God Sees the Bigger Picture| By Christna Stubbs

For the past two years, I have been waiting on God to intervene on my behalf in a particular situation. It has been an emotional journey walking through this process. I remember thinking during most of 2019 that if I could just overcome this giant, I could move on with my life and finally do what I knew God had called me to do. 

If what I was going through emotionally at the time was not enough, I fell ill and began to struggle physically. At this point, I had had enough. I had already been grappling with emotional turmoil over the past two years and now, on top of all of that, there came a physical battle that I had to fight in my body. On the outside, I appeared healthy to everyone, but everyday, I was in constant pain and discomfort, not understanding why I had to face something like this. 

In the midst of my emotional and physical pain, I constantly asked God the age old question: “Why?” “Why is this happening to me now God”? Why does it seem like I can’t catch a break? Why doesn’t my life make sense anymore? Why am I struggling with a health issue when I should be enjoying my youth?” 

My vision of the future that I once dreamt about was now a blurry mess! I could not see through the fog; my pain and suffering just felt too real. I would wake up every day feeling numb. The pain, the confusion, and the uncertainty was overwhelming. 

I remember one particular day in the midst of my pain, I had been asking God why He never allowed me to see what I had been praying for. I thought to myself, “It’s been two years God, why haven’t you intervened already?” Aren’t you supposed to answer the cries of your people? Aren’t you a good, good Father?” 

The prayer requests I had were all things that He had promised me, but it just seemed like it would NEVER happen. At that moment though, I felt the Holy Spirit speak gently to my heart. 

In the sweetest voice, I heard “If I had given you the breakthrough you prayed for, you would not be able to handle it”. 

You see, if God had given me what I had been praying for, it would have required me to move to the other side of the world. I would have endured my illness in a forgeign country, alone, away from my family. I knew within myself that it would have been much harder to walk through a season of sickness without the support of my family, and the recovery would have been much more gruelling. 

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God already knew this. In His love and mercy, He held off from opening a door because He knew that I would not be ready for what was to come, no matter how ready I thought I was. 

I chose to share my story because I realize that oftentimes, we only see a mere speck on the painting of our lives. We are looking at a small stroke, and we try to make sense of it, when God already has a full view of the portrait. When we are walking through a season of delay or difficulty, it is easy for us to focus so closely on what is in front of us that we forget that God already knows our end from the beginning.We might only have a limited view and understanding of everything that takes place in our lives, but God sees everything. He sees the bigger picture, and we can trust that everything that He has planned for us will be good because He is a good Father. 

I pray that as you read my story, you can find comfort in this truth that God sees the bigger picture of your life. You may have been praying for something for years and because it has yet to happen, you have lost hope. Or, you may have expected your current circumstances to look a lot different than they do right now. Whatever it is that you are facing, remember that God sees everything. He already knows what is going to happen. He knows why you are where you are now, and He knows where you are going. I believe with all my heart that once we trust in Him, we can rest assured that the bigger picture that He is painting is much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

From Broken Places| By Patience Daigle

Have you ever gotten to the gate to board a plane only to realize the flight had been delayed for hours? 

On a recent trip, my flight got delayed 3.5 hours because of maintenance on the aircraft. Those in charge with the airline did not feel confident in the broken mechanisms so they advised us passengers to wait and put us on the next plane going to our destination. Exhausted from the wait and scrambling through the line to retrieve my boarding pass to enter the newly assigned plane, I could not locate where my seat number was.

I showed my pass and asked the flight attendant, “Ma’am, can you tell me what my seat number is?” 

She graciously replied, “Oh! Someone has sat in your seat. Go to row 4. I’m going to put you in first class.” 

I could not help but soak in the awesomeness of the blessing I had just received. I mean, leg room, personal blanket, and snack of my choice that did not include pretzels or peanuts. I was eating it up and bragging to my friends about what I had just experienced. However, as I sat waiting for the plane to take off, the Holy Spirit overcame me so sweetly. 

All I could hear in my spirit was, “He wants to take you from broken places.” 

Earlier that morning, James chapter 1 had been on my mind, particularly verses 2-4. 

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 (KJV)

To be honest, when these verses first came to my mind, I immediately cringed. The fact is that sometimes the trial is long and seemingly unbearable. Often dark and bleak, but God never intends for the outcome to be fruitless. 

I believe that as you have read this blog, your places of brokenness have been apparent in your mind. Do not hold back from God. Surrender those pieces of your heart. Believe that your Savior endured the Cross to give you life and allowance for the Holy Spirit to transform the fragments. 

The uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating, afflictions are inevitable. Maybe you have been waiting a long time. Maybe you have experienced unthinkable tragedy. Maybe you have let doubt and fear cloud your faith. Maybe there is unrelenting sin in your life. Whatever it is, God wants to take you from those broken places. To move from them, you must walk in faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you through each trial. Look to Him, and you will see how He brings you through each time. Spiritual endurance will build in your heart as the image of the King sharpens until that glorious day you behold Him in completion. Perfect and entire, wanting nothing but Him. 

Count it all joy! Along the journey, you will turn around and see the faithfulness of God gleaming. You may even buy an economy ticket one day and end up in priority seating just so He can use the experience as an opportunity to reveal more of Himself. Nevertheless, allow Him to fix the broken mechanisms in your heart so you can ride first class into the next season of life.

Endure to the End| By Jasmine Beard

How do you wait?

Do you wait patiently with a smile on your face dreaming of your promise to come to pass, or do you pout, fuss, and complain about it?

Most of the time, I believe I am considerably good at waiting.

Other times, I find myself getting tired of waiting, tired of enduring through a season that seems prolonged for a reason unbeknownst to me.

There is an old cliche that says, “Anything worth pursuing takes time.”

This is mostly true to everyone’s life. After all, it takes everyone time to grow up, time to get their dream career, time to have children, time to be able to traveI the world. 

But when is our waiting enough?

Waiting is not so bad until it turns from time passing by, to trial after trial, and difficulty after difficulty. Waiting can become a test of endurance and willpower instead of just lazily staying put or delaying action.

Life is full of ups, downs, and many curveballs in the physical and spiritual realm.

I recently started taking workout classes a few mornings a week.

I workout pretty regularly, but let me tell you, it is nothing in comparison to the high intensity interval training I am doing in these classes in addition to the early wake-up call.

During this class, we focus on building strength in our physical bodies with an emphasis on our spirits, minds, and souls as well.

This may seem weird to you, but our bodies house the Holy Spirit. We are His dwelling place, and He desires for us to be healthy and strong in all areas of His temple..

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

On the first day of class, the word “endurance” and the scripture Hebrews 12:2 were written on the white board in the front of the room.

Before entering class that first day, I felt tired of waiting for certain transitions to take place in my life. I knew it was not quite time to take a leap of faith into the next chapter in my life but remaining still seemed impossible.

When I saw that word endurance on that white board, I knew I was not to just sit still and delay action, but God was calling me to endure until He gave me the green light to jump into the next phase of my life.

Endurance is the power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way. Throughout every season, I feel as though I have done that. It was not always easy, but I would endure.

However, before I walked into that class that day, I was tired of enduring and believed I had endured long enough. 

Jesus endured the cross for us. He did not stop as the pain progressed. He stayed there pierced, bruised, bleeding, and dying because He knew that being a living sacrifice was to be God’s promise fulfilled to the world.

I am called to endure.

You are called to endure!

Enduring is not easy, but trust that God is building your character, strengthening your weak parts, trimming the fat of your spiritual life, so that you can finish this race well and see the promise waiting for you at the end of the finish line.

“We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭(TPT‬‬)

A Long Now| By Jasmine Beard

Have you ever been right on the cusp of something?

Right on the brink of breakthrough?

And boom! 

A road block, an unexpected bolder, comes between you and your dream, your promise, and that thing you have longed for for so long?

I have been there.. far too many times to count.

Waiting has at times been the first symptom of me falling into a pattern of depressed thoughts. I would think maybe God loves the girl next to me a little bit more.

This is not true, but it can really, really feel this way at times.

I had marked June as the month of promises in my mind because that is what I thought God was telling me.

When I found out it was my month of promises, I wanted to strive to make all those things I have waited so long for come to pass. This left me feeling anxious, running out of breath, and confused as to why I could not make anything happen.

God is full of infinite wisdom. I am so thankful that He is not confined by time nor space and that He protects us from things we cannot handle when they are not in the proper season or not right for us at all.

In the midst of my anxiety and my own efforts, I became hopeless. It was not the normal hopelessness that leads to moping around and believing God had no plan for me, but it was a hopelessness that made me cry out to God like never before.

I confessed to Him,

“I don’t believe in your promises because they have not manifested in my life. Because of unbelief in that area, I get anxious and want to know the end result of everything. When I grow tired of anxiety, I cut the cord to what I don’t know the answers to and try to heal from my own self inflicted wounds of unfulfilled expectations. Then I find myself on the same vicious cycle of trying to rush the healing process and repeat the cycle in another situation in my life.”

This freed me in a way that I never knew existed. I could feel in my spirit how happy God was that I brought my truth and shattered heart to Him to heal and to nurture.

Living a life of a repeated pattern of depression when things do not go my way or the way I expected is a hard one to break.

I have once heard of waiting as “a long now. While waiting could end tomorrow or ten years from now, it is still a long now.

Instead of throwing a fit about how long I have waited or how much longer I have to wait, I am now focusing on the long now that allows God to work on me and heal me from the inside out.

We have never arrived or ever gotten too mature in the Lord that will make Him not want to continue to mature, deliver, and heal us.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

So June did not turn out like I had expected, but I can now say it turned out even better!

I had long ago prayed that I would be different from the past generations in my family. I prayed that I would not fall into the same patterns and traps in my life as other family members. I prayed that I would set a new standard and that I would not pass certain things along to my one day children and grandchildren.

God has answered that promise in freeing me from a cycle of hopelessness that led to depression. I will no longer pass  this onto my children.

Not to long ago, I received a prophetic word that blessed me that I want to share with you.

“I see you being a legacy changer. I feel like you are changing legacy in your family. You’re saying the ball stops here and from here on out your generations, your legacy is going to be so highlighted in your life. You are going to leave a legacy for your children, and I just see generations of generations of generations passed from you. It’s like God is setting a new course for the generations. Generations that will know the Lord and will walk with Him and that would just be set apart.”

I hope that word blessed you as much as it blesses me. You may be in a long wait right now, but I want to encourage you to see what God is doing right now and what dreams He is making come true no matter how big or small they may seem.

Life Is Not a Race| By Jasmine Beard

We live in a world that is super fast-paced. So long dial-up internet, buffering, and anything that brings the slightest inconvenience. We now carry the internet in the palm of our hands and can get any fancy restaurant to deliver us meals to our home.

I have often considered myself a runner. Not in the athletic way (although that is a goal in 2019), but just in a life sort of way. I have often wanted to pass through circumstances and situations in my life, skip chapters, peek to the next page, or to the end of the book.

I often say, “I am not in a competition with others, but in a competition all on my own.”

However, something I have noticed while running is that I miss things, I overlook things, and I forget to catch my breath and appreciate where I am, who I am with, and the journey we call life.

When the Bible talks about Jesus traveling, it never mentions that he ran somewhere. Think about it. He walked, and walked, and sometimes took a boat or a donkey. But never ever ran (atleast to my knowledge).

Jesus was not anxious as I can sometimes find myself to be, he did not worry about tomorrow, when His arrival time was, or what others were doing or saying about Him.

He simply walked. He walked the path God had paved for Him since the creation of the earth. Jesus had a certainty and a trust in God for where His life was headed and the miracles He could do without Him being in a hurry.

I think my nature to plan and run everywhere is because I sometimes think I have something to prove naysayers wrong and push my potential to its peak. Instead of fully relying on God in my life journey, I can at times rush to accomplish what my mind is set on.

This is a ploy from the enemy. He loves to see us run, gasping for breath, and losing stamina. If we run and even walk in our own strength, it is vain. We are instead to walk with God and allow Him to be the light unto our paths, no matter the pace we are going.

Jesus walked many places and was never in a hurry. The death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-41 (read here) reminds me of Jesus’ lack of urgency.

When Jesus got word that Lazarus (a dear friend of his) was sick, He did not urgently run to his aid. He trusted the word of the Lord and chose to wait and then walk.

John 41:4-11 (NLT) says,

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”

5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,

6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.

7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world.

10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Wow, not a sense of panic or a desire to run in urgency. Jesus did not allow other people’s anxieties, thoughts of/for Him, or urgencies to cause Him to rush God’s plan to bring resurrection life back to Lazarus. He simply walked at the pace He felt led to and let God lead His path.

Maybe you are in life, and you feel less accomplished than most. People tell you you need to hurry up, that you are losing time, or maybe these are words you speak to yourself. I want to encourage you today to pause, wait, and walk. Walk the path that God paved for you since the creation of the earth. No competition, just you and God, walking this life journey out together.

Trusting God in a Season of Waiting| By Christina DePino

CQCSWILE04

“Where is Bella?”

We all looked around in confusion. I suddenly realized I had not seen my 9-year-old Yorkie in the hour since we returned from watching fireworks.

After an extensive search of the entire house, we determined Bella must have somehow gotten outside in all the craziness that is July 4th. To make matters worse, we were in the Ozark Mountains, an area filled with wild animals.

The local “Lost Dog” Facebook pages made it apparent that July 4th week is a super common time for scared dogs to go missing.

My heart ached for our lost puppy, but it also ached with the realization that we are often like this with God.

When God instructs us to wait, but we allow fear to take over, we end up running towards the very things that will harm us.

Sure, “Trust God” is a cute bumper sticker slogan that gets thrown around a lot. However, when times get tough, and it seems that God has left us to fend for ourselves, that is the time when our faith is truly tested.

God promises us that if we will wait on him, He will supply us with the strength we need.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

When I’m going through a difficult time, I like to encourage myself with words of scripture. One of my favorites is Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.”

This verse always reminds me that God created us with limited understanding, and we do not always have to know the answers. We only have to acknowledge that He is in control and allow Him to lead us.

Did you notice how this started out about waiting, but ended up being about trust?

Something the Lord has been showing me lately is that waiting and trusting go hand in hand. Learning to wait on the Lord is learning to trust Him.

Sadly, our Bella was never found. After searching a few separate times and not being able to find her, I had to pack up and go home. There was nothing else I could do.

Fortunately for us, God is not like me. God will never leave us. He will never lose us! He knows where we are at all times. He feels your pain,  and He knows your sorrows. His arms are always open. No matter the mistakes you have made, if you turn back to Him, He will be there waiting with open arms.

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“And the lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you’ do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

I believe that learning to trust the Lord completely is a lifelong journey. We may have learned to trust God with our finances, but still struggle to trust him with our health, or with our children.

What scriptures do you hold onto in the times or waiting, or when it seems difficult to trust God?

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride| By Jasmine Beard

andre-hunter-263233-unsplashPerfectly primped hair, floor length gowns, blooming flowers, and a beautiful couple at the altar – this scene is all too familiar to me. Over the past five years I have attended countless weddings and even stood in a couple.

Ahhh the life of a bridesmaid! Last year I had the privilege of standing in two of my friends’ weddings. I was over the moon for them and could not wait for their big day.Through my elation and shower planning for my friends, I thought to myself, “when will it be my turn?”

I thought to myself, “Lord, I’ve done it your way, when will I receive what you’ve promised me?”

Have you ever prayed for something and the Holy Spirit whispered a word of encouragement to you and a promise of the very thing you prayed for?

Maybe you’ve said similar things to God. But what if I told you the very thing you’re waiting for is not the prize at all?

That a husband is not a reward for purity, and a baby is not a reward for a godly marriage.

Shocker I know! You see in our carnal nature we think because of our righteousness we deserve certain things. But the Bible tells us that our righteousness is like filthy rags before the Lord.

“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 NKJV

As we tap our foot in impatience and complain about the things we do not have, God is waiting.

Waiting for you to notice him.

Waiting for you to remember him.

“…I  will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV

In a season of waiting, remember that God has not left you. He has not forgotten you. He hears you and He cares about the prayers you whisper because you’re too embarrassed to pray out loud.

As a bride sets her eyes on her handsome groom, choose today to set your eyes on God instead of the very thing you are waiting for.

When you set your eyes on the God who lives outside of time and space, the wait doesn’t seem long at all.

Trust Him and wait expectantly for your promise and most importantly keep your gaze on the best Promise Maker and Promise Keeper.

“Wait on the Lord”| By Jasmine Beard

wait“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalms 27:14 KJV

This scripture ran through my head constantly as I approached the end of my undergraduate career.

College wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever dealt with and certainly not the hardest. But, at the peak of a grueling 18-hour course load and a 100-page thesis I was conducting, I was glad the end was finally near.

This was the moment I had waited for and worked towards for 4.5 years, my entire adulthood. I had an assurance in my heart that the months following graduation would be some of my highest yet.

I felt as though I could dream again, outside the confines of a four-walled classroom, and overbearing course work. I thought to myself the sky is the limit, and quotes from the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” danced in my head.

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

After graduation, I started my search for a job. Nothing suited my fancy, so I continued to work at the job I had throughout college until I figured things out.

At one time, I had all these plans for my life, “maybe I would be a missionary in Uganda, maybe a bestselling author, or a stay at home mom,” I would think to myself.

As months, post-graduation passed, those plans or wishful thoughts became a distant memory. I felt lost, I felt as though I had no passion, and I had no clue where I was headed.

I figured maybe I had made the wrong decision to get a degree in Communication, and that maybe I would be better suited to be a teacher. Writing and being surrounded by children had always been some of my biggest passions.

I searched the Internet through and through on different ways to become a teacher without having a degree in Education. I was in luck there was a program that allowed individuals that had a Bachelor’s degree to become a certified teacher in Louisiana within a short time span.

I figured I could work at a local preschool while I worked towards my certification in education.

When I landed a job at a local pre-school I was ecstatic to pour into the lives of little ones and discover more about the education field.

My first day was grueling, I found myself sitting in my car crying out to God saying, “why, why, God, this is not what I planned at all.” In that moment, I heard a still small voice say, “allow this to make you better, and not bitter.”

I wiped my tears and figured if this is meant to make me better it’ll sure feel better than it does today.

WRONG.

I committed to working at the pre-school for a year. Firstly, because I had no idea where I was going, but certainly not in education. Secondly, because I hated the way job hopping looked on a résumé. And lastly, I was curious to find out how God would make me better in this situation.

You see I had forgotten the other lines in the book that read:

“I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.”

Geez, if only I had remembered that sooner.

In a world with drive thru restaurants and instant gratification at its finger tips patience can be a character quality that majority of people have struggled with at one time or another.

Either I could run from the what God wanted to do in my heart or I could dive in head first. God had been in the business of making me patient for years. Time and time again I would resist and yet again He would have to rein me in and tell me to be patient.

This time I figured I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless, I finally surrendered and let God teach me the virtue patience.

Patience is the power or capacity to endure without complaint in something difficult or disagreeable; forbearance, long suffering.

There’s a saying “nothing in the world worth having comes easy.”

And patience, though worth having it certainly does not come easy.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalms 37:4 ESV

When we have desires inside of us that line up with scripture and do not go away with time, most likely that desire is there to stay.

Whether it be a desire for a career, a spouse, ministry, children, or freedom from an illness; we as people can at times grow weary when we do not get the desires of our heart in the timeframe we see fit.

When we place a desire on the Lord with a time line we can hinder God’s blessings. We figure if he didn’t do it, he won’t ever do it. That is a lie from Satan. Never in scripture does God say, “pray and if I don’t answer feel free to figure things out on your own.”

We have a God that loves us and desires to provide what our heart’s desire. But, our God is holy and he knows what we need, how we need it, and most importantly when we need it.

The Bible does say,

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Maybe you have a desire today. Maybe you have prayed year after year with nothing insight to give you hope in that desire.

Know that God is much bigger than any desire you have, trust him. And remember in the time of waiting to allow Him to make you better and do not grow bitter.

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