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!).

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

VIDEOS:

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,

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@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,

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@stephjayewriter

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!

The Hardest Lesson I’ve Had To Learn

The Hardest Lesson I’ve Had To Learn

“How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You, that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.” // Psalm 31:19

Hey guys! Happy Sunday! I hope 2019 is treating you well!

So, I love documenting lessons I learn on my Christian walk. In fact, I even have journal of them. I even wrote a blog about the 17 things I learned in 2017. But today I want to share with you by far the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn. One that for the longest time I just couldn’t seem to get. One that I heard about over and over, yet I never quite understood how I was supposed to walk it out in my own life. The lesson, essentially, of letting go and letting God, and taking life one day at a time.

I tell people I’m a dreamer by nature, and I am. I’m a writer. A writer, by definition, is by nature a conscious dreamer (Okay. Maybe not in Websters, but I’ve heard it defined like that). I also have the gift of faith (I wrote an article about that on 412teens.org if you’re interested in learning more about that). Put these two things together and in my heart and soul I think I could run a marathon around the world in 7 days if I wanted to. The problem I’ve found with this is that when things don’t go the way I think they will, or don’t go the way I expect them in faith to go, then I get a little … frustrated. I’ve been in a particular situation for the past few years that has tested me for a while, and it seemed to be coming to a head in late 2018. For the past few years, I’ve wanted to relocate. To move from the state I was born and raised in to another part of the country. The state I want to move to has differed throughout the last couple years, as well as the reason of wanting to relocate in the first place, but the desire has always remained the same. I. Want. To. Move. I Want. To. GO.

I have prayed about this very thing almost every day for two and a half years.

Two.

And.

A.

Half.

Years.

Every year I think, “This is the year it’s going to happen. This is it!” And so I get all excited (for one reason or another), only to be left disappointed when the time passes, the decision to stay has been made. I recently experienced a situation where I thought I knew what God’s will FINALLY was. Crystal clear. The answer to my constant prayer, my heart’s deepest desire. Only to find out that … again … it might be delayed and possibly not play out like I expected or wanted.

So, here’s the thing. The past few years, my mom has told me over and over again that I just need to wait. That God would reveal His will when it’s time.

This frustrated me beyond comprehension. I thought we should be seeking, exploring, researching, GOING. It wasn’t until recently that I finally realized what she meant this whole time.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I want to give you some encouragement today. If you’ve heard about surrendering to God, but you’re not sure what that looks like or how you’re supposed to live with the future in mind while keeping your eyes fixed on today, here’s what I’ve learned about all this:

When you keep your eyes on God with the intent to follow Him, and you trust that He’ll come through just in time, you can let go of trying to control everything and learn to follow.

When you keep your eyes on God with the intent to follow Him, and you trust that He’ll come through just in time, you can let go of trying to control everything and learn to follow.

Listen. God knows His plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). They’re even good plans. But when we try to control the circumstance, complain in the waiting, and get frustrated when things don’t go our way, we’re just prolonging the waiting process. That’s not how God wants us to spend our time in the waiting valley.

Instead, He wants us to trust Him enough to let go of our heart’s desires and focus on Him. Then He can move in our hearts and life.

Even if the thing you’re praying about is God’s will, or a Godly thing, it can quickly turn into an idol. When you care more about getting that thing than you do about what God wants, it’s no longer something God is going to be pleased with because it’s taken the places in your heart that He wholly wants.

There’s nothing wrong with having hopes and dreams for the future. But it’s vital that we don’t get so lost in them that we become consumed by them, wanting them more than God’s will … or God Himself.

There’s nothing wrong with having hopes and dreams for the future. But it’s vital that we don’t get so lost in them that we become consumed by them, wanting them more than God’s will … or God Himself.

If you’re in this season today, my encouragement is to get in the Bible, worship God throughout your day, and pray for His will to be made known to you. Try and focus on today. It’s okay to allow yourself to focus on today. Because God is still working in your future so that you don’t have to. So that you can relax and trust Him. We’re reminded in Proverbs 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” We might try to figure out the next year, two years, even the next decade. But God establishes steps. One at a time.

Fam, this is hard stuff. It makes me uncomfortable just typing these words sometimes. But, it’s part of the faith journey God has us all on. The more we trust Him, the less we’ll feel the need to manipulate and control. Whatever you’re waiting for will be so much better if you let God work it all out, anyways. And whatever you’re waiting for will be well worth that wait. I promise.

Whatever you’re waiting for will be so much better if you let God work it all out, anyways. And whatever you’re waiting for will be well worth that wait. I promise.

And maybe one day I’ll be writing to you from a new state. A new place. Maybe it’ll be the place I want to be, maybe it’ll be a state that was never on my radar. But either way, I know that it’ll be the place God wants me to be. Because I’m choosing to trust Him instead of myself. And in letting go, I know I’ll find walk into the best God has for me. And that, this year and every year to come, I want more than anything.

When we trust God and let Him lead, chances are, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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“There is a favorite story I like to tell myself. It’s the one about how my life should turn out. But in the end I’ve discovered – I would have never been brave enough to write it as messy and marvelous as God. So, I’m choosing to take His hand and simply live it.” -Lisa Terkeurst


P.S.! I wrote this blog back in December 2018, and as I get ready to post it for all of you to read in January of 2019, I can honestly say God has really done some hard work on my heart, and it feels so much better taking things one step at a time, no matter how hard it was to get started. Something that’s a constant help to me is praying, “Give me today” when I feel anxiousness about the future starting to come on. God answers this prayer every time. And He will for you too.

When God Calls

When God Calls

“‘So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” – Exodus 3:10-12

Hey guys!

Welp, today is going to be a little on the personal side … but for good reason. I’ve had kind of an interesting week this week. Earlier in the week, I started to feel like God was calling me to more in regards to this blog and my website, and I started to feel like maybe that would be making videos and starting to take this whole blogging/website thing really seriously. If you don’t know, I’m currently working on a novel also, and I was concerned that this would take up more time than I could commit to. You know, filming the video, editing the video, posting it … as well as WRITING this blog. So I talked this over with my mom (shoutout to all the Godly woman giving Godly advice … we love you!!). And I told my mom some of my doubts which expanded to the point of “I don’t know if it’s worth it. Does anyone even read my stuff? Would anyone even watch the videos?”

I didn’t want to waste my time and invest in something that wasn’t going to reach anyone or turn out to be pointless.

And then my mom told me something that is the exact advice I normally give to everyone else in this situation. She told me, “If God has told you to do this, then don’t worry about that. He’ll take care of it.”

If God has told you to do this, then don’t worry about that. He’ll take care of it.

Thank you, Mom. Thank you. Honestly, that’s exactly right. So after much prayer and wrestling, I’ve decided to do it. To build my platform and run after the dreams God has placed in my heart ranging from my novel, to this blog, to videos where we talk about the stuff on the blog. (You’ll hear more about this in coming weeks, but for the sake of the blog today, I wanted to mention it.)

When God calls us to do something, He will take care of everything else. Our job is just to be obedient to Him. He’ll provide the finances, He’ll provide the people, and He’ll make everything work out according to His good plans and purposes, and for His glory.

If you feel Him calling you to do something … do it! It probably will seem a little scary, but don’t miss this. When you step into the very thing God is calling you to do, the reward and the joy that’ll come from it will be unlike anything else in the entire world.

We read in Exodus that Moses was scared to do what God was calling him to do. We read in Exodus 3 that God wants Moses (who was a murderer, by the way), to lead His chosen people, the Israelites, out of Egyptian captivity and into the Promised Land. This was a huge task! One that would’ve scared anyone! But when Moses expressed his fear and hesitancy to God, God gave Him one promise: “I will be with you.” (vs. 12)

That’s the same promise God gives us today. He chooses us not by our merit or talent, but by our willingness to obey Him and accomplish His plans for His glory. And when He calls, we know that when we step out in obedience to Him, He gives us the same promise to be with us. And with that promise, we can do anything.

Thanks for joining me on the journey, I can’t wait to see where God takes us. Until then, I want to encourage you to pray big. Pray that God would use you as He wants. Pray for the courage to step out into all He’s calling you to do.

There’s a song out right now (and DISCLAIMER, I loved this song wayyyyyyyy before it came out on the radio), that I love. It’s called Rebel Heart by Central Live. This song is me to a tee, and I love so, so many parts of it. But there’s one line in the chorus that has been the prayer of my heart for many, many months now, and these words have literally changed my life. It goes like this:

So I let go and I let God be my vision, my strength and song. Not my will, but Yours be done, I surrender my rebel heart.

I LOVE THAT! I let go and I let God be my vision my strength and song.

When you let God change your heart, change your dreams, change your life … you’re going to be left in the best place possible, because wherever God calls is going to be the absolute best place … ever. We can’t come up with something better than what He has for us. His plans are best … and He loves us! The Bible talks about how parents know how to give their children good gifts, so how much God knows how to give good things to His children (Matthew 7:7-11)!

Let’s pray this week that God would give us His dreams, His heart, His plans. And you never know … someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S. I’d love to hear the things God has put on your heart. Let me know in the comments below!

P.P.S….Go check out my NEW Youtube Channel and subscribe! That way when my videos start coming out (sometime in the next few weeks), you can be the first to know! And as a surprise for making it this far…I’ve posted a surprise video for THIS blog below. Also on my Youtube, you’ll find a playlist of the songs I reference here on the blog to check out. Including this one below! Check out the song “Rebel Heart” below. I hope it can be a blessing for you.