We are only human. None of us were made to go at this world alone, do our work alone, accomplish our to-do list alone. We were made for reliance.

We are only human. And the beautiful thing about rest is that it reminds us of that very fact. We are only human. None of us were made to go at this world alone, do our work alone, accomplish our to-do list alone. We were made for reliance. Reliance on God and His Word. Reliance on prayer and reflection. Without stopping to physically rest and spiritually rest in God’s presence, we’re going to get burned out. We won’t be as effective. And not only will we be affected by it, but everyone around us likely will, too.

None of us know how this whole thing is going to end, but when it does, I hope we can look back and see all the things God was doing through it. I hope we don’t forget the lessons God is weaving into our stories during this time. I hope we can learn that rest is good, and maybe we can work that into our lives whether there is a pandemic or not.

I hope we can learn that rest is good, and maybe we can work that into our lives whether there is a pandemic or not.

I hope you and your family are all doing well and staying safe during this time. Remember, God loves you. He sees you. He is for you. This week, try physically taking a rest from the things you’ve been striving to do, and let Him sing over you (Zep. 3:17). Let His arms wrap around you, like a father to His child. Be still enough to hear Him. Be quiet enough to feel Him. You’ll be glad you did.

Until Next Time,

❤ Stephanie Jaye

@stephjayewriter

P.S. Here’s a couple pictures of my (cute!) masks I’ve been wearing during this time. Remember, masks help slow the spread of Cornavirus, and is more for other’s safety than it is yours. We’re all in this together ❤

Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt. 2: Our Unchanging Hope

Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt. 2: Our Unchanging Hope

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” // Hebrews 13:8

Hi friends! Thanks for joining me for part two of the topic of REAL HOPE REAL HURT. Last week we talked about where most of us are at: in a boat, being swamped with water, and panicking just like Jesus’ disciples are in Luke 8. I left us with a thought to think about: Where is your faith?

Jesus asked His disciples this exact question, and I think it’s a really important one to honestly answer. Not where we think our faith is, but Who is it actually in?

Today I want to talk about the REAL HOPE we have when we’re going through the heartache, trails, and pain of life. Most of us know that our hope is found in Jesus. But what does that actually mean, and what kind of help does that give us when we’re barely hanging onto any hope in the midst of life’s storms?

  1. Having real hope in Jesus means having real hope in a God who does not, has not, and will not ever change. So here’s the thing. If we’re going to have real hope in the midst of life’s storms, we need to know Who we’re putting our hope in. If we don’t know who Jesus is and we’re being swept by the waves, it can be harder for us to find Him and cling to Him when we need Him most. When we recognize that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, as Hebrews 13:8 tells us, we know that the God who was present in the Old Testament–the One who split the Red Sea to make a way for the Israelites (Exodus 14), the One who was with David when he beat Goliath with a simple slingshot (1 Samuel 17), even the One who saved Daniel in the lions den (Daniel 6), is the same God who is with us now. We can continue that thinking into the New Testament, too. The same God that rose Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28), the same God who performed miracles, the same God who sent His Son so we could be saved and kept every promise He had made (John 3:16), is the same God who is with us now. We have a God who does not fail. We have a God who’s track record is 100/100. We have a God who’s love and power is so boundless that we can’t even phantom it when we get just a glimpse of it in something like the night sky (Psalm 19). Friends: this is the same God! Every promise He’s made in the Bible, He’s kept! And every promise that He’s given us, we can claim if we know Jesus as our Savior! THIS IS HOPE! Get in the Bible and find some promises and start to memorize them. Start to speak them over your life. Start living like you actually believe them. It might take a minute, but keep getting into Word and reminding yourself who God is and who He is in your life, and your hope will start to rejuvenate soon enough.
  2. Having real hope in Jesus means having a living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 gives us a great promise to hold onto. It says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” For those of us in Jesus, we have a living hope. Not a dead hope, not a hopeless hope, not a hope that is here today and gone tomorrow. In the person and salvation of Jesus, we have a hope that can outlast the toughest of storms. A hope that has overcome even the worst storms that life can offer–including death itself (John 16:33, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!
  3. Having real hope in Jesus means having hope that isn’t going to give up on us. Jesus tells us in John 10:28 that those who are His children will never be snatched from His hand. Nothing can cause God to abandon us, forsake us, or give up on us (Luke 15, Hebrews 13:5). We have a God who loves us, pursues us, and treats us like His children (1 John 3:1). What an amazing hope to hold onto in the midst of lives storms.
  4. Having real hope in Jesus means having hope in Someone who sees beginning to end and has nothing but our best interest in mind. One of my favorite Scriptures comes from Psalm 139:16. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” One thing I love about Scripture is that it’s not all hype. This is real stuff! God has every day of our life written in His book. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He never does not have a solution lined up for us. His plans are so much greater than ours (1 Corinthians 2:9), and His timing and thoughts are different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). But in it all, He can be trusted, and He always has our best in mind (Psalm 23:6, Jeremiah 29:11). For more on this, check out this blog.

No matter what storm you are in the midst of today, Jesus is with you. Jesus is in your boat. He is offering you real, solid hope for today, no matter what you’re going through. He’s not hype. He’s not fluff. He’s real. And the hope He offers is just as real. Get into Scripture, spend time on your knees in prayer, and I promise you He’ll meet you there. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. He loves you. He’s for you. And so am I.

And if I can pray for you, will you let me know? Leave a comment below, or send me a message on social. I’d love to walk with you through life’s storms.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie ❤

@stephjayewriter

Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt.1: Where Is Your Faith?

Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt.1: Where Is Your Faith?

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” // Psalm 73:26

Hey guys! I hope you’ve been having a great start to 2020! It’s been a minute since I’ve released a blog, but I’m going to try and be back with new blogs every week again!

If you read any of the blogs I put out towards the end of last year, especially this one and this one, you know that I experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment in 2019. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the hurt and reality of all my disappointments had really taken it’s toll on me. I started to question God, and I just plain didn’t understand why nothing that I wanted or had been praying for was happening. I could feel my heart starting to harden, and I knew I was in trouble.

I saw all that to say this: out of my own experience, and the experiences of others around me, I know that hurt and pain and suffering is real. So many people wrestling with God–let alone His goodness–when times of trials come. But here’s the thing–sometimes the advice we get or the comfort others give (that is well intentioned, no doubt) isn’t what we need in those moments. What we need is REAL HOPE for REAL HURT. That’s what I want to talk about the next couple weeks.

We’re not talking about Romans 8:28–though that’s a great verse, and is certainly true.

We’re not talking about– “Everything happens for a reason”, though I believe that’s also true.

We’re not talking about– “It’ll happen, just have to wait”.

We’re talking about:

Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.

Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.

That’s where I was, and that is where so many of you are right now. So we’ll start here.

Recently I was reading Luke 8 in my Bible, and was reading the story of when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and a really bad storm kicked up. These guys were in danger. The Bible goes so far as to say they were in “great danger”. Panicked, they rushed to Jesus, scared for their lives (literally), and they say, ““Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (vs. 24).

So Jesus gets up and literally commands the winds and the waves to calm. And they do. When the storm subsided and all was calm, Jesus turned to His panicked disciples and says this: “Where is your faith?”

This hit me so hard when I read this. As almost Jesus Himself was saying these words directly to me. “Where is your faith?”

This got me thinking about where my faith actually was. I could say it was in God. But was it?

I think that’s where so many of us are right now. The winds are roaring and the waves are swamping our lives and we are drowning–just like the disciples. They knew where to turn, but I don’t know if they fully grasped Who they were turning to. If they had, would their reaction have been the same? Would panic have overtaken them? Or would they have remained calmly confident?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Fear is a human emotion, and if we were in a boat about to go under, I would surely be panicked. But in the midst of that panic, I have to wonder if there would there be an underlying peace because we knew Who is in our boat.

So I want to leave us with that question today. “Where is your faith?” Could it be that your faith is actually in yourself? Have you been putting everything all on your shoulders? Or maybe your faith is in someone else. Or something else. Honestly take a look at what you’re putting your faith in.

Next week, we’re going to talk about the components of the One we put our faith in. What makes Him trustworthy? Why can I choose to put my faith in Him? If you can’t wait for next week, you can always find me on social (IG and Twitter). Let’s talk about it. I want you to experience the real hope of Jesus. Because that’s where healing and real hope comes from.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie

@stephjayewriter

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

When Winter Comes

When Winter Comes

“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” // Psalm 142:3

This weekend, in the midst of last minute shopping, holiday get-togethers, and baking cookies, we welcomed in the First Day of Winter. The day, also known as the winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year in North America. For some, the First Day of Winter is welcome–it brings with it snow, cold, and the holiday season. For others, the First Day of Winter is equivalent to the season of the shortest days, the darkest nights, and the coldest temperatures.

What’s interesting is we often equate winter to seasons in our own life that consist of darkness, pain, and suffering. Seasons where we find ourselves alone, surrounded by pain, and where there is no relief from suffering in sight.

If you look back on your life, do you remember a day that ushered in a season of winter? Is there something you would’ve done to change that “First Day of your Winter”. If you’d only known to avoid that person, steer clear of that place, hold on to that loved one a little tighter, maybe winter wouldn’t have come. Or at least wouldn’t last this long.

As we wind down 2019, I want to encourage you, whether you find yourselves in the middle of winter, the start of winter, of are just longing to avoid winter: God sees you. He has a plan. And He knows exactly what He’s doing. When your world starts freezing over, the snow starts falling, and you haven’t seen the sun in days, here are 3 things you can do to not only survive, but thrive in winter, based on Micah 7:7, which says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

  1. Watch in Hope. I’ve learned through the past year and a half that HOPE is a powerful thing. The Bible talks a lot about hope, and I think it’s because without it, we have nothing to keep us going. When you’re in winter, ask God to give you hope. Set a goal, try to make a new dream, and serve others–being a source of hope to them. Making small changes in the winter season to be a source of hope and give yourself hope can change a lot of things and make this season a better one.
  2. Wait for God. This is easier said than done, but I’ve also learned that it is vital to wait for God–in every season of your life, but especially in the dry, desert seasons. We so often want to jump ahead, get out of our current season, but God wants to do something in your life in this season. Wait for Him to move and reveal to you what is next, and wait on Him to heal your heart and move you forward.
  3. Pray–God will hear you. This is one of the very most important things you can do if you find yourself in the cold, harsh winter. Prayer connects you with God. It keeps your heart warm in the fire of His presence. It reminds your heart that He is still present, that He still cares, that He still loves. He will hear you. Not only may prayer change the situation, but it will most definitely change you.

The winter season is a tough one–real winter and the seasons of life we consider winter. But it can also be one of the most beautiful ones. Seeing snowcaped mountains, Christmas lights lining small towns, seeing a glorious sunrise or sunset ahead of a field of snow. Though it’s cold, though it’s difficult, God creates beauty, even in the winter. And not only does He create beauty in winter, but when it’s time, spring comes.

The same will be true in your life. Winter can be tough, but if you let God have His way, He’ll use it for something beautiful.

And soon enough, spring will come.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Savior’s birth–our ultimate hope–this Christmas season. To read some Christmas blogs, check out some of the ones I’ve written here.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie

@stephjayewriter

P.S. Check out this song from Hillsong, It’s off their Christmas album, but it fits perfectly with today’s topic (& Christmas! Win-win!).

The Effects of Being Fatherless

The Effects of Being Fatherless

“A  father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” // Psalm 68:5

Happy Sunday! I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season as we draw nearer to Christmas Day! This year has absolutely flown by, and before we know it, 2020 will be here.

If you’ve been reading my blogs or following my social media updates these past couple months, you’ll know that I’ve been on the struggle bus. In the aftermath of an unfolding of events, it seems like I have been wading in waters so deep, and they just keep getting deeper. It didn’t dawn on me what my problem was until last night, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

If you don’t know, I’ve never had a father in my life. My dad lives with his family in South Carolina (I’m in Wisco), and I was raised by my mom, with the help of my grandma from time to time. This never bothered me. Ever. I loved being raised by my mom — I didn’t even know what I’d do if I had a dad in my life. The concept was so foreign to me that the older I got, the thought of having a dad was basically eradicated from my mind. You mean to tell me that people live with a mom … and a dad?

I’ve often said that I would’ve had my upbringing any other way. That my father not being in my life was God’s way of protecting me (and in a lot of ways, due to the circumstance, it was). God has always been enough for me — the only Father I needed.

Until the raging waters of the ocean seemed to all sweep in against me recently.

Do you know the statistics of children who are raised without fathers? Children in fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of high school, more are likely to commit a crime, go to prison, face childhood obesity, and use drugs and alcohol. And in teen girls raised in fatherless homes, they are 7 times more likely to get pregnant than those who do have fathers in the home.

Think about that. If these are the statistics, it makes me think that God has ordained fathers to play a particular role in a child’s life. One of a protector, of a provider, and to give their children a sense of approval, worth and direction.

I don’t know what your childhood looked like or what your relationship with your father is, but something tells me if your relationship with your father is fractured, broken, or absent, there is something deep in your heart — if you know it or not — that’s empty.

I didn’t know that I was missing male affection until I recently received it from someone. It wasn’t overly done, and it wasn’t inappropriate, but it was enough to make me realize that I was missing a male figure in my life to comfort me, to hold me when I cry, to tell me I look beautiful, and to make me feel safe. Accepted. Okay.

And I think this is the very reason that those in fatherless homes find themselves at a higher rate of damaging behavior. We’re all looking for something. We all feel a void left by our fathers. Something that God made the human heart to need. Because of the broken world we live in, our relationships with our fathers are broken, too. Know, if you find yourself here today, it’s not supposed to be this way.

But here’s the good news — God is described in Scripture over and over and over again as our Father. As what? Our Father. Isn’t it interesting that of all the things God could be described as, He is described so frequently as this? Jesus referred to God as His Father time and time again. So if Jesus’ relationship with God was like one with a Father, and if Israel’s relationship with God was like a Father, and if we are called sons and daughters of God, then maybe God is trying to make a point here. Maybe He’s trying to get our attention and say: I am your ultimate Father. Your Heavenly Father.

God created us in the womb before we even knew Him (Psalm 139:13-14). He knit us together perfectly to reflect His image — to carry His Name. Just like we look like our earthly father and carry his name. He gathers up every tear we shed and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is present when we need a shoulder to cry on. His arms are open wide when we’re lost and running home (Luke 15:11-31). Psalm 68:5 tells us He’s the Father to the Fatherless. He’s the defender of those who don’t have one (Psalm 10:14). He’s the provider when our earthly provider falls short (Matthew 6:26). He tells us that we’re precious, and that we are enough in Him (Isaiah 43:4, Deuteronomy 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9).

No matter where you find yourself today–if you have the best relationship with your dad, or if you’re feeling the void today, know that you have an unbroken, perfect relationship with your Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

Let your confidence come from your relationship with God, your Father, today. Seek Him, and you’ll be found by Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Run to Him, and be held in His arms. He is a good, good Father. And He’s waiting you to come home today.

Lord, thank You for being my heavenly Father. Thank You when this world leaves me broken and empty, You are there, and You are enough. Heal the void in my heart caused by the lack of an earthly Father. Fill it up so that it overflows with You and Your perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Until next time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

P.S. — If you want more on this topic, check out Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken. He also has a sermon serious on Youtube by the same title.

Statistics provided are from https://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics

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

He Knows How It Hurts

He Knows How It Hurts

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet He did not sin.” // Hebrews 4:15

Happy Sunday!

Well, *lets a out a long, deep breath*. If you can’t tell from the title of this blog, I’ve been through a rather trying and painful season these last couple weeks, and honestly they have been some of the most emotionally painful days of my life thus far. Emotions and pain I didn’t know I could feel, wrestling I didn’t know I could handle, and tears I didn’t think would stop.

But as I was going through days of tears, anguish, and hurt, I was constantly reminded of Hebrews 4:15, along with other verses I will share below. And while I was reminded of these verses, I was also reminded of a discussion I had with a couple family members a few months back when another relative was going through a painful period. In the midst of our discussion, these words were spoken, and it changed everything:

He knows how it hurts.

It’s amazing to me that no matter the situation we’re going through in life, Jesus has been through it. We don’t have a God who is distant, far off, or unable to relate. Maybe it’s a breakup, and you think that Jesus couldn’t know what it feels like to have His heart broken. He does. We break His heart every time we choose sin instead of Him, and when people turn away from His love and His gift of eternal life. Maybe it’s a loss of a child, God knows how that feels, too. He gave His one and only Son to be crucified for us, so that we could know Him. He watched as Jesus died, as the nails went through His hands. He knows what that feels like. We could keep going on, but the point is this: God knows how you’re hurting, and He’s right there with you.

God knows how you’re hurting, and He’s right there with you.

In the midst of my situation this past week, Psalm 139:16-18 became my refuge. It says this:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with You.”

Through my tears, I was reminded that before I even was born, before I could breath my first breathe, God had all my days written out. None of them come as a surprise, none of them throw Him off His throne, and there is no situation He is not prepared for. I remember saying to myself, “God knew this was coming.”

I said those words, not in an angry way, but to remind myself that God was still there, and since He knew this was coming, He knew how to be there for me, how to help me cope, and how to lead me along.

Since He knew this was coming, He knew how to be there for me, how to help me cope, and how to lead me along.

Maybe you’re in a season of disappointment, discouragement, loss, or pain. Hear me when I say this: God loves you. God sees you. God is still in control. You will be okay.

He’s not angry, He’s not fed up with your pain, He’s not sick of your tears. He’s close, He loves you, and He knows how it hurts.

Do I still feel the pain? Yes. But I know that God is still in control and that His Word promises me His presence and His comfort. Psalm 34:18 tells us, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God is close, friend. He is closer than ever, and He’s ready to save. He’s not angry, He’s not fed up with your pain, He’s not sick of your tears. He’s close, He loves you, and He knows how it hurts. Come to Him, rest in His arms, and choose to take His hand and trust Him today.

Prayer: Lord, help me to feel You close to me. Remind me that You’re thinking about me — thoughts that are so many I couldn’t even count — and all of them are good, just like Psalm 139:17 says. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for being here for me. Please lead me through as I surrender my hurting heart to You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jaye

@stephjayewriter

P.S. — Can I pray for you? If you’re hurting today, feel free to reach out via Twitter or Instagram with the handle above, or in the comments below. I’d love to pray for you.

P.P.S. — Stick around, next week we’re going to talk about finding purpose in the hurt and pain. See you then!

I Joined a Dating Site – And Why I Think It’s Okay

I Joined a Dating Site – And Why I Think It’s Okay

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” // 2 Corinthians 6:14

Happy Sunday!

So, I have kind of a different blog coming at you guys today. One that I’m not sure I’d ever be writing. But this is what’s been going on in my life very recently, and I thought it’d be beneficial to share with you and hopefully to aid in a healthy discussion of this topic.

About a month ago, I started looking into online dating sites after my mom half-way was joking but half-way was serious about me trying online dating. Never thinking I’d actually do it, I did some research, read some reviews, and ultimtely tried a free trial on one. That was that. For a bit.

After a while and a sequence of events that I’ll spare you from, I really started getting this overwhelming urge to return to the dating site and actually DO THE THING. I had this anxious, but peaceful, confirmation from God about it after much prayer and doing research on what other Godly people had to say on the topic. At the end of the day, I did it.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, for one, I want to have a discussion about the implications of online dating and how a Christian should view it, just in case someone out there is thinking about trying it and is looking for a Godly perspective on it like I was.

As long as you’re seeking God and following His lead through the process, you’re not manipulating anything.

One of the biggest drawbacks most Christians have with online dating is that it seems to indicate a possible lack of trust in God’s timing and faithfulness to provide a spouse. I thought this one through pretty well because I certainly am not one to overstep God on His timing (though I’ve been tempted–as we all probably have). However, I came to the conclusion that me doing this was not an indication of that at all. I felt like God was actually nudging me in that direction. If you have prayed about online dating and feel God’s peace about it…do it! After all, He is the one who has to get you and your future spouse both on the SAME dating site at the SAME time. As long as you’re seeking God and following His lead through the process, you’re not manipulating anything. If it’s not God’s will for you to find your spouse at the time, you won’t. It’s up to you to follow and listen to His guidance so you don’t settle and make the wrong decision about a spouse, though. That’s something to consider as you contemplate your decision.

Another thing to consider regarding online dating is if you’re confident in knowing what you want in a spouse. Have you been praying for your future spouse? Are you in a good spot in life where you’re reading for a real, intentional dating relationship with another Godly person? If the answer to these questions is YES, then maybe you should try it out!

At the end of the day, I don’t think God frowns upon online dating. After all, it’s just a place to meet other people in our modern day. Just like going to a football game, a church group, or a party, it’s just another place to meet people who you might not have otherwise. What God IS concerned about is the person you’re to marry and the qualities that person should have. (That’s a totally different blog, one that maybe I’ll do someday!)

What God IS concerned about is the person you’re to marry and the qualities that person should have.

While I was in the process of making my decision, I watched the videos below to help me think things through. Above all, I prayed and followed where I felt God leading. Hopefully between this article and the resources below, you can form your own opinion of the topic.

When we chase Jesus and follow wherever He leads, you never know, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

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@stephjayewriter

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