Part Two: Test the Lord

Please do not allow any of my titles to tell you what to do!

If you read the Intro and Part One: Trust the Lord, then you know what this one is about, but for those of you who don’t click on internal links because “It could be a virus or something,” here’s the gist in two sentences:

I, and a friend, had a conversation regarding trusting the Lord and testing Him. He believed the difference to be unnoticeable, whilst I believed it to be apparent.

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To my friend, I admit, studying for this one was hard! During my reading plan, I read Genesis 18:22-33 and got stuck! Here we have Abraham, the father of a multitude, having a conversation with the Lord on whether or not the Lord would spare Sodom (a city very sinful and about to be destroyed) on account of 50, no 45, no 40, no 30, no 20, no 10 righteous people. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” says Abraham in 18:25.

But then, in re-reading that same verse, it hit me; That clear and thick line separating the trust factor from the test factor, lifting me up from the heels of my cute black boots and setting me gently on the ground again. “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! says Abraham in that very same verse, vs. 25.

I KNOW YOU, LORD! 

AND I CAN PUT MY TRUST IN WHAT I KNOW OF YOU!

All of us are tempted, are we not?  Jesus being tempted in the wilderness amazes me- Matthew 4:1-11-because He shows us clearly how well we will fare by knowing the Word of God, especially when the Word being thrown at us is being misused. I mean, I truly think that if you start any argument with IT IS WRITTEN and you throw a good ol’, accurately-interpreted scripture punch, it would be a knockout. We see that throughout the selection, but look at Matthew 4:5-7:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The devil, the manipulator, the crafty one took the Word of Lord, expecting to use it to manipulate the Word in the flesh…and got dissed. What I mean by this is the Lord knows what our motives are and He knows where our heart is. He knows that the enemy will take the Word and manipulate it into fitting into whatever mood we are in that day, and He knows that we will allow our own misinterpretation to guide us and lead us astray.

“Oh, Lord. Don’t look at my heart. It’s deceitful. Listen to the words that come out of my mouth instead. I mean what I say.” Maybe…all of our hearts are deceitful at times, but maybe your mouth is as well, and surely the Lord knows where the truth is and where it isn’t. Your mouth may be saying “The Lord will provide,” but your heart may be saying “He better or else.” Your mouth may be saying “I’m doing this to glorify the Lord,” but your heart may be saying “I’m doing this for me and the Lord will make it work for me.” Your mouth may be saying “Your will be done,” but your heart might be saying “Here’s my plan, Lord, make it happen.” Which one do you think He listens to? Which one do you think speaks louder: the words coming out of your mouth or the truth that is in your heart? I can see these leading us ultimately into testing of the Lord’s faithfulness to us by placing so much weight on whether we receive or not receive what we believe to be good for us:

“I want the Lord to give me a husband, and He will.What happens if He doesn’t? 

“I’ve been dating this girl and she is not a believer, but I’m going to stay in this relationship and the Lord will make it work for us whether she believes in Him or not.” What happens if He doesn’t “make it work?” How much of you will He have to watch walk away from Him before you realize that you are off track? Do not be unequally yoked! (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“I’m here and I will follow you, Lord, if you give me this and this and this…” All things perishable and not eternal. What about the fruit of the Spirit that just keeps living and fulfilling no matter what? (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Lord is not in debt to any of us. The Lord does not owe you anything. What we deserve, Jesus took for us on the cross. If you truly believe that you can continue to live a life testing the Lord and expecting Him to hand you everything on a golden platter, the way you want it, with no substitutions, then you will be stuck in a subpar life. Our God does not aspire to give us the mediocre, but what is good and perfect. Your test is easy and passable to Him, but He does not have to prove His faithfulness to anyone, but you know how good He is? He still does! Over and over again, we read it! In Abraham’s previous conversation with Him, we see that as the city was preparing to be destroyed, an angel of the Lord guided Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and His daughters away from the city and into safety. Again in Genesis, we see a servant of Abraham who, in faith and trust, asks the Lord to show him the woman who will marry Issac clearly through a series of events, and HE DOES (Genesis 24). At the cross, we see an innocent man hanging by his hands and feet, given as a sacrifice, paying off the debts of our sins and re-bridging the gap between man and the Father…FINISHING IT!

We don’t have to test the faithfulness of our God!
He IS faithfulness! There is no one more faithful than Him.

Put down your list of test questions. Put down the weight you’ve put on things to test His faithfulness with. Hand Him your heart and let him fill it up with what is true about Him. Trust Him. Trust in Jesus. Trust that our Father’s love is not conditional. Trust that no matter what happens in your life it has already sifted through His hands, and He has it under control. It is finished.

Amen,

Monisa ❤

 

Part One: Trust the Lord

In corner one, weighing 100% in my heart, we have Trust the Lord coached by Genesis 12:1-4.
And in corner two, weighing 0% in my heart, we have Test the Lord coached by Matthew 4:5-7.
Let’s get ready to rumble!

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the intro, will ya?!)boxing-415394_1920

If you are like me and Blue Letter Bible or Strong’s gets you going, here is your number and the direct link:

Trust (H982), according to BLB, means”figuratively, to trust, be confident or sure;” “to be secure;” “to be bold;” “to feel safe, be careless.”

Genesis is one of my favorite books! As you read, you will start noticing that we reach a point where time starts moving pretty quickly. We get this through what I like to call the “begats” (I was raised a KJV kid). Chapter 5 takes us through the generations of Adam, from Adam to Seth, Seth to Enos, and so on and so forth until we get to Noah. Chapter 6-9 takes us through Noah and the flood and the deal with rainbows (that beautiful covenant!), and then we kind of return back into the “begats” and time starts rolling again. There is a lot to learn in the “begats,” and we will talk about those in a different post, but by the time we get to Chapter 12 we know Abram’s genealogy and current conditions pretty well: son of Terah, has two brothers, Nahor and Haran-who is the father of Abram’s nephew Lot and has passed away (Genesis 11:27-28), and he has a barren wife, Sarai (Genesis 11:30).

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4, ESV)

Now, here’s where our topic of trust comes into play.

Joshua 24:2-3 says “And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac.”

Abram (who is later named Abraham meaning father of a multitude (Genesis 17:5) lived in a land, a culture, a society, and with people who served other gods. So immediately, if I were to receive Joshua 24:2 prior to receiving Genesis 12:4, I would think that Abram would’ve said something along these lines:

“Prove it! There are many gods here, what makes you so special? You want me to leave my family, my friends, my people and go to a land that you will “show” me? I don’t know where I’m going or who is even there! And how are you going to make something out of nothing? I have no children and I’m old. Prove yourself and then I will follow you.”

But, what does verse 4 say:
“So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…”

In October of 2015, I received a message from someone at a theatre company in Oregon regarding a job in Education, as once upon a time, I was an English teacher. During this time, I had just started to truly follow the Lord and wanted nothing more than to be obedient and to know him. As I studied his Word and spent time at church and with other believers, I started to see that even in the weakest time of life, he was good! I trusted the Lord, and just knew that whatever he had planned was going to be amazing! Almost every week during that application process, I received more and more confirmation that I was moving to Oregon. It was in my heart. But after months of going through the process, and the job opportunity being narrowed down between me and one other person, I received an email that stated they were going with the other candidate. I still have my response to her email:

 “You have no idea how happy I was that I got so close! Thank you for giving me a chance!”

I was confused, absolutely, as I was SURE that I had that job, but more so, I was SURE that I was moving to Oregon. I just knew it to be true! I remember praying “I don’t understand, but your will be done,” knowing that no matter what happens, the Lord’s plan for me is better than anything I can conjure up myself. He was good before that job opportunity, he was good after finding out that I didn’t get it, and he is always going to be good!

On the evening before my 26th birthday, I was watching Shrek and writing a scene for a play when I saw an Oregon number pop up on my cell: “The other candidate had another opportunity and went with that one, so I was wondering if you were still interested in the position.” I’m surprised that she didn’t hang up- as all she got for at least the first 5 minutes was me crying and worshiping the Lord. Every single door flew open that night. I didn’t have to worry about finances, or housing, or travel expenses; he had blessed me with everything I could have possibly thought of for that move and all I had to do was go. And just as Abraham, I packed up, and I left, confident in his goodness.

Here’s the difference between trust and test to me. To trust is to have confidence in something you already know to be true. As BLB says “to be bold, secure, to feel safe.” To test is to check the truth of something, to question: I’m not sure if the stove is really hot, so I’m going to put my hand on it and see if it’s really hot. That’s a test, and we will get there next week in Test the Lord, but these moves are completely and totally rooted on faith and trust in the Lord. I didn’t drive across the country alone without security waiting on the other side, but he had already provided all the things I needed. Abraham didn’t leave his land without a promise from the Lord himself. This is very different from the occurrences of my generation now (Millennials/Generation Y) who see on TV shows the woman who leaves everything and takes a bus across the country with no job, no money, no house on the other side, but ends up becoming a very famous pop star. Here’s the deal: 1) We don’t see the true struggle and what she had to do in order to get to where she got and 2) What would’ve happened if it didn’t work out the way she wanted, because it doesn’t for hundreds of people?

We all go through a season of “which way should I go?” My prayer is that we allow the Lord to guide our decisions-even the really, really tough ones. Obey the Lord like Abraham and even greater than him. Trust in the Lord like Joseph who spent years in bad situations and turned out to be the most powerful man in Egypt, only 2nd to Pharaoh, and even greater than him trust. Find peace (I AM PREACHING TO MYSELF!) in the wait. Let’s try to focus this week and onward on asking the Lord to guide us as opposed to giving him our plan for our lives, expecting him to provide exactly what we want and finding ourselves questioning his faithfulness when he doesn’t. Psalm 115:3 says “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” and if it pleases him that you sit your booty down for a little while, then that is what you will do! Just know that whatever is being asked of you is good for you and we have to believe that and trust that he is good and knows not only what is best for us, but what is best for the sake of the kingdom.

Keep Thriving and TRUSTING,

❤ Monisa

Trusting or Testing?

A little bit ago, I went on a Twitter rant (SURPRISE!) after a conversation with someone questioning the line between trusting in the Lord and testing the Lord. While he believes the line to be very thin and unnoticeable, I believe it to be very apparent when we are making decisions that are testing the Lord’s faithfulness to us. During that entire conversation I repeatedly heard “The Lord will provide,” which is absolutely true, but after getting home and thinking about that talk I found myself adding to my friend’s use of that line with “The Lord will provide what? Because if it’s what you want and not what He wants, then what happens if He doesn’t ‘provide?’” We both agreed to disagree after that conversation, which is

Guy Code for “Great. I don’t have to talk about that anymore,” but

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Girl Code for “On the outside you will think I’m not thinking about it, but in my head I just screamed ‘LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!'”

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In this case, I am not trying to disprove where he stands, but will be turning upward then inward to check out these things:

  • Have I made decisions that were less trusting and more testing of the Lord?
  • Am I currently making those decisions now unknowingly?
  • How thin is the line between trusting and testing?

This will be in two parts: Trust the Lord and Test the Lord. Monday, January 9th, we’ll look at Genesis 12: 1-4 (ESV) in parallel to a personal decision made within the last year for Trust the Lord. Monday, January 16th, we’ll look at Matthew 4:5-7 and other examples and decisions for Test the Lord. Hopefully, it will start a conversation, so feel free to comment or email me. I’d love to hear your take…even right now. Where do you stand?

Sooooo…tomorrow at 10am, we fight talk!

Keep Thriving (and TRUSTING!)

❤ Monisa

Dear Single Woman

Dear Single Woman,

I am going to challenge you. You may not like it.

For you, person who is not a single woman, you can keep reading too. I will challenge you as well.

How many times do we get our own messages? Like, never, right? Maybe when the pastor gets to 1 Corinthians 7 or Ruth, pre-Boaz, but rarely do we hear about the gift of singleness at church. If you are like me, you turn outwards, hopefully not to the world, but to your friends, maybe some books from ex-singles or the single and proud folks (I love you!) or blogs to remind you that you are not a leper. Sometimes, I find myself turning to the gospels just to remind myself that Jesus was a single man Himself, and that I can be fruitful as a single woman. Unfortunately, there are some people who believe that you can’t even obtain leadership roles in church if you aren’t married (which sounds like a punishment for simply being the recipient of the “gift of singleness” from the Creator Himself, right? I mean…not like we can return it to him), but I digress.

Marriage is absolutely beautiful. You’ve probably heard from your pastor that marriage is an image of the bond between Jesus and the church and that we (the church-Bride) are to come together as one flesh, one body with Jesus (the Bridegroom), parallel to what is written in Genesis 2:24. I don’t know of any believer that would speak of marriage as being simply what the world says it is: an institution, a way to get a tax break,  and “just papers” as someone once said to me. We can see the image. We know that a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is the way of the Lord. It is clear to us, and we want that, right?! It’s good to want to be married, amen? BUT! Can you say that you are ready? I’ll give you my own answer of this question later. First, look at this picture. What do you see?

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Young/Old Lady

The crazy thing about illusions is that once you see it, you can’t not see it, right? So while you see the young lady (the purple choker around her neck, head turned to her right), you can also see the old lady (the purple choker are her lips, the young lady’s chin is her nose). Now that you know, the next time you see this picture you will automatically see them both. Of course, if you wanted to you can choose which one you would rather look at, which for me, I’d rather keep looking at the younger lady, but it seems like the old lady just keeps getting in the way.

This is me right now. Every day, I see two ladies in the same body fighting for two different things. One lady is being guided by her flesh and the other, guided by the Spirit. One lady wants to fit in and the other one enjoys her eccentricity. One lady wants to be married and the other wants to be single. One lady wants to rebel and the other wants to be obedient. One lady wants to run and the other lady wants to fight.

The one thing they both have in common is they both wish the other would just die already! The one of the flesh wants the one of the spirit to walk away from everything, become her own god, control her own life, do what the world is doing for “happiness,” because following Jesus is LONELY and HARD! The one of the spirit wants the one of the flesh to stop making an idol out of everything, stop manipulating the Word to get what she wants, stop opening her heart to things that will move her away from being obedient to the Lord.

They fight DAILY, I tell you, and I am exhausted!

Here’s a perfect example of them fighting: Church on Sunday- After being led in worship by two amazing leaders and another awesome sermon, I walked out of the sanctuary convicted, awakened, uplifted and encouraged. I felt good! I picked up paperwork for a trip and talked to people about school and my mind was set on how exciting my life is at this time. “I LOVE being single!” is what I would say in moments like this. There’s the lady driven by her spirit…totally aware of her faults, knows she is forgiven, knows she has some hard work to do, appreciates the blessing of having the seasons to do it without husband or child, and knows that Jesus will keep moving her forward. I like this gal!

But, that other darn woman comes out of no where, and she is strong. While talking to my friend regarding the trip, to my left walks two examples of the me I wanted to be at 26 and am not: married, babies, married…The lump in my throat, that I was sure I had cried away weeks ago, came back. I tried to focus on the conversation, but I literally felt tears filling up in my eyes as the old lady says in my head, “They are so happy. You’re so lonely.” My pastor’s entire sermon, the one that convicted and uplifted me, turned into mush in my head. I remembered nothing. All I knew was that I was looking at two walking versions of my happiness and jealousy started to happen. Papers with a trip in my hand, books for seminary on a truck being delivered, financial freedom, amazing friends and family, and I am standing at church wanting to hide. Why does this consume me?- I ended up at home not too long after church and cried until I went to sleep; defeated by the idea that marriage is happiness, and therefore I will never be happy until I am married. There’s a word for this….

Remember that question I asked you above? Here’s my answer:  I am not ready for marriage. I am not even ready for dating. More recently, I have been made aware of the things and people I make my gods. My boyfriend/husband will be my god if he were given to me today. What does that mean? That means that I am aware that right now, I am struggling to decipher whether I want something because it will glorify God or whether I want it to fulfill a desire of the flesh. Today, ask me if I want to be married, and I will immediately think (and probably wouldn’t tell you this!) “26 years is a long time to be a virgin.” If I didn’t value the gift of sex and believe it to be an act of worship to the Lord, I would not be a virgin at 26, but I am and I will wait until I am married; however, my only view of marriage at this moment is to fulfill the sexual desire and to not be alone. I am having a hard time picturing being a wife and a follower of Christ at the same time. Matthew 6:24 (ESV) says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Look at what I just shared with you, again!

I cannot picture being a wife and a follower of Christ at the same time.

This is problematic, friends. Marriage has become a god, and not only for me, but to many people. This is a problem that I’m not sure many people realize they have and it’s so discreet, until you see it in yourself, and then you can’t help but see it again.

Here’s your challenge single woman. If the Lord Himself asked you these questions, what would you say?:

Will you follow Him if He gives you a husband?
Will you still follow Him if He doesn’t?
What does it look like to be a wife and a follower of Christ?

I thought I could answer these confidently, but I’m struggling with them all, and I will be meditating on these for a while! If you also find trouble truly answering these, we have some things to trust in the Lord about.  Allow Him to show us the way, and not the world. I pray He makes it clear to you that marriage is a gift from God, not your god, and that it should point to Him. We don’t need marriage to follow Him. Your husband may be fantastic,  but waiting on Him so you can be closer to God is backwards thinking. Get close to Him and work on all of this hard stuff while you have the alone time with God right now to do it.

One thing that I am SCREAMING at the top of my lungs right now is this:

I do not want a husband if he is going to be an idol. Leave me single for the rest of my life, and allow me to know Jesus more and more every day!

Here’s your challenge, person that is not a single woman:

Thank you for praying for me. Pray that I become stronger in my walk with the Lord. Do not pray that I find a husband, especially if you believe that he will make me happy, he won’t. Even if I tell you he will, he won’t. He is not designed to do that for me. If I cannot find joy and peace alone with my Savior, then that man will do me more harm than good. Pray that I can see clearly what marriage is and what it is to look like in the eyes of God and not as the world sees it. Pray that I get stronger, because I’m sick of holding in tears regarding this, and the jealousy that comes with it. Pray for our church leaders, that they can comfort the lonely, the widows and the unmarried, and recognize when the body seems to have excluded a small, but valuable and worthy part of their ministries. But, also, pray that you can become a better influence, as if you, person who is not a single woman, believe that a single person will only find happiness if they are married, then you too are doing damage and feeding the idolatry of marriage to the unmarried. We love to hear about your marriage, but we also love to hear about how the Lord is working in it. Show us Him in your marriage, so we know that He’s there.

I love you, guys! See you next Monday!,

Keep Thriving,
❤ Monisa

Good for You

“It’s only 3 o’clock?”

You are in your office with 2 hours of work left to go and your battery is at 10%. There’s a Starbucks nearby, but that would take 2% of your battery and it’s too cold to go outside…besides you have spent well over the amount of money you set aside on Starbucks this week, so you decide to just consider other options.

Someone mentions an energy drink, but you love sleeping too much and what they are offering will keep you awake way past your bedtime. “I just need something for now.”

Someone mentions a quick jog around the park to get your blood pumping. “HA…no!”

But then, an angel appears and reminds you of a new vending machine. “CHOCOLATE!!!! That will CERTAINLY do it! Thank you, beautiful!,” you say to that angel, and you head to the new vending machine to find this…

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Good For You! vending machine

No chocolate. No sugar. No preservatives. No cholesterol. No gluten. No taste.
No fun. No excitement. NO WAY!

Surely, the side of that vending machine looks pretty delicious, but no one goes to a vending machine looking for kale chips! Have you met one person who walks up to a vending machine and says, “What? No celery?! Man, this sucks!” (Side note: If you are one of those people, I commend you and you keep shining your healthy light, because we need more people like you in the world.)

While meeting the Good For You! vending machine was not what I wanted on that long and hectic work day, that vending machine is truly what it markets: It’s good for you! The machine is filled with things such as apple slices, carrots and celery sticks, nuts, granola, yogurt; things that you will find on the outskirts of a grocery store and not within the shelves. Things that will give you energy and provide good nutrients for your body. Things not designed to do you harm. After eating something from that machine, you don’t feel guilty about the 150 calories of goodness you just ate, in fact, you may feel really good knowing that you made a much healthier decision at that time. But at the moment, that’s not what you want. It’s only after the fact that you realize the good.

 

Would you agree that all of the below are also good?

Read about Joseph’s imprisonmentprison-1594946_1920

Read about Moses’ flee from Pharaohmiracle-1884327_1920

Read about Jonah’s call to Nineveh, fleeing, and being eaten by a fishman-1031682_1280

Read about Job’s test of faithsun-in-hand-693382_1920

Read about the woman with the issue of bloodpilgrimage-336615_1920

Read about Christ’s crucifixionperson-371015_1280

I doubt that anyone would look at the above scriptures and say ALL good, unless they knew the after effects of each. Unless they knew that Joseph became one of the most powerful men in Egypt, only second to Pharaoh; unless they knew that Moses would be called to set the Israelites free and headed to the Promised Land; unless they knew that a city called Nineveh would repent because of Jonah calling out words given to him by the Lord; unless they knew that Job would receive everything he lost and then some; unless they knew that just by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment would come a tremendous healing for the woman; unless they knew that by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, their sins would be forgiven because He had already covered the debts on the cross.

It is easy to look back and say something is good when you already know the outcome of it, but what about now? What’s the season like right this moment for you?

“Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed.”
“I don’t think I am being a good wife or mom.”

“Some days I just fear opening my mouth because it’ll probably make things worse.” “Some days I don’t even feel like I’m moving, but standing in the same place, going absolutely no where.”
“Some days I struggle to believe that the Lord is with me.”
“I look at my wife and kids and think I’m failing them.”

“Some days I struggle to believe that God really sees me. I struggle to believe that He really even cares.”

These are painful assessments of people you see every week at church. Words coming out of the mouths of people who you look at and admire. Words that have probably come out of your mouth this month, this week, today. How heartbreaking are these words? All of us have fallen into seasons of hopelessness, begging for help. But look at the stories above. We have an entire book that proves to us that God is good and that the seasons we are in today are a part of a sanctification process that will make us holy and bring us closer and closer to Him. These seasons are not for God’s entertainment. They are good for you.

To the dad who feels like he’s failing, you are so loved! You have no idea! God didn’t appoint you father for you to feel like a failure. You are kicking butt!
To the mom who doesn’t think she’s a good mom, your children cherish all of the little things you do. Including the cute little notes in the lunchboxes. Just because you’re not at school with them seeing them smile, doesn’t mean they aren’t.
To the guy who doesn’t want to get out of bed, remember that you work for the Lord and not for men. Do it with all of your heart! Your reward will be great!

As winter has begun, so to it will end and spring will emerge.
And as spring subsides, the temperature will rise and summer will prevail for a while. And from summer, the leaves will fall to protect the grass from the frost that comes in autumn mornings, and when the trees are bare the skies will turn grey and again will winter come.

You may not want it, but there will always be different seasons in our lives and some of them will be brutal. The granola is not what I wanted, but it was good for me. The tough conversations with my friends over disagreements are not what I wanted, but they were good for me. The kale chips might totally stink, but they were good (I’m pushing it) for me. The season of singleness is really good for me. You aren’t living in some Plan B track of life here, but the life that was intended for you from the start, and so everything that you are going through has been sifted through the hands of the Lord before it has even gotten to you, and He knows how to take those seasons of nothingness, and create something that will be better than you could have ever possibly imagined. Just keep moving. Don’t give up.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. When I started walking with the Lord and saw that He came up with better ideas than me, I gave up trying to compete. My only big picture goal this year is just to get out of His way. But I would love to pray for you and your NYRs. I pray that whatever happens in 2017 you continue to be fruitful. I pray for good friendships for you. I pray for better days and better perspectives on the hard days. I pray you remember the people in the Word that had really bad days from Adam all the way to Jesus. I pray that you remember you are where you are supposed to be right now, and that you remain uncomfortable. You may not like it, but it’s good for you!

Happy New Year and Keep Thriving,

Monisa ❤

 

A Letter To My Dance Partners!

Do you remember any of your high school dances? I don’t because I didn’t go to any of them! I didn’t go to prom. I went to work instead. The idea of being the senior standing against the wall in a dress I paid way too much for wasn’t appetizing. I wasn’t the girl who ever had a dance partner. No best friends. No boyfriends. Just kept to myself and stayed in my head. That’s why I’m crazy now! HAHA

This last Monday was pretty intense with my counselor. Our session started like this:

Him: How’s it been?

Me: It’s been shit.

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Put down your stones. Words like ‘crap,’ ‘dung,’ ‘manure,’ ‘a mess,’ and ‘not good’ wouldn’t have been able to truly tell him how I had been feeling (nor were they anywhere in my mind when he asked me), so I chose that one.

And in tune with my anger, I laid it all out before him, everything. Not one tear fell from these eyes during that rant, because I was livid. “I am disappointed. I am exhausted. I am lonely…and not some of the time…all of the time. And no one gets me and-” on and on.

I will live by the saying “Go back to the beginning.” 

If I find myself lost, I go to Matthew. If I find myself really lost, I go to Genesis.

My counselor must’ve known by my language that I was really lost, because he took me back to Genesis.

We talked about this guy named Adam who lived in perfection. He had the Lord and no sin to separate him from Him. We talked about how he had been given everything by the Father and how much peace and joy he lived in. No worrying, no anxiety, no disappointment, and no recognition of loneliness in fact, the guy was too busy naming trees to even recognize that he didn’t have a “dance partner.” The idea that everyone should be with someone (and I’m not saying romantically, necessarily, but simply with someone) was not something we came up. It’s not even something Adam came up with. Nowhere in Genesis will you find this verse:

“And Adam walked up to the Lord and said ‘I’m lonely’ and the Lord said ‘Thanks for telling me. I will make you a woman.’” Genesis ItAint:InThere

The idea of being with someone came straight from our Father; Genesis 2:18 (ESV) says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” And out of this man came this beauty we later learn is named Eve (Genesis 4:1). But my favorite verse within the creation of Adam and Eve, right before the fall, is Genesis 2:25: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Pre-fall relationships = Perfection. Naked . Not ashamed.

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Have you ever done something silly like look through the bible at all of the verses that are your birthday? In longing do I look at Genesis 2:25. February 25th is the birth date of yours truly who has been on the search for someone to be naked and unashamed with; to be completely open about her feelings without apologizing for “wasting their time;” to be able to say “I am lonely” and to feel comforted, and not like a burden. I have always longed for and expected pre-fall relationships with friends, family members, or a spouse despite knowing that I live in a fallen world.

Can we expect pre-fall in a fallen world?

My personal experiences tell me that I made a mistake in believing that I could. I expected my relationship with my dad to be perfect, but I’m in a reality that doesn’t meet that. I expected my church to be perfect, meeting all of my needs all of the time, but I’m in a reality that doesn’t meet that. The same for my friends. The same for myself. I have to be perfect, everything needs to be perfect. 

Believing that I can expect myself and those around me to live pre-fallen lives in a fallen world conflicts with my understanding of the impact the fall had on us, and distracts me from the reason why I need Jesus.

My worship pastor said this a long time ago: “If everything is gone: no church, no friends or family, no bible, no worship music to listen to, what would you have left? While great to have in our lives, do we tend to turn to these things more than we turn to Jesus?” #Guilty

In assessing this during my meeting with my counselor, I realized that I needed to take a step back, because I have confused my friends with my God and given them my burdens, and brought my God down to my level of being unable to bear the weight of my burdens.

During this break, I intend to reevaluate what fellowship is, what it means to be a friend, the roles of people in my life and me in theirs, the reason why I attend church, spend time with the only one who I can honestly be naked and unashamed with, and ultimately, remove these pre-fall expectations off of the backs of myself and the people that I love. My disappointment in the external things and the people around me is not from mistreatment, but the weight of expectation I have unknowingly put on them. I love the people around me too much to continue to look past their love and only look at their inability to fulfill every single need, which is His role. And, I love the Lord too much to disregard His death on the cross, view it as being invaluable, or Him not strong enough to bear these burdens. My  friends, my family, my church, are just that and none of them are my God. 

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I can’t dance with everyone at the same time, so during this “break,” I will dance one-on-one with people and it won’t be fun. I have been hurt by some; I have hurt others; I feel abandoned by some; I have abandoned others. These are the results. BUT, the strength I have received to tackle all of these emotions and negative thoughts and feelings and the courage to acknowledge that I have messed up is all from the Lord. I will put my trust in Him, knowing that His will be done in all of it.

I thought my anxiety would increase when I made the decision to purposefully isolate and assess my walk and refocus and reground and repent and rest and then reach out, but I’ve been chill.

I finally feel like He has my hand and we are walking together.

Keep Thriving,

Monisa ❤

Why Am I The One Always Packing Up My Stuff?

beach-terschelling-sun-sky-85313In my walk with the Lord, I am more aware of how I respond to certain things. I talk to the Lord about this, as I don’t truly understand why I feel certain ways let alone why I react to them the way I do. But, I have noticed that my current reaction to things is just as toxic and scary as the reactions I had when I was younger. My current reaction is destructive to my walk with the Lord.

My initial reaction to feelings of rejection, sadness, exclusion, and frustration is to isolate; run away, so you can’t hurt me anymore.
More recently, it pushes me to isolate even further, always insisting that I leave my church and remove myself from all of the people within it.

A band called Fun said this in their song “Why Am I The One?”:

“For once, for once, for once, I get the feeling that I’m right where I belong.
Why am I the one always packing up my stuff?”

Let me clarify something: I write a lot about my church, so much that you would totally think we were dating. When I got my MRI, they informed me that I couldn’t wear anything metal, because the magnets in the MRI machine were so strong they would cause whatever it was to latch on exceptionally tight. That is me and my church. She is the machine; I am the metal. I am safe; I am loved; I am supported. I know this to be 100% true, but when I’m under emotional stress (feelings of loneliness, exclusion, rejection, sadness, or feelings of being “singled-out”), whether she had anything to do with it or not, she and the people within her are the first thing that pops in my mind to go.
Here’s the most recent example:
I planned my first solo Christmas weeks ago. It started with being with my church family that morning, and coming home to spend the rest of the day alone with the Lord. Alone by choice. I was comfortable with this, because as a single whose family is 2000 miles  away, I know the holidays are when we really need to protect our hearts. Plus, I knew that I would get my family fix that morning at church! It was a good plan. I was down with it. I was looking forward to it.
And then-
“Hey, Monisa. Would you mind serving at church on the evening of Christmas Eve? We’re not doing a Christmas day service this year.” I imagine some people were probably a little bummed, but not jumbo-sized tears falling down face, bummed. I’m really good at crying and keeping a straight voice (years of practice unfortunately),  but all I could think about was “Christmas is now officially alone…and not by choice. There isn’t one part of it that will be with someone else.” Then, I thought of going to a friend’s, but “You’re seriously the annoying fly that keeps buzzing from house to house. Let them enjoy this holiday with their real family. It’s not their fault you decided to leave your family for a job.” Then finally anger, “First summer services and now this? Why do you even bother with this church?” Again…we are talking about a church that I wanted to attend the day I had my seizure, and would have if my pastor didn’t put his father-like foot down and tell me to rest. These thoughts don’t make sense. How could I want to leave people I love so much? Will I be this kind of wife? Will I just walk away when I’m hurt or upset?

Why am I the one always packing up my stuff?

And perfectly timed, a beautiful and loving, non-believing coworker walks in and invites me to join her and her friends the weekend of Christmas, and she talks to me about this season being hard because of being single and without children, and how she doesn’t live near her family, and as she speaks the lump in my throat grows because SHE GETS IT. Her invitation felt like such a blessing…but as she talked, I started thinking of Ephesians 6:12 which reminds us that we aren’t fighting flesh and blood but “against authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” And the lump drops and I cry, and I cry, and I cry, and this sweet, sweet woman holds me tightly in my office as I cry on her shoulder, telling me that  it’s going to be okay.
What I felt was “She GETS me! She really understands how hard this season has been.” But what I heard was “See. There are people who understand you better than your church ‘family’ does” and then “Don’t go to church Christmas eve…spend it with her” and finally “They will never understand you like she does. Why do you even bother with them?”
My counselor has been training me on recognizing attacks like this…as subtle and sweet as they are. In his own way of applying Ephesians 6:12 to my life he said “The force is strong with you, and the enemy hates it. Your issue isn’t with your friends. It’s not with your church. It’s not with your pastors. It’s that you are walking in obedience and in faith, and the enemy hates it. He sees that this church makes you stronger, so you can go to church, just not THAT one. He sees that those people make you stronger, so you can hang out with the lukewarm or the non-believing. He just doesn’t  want you hanging with THOSE people. You are all a threat to him. So everything they do will hurt more than usual, because he wants you out of there. He wants you to see all of the cute church couples, make you believe that you don’t fit in there, so you can isolate, because he can break you down then, but as long as you are with them, you are a force to be reckoned with.”

How oddly affirming.hands-63743_1920

My church threatens the enemy so much that he actively participates in trying to break bonds that the Lord put together with his own hands. He shows me how beautiful the grass is on the other side and how dirty it seems on the side I’m on, and if I would just…step a little to the left I would be just fine. He tells me that my church is horrible because they make justifiable decisions, and he hands me a solution that is sweet and subtle, but will move me away from the Lord if I get too attached to it.  Oh, he knows us better than we think he does.
Friends, my life is uncomfortable right now. Bait is gently touching my skin every single day and sometimes I bite. Sometimes I say “You’re right…I’m not going to church today.” Sometimes, I’ll say “She doesn’t get it. I won’t talk to her about it ever again. I’ll fight this on my own. I don’t need her” and I’ll isolate. Sometimes, I’ll even bite the bait that says “You know when your pastor says ‘I love you guys’ at the end of his sermon, don’t take that too personally. He’s just nice because he has to be. He couldn’t care less about you!” That one probably hurts the most. I have to fight through these uncomfortable moments, though. They are confirmation that I’m in the right place, with the right people, doing the right stuff. The enemy doesn’t attack the ones in his court. If you are comfortable right now, change it. Something is not right. You gotta get moving! If you are uncomfortable, carry on! Something is happening, my friend. Don’t give up. Keep believing. Keep your eyes on God and your armor on. Please don’t isolate and go silent. Blow the trumpet. There are people that will run and help you! You are NOT alone!
I’m grateful for these learning moments because I realize “Hey…there seems to be something deeper going on here that the Lord is trying to free you of.” I look forward to the day where the thoughts of leaving my church or my friends and isolating is no longer an option. Where I can put that darn suitcase away and stop packing up my problems and carrying them to the next location. As I work through this, I’ll sing another Fun song:

“If you’re lost and alone.
Or you’re sinking like a stone.
Carry on.
May your past be the sound
of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on.”

My sister said to me, “Whatever the enemy tells you to do…do the opposite.” #Truth
Keep Thriving,
❤ Monisa

Flags I Can’t Wave

I hope that in my encounters with you, you have received the overflowing love that comes from the Lord, fills me up and seeps through my skin. I hope you have experienced my genuine love; the love that I can’t wait to pour over you every single day. I hope you see my heart and know that you are prayed for, you are beautiful, and you are wanted. I hope you have never spoken to me and I made you feel like you were worthless, nothing, or less than, and if this has ever occurred, my friend, sincerely from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. I pray that the Lord continues to show me the sins I commit and ignore, as they are not acceptable in His eyes and require my wholehearted repentance.

With the rise of protests, I felt the need to talk truth with you for a moment. Please listen to my heart as I say these next words, and respect that I will not apologize for them:

I will not stand on the side of sin.directory-1161965_1920

Unfortunately, I know this is where you start to mesh my statement and my belief in Christ with today’s most terrifying stories of Christianity and homosexuality, evangelists and the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, and scandals with Christian TV reality families like the Duggars, and rightfully so, as there are people all around us who say they do things in the name of the Lord, but lead us to exceptionally dark places, making the believer and the non-believer alike wonder why anyone would serve a god who would allow such tragedies to occur. But, don’t. Don’t mesh my faith and the sins of the world together. Don’t allow my faith to cause you to believe that I do not love people. Don’t allow my belief in Christ to make you feel like you are unwanted or unloved or hated or that you cannot live your life. Don’t let me choosing not to pick up a sign allow you to think that I don’t care about you. I didn’t accept Christ as my Savior in order to be your oppressor.

I want to share a parable with you, and whether you are a believer or not I pray you continue to read it.

Matthew 25:1-12 says:

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lampsflame-185365_1280, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Imperfect walking pieces of flesh, sometimes called humans, do imperfect things. As different as we all are we have one thing in common; we are imperfect.

Jesus speaks to us about a group of girls who all have something in common; they are virgins waiting with their lamps to meet a bridegroom. But the difference is their preparedness when he arrives. Five of them, as the scripture tells us, were foolish. While still virgins and waiting for the groom like the wise five, they assumed that he would come when they were the most prepared, on their time. At the start, they were equivalent to the wise five, in fact, they probably thought that the wise five were over prepared. But look what happens. They wait and they wait and they all get tired and fall asleep, and what is happening as they are waiting is they are becoming more and more unprepared.

Listen, we don’t know how long we are going to be in this world, but as the culture shifts we start noticing that new things start popping up that remove us from being prepared and introduce us to more opportunities to sin against the Lord. The unpreparedness is that many of us preach love, but have now been given more opportunities to express our hate and dislike. The unpreparedness is we say amen to all of the teachings on humility, but have become so “busy” that we won’t get off of the pedestal we’ve put ourselves on to serve people who are underprivileged. The unpreparedness is that many of us do things in the name of the Lord, but we convince ourselves that the scripture that condemns us for our sinful behavior is outdated and irrelevant. WE are imperfect, and we think that the Lord’s commandments are too hard, too life changing, and too holy for us to try to pursue, so we stay in this  lifestyle where we are comfortable and preach that everyone else is the issue or are too radical. We, brothers and sisters, bring each other down. I’m told by some black people that I’m not black because I listen to certain types of music, as if my ethnicity is based on my playlist. I’m told by some women that I’m less of a woman because I believe that abortion is sinful, as if my femininity is based on what happens in my womb. I am encouraged due to my oppression because I am a young, black woman in a country governed by an old, white man, but I’m also discouraged by those same people and called an oppressor because I believe in Christ.

I don’t open the Word to find something to bang you upside your head with every day. I opened the Word one day and read that if I sought Him with all of my heart that I would find Him, and so I seek (Jeremiah 29:13). I opened the Word another day and read that He is always with me and the Holy Spirit lives inside of me who will remind me of His commandments (John 14: 15-31), and so I live to keep them. I don’t believe because someone shoved the Word down my throat. I believe because I learned for myself that He is real and I am free because of Him.

Looking back at Matthew, one could say “Well…why didn’t those girls give the other girls some of their lamp oil? That was rude and they brought them down!” When Jesus returns, I won’t answer for your sins and you won’t answer for mine. Praise the Lord for that, because I am imperfect, and I dare not put my sins on anyone. I love you, but I don’t live for anyone but Jesus, and if I am to be expected to put down my cross and pick up a sign to fight for something that would make me less ready for his return, then you will never know me.  I am to be like the wise five. I don’t just want to be ready. I want to be ready all of the time, and your preparedness is ultimately determined by you and your willingness to obey the Lord, not by my efforts to encourage you, although I will always try to.

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My flesh tells me to fear this post, because I love my friends and family so much, but my beliefs are seen as radical and therefore cause for people to become angry, but still I’ll write. I fear speaking, because my words come across as being oppressive to the nonbeliever, and still I’ll speak, praying that they encourage and prove God’s love and not oppress. I work at an organization that I love and truly believe in, but I walk with the heart to preach the gospel, and the fear of losing my job if I say Merry Christmas or speak about Jesus to the wrong person stresses me, but still I’ll pray in secret and love them no matter what. Even in all of that I know that I am going to be fine. My freedom comes from Christ. All of my strength comes from my Father and all of my words are rooted in love, but I do find myself standing on the side of the Lord looking into the face of people I call friends and family who stand on the other side fighting against me.

But it’s over here that you will always find me.

No one can move me.

The story from Matthew is a lesson from Jesus in regards to us being ready for His return. We won’t know the time or the day, but He calls us to be ready. Many Christians are not ready, in fact, most of us aren’t. We still battle with the flesh every single day, and it doesn’t mean we don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord, it just proves that we are weak to the things of this world and need Him even more to get out of this bondage. Some Christians’ fleshly battle is racism. Some of us struggle with pornography, drugs, or alcohol. Some of us can’t stop swearing. Some of us (like me) have great anxiety and struggle with worry and depression. One sin isn’t greater than the other. Your sin isn’t too much for Christ to bear, in fact, He carried it already. It is finished, he said. Christians aren’t all the same people. Just like all black people aren’t ghetto. All white people aren’t racist. All Latino people aren’t Mexican. All people of color aren’t illegal immigrants. All men aren’t dogs. All women aren’t whores. All nonbelievers aren’t Satanists. All Christians aren’t ready.

But, we have to continue to pray for one another, nonbeliever and believer, black and white, rich and poor. Pray. Encourage one another to seek the Lord with all their heart. Lead them on what it really means to be prepared, rooted in the Word, trusting the Lord and leaning not on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

religion-1139050_1920As I proclaim my love for Christ and carry my cross through one wilderness into the next, know that I will stand by you if the Lord calls me to. I will fight with you if the Lord calls me to, but the Lord won’t call me to sin against Him, so there are some signs I will not hold and some flags I will not wave, but hear me when I say that you are loved by me. You are beautiful and I’m not focused on what you believe in or what color you are or even how you treat me to determine whether or not my love for you exists. It does. And so long as Jesus is with me, so shall my love for you be, because it’s from Him that I am free to love everyone despite our sins and imperfections.

Peace be with you,

Monisa ❤

No Refunds or Exchanges

She didn’t want to go, but she went anyway, and about 7 minutes away from the church, her headache intensified. She thought, “maybe I should go back home and lie down. Maybe I shouldn’t have come to church today.” She hasn’t been feeling too well lately. Between the many blood tests, going in and out of the hospital for tests on her heart and brain, new medicines, old medicines, sleeping 12+ hours every day, she thinks “I can’t wait until this is over and I can go back to my normal life.” BUT, in service, as she struggles to fight past the warning signals of another possible seizure, she lifts her hands to worship the Savior and out comes words that she couldn’t even believe she was saying until after she said it: “If this is your will, then let it be done.”

When was the last time you expressed your complete trust in the Lord knowing that what was about to come next may be the hardest thing you were about to endure? Maybe, it’s an illness, and you aren’t quite sure what is going on with your body, and the doctors can’t figure it out, and the medicine isn’t doing anything more than just pacifying you; nothing is being healed, but is only getting worse. Do you lift your hands and say “God. Yes! This pain that I am going through, I am so grateful! Your will be done.” If you are like me you do the opposite. You doubt. You cry. You get angry. You isolate. You stop talking to people or the Father. You start thinking things that are completely in contradiction to the Word like, “Did I or my parents commit this sin that I am experiencing this pain?” (John 9:2). Most people would face devastation. Some people would fall into depression. Many people, unfortunately, would walk away from the Lord thinking “What kind of God would let me go through this? It’s easier to believe that there is no God, than to believe that there is a God and He would let this happen to me.”

I felt called to write this blog for myself today, because since 10/12/2016, I have been up and down…way down, and sometimes I can’t seem to find my way back up again. After a full day of me and Jesus and resting and loving Him and being with Him, I ended up being back in a place of “Why is this happening? Why are you doing this? This is hard. I don’t want this anymore. WHERE ARE YOU?”

But, He was right there and sitting in church today, as my super cool, amazing, awesome pastor preached his sermon out of Colossians on finding vision, I thought “Jesus has been here before.”

Matthew 26:36-46 says “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”gethsemane-1024x768 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

God, I am on my face, begging you to take it away, but…if not, then your will be done?

CRAZY! How can he say that knowing what was about to happen to him? How can WE say that not having any clue whether or not this is going to get worse before it gets better?

I will tell you how I said it today during worship. Because while I know this freaking sucks, I also know that HE IS GOOD! While I wish I knew the answers, I know that He will use whatever pain, whatever I am going through in my life right now for good in accordance to His will. While I totally wish that this cup will pass from me, that I will know what is going on with my body, and my heart, and my brain and that it will just all be healed right now, I know that this isn’t happening as a punishment for disobedience. We cannot forget that everything that we go through sifts through His hands first and He coats it with a purpose, flipping our roughest, toughest, hardest moments into something beautiful. We see it from the beginning in Genesis all the way through Revelation. The redemptive plan of the Lord that says “Yes, you have fallen, but I’ve made a way to pick you back up. Trust me.”  Jesus has already won, so this (and whatever this is for you) is not too big for our God. Knowing this makes me cling to Jesus even more, because knowing that this Earth isn’t the final destination, or that this life isn’t the best thing I have to look forward to, but an eternity with the King in Heaven is on its way makes me want to dance in the middle of the street.

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Bowie and Jagger

I have my cup and you have yours. It is full of a whole lot of stuff, things you don’t even know about yet, but it’s yours, no refunds or exchanges. But, let me tell you something, no matter what is in that cup know that our Savior had a cup of His own as well, and that cup made a way for you to be with Him and the Father in Heaven for eternity. Whatever is in your cup may be so hard, my friends. It may leave a couple of scratches here and there or completely destroy something, but there will be a day when we look back at that moment in time and think “Thank the Lord for that season, because it has made me stronger and brought me closer to Him. Glory to God for always being in control.” A wise man once said “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Oh yeah, that was Jesus.

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Joking Dog Face!!!

I used to think that when I prayed for certain things, I would be giving the Lord permission to keep me in a certain situation. Some days, I excitedly proclaim to Him “I LOVE being single!,”and then I quickly clear up what I mean with a “But don’t think I love it so much that you shouldn’t give me a husband…I mean, I really like it, but…I still want that guy.” He doesn’t need our permission to give or take from us, but it may help us mentally, spiritually, and emotionally to follow suit with Jesus and say “You know what. This is hard. This isn’t the way I thought this was going to be and certainly not the way I wanted it to be, but I trust you. Your will be done.”

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!- Lauren Daigle

Keep trusting! Keep thriving!
❤ Monisa

Kintsukuroi

Leslie wakes up at 630 every morning and gets ready for work, showers, cleans a little, prepares something for breakfast (“Always something quick and light”), sits down, gives thanks to the Lord for another day, and begins eating in silence, the natural lighting coming in through her windows. But after a few bites, she puts down the fork and takes in a deep breath. “No. You’re fine. Please, Leslie. Not today.” She contemplates turning on the TV, knowing that if she focuses on what is happening on the screen, she can focus less on the dam in her mind that just broke due to an overbearing river of thoughts reminding her of her loneliness. “I bet Jennifer is sitting with her family eating breakfast. Bianca is making a lunch for her husband right now. You…if you choked on your breakfast, no one would know for days.” Quickly, she swallows down what is on her plate and rises to wash it. “I wonder what color dress I should wear for Christmas this year. Red…no, green. What is the weather in Kenya right now? What time does the library in Tampa open today? Quinoa or brown rice for dinner in my salad?…Definitely quinoa.” Random questions fill her mind as her vision gets more and more blurry. She leans on the sink, closes her eyes extra tight and prays “Please, Lord, no. I know I am not alone. There are people who love me and I know You are here with me…Why does this always happen? Please.” But when she opens her eyes, the first tear drops  bringing along friends, and she finds herself leaning against the kitchen sink, 10 minutes behind schedule, feeling like someone has just taken her heart from her. She will eventually make it to work and no one will have any idea that every morning she battles with this, because she will never tell them. “They are all married with families and I’m just…me. I have tried to tell some of them, but they just say to get over it. I don’t know how to do that.”

Anyone who meets my mom (Other than asking if she is my sister…) says that she is really nice. My mom is amazing! She is beautiful and fun and a hard worker, and patient (sometimes), and just a really great woman! She’s also an observer. She’s really good at reading body language and how people react with other people or how they respond to situations. I say all of this to point out how difficult it was to live with a woman who KNOWS when something is wrong ALL OF THE TIME!

Imagine me, coming home from school under a lot of stress, and my Captain of the Observation Team mom asking me how my day went. Naturally (mainly because I didn’t want to talk about it), I would say…”Good!” Naturally (because she DID want to talk about it), she would say “Monisa…what’s wrong?” And my dam would break. The Mississippi River?…I cried that! It’s easy to be vulnerable around your mom, especially because you know that she loves to mend your brokenness and won’t try to hurt you. Your heart is in good hands.

But…that was just to my mom. By the time I was in undergrad, I had my fair share of take cares and goodbyes, so I had taught myself that being vulnerable was no longer an option, and I didn’t give two shiitake mushrooms what you thought about me protecting my heart. In my hands, it won’t get hurt. I will protect it. Even when it came to Jesus, I hid my heart, because I didn’t know Him…or what He would do to it. Years of this, and being invulnerable became a part of who I was. To the person on the outside offering me comfort, I fed to them that nothing was wrong, EVER wrong; I was happy and content with my life; I was so busy; I just didn’t have time to spend getting to know anyone. I trusted no one, but in my head, I would feed myself all of these dreams and expectations that never happened the way I wanted them to, and thus found myself not being able to even trust myself with some things. I was closed off, but tried not to reach the point of being unapproachable. See, I wanted you there for when I was ready, but I didn’t want you to get too close to me now, because I’m not ready and I’m not sure when I will be. you-dont-know-me-that-well-but-my-angry-face-and-my-happy-face-are-the-same-d9c1b

We read the Bible and we see many times when the Lord takes people out of their comfort zone. Me accepting the Lord as my Savior was the start to a very long and painful journey that I am still going through. Bad days started popping up like newborn babies, landing into my arms and being quickly named depression, anxiety, and loneliness; These became children I never wanted, but I have and had no idea what to do with until now. They belong to the Father (pun totally intended).

My counselor read that about me from the beginning. Being vulnerable is new, but I’m trying really hard. I have to be honest on this vulnerability thing though. The reason why I think it is so hard for me, is because I have a hard time believing that people really care. Just 4 days ago, I expressed something personal to 3 friends and every single one of them left me feeling like I was standing outside completely naked. Being vulnerable sucks, being lonely sucks, being depressed sucks, dealing with anxiety sucks. I wish I could tell you when you won’t feel this way anymore, or why you are dealing with it to begin with, why it seems like you are going through life alone, why you have to keep giving yourself random questions to take your mind off of how you feel, or how afraid you feel that everyone is going to leave you, or how broken you have been, but I don’t have the power to stop myself from feeling these ways. What I can say is please don’t stop telling people when you are broken, because you might find yourself protecting your heart from the one who can heal it. Vulnerability is not an option. It is my vulnerability that allows me to fall on my face to the Lord and say “I can’t do this without You!” It’s my vulnerability that allows me to repent and my trust in Him that brings me comfort. It’s my vulnerability that makes my friends now feel like they can talk to me about anything. Beloved, your heart is not better in your hands. It’s better in His. He has a plan from beginning to end, and yeah, this hurts like hell, but my friend, I need you to know that you are not alone. I give you Kintsukuroi to remind you of how absolutely beautiful you are and how even more beautiful you will be after all of the pain subsides (whether on this Earth or in Heaven). Amen. ed2c9ee1196a7a0d91e9b7979091ed6c

Kintsugi, or Kintsukuroi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with seams of gold, making the object even more beautiful for being broken.

We are going to be just fine. Keep holding on to Him. He has not given up on you.

Keep Thriving,
❤ Monisa

 

Did you feel that?

arora-1745935_1280

Do you know
the word
‘feel’
is in the
KJV
7 times,
and 
the word
‘feelings’
is not 
in there
at
all? 

Do you know
the word
‘truth’
is in the 
KJV
235 times?
John 14:6,
our Savior
literally
telling us that
He
is
the
Truth.

And yet, we disregard the truth that is the Word made flesh and allow our lives to be driven by our feelings, wholeheartedly believing that we know better for ourselves than our Creator, who ever-so-lovingly opens His arms to embrace us after we have followed our feelings and gone astray…again.

He will open His arms again, friend, even when your feelings make you believe that He won’t. That’s 100% true!

Keep Thriving,
❤ Monisa

Enough Already

I believed and still struggle with believing that Jesus is enough. I wonder: If Jesus is enough, then why do I feel like I can’t live without this -OR- I think: If Jesus is really enough, then why does this woman get this, but I am to live without it. Shouldn’t we all just not need it the same?!

Two issues here:

1) I feel.              2) I think. 

Too much!

Granted, the issues aren’t necessarily that I feel or think, but that I am driven by my feelings and thoughts and they both replace the truth that is written.  I feel like I am alone, so I take that and put it in the place of the countless times the Lord has promised that He will not leave or forsake (Deut. 31:6, Jos.: 1:5, 1 Sam. 12:22). I feel like I am unloved, so I take that and put it in the place of Jesus dying on the cross for me while I was still a sinner, the ultimate sign of love in my book (Romans 5:8). When I am anxious and I think that no one understands me or cares, I am putting this lie where the truth should live that is 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Before I know it, I have convinced myself that if Jesus was enough, I shouldn’t FEEL like I am missing anything.

Here’s the irony: When I started walking with the Lord, my understanding of Christianity was this (as my brother put it today in his sermon) Vending Machine Relationship. I tithe, you give me what I want. I serve, you give me what I want. I pray really, really hard for it and POOF, what Monisa wants is given to her. A terrible way of viewing the Lord who isn’t in debt to anyone and doesn’t owe me anything (first and foremost), but also an awful heart to have, because what happened to me and my relationship with God when I gave and didn’t receive what I thought was enough?

CUE 4 YEAR OLD TANTRUM!girl-563719_1280

But in those moments of tantrums, I discovered

How freeing it is (and will be) when I truly understand that Jesus is enough.

Sis, it’s not bad to desire things. It’s not bad to want kids or marriage or a chocolate chip muffin slightly heated from Starbucks (got that?), but here is where it gets bad…when we believe that we must have that in order to be happy or at peace; where Jesus is not enough and we seek Him only to obtain stuff. This was, and in my super low moments, is me. Enough for me was (and sometimes is) when I am a wife. “When I have a family…my life with be complete.” NO. It won’t. That’s stupid! But it sure does FEEL like the truth when I am surrounded by super smiling couples, right? Here is the truth…

Jesus + Marriage ≠ Enough
Jesus + Children ≠ Enough
Jesus + Money ≠ Enough
Jesus + Fame ≠ Enough
Jesus + My Church ≠ Enough
Jesus + My Parents ≠ Enough
Jesus doesn’t need to be plus anything.
He is more than enough already!
AMEN!

Now, as one who is a writer and enjoys a good play on words, it’s about time I be honest with myself and call ENOUGH ALREADY! Imagine a life where we truly believe that Jesus is enough. Imagine how much that will change your perspective of the things of this world, and how much pressure you remove from people and the things you seek to measure your success. I could go to work tomorrow and they tell me they are letting me go: Jesus is enough. I could struggle with having kids: Jesus is enough. I could never get married: Jesus is enough. Now I’m not saying these aren’t difficult things to deal with, but if you are anything like me, we hold on to the idea that we are doing something awfully wrong that the Lord doesn’t find us worthy of having the things that we desire.  Instead, I want to be better at replacing that lie with the truth: Everything is a wonderful blessing from the Lord. He knows what I need and supplies it for me, but the truth of the matter is it’s all dung compared to actually having him. He is enough.

Ponder this: What is your plus Jesus? Marriage, kids, money, work?

Write this: In two columns, write down the lies you tell yourself or hear from others in one column, and find the truth from the Word and write that in the other across from the lie. Enough already, right? We will embrace the truth from now on (says the girl who KNOWS she is going to continually struggle with this), but hey, whether you are walking or crawling, keep moving.

Pray with me: Lord, I write to myself. Completely unaware if there will even be one lady who reads these things. I know that I am far from perfect in believing that you are enough, but that doesn’t take away from the truth that you are. I thank you for those days that I can see that clearly. You are my God; Jesus my Savior. I have no desire to be outside of your will and pray that you continue to show me those times I look to other things in addition to you to fulfill me. I pray that I continue to embrace the truth and not be driven by my thoughts or feelings. I pray for anyone who does read this and can apply it to their lives, but what I really pray for with all of my heart is that we truly understand your worth. We are forever indebted to you, Jesus. Thank you for this place to write in honesty and truth. We love you. Amen.

P.S. I’m making a transition from writing into video blogging some of these, and also from only writing application blogs to teachings verse by verse. I’m terrified…LET’S DO IT!

Keep Thriving,
Monisa ❤