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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(Part 5)

July 22, 2017

Y’all. I got up at 6:15 on a Saturday. That never happens, like ever. But I did and I had this urge to get up. So I did, and without a second thought, I grabbed my Bible, my journal, and a pen, and ran downstairs.

As I watched the sun wake up and stretch its rays over the rooftops and kiss the leaves “good morning”, I was reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness. His mercies are new like the new day dawning. He is more faithful than the sun that rises and sets day in and day out. I spent the hour copying James 2 in my journal, and writing my prayers to the Lord. I remember feeling refreshed. I wasn’t tired one bit, even though I went to bed late and woke up an hour or two earlier than usual.

Later on in the day, I was able to talk to Mrs. Avis. She is my dear friend, mentor, and prayer partner. I cannot begin to tell you how much the Lord has used her in my life. I have only seen her in person maybe three times. Her health issues have kept her home-bound for the time being, but that doesn’t stop the Lord from using her. I admire her faith and her love for Him so much. She has encouraged me so much through text messages, emails, and the occasional phone call. She is one who asks the hard questions. You know, those deep questions that you need to take a good look inside yourself and inside the Scriptures to find the answers to. She always, always listens to what is on your heart and she does not speak until you’re finished. She is so kind and compassionate and loving. With every struggle that I have shared with her, she has encouraged me to use the shield of faith to quench the devil’s fiery darts and to use the sword of the Spirit to combat the lies I have let myself believe.

During this particular conversation, I was amazed at how the Lord had so intricately worked in both of our lives. The spiritual struggles I was having were struggles that Mrs. Avis had experienced either years ago or just recently. We both were asking the Lord, “why?!?!? What do You want from me?” The emotions we felt were so alike. Though our circumstances were so different, the Lord had paralleled our lives in such an astounding way that comforted my heart. There was someone who understood the questions I was asking. There was someone who felt the same way I did. There was someone who experienced the same hurt and frustration I was feeling, made it to the other side and was telling me the outcome of it. There was someone who could say, “I’ve been there. I know how you feel. This sucks, but God is faithful.

I appreciated how Mrs. Avis reminded me that the Lord never wastes an opportunity to teach us more about Himself. The place that we are in no matter how difficult or easy it is, is the classroom that the Lord has picked to teach us a lesson that we need to learn. These lessons are for our good and for His glory and though it may hurt now, one day we will look back and see how God’s hand was at work in our lives.

I love how after we talked and listened and cried, we took turns praying together. I remember as Mrs. Avis prayed for my grumpy neighbors, I didn’t have any anger or hatred or bitterness clinging to my heart. I was still sad, but I was okay. I had finally let go and said, “Lord, this is in Your hands. I love You and I trust You.”

It’s at times like these when we’re open and honest and vulnerable that our love for each other grows. When you see what the Lord has done in the other person’s life and you see how far they have come to know Him, you cannot help but rejoice with them and praise the Lord for His marvelous works. On the flip side, if you have found someone who has heard the nitty-gritty, not-so-proud-moments of your life and still loves you the same, (if not even more), you, friend, have found a treasure. I am so grateful for Mrs. Avis and the community in my life that consists of people from all different seasons of life and different phases of faith that have encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. Without these people, I would not be the girl I am today.

I would highly recommend finding a spiritual mentor, accountability partner, or prayer partner. Find someone you know and trust who is older and has been actively walking with the Lord longer than you have. I would suggest looking for one who is two or three seasons ahead of you. You know who that person is. Be honest with them. Listen to what they have to say. Search the Scriptures together. Pray together. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ together. This is what the body of Christ is supposed to look like. It is a community of broken people who have been healed and restored by the Creator of the universe and who have committed their lives to know Him and make Him known.

Be Anxious For NO-THING

(Part 4)

July 21, 2017 (Evening)

I was laying down on the couch in our music room, scrolling through YouTube checking my subscriptions. I listened to the acoustic version of Hills and Valleys. I liked how it wasn’t all peppy and exciting like you were shouting praises from the mountain tops. It was softer yet still joyful as if you were in the clear, just coming out of the valley. I could just picture coming out of the valley and beginning to scale the rocky terrain.

Anyways, in the list of related videos, there was a message given by Ben Stuart at the 2015 Linger Conference. I had listened to the one he gave earlier this year about how our phones are a great tool, but they can also be a distraction. Intrigued, I listened to this one.

And O. My.

I needed to hear that message. (Which you can watch here.)

Ben spoke on Philippians 4:6-9, which is a very familiar passage to me. I had verses 6 through 8 memorized. Hearing him speak on this familiar portion was refreshing to me. His thoughts about anxiety and how God is the God of peace, not of confusion, came at a time when I had been worrying and stressing and crying over several things in my life, not just my grumpy neighbors. This could only be a message from God to my burdened heart.

I have been letting anxiety take a toll on me.

I have allowed myself to be controlled by my fears, or anxieties, or stress. And it’s crippling. It’s exhausting to worry. There’s a Proverb that says “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) and that is so true! As I had allowed my worries to weigh down on me and as I let it keep me up at night, I began to feel more helpless and hopeless as the days passed. I began to feel disappointed and I remember feeling that in the extreme almost two years ago. And I did not want to go back down that path.

I love how Ben said it this way, “Be anxious for nothing. For NO-THING. But in EVERYTHING, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

When he expounded on letting our requests be made known to God, he described our tendency to suppress the ugliness and dirtiness of our life as if we were trying to keep a beach ball underwater. It’s so difficult to keep it from bobbing to the surface! You have to put so much pressure on it in order to keep underneath the surface. And that is exactly like our spiritual life when we try to keep our problems out of the Lord’s hands!

I was encouraged by Ben’s honesty of how he would write prayers to God and it was just crazy. His thoughts were everywhere and it was a huge mess. It was real and raw and unfiltered. And pouring them out before the Father was a lot like vomiting. That’s where I am right now. With my angry letter to God and every letter after that, I was all over the place. I let everything that I was trying to keep from God out.

Most of my angry letter was about my grumpy neighbors, but the underlying point I was making was pretty much, “God, I don’t like how You’re dealing with this. This doesn’t seem fair. I don’t trust Your judgment. I know You have a great plan for my life, but I don’t believe that Your plan for my life is the best plan for me. I want to believe that. I know I should believe that, but I just don’t. I feel like my way is better.”

But I love how the Lord works. When we’re honest with Him, He is honest with us. And when we’re real and raw and ready to hear what He has to say, He comes to us so lovingly, so tenderly; And He, the GOD of peace, (not just the Prince of Peace,) gives us HIS PEACE!

How amazing is that?!?!?

Because of the radical work on the cross that Jesus did, we can be anxious for NO-THING, but in EVERY-THING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, we can let our requests be made known to God. When we cast our anxieties on the Lord because He’s strong enough, we can think on things that are true, that are lovely, that are just, that are pure, that are virtuous, that are praiseworthy and that have a good report. We can experience the peace of God which surpasses all understanding because Jesus guards our hearts and our minds. Because of Him, we can sleep well at night. And that night, I did.

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? 😛 “
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.