“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Since day one, God has been doing something new. Throughout the Bible, the word “create” is exclusively used to describe God’s power to accomplish the seemingly impossible: something from nothing, life from death, joy from mourning. From the Spirit moving over the waters in Genesis to raising up dry bones in Ezekiel, this creation is a theme that runs deep within the story of God and His people. In the book of Isaiah, the word “create” is used over and over to demonstrate the ways that God renewed the Israelites, reconciling them to Himself. Luckily for us, “create” isn’t a term limited to what God did before, it also describes what the Spirit is doing in us now.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
We don’t have to read the Scriptures and wonder how we fit into the story. We don’t have to feel around in the dark to find God’s will for us. His plan has always been to create in us. We have been placed into a story of restoration, and God is actively at work in the brokenness around us. We can be sure that our faith in Christ makes us a new creation, leaving behind our old selves who wondered if we could ever fit all our broken pieces back together. Instead, we find that we’ve been reconciled to God and even our most broken pieces fit perfectly into His bigger picture, His bigger plan to create something new out of everything.
“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5
In the beginning, God created something from nothing. Today, we bring Him our messes and mistakes, our best efforts and best laid plans. He takes what we give Him and promises to make all-things-new, which is notably different than making all-new-things. Instead of discarding our mess, he intervenes with grace to do more than we could ask or imagine He’d do. He performs the biggest miracle that most of us will witness in a lifetime: making broken people like us amount to more than the sum of our circumstances. He’s promised not only to start this good work of creation in us, but to carry it on to completion when we will see Him face to face know Him fully. So today we can ask in faith and know that He’s already answered when we say, “Create in me…”
Sean currently lives in Lexington, KY. She has a full heart for serving God’s people, a beautiful talent for hand lettering, and a passion for Jesus and His Church. Connect with her on Instagram at @shaloney.
“Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” -Colossians 3:2
There are so many circumstances and situations that can easily distract our walk both physically and mentally. Distractions that make us forget where we’ve been going all along. In this day, where we have so much going on around us, I truly believe God is simply saying, Look up. He did not plant the sparkle in our eyes or the vision in our hearts for us to be focused on uncertainty.
Like the job you may have applied for that didn’t come through, the text on your phone you were hoping to get, how much money is in your bank account, or the opportunity you feel you may have missed.
One thing is for certain. His love.
He did not call you His Queen or His King for you to forget that you walk in golden slippers called faith and are clothed in grace daily. You are not just somebody, you are chosen. When life seems so hard and the weight becomes almost unbearable…
Sister, simply look up.
Sometimes, while looking down, we find ourselves feeling empty. Hollow, even. There are moments when, amidst the busy workday, we pause momentarily, and feel the emptiness setting in. It feels like a hole in the middle of our heart as our soul starts to gasp for air in an attempt to catch a wisp of comfort.
It is only after quieting our mind and acknowledging that the emptiness in our heart, that we realize only God can help us rise above and feel whole again. It is so important to stand vulnerable before God and ask Him to meet us where we are. No matter what state we are in, no matter what we feel we may be missing, He is faithful.
Take a glance up at the incredible sky above. Take a glance and you will notice just how high up and how limitless you feel in that moment. How your back suddenly straightens, your eyes became brighter, you heart becomes stronger, and then you will then find there is no sense of hesitation or loss of direction in your soul. When we change our focus, it is easier to change our outlook. We must never doubt the spirit that God has placed in us to do the things that are pleasing in His sight. We have the navigation of the Holy Spirit. Learn to trust. We are headed in the perfect direction with the perfect destination.
In this moment, in this trial, we are not only exactly where God knew we would be, but we are where God has called us to be.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
The amazing thing about our God is that He meets us where we are. He is the One seeking us out, knocking on our doors, waiting for us to welcome Him in. In our sinfulness, we may choose to turn our backs on Him, run away from Him and hide, but His search for us is unceasing. He will run after us until we finally surrender. What grace.
Our God does not mind bending low just to reach His children at their lowest. He does not mind giving up His beauty for the unworthy. He does not mind leaving His majestic throne to walk the mud filled and dusty roads of the earth just to be with us. He does not even mind death, just to give His children everlasting life.
He is more than just a King. He is more than just a Maker. He is a loving, generous, and caring Father. A Father who forgives quickly and does not keep a record of His children’s sins. He is in fact, a prodigal-seeking Father.
He is waiting and, oh how patiently He waits, for His child to come back home.
These are the days we dream about, when the sunlight paints us gold.
When Jesus meets us at the perfect time.
We just have to have the courage to look up.
Jesus, thank You for being the Rock that is higher than the trials, tests, and struggles. Thank You, Father, for knowing what we need when we need it. Holy Spirit, we need help getting past where we are now. Lord, forgive us for being anxious or impatient, forgive us for worrying, forgive us for having the wrong attitude during this journey, forgive us for being distracted by uncertainty and things that are out of our control. We only want You.
Mallory Johnson is the Community Blog Director for Couture31. Her biggest dream is to shine His light so bright, that others are blinded. Connect with her on Instagram (@mlryjohsn)!
Since my husband and I have been married and have shared a home together, I have always loved having people over to our house. Hosting company, whether it be family or people we’ve recently gotten acquainted with, has always been my love language, in a way. Even when I was growing up, I would invite friends over to my house, and it would be an impromptu moment for my mom to make a bunch of cookies. There is something to be said about inviting people into your home, into your personal space of living that forces you to be transparent and vulnerable. There is also a lot to be said about gathering around a table for coffee, dinner, or simply an empty table with room to talk to those that you’re brushing elbows with.
In the Gospels, we read that Jesus was often invited to gather around a table full of people. These people, with eyes that gazed into Jesus’ eyes, were a lot like us. Their lives were messy. They had problems at home. They had family issues. They needed to be loved. They made mistakes. They laughed. Being around someone like Jesus allowed these people, sometimes strangers, to open up to Jesus in a very personal way.
What I love so much about Jesus is that when He was invited to gather around a table with sinners, He accepted that invitation. When Jesus was invited to gather around a table with His beloved disciples, He accepted. When I think about inviting Jesus into my mundane day-to-day routine, do I invite Him with an open heart like the groups of people He gathered with?
Am I a worthy host?
The answer is both no and yes. Those sinners that Jesus gathered with, the tax collector and prostitutes, were they worthy of His time? In the eyes of the world, of course not. In the eyes of the world, what does my daily life of drinking too much coffee and working in front of a computer and laughing with my husband have to bring that is of any worth? Not much.
We are a table worth gathering around in the eyes of Jesus.
In the eyes of Jesus, who is the kindest being we could ever dream to know or love, our time is worthy. He sees us day in and day out, and wants to sit with us and be transparent. He invites Himself in, but He also allows us to initiate the invitation. Does it have to be letter-pressed onto gorgeous, cream-colored paper? Does it have to be stamped with an RSVP date, and a return address?
That is the beauty of Jesus.
We are able to come before Him, broken and without peace, and we get to have a consistently open invitation for Jesus to gather around our table. Our table may not be pristine and perfect. It may be riddled with coffee cup rings, red wine stains, books, or baby toys. It may have a vase of fresh flowers or nothing at all in the middle. It may contain a single photograph of the loved one we lost, the open wound we can’t heal on our own.
And He sits.
He brushes elbows with us. He lays His head on our shoulders. He invites us to do the same. He takes our hands in His, squeezing them, and lets us know that He is strong to hold onto. We can host Him. We do host Him.
On our wedding day, a beautiful day, our good friends sang a song titled “Draw Near” so eloquently from the stage of the church. Some of the lyrics read: “I’ve made a place for You here, so come on, come on, come on // All things are possible here, so come on, come on, come on…” This song is about hosting the Lord. It’s about beckoning Him in with an invitation, a desperate yet hopeful plea. This song will not leave my spirit, and I hope it never does.
Jesus is constantly waiting for us to recognize the fact that He sees our invitation as worthy. The kindness and gentleness in His heart allows Him to stand before our table, and He takes a seat.
Lord, may we be good hosts for you. May we never feel the need to dress up our invitations, but may we simply have the courage to ask you to join us at the table. Let your kindness draw us near to you.
Jasmine lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, Jonathan and their two kids: Boone (puppy) and Piper (cat). Jasmine and Jonathan are in the process of planting a church and following God wholeheartedly. You can follow Jasmine on Instagram at @jasminefaith_harrell.
He is already there.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3: 17-18)
“Even if He does not…”
This passage of Scripture is the backdrop for what God has put on my heart to share with you today.
But first let’s go back…
About this time last year, I was in the middle of choosing what at the time seemed to be the biggest decision of my life. That was the decision on which graduate school to attend. I narrowed my options down to two. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Purdue. While visiting the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on their Admitted Graduate Students Visit Day, I got to know some of the faculty, and I ended the day by meeting with an advisor who laid out exactly what my two years would look like. All the components of a top-notch graduate program AND there was even a high probability of in-state tuition, who could say no?
On the drive home, my soul was not feeling sold, it was more confused than ever. This was not the most comforting solace I wanted at the time. My dad made this journey with me, and as we got into the car on the way back, he began to ask me what I was thinking. I then explained how they had everything that I wanted, but I just didn’t feel at peace. He continued to tell me it was just something I needed to pray about. That I did. All the way up until my visit at Purdue University.
Purdue was the first school I ever visited, even before applying to any graduate programs. After that first visit, I was very impressed by their faculty, research, education, and clinical opportunities. As my family and I roamed around campus after the presentation, my dad and sisters kept commenting on all the positive feelings they were feeling while roaming the campus. I was in total agreement, something about the place just felt… right.
After that day, Purdue quickly earned their spot as my “dream graduate school” to get into. That dream came true three months later. So I visited again on the admitted students visit day, prayerfully hoping that I would leave with similar answers as I did with Nebraska. At the end of the day, my parents and I left with high hopes for the education and experience I would receive at Purdue, but no financial answers. This program was the most costly out of all the others I had been admitted to.
On the drive home, I could overhear my parents talking about how we could make this work. I was so blessed to have attended my undergraduate college with incredible academic and music scholarships, and live at home all four years. So needless to say, none of these financial matters we were discussing in the present had ever been an issue before. Then it hit me…
God is so good.
There it is… God is so good. Why was it so hard for me to believe in that moment? God, why would you allow me to get into the graduate school of my dreams and not provide the necessary financial means for me to go? My mind began to race. When my mind reached the point of overdrive as I sat alone in the backseat of our van, I reached for my iPod to tune out my thoughts. When i turned my iPod on shuffle, the first song that played was Casting Crowns, Already There:
“From where I’m standing
Lord it’s so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You’re leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are gonna play out
In a world I can’t control
When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there.”
Tears began to roll down my cheeks.
And then that still small voice…
“Madison, My daughter, I am already there. I will pave the way for you. I will go before you. I will meet you there. Has my provision for you ever run out? Have I never not met your needs? Why would I stop now? Go. That feeling of “just right” you felt when you first walked onto that campus was My Holy Spirit swelling inside you. It was My peace, My joy, My assurance. Go. Go and seek first My kingdom and My righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. I will walk with you. Just go. What great things I have in store there for you, My child. Trust in me. Trust that I only have the best planned for your life. That I will work all things for your good, for you are called according to My purpose. Abide in Me. I love you. Go.”
I prayerfully accepted Purdue’s offer into their graduate program, believing that God would meet me there and provide an assistantship that would financially help me pay my way through graduate school.
But He hasn’t.
“Even if he does not…”
So here I am.
Still trusting in God. Still holding out for His promise for provision.
I found myself choosing to continue to be thankful for the fullness of the blessings in my life that I do have rather than dwelling on those I don’t. Rather than focusing on what I don’t have, what joy I experience when focusing on the good things He has given me. What I have cultivated may not be in monetary gain, but rather eternal gain and that itself far outweighs any earthly treasure. . .
My sisters, I am here to tell you, just when you feel like you may be slipping. God holds true to His promises. Recently after writing this, I was chosen for a teaching assistantship that will nearly pay for my entire fall semester.
What joy awaits an obedient and trusting heart.
Go in peace my sisters, and remember that even if life doesn’t seem to go your way, we know the One who is orchestrating it all. He sees you and cares about every aspect of your life, down to the tiniest detail. I pray you find your peace and security in Him and Him alone.
Whatever life has coming your way right now, trust that He has only His best in store for you. And His timing is perfect, always. I challenge you to stand for God, even in the midst of the fire and chaos around you, because He stands for YOU.
He is in charge. Not us.
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is in His timing.
Even in times we are too blind to see it, He is already there.
Madison is a graduate student at Purdue University. She has a family she adores and loves Jesus with her entire heart. Connect with her on Instagram (@madisonelise_7)!
Before I jump right in to what has been on my heart lately, I want to share a little bit about myself. My life is ever changing and half the time I have no idea where it’s going, but it is beautiful. I grew up in Kentucky, but after I graduated college in 2013, I decided to take the plunge and move to the great city of St. Louis, Missouri to pursue a graduate degree in occupational therapy. In 2014, I married my first boyfriend, high school sweetheart, best friend, and the most amazing man I have ever met. I have an amazing family, precious in-laws, and life is so good. But with life, as we all know, comes worldly pressure to succeed, the fear of not living up to expectations, stress, and insecurities related to ourselves and our capabilities.
That is what I want to share with you precious women today. I want to share with you some of my insecurities, anxieties and stressors. But more importantly, I want to share with you how the Lord has rescued me from all of them and how I continue to fight them on a daily basis.
Together, let’s humble our hearts and tell our Heavenly Father, “I don’t have to do this on my own. Comfort me, sustain me, and hold me up with your all powerful hands.”
“When I said ‘My foot is slipping’ your love O Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul!” (Psalm 98:18-19)
As women, so many of us are at a point in our lives where we are entering unknown territory that makes us prone to distrusting God’s plan and provision for our lives.
I can’t speak for you dear sister, but because we are all women, and because we are all sinful, I am certain you can think of something that stirs stress, anxiety, and/or fear in your mind and heart. For me, I have this huge fear of not measuring up and appearing incompetent in front of my peers, especially professionally. When I moved to St. Louis and started graduate school, the little stressors transitioned to full blown anxiety in a way I had never experienced. I suddenly became overly concerned with how I measured up to my new classmates. These feelings were all too new for me. All through high school and undergrad, I felt confident in myself, not truly caring about others opinions because I knew Who really mattered…
So with all of that being said, I want to share what the Lord has taught me. It has been a long road, but the following teachings and realizations have really transformed my heart and mind and I pray they do for you.
Fear and anxiety are self-seeking.
When I’m fearful and anxious, I’m focusing on myself instead of being in awe of Christ’s power, grace, and faithfulness. When we are fearful and insecure, we are magnifying our own feelings and belittling the power of Christ. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on him because He cares for you.”
The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.
The way to fight anxiety and worry is to thank God for everything He has given us and declare His glory. Try writing down 10 things you’re thankful for in a journal whenever those anxieties start to sneak in. Counteracting worry with thankfulness puts things in perspective and reminds us of who God is. He’s a God who provides.
Overcome anxiety by serving one another diligently.
This goes along with recognizing that succumbing to fear and anxious thoughts are selfish. We are making it about us when in reality, as followers of Christ, we are called to love and serve others. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” When we serve others, we are dying to our own thoughts and desires. This turns our focus to the needs of others.
Scripture is our greatest weapon.
Getting into the Word, memorizing scripture, and having verses accessible to reference when needed has helped me refocus my mind and heart more than anything else. I tend to surround myself with scripture to prevent myself from free falling into a personal pit of anxiety and fear. Don’t stop at simply reading; focus on memorizing, even if it’s just one verse a month like me. Take His promises to heart.
God is faithful. Oh sister, God is ever so faithful.
I want to encourage you all to physically write down your fears/insecurities/worries when they arise. Then you can look back and see God’s divine intervention! He intervenes in our lives, sweet friends, but it’s when we are quiet and still that we can truly recognize and acknowledge His greatness. I have been keeping a daily journal for the past 3 years and it has completely changed my relationship with Jesus. I can look back at my journal a year ago and tangibly see, in my own handwriting, how God has brought me through public speaking and experiences I never thought I would overcome.
As daughters of the mighty King, I pray we do not live in fear or succumb to the demands, heartaches and hardships of this world, but rather, we see that the Lord prevails.
I want you all to know that you are never alone, and that God is a safe place for us to seek encouragement and help. Let’s rest in the comfort of His faithful promises, and overcome our fears and anxieties by focusing on a God who is so mighty and powerful.
He has overcome the world.
Katie Ross lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, Zach. You can follow her on Instagram and keep up with her crazy, beautiful life at @katiehopeross.
There is a story in her eyes.
If you look, if you look really hard, you’ll find it. A story ready to be lived. A story ready to be told. A story ready to change the world. And isn’t that just the truth we need? Because that is what women do. WOMEN CHANGE THE WORLD.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:12
Our Lord described the eye as a lamp in which light enters the body. The eyes are an entrance into our hearts and our minds, an open doorway to our souls. A doorway to our dreams. A doorway that women so desperately need.
And women— we’re too often told to not laugh too loudly, to not be so opinionated, to not fall so hard, to not dream so bold. Darling, do not dim your light; shine your light so bright, you find others blinded.
Dream on, Dreamer.
Deep down we all have that one dream that scares us. It sits in the middle of our hearts and may even keep us up at night. Tossing and turning, unable to sleep, we are afraid of what the future may hold if our dreams actually became reality. Other times we may place them in the back of our minds because we don’t think it could truly happen.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. -Marianne Williamson
We are often torn between nostalgia for the familiar an and urge for the foreign and strange. We are homesick for the places we have never known. There is something about wandering, about freedom, that seems so appealing. The life unhindered, the life of a free spirit, is one we perceive as adventurous and exciting. It is the life we all dream of.
Sister, whatever your story may be, whatever your dreams, may I encourage? You may have felt your dreams are too big when opposition comes. You may have counted yourself out and set yourself aside. But I am here to tell you KEEP DREAMING.
No dream is ever too big.
The Creator of the universe is with you and He has designed you with specific gifts and talents that has no parallel. His plan for you remains. You must trust Him because He loves you with an everlasting love and our Father, doesn’t want you settling for anything less than His very best. He is the Author and Finisher to your faith, to your story. Live boldly and dream boldly so you may embrace all the good things, the amazing things He has in store for you!
He owns the skies and He still you wants our hearts. Cue the cold chills.
Many times I find myself in the “waiting season”— feeling discouraged and searching for open doors. And the doors always seem to be closed or locked so tight that I can’t even take a peek inside. And this makes dreaming hard.
We must remember that God is setting up a scene for glorious intervention. And dear one, in the end we will lock eyes and whisper, only God. What grace that moment will be, standing in our dreams and praising our God.
The amazing truth? He is ALWAYS good. And even if we lose sight of Him every now and then, He is always so faithful. The seasons change and we may change, but our Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever.
And We are all on our own journey. God loves us too much to leave us where we are. And there is beauty beyond the pain and strength beyond the struggle. Can we know that together right now? We lack in a million ways, but He doesn’t.
Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. She who looks outside, dreams; she who looks inside, awakens.
So no matter the current chapter you are in, do not hide or try change the plot line. Sister, be proud of the life you’ve lived! Celebrate the grace steps you’ve walked.
It’s brought you here. To this very moment. More importantly, woman, be proud of you.
Be proud of you. Because He’s proud of you.
You’re doing the best you can and there are more people out there who believe in you than you may think. Be free to dream big and live extraordinarily without the burden of trying to make your life spectacular. Because it already is.
Every day God invites us on an adventure. It’s our choice to take it. God simply invites us. He always invites us. And He asks what it is that captures our love, our attention. What is it that feeds your deep indescribable need, My daughter? Can we experience the richness of the world I made for you together? Can we do this together? And if we truly listen, we can feel Him lean over and whisper, Let’s dream together. Me and you. You and Me. Us.
And even if some things happen that catch you by surprise, we remember that nothing catches our God by surprise.
And through it all, just be sure to leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable. Besides, these are the very days that must happen to us. These are the days that fit into our story. So let’s do this together, okay? You and I and our Jesus. Let’s live out this crazy, adventurous, magical life He made for us, let’s call it our story.
So, tell your story. Live out your story. Be your story. You are worth that, darling sister.
The world needs more women with their soul on fire.
Mallory is the Community Blog Director for Couture31. Her biggest dream is to shine His light so bright, that others are blinded. Connect with her on Instagram (@mlryjohsn)!