Season of Fears

This is a very fitting lesson from God, given that Halloween is right around the corner! God has me in a season of facing my fears. And it’s both terrifying and refreshing to see how He’s molding my character to make me more like Him.

This season started in June, and it’s still going on. It started with two friends betraying me. Then, I quit my job to move back in with my parents. Then, I got confronted at work about something I don’t know how to fix.

Basically, without giving too much detail, several people who have wronged me in the past are in my life again. I’ve set up boundaries for my own mental health, but I feared ever speaking to them again. God is softening my heart to one of unconditional love and impartiality.

Second, if you really know me, you’d know I crave stability — yet God called me to quit my job after 9 months to become a reporter, something I dreaded in the past and told myself I’d never do again. Not to mention, I don’t like confrontation so when someone confronts me and I don’t know the solution to the issue, I panic. Though interviewing was hard at first, I’ve gotten more of a hang of it now. I’m also learning to be confident that God approves of me, and if He called me to something, I need to move forward boldly and joyfully no matter what people say. I’m still trying to move out, so I’m still living in an uncomfortable place of both physical and financial instability (also with my health, but that’s another story)…but for now, God is teaching me to “laugh without fear of the future” (Prov. 31) no matter what my circumstances.

Finally, I have several things in my life I haven’t mentioned here that I’m also uncertain about. They’re things I’m currently investing lots of time into. And I hope that’s God’s will, because as a planner, uncertainty is a threat — spontaneity is not my cup of tea. Yet I must say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past — God is teaching me to be more dependent on His timing and provision than ever before. Thankfully, I’m not the master planner — He has the right to interrupt my plans, and He knows better anyway so it’s good (even though I may wrestle with God a bit at first!).

Betrayal, instability and uncertainty aren’t fun things to learn to be OK about. They’re terrifying. Naturally, a lot of us fear those things. But God doesn’t want us to fear. So He’s making me face those fears head-on to teach me that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The only thing I should fear is Him — because He wants what’s best for me and will never withhold what I need.

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Nothing Is a ‘Coincidence’

As I was watching the new movie Abominable, I was not expecting to be surprised or for God to speak to me. *SPOILER ALERT*

As the yeti pulls the little girl on their journey to Everest, we see him take her to myriad places—through fields of yellow flowers, to a mountainous place that reminds me of Avatar landscapes, and to a peaceful setting facing a Buddha. What she didn’t realize is that the yeti wasn’t just trying to get home to Everest after being stolen by the Chinese government.

No, this was a magical yeti who is a lot smarter than we think. He knew her dad died and gave her postcards of all the places he wanted to take her to—so the yeti took her to all those places! When that hit her, she was blown away.

In the same way, I often don’t see God moving in my everyday life. But I know He’s there. And in the many times I do see Him moving, I’m reminded He’s always with me, and no place He brings me is by coincidence.

For example, I really didn’t like my last job. I also grew up with a lot of depression and anxiety. What I didn’t realize until recently is that God allowed all of that for a reason. It all led me to the job I’m at today, where I can see God already using me to tell my story of depression with others who struggle with it, to make a difference.

I’m blown away by how intentional God is. Nothing is in your life by accident when you’re following Him. Every day is an adventure. Even when we can’t see Him all the time, He’s there, and we have to dwell on all the good He’s done to stay confident He will never leave! Here’s to adventuring with Jesus! You never know what’s up His sleeve every new day.

Here’s to gratitude no matter the circumstances. He’s faithful, loving and always provides for our needs.

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Evil is rising from within

audreyAs I was watching Descendants 3, I couldn’t help but see the parallel between their fantasy world and reality. As I watched Mal and Ben talk about protecting the people, I was reminded of our government talking about securing America’s borders and keeping “criminals” out. As Mal made the wrong decision out of fear, I see the potential for us to come to incorrect conclusions also.

See, I’ve heard many people say the issue is with the terrorists, the immigrants, etc. But what about the crazy white men rising from within, committing mass murder? No one saw that coming. *SPOILER ALERT* Just like many were caught off guard when Audrey, who is one of the “good” girls, turned evil.

Mal and Ben, prior to Audrey’s crime, were discussing closing the barrier so that no “immigrants” or villains could enter their land. Yet they did not expect one of their own citizens/people to rise up and attack.

So, no, the solution to our security crisis is not to prevent immigrants from entering America — I do, however, believe they need to enter legally. The solution is not to live in fear that a terrorist is going to come over from the Middle East. What we need to be aware of is the HIGH likelihood of evil rising from within our own borders. And, unfortunately, because of our Second Amendment preventing us from making many laws against assault/automatic weapon possession, there may not be much we can do — except for enhancing background checks.

The LA Times did an amazing piece on the lives of these white men and their mass murders. You can read it here. To summarize, they normally: 1) experienced early childhood trauma that led to depression or anxiety; 2) reached a crisis point shortly before the shooting; 3) sought validation for their motives somehow from others; and 4) had the means to carry out their plans (one way was by taking weapons from family members).

To expand my analogy with point #2, in Descendants 3, Audrey reached her breaking point when her grandma criticized her for not winning the king over after he proposed to Mal. Audrey was supposed to marry king Ben, not Mal. One of the lyrics in Audrey’s song “Queen of Mean” was, “you have nothing to lose when you’re lonely and friendless.” That’s the sad truth about many of the murderers. As was the case with the shooter in El Paso, not only was he politically motivated, but he spent eight hours a day on his computer: ISOLATED. Lonely. Probably friendless.

So, what, are we supposed to get rid of technology? Unfortunately, technology has appeared to do us more harm than good in the wake of the rise in mass shootings over the past 24 years. But, no, we can’t get rid of technology. Nor can we get rid of automatic weapons, which Australia did (and they actually saw mass improvement: read about it here).

It appears that we will continue to have issues with mass murder / random shootings from random citizens within our borders. The best thing we can do is pray, and not live in fear.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. — Matthew 10:28

The hope that keeps me going in these evil, dark times is that the after life will be amazing. This life on Earth is short (thankfully) in light of eternity. All we can do is love EVERYONE and help each other through it, while spreading the good news of Jesus: our great and mighty RESCUER!

Unfortunately, because of sin, we have darkness sweeping across this world, and it will continue to get worse until Jesus comes back. But don’t lose heart! Most importantly, cling to your loved ones, serve those in need, repent of sin, and pray — a LOT!

… in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33

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The Voice of God

I went through most of my life not truly being aware of what the voice of God was. At age 16, what I thought was just a random urge to start a blog on what I learned from scripture, was actually the beginning of my journey of hearing God’s voice. I experienced what felt like a strong fire burning in me, which I knew was the presence of God, beginning at age 17 and then on and off after that.

As I was spending time in my quiet time today, God put this verse in my mind: Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:9 ESV. Looking back, I realize He’s been with me, speaking through me, for longer than I realized.

It wasn’t until I went to a Bible study in college called Antioch that I learned God speaks to some people through pictures or visions. I thought he didn’t speak audibly or visually or tangibly like that…I thought we just had his Word to interpret, and that’s it. But some girls from that study were asking me to pray to God, and if I saw a picture, to tell them and try to interpret what it means. I was pretty skeptical, because how do we know if it’s from God? I didn’t grow up in churches or a family that taught me about prophecy, so this was all really odd to me.

The next 5 years, I went through lots of hard experiences — many stemming from loneliness and a lack of confidence in God. Thus, although a Christian, I’ve struggled to fill this God-shaped void inside me as I was trying to fill it with careers, people, music, and new experiences. I wondered what I was doing wrong. I was praying, reading the Word, on a worship team, and yet I still wasn’t hearing God’s voice. But it was because I wasn’t taking time to wait on Him — and I was also living in unrepentant sin, and doubting His goodness.

That reminds me of a verse: But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind (James 1:6). I was keeping myself from hearing God.

My encounter with Jesus

Reflecting on this revealed to me the importance of the right community. It wasn’t until I started attending another Bible study similar to the Antioch one 5 years back, that I started hearing God’s voice again. I was reintroduced to prophecy, and encouraged to sit still and listen on God. After prophetic words were spoken over me, doubt started to crumble. As I surrendered more and more of my strong will to His grace and open embrace, I had an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Last night, one of the leaders told us to ask God for a verse to share with the group as we were praying. As I asked God for that, I saw what looked like Bambi — a deer — in my mind. I then got three verses: Joshua 1:9, something in Genesis, and Habakkuk 3:26. But there is no verse 26! Mind you, I’m still learning to discern the voice of God. However, the last verse of Habakkuk 3 says, “He makes my feet like the deer’s.” As I shared that verse on joy with the group, after a leader said he felt like God was telling him someone in the room had something to share (whoa. me.), I didn’t even realize the correlation between the picture and the verse. When I left the prayer room and reflected, I was in awe that Jesus cared enough about me to speak to me so directly and clearly.

Takeaways

Friend, I don’t know what season of life you’re in, but I encourage you: do NOT give up on God. Jesus is relentlessly chasing after you. He deeply desires intimacy with you. He has BIG, amazing plans for your future!

So, I would first say, spend time in prayer not only telling God all that’s on your mind, but also thanking and praising Him. However, don’t forget to pause in case He has something to say back to you. He doesn’t always speak in a loud voice — it may be a whisper you only hear in the stillness. The more time you spend with Him, the more you’ll get used to what His voice sounds like! Spend time in the Word. He may want to speak to you through scripture (as He did for me!).

And, finally, surround yourself with people who LOVE Jesus, embrace the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave them, and love people (there is fruit of their walk with the Lord). We need these strong fellow believers to encourage us in this hard walk and remind us we’re not alone. It’s a balance — we need to spend time with God in the secret place AND surround ourselves with godly community.

I promise you, when you encounter the presence of God and hear Him speak to you…the excitement it brings will leave you running back to Him for more and more and more! What a generous Father we have!

Abba, You are good! Despite my circumstances, I will rejoice in YOU!

Though the fig tree should not blossom…yet I will rejoice in the Lord. God is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19

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The pursuit

What does it mean to be pursued? “To go after” someone, relentlessly, with a purpose. After a hard breakup, I felt like I was missing out on being pursued. But I have a God who pursues me as if I’m His bride! A God who drops everything to be with me, who is STABLE and CONSTANT. Someone who will never leave. Someone who I can TRUST.

In general, I don’t feel like I can trust any person I meet. My exes sure fooled me. My family has let me down. Friends have left for no reason. I’m so so grateful for the friends who have stood by me, but very few people can be trusted.

Jesus makes me feel protected, and safe. He gives me the gift of nature for free, all around me, to bask in His peace and beauty. And He has given me Himself — salvation — and a love letter, the Word, the Bible. If you’ll let me, I will read some of this love letter to you.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth … for your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit … In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:4-8

Why was He angry? Because every day He is fighting for our attention. We take up idols of money, relationships, jobs, etc. But He wants the first of our time and resources. He deserves it! There are some things I don’t understand about God — I don’t like the idea of Hell at ALL — but His ways are higher than my ways, and oh boy do I trust God with my whole heart. He is loving and just. He is the only One I can fully trust.

What God would come to Earth to submit Himself to humiliation by His own creation to die on a cross so that some of us who chose to believe might be saved? Only unconditional love could do that. I am blessed beyond all measure.

Don’t forget to count your blessings. As powerfully as a waterfall, God is chasing after you.

Xoxo,

Kendra

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Letter to younger me

Dear younger me:

When you lie, it creates a ripple effect that gets harder to cover up and you’ll get found out when you least expect it. It’s not worth it.

When you live your life to please others, you’ll starve yourself, you’ll be indecisive so that the other person is happy, and inside you’ll be anxious and depressed because you never learned to stand for what you need and want.

When you kiss every guy you date, you create more emotional pain than necessary. You don’t know if you’ll marry him, and you don’t want kissing to lead to more things you regret. Wait till your wedding day.

When you place all your worth in men, and they let you down, you won’t know how to move forward with joy for what God has in store for you. Run to Jesus above all else.

When you take jobs for granted, you foster a mindset of pessimism and quitting. Don’t let your ego fool you — jobs are harder to get than you think. Don’t move on unless God has clearly opened the door to your passion. Stay committed.

When people leave for no reason, don’t be surprised. Some people will only be in your life for a season. It was their choice to leave. Don’t blame yourself. In some cases, you did nothing wrong. In other cases, repent, apologize, learn, and move into the better door God has opened for you.

When people inflict unmerited insults upon you, don’t “return the favor.” Hold your tongue. Don’t give them any ammo to use against you. Remember the mantra: What would Jesus do?

When you devote yourself to prayer daily, you will experience more peace and joy than ever before. You will find it easier to hear God’s voice. You will find it easier to make Him a priority. It will change your life.

When you believe everything that you hear, you can get bogged down by lots of deceit. Choose to dwell on what is good, uplifting, and pure.

When you choose to only believe God is a God of judgment and wrath, you cannot fully love others because you have not accepted His love & grace for you.

When you allow circumstances to control your mood, you let the devil have a stronghold on your mind and are left feeling depressed, empty, and hopeless.

But God is a God of second chances. Do not live in the past. Learn from it. It is through our mistakes and trials that we get the privilege of seeing the beautiful character traits of God. We strive for holiness, because we love Him, but we’re not perfect. Rest. Enjoy the little things in life.

Brb, I’m going to go smell the roses.

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Resilience

As I was lying in bed last night, thinking about two best friends who abandoned me this past year, God brought one word to mind: resilience.

As I was researching more about resilience this morning, I thought of my favorite Marvel character: Valkyrie (Thor Ragnarok). She went through hell. She was (I think?) the only one of her female tribe to survive the war Thor’s sister started. And then she ended up on a planet that’s basically the garbage dump of the universe. She’s a servant to the perverted leader.

YET, she uses every ounce of strength just to get through each painstakingly hard day, and finally meets Thor who gives her a way out. Reluctant at first, she follows, and little does she know, she’s free at last.

See, I have hope that this Earth is not all there is. I’m here to help people, but I don’t expect kindness or help in return. God blesses me with it from time to time, but I’m learning what it’s like to be a strong warrior amid loneliness. The experience develops invaluable character traits: resilience, fearlessness, and perseverance. And one day, after I die, God will reward me and I’ll live in paradise — safe, in His loving arms forever.

I came across the following, too, while researching, which i will close with:

When you have resilience you bounce back after trials and keep moving on.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

Job 17:9 The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.

[Side note, Bounce Back by Little Mix was just released this morning which I found very ironic and fitting 😂]

Do. Not. Give. Up. Stay in prayer. Listen to worship music. Learn how to discern God’s voice. Find the lesson in the trial. Read the Word. Don’t forget to put on the armor of God. And, most importantly, surround yourself with godly, encouraging community.

Xoxo,

Kendra

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