November 20, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
3 Comments

Writing Award

 

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
I recently went to the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild conference. To my delightful surprise I got an award! My humble little blog got recognized.

I remember going to that conference for the first time four years ago. I watched as people got called up for awards and wondered what it would be like to be that person. I never really felt like I had anything to say that anyone would ever care to read, let alone get an award for it.

To be honest I was quite surprised to get an award, especially since everyone who had gotten one before me were published authors who wrote important things like books and articles. I was also surprised because I have not blogged very frequently in the past year. For so long I wrote predominantly about being single, and how I found God in that season. I had a topic about which I was so passionate. It was on my mind all of the time, and I could write about it with a fare amount of ease. Then I got a boyfriend, and now I am engaged, and somehow through it all I felt like I had lost my subject for writing. I did not know what to write about any longer so I just stopped writing. I got discouraged, and started thinking that maybe writing was just a phase…Maybe I was not that good at it…Maybe I did not really have something to say… Maybe my ideas for books were stupid…Maybe I only had something to say when I was single, and now that I am not single, my life has lost its message…Do you see the trail of lies I was believing?

I have searched, begged, and cried out to God for many years to tell me what my calling is. I watch so many people around me pursue their passion and calling and I often wonder what mine is. I tend to always want God to tell me exactly what to do. I am a really great rule follower, and if He would just tell me the exact path to walk, with explicit instructions, I would obey Him wholeheartedly. What I have found is that God guides, but He does so in His own way and His own timing.

The woman who presented my award is a published author whom I met at that first conference. I was able to have a fifteen minute meeting with her, during which I could pick her brain, and ask her questions about writing. Her love for God was evident, as was her knowledge and skill of the written word. I look up to her, respect her, and pretty much want to be her when I grow up. I gave her the address to my blog, hoping she would take the time to read it, but also knowing she was probably too busy writing novels. Well, she read my blog, and it turns out she really liked it. Before she called my name, she said some incredibly wonderful and edifying things about my writing. I walked on to that stage with tears in my eyes. The rest of the night I was congratulated by strangers and met many people who said they read my blog and found it very encouraging. None of them were single.

God is so incredibly thoughtful, and I am intimately known by Him. He thinks of the most thoughtful ways to bless His kids. Getting this award was like getting a pep talk from God.

It confirmed what I already knew: I was meant to write.

P.S. Look at the verse on the award!

 

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The Proposal

October 7, 2014 by Jenny LaBahn | 4 Comments

I’m getting married! My heart is singing, and I am so full of peace and joy. My amazing fiancé put so much time, thought, and effort into planning a proposal that I would love.

It was perfect.

I woke up that morning knowing it was going to be a big day: he was going to ask my parents for their blessing to propose to me! All week long he told me he was really nervous, and that he wanted to spend the whole day with me before he went to their house. He picked me up at my apartment for church, and said he had a whole date planned for us. There was definitely a little extra tenderness in his eyes, and he could not go five minutes in church without kissing my hand or whispering something sweet in my ear. He was so kind and loving all day, but so mellow, calm, and normal that I did not think anything was happening. Little did I know that it was the day I was going to say yes to forever with Brian.

He put together a day full of special memories from our dating journey.

For lunch, he made us the same exact meal that he made on our second date: chicken, asparagus, and eggplant. It was delectable. (He is a great cook!) We sat on his porch (the same place we did on that original date) as we enjoyed the sun and breeze of the ocean. We playfully talked about how nervous and giddy we were back in those “early days.” We rested for a little bit, and then gathered our things for the next surprise of the date: reading on the bay. Mission Bay is a very special place for us, because it is where we fell in love last summer. Reading by the bay is another activity we did all of the time last summer. It had always been a dream of mine to hold the hand of the man I love one hand, and a book in the other. I never really thought it would happen because most people think reading with another person is strange. I find it incredibly endearing. I feel so blessed and special to have found someone who will sit quietly and lovingly by my side as I get lost in a book, and enjoy it simply because I do.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
We were sitting in our little beach chairs with our books and enjoying the view of the sparkling water when he told me he had yet another surprise for our date! He said the books were not for us to enjoy on the sand; they were for a boat! This is yet another “memory.” He promised me back on that second date that he would take me on a little boat so I could read on the water. Since he was moving from the beach shortly, I had been secretly bummed that we never did it, thinking my chances of this incredibly romantic date were over. You can imagine my delight when he told me my boat-reading dreams were coming true.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
LOOK AT THAT FACE! 
The boat was very small, and also lacking oars. We had to use our own makeshift “paddles,” which were a tennis racket and a broken plastic paddle..

We paddled our way out in the water only to discover that this ancient dingy boat did not have a rudder and we were being driven by the current! I was completely oblivious to this because I was simply thrilled to be on a boat with my love. Brian began to get really stressed out, and kept saying he had to make this work. Our meager tennis racket and toy paddle were no match for the current, but Bri was determined. So what did my sweet fiancé-to-be do? He jumped in the water, literally swam our boat to a buoy, and tied us to it with a rope so we could relax and not fight the current.

I was beginning to get suspicious that something might be happening, so while he was swimming our boat to safety, I inspected our bag of goodies for anything that might resemble a ring box. (I know! I am terrible.) To my dismay, I didn’t find one. I remember thinking to myself, “Dang it! This would have been the perfect proposal!” I had to consciously fight the feeling of disappointment.

(Side note : Last year we went to a coffee shop and wrote letters to each other. We sealed them in envelopes and promised not to read them until a year had passed…)

After Brian secured our trusty boat, we were just relexing in the sunshine when he pulled out the letters that we had written to each other a year ago. His letter to me was wonderful, deep, thoughtful, full of love, and strangely prophetic. We had not even been dating four months at the time, and both of our letters expressed a desire and hope that someday we would be married.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
(Reading the Letters)
After he finished reading his letter to me, he set it down and explained that he was not meeting with my parents that day because he met with them two weeks ago. (At that moment, I knew.) He told me everything he wrote in that letter was still true today and then he got down on one knee, on our old, rocking, tiny, dingy boat…

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
(Down on one knee)

He pulled out a plastic bag from the pocket of his board shorts (Remember he had just been in the ocean, swimming our boat out to the buoy! The poor guy was nearly in a panic as he pulled the boat with one hand, and grasped the ring in his pocket with the other, and kicked our boat through the current.) Then he showed me the most beautiful ring I had even seen and asked me to be his wife. I cried like a baby… and eventually, after the shock wore off I remembered to say “yes!”

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement

Crying

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement

 Joy

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement

The Perfect Ring

We got cleaned up and we went out to celebrate at the sushi place we went to on our 4th date (to continue his day of planned memories).

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 
After dinner, he told me we had to go to my sisters so she could “see the ring,” which actually turned out to be a surprise engagement party! It was the best night of my life. The people. The joy. The beer. The decorations. He even arranged for my best friend to come down from Sacramento. My sister’s back yard was decorated like a wedding, and we celebrated our engagement with our friends and family. He pulled off an INCREDIBLE surprise.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 

  I cannot put into words how happy I was that night.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 
Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 
My close friends and family knew how much this day meant to me. They waited with me, cried with me, and prayed in faith with me for years that this day would come. And then it came, and they rejoiced with me.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement
I looooove my ring!
Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 

We love our nieces! I am so blessed to be welcomed into such a loving family.  My dad gave an incredible toast, honoring Brian as his new son.

Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 
Jenny LaBahn and Brian Pedersen Engagement 
We told the story of our proposal, and the rest of the evening, I fluttered around on a cloud.

Brian Lee, you are the one I waited for you. And you were worth it. Thank you for the perfect proposal, and the best night of my life. I love you.

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June 25, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
3 Comments

The Way He Sees Me

The other day I was working at my favorite coffee shop. I was doing some editing, and I had worship music playing in the background. A song called Heavenly Places came on. It is a beautiful song about identity and I had heard it a hundred times. This time, however, Holy Spirit showed up. I sat there as the tenderness of God invaded my heart like a hurricane. It was as if the words to the song were scripted specifically for me, in the intensity of that moment. I saw Jesus standing behind me, resting His hands on my shoulders. It was as if He were whispering the words into my ears. I listened to the Truth about how God sees me and how much He loves me, and I was just undone. I started bawling, right there in the middle of the coffee shop. It must have been an interesting sight to behold, and I am surprised someone did not come check on me to see if I was okay. When I lifted my head from my folded arms to take a breath, I realized there was a puddle of tears. Literally. A puddle.

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Here is why I was so affected by what He was speaking over me. I am really hard on myself. I never let up. I constantly want to grow, change, and improve. This may sound noble, but it simply comes down to perfectionism. I see how I am. I see who I want to be. The discrepancy between the two seems unchangeable. I get so frustrated with myself when I see all of the ways I need to change. So much of my disappointment is stemmed in what I assume God thinks about me and my shortcomings. If I am so frustrated, I simply assumed that God must be frustrated as well. How could He not be? I have been a Christian for eight years now. Shouldn’t I have a stronger understanding of my identity? Shouldn’t I be less selfish? Shouldn’t I be more free from anxiety and fear?  Shouldn’t I have stopped worrying and obsessing about my future by now? Yeah, I probably should. But it doesn’t change the way He sees me. He sees someone so different when He looks at me.

If what really matters is what He sees, then everything else does not really matter.

The pressure I put on myself to perform or reach some level of spirituality melts away when the reality of who I am to Him sinks in.

There is not room for both inferiority and perfect love. One outweighs the other. I want love to win. His love.

Perfectionism loses its hold when I choose to walk in the acceptance of the Savior. He is not some harsh judge, keeping a list of all of the ways I do not measure up.

That is the law, not the gospel, and it is not what Jesus died for. He died to break the power of sin, and release grace over my life.

He is not a critic, He is a Father. A good one. I am seated next to Him in the Heavenly places. Right there, next to Jesus. And He has given me every spiritual blessing.

I am seeing that He does not see what I see. And I do not have to be ashamed of where I am, because I am exactly where He wants me to be. He has been preparing me for what is to come, and I am ready for all that Jesus wants to be for me. It is His thoughts toward me that matter. And He thinks I am pretty great.

p.s. You should really listen to that song :) Click here

 

 

 

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April 17, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
7 Comments

The Faith of a Friend

I hung out a with a sweet friend recently. Let me tell you, she is an absolute treasure, whom I adore. She has been an incredibly faithful friend as I have transitioned from being single to having a boyfriend. This girl is probably the most selfless person I have ever met, and she even brought me soup and cough drops this week while I was sick.

I told her a while ago that I had complete faith that God was going to bring her a husband. It was not in the slightest bit a worry or concern for me – just a matter of time. I had no idea what it meant to her, until on the way home she told me:

“I just thought it was really cool that someone, anyone, could have a faith for me personally that has nothing to do with them or their life, but resting in complete confidence of God. It gave me a freedom to not worry about having a husband, because I was leaning on your faith for me. And since you told me that it has been different.”

It brought me back to the time I went to church alone, a little over a year ago. I could not get through worship without crying because I was just so broken. I found a woman who had prayed for me over the years and I went to her with tears streaming down my face. I told her I was just completely out of faith and belief that God had someone for me, or that He would ever bring someone into my life…

“I have nothing. I am empty. I do not even have the strength to believe it.”

Oh, I wish I could explain to you the shame I felt in admitting my lack of faith. However, I had come to the end of myself, and I was searching for anyone, anything, to hold on to.

I was clawing my way out of the pit of disbelief. The words and prayer of this woman pulled me out.

She said to me:

“It is time for you to lean on the faith of the ones around you. If you do not believe it for yourself, then I will believe it for you. I believe God’s man for you is coming, and so is your season of joy.”

(Side note, I met Brian a few months later.)

Something changed in me that night. I wish I had more faith at the time to believe what I hoped God had for me. The truth is I simply did not. So I began to take her advice, and lean into the faith of those who believed for me. I can think of five people who stood by me, prayed for me, and reminded me of God’s faithfulness. I could not have gotten through that season without them.

It was in that time of weakness and lack of hope that I discovered the power of having people in my life who were willing to stand in the gaps of my faith.

It hit me tonight that God is using me to do the same for my friend, and I am so honored.

God has a way of bringing things full circle.

I know many of you reading this are not struggling with being single, but you may still be struggling to believe God for something. Can I just encourage you to lean into the faith those around you? You know, the ones who are incessantly positive that God is going to come through for you, and no matter how much you try to talk them out of it, they will not back down? Those are the ones you need to call when you are experiencing doubt. If you do not have someone like that in your life, send me a message, and I will be that person for you. I am serious. I have experienced firsthand the power of the faith of a friend, and no one should go through seasons of doubt alone.

This is what it means to be a part of the body – to carry each other burdens and spur each other on to victory.

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April 3, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
2 Comments

Little Giants

As some of you may know, I have been taking a Creative Writing class. I thought this class was going to be a breeze, full of delight and oozing with creative goodness. I have found it surprisingly challenging. Not in the sense of it being a lot of work, but rather from the struggle of opening up the wells of my imagination. I thought it would just flow out of me naturally, but I often find that is not the case. I am used to writing very literally, and creative writing is anything but that. The day my short fiction story was due, I was sitting in front of a blank laptop screen, with less than two hours before class started. I had written nothing. I told God, “Can You like, give me a vision or something? I have no idea what to write about.” I got distracted from writing, and ended up praying for some friends of mine. He did give me a vision, and I decided to write out what I saw and encourage them. I chose to use that as for inspiration for my story.

At workshop the writer reads his/her story out loud in front of a group of students who then get to dissect and analyze the piece of writing, while the writer sits in tormented silence, unable to explain and defend his/her work. It can be very intimidating. I was totally nervous for how my “story” would be interpreted. Much to my surprise, they loved it and wanted to give copies to their significant others and children to teach them about kindness. I was exceptionally happy, but not because they liked my story. I was happy because what they were drawn to in the story was simply Jesus. He is the source of true and selfless love. They were being witnessed to, and they did not even know it.

Here is my short story, Little Giants

Ben and Lacey were miniature people living in a world that was created for giants. Everything was bigger than them. Their house was humongous. Even getting out of bed proposed dangers unbeknownst to most people. They had to use a ladder to prevent from breaking any bones from dismounting a bed at such a height. The people around them were much bigger as well. In order to be heard, Ben and Lacey had to scream at the top of their lungs, causing them to get soar throats almost daily. Whatever they attempted to do required so much labor and effort that by the time the task was finished they were completely exhausted and incapacitated. This caused them to have little emotional capacity for each other, and was causing severe problems in their marriage.

Today, Lacey was just mad. The daily grind of functioning in a world that was simply too big for her little body had taken its toll. She had gotten little sleep the night before due to the ridiculously loud neighbors, whose voices carried like megaphones into her eardrums. Earplugs were no match for the diaphragms of such giants. In her pathetic attempt to make coffee, she dropped the coffee grounds all over the floor. She grunted in frustration as Ben came into the room to see what was wrong. He was halfway done shaving, and blood trailed down his cheek since he was using a razor that was far too big for his face. He grabbed the broom to help her clean up and she pushed him away, saying, “Don’t bother! I can do it.” He rolled his eyes in frustration as he once again felt like she ignored his efforts to help her. “Fine. I wont,” he responded angrily, and stomped out of the room.

Both of them went about their day in complete despondency about their difficult little lives. Ben had a horrible day at work as he fought the humiliation of his insignificance in comparison to his coworkers. Even though he had so many ideas, he did not share them because he knew they would not be able to hear him. Who would take him seriously, anyway? Lacey had an equally discouraging day. Simply going to the grocery left her looking like she had run a marathon. Lifting boxes of cereal and cartons of milk over her head just so she could place them in the cart was absolutely exhausting. She gave up, and decided she was not going to make dinner tonight. Ben walked in the door and found her lying on the couch. He could not believe that dinner was not hot and ready on the table. Didn’t she know the kind of day he had? He knew he had a choice to make. He could get mad at her, and complain about all of the things she had done wrong, or he could love her.

He sat by her on couch, and reached for her hand. She was staring vacantly into the mirror that was on the wall across from them. He was frustrated that she ignored his loving gesture, but grabbed her hand anyway. “Strange,” he thought to himself. “Her hand feels bigger than normal.” He was hurting from the way she treated him this morning, and he was dejected from his inability to perform at work. He wanted to lash out at her, but he knew that would only make it worse. Instead, he decided he was going to encourage her. “Thank you for going grocery shopping today,” he said. “I know you hate it, and it is a lot of work, but I really appreciate it.” Her hand miraculously grew in his, and so did her arm. He was so amazed by what was happening that he did not even hear her say, “Thank you for saying that. I know you work so hard. I am really proud of you.” She saw him grow taller as she looked at him in the mirror. They were both in awe of what was happening, and as they continued to speak kindly to one another, they realized it was the kindness of their words that was making them grow.

From that point on, they made a conscious effort to speak words of encouragement to each other, instead of acting on the frustration they had felt about their lives. Every time they wanted to act out of their negative emotions, they chose instead, to speak positively. As they did so, they grew bigger. They are no longer too small for their environment. They are bigger, taller, stronger, louder, than ever before. The secret to their growth was kindness, and they held the key to solving their problem all along.

 

 

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March 18, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
2 Comments

Creative Developments

I just painted for two hours.

I have not attempted to paint since I studied abroad in Paris. I tried so hard to tap into my creativity when I was living in my favorite city. After spending so much time in the Louvre, meandering Montmarte, and visiting Giverny, I was sure it would just spill out of me. I remember getting so frustrated at my lack of creative abilities. That was almost three years ago. Ever since then I sensed the Lord has been brewing creativity in me. I have even received prophetic words about it. I assumed it would manifest through writing, however, you may have noticed I have not written in a while.

I have a list of excuses for this lack of blogging regularity.

  1. The first is that I claim to have writer’s block, even though I think I am too young for that notion, and my Creative Writing professor swears it does not exist, I am putting that first on my list. Writer’s Block.
  2. I have at least ten blog posts that I started, but have not finished. I am a perfectionist, and it comes out in my writing. They just do not feel complete yet. I think they stem from lessons I am still in the middle of learning.
  3. I am simply out of the practice of blogging weekly, and have had a hard time getting into the routine again.
  4. God and I are really working through some things. Tough things. Things that take up most of my emotional and cognitive energy. Things that are deeply rooted, and frankly, feel too personal to display on the internet for the whole world to read.
  5. The last excuse I have is that I have been in a relationship that has delightfully taken up most of my freetime. (Sorry to throw you under the bus on that one, babe. ;-) )

So, I am basically writing to tell you why I have not been writing and let you know I am still alive.

Also to confess that I found painting to be more enjoyable. Shocker. I love writing. But writing requires too much thinking. Think about it. You cannot write without thinking about that which you are writing. At least I cannot. My mind goes a million miles an hour, 24 hours a day. (You can probably tell by how scattered this post is. It is also almost midnight.) My brain only stops when I am sleeping – and even my dreams are complex. To my great delight, I discovered that when I paint, I stop thinking. I put worship music on, lit a candle, and just painted. It was glorious.

The absence of thought is a beautiful thing.

I know it would be really cool if I had some creative masterpiece to prove to you that I actually painted. Guess what? Showing people what I painted feels waaaay more vulnerable than something I have written. Who knew? Instead of a pic of my artwork that I am too chicken to show you, I decided to offer you a pic of my pre-painting preperation. Notice the goldfish crackers (I call them fishies) and chocolate. I had to have my snacks.

Do yourself a favor this week and take twenty minutes to try something you have never done, but always wanted to do. Or give yourself a break and bask in the sun. Go for a walk. Jump on your bed. Dance in your room. Or paint. :)

photo 3 copy

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February 12, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
1 Comment

Announcing Grace

I am happy to announce that I am finally and officially an Auntie! My niece, Grace Kate Cornett was born on February 8th at 8:59pm weighing 7.9 lbs. She is simply beautiful. I wrote this for a Creative Writing assignment before she was born.

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Grace

Grace. Unborn, undiscovered, and yet to be known. You are the first of your kind, the first daughter, niece, and granddaughter of the LaBahn/Cornett family. We do not yet know the color of your eyes, or the color of your hair. We do not know what your smile looks like. The sound of your laughter has not yet been heard. Your cry for food, comfort, and shelter has yet to reach the ears of your exhausted mother. Your temperament has not yet been experienced.

Grace. You are loved, and have been loved since the moment of your conception.

I can teach you how to do your hair. I will help you write what is in your heart. I will impart to you the things that God has taught me about Himself. I will be a safe place for you. I will search for what is inside your heart, and show it to you.

Grace. Your name carries a message. Your life will be a book, read by many. Through smiles, joy, and laughter, you will deliver what many are desperate for.

Inside your realm of comfort, nutrients, and peace, you have been nurtured and sheltered. Soon, any day now, you will break out of your comfort zone. You will be surrounded by smiles, and you will be held with love. Soon, life will encompass chilling air, unfamiliar sounds, and curious surroundings.

Color will invade your world.

Your laughter will be like sunrays.

Your voice will be like a symphony.

Your face will reflect the majesty of your Creator.

And our world will be invaded by Grace.

 

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January 24, 2014
by Jenny LaBahn
4 Comments

One Year Later…

A lot can change in a year.

This time last year I had barely made it through another holiday season of being single. I wrote about the struggle of making it through the holidays alone…How frustrating it was to go to a Christmas party solo…How much I wished I had someone with whom I could enjoy the festivities of the season.

This time last year I realized that I had to completely surrender my season of being single, and give it to God. It took about seven years of being frustrated and broken to figure out how to let it all go. But God’s hand was on me the whole time – through the brokenness, the countless shed tears, the loneliness, the dateless Saturday nights – even awkward Christmas parties. He was faithful. He was simply near.

This time last year I had just turned 27. It was the first birthday I did not wake up in tears. I woke up in joy, because I was finally surrendered. I was tired of wrestling and fighting with God about what He had or had not given me.

I was still broken. Lonely. Sad at times. But I was surrendered.

This time last year I wrote a post about my choice to let go of my desires, and let God have His way:

I have known many disappointing years, because I had set so much of my hope and affection on what I wanted, and not on what God had already given me. I am not going to pray for fulfillment this year. I am going to change my prayer. This year, I am going to pray for transformation. Transformation of my desires, of my life, of my soul. God knows my heart, and all of its desires. Maybe someday He will give them to me. This year, I want to set my desires aside, and set my face on His.

I wanted Jesus more than I wanted anything else. He was my focus.

One year later, I have a boyfriend.

He is amazing; I really did not know guys like him existed. The way he treats me reminds me of Jesus. He is kind, patient, sincere, transparent, loving, and selfless. He was certainly unexpected. I really did not see him coming. In fact, I had pretty much given up all hope that I would ever find someone that I actually wanted to be with. I do not think God ever wanted me to give up hope, but somewhere along the journey I did. God is using this man and this relationship to restore a hope I had lost years ago. The hope that God is restoring really has little to do with the fulfillment of my desires; it has everything to do with choosing to place my hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God. I love our story, and I will write about it soon. What I find so interesting about the timing of our relationship is that the very year I gave up my desires to God, He gave me what I desired.

I have grown, changed, and been challenged in many ways. I have faced my own flesh and selfishness. I am learning what it means to love selflessly, and think of someone before myself. This is not easy to do for anyone, but especially someone who has spent her entire adult life single. The lessons I am learning are invaluable, and once again, I am in awe of the way God uses every circumstance in our lives to prune, stretch, and grow us – whether it be in the context of singleness or a new relationship.

I thought the journey of surrender ended the day I finally surrendered being single.

I am realizing that life with Jesus essentially means a life of surrender… surrender of every season, desire, and ultimately my will.

I have discovered that God is incredibly involved and in tune with my heart. After so many years of crying out to God with seemingly no answer…no implication of the fact that He is actually hearing my heart’s cry, I can see now that He has indeed heard. He has seen. He has listened. He cares.

I do not want my perception of the faithfulness of God to be based on what He gives me. I know He is good – no matter what.

But this year, He has really given me something good. And my heart is full of gratitude.

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