My Best Friend’s Birthday!!!

God brings people into our lives in different ways. Sometimes they are there for just a season, and sometimes they are there as long as you’re both living.

Today is one of my best friend’s birthday!!!! Stacie came into my life sophomore year of college and my life has been filled with crazy laughter ever since!! 😉 Stacie is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met…although I think we laugh the most at our own ridiculousness and weird friendship quirks (like every time we talk on the phone, and I mean EVERY TIME, one or both of us is in a drive thru or using the bathroom…sorry if that was TMI). We have been friends for 5+ years now and we just get each other and we laugh at and with each other!

God let our paths cross during a very difficult time in my life. My college experience was difficult and isolating and full of struggle. I had multiple things going on in my life that I was in counseling for and trying to work through all 4 1/2 years of college. One of the very first nights of knowing Stacie, we sat up until late hours in the night talking and sharing our stories with each other. She was one of the first people that I could talk to and didn’t feel judged by. She didn’t offer up some spiritual answer to solve all my issues. She listened. And she continued to listen as our friendship continued through the next year. We were roommates my junior year and her senior year. And let me tell you ….i know God orchestrated this friendship because that year would have been enough to end any relationship otherwise!! It was just hard. I still had my issues, on top of new ones that included severe anxiety and panic attacks and fear. Multiple times I remember waking up in the dead of the night in panic and short of breath. I’d wake her up, hesitantly. I didn’t want to wake her, but I needed someone up with me so badly. And she would get up and stay up with me until I could fall asleep. She would talk me through it. When she didn’t know what else to say or do, she would pray for me and the Lord was so faithful to answer her prayers and give me comfort and hope. I don’t know if I could ever express to her how much that meant to me. She took the time to listen to me and be a friend. She didn’t judge me or make me feel bad for not going out and being around people like most college students do. She would invite me places, but not pressure me or scold me if I didn’t go. I am so thankful for her friendship during that time because I truly felt like I had nobody and was so isolated and fearful and struggling, yet she didn’t run from my mess. She cared enough to stay. She knew I had to walk through it, even if I took the harder, longer path at times. She let me figure it out, but she stayed and she provided encouragement, comfort and hope. And she provided laughter and times when I really could relax and have fun and momentarily forget about the struggles.

Spiritually, Stacie has been a source of encouragement and accountability. She has seen me at my worst and listened when I’ve needed to confess sin. She has given me truth when I needed to hear it and grace to buffer it…Stacie has experienced a lot in her life. She’s seen the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness through trials and struggles and heartache that could have worn her slam out had she not had Jesus. Her faith continually inspires me and blesses me. Even in her hardest days and her most pressing struggles, her heart’s deepest desire is Jesus–to love and know Him and to make Him known.

I am so blessed by my friendship with Stacie. We say all the time how it was orchestrated by God for His glory and our good. We are able to walk and talk with each other through hard times and laugh and enjoy life in the good times.

Stacie, you will never know how much you bless me and encourage me and point me closer to Jesus. This year I couldn’t afford to buy you a birthday present, but I want you to know that Christ shines in you. He has given you such gifts and talents and the ability to use them well, for His glory. He has called you out of several strongholds and broken many chains. He has given you everything you need for life and godliness. He loves you more than we can ever fathom completely and He is passionately, unrelentingly, unhesitatingly pursuing your heart each moment. I consider myself very blessed to get to watch how He works in your life and I am thankful that He has allowed me to know such a godly friendship. You are a blessing.

I hope your birthday is AMAZING!! Even though you’ve been sick, I hope your day is great and I hope you know how truly loved you are and how blessed the world is to have you in it.

Now, enjoy some pics 😉

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY STACIE!!!!

I LOVE YOU AND THESE PICTURES!!!!! 😁💜

 

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Letting the Walls Come Down

walls drawing
My friend, Kim Ballard, sketched this out for me. 🙂

Do you ever build walls around your heart? 

You take an honest look at the world and those around you and it can be scary. You’ve been hurt before and you don’t want to be again, so you steadily start putting down the bricks around your heart, sometimes unintentionally. There’s fear deep inside of you somewhere saying “what if they leave?,” “what if they hurt me like so-and-s0 did?,” “what if they aren’t who they say they are?.” …And if you’re like me, the fear deep inside more often says “what if I’m not good enough?,” “what if I make them mad or do something to make them leave?,” “what if I drive them away?,” “what if nobody actually likes me or loves me?,” “what if I mess it all up?”

That fear builds the more I focus on it. The more I play and re-play situations and scenarios and what-if’s in my mind, the more insecure and afraid I become; and I keep building that wall up around my heart, one brick at a time, one fear at a time.

I’ve been here more than once. It’s a familiar place. I’m wandering around, interacting with people, but keeping them at a distance. Not letting anyone get too close. I’m trying to protect myself. Trying to protect myself from other people? …maybe…but more often trying to protect myself from myself. I’m trying to not let myself mess up or ruin relationships or let anybody see me for all of who I am because I’m afraid they won’t like what they see or I won’t be enough.

Fear. Fear. Fear.

I think I’m just protecting myself from getting hurt, from other people, from myself. But then I realize I’m putting the wall up around my heart, keeping God at a distance too…Most of the time when I find myself in this place I haven’t been in God’s Word or spending daily time with Him, filling my mind and my heart with who HE says I am and who HE is.

And then I finally sit still long enough to hear His Spirit’s still, small voice that I’m certain has been beckoning me all along: “Come back, My child. Come remember who I AM and who you are in ME.”

And I break.

I am frustrated with myself for building this wall up between us. I am upset that I don’t trust Him more. I am disappointed in myself for keeping Him at a distance along with other people here on earth…I want to tear the wall down, and I know I should, but I’m still afraid…and this makes me realize that I’ve put Him in the same category as people who could hurt me. I’m afraid He won’t like what He sees in me either, and that I won’t be good enough for Him.

I know better, though. I know the Truth. He lives in me by His Spirit and He reminds me that Jesus Christ was and is good enough. Jesus paid the price for my sin. All of my faults, failures, weaknesses are covered by the blood of my Jesus. I need not fear letting Him in. He is the most loving God. He is full of mercy and grace. And His love fiercely pursues me. He has called me by name and I am His. I am completely known and completely loved. I am His treasured possession and His child. I am more than a conqueror. I am in Christ and He is in me. I am a creation that He made, fearfully and wonderfully….

The Truth comes marching in and the wall can’t hold up anymore. With each truth of who God is and who I am in Christ, another brick comes tumbling down. It’s a little scary because I’ve spent time building this wall. I was building it for a purpose. I don’t want to let Him or others back in. It’s still scary….but His Spirit in me keeps taking the bricks down. And I know Him….I know I can trust Him. He is good. He LOVES me fully.

So instead of fighting back and trying to keep the wall up, I let it come tumbling down.

I let His love pierce through and bring the wall all the way down.

And here I am… Fully aware that I am completely seen by Him. I’m still scared. Still afraid that He doesn’t like what He sees and that He is disappointed in me for building the wall in the first place.

But funny thing about His love–as it’s tearing down the wall, it’s also casting out all fear. The moment I let go and allow myself to be vulnerable and open before Him, His love rushes in, and when His love rushes in, there’s no more room for fear.

He runs to me and scoops me up in His arms and embraces me.

He says He loves me. He says He has seen me and loved me the whole time the wall was up too.

And I totally lose it. Now I’m a blubbering mess, crying and filled with so much relief that He isn’t upset with me and He isn’t rejecting me. When I let myself be vulnerable, even though it’s scary, I find that I’m actually the most secure and safe that I could ever be because I am in HIM. And that fear has no power in light of His love.

I know Him to be faithful and constant and full of mercy and grace. But I let the fear get so big sometimes that I lose sight of Him and His faithfulness to me.

The Lord is good. He is faithful. He is gracious. He provides and protects. He comforts. He consistently and constantly pursues my heart, even when I run and I start putting up walls. He stays. He waits. He beckons. He doesn’t leave me behind the walls I build myself. No! He does the work to bring those walls down and never stops pursuing me. He listens when I finally let Him tear down the wall and I run back to Him, my soul crying out for His love and embrace. He brings me back in. He dusts me off and washes me clean under the precious blood of my Jesus. He restores my soul. And He embraces me fully and completely, as His daughter whom He delights in because of Jesus. And my heart relaxes. I am free to be me, with all of my junk, all of my failures, all of my faults, my pain and scars, all of my fears and insecurities. I can lay it all out in the open and be loved. Perfectly. All because Jesus is mine. And I am His.

I also realize that when I am open with God and let Him love me and I remember who He is and who I am in Him, then I also tear down the walls with other people. I’m not so afraid to let people see me and get to know me. I’m not so afraid of rejection because I’m remembering that I am fully accepted by the God who created me and gave His Son to die in my place. I can engage with people and let them see me for all of who I am, without living out of the fear of what they will think of me. I know what God thinks of me and I am confident in His love because it has never failed.

I can’t promise Him or myself that I will never build a wall again. I know I’m human and I still have to deal with sin and fear and insecurity from time to time. I can’t be certain that I will never start putting a wall up again.

But I am certain of this: my God will still be here even if I do. Constantly with me, beckoning me unto Himself, loving me lavishly and helping me tear down the walls when I listen to His Spirit and run back to Him.

Blessed assurance. Jesus is mine…and I am His.

And no wall that I try to build when I’m faced with fear and insecurities will ever be able to separate me from His love.

What walls are you building? What walls have been up for quite some time now?

Are you dealing with fear and insecurities too? Building up walls to keep people out and to hide away so that you don’t get hurt?

Friend, let Jesus break through and tear down the walls. He sees you. The fear and the wall doesn’t keep Him from seeing us. It keeps us from seeing Him, in the fullness of His love and grace that He is pouring out upon us. You can trust Him. He is FOR you and He delights in you if you are His child. Jesus took on our sin and we no longer have to live in shame or fear. You are completely known and completely loved.

Let the walls come down, friend, and just let Him love you. 🙂