Morgan Harper Nichols Though.

I love this lady and I love the words she shares. She writes devotionals and poems and she creates beautiful pieces of art, oftentimes combining color and words into an amazing masterpiece. You can find her on Instagram (@thedevoco & @morganharpernichols)

Her words have encouraged me so much in the past several months. She is also a singer. Her soulful voice has accompanied her sister, Jamie Grace, in her latest album, ’91. (Go listen to Daughter of the King)

Hope this encourages you today! ‚̧

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Hills and Valleys

(Part 3)
Still July 21, 2017
I asked God, “how is it possible for me to praise You when I feel so low? How can I possibly thank You in this difficult situation?”
A song got stuck in my head right then and there. It was a tiny whisper of Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells. When I heard it on the radio for the first time, I remember thinking to myself, “this is a pretty cool song. God is the God of the hills and the valleys in life. Also, this guy’s voice is amazing. Isn’t he from Royal Tailor? ūüėõ “
Because I just could not get the chorus out of my head, I looked up the lyrics. I also wanted to find out if Tauren was the singer from Royal Tailor or not ’cause I wasn’t sure. (He is, but he’s no longer with Royal Tailor.)
Here are the lyrics that encouraged me:

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held Your blessings
God You give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love

(chorus)
On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone
You’re God of the hills and valleys, hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone

I had to write the lyrics down in my journal. I needed that reminder that my God is not just the God of my good days. He is the God of my good and bad days. He is bigger than anything and everything that takes place in my life.
I needed that reminder that if God chooses to place me on a mountain where everything is great and wonderful and beautiful, I need to stay humble. I need to bow low to the ground because I didn’t climb up there by myself.
I needed that reminder that when things get hard and I find myself walking through a valley, I need to look up and know that my God didn’t leave me alone. I love Psalm 23:4. It says,
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
There is no need to despair. Sure, there’s a time to weep and mourn and say, “Why, Lord?!?!?” But there’s no need to lose heart. It really is possible to sing to the Lord and praise Him while you’re walking through a valley.
How did I come to that conclusion?
I made a list of God’s characteristics according to what the Scriptures say.
Here are a few:
He is faithful.
He is patient.
He is holy.
He is just.
His timing is perfect.
He sees all and knows all. (He is omniscient.)
He is everywhere. (He is omnipresent.)
He is all powerful. (He is omnipotent.)
When I started to see how big God is and how small my problems were compared to Him, I felt kind of silly for making such a big deal about this. I began to see that no matter where I am in life, I can look to my heavenly Father and know He sees me where I am. He is constantly consistent. There is never a moment where He is not who He says He is and that is such a comforting thought to me.
He’s God of the hills¬†and¬†the valleys.
And I am not alone.

If I Don’t Have You

(Part 2)

I reread Nate’s words when I got home and after I wrote my angry letter to God.

As I sat at my desk, I began to see that if this situation never happened, if my heart was not heavy, and if my spirit was not grieved, what would draw me nearer to my Savior? I had neglected Him. I shied away from Him because I hated my neighbors and I knew He didn’t like that. And because I knew He didn’t like that, I stopped spending time with Him. Mom and I still prayed together before I went to work, but that was just about as much as I would talk to God on my own.

July 21, 2017

I woke up with a heavy heart. I felt wounded as I dragged my feet around the house. It was Friday, my day off. In my head, the music Mom played throughout the house last night still echoed in my ears. Song after song reminded us that God was in control and that He started something new and He’s going to complete it. That He knows everything and He understands. That He is with us. But I was still asking, “God, where are You in all of this?”

At 11:23 (a.m.) I got an email update from one of my favorite bands, Love & The Outcome. They were announcing the release of their new single, “If I Don’t Have You.” I have loved that song from the very beginning. They put what I was feeling in my heart into words and matched those words with music.

How can I build Your kingdom if I’m building my own?

How can You be my treasure if I’m digging for gold?

How can You be my fire if my heart has grown cold?

How can You be my future if I’ve made this my home?

How can I? How can I?

I don’t want the world if I don’t have you.

I don’t want it all if it means I lose You.

I’ve tasted and I’ve seen enough to know it’s You I need.

I ¬†don’t want the world if I don’t have You.

If I don’t have You.

How can I say I need You and live on my own?

How can I say I want You and never come close?

How can I say I surrender and never let go?

How can I say I love You to someone I don’t know?

How can I? How can I?

I don’t want the world if I don’t have you.

I don’t want it all if it means I lose You.

I’ve tasted and I’ve seen enough to know it’s You I need.

I ¬†don’t want the world if I don’t have You.

If I don’t have You.

I give You every failure, every dream, and every mountain top.

I give You everything I thought of me and nail it to the cross.

I leave behind me what is ashes and what will be dust.

All I am to you my God for all else will be lost.

I don’t want the world if I don’t have you.

I don’t want it all if it means I lose You.

I’ve tasted and I’ve seen enough to know it’s You I need.

I ¬†don’t want the world if I don’t have You.

If I don’t have You, Lord.

I’ve listened to this song a hundred times and this hundred-and-first time made me close my eyes and soak it in like it was the very first time.

I have been pushing my Savior away when I should have been pressing into Him. I say He is the King of my heart and the Lord of my life, but I never actually let Him rule over me.

Instead, I allow anxieties and worry to control my thoughts. Like, “What if this never stops? What if our neighbors are grumpy forever?” Or “what if the authorities do something in their favor instead of ours? This is so unfair, God!”

Instead, I allow my emotions and my feelings to control my actions. Thinking to myself, “I will not talk to anyone until I sort this out. I’m so mad I can’t even speak to anyone about this. This is my own fight. I’m on my own.” ¬†Oh, how I love to shut my people out when I’m struggling.

I thought about how my grumpy neighbors do not have the Lord. However, I do. I thought about how they have the world, yet they are prisoners to it, never able to enjoy it.

I thought about Mrs. Nancy’s Manna in the Morning. She wrote:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night. (Psalm 92:1-2)

Praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness every morning and every night. Just think‚ÄĒa new day to sing praises to our Lord Jesus Christ. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6). (emphasis by me)

After that, I thought, “Lord, how can I possibly thank You for this? How is it possible for me to praise You in this situation? How can I praise You when all I can say is ,’please don’t leave me here?'”

And then, He answered.

That Time I Wrote God An Angry Letter

(Part 1)

July 20, 2017

God, why don’t You do anything? How long will You stay silent? How much more can I take? I hate these people. And I know that’s wrong. You ask for me to love them but God, there is no room in my heart to love them. – A portion of my angry letter to God

I wrote God an angry letter. Our grumpy neighbors are still grumpy. I know I’ve been holding onto bitterness and resentment against them for a long time and it finally all came out. One small thing led to another and I had enough. And I took it upon myself to tell the Lord exactly how I felt about them and how I felt about myself.

What’s interesting is how the Lord answered my angry prayer/letter.

Earlier that day, I read the morning devotion of my Daily Light.

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16) He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isa. 53:3) “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. (Heb. 7:26) That you may be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15) Jesus of Nazareth…went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10) That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:9) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14,16)

***Emphasis by me***

There is so much there that spoke to my heart that evening when I reread it. I felt defeated. I felt helpless. I felt like I wasn’t being heard. I felt like the authorities were being unfair because they didn’t understand the situation we were in. I felt like we had a biased mediator who was going between my parents and the grumpy neighbors. I know he was compassionate and kind yet I didn’t feel like justice was being served the way I wanted it to be. I longed to march over to our neighbors and give them a piece of my mind. My heart burned with anger because there was so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say it to their faces. I couldn’t say it to anyone’s. My thoughts were mean and ugly and I didn’t want anyone to know exactly how I felt.

But the Lord reminded me of this: I have such a great High Priest who was in all¬†points¬†tempted as I am,¬†yet¬†was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) The authorities may be playing mediator here, but I have the perfect mediator interceding for me in Heaven on my behalf. In the meantime, I have a job to do. I have a purpose in this life here on earth. And I had forgotten why I’m here in the first place.

At precisely 3:43 p.m. that afternoon, my missionary friend from Niger sent out an email update. I was still  at work, but I stopped to read the email. It was around the time that Mom was coming to pick me up and I know it was minutes after she had yet another visit from the authorities concerning our next door neighbors. Anyways. In his email, Nate highlighted about five things but only two things stuck with me: his engagement (!!!) and the robbery. Back in June, he was robbed of his Bible, his notes, his backup notes, his computer, his passport, his visas, everything. But he wrote something that made me stop. He said,

“So often, I claim I want to know God, but do I truly want the opportunities in which to know Him?

We don’t have to understand the WHY when we know the WHO.

To know Him as my Provider, there must be a need.

To know Him as my Sustainer, there must be extended difficulty.

To know Him as my Comforter, there must be hurt.

To know Him as my Healer, there must be infirmity.

To know Him as my Deliverance, there must be a form of bondage.

To know Him as my Peace, there must be turmoil.

To know Him as the Resurrection, there must be death.”

My first thought was, “Wow, that is so true. What a godly perspective. Nathan has such a good attitude about this.” My second thought was, “I don’t think I could be this gracious. I know this is the right response to have, but I don’t think my heart would do that.”

Mom shared with me on the ride home that as she came to pick me up, a man on the radio shared his 5-minute devotional. The gist of it was, “We as Christians have peace because we know what the end of our story is: God wins. We can go to sleep and get a goodnight’s rest because we’ve read the last chapter and we know that God will make everything right in the end.” Yet I still went to bed with a heavy heart that night. I wanted God to make things right right now.¬†Little did I know that He really was making all things right and He was starting with me.