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Moving By Faith

Yesterday I made the move.  And it was right after I spent the holiday out of town with dear friends. 

I had packed everything ahead of time because I didn’t want to be stressed the night before trying to get things together (after my flight got in).  I am a great planner and I knew planning was going to be key to getting ready for the new season.  Still, there are some things you simply cannot plan for…

The night before the move, my good friend picked me up from the airport and we enjoyed our fleeting moments together.  She will be entering her own new season soon which also involves moving so I am savoring all of my time with her.  She agreed to spend the night and we started the next day at 7 am.  I needed to pick up the U-haul truck and make it to my house by 9am.  We were making good time and decided to stop for coffee and breakfast.  Little did we know we were going to need the sustenance!  I had a few other friends coming to help but I was relying on the movers I had hired to be the real muscle.  In the past my mom and I always hired movers.  We did this because we did not have family, or men, to help.  We were always doing things on our own and independence was ingrained in me at a young age.  I had friends who had large families and men in their families that would help them relocate.  I always envied that about them…

Well about 30 minutes after my friends and I started moving I realized the movers I had hired were MIA.  I called them and was initially told they had the wrong time down (even though they were the ones who had chosen the time).  Then I was told they were stuck in traffic (which I knew was a bold face lie because we had been out and there was no one traveling the day after Black Friday).  So I cancelled the movers and my friends picked up the slack.  They were amazing.  For 2 and a half hours we created assembly lines, passed boxes to and fro and took trips back and forth between houses.  We even stuffed ourselves in the front of a U-Haul truck due to lack of space!  (Shout out to Lo for being a real G) LOL.  And the crazy part about it all is, WE HAD FUN.  We laughed and sang to the music and talked.  It was a great time of fellowship and comraderie and I knew it was the Father.  He was giving me people.  He was giving me a longtime desire of my heart.

There have been several things that have happened in this moving process that has shown me His love and one of them is His use of people.  There were some things I simply could not plan for and He has shown me He is the ultimate planner.  People would pop up at just the right time.  My neighbors who I needed to borrow plyers from.  My pastor who’s time is already limited and yet has made it a point to fix anything at my house and breakdown the large items I need to get rid of.  His sister who has been so much like a mom to me in this season has been present to look at houses and rejoice with me when I found the right one.  My friends, who cleaned the house and helped me physically move.  My realtor who took some appliances I needed to dispose of last minute (not to mention the one who actually found this house when I had given up).  Even my personal trainer who was squeezed in front of the U-Haul who I’ve only known for 2 months.  People, people, people.  God has given me people.

God will fill up the lack.  He will provide and meet the need however He so chooses.  And this is how He has chosen in this season with me.

There were some hard times this week emotionally.  The holidays usually are hard for me and now even more so.  I am still working through my grief and disappointments.  There are changes in my relationships due to the new seasons.  There are changes in my relationship with God.  But every morning I wake up in this new house and I feel His peace.  I walk upstairs and my breath is taken away all of over again.  This house is symbolic of hope for the future.

My friends and I are walking out a different path then those who are not chosen.  We struggle with how different it is.  We so want to be “normal”.

“Singleness is getting awkward,” she said.  I laughed but I knew it was true.  It has been awkward, I thought.  I am a little older and so I knew that that played into my perception.  It is also painful, I thought, but didn’t share.  I didn’t want to project my pain onto her although, I have so appreciated that I have been able to be completely honest with her in my journey.  I have so appreciated that while others transition into building families and focusing on their loved ones, I have people around me who are still in it.  They are still walking out this path of waiting.  It is comforting to have others who understand and empathize with the journey.

I am grateful for how the Father has moved in my life.  He has been very intentional with what He has blessed me with and the opportunities He has given.  He has also been intentional with what He has not allowed.  Only He knows how we are wired.  The intimate desires of our hearts and what will bring about His best in us.

I have changed a lot in this season.  Life does that.  While some may think it is not for the good, I disagree.  I think we need to be balanced out in our perception of life.  I think we need to understand the sufferings of humanity to understand the compassion of Christ.  If we don’t go through dark times we will never be relatable.  I have had to learn how to be relatable.

Thank You Father for how You have moved in my life.  Thank You for showing Your Hand and making it known that I am Yours.  Even when I feel alone.  You are always there.

SHALOM

 

Finding Value In The Process

These days I find myself looking for a new home. The journey (as always) has been interesting. About a month ago I fell in love with a house. It had all of the stuff I wanted and then some. It checked off my check boxes and created a few new ones. The seller was an investor and had remodeled, it seemed, with me in mind. I was initially disappointed to learn that the taxes were significant. I’m a first time buyer and have been coached and supported by others around me who are more experienced. This tax situation, I thought, is going to be a problem. But when I ran the details by my closest and dearest who are more experienced on the matter, instead of being deterred, I was encouraged. Apparently the issue of taxes was minimal compared to what I would be receiving in return. Well I was surprised and pleased by this response. I had let go of the home and laid it down. I have been trained to do so and I think that is my first line of thinking because of this training. But even after revisiting the idea and then getting excited at the prospect, I still held it loosely.

“Is this my home Father?” I asked. In response all I received was peace. I didn’t feel like He was saying it was. I feel like He was saying “Regardless, I’m with you.”

That house didn’t work out. Though it had been on the market for months and the seller kept dropping the price (probably from desperation) a day before I would have made an offer it was taken off the market. Someone got to it first. I told my realtor it wasn’t mine or else nothing could have stopped me from getting it. I have wavered back and forth in that thinking as we have looked at one house after another after another. I can’t seem to find one comparable in my price range.

Now God has confirmed the character and trust worthiness of my realtor. And He has made a way for me to take the first time homeownership classes that initially fell through. And He has not stifled this desire for me to have my own. So the promise must be there.

But so is the process.

When I shared my exasperation with my realtor her response was, “Welcome to home ownership. This is the process.”

A couple of weeks ago I needed to get my fingerprints done for the upcoming tax season for my business. It seemed like a simple feat until I got the run around and ended up going through a few hoops to get it done. In the midst of the chaos I said to myself, “Why is this such a process?!”

And immediately I heard, “Why are you surprised?”

I knew the Father was speaking to me that I have been through other processes before and I have seen how they have prepared me for the promise. Specifically with my business and where He is taking me with it. I can look back and see His intentionality with using waiting to cultivate trust in Him and humility. He worked on my character when I would have been ruled by self and pride.

Often we do not like the process. It can be painful and difficult. In this season I have been shocked at the depths of the process.

However I know there is value in it.

A while ago when talking to a friend about waiting she said, “Nicole the promise does not negate the process.” So true. And to that I would add, “The process prepares you for the promise.”

Looking at the life of Joseph, he went through so much. More then I would ever want to go through in all honesty. Yet eventually his circumstances changed and he was promoted for the final time.

What Joseph was given to steward was greater then he could have possibly imagined.

Looking back on my journey I see that I thought I could do the works. I could check off my checklist and fulfill my call and make my Father proud. But I overestimated myself and underestimated the path I would walk. Thankfully, even in my naïveté I was guaranteed that He would walk with me. It was Him that would complete the work, not me.

And the body, the cloud of witnesses, the ecclesia, well, they would be there too.

“You are not alone”, someone said today in the midst of the prophetic flowing. It was the first time I felt His presence in that way in 4 years. I was in awe.

“The new is here”, came another word.

It is a new day. My hope is that the process is ending and the promise is coming. My good friend Lianna Mueller did an amazing blog on this topic. We are learning to hope without expectations.

I know that God will do it. I just don’t know how. And that is faith. If He said it, He will do it. And if He doesn’t then it wasn’t what is best for me. But regardless, we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

SHALOM

Unparalleled Peace

I was walking with a friend outside.  It was midday summer; perfect and sunny.  We had just come from lunch where we had the benefit of eating outside.  The venue allowed dogs because we happened to be in a “dog city” so folks were happily bringing their dogs to this particular restaurant.  My friend is becoming a dog lover so this setting afforded her the opportunity to “ooh” and “aww” over the cute k-9’s strolling with their owners who passed by our table. 

As we walked, we took in the scenery.  It’s a gentrified area and those have their own pluses and minuses.  Pluses because they get “redone” with the money that’s flowing into the city.  Minuses because the previous residents get kicked out when they can no longer afford the new amenities being added.

As we walked, my friend even stopped to smell some beautiful flowers at a flower shop and I took note.  We had been talking about contentment and enjoying the moment.  I knew God was working in her.

“Do you feel peace?” she had asked me at some point.  We had already been together for over an hour and were catching up on each others lives.  I had told her about the ups and downs in my romantic life as well as this season of recovery.

I thought about her question.  “Peace?” I asked as I mulled that one over in my head for a sec.  Did I feel peace?  I asked myself.  I struggled with that.  Because in all honesty I did not feel peace.  I did not feel ok with this journey of surrender and submission.  I did not feel ok with grief and loss and trauma.  I did not feel ok. 

What I eventually told my friend was the truth.  I did not feel peace.  But I could not disregard my past journey of God showing His faithfulness.  That when He had me do hard things in the past, it was actually for my good.  So I said something to the effect of, “No, I do not feel peace.  But He must see something that I don’t.  I also understand that I am an eternal being and this life is fleeting.  I understand the importance of living for the eternal even when in the natural I am not rewarded.”

And that mindset is a mindset that I have carried.  To do what is eternal over what is natural.  But as I am growing and evolving, the Father is expanding my mindset.  He is showing me the “both, and”.  That there is a dual dynamic with His ways.

I will be teaching a workshop soon on bookkeeping.  I started my business this time last year and though it hasn’t grown as fast as I had wanted, there is growth.  In the class I will be debunking accounting myths.  I realize many small business owners confuse bookkeeping and accounting and I want to shed light on this topic to help them become more successful.  I realize that is what God is doing with me.

He is debunking my myths.

I believe there are lies we all believe and depending on your journey, your family history, your DNA, your “wiring” so to speak, you may have more false beliefs than others.  Or may have those false beliefs in certain areas of life.  For me, I have struggled with trusting God and others.  And I have had limitations on that trust.

I did not realize that the reason I did not have peace when my friend asked me that day was because I did not believe wholeheartedly that He was for me.  I did not believe that ‘He would withhold no good thing from me.’  I believed that I was missing out on something good.  In some far off way I did believe He had something better, but at this point in my journey, I would take the good.  I thought that was a reasonable request after all I had experienced.  Little did I know, it may have been good for someone.  But it would not be good for me…

Now I see His ways are for us, even when they are hard.  Even when they are long.  Even when they are not the “ideal” of what we think our life should be, or what other people’s lives are.  He knows us intimately and He knows what is best for each us.  That realization has given me peace.

I now have peace.

I am so grateful He has given me peace and He has exposed the lie.  I have not felt this trust in so long, it is a wonder to me that it is here so freely.  We are all wired uniquely and He leads us on the path that will bring out our transformation of our true eternal selves to be manifest in the earth.  He takes the good and the bad and somehow uses it all for His end purpose.  It is truly amazing.

I pray the Father reveals to you your false beliefs, and keeps leading you along His path of righteousness.

After the storm…

SHALOM

 

Thoughts on Suffering

Today I got to spend the day with a woman who has been used greatly in my family.  Decades ago she became one of my grandmother’s very best friends.  When my grandmother passed away, she was there, standing in the gap.  She and my own mother grew closer and I knew she was like a surrogate mom for my mother.  A godmother.  Since my mom passed away, she has been faithful in sending me cards and pictures and other tokens of her affections.  Always reverencing their love for me (my mother and grandmother), reminding me of what I struggle so often to remember.

That I am loved.

me and linda

Today she spoke about her battle with breast cancer.  She has in fact battled this disease three times.  She was honest in her speech, sharing that yes, emotionally she struggled with this 3rd diagnosis.

“Lord, again?  Haven’t I already been through this?  Haven’t I already passed the test?”

This resonated with me greatly, as I thought about my own journey in waiting, and relationships, and surrender.

“Lord, haven’t I already passed this test?” I’ve wondered so often.

But His answer to her may not be the answer you hear in the pulpit, or online, or at a popular mega church, because it’s not a popular message.

It’s a message of the cross.

“Yes daughter,” He says to her.  “But I got you!  I got you!” 

I am discovering that one can experience and overcome various tests, trials and tribulations.  Even in the same area.  They can have those experiences and keep going through them.  Again, and again, and even again.

We see this in the Bible.  What does God say to Paul when he asks to have the thorn removed from him three times?

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Cor 12:8)

And even with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father to remove His cup.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ (Matt 26:36-39).

I can’t imagine the depth of sorrow Christ felt to ask to be removed from this experience of physical suffering.  I can only imagine it must have been so great because He also knew all the world would be saved through it, and yet it was so painful that He  still did not want to experience it.

And in both cases (Paul and Christ’s) God basically said, “My will is for you to suffer.”

We do not like suffering.  Our flesh hates it.  Whether it is physical, emotional or mental.  When we are hungry we want food.  When we are tired we want sleep.  When we have to use the restroom we find the nearest toilet.  We do not like being uncomfortable.  And suffering is, in my opinion, the worst kind of uncomfortable.

But suffering in the kingdom, is highly regarded.  We cannot get away from that fact, and any gospel that is preached without the teaching of suffering is erroneous.

2 Timothy 2: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…

One of my struggles in this season is not the teaching of suffering.  I think I understood that early on in my faith, that I would need to do hard things for Him.  That I would need to lay down my life.  But I didn’t know about long suffering.  I didn’t know about the lengths and depths that He could call one to.  I didn’t know that He could call you over and over (and even over) again to experience difficult circumstances.  And I didn’t know He could give you power to sustain you through it.

I got to speak with some women today who are related to my grandmother’s friend.  They too are in seasons of recovery from loss, grief and trauma.  They too are overcoming things they never imagined they would go through.  And I can see the changes.  I can see there is more humility, there is more kindness.  Our hearts are tender now…

Suffering changes you.  But if you know Him, it can change you for the good.  He can work it for the good…

When Paul cries out to have his thorn removed, we find out why God said ‘no’.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Cor 12:7).

He was humbled through this thorn.  He was sustained by His grace.

I realize the Father has been after something in me in this season.  Something that I didn’t know was there.  It was distrust.

I have known that the way I have related to the Father has always been intimate and passionate, zealous and possessive  (on both sides).  Yes, I have loved Him.  But I have consistently struggled with trusting Him.

Looking back on my journey, I would trust Him to a certain extent.  And with my singleness I would only trust Him up until a certain number of years (we have passed that number of years by the way).  Of course, consciously I was not aware I was doing this.  But He knew.

At the service today my friend Linda testified about her “thorn”.  She testified that the Father would not remove it, but that He would keep her through it.  She also testified that she would worship anyway.

Wow.  To worship Him anyway.  Even after the third time.  That is the faith He is after.  That is the call for His chosen.

I am grateful that even in my pain and grief and anger, He has never changed.  His love and loyalty are steady and even though I don’t experience the high feelings of emotions I did all those years in my journey, I sense His love as strongly as I used to.

And for the first time, in such a long time, I trust Him.

I trust Him like I used to.  I trust Him like I did as a babe.  I trust Him like before the tests and trials.  Before the losses and setbacks.  Before the confusion over my identity.  I trust Him.  Because now I can see (as I have in the past but forgot) that He really is for me.  That His choices really are in my best interest.  Especially when it comes to relationships.

He protects me.  Like a good father does His child.

I am His.

What I know now, that I didn’t know earlier in my faith, was that His way somehow feels/is harder and at the same time protects.  I also did not know that His way does not negate (long) suffering.  That though He is for me, pain is inevitable.  And in life pain is inevitable. But at-least with Him it can be used for our good.

Because in order to reign with Him we must suffer.

That is the cross.  That is being a disciple.  That is being His.

SHALOM

 

His Answer

Hosea 2:21

“In that day I will respond,”
declares the Lord—
“I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
22
and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
23
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

I have had this word on my heart for a while and felt that I needed to write it down.  In my process of recovering from a very difficult season, I often look back (almost daily) and I wonder why the Father orchestrated certain events in my life in the manner that He did.  I all too often compare and see how He blessed “so and so” with this or that and yet chose not to for me.  I am very well aware of the scripture that cautions us not to compare, yet and still, it happens.

It’s so easy to quote scripture when you are growing in your faith.  It’s easy to know the word logically, it’s quite another story to actually walk His path out.  To apply His teachings to your life’s journey.  Day in.  Day out.  For years.

I remember when my friend started dating her now husband, she talked about having all of this book knowledge about dating beforehand, but how difficult it was to use that knowledge when she finally had the opportunity.  She said it was like being on a sports team and learning the plays before the game,  then she got in the game and forgot the plays.  That resonated with me.  How often do we forget to apply the knowledge that we have accumulated in those “high” season of faith, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

And maybe it’s not that we forget.  Maybe its just that we are in too much pain to do so.

I have sought the Father on His way of doing things in my journey, even so recently as this morning during quiet time.  “Father, why did you do it this way?  Why did you ‘bend’ to your people in times past and not for me now?”  Indeed, I could think of several scriptures where I saw that He would give the people what they wanted, even if it was not what He wanted.  Never mind that they ended up being worse off in the end.  I just wanted some kind of relenting from this thorn in my side.

But in my time of prayer I was reminded of what He is teaching our fellowship in the spiritual school we are in.  He is teaching us, that in all things, to give thanks.  So as hard as it was, I started doing that.  Memories of how He manifested Himself in those final days with my mother flooded my heart.  How He led her to repentance.  How He gave us time.  Every trip she made us go on.  The Bible Study He gave that we attended together.  His presence during that time.  He made Himself so manifest even though I didn’t know why.  Now I can look back and say, He did it for me.

He did it for us.

There is so much pain still in my heart that I am working through.  So many mornings I wake up and think of them.  My family.  My mom.  My grandmother.  I am still in shock that this is the path.  This is the outcome of all those years of faith.  And yet, when I give thanks, I see that He did not forsake me.  He did not leave me alone, even though I have felt so very alone.

I wrote in a journal entry recently, “Singleness has been a thorn in my side these 15 years, but it has not killed me”.  That was the truth.  It has been difficult and challenging.  Painful and lonely.  Hard and led to much hope deferred.  But it did not kill me.

He does things His way.  That is what I am learning.  He answered in His way.  He gave me my own business in response to my former employer persecuting me.  He gave me time with my mom when I didn’t know our time was limited.  He gave me an amazing companion in a season of singleness when loss was faced on several fronts.  He gave me sisters when I did not have close family.  He gave me financial provision when I didn’t have steady income.

He answered.  He just didn’t answer in the way I wanted Him to.  He did not take away the thorn.

Instead He gave grace for it.

I’m grateful for His provision.  I’m grateful for the women in my life who are there through thick and thin.  I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit who’s mercies are new every morning.

He does not give up on us.  He does not leave us alone.

Thank You Father for Your answer.

I know that I am not worthy of even that.

SHALOM

Walking Together

ECCLESIASTES‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.”

Over a year ago I watched my friend minister to her mother.  She hovered over her hospital bed, fed her with spoonfulls and played sermons from her favorite preacher online.  They prayed together and she tended to her every want and need.  I watched from my side of the hospital room in awe, knowing their history, knowing God was teaching me something.

He was teaching me forgiveness.

I knew in my heart that at that point in my life, I could not do what she was doing.  I could not tend to my own mother with such care and intimacy.  I had too much pain in my heart.  Little did I know, I would actually experience the loss of my mother before she would lose her own.  While my friend was in a long-term care situation, my experience was sudden and unexpected.  Yes, my mother had been sick for a long time, but that was nothing new.  She had been around for the last 20 years with her illness, why would I expect her not to be around for 20 more?

This weekend was my friend’s first Mother’s Day without her mom.  It was on my heart to spend the weekend with her.  I really only had 8 months under my belt of walking this unique path before her, but that seemed to be enough for Holy Spirit.  Indeed He had used me to walk with her last year through this experience, while I myself was still grieving.

I myself am still grieving.

But we made it through.  We attended a women’s event that talked about friendship and sisterhood and God’s intent for both.  We dialogued about our mothers and how we were continuing their legacies.  I was in awe to see how many similarities we had with our journeys.  In so many ways we were experiencing the exact same path.

She had a list of what she wanted to do and I strived to make those things happen.  Good food, good movies, good company.  I only had one thing on my heart and that was a 90’s R&B throwback concert from a group I grew up enjoying.  I knew that if my mom were here, that’s what we would have done.

So that’s what we did.

I’ll be honest and say I cringed every time I heard those words, “Happy Mother’s Day!”.  I was annoyed every time I saw others posting their pictures of their happy families that were so full and overflowing.

There was no way around it, their cups were overflowing in an area where mine ran dry.

We made the best of what we had.  While at the concert the group we saw talked about family and having your family here with you.  Well, my friend and I had unique situations with our families.  I placed my hands on the women beside me.  They were now my family.

This season has been eye opening on many levels.  I have learned not to be presumptuous with God (a continuous lesson).  I have learned that the borders to His way are much farther out then I would have dreamed.  He does things in the way He chooses.  Especially with His chosen.

While at the church service we went to yesterday a young mother and wife shared her heart about what God was teaching her in this season of motherhood.  She had devastating events happen with her children and was wrestling with fears and insecurities and hurt.  But in the midst of those circumstances she was learning joy in the journey.  That was exactly what He has been teaching me.

Joy in the journey.

I realize He can teach His children the same lesson while walking through extremely different circumstances.  We can feel the same pain, the same loss, even though we do not have the same journey.  We are individually made and need different things to grow.  My heart is now tender towards those who experience suffering and pain from whatever source of devastation in this world.  Indeed, there seem to be so many sources.

While standing there yesterday at the church service, I marveled at God.  He walked me to this place in my journey I never thought He would allow.  My friend felt the same.  He walked us to this place and we were in shock.  Had we not been faithful?  Had we not been promised to reap?  But instead we were called to continue being pruned.  To experience what some will never experience.  At least in this area.

I worshipped at the service.  My friend did too.  We worshipped our way through the service celebrating mothers.  And when the worship leader asked only the mothers to sing, I listened for my own.  I know she is in the eternals, cheering me on.  I know she is more alive than I am at this time, and I know she is singing over me, joining all the mothers, singing over their daughters.  I had to believe that in that moment, because I did not have her to experience it in the natural.

I realize I am healing now.  There is no way I could have raised my hands the way I did at the service a year ago or even a month ago.  I would have been too afraid.  How could I open my heart to surrender all when now I know more of what the cost entails?  But I was able to.  And it is because I am healing.

He did not do things at all the way I expected.  He did things His way.  He provided family His way.  He gave provision His way.

My heart still longs for those promises He gave years ago.  It still desires what I see so many around me receiving.  But I am realizing what I have been being taught for so many years now.

I am an eternal being.

I am a citizen of heaven.

This is not my home.

But one day I will be home.  One day I will experience the fulfillment of all I desire, all that He promised.

And that has to be enough.

He has to be enough.

SHALOM

 

Thank You Tiffany

girl getting nails done

I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings in this season of “recovery”.  I know the Father sees it as recovery though for me it has just felt sad.  Lots of negative emotions have been my experience (loneliness, broken heartedness, anxiety) and that was precisely why I ran as hard as I could away from the pain, for fear it would overtake me.

Thankfully, it hasn’t.

Thankfully I met Tiffany.

Yesterday I was living my life in a very “normal” way, and while I felt a little lighter than I had in a while, I still had no anticipation that God was ordering my steps in any particular way.  I only knew that I really needed my nails done.  Spring is here and summer quickly approaching and a girl needs to make sure she is looking her best since she is seen even more in these seasons💁🏾‍♀️😏. So I headed to the mall and chose a nail salon I’ve never attended.  At first I wasn’t even going to stay because there was a wait and I have never liked to wait (as God is very familiar with, and maybe you are too if you’ve read this blog for any significance of a time) but then I figured, “what’s 30 minutes?”

When you’ve waited years for something, 30 minutes is truly a drop in the bucket.

So finally it was my turn and I was really excited about the particular nail polish I had chosen (it is really the little things these days) and though the nail tech doing my nails was great at her craft, she wasn’t particularly conversational and I was actually uncharacteristically in the mood for a good conversation with a perfect stranger (you introverts out there know what an unusual occurrence that is).  And so when she shared she wouldn’t be able to do my pedicure because she was clocking out soon I wasn’t too disappointed.  I then followed a young woman to the pedicure station and received a really encouraging email regarding my new business (will share more on that at a later date) and was therefore consumed with following up on this new opportunity while the woman did my pedicure.  Now I was the silent one.  She made conversation and I politely responded but I was clearly distracted.  So it wasn’t until she moved me to the manicure station and polished my nails (because the previous nail tech wasn’t able to) that we engaged more.  I noticed how meticulous she was with her work and commented as such.  She responded and shared she is an artist, and that in fact she is also a writer and a poet.  I encouraged her in sharing her gifts and when she said she wanted to write books that told people’s stories to help encourage others in similar circumstances, well, I knew I had to share my own testimony of doing the same.  We engaged in a beautiful conversation about difficult seasons, as she too was in a recovery season, and I gave her some resources that have helped me as well as those I have written.  It touched my heart so much when she looked up to the ceiling and said, “OK, God, I hear you!”  Wow.  Look at God. Using me in an unlikely place at an unlikely time to encourage one of His own while I am still healing.  Still recovering.

He does great things.

One of my encouragements to this woman (who told me her name was Tiffany) was to ask God, “What good can come from this season?”  He works all things for the good so how can good come from such trauma and loss?  She nodded her head in agreement taking in every word, even as sadness laced her eyes.  I knew that sadness.  I had it myself.  But now I was feeling something new in the midst of it.  Something I hadn’t felt in a while.

I felt hope.

Hope for the future.  Speaking with Tiffany reminded me of purpose and it let me know (as I’m sure the Father intended) that He is using even my pain to help others.  See, I could not have related to Tiffany before this season.  I would have sympathized because I am an intercessor and my heart is sensitive to other’s pain naturally, but I would not have known for myself what devastation felt like.  At least, not the kind of devastation she was dealing with.  When one hard thing after another keeps happening and it gets hard to believe that good things can happen.

I left the mall yesterday smiling.  It was the first time I had smiled and felt happy without any pain in so long.

As I walked to my car, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I am so encouraged by this experience and others that have happened the last few days.  It has been an amazing week and it is only halfway through💕.

But its not even just the events themselves that have encouraged me, its the fact that I can feel joy as a response to them.

Joy in the midst of darkness.

Joy in the midst of pain.

Truly He is with us.

Here is the finished product of Tiffany’s handwork:

Thank you Tiffany.

SHALOM