Evident Growth

Hey there. I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Honestly, it’s just not something I have been very passionate about lately. But ya know what, I think the Lord might be stirring it up in my heart again. We shall see!

How has life been for you through COVID-19? At times I feel like we are riding a roller coaster, or as my dearest Gramma says, a “rolly coaster.” At least this is how I have felt. Just when I think I am making progress, everything comes crashing right back down again.

It’s funny because somewhere built into our human ways of thinking we have adopted this belief that progress MUST be linear. Maybe the whole finding a slope thing in algebra did this to us. Remember? y=mx + b? Between that and mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell I’d say high school taught me the essentials for life.

Something that has been extremely evident for me lately is that progress is not linear. And progress does not always look the way we expect it to. I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged about this, but since I returned from India I have had intense stomach pains. There have been times that it has been so so so bad that I wouldn’t be able to move.

I remember one Saturday morning Bible Study last September we were sitting in the park diving into the Proverb of the day and I could not even move on the bench I was sitting on. And I did not finish my coffee (you know something is wrong when that happens!). I was so sad because I had plans to go for a hike and couldn’t because of the pain.

In January I finally decided to get this checked out because my family has a pretty intense history of stomach problems. So, I went to the same GI doctor that sees my mom and my dad. He did not seem too concerned and told me it was IBS related.

Relieved that we were heading in some direction I started taking the as needed meds he prescribed and hoped for healing. Nothing happened. If anything, the pain got much worse. I went back and he told me to do a few other things. So I did them. Nothing changed.

Now at this point, it was mid-July. I was working out, eating clean, doing all the things I have done before to lose a few pounds. But the scale kept going up. I was fatigued and had no motivation to do anything. Finally, one of my friends suggested I see her chiropractor. I was like hmm sounds weird but sure. At this point I was willing to try anything.

I made an appointment and was nervous as all get out when I went to that first appointment. I felt absurd telling a “back” doctor that I was having stomach issues. But lo and behold she ran a few allergy tests, performed an adjustment, and poked a few organs and we had answers!

Essentially I had an aluminum sensitivity (most likely from vaccines from going to India) which lowered my immune system causing me to be susceptible to a bacterial infection in my small intestine called Helicobacter Pylori and was severely allergic to dairy. Now, this is something the GI doctor would have found way back in January if he would have scoped me.

So, she gave me some supplements and rescheduled for two weeks out for a follow up. The supplements worked amazing for the first week. Then, about 10 days in, my symptoms came back. I spent the week freaking out because I thought there was no hope. I was so sick of trying and not seeing results. I had “regressed,” was my main thought.

When I went in for my follow up, I told her what I was experiencing and she told me she was not surprised because essentially we were creating a “war zone” (yes these were her words, no COD reference but I did get a kick out of it) in my gut and there may be more symptoms as I continued on this healing journey.

All of this is to say my healing was not linear. My progress is not linear. Just because every time I can put a nice chunk of change away to buy a house and have to spend it on care repairs does not mean I’m not making progress. Progress has to be measured in different way.

I have had to work rigorously to change my perspective regarding this concept, but man I’m sure glad I did. Lately, I have been measuring progress based on the fruit the action, behavior, event, etc. yields. And sometimes it’s not always what we expect.

I just paid $700 to get my car fixed. 2 years ago I would have been upset and over the top frustrated with trying to come up with the money, feeling financially secure to pay for it, and overall just bitter about buying a car with a salvage title.

But ya know what, yes I was frustrated that I spent my day off at the dealership getting it fixed, but I was more grateful for the fact that I already had the day off to do it. I was thanking God that for once in my life I could pay this upfront and have extra in my account for other daily living expenses.

It was annoying that I had to take the money out of my savings. But if the Lord wants me to buy a house, He will provided the finances to do so in His perfect timing. For those of you that don’t know, having a broken down car is the number one way Satan tries to attack me. Ever since I started driving I have never had luck with cars.

The Lord used that to bring me closer to relying on God for things. I feel more tough and can handle these stressful times. I have built this zero tolerance with Satan because he is not going to rain on my parade any longer. And even when he tries, I will dance in it singing praises to the Lord.

And this is how I know I have made progress. Because my perspective has changed.

My friend, are you struggling with fear of lack of progress? Take a moment and submit these fears to the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a new set of eyes and new perspective. Remember, progress isn’t linear.

The Blessing

I know I said in the last post I would be more diligent about blogging this year, but as you all are aware of, 2020 is not what we expected it to be. In fact, so far, 2020 has thrown some pretty interesting curve balls my way.

At the beginning of the year, I made it a point to make sure that I found a church home. I prayed and asked God to lead me to the right one. I felt there was one specific church, the very first church I visit when I moved here over a year ago, that God wanted me to go to. Eventually I got up the courage to step out of my comfort zone (side note: this is coming from a girl that quit her job and moved across the globe alone).

I went. I knew this was where God wanted me after the first worship set, based on the presence of the Lord. After about three weeks of going I started to introduce myself to a few people and try to plug-in. Friends, God made this incredibly easy for me to do.

I remember one Sunday morning sitting in one of the back pews alone and two girls around my age introduced themselves to me and invited me to sit with them. I did. And after I had this secret plan that I wouldn’t sit with them again, not because I didn’t like them, but I was afraid to make such close friends. I was afraid of letting my guard down. Can you say trust issues? I can.

Well, long story short, throughout that week I connected more with the young adults that had invited me to sit with them. And, I ended up sitting with them again. Little anxiety filled me continued to build relationships with these new people.

Something was so different about these people. They felt safe. They felt welcoming and compassionate. I started gaming with them, joined the worship team with them, Bible studies, movie nights, etc. These “new people” have become some of the most important people in my life.

I am trying so hard to think of how I am going to write about this. How do I even begin to describe the connection I have with this group of people? I’m not sure what the words are, but here’s what I’ve got…

The Lord, my God, my Jesus, my King of Kings, and dearly beloved saw my need for a home away from home. He saw my desire for community, connection, relationships, and fun. And He brought me to the place where not only would I continue to fall deeper in love with Him, but I would meet an amazing group of people that do things like go for bike rides, make me watch Star Wars for the first time, go on Starbucks runs, offer to mount my new TV, buy couches with, etc.

The most important thing about entering into this new community is that every single one of them love Jesus and have a deep desire to live for Him. Readers, I am in tears right now when I tell you how big of a blessing these new relationships have been to me.

Last Saturday, a few of us got together and made breakfast together and one of my new friends asked me when we sat down to eat, “Jenny, in January did you think this is where you would be right now?” And with holding back tears, I said “nope, not in the least bit.” That question hit me deep.

It reminded me that when Jesus sees we have a need and desire, He works things together for our good. He fulfills it according to His good and perfect will. And it is such a beautiful thing. Remember my last post about restoration? This is all apart of that. That was just revealed to me in this very moment. Jesus is restoring to me my deep desire for being in community with like-minded hearts. Jesus is bringing restoration on my social life after a year of my closest friends being my cousins that live 45 minutes away.

This is part of the healing journey the Lord has me on and I have never had so much peace.

It is healing to know that I have finally found my people. People that accept me for who I am, inside and out. People who are not bothered by my weirdness, like making sound effects in the car. People that want to be around me. I have never experienced such an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and love.

If you know me, you know that this is something I have been looking for (very passively I might add) since graduating college. You know that I am very much a people person that longs for fellowship and community. And I finally have that again. The Lord is incredible when He pours His blessings out upon His children.

If you too have this longing and desire, I ask you to seek God wholeheartedly for it. Lay it on the alter and trust Jesus will bring it to you. He will guide you and lead you to where He wants you. Until then, allow Him to continue to mold you and shape you into the person other’s need you to be. They will be just as blessed by you as you are by them.

Check out this new song by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes: The Blessing

January: Re-Adjustment

Hot dang, it has been a minute since I have blogged. I wholeheartedly apologize to the readers following this blog, as I took a much needed break without any warnings. It wasn’t until just this morning as I was walking out of a busy Walmart into the slush covered parking lot that I had this idea of blogging again.

I knew that I needed to start when I saw my credit card was charged for my plan. But apparently, $200 isn’t enough to motivate me. No, I guess a trip to Walmart to get Band-Aids, a staple gun, and coffee grounds was what it really took.

Anyways, I had this idea of making sure I blog at least once a month. Sure, that will not get me caught up to speed on how many times a month I was blogging when I left off, but I have to rebuild my endurance. And, in my defense, I started working 40 hour work weeks, on top of a 16 hour internship, and at least two grad school classes. I will be doing that again until May. Wish me luck.

I’ve titled this month’s blog as “Re-Adjustment” for several reasons. Think about it, it’s January and it’s a whole new decade. I know, ya’ll will never catch me on the “new year, new me” buzz, but I do believe this is a time of re-adjustment- for me at least…

What I mean by that is that I am re-adjusting to me. The past few years have just been so weird for me. Ever since I graduate college I haven’t really felt I found “my place,” or at least a place and a people that accept me. That is until now. I have had my big girl job for about 7 months now, and man, let me tell you, the Lord sent His blessing upon me when He provided this job!

Not only do I love my job and all that I am learning in it, but with the job came another provision of something I have been praying for since I moved, a best friend. We just happened to be at the office at the same time (as my job is community-based), and on my birthday I might add! TALK ABOUT THE BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT A GIRL COULD ASK FOR.

For those of you that know me personally, 2019 was a year of pruning and healing for me. In that pruning phase, I lost a lot of really great friends. Some I have been able to re-connect to, others, not so much. But either way, I know God is in control of my social life, and my romantic life (ha ha). Thus, why it is such a big thing that I made a new (best) friend!

However, with the new year, I feel a new season of the Spirit on my life. I feel redemption coming my way. The word the Lord gave me for 2019 was “Newness,” or, “I am making you new.” I am believing for 2020 to be my year of restoration and redemption! Pray it to be with me friends!

There are a few passages in the book of Joel and Jeremiah that I feel are fitting for this new topic kicking off my decade. I remember back when I was a junior in high school and I really started getting serious about my faith I attended this Sunday School class before church that wen through the book of Joel. I learned so much through the teachings of spiritual women in my church. These passages stood out to me the most, as I was just coming out of a relationship that ended pretty badly.

What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten. – Joel 1.4

This first passage in chapter one talks about a judgement Joel is describing the literal situation of the land of Judah. If we reread the passage we can clearly see that it does not look good! The land is devastated and destroyed!

Sometimes, I feel like there are times in my life that have been eaten away my a locust. Specifically when I was going through the break up in high school, I felt at least two and a half years of my life were destroyed by these locusts. Yes, I learned a lot from it, but I had regrets that there could have been better things I was doing with my life.

I kind of feel similar to that time since graduating college a few years ago (woah, literally cannot believe it has been that long!). I had a lot of great experiences, like returning to India, the land that I love, working as a case manager for the agency that I currently work for, and trying out a job that ended up not being for me. But now that I have finally found a position of stability (for example, I have been in the same country for a whole year, and on Valentine’s Day I will have to renew my lease on my own apartment), I think God wants to restore to me what I felt I lost.

I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you. – Joel 2.25

WOW! Literally in the next chapter God is faithful to proclaim that He will restore these things! How amazing is that! He will restore the years! What a God. WOAH! It gets me going every time! I’m literally sitting here in this little Starbucks listening to worship music trying to contain my excitement!

Actually, the song I am listening to literally just said “beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for heaviness, for your glory.” What perfect timing that is! I included the link to the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYRoh6Gx8Z4

But c’mon, isn’t it just so amazing how our God works? Incredible. I have felt very convicted of not praying and keeping up with my relationship with Jesus like I would like to be, therefore, I have started praying this restoration to be! I am a full believer in the “ask and you will receive” concept Jesus shares in Matthew 7.7-11.  Thus, I am asking with strong faith, deep belief, and waiting in expectations for this request of restoration I have laid before Jesus!

Friends, I don’t know what your 2019 looked like, or, let’s be honest, what your life has looked life. I don’t know what kinds of things you feel have been eaten by locusts and left you devastated, but I know that whatever it is, if you lay it at the foot of the cross, Jesus is surely faithful to restore those things.

I dare you this year to take a leap of faith and pray for the change. Pray, with a heart filled in expectation and belief that you will receive, for restoration and desires. Join me in re-adjusting to whatever newness God has brought forth in your life.