Mountain Peaks and Valleys Low

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This post by Stephanie is full of truth and beauty. May it draw you closer to Jesus today!

I remember the mountains were the hardest thing to let go of. As their peaks faded into nothing, so did I. My car carried on for miles, with unfamiliar music, and unfamiliar land filling our eyes and ears. The only thing left of me were the two boxes bouncing around in my trunk—a box of books, a box of clothes, and a pair of sneakers.

Although the following days were filled with a million tears, fights with myself, and a desperate grasp for survival, I never fully grasped how much I lost in that car ride over the mountain. Not until today, anyway, when I opened four boxes full of pictures, writing assignments, and childhood mementos—most of those, things I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again.

For three years, I wasn’t allowed back in my house. We had Christmas in a Wendy’s once, and another time at a hotel. I was quarantined from every moldy building, humid atmosphere, and any public place that used chemical cleaning products. I was told to move to the desert and to make a new life because if I ever wanted to be healthy, then I was never coming home.

I have a disease few people believe in, but one that alters my life every single day.

Somehow, after those three years, I did become a miracle. Today I live in a humid climate in an old house on the edge of a mountain range. Last month I spent 30 minutes in my childhood home for the first time, and I went through my grandma’s old jewelry with my sister—just like a normal person. I’ve started a real office job that requires more physical and emotional energy than I ever thought I’d regain. I’m thriving in this healthy person world. And today, I opened those four contaminated boxes, and I remembered for a moment what used to be.

A friend of mine texted me recently about her husband’s recovery from a kidney donation. Something prompted me to answer her with these words: he’s making a stronger soul through having a weak body. I never thought about it that way before.

Life will never be the same for me—not after Lyme, and not after all the things I lost to it. I’ll never look back to the regular college experience, and I may never remember those stereotypical days in my early twenties when my body was indestructible. But there’s something I’ve been noticing about chronic patients—people like me, Eliza, and others.

We may live weak in body, but in our weakness, we are gifted with the amazing opportunity to become strong in spirit. My sick friends, though limited, are some of the most driven, hardworking, and resilient people I know. Their strength and endurance never ceases to inspire me, and their appreciation and contentment for the simple things in life is overwhelming for their age.

Perhaps God didn’t make a mistake when He picked out some of us to make stronger souls through having weaker bodies. Perhaps He didn’t choose this for us out of punishment, but out of a greater love. I’m thankful for Chronic Illness because by taking everything away, it’s given me more than I could have dreamed.

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Stephanie is a professional writer and former journalist who has a heart for sharing raw stories and encouraging authors to write for Jesus. Although she grew up reading books, writing them became her accidental passion. She’s currently pursuing publication for her first novel, Reaching Home, while working as a Junior Literary Agent for Cyle Young. Stephanie spends her quiet moments immersed in poetry, or blogging about her adventures with God. She’s is a believer in hard work, audiobooks, chocolate, and dreaming big. To connect with her, visit http://www.stephaniekehr.blogspot.com

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I Have Returned

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Dear Faithful Readers,

Wow! Where has time gone? It has been three months since I last wrote, yet you all are still reading my blog. And for that, I thank you.

I am sorry for my disappearance. God had completely different plans for me and my summer, which I shall share more on next Wednesday.

This is simply a note to let you know that I am alive 🙂 and am ready to beginning writing again.

Thank you again for your faithfulness,

Liza D.

To Him I will Cling

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Today I am clinging to the fact that Christ is with us even in the darkest of times. The moments of our lives, when even time itself seems to stand still out of fear. When the eerie darkness seems to be the only next resting place. For the past six weeks, I have been attempting to follow Christ through a season of loneliness and questions. There have been moments where the silence of my surroundings seems to drown my soul. “Christ where are you?” I have often cried. Sobs fill the room, as I have searched my soul, trying to understand the “whys” to my many questions.
“Lord, why have you not allowed this cup to pass?”
“Father, where is the light? Where is the purpose in this endless suffering?”
“Jesus, have you forgotten your servant? Do you not see this pain?”
Yet, it has been in these moments of weeping and asking, that my precious Comforter has often come, not with answers, but with sympathy and acknowledgement of my suffering.
I am beginning to learn that true joy is not always a life of happiness. It is not attempting to act fine when everything is not okay. Joy is choosing, no matter the circumstance, to rest in the knowledge that I am not alone in this.
Jesus never told his disciples to put a fake face on and to get through their struggles. Jesus was seen crying, angry, laughing, and speaking life while he was on earth. He lived a life with emotion. 
I simply want to encourage you, that Christ is a comforter. He isn’t wanting you to put on an act of perfection and perfect happiness. He longs for the real you, the girl who sometimes cries because she is terrified of her diagnosis. The girl who is struggling with finishing a final paper. The girl who cries in anger at the circumstance she can’t change and that are wrong. 
Jesus longs for the real you. So run to Him. Run to Him with tears streaming down your face and frustration heavy on your soul. He is waiting, and longing to embrace and comfort you.

Who are you?- Discussion

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“You are Loved”- Ellie Holcomb

Some days you’re tired of trying to measure up
You see a girl who’s not enough
And you look in the mirror
Some nights all you wanna do is hide
Cause every time you look inside
You’re face to face with failure
But you are loved oh
Not because of what you’ve done no
Even when your heart has run the other way
Nothing’s gonna change his love
And you are wanted
Not because you are perfect
I know that you don’t think your worth that kind of grace
Look into his face you’ll know that you are loved oh…
You’ve searched for something that will stir your soul
That’ll make you feel less alone
But nothing ever saves you
While he knew before you ever took a breath
There’d be days where you’d forget
How beautiful he made you
Dear Reader,
You are loved by Christ. You are wanted, not because of you or anything that you have done. It is simply because of His great work.
This week, a dear friend reminded me of the importance of speaking the truth of our identity over ourselves. With her encouragement, I created a list of who I am as a forgiven believer. It was a beautiful time spent praising God for all the gifts He bestows on us.
What is one part of your identity that is precious to your soul? For me, the very fact that I am loved and wanted by the God of the universe still leaves me in awe and wonder.
I can’t wait to read your thoughts,
Eliza

Thankfulness in the Little

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           “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”                 1 Thess 5:18

Growing up in a Christian home, I often belted the lyrics, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done!” throughout the house as I joyfully did my chores. As a child, thankfulness came easily to my young, carefree soul. I didn’t have any worries about the lack of shelter or food. I went to rest every night knowing that my parents love would never change for me and that my Father in heaven loved me in an even greater way.

Yet with time and maturity, the worries of life grew. Weighing my soul down and stealing the pure thankfulness that once reigned within. Selfishness began to fester as I expected things from the Lord. Believing that the gifts from Him were to be freely bestowed upon me and because of my “righteous” acts, after all, I deserved them. Did I not?

I sadly often forget, even to this day, the simple fact that our blessings are gifts from Him. I fail to remember one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

This past month, I took on the challenge to find one simple thing to be thankful for in each day. The littlest things, that I have often run past have now begun to show themselves in my life. The buds on a tree, are a gift from above. A steaming cup of coffee (yes, even coffee), is from my Father. A surprise snowfall, a smile from a child or an unexpected hug from a friend are all gifts from my Lord.

Would this post leave you counting your blessings? I would love to hear what you are most thankful for.

 

There will come a Day

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The sun set yet again over the purple mountains of Colorado today, leaving a hurting city to rest and prepare for the following day of the routine of blood, sweat, and tears.

Our world is moaning in its progression towards death slowly advances (Rom. 8:22) The darkness of sin seems to grow with each passing of the years. The weary eyes of a widow long to see true love again. A child cries alone in their crib in China, yearning for safety. A soldier hangs up his gear for the night, hoping for true peace. A man lays in a hospital bed crippled from treatment, praying for healing. An orphan boy runs through the streets trying to be braving, dreaming of true strength. A woman sits in her office, typing away the hours, wanting meaning. A pastor speaks yet again to his congregation, longing to finish the race well. A college student sits alone in her home, praying for justice of the one who assaulted her. A young mother cries as she says goodbye to her young child, wishing they had a longer life. Individuals longing for purpose, love, peace, justice, freedom, payment, and joy.

Jesus didn’t rip open the heaven today and ride down on His white stead. (Rev. 6:2) However, He is coming and will come soon. When He comes, He will bring justice, peace, and all that we need. He will bring comfort and newness to His children. (Rev. 21: 4-5)

Oh dear reader, may you continue to hold tightly to this promise. He will come! And for those who prove faithful to Him, He has promised, “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. ” (Rev. 21:7)

 

His Perfection and His Alone

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This past weekend was Easter/ Resurrection weekend. Some individuals purposefully steer away from celebrating, due to the background of a pagan holiday. This article was not written to divide my readers on if we should celebrate or not. However, it is simply a reflection on the finished work of Christ. So, I ask, please keep the comments respectful and Christ-like.

Now that my soapbox moment is over, I would love to share my reflection of His perfect work.

Perfection was an object that I often strove for. I wanted to be the best in my Karate school, my ballet class, and honestly in anything. However, this perfection as for many was driven by pride and a thirst for acknowledgment. This very attribute of my prideful soul transferred itself unknowingly to my spiritual life and relationship with Christ.

Instead of a restful growth towards perfection, my life turned into a show and competition with others. Rather than a building up of others up towards Christ, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:24) I found myself competing in my own strength to tear others down and to build up my own name in God’s eyes.

My problem? I viewed my own good works as the only way to gain God’s honor and praise. As if, it was by my own actions that I could gain the love of Christ. Yet, this is not so. In fact, the Bible clearly states how filthy our own acts of righteousness are in God’s eyes. (Is 64:6) Not only that, but Jesus rebuked the spiritual leaders of Israel for seeking to gain God’s approval through self-righteous actions. (Matt 23)

It is the perfection of Christ and His finished work that we as believers are to rest in.

 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Dear reader, would you cling to the perfection of Christ. His finished work on the cross that grants you salvation, through which you are given the power to overcome sin. (2 Cor 2:17)