Growing in the Dark.

God has created you with amazing treasures that he’s already instilled in you. Like the seed, it has all of the nutrients that God designed it with to grow and become this amazing tree or flower. In the darkness, hidden, when no one else can see what’s going on God will water it and give life to it and the seed breaks open and grows. However, there’s a bit of time before the outside world even sees it shoot up from the earth.

I don’t know what darkness you’re coming from, or still in the middle of. I know you may be desperately trying to find your way out. I’m sure you’re asking a lot of tough questions like;  Why would you let this happen to me, God?   What’s going to happen to me?  Will this ever stop?  Sweetheart, God doesn’t hate you and he isn’t beating on you because you’ve failed. You are caught in a huge battle going on and whether you realize it or not we’re a part of it, caught in the crossfire, and we are the precious ones being fought for.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

2 Corinthians 10 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

Please listen to me. There are a great many things we don’t understand or aren’t seeing clearly right now. When we have full faith and believe God in all that he says we are, and all that he is, we start seeing life and what’s going on around us clearly. You are being seedgrowingpursued, whether you see it or not. You are loved more than you will ever comprehend, even though you are in the midst of great despair and darkness right now. You have great value and power given to you by God through Jesus Christ because of his death and resurrection. God wants to be close to you and shine his glory through your life. We get to hold on to his word because it will stand and stay true while everything else falls away. You get to hold on to victory but we have to fight for it to. We get to choose what we’re going to agree with. I know it’s so hard. Keep pushing through it. 

Baby, hold on. God isn’t done with you. He is mighty and great. He is holy and righteous. His love and jealousy for you burns so deep. Allow his living water to fill you. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and fill you, to strengthen you and to equip you. You are going to grow. You are going to break through that earth and bloom so beautifully. It will happen. Stand on God’s word. Cry out to him in the midst of your great pain. He will come to your rescue and you will see mountains crumble under his truth and word.

Processing Mother’s Day

Perspective changes everything and how we process and experience life is very different based on the seasons we each go through. I have found myself extremely intrigued by my experience of loss and grief now and how my perspective on life seems more accurate and far more extensive than it did before. I look at older generations that have lived 70, 80 years and some still have such a depth of joy and life in them despite having seen many loved ones go or have gone through very difficult times.

Not that I wish all of us to go through suffering but I do believe it adds a depth of character and of life if we allow it to. There’s a rather interesting book called Irregular People written back in 1989 and it talks about how we as people have two options when we go through conflict; process through it or avoid it. Those that avoid it or escape through addictions for example stop maturing. Those that allow themselves to be shaped and molded and process through those hard experiences find growth.

1 Peter 4:12, “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

I spent so much time asking God, “But why do we need to experience this hard stuff? It’s not your will is it?” And yet here we all are with free will. One freely seeking to help his community heal and another freely destroying his family with abuse and neglect. It’s just nuts. Other times I’ve just been so confused by the hardships that came my way.

Now read John 17:6-26. It’s Jesus’ prayer for his disciplines and all of us that would come after and believe in him. He prays protection over us, maturity, that we would know him and know the Father but all connected to the fact that we would face trials, hard times and suffering. Jesus was the ultimate example of maturity and he wholeheartedly accepted suffering and trials.

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The other week three families I know in our surrounding communities lost someone they loved. Two of them were young adults and the news came out of nowhere; one on Mother’s Day itself. I pray comfort over those families as they begin to process the very different future they had intended, one day at a time. At the same time I find myself hesitant to wish my own mom an excited Happy Mother’s Day! as she experiences her 2nd Mother’s Day without her first baby boy. She texted me a lovely and wonderful note a couple days before and then didn’t respond to my text I sent her on Mother’s Day itself. I imagine they escaped to the lake house for the weekend and she turned off the mobile devices to get away from life for a little. She’s an amazing woman, still working through trust and love with God, like many the rest of us. She has an incredible story but not mine to share today.

I went to one of the viewings. For the friend that lost his brother. I just couldn’t not go. It’s hard typing this now without suppressing the urge to cry. I feel both at peace in my soul and yet an arresting capacity to feel. For the first time in months I wept after leaving. I sat in my car for a few minutes afterwards and just sobbed. The kind where you can’t breath in between bursts of 8thgradegradtears. I almost canceled the appointment I had after. And with both constant experiences of joy and sorrow happening around me I can’t believe the fullness I have to really feel life. Life shouldn’t be all emotions but they’re so much of what God equipped us with. Because I have been in such low places and have allowed God to heal, restore and work through me I haven’t hidden from trials. Maybe momentarily but not permanently. I have a higher level of emotional intelligence, a higher ability to connect and emote with people, and a much greater effectiveness in impacting the world around me. I want to continue to gain a wider and deeper understanding of God’s heart and character. That’s not going to come in this world without the ups and downs.

Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

And did you catch that? Your perfect Lord and Savior is contending for you right now. And by my watch he’s not giving up the fight for you or me, any time soon…

Loving Grandma Penny

Subconsciously I must been thinking about my Grandma a lot this past week or so because pictures and things keep coming up. Another day when it’s not so late I’ll sit down and write down tons of wonderful memories about her but for now I’m just going to leave a few quick things.

She was amazing and I loved her immensely. I was very fortunate to have spent lots of time with her growing up as we lived with my grandparents for two years when we moved back to Saginaw and then after we got our own house I’d bike over there to visit. We’d sing worship songs in her kitchen while doing dishes or cleaning; usually something from the Gaithers. She prayed for all of us and she never stopped loving us and believing in us. Her faith carried me through some tough times. She was constant and strong and yet tender and so kind. She was a witty ‘card shark’ and you never quite knew whether she was just that good or just lucky.

Her given name was Mary, but she picked up the nickname Penny after graduating high school and it stuck. In the last few years she moved down with my penniesforgrandmaaunt and they sold the house and it got harder for her to talk on the phone and so I called less and less. I got the honor of coming to stay with her when my aunt and uncle went on vacation a couple years ago.

Last fall she had a series of strokes (possibly seizures) and was put on hospice. I flew in and got to spend an incredible 4 days with both my aunts and my cousin I hadn’t seen in 8 years. It was some of the most treasured time I’ll ever experience. We talked to her, sang to her, encouraged her and joked with her, believing she could hear us. I miss her. She was so special and there’s a list of things I wish I would have asked her or talked to her about. Such wisdom and grace. God, thank you that you gave her to us, that she was my Grandma. That you gave us such an incredible lady that loved us so much. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories I get to hold on to. Thank you for showing what unconditional love is in such a tangible way in my life. I truly don’t know where I’d be without the life of this faithful woman.

20151103_111214-2.jpgMy aunt on the left is sitting on Grandma’s bed talking to her. My other aunt is in the middle, and my beautiful goofy cousin is on the right. God, it was such a precious, incredible time. I am forever grateful. 

Learning to Sail This Ship

It’s been a weird month here in my world. It started out with a book I was reading titled, Your Life… Well Spent. I intentionally read a chapter a day, wanting to slowly process and digest, as it discussed the balance of family, money, and legacy. From there I spent two weeks trying to internally process and felt like my brain was on a buffering mode that wouldn’t finish.

Let me back up and explain. Up until 2010 I had been in the workforce for over 10 years now full-time and raising our kids. My husband and I spent years fighting for the right balance, trying to make the best of money and time, but at the end of the week still left feeling like things weren’t quite settled in our hearts. We had moved a couple times, tried to keep a good budget, and were always on the lookout for a better job op. Frustrated that we weren’t anywhere we thought we’d be at this point, we slowly were resolving ourselves to the fact that we were just going to keep this sad little train going until maybe one day we got a lucky break.

Nothing is impossible with God. But when you struggle for so long you start getting discouraged. Why am I failing? Am I going the wrong way? Maybe I should stop trying.  We started really fighting for a budget and paying off debt and within 4 months our Jetta broke down twice ($1,200 + $900), the water softener died ($1,500) and then the Jetta pooped for the 3rd time and we put $1,000 down on a new vehicle and financed the rest. We had nothing to our name in the bank. I remember yelling to a friend over the phone in tears, “This isn’t FAIR! We’re TRYING to do things right!” But it was never about me performing and earning a good life. It was about trusting my heavenly Father and his plans for me. We were living and making decisions based on what we thought were good Christian ideals, but we weren’t being true to the callings God had laid on our hearts for us.

I ran into a good friend at a coffee night who had his own business doing financial coaching. A couple weeks later my husband and I sat down with him and spent hours going over basic personal finance principles, our pent up frustrations, and then these goals and dreams we were giving up on. God is so good guys. The timing of everything has been incredible as I look back. That fall of 2010 God started fueling his hope in us, giving us new dreams. We felt God speaking to us;

Isaiah 43:19; “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

I started understanding that God was more concerned about my heart than my bank account. If he could grow me, then all of the rest of these things would sort themselves out over time. My husband and I started being honest with where we felt God was leading us. We realized that if it wasn’t about the money then I would stay home with my kids, so we started working on a budget that would make that happen. We listed our house for sale. I decided to do the financial coaching thing and quite my job. All things based on what we felt God tugging at our hearts for. So we prayed some prayers, crossed our fingers, and pulled the trigger on these decisions.

Joshua 1:9; “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

It wasn’t easy, and there were nights we would lay in bed talking about how we were hoping we were doing everything right. But we encountered a sense of peace we had never experienced before. Folks would look at all of the changes we were making, and the decisions we were making, and think we were crazy, but I could sense God changing us. Incredible things were starting to happen in US. This must be what it feels like to walk in God’s will! Even amidst the chaos outside of us, there was a steadiness forming within.

Good friends let us live in their finished basement for a couple of months while we looked for a place to rent. During that time I put in my notice at work and the night before my last day was when I got the call that my brother had gotten into a car accident and died. We put in an application for a house to rent on our way to his funeral. We got the house and moved in in April and thus began this new reality of trying to live out joy and blessing while processing grief and finding Jesus in my sorrow. Right when I stepped out to live out my dreams – I was hit with such a blow. For the first time in my life I experienced such a sense of grief, depression, and hopelessness so deep that I found myself wanting to let go and push away from everything and everyone.

God was so patient and faithful with me during that time. He didn’t rush me, but consistently pursued me, tugging at my heart to let him comfort me. The reality was that a nice Christian value system wasn’t going to be enough to get me out of this. I needed a real God, a real Savior, that could truly bring my heart back to life. Breath new life in me.

Ezekiel 36:26; “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

What was crazy was that while God was building a new foundation of hope in me, I was building my business and speaking hope and encouragement into others. It had to be legit and it forced me to testify to the goodness of God, to never give up. To keep fighting for those dreams even when it seems all hope is gone.

So now here I was, all these months later, learning to balance joy and sorrow and realizing how God equips both together. God has given me big dreams that includes you out there reading this. God is restoring his beloved back to himself. That’s you. That’s me. But before the work, the ministry, the social media… I have three beautiful little faces upstairs sleeping. They come first. God has called me to be their mother, and by design they’re pretty needy. They need their mama to hold them, teach them, feed them, be silly with them. I desperately want to be everything they need their mama to be. So if I build a huge business or ministry and only meet their physical needs… this is all going to be for naught. And thus the endless internal processing a month ago. How is this all going to work together?

Jeremiah 29:11; “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I do know the dreams that God has promised me. I do know what he’s equipped me with and what he’s doinglearningtosail in me. I do know what my priorities are. It’s been a process and it will continue to be. So with my day planner as my BFF, I’ll be intentionally scheduling these things out, being strategic on time, money, and projects. I can be the cute little tortoise and do one thing (day) at a time, intentionally and with excellence, raise these beautiful children to know who’s they are and what they’re capable of. I can continue reaching out to you guys out there and  my community to spur you on towards greatness and giving you inspiration on how to do that. I can teach and guide my team and business to grow and impact Michigan. It’s all going to happen guys and I am so incredibly excited for it all. But it’s going to be a process and I’m going to take my time to do it right and not forsake my family.

So be brave with me please. Please pray for me. I’m praying for you. Be bold. Hide God’s word in your heart. Memorize that scripture. It’s your armor and sword against the garbage the devil throws at you. We are sons and daughters. Princes and princesses of the Most High God. He’s got this. He’s got you.

Found & Restored.

Happy Easter guys! Today is a celebration that Christ overcame death and in doing so we who believe in Jesus get to share in his death and resurrection. That means that he put all of our sin to death through Christ as he suffered and died. It also means we get to be born again, become alive in Christ, and experience the life of glory, purpose, and love that he’s purposed us for.

How incredible and unbelievable is it that God made a way for us. All of it so that we could be restored. To be found and known by him is the greatest thing I will ever know and experience. A year ago, only but a couple weeks after my brother’s death, I felt extremely overwhelmed and lost. Very little hope resided in my heart.

As the weeks went on I began to feel more forgotten and depressed and fought to avoid prayer, reading the Bible, and loved ones. I couldn’t control what I felt, how overwhelmed by despair I was, and so I fought to feel it, and fought to talk to God about it. I was afraid of losing it. Afraid of losing control and losing my heart. I would lay awake at night and worry about what I would do if my husband died. I began to think that maybe the happy and hopeful person I used to be was lost and broken permanently.

God patiently began tugging at my heart and telling me things like;
I am safe, and you can trust your heart with me.
I can make you whole again.
No darkness can overcome my light. 

Hebrews 12:1 says;
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Guys, our story isn’t over yet. Even in the midst of the crazy ups and downs we experience, God has the final say in all things. We have victory in Jesus. He is big enough for everything you will face in this life. God slowly and faithfully pursued my lost and broken heart. He’s still doing incredible things in my life. To grow I have to be honest with where I’m at and trust him to be everything I need him to be. He’s incredibly faithful, merciful, kind, and powerful. Nothing is beyond his capabilities. kalena'seastereggs2016.jpg

So Easter is a celebration. Crazy oddball eggs like you and me. Broken and hidden in sin, we’re pursued and found by Him. Restored through the washing of his blood. Amazing and abundant life is waiting for us today.
God’s got great things stored up for you my friend.
Be brave today and go for it.