You adjust to Me. I don’t adjust to you.
And those were His words as I sat in the middle of Starbucks trying to figure out His plan. And God is just downright confusing sometimes, if not frustrating, and it’s flat hard to see His direction. So I sat with two mentors and we prayed expecting to get guidance, when in fact, I received a reminder.
You adjust to Me. I don’t adjust to you.
I often forget that it’s a privilege to be in communication with King Jesus. I forget He holds stars and the earth is His footstool. I forget I’m just a speck of dust and yet He watches me breathe. And sometimes His Love sacrifice gets lost in my selfishness, instead of my selfishness getting lost in His Love sacrifice.
This year I hope to change that.
So Couture31 will be shifting a little as well, dear friends. This space of gentle grace has been quite the living room over the past two years. God has done some amazing things and He continues to astound me with your stories that come in emails, texts, phone calls, and notes. I’m thankful He crossed our paths.
But I don’t want to stop there.
I can’t stand the thought of us gathering together only to leave this space and not respond to His invitation. I’m just tired of being encouraged on blogs, in magazines, and on webpages without actually doing something with what I’ve read. I want the encouragement I receive to prompt me to really live like Jesus, not just think about Jesus.
Does that make sense?
I want this space to be a challenge, a pushing encouragement for us to live out what Jesus talked about. Love, joy, peace, patience, boldness, mercy, grace. May we never just get the warm feelings inside of our hearts without going out and sharing the love of Jesus. Let’s not stop in this space. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
The Church isn’t meant to stay comfortable inside four walls or within the confines of a blog. We weren’t created for such an unassuming and safe life. We were created to be filled up only to spill out. We were created to go. We were created for intimacy with the very One Who gave it all for us. The Church was created to establish the world as a pulsing heart for Jesus Christ.
So around here, posts will be shorter and sometimes less frequent. We want to be known as a people that seek the heart of our Jesus and then share the heart of our Jesus. We want to live out His invitation of love, letting His joy and grace spill out wherever we go.
Starting today, let’s do just that.
We can remember together that Jesus has pointed at us and said, Go. He has held our hearts and whispered, Be brave. He has given the freedom and the direction. Now it is up to us to do something with His Presence within. We are bursting at the seams with His being and others are bursting to encounter Him.
And with one step of faith, we can create a Heavenly collision that will have far reaching eternal ripples.
So we adjust to Him, okay? We pray for sensitivity to His Spirit and His movement, opening our eyes and ears and hearts to where He is already working. And then? We move. We join Him with excitement and anticipation for all He will do.
Being the Church is not boring. Being the Church is an expectant and anticipated adventure with the Star-Breather Himself. So take heart, dear one. You are ready. You are equipped.
And I can promise you one thing, you will never be the same.
And sometimes days just roll out disappointments.
We prepare and we pray, we pray and we prepare all for another no or not yet. Frustration boils to overflowing and we’re two seconds away from losing it all because I thought I was ready this time. So we step back into the arms of Grace and let Him give the perspective.
And a new year holds a variety of emotions. Some are joy-filled and others are plagued with the lonely. We each have our burden and in some ways, we’re all the same.
Three of my best friends and I just got back from a conference where Jesus did the loving and our hearts sat pried open. We needed a filling up and just anyone doing the pouring wouldn’t do. So we traveled nine hours from home to worship with other Jesus followers and just receive wholeheartedly from the pitcher of Heaven. Ephesians says He does immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. He sure is true to His Word.
Because sometimes we run on empty and the well is scrapped dry clean and all that’s left is an open heart needing the filling. Truth is a struggling Christian because Jesus never said life would be easy. So we run into disappointments and heartache, pain and frustration.
But our reality doesn’t exist there.
So what we might see is another barrier, or so it seems. Breaking comes and the heart that beats just underneath this skin starts to stretch beyond what I know, but I’m not reaching the end of me today.
Hardships do not define me, sonship does.
So I have time to discuss my citizenship in Heaven and I have hours to relish my place at the table of my Father. I refuse to make time to wallow in the defeat that tries to take me down. An assignment of the enemy releases not pain, but a revelation that I am a threat to the kingdom of darkness. I take heart, not lose heart, at such a truth.
Jesus called me out of darkness to stay out, not to meander back in. He has set me free! Light is a permanent thing.
And if computer screens would allow it, I think I’d reach right through to take you by the shoulders and remind you of who you really are. I’d just speak life over something you’ve deemed lifeless and whisper hope over what looks as hopeless.
I know one thing for sure: as another daughter of Heaven, I’d just refuse to let you be beaten up by another tactic of the enemy. My friend, our Jesus has done enough to handle what’s in front of you right now. His sacrifice, once and for all, covers this too.
So can we just take a breath right now and be straight up? Because yeah, we get bogged down sometimes and there’s days where God hears silence. Anger creeps up and frustration wraps ‘round and we just have no words because as Thumper says: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. So we sit like defiant children across the room, refusing to acknowledge His Presence in the mess rather than running straight over and climbing on His lap.
The choice to walk in healing will always be ours; but we must be willing to approach the Healer.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
2016 will sweep through like any year past, but we can choose to approach this one carefully. Stepping closer to the Healer, we can look around and be amazed. Living from Heaven to earth (sonship) is so much more wonderful than living from earth to Heaven (hardship). And we have the beautiful opportunity to make this next year an open invitation to sonship for anyone we encounter.
As representatives of Heaven, each encounter with us is an encounter with Him.
So we leave hardship behind, okay? And it won’t make everything disappear, but we’re shifting the focus to live from Heaven. Heaven does not leak frustration, but faith; it does not dispense trial, but triumph; and it continues to saturate those who let it with the fervency of Jesus, our King. Bound by Love, we step around disappointment. Living from victory, we look up. Because grace does come like the rain for those who pray for it and peace is a gift unlimited.
We hold January tender now because so much can be poured in to one bundle of 365. My hope and prayer is that we can spend this next week praying as to what to pour in and what to keep out. Allowing Heaven to do the filling and stepping in to be the willing vessel, others are sure to notice our Presence-filled year.
And what a perfect opportunity it will be when they ask What happened? and we reply, Jesus.
So He came and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Our shame didn’t stand at that manger and convince Him He didn’t want to continue. Our rebellion and heartache and prodigal days didn’t scream loud enough to deter Him. And hatred and pain couldn’t stop Him if we tried.
So it’s just a fact. He came.
And when I stop to think about it all, at the start of this Christmas week, my heart gets bigger and somehow lighter. Because there was nothing I could do to keep Him from saving me. What a relief, because there were days I sure tried.
A baby opened beautiful eyes to look first at livestock and then at a teenage mom more than two thousand years ago because Son, there’s this situation and Your life is the answer. So the situation of sin and hurt and pain and darkness suddenly had a competitor and the gates of hell shuddered because they knew they had already lost.
A baby breath and war was waged.
What greater love?
And baby turned toddler, but the balance between God and man perfectly existed nonetheless. It says He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with both Heaven and earth. And the eternal became more of a reality with each inhale because the Way was being made and there was just nothing the rest of the world could do about it.
Love. It just came. Not with permission, because we probably wouldn’t have given it. We’re all We don’t need saving, but our hearts seem to cry otherwise. Because the broken ones don’t think we need fixing until we’re just a big pile of mess and only a Father will do. That alone He seemed to know when Heaven split and a throne was vacated and the manger held Love’s first cry.
There’s this feeling in my heart that wants to argue with Him coming. Ridiculous, I know, but there’s a part of me that wants to go back and spare Him the pain He would endure, the heartache He would walk through. Because surely our Jesus, the Perfect Son, didn’t deserve such grime. And I just want to stand at the manger and say, No, Lord, You don’t deserve what is to come, but I know my heart just screams hard opposite:
Thank God You’re finally here. O Precious Messiah, thank God You’re finally here.
The broken can’t help but cry blessing at the Presence of Jesus.
This Advent has my heart emotional and tired from the searching because I can’t seem to find more reason for Him to have come other than me. . . and you. A world that only boasted of shattered hearts, Love broke the barrier of what was possible. And I just believe with everything in me that His throne was vacated voluntarily because when Love overwhelms, you have no choice but to move. So we cried out for Love and then He came and everything changed from that first heartbeat in the womb.
Eternal pulsed on temporary earth and now Heaven was an option.
Truly John had it right when he wrote, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, because could 33 years of walking, breathing, saving Love ever be grander? Could anything ever trump a Love that left golden streets to walk on dusty ones, that left perfection to kneel in imperfection, that released eternal to grasp temporary? Surely nothing has ever been sweeter to human kind.
Surely nothing and no one has ever been so gracious.
So this Christmas just means something more to me, you know? In light of His sacrifice to live and then die, I find a deeper worship. This Christmas has me standing outside of that manger weeping with gratitude and relief because Heaven-dwelling God was now God with Us, Emmanuel, and my world would never be the same. Appropriately kneeling in the presence of such Presence, the broken world joins me in song and Heaven leans in at the ultimate sign of courage.
The King cries with first breath. Earth shakes. A Way is being made. A trail blazed. A hope found. Love in human form now exists.
And there’s just nothing we can do about it.
Hallelujah, King Jesus.
My knees found themselves curled up on another college futon this week. And it wasn’t for a movie and some small talk. It was the real stuff. The God, You need to be in this stuff.
It was eternal stuff and a temporary soul sat across from me.
And I just want to be so sensitive to the Spirit’s movement that whenever a temporary soul is in front of me, they leave my presence walking eternal. Like a soul transformation happens in the time we are together and courage invades and Spirit is present and Jesus is invited in and then we’re suddenly family.
I want my heart to beat for more than just menial discussions of earthly problems. My Provider has the solution, so why shouldn’t my lips speak of the Love?
But can I back track? Because God is just too good and you have to hear the way He works. Let His Love seep down deep today, like down to your toes deep, because we are in the season of Advent, so let’s be reminded of the work He does on our behalf.
“The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.” -Psalm 126:3
Check this out.
This weekend, I received a text to meet with a friend of mine and I could feel Heavenly heartstrings nudging me on. I needed to go. There was no question. So I confirmed things with the Lord (side note: He cares about the details, so ask Him), He said we could meet on Monday around 10am. The plan was set. He knew what was going on, clearly I had no clue.
Sunday night a group of friends and I traveled 60ish miles to a church to pray. That was God’s direction, Go pray for them, so obedience found itself in our hearts and we went. And driving home, the received blessing was on our end as God, we just can’t believe how faithful You are! Joyful is a heart that obeys. We figured that one out as over 20 people received prayer that evening and the Church was exemplified through a 60 mile journey.
The Lord is faithful to obedience.
Home that night and walking through the house, we noticed my dog had a severe limp and could barely lift his leg off the ground. The issue was unclear, but one thing was certain: we were going to pray and Harley was going to receive healing. So we prayed in Jesus’ Name and commanded all infirmities to leave. His tail wagging, we went to bed, not even realizing that the Heavens shake at even a prayer for a dog.
Our words to His ear never go unnoticed.
In bed, our awesome God asked me to rise early the next day, reminding me I had neglected this duty for awhile. He then asked me to copy Scripture and spend the day fasting. The reason? He wouldn’t say. But coming off of an obedient adventure, I was geared for the more of Heaven and obliged to His requests. He is worthy to lose sleep. He is worthy to copy His Word. He is worthy of the withholding of food.
Monday came and feet hit the floor before the sun made its way up and a morning with The Lord is pure Holy. So Scripture was copied and my belly felt nourished somehow. His grace is sufficient. His Word fed me. And then He gave a verse and in my heart I knew who to send it to, so I shot the verse to my friends with a quick note of I’m praying for you all today! And that was it, or so I thought.
“Some of you think that it’s extraordinary people who God uses, but actually it’s little lovers who are obedient. God is not looking for extraordinary magnificent people, He’s looking for little lives laid at His feet who say, ‘yes.’” -Heidi Baker
A few minutes later, my friend texted back that it was a monumental day for prayer for their family and we are so thankful! and then to my shock, Kels, would you consider fasting with us today in prayer? My lips escaped a quiet laugh because only God could’ve known. And my reply of well, The Lord actually already had me fasting today and now I know the reason why! baffled us both.
The Lord is faithful to obedience.
Bible in hand and continuing to read, Harley made his way downstairs and bounded into the living room. Bounded into the living room.
My eyes focused in on that right leg where just twelve hours before he could barely get around. God, surely not. Did You just heal a dog?!
The Lord is faithful to obedience.
In my state of shock, I drove to the college campus, found myself on a futon and then God continued this crazy cycle of amazement. I honestly didn’t think I could take much more.
Our conversation was saturated with the grace of God and then my sweet friend asked the question that changed it all, How am I ever going to get healed from this? And it was then in that moment that I knew the answer, but my flesh became nervous and I almost wanted to say I’ll pray that you find that out and move on. But God doesn’t call us ambassadors to hide behind fear.
So after a word of fervent prayer under my breath and a dose of courage from Heaven, I just spoke what I knew was eternally true: Jesus. He’s the only way. You can try everything else, but at the end of the day you’ll find yourself just as depressed as you are now. And things won’t be perfect, but you will be held and held forever.
And you know the phrase when eternity hangs in the balance? Well, that was life and we sat there staring at each other with the Truth in between and a decision needing to be made. And I remembered that on the drive up there, while in prayer, God had kindly told me that Today is the day of Salvation! So, I just asked and believed that God would be faithful to the promise He made.
Do you want to make that decision right now?
And her response of, I would really like to do that, broke the Heavenly storehouses of praise and there we were hands locked and another heart coming Home.
The Lord is faithful to obedience.
Within five hours of such a Homecoming, I received a call of encouragement that offered a random financial blessing and a word of hope that was just for my new sister in Christ.
The Lord is faithful to obedience.
Look what our amazing, kind, loving, and powerful God did! He used a broken, human “yes” to do more than I ever thought possible. All glory to Him! He has taught me that my obedience as His daughter is not just for my own benefit, but for the beautiful expansion of His Kingdom. And what graciousness that He chooses to use us, if we are available, to love on His other kids.
How often I’ve missed this boat of obedience. How kind for Him to offer me another chance. And it is this joint co-laboring with Heaven that leaves me always wanting More.
This is what I know of my Jesus: My obedience to Him in the present creates fertile soil for His supernatural work in the future. Like a healed dog, a fasting prayer for a friend, a daughter coming Home, a financial donation, and random, encouraging words.
Funny thing is that when I laid my head on my pillow that night, my stomach wasn’t hungry for food. I was just hungry for the more of God. Hungry for His work to continue and more of His Presence. Hungry for His power and peace, His mercy and love.
Obedience, the gateway to deeper Presence. Obedience, the opportunity for every believer.
So may I ask? Where is He calling you deeper today, my friend? Trust Him at His word. And watch in wonder as those around you reap the benefit, and sometimes the eternal benefit, of your obedience.
Praise be to our God! For His glory and His renown.
So I guess it’s true that all is grace. Because I’ve talked to woman after woman this week that have been in the broken days, but somehow, someway now they’re standing in grace.
Grace exists even for the broken. It appears often for the shattered. Grace is just a byproduct of healing, evidence that we’ve encountered Jesus in our pain.
Four tables and two restaurants have felt hands rest and tears fall as stranger hearts connected. Because we didn’t even know each other, but in a mystery only God can explain, we knew the story. The story of hearts breaking, lives changing, and people leaving only to still be standing. Their road somehow resembled mine and we were equally shocked in the me too.
I’m always somewhat thankful I’m not the only one. It’s nice to not be an independent fighter.
Her heart beat in rhythm with mine and two hours ago we were strangers, but now? Now we’re in this together. Now we know the other and laugh with the other and weep with the other. She is me and I am her and God knew we needed the moment.
How kind of Him to cross our paths. How gracious that He connects His girls.
How beautiful the reality that He didn’t create just one, but He created us together.
“After Calvary, God has the right to be trusted; to be believed that He means what He says; and that His love is dependable.” -AJ Gossip
I’ve prayed and thought about each woman I’ve met with—how much our stories intersect. How deeply I connected with each heart. And in loving them, my own life made more sense. . . why I went through dark days, why some years felt empty, why I’ve continued to wait. While I stood in the gap for them, God filled in the gaps for me. He has a purpose for all things.
He can be trusted. He is reliable. His heart is faithful.
I understood that if I went through hard seasons for the sole purpose of being able to love these girls, every second was worth it. God has a much bigger perspective, a much more eternal perspective, than I do and I choose to trust Him.
He is good. He is for my good. And He is a good Father.
When I know these truths, my heart has permission to rest. And for this I am thankful.
God is always at work and I am just a vessel.
So we shift perspective now, okay? The temporary lens has no place in our lives. We were created for the eternal, so we look through the eternal. And this is what I’ve learned. This is what I’ve lived. This is what I’ve come to love.
The enemy wants us to believe we are in a season of isolation. But children of God are impossible to isolate. He is Immanuel, God with us, remember? A shifting of perspective. Not a season of isolation. A season of intimacy with our Savior, an opportunity for the one-on-one with the Son of God to draw us near and speak in love.
The enemy wants us to believe we are in a season of confusion. But children of God reflect their Father and God is not a God of confusion, right? He brings purpose to all things. A shifting of perspective. Not a season of confusion. In fact, we may just be in the deepest season of spiritual growth possible—the opportunity to press in to hear the voice of God and grow in wisdom.
Our God, our Jesus has never been satisfied with temporary things, so we shouldn’t either. This earth whets our appetite for the eternal things of God, forever company with the King of Kings. When we choose to operate in light of the eternal, not in light of the temporary, atmospheres change. We are walking beacons of permission that life can be lived differently. . . in the fullness of the Presence of God.
Eyes off the world. Eyes off ourselves. Hearts on Heaven. Hearts on God.
Things from His perspective tend to look a little more exciting, more hopeful, more purposeful. His view brings life and grace, confidence and belief, and more loads of joy than we know what to do with.
“We are dual citizens of both Heaven and earth.” -Bill Johnson
Let’s choose such an eternal perspective today and pour forth the same perspective in others. And it’s the kind grace of God that doesn’t want us to keep this gift to ourselves. So we step out today and tomorrow and the next day excited to give what has been given to us. Eternity overflowing from forgiven hearts. Bits of Heaven being left wherever we walk. Jesus the only name left on lips when we leave the room.
My prayer is that your own hands would find a table this next week as a friend looks back from the other side. I pray your hearts connect and honesty is spoken. I pray that eternity just hangs in the balance waiting for the permission to descend. And above all things, my friend, I pray you would let that Love and Grace wash deep, permeating the space and your hearts with pure Holy.
So pass it along this end of the week. And when we really think about it? When Heaven is our future and a cross made the way, when a Savior descended in extravagant love and holed hands were placed in a tomb, when a stone was rolled away and a cold, but now warm and beating heart stepped out? All for me and you? All to make a way? Yeah, in light of it all, I’m just not sure I can keep it in.
Eternity is waiting for the ones around us. Eternity beats in my very own heart. How could I ever hold back such hope?
Healed, broken, shattered, whole. We all need it. We all want it. So it’s grace and more grace to come.