Promises of God: A Reason

Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

“Everything happens for a reason.”

A phrase I have had a problem with a time. Two. Three hundred. And some. For me, at times…it seemed like a pat answer usually given to ease the hurts and struggles of others. We don’t know what else to say at these times. Maybe we do actually see something good coming out of this, and so we want to see the positive. A different perspective.

My problem with it? In my times of hurt. Struggle. Trials. Times I just didn’t understand what God was doing. I didn’t see good. I didn’t get it at all.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Sure. What reason exactly? And can He show me? Like now? Yes. To be real…that was usually how I felt.

But not so much anymore. The phrase has kinda grown on me. One can even say that it is Biblical. We know trials exist because of the sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve. Evil exists because of it, and it’s repercussions and it’s pains are a part of our lives now. We also have a part in these “reasons.” We are knuckleheads. We make unwise choices at times, and so we suffer for them. But I am not talking about these types of things. I am talking about the trials and situations that just make no sense.

If you look at the references to reasons and seasons Solomon makes in Ecclesiastes, Solomon was making a case for things being ordained by God by Him at His specified time:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NLT

God has a purpose for the time in which He allows things to occur. And while it makes no sense to us, it makes sense to Him. While it may cause us pain. Strife. Stress. Annoyance. It is all according to His plan. To His purpose. One He intended for us long ago.

It’s just hard for us to realize this when we are in the midst of the struggle. Because in the heat, we want the furnace to be cut off. During the test, we want the answers. During the trial, we want to know the verdict. But sometimes, the answer looks more like this: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4, NLT

The reason is often our greater strength. Healing. Hope. And a desire for others to know and have the same.

God gave us hard things so we can walk with someone else through their hard things. The way no one else can, or often will. That’s the reason.

God gave you your unique personality. The one no one seems to “get,” because that is the exact personality that can reach a people that others just can’t reach. He knows you are just the person who can. That’s the reason.

God gave you that vision, then put a mountain, roadblocks, and boulders in the way; because He knew He had something bigger waiting for you. Something He knew you would see through to the end. That’s the reason.

God moved those people. Let them hurt you. Leave you. Ghost you. Because He knew they could not go where you are going. They would have kept you from seeing this vision clearly. That is the reason.

He knew it. He saw it when He was forming you. He knew what you would go you. He knew you would be strong enough to endure it. He carried you through. And He knew you would use it to carry others to Him.

It was all for His reasons.

I Won’t Give Up

I went on a decluttering and cleaning spree the last couple weeks. All in an effort to get the Christmas decorations up. In my sorting I came across the vision board I put together at the beginning of the year. One I had put together with pictures and notes of things I had a desire to accomplish. To finally start and finish.

I had come out of a dark time. When I sat down and began to dream dreams. Those placed on my heart some time ago, and never finished; I knew I was not going to let anything stop me from using my voice. My gifts. My talents.

For pursuing and working in the purpose He had for me.

Circumstances may keep us from completing our mission. People may even try. But here is the truth:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28, NLT

God. God calls us. God will continue to work through you despite the circumstances or roadblocks put before you.

God does that.

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
So keep on saying I won’t
And I’ll keep proving you wrong -“Say I Won’t,”MercyMe

This song was one I played over and over as I came out of that dark place. Out of the place man may have placed me in. Over the roadblocks put in my way. The circumstances that had me believing that He had finished working through me.

He hasn’t yet. And he hasn’t finished with you. Keep moving. Keep dreaming dreams. And allowing Him to use you. Tell those who think you don’t have what it takes, or that God hasn’t given you strength to continue that you won’t give up until His work is done.

I do not own the rights to video or music.

Walk tall, and own your crown

Ever watched one of those beauty contests? You know, like Miss USA, Miss Universe, and the like? I have never been in one of these pageants. Just not my thang…but I have watched them. And one of the questions I always had-how do they keep that huge crown on their head? Pins of some sort, I am sure. But…also, their posture. Have you ever seen a beauty queen slumped over? Have you ever seen someone try to walk with a slouch while trying to keep a crown on?

It probably isn’t possible.

“Can you walk on that beam? Without falling?” It’s the question a young second-grader had asked me. I had taken him outside early one morning to climb the monkey bars in an effort to keep him awake in class. You know, because movement and fresh air wakes the brain. Science and psychology, but you didn’t come here for that.

Anyway…I had on heels. Surely, I could NOT walk on that beam without falling. Until, I thought of something. I had been thinking of this something for a while really. Posture. What if walking on that beam had nothing to do with the shoes I was wearing, but everything to do with my posture?

At first, I stepped on. Took a few steps. Fell off. Then, I adjusted my stance. I held my head high. I refused to look down. I looked straight ahead. And I walked. All the way to the end. In heels. On a skinny beam, meant for one small foot.

“You did it! In heels!” Yes, I did.

And you can too. Walk on beams. And walk in places people have told you that you couldn’t before. Walk without letting your crown fall off. Just like a queen. Just like a king. In heels, or whatever you choose to wear.

It’s all about your posture. Your stance. The way you hold your head. It has nothing to do with what you wear. Where you came from. What anyone has said about you, or what you have done.

It’s your posture.

You can’t wear your crown, if you keep looking down.

And I realized this on that beam, as a second grader watched me walk along it in clunky high-heels; watching my example. Trying it again the same way I did-over and over. I can’t carry His crown, if I keep looking down. If I keep looking down at others. If I keep looking down on myself. If I keep playing small, reducing my posture, holding myself back, not standing tall, or refusing to shine too bright because I am afraid someone else will take offense.

I have noticed my posture over the years, and it is bad. I couldn’t hold a crown on this head with this posture, it would fall right off. And why is it that I scrunch my shoulders, tighten my neck muscles, and try so hard to curl up in a tight ball to make myself small?

I have inherited a crown! I need to own my Father’s crown. My place as His royal princess, and stand tall in who I am. Shoulders back. Head high. No more playing small for God.

Do you need to do the same? If you placed His crown on your head, would it fall right off? What kind of posture do you have right now? Are you playing small? Crouching in corners because you think you are too “something” to be used, or too afraid of what others may think.

Stop it!

God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. 2 Timothy 1:7, MSG

He gifted you. You. You in your boldness. You in your posture. You and your God-given, unique, no other made just like you crown.

You.

You may be too much of something for someone. But for someone else you are exactly what they need. And for God you are made exactly for His purpose in their lives.

You.

You must stop playing small for those who can’t appreciate your version of love, care or light; or who don’t even give you a second thought, don’t value that light, or let it shine.

You.

You are altogether wonderful and appreciated by the people meant to be loved by you. Meant to be inspired by you; some you haven’t even met yet. Or may not ever meet. You and your crown have a purpose in someone’s life.

Who you are matters. What you do matters. You matter. Keep standing tall. Stop playing small. Put that crown on your head, my dear; and don’t you dare let it fall!

I’ll roll with it…and not quit

Surrender. In common terms surrender is the act of giving up one’s power over something. In relation to God, it is one’s active choice to yield all decisions and all control to Him. Surrender is a bold act, and it is brave, courageous, and often we dive into it head first thinking that the road will be easy. The road to surrender is definitely not one of ease. It is bumpy. Full of fits and starts. Stop signs, and lanes that only seem to go one way. A roadblock up ahead, or two, or three.

Surrender may make you want to renege on your decision to surrender it all. Like seriously just give up.

Where am I going with this? Let me explain.

I choose a word to define changes I plan on making each year. I don’t make resolutions, because my resolve is to always make sustainable, consistent, and everlasting change. Not a year-long goal that ends when the new ball drops. So this year: surrender. I felt His tug on my heart (and my brain and body) to stop moving, and allow Him to move. To stop trying to control everything, and let Him handle it. It hasn’t been easy, so I am sitting back, and letting things be a bit.

Some things I have breezed through. Like a phone call later in the winter stating that there could be a barrier to preparation for my ordination service I hoped to be attending in July.

Oh, well if you have that one class left you may have to wait until next year.

He meant next year…like a whole new year. I really wanted it this year.
So you know how I knew this surrender thing was working? Up to this point anyway…
Because if this had been last year…you know like 2020 last year, I would have come undone. I would have been in a puddle of tears on the floor after that call. But I wasn’t.
I just said to the advisor: It would be a disappointment to wait even longer after such a long time, and working this hard, for just one class…but if that’s what God wants. Then that’s His will. I’ll roll with it.

Until, the time came. And another meeting came. And, well-I didn’t roll with it. I knew in my heart I was supposed to be surrendering. And, come on. That is what we all do, right? Thy will be done, God; but…can you please do it this way? In this amount of time for me? Thanks!

That class did in fact become a hiccup, among some other things. And I do in fact have to wait another year. And, no…I didn’t roll with it. I broke down. I spent weeks in discouragement. Convinced I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t cut out for this. I had done something wrong. God was mad at me. I failed. I didn’t measure up, and I was just going to give up. And I told a beloved friend this. And this is what I heard…January, have you ever quit anything? Really, you haven’t have you? So why quit, now?”

And he was right. I hadn’t. I always finished. I may have taken detours. Started at different times than others. Maybe a little later. Taken a little longer. Maybe even a break or two. But I always finished.

I am not a quitter.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

So, I started that last class this week knowing it was the last one I would have to take, and knowing it was up to me to continue to surrender to His will in all of this. Even if it was not exactly the way I wanted it all to turn out.

His timing. Not mine. Because if it had been up to me, I would not have quit that class back in December. I would have pressed through, exhausted, worn, and weary. And gotten nothing out of it.

He knew I needed to wait.

Because when I opened the book, read the intro and saw the author had also struggled with giving up in ministry. When I read about the heart to embolden women to walk in their unique purpose. When I felt the Spirit tugging and pulling at me-I knew this was the time.

I had wanted to give up. Walk away. I quit the class out of necessity, but I was on the verge of quitting the journey all together.

But He knew I was just in a waiting season.

I just needed to be patient. I just needed more time.

His time. Not mine. He knew I was not a quitter.

I remember a poem I had to recite in 7th grade. Not read. Like memorize. Stand up in front of class and recite by memory. I still remember it. Still remember many of its lines. I will leave you with a couple of those lines today…emblazoned in the memory a woman, much older than that 7th grader, but still determined to never, ever quit.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. -John Greenleaf

Don’t you quit. Don’t you dare quit now just because it is taking a little longer. Don’t you dare let the devil’s ridiculous voice convince you to quit. You, you…you just keep rolling with it.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Do it anyway

I woke up that morning, after deciding at some point in the middle of the night that I was giving up. I had finally waved the white flag of defeat.

On what, exactly? Prayer. Not all prayer. Just a specific one.

As I sat in my favorite chair, I glanced down at my old, worn out Bible. The one I knew had prayers written in it. I picked up a different one. “Lord show me. Lead me. Help me. Tell me what I need to do for you today.” It was something I had been asking of Him daily, surrendering to His will. Trying to be still, and listen, and listen to His voice so I wasn’t moving ahead of Him (or waving that white flag too soon…oops).

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7, NLT

The verse that began my daily devotional. And so I looked down and caught a glimpse of that old, worn out Bible. The one I had tossed to the side, and I heard this: “I never told you not to pray. You decided that on your own. What are you going to do?”

What WAS I going to do? White flag, remember?

I picked it up. That Bible. Surrender. That’s my word. And opened to this:

Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Job 40:1-2,NLT

I did. Boy, did I want to argue with God. I was weary from prayer. I felt those prayers were fruitless. I had been burdened with those prayers, and I still for the life of me did not understand the purpose.

But I did it anyway. I found a sticky note. Prayed over it. And then surrendered it to God.

I did it anyway.

“Lord show me. Lead me. Help me. Tell me what I need to do for you today.”

When you ask Him these things, He will show you. Lead. Help. Tell. You may not like what you hear. You may be tired. Weary. Sick of the burden.

But…do it anyway.

Such a time…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

When I began this blog many years ago, I began so in a caffeinated state, usually at 3am in the morning. Usually battling the wills of autism.

Here it is almost 7 years later. It’s still 3am. My state is more like agitation, but it’s the change and uncertainty that has caused this sleeplessness.

Writing to me is healing. It’s a process of letting go of negative thoughts that run an endless spin cycle in my head. It’s the way in which I express the feelings I often cannot say out loud.

It’s been a journey I’ve enjoyed since inspired to keep a journal by my high school English teacher. It’s why I encourage anxious kids to do the same, whether they take the advice or not.

It’s how I process my angry conversations with God. My even angrier conversations I know I’ll never have with others.

I’m still writing, just not here. I’m still sharing what God has placed on my heart, just not here. For a number of reasons.

One is-we have changed. We just don’t read. We see the tag line. Like the picture. See the snappy caption, and don’t get all the way to the end to actually take in the entire post. So, we miss the true meaning.

We prefer video presence, and filtered pictures. Motivational quotes, and memes. It’s just our modern culture. And, while I’m never going to conform, I’m also not going to put myself out there for a tag-line or caption to be misrepresented.

Two…Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

Mordecai told Esther she was chosen Queen to stand up for something. Someone. Some cause. Not stay silent. Do something. Have a purpose for something she believed in.

This time for me. This time with far less work, and far more idle time. Though it may seem far less purposeful, it can be time spent doing some of the things I have only dared dream to do. But never found the time.

Or, was too fearful to do. Because in order to do so, it meant I would have to stop doing something else. Or putting myself out there in an even different way. And letting go of something else in my mind meant one word-failure. I just would not accept that. Putting myself out there even more, meant something even scarier-rejection. I can’t handle that one. 

However, I know differently, now. New things require letting go of some old ones. 

So I’m taking a break, and doing those things. Letting go of some old. Allowing some new habits to form. Some new gifts to be used. 

For those who have read these 3am thoughts I thank you for following along with me on this journey. Really. Thank you! Because while I know many are not comfortable with someone who can share the not so pretty parts of what makes this life, well LIFE; you valued my vulnerability.

No worries. It’s still out there in this great big thing we call the internet.

Still being shared.

Still being encouraged.

If you are still up for the journey until my return with some other things, you can join me here:

On Instagram: @coffeewithashotofffaith

On Facebook: @marshallcoffeefaith629

And the YouTube Channel my son so graciously helped me create: @RealCoffeeTalk629

God willing, I’ll see you soon! Finished projects, ready to complete and share! 

Let them remember you

“These kids are not going to remember us. So just do your job, go home, and forget about what goes on here. Because when they leave, they will forget about you.”

A conversation. Said after a hopeless week. After taking home way too much junk from kids who aren’t “mine,” but some days certainly feel like it.

But…is it really me I need them to remember? Or is it Him?

If it is me, then I am not showing love, I am merely manipulating people. Acting in selfish ways to get some type of reward or applause. From people. I want people to appreciate me.

And I thought about this as I walked into a gymnasium full of people. Feeling super uncomfortable. See, I may be a preacher, and stand in front of people and speak, but the social scene is not my area of comfort. I am either too loud, or look for the emptiest corner, closet to the nearest exit.

I sat there, on the emptiest set of bleachers I could find, by the back exit, saying to myself, “No one will know I am here, and so no one will know if I leave.”

But God cared.

Let me explain. Because being there wasn’t about me. In that empty corner. On that empty stretch of bleachers sat a light. A light some don’t always see. In the gym, or outside of it.

I wasn’t here for them to see me. I was here for them to see light.

I am not getting up and doing what I do each day for me, I am doing it so others see light.

I don’t need them to remember me. To remember my name or anything I have done. I want them to see one light. Hear one voice. Know one presence when in my space.

I want them to remember one name: Jesus.

Waiting for the harvest

I remember all too well the day I had to make peace with a plant. I also remember the day I wanted to slam that same plant against a wall. Watch it fall to the ground in tiny pieces.

I sat in an empty room, realizing that in order to have peace in tough circumstances, I had to make peace with a plant.

Not really the plant, but the process of growth.

Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the master’s arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. James 5:7, MSG

Farming. Sowing. The harvest. It’s not an overnight process. The time between planting the seed and gathering the harvest can take months.

Months and months of growth.

And growth takes patience. Waiting. Continuing to nurture even if you don’t see the harvest right away.

Growth is painful. For both the plant and the sower. Because if conditions aren’t right, and the soil isn’t fertile, it is likely those seeds will never sprout.

And watching that can be heartbreaking.

Growth takes perseverance.

Even if the farmer strikes out on the first crop, because the rain never comes. The seed withers. Maybe some mole comes along and wreaks havoc on the farmer’s hard work.

The farmer doesn’t stop sowing. No. He (or she) tries again. Waits for the right conditions. Using the most nourishing of soil. Waters and waits. Again and again.

He makes peace with the growth.

So at just the right time…a crop of beautiful buds will burst forth.

Buds (or even people) who were loved, nurtured, and cared for by a farmer who never gave up.

How much more?

How much more God? How much more do you want me to take?

As I struggle daily with actually carrying out what He has asked me to do, I wrestle frequently with wanting desperately to just give up. Asking Him to just send someone else, because surely I must not be it.

As I sit here feeling this way again, I am reminded of what Jesus said to God in the Garden of Gesthemane, surely at a point of wanting to give up: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.” (Matthew 26:39). Surely wondering why he had to suffer for good.

And at the end of that heart to heart with God, he also said this: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

That will also included me. The will that died a gruesome death on a cross, and poured out love for me.

Who did what it took to reach me.

Putting people in my life to speak truth to me, even if I didn’t listen. Providing hardship after hardship, so I would eventually fall on my knees and seek Him. Who forgave. Loved. Forgave and loved again. Even when I didn’t show the same to Him.

He took as much as it took to reach this one.

So how much more God?

As much as it takes to reach that one.

As much as it takes for someone to feel love.

As much as it takes.

The growing season

For over a year now, I have grown a deep affection for plants. The reasons and circumstances for this are a story in itself, and a subject for a later time…however, I used to absolutely hate them!

I could not keep anything alive. When my son and I did manage to plant anything, it either became food for the abundance of deer living in our parts, or just never bloomed.

Now, I have them everywhere. I am even known to stop and marvel at them on a walk.

My husband picks them up during trips to the grocery store.

My son has his own garden, that I enjoy watching grow on our patio or the windowsill. And I even like to watch them burst forth through concrete.

Those happen to be my favorite. Because it takes a heck of a lot of strength to grow in concrete, y’all!

What isn’t exactly my favorite is a plant’s “growing” season. It’s sometimes long. Sometimes dark. Mostly frustrating.

This is the season in which nothing is budding on those plants. You water and water but never see a bloom. The leaves are extra droopy. Sometimes the plant isn’t even very pretty to look at. And when you start to compare it to all those other plants? Those that grow and bloom without any fuss? Well, you start to want to give up on this one. It’s a dud. Not worthy of blooming. Just meant to rot away in its pot.

We are much like these plants. We have a “growing” season, too. And they aren’t all the same, but they don’t look or feel much different than that of a plant.

Maybe your growing season right now is in full bloom. You’ve been watered. Been looked after. Encouraged. The crop you are yielding is on full display for everyone to see.

Or…maybe right now you are planted in dry, parched land. Still trying to break through the hard surface. You are in a season of drought. Everything around you feels barren. Your leaves are droopy. Barely hanging on, and there are no buds ready to bloom in sight.

Maybe you are sitting by that big, pretty plant wondering what is taking you so long? When is your season coming?

Feeling like you are covered by a thick slab of concrete.

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rain in the fall and the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. James 5:7

God will come to complete the harvest. It may not look like it now while everything around you is dry. Maybe the endless rains he has sent; those trials that leave you drowning in sorrow, feel like they are never going to end.

Be patient. At the end of this growing season, you won’t have to look around you at everything else in bloom. Comparing.

No. When you look, you will see that “winter is past. The rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing of birds has come; and the cooing of turtle doves fills the air. The fig trees (that’s you, darling) are forming young fruit, and the grapevines are blossoming” (Song of Songs 2:11-13).

Rise up darling! You, beautiful one, are breaking through the concrete. In full bloom.

You, beautiful one, will grow in this season.