Finding Confidence After Failure

“All I do is fail, let people down, disappoint, lie and mess up. How could you ever use me, God? And even if you did, why would you even want to? I’m a mess.”

I don’t know about you but negative self talk comes very naturally to me. I’ve always been a pen to paper planner. I’ve always been an ‘A+’ student. I want to excel. I want to be the best version of myself possible. I want to break generational curses, be set apart, used by God and if I’m being honest, I desire to end up reaching perfection at the end of the process, which is such an unattainable goal. I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!

Every time I end a day thinking “Okay Cheyanne, tomorrow you’re gonna do this! You’re going to be great! You’re going to start those habits you’ve been putting off and make time for your friends and start cultivating some new skills. Tomorrow, you got this!” and then I fail to stick to that game plan, I feel a sense of defeat that weighs on me for days. It’s a self-awareness curse. Knowing where you can improve, knowing the exact plan you can put into action and then still repeating the cycle you’ve grown accustomed to. And in the middle of the storm – in the middle of the self-hate and the guilt trips, I feel God speak to me and say: All I do Cheyanne, is WIN.

Isn’t that SO good?! That even WHEN we fail, God still holds the victory. God is a step ahead. God knows the path we’re on and the one He’s leading us to. He knows the beginning, middle and end of our life’s journey. Now, don’t confuse this revelation as being one of permission for laziness and sin. God is a winner and nothing we ever endure, experience or even feel is too much for Him. But change requires action. Knowledge without application is futile. If you’re like me and you struggle with balance, feelings of inadequacy and a burning desire to replace certain habits with more productive and fruitful ones, then YOU have to make the decision to do that. But please know that with God in the middle of all of our highs and lows, we can NEVER lose. This isn’t a “name it and claim it” philosophy. This isn’t positive affirmation rooted in self-help. Not at all. This is believing that God – the same God who runs this entire universe – in the middle of my life can help me create positive and lasting change that will redirect the entire course of my life. And the same is true for you.

The secret to not caving under the pressure we can often times place on ourselves when we’re not “measuring up”? Stay plugged in to the true vine. Stay plugged in to the source of love, victory, strength and peace. God is ready to take over! I imagine Him speaking over us saying, “I’ll break those chains! I’ll help you break those bad habits. Just look to me and you will start to redefine how you see yourself. All I do is win and all I have is yours.” Remember that Jesus declares in Matthew 11 that HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light. Surrender the pressure to Jesus. He never asks us to carry that, especially not alone.

Some advice? If defeat leads you to isolation, just start showing up even when you don’t feel like it. Show up to church, to meetings that you think are optional. Continue to serve on the team that you think doesn’t matter or make a difference. Continue to pour into your friends and family who don’t see you the way you want them to. Continue to cry out to God in your quiet places. God wants us to rely on Him. He never forgets us or leaves us behind.

The prodigal son mentioned in Luke never imagined he’d get a second chance with his father. On his journey back home after squandering his inheritance and “messing up” royally, he probably kept thinking to himself, “there’s no way my father is going to take me back. Look at all I’ve done! I’m a mess. There’s no way he’ll love me now.” And he no doubt was left speechless when he arrived home to a tearful father with open arms, not desiring to hear a practiced speech or apology but ready to embrace his son with love, gifts and celebration. The father wasn’t concerned about what he’d done to end up back home. He didn’t give him a speech about how he should be LUCKY that he had a father who cared enough. He called on his servants to bring him a clean robe, new sandals and get the calf they’d been fattening to celebrate his son’s return. I truly believe that’s the ultimate depiction of our God. He’s ready whenever we are to embrace our return. Despite our hang-ups and mistakes, He’s ready to celebrate whenever we decide to trust Him enough to lean on Him.


We’re only human. We will ALL fall short of the glory of God on a repetitive loop. We’ll all feel like we don’t fit the bill or cut it for the Kingdom. When we get a little bit lazy or stop giving 100%, God sees the potential in us. Dig in to who God says you are. Not the whispers in your head that you and the Enemy debate about at all hours of the day. Listen to the whisper of our Heavenly Father’s loving voice that speaks nothing but life. That creates supernatural confidence that inspires purpose and changes heart posture that eventually leads to new habits.

Friends, you’re not who the Enemy keeps convincing you that you are. You’re not your past. You’re not your screw-ups. You’re not your failures. You’re a worthy child of the Almighty King who reigns and rules over all. YOU are Heir to the throne. Stand up tall, brush off the shame, guilt, embarrassment and walk around with rich kid audacity and confidence. It’s not OVER until GOD claims the victory. It’s not over until God says it is. It’s not over until God wins because that is ALL He knows how to do. Get up and start again. His mercies are new EVERY single morning which gives you and I a chance to turn from our old ways and start walking a new path – not tomorrow but today. If you believe it, you have a shot to put it into practice right now! Don’t waste another day.


Why I Don’t Drink Anymore.


Around the time that I turned twenty-one, I decided that I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore. For any American, that would be the tell-tale sign that I started drinking way before I was supposed to considering I stopped when I should have legally started.  Every so often, when I tell people that I have chosen not to consume alcohol in any form, I get a lot of perplexed looks and “you’re weird” commentary. People seem genuinely confused by this decision as if me deciding not to drink somehow lowers me a few notches on the invisible “normal” or “cool” scale.

Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I am by no means judging anyone who decides to drink by writing this. At the end of the day, what you decide to do with your life, your body and what you choose to consume or not consume is totally up to you. I’m simply sharing my truth and stance on the topic. *phew* I just had to get that disclaimer out there. Carrying on.

The truth for me? I choose not to drink anymore because I believe that what I do with my body is in direct correlation to my relationship and view of Jesus Christ. Yup. That’s the overall blanket truth. While I recognize that having wine in moderation or on occasion is biblical (turning water into wine was actually Jesus’ first miracle), I also recognize that moderation isn’t my strong suit, I’ve never once felt better after consumption and I recognize that my actions while NOT sober does little to nothing to point people to the man who loved me enough to die for me or help me to share the Gospel effectively.


When I think about why people drink, it’s usually not simply for the fun of it (though I’m aware it very well could be). At the last social gathering I attended, I looked around the room and saw a variety of justifications for the next shot, beer, or mixed drink:

A. Adding The Crutch.

If you’re anything like me, a little bit of ‘liquid courage’ could take you from being the person in the corner who has only said a total of maybe three words for the entire night to being the one in the middle of the dance floor and the life of the party. We often indulge in this seemingly harmless thing to help give us the boost that we need. Do you want to interact more? Laugh more? Love better? Be more confident? Here! Have a drink! This is an unfortunate problem because it’s creating in us this idea that we cannot step out of our comfort zones without help.

B. The Run Away.

Drinking can be the escape we all need from the crappy areas of life. A bad report, a recent breakup, depression we feel that we can never tell anyone about. This doesn’t have to include getting crap-faced drunk but in someways, even that one glass of wine could be just the thing you think you need. I hear people say all the time after a crap day “I need a glass of wine! Or three!” Why? Is there more power in this alcoholic beverage to repair you than anything else more sustainable? Can we instead choose to face our issues head on instead of hiding or running from them?

      C. Everyone’s Doing It.

Ah what an original excuse! I know first hand all about this one. No one wants to be the odd one out – the only one not doing something if it seems like everyone else is doing it and enjoying it. In all honesty, that is one of the biggest lies from the Enemy. Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it good. In fact, I’ve found more joy in going against the grain than following the crowd. The best part about being a Christian is I know I’ll hold different views from what’s considered normal in many other areas of life so adding “I don’t drink” to the list is just one other thing I’m more than happy to have a conversation about in relation to everything else I don’t do. Don’t become a slave to “keeping up” with people. Stop allowing the Enemy to tempt you with fake shiny things and fake truths. His lies are cheap and you’re worth so much better.


I have never had a healthy relationship with alcohol. Whether I was drinking to mask insecurity, pain or trying desperately to “fit in”, I never liked the flavor or feeling of a “little buzz” enough to see actual pleasure in it. Drinking as a teenager and even a little bit in my early college years caused me to do a lot of stupid things. Throwing myself at people for sloppy attention, flirting with guys as I flaunted fake confidence knowing I would be absolutely awkward sober or ending up in my bed, changed into clothing I didn’t put on myself and waking up the next day unable to do anything due to an extremely awful hangover and zero recollection of the night before are all just a few of the highlights of my time with alcohol. The bittersweet reality is I am now forced to be a little bit uncomfortable saying no to the thing, having to force the real me to interact in a crowded room without help and to be an actual example and vessel for Christ everywhere I go – even if it looks like everyone around me is having just a little bit more fun.

I don’t get to call myself a new creation in Christ and still submit myself to old habits. I submit fully to the savior and Him alone. I don’t get to say, “hey, let me tell you about the amazing, free grace that God provides and how He’s changed my life” to my friends, family and even strangers and raise a glass to my mouth to help me deal with the dark stuff that God wants to actually use and heal me from. I choose not to drink because it does absolutely nothing positive for me. I choose not to indulge in what society tells me is normal. I choose to face life as my TRUE, sober self that isn’t always (or ever if I’m honest) the life of the party. I choose to carry myself with grace, class, dignity and Godly confidence through God’s power every single day – not just on Sundays – and do all I can to be an example to a hurting generation.

Understand that God wants the very best for us and He isn’t reigning over us with a judgmental look and keeping us from having a good time. If a celebratory glass of champagne or wine is what you want to have on a special occasion, by all means raise your glass. But know yourself. Know your boundaries. Know your why. All things in moderation they say. But make sure you’re deciding for yourself. Not your friends, not your social circle and definitely not society as a whole. As a Christian, I firmly believe that it is our job to go against what is “standard” or “normal” in secular culture and do what we can to live out the instructions found in God’s word.

I no longer have anything to prove to anyone, not even myself. I’m too mature to try to fit into a mold that isn’t mine. I’m too loved by God to not want to be used well and I am too precious to subject myself to anything less than the very best and if you didn’t know this before, the same is true for you.

Before you leave here thinking I can’t get down with the get down, stop yourself right now. I can still two-step to a good dance track and I’ll still dominate in a good ‘ol game of flip cup with a glass full of iced tea. Trust me, you want me on your team.

God’s Perfect Timing

“Why couldn’t I have come to Jesus sooner? Why did God allow me to experience the pain of my past before setting me free?”

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

I’ve had questions for God about His timing for a year now. These questions are rooted in a little bit of anger regarding the fact that God didn’t save me sooner so that I would have been able to walk in as much freedom as possible, earlier on in my life. I believed that if I was saved sooner, I would have been able to say that my slate was relatively clean and that I wouldn’t have had to repent of all that I’d done before Christ.

The more I think about this, the more I start to see moments in my life where Jesus was one hundred percent present and I just chose to ignore Him. Heartbreaks, depression, anxious thoughts, close sexual encounters, fear, college plans that got derailed – He was present through it all. I can vividly see how God worked His mighty, supernatural hand to pave ways for me that shouldn’t have existed like fully paid for college tuition, books and transportation due to a scholarship that I didn’t apply for, uncomfortable moments of saying “not tonight” when asked to take a moment one step too far even though I didn’t know why I was constantly saying no to begin with and end of friendships that were hurting me more than helping me to make room for a phenomenal group of friends that love and support me beyond my wildest dreams. Those are just a handful of moments that I can tell that God was working for good despite how messy things may have looked back then.


Even in my darkest days, when I felt alone and unseen – relying just barely on my childhood idea of Jesus who was distant and unreachable – I can see how much He has shaped moments in my life to get me to where I am today. Finding Jesus sooner would have saved me from a lot of pain, no doubt about it. But the broken pieces of my past have been put back together beautifully by God’s grace and now makes up the beginning of my testimony.

I’m convinced that sometimes God doesn’t save us sooner because of two reasons:

  1. We are often too blind to our own worldy views and flesh desires that we don’t see or hear Him crying out for us.
  2. He wants to mold and shape us, using ALL of us – the good and the bad – to help reach others.

Even if I had known and surrendered my life to Jesus at a younger age – I am only twenty-three as I write this – I wouldn’t have had a clean slate anyway. I am a born sinner and would forever have to deal with my sinful nature, even now. But I also wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had that have allowed me to speak to people just like me and tell them all that God has done for me, even before I was even aware of it.

I’ve learned one solid thing that has made this walk with Jesus undeniably beautiful: God’s timing is perfect. His restoration of our souls is done in his perfect timing. And he beautifully and expertly uses ALL things – the good, the bad and the ugly – for good, as clearly written in the scripture at the beginning of this post.

My note to you: If your life is dark right now and you think there is no way that God could possibly use someone so flawed or dirty – because your past and maybe even present is messy – know that there’s nothing too dirty that God can’t wash clean. In fact, Jesus already took care of all of our mess when He willingly bled on the cross. You’re not too dirty for God. You’re not too dirty to be made new. God has a plan and a purpose for your life – whether you find Him at the age of five or fifty-five. Even in moments of your life where you don’t see God working or you haven’t actually had a personal encounter yet, you can be confident that He isn’t watching you passively from the sidelines. Lean in and see that He is putting work in, even in the mundane.

If you’re in need of a Savior, Jesus eagerly waits for you to choose Him. He has already chosen you.


How I Spend My Quiet Time as a New Christian

Truth bomb: Up until a year ago, I had never read the Bible.

I wish I could say that was just because I never had access to it, didn’t know of it’s existence or didn’t own one. But the truth is, I didn’t have any desire to read it. I was one of those people who thought the Bible was the most illogical thing ever, written to brainwash people into believing in something that had zero proof to back up its claims. I thought the Bible was a book read by old people to place judgment and shame on people who lived non-religious lifestyles.

Then I got saved and all I wanted was to open the Word. I craved knowledge. I craved wisdom and wanted nothing more than to draw as close as possible to Jesus and see the life he lived all those years ago. The desire I now have in my heart is almost comical to me. That’s one of the things that makes God so fascinating to me – He has a way of stirring at your heart in ways you would never have imagined.

Fast forward, I now own four bibles (not including the You Version Bible App on my phone) and through ALOT of trial and error, I have established a routine for my quiet time with Jesus that works for me. It took me months of trying to copy every Christian blogger’s routine for me to come to the realization that I learn in a very specific way and what works for someone else is not always going to work for me.


Do it FIRST thing in the morning.

I find that the best time for me to have my prayer and reading time is to do it as soon as I wake up in the morning. On days that I have to get to work, I wake up an hour earlier than I need to just to make sure I get it done. I have tried squeezing it in during my commute or cramming it in before bed, but neither of those options worked for me. I’d get distracted or fall asleep. I believe that God deserves us at our absolute best and while I’m not a morning person, I can’t think of a better way to give thanks to our Father than making Him the first priority daily. Before I check Instagram, text messages or emails for the day, I feed my soul. It sets the tone for the entire day and when I skip it, I feel the difference in my mood. I recently found a way to make a little bit of a ritual out of my routine by making my morning coffee first thing! (note: I drink 100% decaf coffee due to my low tolerance for caffeine. I know, I know! I just love the flavor okay?!)

Limit distractions and take it seriously.

I try really hard to take my quiet time as seriously as I would take a morning meeting at work. I come into it prepared – my Bible, writing tools and notebook ready to go, and my heart expectant to learn and receive something new. I make sure that my phone is on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and my room door is locked. I don’t allow anything to distract me from receiving the fullness of this time with God. Anything that is vying for my attention can wait an hour.

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Use tools that ACTUALLY work.

For my actual reading, I use an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible that I got on Amazon! It was the very first Bible I bought for myself and after testing out every other kind and translation, I found that this one is my favorite. The single column format allows me to write any notes or observations I may have (I usually have alot) and I enjoy being able to have the space to not have to abbreviate or limit my thoughts. I also use this NLT Life Application Study Bible that I LOVE! This particular bible includes really helpful commentary for each verse. I try not to use this too often but when I’m feeling stuck on a particular section, I use this to help make it more clear.

[highlighters & markers] I use wax highlighters instead of traditional ink because they don’t bleed through the thin pages. I use these markers solely for my journal entries which I do after I’ve completed my reading for the day.

[pens] I use these Pigma Micron pens and absolutely love them! They are thin enough to not bleed through the thin Bible pages and they also make my handwriting nice and neat. For my notes, I use these. I like to stick with one kind of point size and color just to make sure all of my entries are consistent in the way they look. What can I say? I’m nerdy enough to think about these things!

[journal] I use this notebook from Michael’s for my journal entries. I have found that just reading scripture does not help me to retain information or make it personal enough to stick. I’ve started using this notebook as a way to bring the scripture to life and help keep it in my brain after the hour is over. I use a note-taking technique that I saw on Coffee and Bible Time’s Youtube Channel. I read one chapter of whatever book I’m studying at the time and my journal entry includes a summary of the chapter, verses that stood out or that I’d want to eventually memorize, ways to live out the scripture and a prayer that’s connected to how I felt after reading. This format works really well for me because it puts pen to paper which helps me not just passively read but allows me to make my reading as personal as possible. Just sticking to one chapter a day also helps me to not get too overwhelmed or confused. I treat my study time like I used to treat studying in college, except this kind of studying is much more fun and satisfying.

Start slow and find YOUR starting point.

Reading through my one chapter daily and writing one journal entry takes me anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on if I read through my study bible commentary or not. That varies based on the length and difficulty of the scripture or if I just need some extra contextual insight. As a new Christian, and someone who had never read through the Bible before, I had NO idea where to start. Because my personality tends to be a bit structured, I wanted so much to read the Bible from start to finish but I found that without much New Testament knowledge, The God represented in the Old Testament seemed really intense and made me a bit nervous. So instead, I took advice from my peers and started with the Gospels. But instead of starting in Matthew, I started my readings with John. Where you start will depend on your level of biblical knowledge or personal preference. Take advice from other Christians you know, do your research on what has worked for other people or if it helps, follow a Bible Reading Plan. I dabbled a little bit in Bible plans but found that I didn’t enjoy them. Again, it all has to do with preference.

No matter how you choose to read, God will speak to you through His word. I’ve had to learn to be okay with taking it slowly. That I don’t have to try to read the whole entire Bible in a year or memorize every verse that I like right away. This time in God’s word is not meant to be a race. Taking it slowly helps me to dive into the Word with intention, ask questions, ponder on things that stand out and as a result, I’m able to get the most out of it. Reading one chapter a day means that it’s going to take me quite a while to get through the Bible and that’s totally okay. Do whatever makes this time in God’s word as intentional and beneficial for YOU as possible. I’ve come to LOVE the Bible and reading it has become something I look forward to every day. If you’re a Christian newbie like me looking for some tips on how to read the Bible for potentially the first time ever, I hope these tips and tools will help you get started on your journey! Happy reading!


*Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items using them, I will receive a small commission and would greatly appreciate the support. But of course, NO PRESSURE! 🙂

Five Tips for Healing From Past Relationships

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with relationships. Not just the intimate, romantic kind – though that is not an area of life I personally excel in – but ALL relationships. Family, friends, boyfriends.. you name it. I have very vivid memories of being singled out in elementary school by my “best friends” in front of our entire class – which I later learned is actually a form of bullying, being the last to get invited to outings in middle school and the worst of them all, getting the friendship boot over speaker phone while my friends were out drinking and I was home alone.

It came as a total surprise to me when I gave my life to Christ that I would still experience this burden. I thought for sure that as soon as I got baptized and my slate was wiped clean, all of the pain and insecurities of my past would go with it. That I’d never again feel the weight of hurting. Boy, was I totally wrong.

I’m very experienced in being chosen last or not chosen at all. I’m very experienced in knowing what it feels like to have people you love more than anyone tell you that they just don’t want to be around you anymore. I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider in a group of people, even if those people are supposed to be the people who ride or die for you. Relational pain is not new to me. But I’ve learned a few things on this journey of healing that I think can be helpful for anyone who feels like no one cares about you as much as you care about them.


    Being treated poorly by people is a real thing. Bullying, in all of its forms whether discreet or direct, is a real thing. But sometimes, we really have to be honest with ourselves and ask, “is this person really treating me in a way I don’t like or am I overanalyzing this situation?” If you come from a background of repeated offenses, it can be really easy to project your own issues onto someone else who has not even considered hurting you at all. It can be easy to say, “of course they didn’t text me back. They hate me!” instead of looking at the bigger picture and thinking that maybe they just haven’t read it yet. Before you freak out over another heartache, ask yourself if what you’re feeling is rooted in truth or not.


    People are fickle. They don’t always see how they are affecting others because truthfully, we are too self absorbed. If there is a situation holding weight in your heart that you can’t seem to shake, or a person hurt you in some way and you’ve been carrying it for weeks, say something! It can be very easy to hold in your feelings and think that if you speak up, it might end poorly or they’ll hate you or your impressions of them would prove to be correct after all but ultimately, we’ll never really know for sure unless we’re able to say something. There have been times where I’ve shared my feelings on a particular situation only to find out that the situation was totally not what I thought at all! After having the conversation, I was able to see that we can conjure up all kinds of issues in our own heads and they are often a-lot smaller or non-existent if we have a conversation about it.


    Every single one of us was born perfectly and completely in God’s image so the way that other people treat us should be a total reflection of how God sees us or those relationships have to go. If you know that you are beautiful, strong, smart and loving just as you are, worthy of nothing by the very best in all avenues of life, don’t let anyone treat you like anything less. I’ve found that none of the relationships in my life that involved toxicity still stand today. And that may have very little to do with me and more to do with God. I’m convinced that God removes people from our lives for a reason and that could have everything to do with Him seeing that we deserve better. If God sees that, we should too. Also, I’m convinced that anyone we put on a pedestal higher than God – made into an idol of some kind – will be taken away too. After all, God is a jealous God.


    I’m definitely guilty of closing off whenever I feel even remotely angry at someone. I’m often the one who says “Nope! I refuse to text them first. If they don’t text me, I don’t need to speak to them!” That kind of mindset could be the reason you have a poor interpretation of your relationships. If you’re playing the silly game of I’ll do what they do to me back, you’re most likely only hurting yourself. But also, if you’ve experienced a-lot of pain in the past, know that you will need time to heal. Healing does not happen overnight and it surely does not happen once you’re reborn. Healing requires prayer. Healing requires vulnerability, communication, trial and error. Don’t be afraid to share your shortcomings with your circle of friends. If they love you the way they should, they will support you. If you find that dependency in others is becoming a pattern, step away for a bit. Allow yourself some time alone with God to really understand what’s going on, who you are in Christ and where you want to go! Sometimes, separation and seclusion is a necessary part of healing. In that time, you can ask for the pain to go away but also, ask God to teach you how to forgive those who have hurt you. Holding onto hate, anger or resentment is not doing anything to them but only poisoning you. You will fall many times. But know that pain isn’t permanent and God will use your pain to not only make you stronger but will also use it to build His Kingdom.


    Allowing past pain to dictate your future is a mistake and a huge disservice to you. You are not subject to a life of bad friendships, abusive relationships or negative internal perspectives. You are not a slave to pain. Keep an open heart and allow yourself to seek opportunities to welcome love into your life. Surround yourself with people who uplift you, even if you’re not sure how to receive it. Trust that God is not going to pull you out of pain to just put you back there. But also, as the famous saying goes, “be the change you want to see.” If you’re not being treated with absolute love, check yourself and see if you’re giving it. Are you more focused on what people aren’t doing for you than you are on what you’re not doing for them? Love people as God loves you and those who deserve to be in your life will not only know how to respond to it but they’ll be led by example on how to reciprocate. If they don’t know how to receive or reciprocate your love for them, that’s okay too! Love them anyway, forgive them and pour grace onto them.

Relationships are part of God’s wonderful and beautiful design for our lives. We are not meant to do life alone. If healing is what needs to happen before we can learn to fully embrace that from people, then let’s work on that. Leave the pain at Jesus’ feet. Leave the people of your past in the past. God knows the desires of our hearts and He also knows the baggage we choose to carry. He’s willing to help with the load, you just have to hand it over first.

My Cup Runneth Way Over

We all have a breaking point.

If you’re anything like me, it may take you a while to get there. A bad day may result in a bad mood that lasts a week without an identifiable reason. You might start rolling your eyes at things that would normally never bother you or yell at someone over an innocent mistake. You may be really good at saying “I’m doing great!” when someone asks how you are even though you know you’re so far from.

Being vulnerable has never been my strong suit. I grew up surrounded by strong, independent and seemingly emotionally steady women who never needed anything from anyone, especially not their pity. So you can imagine my fear when I started to feel my emotions coming to the surface at 2x speed in front of all to see at the end of a lovely day at church on a random Sunday. One right person asks “how are you?” and suddenly, I’m weeping in my hands. The weight of every burden I had been carrying for weeks suddenly too heavy to carry any more. Before I could stop myself, I’m sharing the intimate truths of my life in front of people who’ve never seen anything except my very best, even some people I had never seen or spoken to before in my life. And I’m horrified. “STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW!!!” is all I kept thinking. “YOU LOOK DESPERATE. YOU LOOK STUPID. EVERYONE IS WATCHING AND YOU’RE SHARING TOO MUCH!” But it was too late. I’d already been showered in prayers, showered in love and showered in an unexpected blessing. I’d also already smeared my mascara and there was no turning back after that.

I look back on that moment and I still cringe. Even though I don’t regret it, I do think there’s a lesson to be learned from it. Life will always be full of burdens that we should not try to carry alone or in our own strength. Finances that are sinking fast, health that took an unexpected dip, family members in trouble that you are in no position to help, a country drowning in negativity. We are simply not strong enough to bear these burdens. If we try and consider ourselves self-sufficient, it’s only a matter of time before our back breaks from the load and our mood shifts, our emotions sink and our cup overflows. That moment of reaching my breaking point reminded me of the God I surrendered to when I decided to follow Christ. It’s the same one that says in Matthew 11:30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to bear the weight of our sin. He died so that we could know peace. Following Jesus means we have access to the Prince of PEACE. But we have to first trust Him!

Getting home that night, after my post-crying face showed the evidence of my heavy spirit, I felt renewed faith. What was missing in my life wasn’t everything I lacked or the settings that were all wrong. It was that I forgot for a moment who I serve. I forgot that daily time with Jesus is the only way to maintain my peace of mind. Going to Jesus first before trying to figure things out on my own is a daily commitment but one that reaps that most rewarding outcome. This is the beauty of community. I felt supported that day. While embarrassed, I also felt safe. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the breakdown happened that night in that environment because of God. It was as if God was saying, “I have you. I’ve put people in your life to support you. It’s okay to let your guard down.” Ultimately, I was reminded of what I already knew to be true. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Without him, our cups will always overflow, our burdens will always be too heavy and we will not truly feel the peace He has promised. Go to Jesus. Get on your knees in prayer. Open up the Bible collecting dust on your desk. Don’t be afraid to let people who care for you help you. Jesus has His hands out waiting for you. He wants nothing more than for you to find rest in his warm embrace.

Jesus: The Ultimate Shepard

Have you ever thought, “Why would Jesus care about me? I’m just one person in a world of billions. What makes me so special that He’d intentional seek me out?” I know I have. Many times.

Ever since I decided to follow Jesus and commit to a true relationship with him, I have found myself constantly thinking about Jesus, his decision to die for ALL of us, and how I can bring that kind of incredible sacrifice and ultimate show of love into my day to day life. The problem for me though has not been seeing or accepting it. It has been truly believing that even when I fall or fail – and I will often – Jesus would still seek me out and he would still love me. This is evident in his parable in Luke 15.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

In this parable, Jesus is talking about a Shepard and his sheep. A Shepard leads and his sheep’s only job is to follow him. But a good Shepard would never let not even one of his sheep get lost. Every single sheep matters to him. And if one does get lost, he will do whatever it takes to find it and will rejoice when he does. This is our relationship with Jesus. He’s our Shepard, leader and King. All we have to do is set our sights on him, go where he leads and follow with obedience.

I’m not very familiar with the behavior of sheep. But I can only imagine that at times, they may feel the need to wander off course. As humans, that happens tenfold! Even when we make the decision to choose to follow Jesus – and it’s always a choice we make, not a demand – we will get sidetracked. We will choose to wander, setting our sights on the ways of the world. But the best news is, Jesus will find us wherever we end up. He’ll meet us right where we are because we matter to him. No matter how big the Kingdom of God gets, no matter how many people come to know Jesus, each individual person holds a special place in his heart.

Jesus cares for us because God cares for us. You’re not just one in a billion in his eyes. You’re THE one. He’d willingly leave the ninety-nine for you! Wherever you end up, whenever you veer off course, he’ll be right there to say “Hey, we’re going this way. Stay with me.” The more I see Jesus as my Shepard and gladly accept my role as sheep, all pressure is off. I don’t have to lead myself. I don’t have to control the path. I don’t have to worry about what everyone else is doing, if I’m going the right way or where I’m even going to begin with. All I have to do is hold my position in line behind Jesus, knowing he’s got me. Knowing I’m with him, I’ll never be lost. But even if it does happen, He’ll always come find me.

Lost & Found

Hurting. Broken. Insecure. Dependent. Lost.

Those are just a few of the words I would use to describe my life before I knew Jesus. I spent a good percentage of my younger years feeling like there was something missing, and looking for whatever that something was in all the wrong places.

I grew up going to church. I grew up believing in God and Jesus. My mom and I would regularly attend our local non-denominational church, I went to Sunday School every Sunday and I was even a part of the children’s choir. By the time I was old enough to make the decision of whether or not I wanted to go anymore, my visits became few and far between. Every week turned into once a month. Once a month turned into only on holidays. Only on holidays turned into never.

Once I got to high school and became more of an “intellect”and “rebel”, I started to view Jesus as less important. My faith became something that if I couldn’t see it or prove it, then why bother believing it? If the Bible wasn’t logical to me, why read it? In an attempt to “find myself” throughout my adolescent years, I kept Jesus in the back of my head – rarely ever giving Him a thought unless I was in desperate need – and found myself partying often, drinking a lot, and indulging in behavior that matched all of the cool kids. Being a part of a ‘crew’ meant you either did as they did or you did your own thing, alone. I yearned to please people. I craved the approval, attention, acceptance and love of others. If I wasn’t chasing a new school crush, I was looking for a new best friend. I wanted these things so much that if I went a day without them, I felt empty.

I can’t say that my life was in shambles. For most of it, I was happy. At least happy in a worldly sense. I had friends, a pretty active social life, a boyfriend in various stages or at least boys who gave me the attention I craved and school always went exceptionally well.

But something was always missing. There was a darkness that loomed over me day in and day out. This darkness resulted in me feeling uncertain of myself, regretful of the decisions I was making and feeling like no matter how on top or happy I felt, I would always return to the sadness. I often found myself in bed at the end of a long day with no one to talk to (despite having a lot of friends – go figure) and crying myself to sleep.

And my testimony began in that very stance. Hopeless and in tears.

As I look back, I realize that all the pain I’ve endured – friendships that ended suddenly and without cause, boys who no longer found me special enough to stick around and a sense of identity that was null and void – I see how every bit of it led me to my knees in surrender.

I never have to feel hurting, broken, lost or insecure ever again. Those are no longer words that connect to my identity now that my identity is found in Christ. That’s not to say that my past doesn’t creep in every so often trying to find it’s way in to break me down but now that I live for Christ, all of my burdens are at His feet. There’s nothing I can ever endure that He hasn’t already taken care of on the cross.

I’m still very dependent. But it’s no longer on people or things. I now strive to depend only on Jesus, the only one who stands close and never turns away. The only one who is the Prince of Peace and King of my Heart.

I’m not that broken girl anymore. Though I may be an adult now trying to navigate the hardships of day to day life – still trying to figure out my purpose and calling, I can rest easier than I ever have. I now live a life no longer trying to please anyone. Instead, I welcome fellowship as a way to build God’s kingdom and point people to a life of much less stress, anxiety, pain and fear. I no longer chase the things of this world or feel a yearning for the things I don’t have. My identity is in Christ. My faith, my hope, my joy, my love, my future, my life is in Christ. In Him, I have been set free and made new – receiving more than I could have every asked for or deserve. All other beautiful blessings that are guaranteed to come my way are mere bonuses.

Saved. Hopeful. Free. Beautiful. Found.