Perfect Peace

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You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Isaiah 26:3-4

About a month ago, I was cramming every nook and cranny of my roommate’s car full of the many items I deemed absolutely necessary to bring back to college.  Now, one month later, all those little things have a place, I have finished my homework for Monday, and I am thinking back to that week before I left for college.

Although I was incredibly excited about coming back to school, I was also apprehensive about the many different situations that I had predetermined could maybe-potentially-possibly go wrong. Does anyone other than me do that? After a few conversations about my worries with my parents, my mom looked at me and said,

“Breanna, you are not guarding your mind. You are allowing every little thing to slip in. You need to get back control of your mind.”

She was absolutely right, and it woke me up to just how much I had let my guard down in my mind. My thoughts were all tangled up and repeating themselves over and over in a pattern that was not helpful.

I decided that week and as I made the long drive back to school, that I was going to be diligent in guarding my mind–in setting it on the Lord and His truth, rather than my misconceived notions of reality.

I love the verse at the top of this post. I love that the word “steadfast” is used to describe the mind.  Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines steadfastness as “very devoted or loyal to a person, belief, or cause : not changing.” Why are the people in this passage’s minds steadfast?  Because they trust in God.  And because they put their trust in God, they have a perfect peace.

I’ve been experiencing that peace this semester. Peace like I have never known in my life.  There are plenty of reasons why I should not be peaceful right now.  I have more classes, activities, work hours, responsibilities, and homework than I have had during any previous semester.

But I’m not focusing on the little problems or stress that can come with my schedule.  Rather, I am choosing to take it a day at a time, moment by moment, thinking about trusting in the Lord.

One of the unexpected blessings of this semester has been waking up at 5:30 or 6:30 every morning to go to work in the cafeteria. My job is to set up different food bars for the day, and  I have an hour to an hour and forty-five minutes every morning before the sun comes up of quiet. It is in these moments, that I often start to feel anxious as I consider the tasks that lie ahead for the day. But it is also the time, that God is using to teach me to trust in Him more and let His truth penetrate my mind and my heart.

When the panicky, stressful thoughts arrive, I am combating them with praying the armor of God, praying for friends, reciting verses that I have memorized, singing praise songs, or not thinking anything all together. And with it comes a perfect peace. It doesn’t always come in that moment, or that hour. But without fail, the more time that I dwell on the Lord, on His character, and His promises, the things of this world fade away and His perfect peace remains.

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Lessons From This Summer (Final Part) — Do Not Fear

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So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

The school year is getting closer.  I feel like that is the ever-present thought on my mind.  It brings with it joy and excitement at the thought of seeing friends, having new classes, activities, and new memories to be made.  At the same time, it often also inspires feelings of panic as I consider the amount of responsibilities that are different and far greater than those that I have during the summer months.

When I focus on those responsibilities, I just want to curl up in my bed, lock the door, and hide in my room.  (Like that ever really solved anything for anybody).  But when I am afraid and overwhelmed, that is usually my first response.  Where can I hide?  How can I keep this from happening? Other times, I think to myself, “I know I am supposed to do this, but if there were any way to make it easier, less stressful, less expensive (fill in the blank with whatever usually applies to you)…”

I have mentioned in my previous two posts that this summer has been one of immense personal growth and learning.  I am not going to write a post about each of the lessons that I have learned this summer, but the lessons have been many.  I have learned about my relationships with other people, my view of God, many of my faults, how I spend my time, money, God’s provision and timing, as well as many others.

This past Sunday in church, one of the points of the sermon was, “When we stand for Christ we draw a line in the sand that is daring Satan to cross it.” It discussed how our enemy uses his tools against us to find what will eventually pull us away from putting our trust in God. One of the easiest ways for me to stop trusting God is to give way to fear.

This summer has been a time of me more firmly drawing my line in the sand.  As I learn these lessons and put them into practice I am choosing to stand for Christ.  Heading back to college and starting a new school year will be a time to really live out what I have been learning in a different environment than my home. When I fear everything that could go wrong before I even get there, it is so easy for me to take my eyes off of Christ and lose my firm footing.

This Sunday, the Lord gave me a special blessing which encouraged me to not fear and continue to stand for Him and live out what I have learned this summer.  After the sermon, we had a baptism at a lake and were blessed by the testimonies of people sharing what God has done in their lives. Walking back from the lake, I had a conversation with an older, wise sister in the faith whom I had never met.

She talked to me about her own life, issues the world and church were facing, and other topics.  Then she looked me in the eye and said,

“God will never leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of His eye. You do not need to be afraid. You are so blessed. You have everything that you need.”

My eyes welled up with tears and I thanked her for her words as we got in line for the church potluck following the service. I got my plate of food and sat down at another table with my parents and some other friends from church.

An older brother in the faith sat down who was my Bible study leader a few years ago.  He asked me about my life, and I talked with him about the many lessons I had been learning this summer as well as struggles and fears.  He reminded me,

“Isn’t it amazing how many times we are told not to fear. God has great plans for your life, Breanna.”

I got in the car after the service had ended and broke down crying in the car from the encouragement that I had received from the Lord through these dear people, one of whom  I had never even met.  It was so incredibly freeing to realize that the only thing that was holding me back from really living out what I have been learning was my own fear.

God reminded me in a very personal and incredibly loving way that He is with me always on this journey.  That He is standing beside me, helping me to fight the lies of the enemy with His truth. That He is all sufficient for me, and that He is taking care of me. That I have absolutely no need to be afraid.

I will honestly admit to you that all of my little worries have not disappeared, but they have subsided. I admit that there are still moments where the easier thing to do seems to hide from, rather than walk boldly towards whatever I am afraid of.

But in spite of my fears, I am drawing my line in the sand.  I will serve Christ.  I will live for Him daily.  I serve a God who is bigger than my fears and whose truth is more powerful than the lies that the enemy wants me to believe.

So to any of you who might be afraid today of whatever today, this week, this month, this year holds for you, I echo the words of my sister in the faith…

“God will never leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of His eye. You do not need to be afraid.”

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Lessons from this Summer (Part 2) — Be Present

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Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~

Sometimes it is through the honest words of a friend that I am the most challenged and convicted. While talking with a friend from Cedarville about my life at school, they remarked that I often seem like I am just about to explode.  Not from anger, but from daily life.

Don’t you just love it when a friend speaks truthfully? If you’re like me, probably not at first. It takes a while for the words to digest and to process them clearly. I came home that day and mentioned the comment to my mom.

“What a great insight,” she remarked. And she was right, pointing out several instances where that was true. Too often, I am so consumed with worries about what I am about to do next that I am unable to be in the here and now. Rather than relaxing and being present, I am thinking about the many tasks and responsibilities that fill the rest of my day. No wonder I always seem like I am going to explode! It’s true.

Focusing on my problems and responsibilities takes my eyes directly off of Christ. I become completely focused on myself and what I am going to do to fix everything. But here’s the problem…I can’t fix it by myself. In fact, many of the problems that I have spent hours pondering were never solved by any of my 100 possible solutions.

When I trust that God is in control and I believe that the promises in His word are true, there is no reason for me to not be fully present in whatever situation I am currently involved in. Worrying about the next situation robs me of the joy of whatever is happening right now, and cannot change whatever task awaits me next.

I am so thankful for those honest words spoken by my friend. They probably have no idea how truly convicting they were to me. This year, I have decided to start being fully present in every moment and trusting all of my fears, doubts, worries, stresses, problems over to the only One who can truly carry and solve them.

So why did I share this with you tonight? A few reasons…

Honestly, I did not want to share with all of you that someone told me I always seemed like I was about to explode. Who wants to be known for that? But just in case any of the rest of you are ticking time bombs like me–here’s a little wake up call before the same words that were spoken to me are spoken to you. What is stopping you from being present wherever you are right now? Why? How can you take steps to give all of your concerns to the Lord and enjoy what you are doing in each moment?

Secondly, I shared this because we all need friends who are honest with us. I am so grateful for those people in my life. The person who shared this with me is not a best friend of mine, but they still spoke the truth. Sometimes we get frustrated or uncomfortable when friends say something that we perceive as negative about ourselves. Many times we are uncomfortable because it is true. Don’t be upset with your friend. Don’t take it as an insult against you. Rather, bring it before the Lord and ask Him to help you become better in this area.

Have a wonderful day today savoring every moment.

Lessons from this Summer (Part 1) — Lord, Grow My Faith

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It has been quite some time since I have last posted anything on this blog. Long times of silence for me, usually mean that God is teaching me a lot and I am processing it. This blog was created as a place for me to record what I am learning in my walk with God. It is called Trust Falls because trusting God completely has always been a struggle for me. I think it is for everyone at some point or another if we are honest.

The next several posts over the next few days are my reflections on what God has been teaching me this summer. I write these posts to share what I am learning in hopes that it may also encourage you. I also write them because it helps me remember what I am learning and also be held accountable by those of you who read this blog and go throughout daily life with me.

The first lesson I have been learning this summer lays the foundation for all of the other posts to follow.

This past year, I often prayed that God would grow my faith. I had no idea when I prayed that prayer what that would exactly imply. I don’t even think I fully considered what that would mean as I prayed it. The prayer fit with the theme of chapel or a song I was listening to.

But God often answers our prayers.

This summer I have been participating in a Bible study called, The Gospel-Centered Life. (I highly recommend it). One night my Bible study leader told us…

“Opportunities to trust God are opportunities to grow our faith.”

And the lightbulb went off…

I had flashbacks to all the times I have prayed that prayer, sometimes praying it by rote rather than meaning it with my whole heart.

I remembered the mornings my car wouldn’t start, my day had too many tiring obstacles, and I worried about the future. I thought of times that I was frustrated with other people, strategizing how I would provide for myself, and trying to save the world without looking to the true Savior of the world for help.

And it has struck me so often in the days since then just how many opportunities that God was giving me every day to build my faith by trusting Him.

Slowly my attitude has been changing. Rather than feeling frustrated by challenges in my day, I am learning to entrust them to God which is growing my faith in Him. Rather than racking my brain for a million of my own solutions, I am praying and asking God to show me the direction He would like me to take. Rather than worrying about the future, I am remembering that there has not been one day in my life that God has not provided my basic needs and blessed me in abundance with more.

There are many moments throughout the day when I succeed, and many more when I fail. But slowly and surely, I am learning to put my trust in God–not me, not other people, not things, not finances, not my jobs–and my faith in Him is growing steadily every day.

I don’t know where you are at tonight when it comes to trusting God. Maybe you gave Him your life a long time ago. Maybe you never have. Regardless of where you are today, remember that there is a very real God who made you and loves you. He has great plans for you. He knows you by name and thinks about you constantly. He loves you with an everlasting love.

If you have never trusted God with your life, why not trust Him today? Stop running from Him and give Him control. Ask Him for forgiveness from your sins and trust Him with the rest of your life.

Lord, I know that I have sinned. I know that my sin separates me from you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross to save me from my sins. I ask for your forgiveness from my sins today. I believe that you sent your son Jesus to die on the cross and that He was raised from the dead. I ask that you will come into my heart and make me a new creation. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Sometimes Blessings Come Twice

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Spring is my favorite season.  I love the temperature, the flowers, and the bursts of new life that can be found everywhere.  A few weeks ago I was sitting in my dorm room in Ohio talking with my mom, feeling the warm spring air when she mentioned that it was snowing back home in Minnesota.

Sure enough my Facebook news feed was filled with pictures of traffic and yards covered with snow.  I made sure to pack a few winter clothes before setting off for home.  As we drove back, there were still patches of snow covering the grass next to the roads.

Although I was not to happy to leave the beautiful tulips and flowering trees of Ohio to return to cold snow, I realized that I was going to get to experience Spring not once, but twice this year.  What a blessing!

As I look outside my window now, there is no snow.  The sun is shining.  The trees are starting to bud and the flowers are starting to peek up out of the dirt.

Sometimes we get to see beautiful things twice.  Sometimes we get to experience them even more than that.

What are some beautiful things you have gotten to experience more than once?  What is God doing around you today that you can take part in and enjoy?

Have a blessed Spring!

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1 Chronicles 16:34

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Give Me an Undivided Heart

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Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

I cannot sleep tonight.  Honestly, I don’t sleep very well most nights.  My mind tends to run over the events of the day over and over again.  Sometimes my thoughts are stressful, while other times I am just so excited I cannot stop thinking.

Tonight, however, I think I’m awake because I need to reconnect with the One who holds my heart, Jesus Christ.  So I’ve turned on some of my favorite worship songs and opened up  my blog to pour out my heart.

If you’ve ever read my about page you know that this blog is a compilation of my journey with the Lord and my struggle to surrender everything to Him.  Maybe you’ve seen that pattern in my posts.  I write this blog to remember what He is doing in my life.  I read it when I need a reminder or want to remember what He has done.

Lately, I have found it hard to spend quality time with Him.  Maybe you’ve been there sometimes.  Maybe devos are easy for you.  For me, they have always been a struggle to consistently maintain.  But this week, I have felt their absence.  Tonight I felt desperate for just a taste of His word and to draw closer to Him.

But the thing is, I don’t want to keep waiting until I am desperate after a few days of no devos to spend time with Him and pour over His word.  Every day that I didn’t spend time with Him this week, I was very aware of, but I still chose not to spend quality time with God.  The days that I did spend time in His Word, I felt so refreshed.

It seems like such a no-brainer right?  Why would I chose the things that don’t satisfy over spending time with God?

A lot of reasons.  A lot of really selfish reasons that when they are put all together really don’t amount to much of anything.  A lot of reasons that end up giving me a divided heart between this world and the Lord.

Today was one of those days where so many different thoughts and emotions ran through my head.  But of all the things that happened today, all I really want to remember about it when I read this blog in the future is Jesus.

How desperately I need Him every day.  How incredibly important it is to spend time with Him.  How alive and peaceful and right everything seems when I am in His presence.

You know a lot of people and experiences are going to come and go in this life.  There will probably be a lot of days in the future like today that are busy, challenging, and wonderful.  But at the end of the day, and at the end of this life only One will remain, Jesus.

And tonight I am clinging to Him.  I am clinging to Him because I need His help every day.  I am clinging to Him because He knows be better than anyone on this earth.  I am clinging to Him because He is the only One who can save me.  I am clinging to Him because He is fun to spend time with.  I am clinging to Him because I love Him and His love for me is overwhelming.

Recently, I have been listening incessantly to “The More I Seek You” by Kari Jobe.  There are a few lines in the song that say…

I want to sit at Your feet

Drink from the cup in Your hand

Lay back against You and breathe

Feel Your heartbeat

This love is so deep

It’s more than I can stand

I melt in Your peace

It’s overwhelming.

That’s my prayer tonight.  I want to sit at His feet.  Daily.  Hour by hour.  Minute by minute.

Dear Jesus,

I need you.  My heart is so divided so often.  Forgive me for the many things I have chosen instead of You.  Lord, I want an undivided heart. I want to walk in Your truth.  I want to fear Your name.  Please teach me Your way, and guard me from my own.  It’s early on a Sunday morning.  I’ll be starting a new day and week in a few hours.  There are a lot of different thoughts swirling around in my mind.  I surrender them to You.  I trust You with my day.  I trust You with my future.

I love You, Jesus.

In Your name, Amen.

Looking Straight Ahead

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Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil.

-Proverbs 4:25-27

I have a really awful stomach ache this morning.  Three days ago I arrived home for spring break and was home for an hour when we got a phone call that my Grandpa who had had a serious accident was now in critical condition.  We packed the car, made it to the hospital, waited and prayed with family and friends.  The next day, he had a serious surgery to repair his spine which lasted for several hours.

My entire extended family spent that day on our knees in prayer, joining literally thousands of other prayers asking God for healing and a safe surgery.  God heard us.  And not only did He save my Grandpa’s life, He also protected him from serious complications.  Hearing the news that Grandpa was alive and okay gave us all the ability to finally breathe.  We thanked God for His healing power.

Yesterday I spent the day at the hospital again and was able to talk with him for a little bit when he woke up while he squeezed my hand and signed “I love you.”

It has been an incredibly difficult week, but filled with constant reminders of God’s faithfulness and power.  I have felt His presence close to me these past few days as He surrounded my family with His love and peace.

So why do I have a stomach ache?

Because honestly, reentry into daily, regular life after that kind of experience is hard.  Yesterday, I found myself feeling much like I do today–overwhelmed with the responsibilities that the rest of this week holds, exhausted, and not sure how in the world I am supposed to get it all done to the best of my ability.

So, I took some time and I went down to the hospital chapel.  I prayed.  I sang.  I poured out my heart to God.  And I read His word.  I read the Psalms out loud that spoke of His faithfulness, power, love, and sovereignty.  And then I turned to Proverbs which seemed like the most natural place to go in search of some practical wisdom.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I opened up to Proverbs 4 where the verses at the top of the screen come from.  This whole semester God has been using these verses to convict and challenge me of my need to surrender all of me to Him, including my own strength and my time.

Sitting there, I realized that I cannot tackle every future responsibility in one day.  I can only take on the one that is right in front of me.  I left the chapel feeling more peaceful and focused on the present moment.

Today, waking up, I found my mind cluttered with a never-ending list of everything I need to accomplish in the next few days to handle my responsibilities well.  Rather than committing my day to the Lord, I focused in on what I can do in my own strength.  Hmmmm….this surrender lesson is going to take a long time isn’t it?

Even after writing all of this, I still have a stomach ache.  I’m honestly still worried and scared about all that this week holds.  I still feel strong emotions about everything that has happened this week.  I’m exhausted.  I’m drained.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

I am committing right now, in this moment, on this day to look straight ahead.  I cannot change what has happened.  I cannot know what will.  But I can trust that in my weakness, His power is made perfect.

Dear God,

I am tired.  I am weak.  My stomach is filled with a million butterflies.  I am anxious, afraid, and overwhelmed.  I ask You now for Your strength and Your power to make it through the next few days.  By myself I can do nothing.  I need You.  I’m sorry that I so often forget to include You in my day.  When my eyes look away from You, I am never satisfied.  

Thank You for the many ways that You have revealed Your power and love to my family and to others this week.  Thank You that You still do miracles.  Thank You for healing.  

I trust You to guide me step by step.  I am looking only at what is directly in front of me. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.