Level Up: A 2019 Word of the Year Review

This past year has turned out very different from what I would have predicted this time last year. Just over a year ago, I was on the hunt for a business property for my husband’s office when I stumbled upon a home that fit the bill of our hypothetical forever home. A home we had only talked about once and weren’t planning to pursue for another few years. Yet, here I sit celebrating one year in a home that fills me with joy and gratitude nearly every day.

A little over a year ago, I was dreaming of beginning to do more ministry in my own space. Having dealt with feeling like my dismal hosting skills would keep me from living out some of the dreams God had placed in my heart, I was asking God how to do more for His girls. He answered, and February will mark a year of doing what I call Friday Soak in my home once a month. Yes, not even a month after moving, I hosted women in my home. The goal was to hold space to just be and rest in whatever He had for them that day.

Not only has He helped me with hosting in a ministry capacity, but I have also had the opportunity to host family as they have traveled into town over the past year. A thing that we rarely did before, and I always stressed over. Now, it is a joy and that is a testimony in and of itself.

In the beginning of 2019, I chose a word: Level-Up. Now as I begin to reflect on how that word has played into the events of the last 11 months, I am blown away. He has upgraded so many areas of my life—least of which was my housing situation. I have seen Him use tension to invite me into a higher level of being. I have been enjoying massive breakthroughs that—although they cost me in the moment—were some of the biggest advances I have seen in my entire life! It wasn’t cheap! It cost me my pride, my self-protection, and my ability to “do it myself”. It felt like too much in the moment if I am honest. The only reason I pushed through and paid the price, was because I was sure to the deepest part of my being that God—the one who paid an even higher price for me—was asking me to. And true to who He is (you can’t out give God), I have received 10 times anything I paid. The counterfeit comfort I once knew can’t even compare to the newness I am experiencing now. 

Level Up had come to cover a lot of areas: my thinking, my self-worth, my confidence in what God has called me to do, learning to put to death selfishness and pride. I love being blown away at the end of the year by how God took my feeble willingness to choose a word and focus and make it into SO MUCH MORE than I ever thought or imagined (Ephesians 3:20 anyone?).

I have already begun to direct my attention to my word for 2020 and am excited to declare dependence and growth over my next calendar year. I have goals to be more active here and the exciting news that my book will be out in 2020!!!     

As I work to peel off old-self ways of thinking and being, I hope you pick up some encouragement if you choose to follow me on this journey. I can be found on Instagram and Facebook @embracingthewild and I am openly working to teach and encourage the beautiful message that saying yes to becoming holy (sanctification…I know churchy word) is the most fabulous journey you can take. You will never regret it! Let me know on social or the comments below how your 2019 word has played out. Also, if you have a word for 2020 please share. Mine will come in a new post next week.

The Cost of Truth

the cost of truth

I have this fresh perspective on my life. I am not sure how one achieves such a season. I would like to think I conjured it up in the hours I spend with God. I would like to think I have somehow earned it through holy behavior. But the truth of the matter is God has some perfect timing and now is when he is choosing to bring a wave of change in my heart. I have been asking for this for a while now, but I just wasn’t ready. I couldn’t tell you the exact thing that I needed in order to flip the switch. But nonetheless, I am here—in this space. I have cast fear aside and have been allowing my feet to go beyond the borders of my human possibilities. It is strangely comforting to know that I am totally dependent on the Creator. My success and failure in the world’s eyes is irrelevant. I am successful because I said yes.

This journey—a life lived in relationship with the Creator of the Universe—is so much deeper than I could have imagined when I was an innocent 10 year-old girl kneeling at the altar at church camp in the summer of ’94. I remember saying to God that he could have me. I was choosing him for my own. Up until then, I was riding on my parents’ religious coat tails. I had faith by family inheritance. Now I wanted my own connection with God. Even though I made my own declaration, I still followed the path set before me. I related to God the only ways I knew how—by way of religion. I went to church, I tithed 10% of all money that came my way, and I repented fervently of my terrible sins. I lived in a constant cycle of trying to clean up my act as a human to have a chance at an encounter with the Presence. I welcomed guilt and shame as part of the conviction package. I was so grateful to receive salvation that I worked every day as if it had to be earned anew. I was stricken with spiritual poverty. I had nothing to give because I was hoarding all I had to simply sustain my own righteousness.

Ten years later my world was blown to bits. My marriage of two years ended with adultery and church drama beyond my comprehension. I saw members of church staff turn their backs on me. I trusted people in God’s ministry and I was left to heal from the wounds, they inflicted, by myself. Although this is easily labeled as the hardest time in my life, I can say the timing to accept the responsibility of truth God had for me was, in fact, perfect.

It was in that season that I learned that all people are susceptible to sin. And if we are being honest, those in positions of influence for the Kingdom come under greater attack than we as onlookers can understand. I also learned that forgiveness is possible regardless of the offense. For forgiveness sets the offended free regardless of the offender’s remorse. These truths came at a great cost, but the lessons that I learned will benefit me for the rest of my life.

My perspective on God, and Christianity, changed in that hard season. I tore down the religious beams holding up my faith and beliefs. I started over.

When hard times hit, please press into what truths God has for you. He hides truth for us not from us. He has such beautiful timing and he wastes nothing. No hurt will ever go without truth. We can overlook it because we can only focus on our pain. We have free will to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to God’s part, or worse we can blame God for the bad. It is not in the nature of God to do bad things. I’m sorry if that upsets you, but he just isn’t wired for evil. We live in a fallen world and until we leave this planet, we will be doing battle with the Evil One. The choice we have is to either ask God for his truth in the situation or focus on the pain. He is eager to impart the payoff to your costly wound. No hurt is for nothing. Romans 8:28 assures us that, “God works all things to the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This doesn’t mean you will look back on a painful event with joy. You may never be glad that thing happened. But it does mean that he can redeem aspects of that event with his truth and his goodness. So that you can look back at an event and at least put some part of it in the good column. Again, this is a choice. He won’t force you to see good. He will, however, invite you to. He longs for you to embrace his goodness in this harsh world. Brokenness is often times God’s greatest hour. He floods into the cracks of your heart at your invitation and not a moment sooner. He pursues you with all his might to a point and waits with high anticipation for the go ahead to invade your heart and soul!

If you have wounds, please go after his truth in those moments in time. He can still redeem that situation and do miracles beyond your imagination. I cling to Ephesians 3:20 when I am hurt, scared, nervous, or really any time is a good time to declare this verse.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or

imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

He transcends our human minds and hearts. He can do the impossible. He will work all things to good. We only need to ask and believe.