Category Archives: Devotional

So, Those Resolutions…

Every year so many of us set out to start the new year fresh.  We make our list of resolutions.  I was no different than the average person this past year – see, I even posted my resolutions for anyone to see.  So, now that the year is more than half over, I thought – hey, maybe I should check in on what those were?!!  Have I even come close to keeping any of them??  And you know what – by God’s sweet grace to me, I was rather shocked…

  1. Find a new place to call my church home.  I think we can say yes, I am finally at a church that I am excited to call home.  It was not easy by any means.  It is hard to go to a new church every weekend.  Or, go to one church that you sort of liked a few times then to find – eah, still not the right fit.  I was not super excited to check out Hope at first, for reasons I cannot really pinpoint – but basically I thought only college students went there.  Plus, it was only a block away from my old church.  Thankfully, I got over myself and finally went.  After being there for about two minutes – I was like, dang – I think this might be it?!!  Guess when you know, you know?!!  And by no means is Hope perfect, but it does seem to be a great fit for me and I have been enjoying being there – it has been sweet for my soul.  I am so thankful for God’s grace to me in this process and letting me step out of my comfort zone and all that I knew as a believer and trust Him as I explored the unknown.  Funny how it’s not so scary on this side and I look back and am like, dang why did it take me so long to make the switch?!!
  2. Go to Thailand (and of course, ride an elephant while I am there) – Okay, so I have not actually gone yet, BUT my ticket is purchased!!  I am planning on being in Thailand (and maybe even sneak over to Bali for a few days!!) from October 2nd – 19th.  I am so stoked – especially since I feel like this has potential to be my last big trip all on my own 🙂 …
  3. Better respect for my body.  Let’s see – overall, yes.  Thankfully, by God’s grace to me in so many ways I can say yes – in purity, consumption of less alcohol, making healthier food choices (primarily Vegan – not right for every body, but exactly what this body needed), and protecting my time on my yoga mat.  All of those things together have made for a healthier body, but even more a healthier mind and soul.
  4. Read more, and actually finish the books I start.  Well, this I sort of blew out of the water while I was in Yoga Teacher Training because I read a book a week practically!  Since then, I have not kept up reading that much, but I have had a desire to protect my reading time.  I still have a handful of books I have started and haven’t finished – but it is only July…I have time!  It is at least trending in the correct direction!
  5. Start dating my future spouse.  Okay – not going to lie, this one is the weirdest to give an update on because let’s be honest here, I am not God – so who knows how this will all work out?!!  BUT, with that I am dating someone.  And he is pretty darn amazing.  I could get all girly and totally gush all about him, but I won’t bore you with that – just know I am very happy, thankful, and grateful.  I had no idea a man like this really existed (though, I do still need to get him on a yoga mat…) – he really does help me love Jesus more.   It still is very new in the grand scheme of things, but I am hopeful – so again, this one is trending in the right direction!

There it is – I set out 2013 with 5 resolutions and I have actually managed to keep on track.  I am not so certain that is normal, but I think the key has been walking with Jesus on all of these.  It isn’t about all this amazing work I have done because I could have never done any of this on my own.  And not all of it has been easy by any means – but I am grateful for the changes and excited for where they are taking me.

Did you make resolutions for the new year?  How are you doing on achieving them?  How do you follow up on your resolutions?

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Not For a Moment…

Life happens.  Every day – it changes.  There are new things we live through.  Some happy and some sad and some just meh.  They affect us, and not all in the same way.  Do you ever have times when life seems to be happening and you feel like you are more just letting it happen to you and not really engaging in it – really living it?  Really experiencing it?  The last couple of days have been like that for me, until I was broken of it this evening.  But before then…

I have an addiction:  I am addicted to playing with fire.  And not in the literal sense, but let me tell you – it is still very possible to get burned.  And this type of burn needs something a little bit stronger than aloe vera.  In my addiction to fire, it seems to never fully sink in why I like it so much.

My counselor said to me last week (after a firm correction that was very much-needed to confront my current fire play) – “Brittany, your addiction to play with fire and live with passion is a gift – but it is intended to run after the fire of God.  Play with Jesus in the fire – that burn will not leave you scared.”  Isn’t it funny how our greatest strengths – my desire to live on the edge and live with passion – can be used for good OR I can take control and use it for destruction.  She also reminded me, some pain we are meant to walk through – and some is a result of foolish choices that is self-induced – aka the pain brought on by my addiction to playing with fire.

So, is the playing with fire an issue?  Yes.  But even more, I need to understand why I play with fire.  What does that come from?  Then I realized, there is this lie inside of me I still believe – I am not valuable, not lovable, only worth second best – so, no need to care for yourself – burn away.  Lies.  All freaking lies.  They are so subtle and creep up when I do not even expect them – but when they come, they come on strong.

Yesterday, I was talking with my mom about gardening.  I just bought a house last summer, so this is my first summer gardening.  She loves to garden and I thought – it would be so fun to have her come help me and have a mother-daughter day.  Well, she didn’t think so much.  I didn’t ask why – you know why I didn’t ask?  Because I didn’t want to hear her answer – I figured I knew it.  I wasn’t worth helping like that, wasn’t worth spending time with – I simply wasn’t worth loving like that.  Now, is that a completely irrational conclusion?!  Absolutely.  But, it is the honest conclusion – because I am still a work in progress who has broken thinking and it does not take much to set off those old thought patterns.

All day today I knew I was off, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.  There were a few interactions I had that were more trigger points, but still I couldn’t make full sense.  Then, on my drive home from the office I called a dear friend and lost it – I started to see how I was still living like a broken girl who doesn’t deserve love and is okay with being treated like second best – but I’m not, that hurts and is really lonely.  Then, I stopped thinking about it for a few hours.  Later, I was driving and Not For a Moment (After All) by Meredith Andrews came on the radio – yes, I was listening to Christian music.  I knew my heart needed something and that was the fastest way to get a dose of truth in me.  Jesus met me in that moment in my car and started to soften me.

I arrived home to a house all to myself.  No escaping my thoughts here.  I was catching up on email and one was from another dear friend who shared a story about a fight she had with her husband.  I started weeping – and I mean curled up in a ball bawling.  The story was a picture of how I felt I have been yelling at Jesus recently and his response is not to leave me, but rather, he weeps for me.  His heart breaks to see me hurting like this.  He died to make me his own – and not just another number to him; a beloved daughter – precious and lovable.  Even in the dark, even when it is hard – He will never leave me because he is constant – and what sweet, sweet news that is to this gal who is the furthest thing from constant.

Healing comes.  I am sure this is not the last time I will deal with this set of lies, I mean I have been wrestling with them my whole life – but truth and love come and meet me.  It does not always look the same – and that is good.  For tonight, there is rest and peace in my soul.  I am kept and held – no matter if I feel it or not, but thankfully tonight I feel it.

Remember – everything will change.  In the dark, it will change and get light again.  And in these sweet moments of rest in Jesus – be thankful, for you know this moment will change, too.   We live in a world that is always changing – but Jesus is not changing.

Thanks for letting me share a little slice of life that is happening right now.  Have you felt Jesus meet you recently when you were feeling on your own?  

Much love,

B

PS.  Here is the video – listen to the song.  Really listen to the lyrics.  They are true – and can be true for you if you let Jesus into your life.  He wants in – that I can promise you. (And for those of you who know me really well, yes – I have listen to this song 36 times in a row and counting…)

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want…

The other night I was meditating, for an hour – dang, a lot can go through one’s mind in an hour when all you are doing is focusing on your breath.  I know that is a weird concept to most to sit in one place, come to the breath and experience what happens.  Does something profound always happen?  No, by no means.  But Monday night, the Lord met me as I sat on my little cushion outside and shook me up a bit with reality.  It’s funny how that happens…

I have found myself thinking about why we want what we can’t have a lot recently.  Probably because I seem to have to deal with it a lot recently in a new way, or not really new, but in a new setting – ambiguous enough for you?!  Okay, great.  Some days are worse than others, but every day there is this pull between saying f-it – I want what I want and playing with fire (the flesh, if you will) and acknowledging that the desire is real but not worth indulging in (the Spirit).  It is annoying – I wish I could just accept it and move on, but I can’t.  It’s not that simple.

I think that the other night when I was meditating that was one of the key parts that hit me.  I heard inside myself, that yes – that desire is real – do not try to deny that, for that will not make the desire go away.  It is dangerous to live in denial of our desires because then we aren’t actively fighting against them (and to clarify – desires are not bad and sinful, but there can be sinful desires and this is one that falls in that category), which makes it easier to carelessly walk into indulging them.  The Lord does not want me to deny that I have a sinful desire – He wants me to see that I am weak and need Him.  I need the Spirit to work inside me and fight my flesh.  I am weak – but He is made strong in my weakness.  There was a peace that came over me when I realized this at a new level on Monday night.  Has it taken away the desire?  No.  Has it changed my perspective on how I view the desire?  Yes.  Has it helped me accept where the Lord has me today and seek to really learn what He has for me right here in the present?  Yes.  For those things, I am thankful – though, I will be completely honest – I would love to have the circumstances be different and not have to deal with this at all – BUT if I had it my way I wouldn’t need to be dependent on Jesus.  I wouldn’t need to be coming back to my breath and waiting on the Lord to speak to me.  So, I guess it is good that I can’t always get what I want – a lesson my earthly father tried to teach me many years ago, but for some reason it was a hard one for me to grasp…not that it is super easy today, but it is easier to accept at 27 than it was at 7.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am thankful for grace – especially the grace that protects me from my self.

Much love,

B

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Resolutions…

It is a new year, so we are all supposed to stop and make resolutions, right?!  I think there has been a movement in the last couple of years to try to make more realistic resolutions, but I still seem to be reading some over the top ones.  Either way, I am always curious to stop and hear what others want to see change in their lives.  I know there are things I want to see change in my life – I just do not know that I want to call it a resolution, as I do not have much control over them.  Here is my current, honest list (brief first, reasoning to follow)of, for lack of better words, resolutions…

  1. Find a new place to call my church home
  2. Go to Thailand (and of course, ride an elephant while I am there)
  3. Better respect for my body
  4. Read more, and actually finish the books I start
  5. Start dating my future spouse

So, we will start from the beginning of the list.  I want to first say I am very thankful to the Lord for BBC.  It is where I became a believer because John Piper saw the need for a stronger college ministry at his church.  He led the movement to bring Campus Outreach to Minneapolis.  It is through those specific events that the Lord chose to use them to work in my heart and first reveal Himself to me.  For that, I will forever be grateful – it literally changed my life.  However, that does not mean that it is always going to be a perfect fit for me – so, the search has begun for me to find a new place to call home – maybe not tomorrow and maybe not forever.  So, I am still currently a member at BBC and will stay in my small group until the time is ready for me to commit to a new place.  I just know in my heart that this is what I need – and who knows, maybe the process will lead me back to BBC, but for now this is my biggest resolution as I feel it has clearly been laid on my heart.  As one friend plead with me, “Please do not throw the baby [literally – baby Jesus] out with the bath water,” because he wants me to be walking with the Lord in a year from now, which looks like may best be done at a different church home that better ministers to me.

Number two is fairly simple – go to Thailand to visit my dear friend, Laura.  Putting it on paper makes it more real to plan for.  I cannot wait to get over there – as I have wanted to go to that part of the world for thirteen or fourteen years now – and the opportunity has finally presented itself.  Pretty excited, especially to get to ride an elephant in it’s natural environment (versus the circus when I was a little girl).

Three just finally made it on my list after sitting and thinking about others’ resolutions.  I mean sure, I am a girl – so who wouldn’t want to lose a few pounds?!  But it is so much more than that – when I think about having better respect for my body.  In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 it says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  So, with that I think about wanting to make decisions that honor the Lord with my body because He is dwelling in me.  I do not want to break that intimacy with Him by running to other idols, which in 2012 played out more clearly in physical things that impacted my body negatively.  Simply abstaining from the things that hurt me is not the necessary solution, as it changes the behavior but does not get to the heart behind it.  So, this is one resolution that I am leaning fully on the Lord to cultivate a spirit in me that wants to fight to have deeper unity with Him over momentary pleasures in this world that break intimacy with him.

I used to read all the time.  It was one of the sweetest parts of my week.  Sneaking away to a coffee shop to get lost in books that challenged my mind and stretched my thoughts.  It stirred my affections for the Lord so much.  Not that it is a cure all, but even the little bit I read over the holidays revealed to me I need to go back to this – as it ministered to my soul so much.  So, I am going to try to get some more reading in, which will start with TrueFaced, The Calvary Roadand Mark Driscoll’s new book, Who Do You Think You Are?  I have a couple other books I also want to get to, but for now I think this is a good starting point – take me back to who I am in Christ.  I think remembering my true identity will deal with the heart, and Lord willing, lead to my hands to live out better respect for my body – as they are so closely related.  Behavior can only be managed for so long, this is needing some deep heart work, which is only going to happen by the Spirit doing some work – and me wanting to let the Lord do that work.

Oh, and well five is to put a smile on your face – and for me to be honest and vulnerable.  I know that many see me as this independent woman, who likes to play off that she does not need a man.  And honestly, that statement is very true – I do not need a man and I like to do a lot of things on my own.  I have been pretty independent the majority of my life, but that does not mean I have to be exclusively independent.  However, I do still want one and not just anyone – I want a man who I respect, who is pursuing the Lord – by no means perfect, but willing to come alongside me in this life so we can help one another come into a deeper union with Christ and see Jesus more clearly.  It will be messy, but I still there would be some pretty great parts.  This is also one of those resolutions that I have zero control over, but now as my readers you know – so feel free to pray, and dare I say even match make?!!  Eah, I am open to that…I think…

So, there we have it.  My resolutions for 2013.  I want all of them to be grounded in being resolved to seek the Lord more – I do not want any of these just because, but rather I want these to be means to know my true lover more.

Do you do the whole resolution thing?  What are your 2013 resolutions?

Much love,

B

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Closure Comes in Interesting Ways…

End of year is always a natural time to reflect on what has happened over the last year.  I try to work in reflection more often than that, and due to the way I am wired I tend to be reflecting all the time.  In fact, I tend to keep going through things in my mind until I can find the lesson or meaning in it, and ultimately gain a little closure.

However, closure is not always a guarantee.   Sometimes, things happen and you have to move on without getting all your answers – I really thought that was the case with my last relationship.  It was not healthy and needed to end, but I hated that reality.  I liked the feeling of being adored – or what I thought in the moment was being adored.  I was greatly mistaken though – I was used and I had to admit that to myself – and couldn’t deny it any longer when I got an email from him that spelled it out rather clearly.  It turned my world upside down, and not in a good way.  I was so confused – he seemed so genuine.  I really thought, I will never know why this had to happen the way it did, never get to ask the why follow up questions – the last communication was going to be this email confessional to me and I had to deal with it only with the Lord.  I had to trust that this was best for me and try my hardest to walk forward in that.

And try I did – though it is up for debate how much I really tried because stopping right now and looking back I see I was not trying to trust the Lord.  I was hurt, really hurt.  I was letting my feelings stirred up by this letter define me, and thus, I took on the role and lived it up – say like I was feeling 22.  It helped numb me, but by no means fulfilled me.  I hurt more – I wasn’t hurting him the way I had wanted to because he had no idea what was happening in my life – as we had cut off all communication.

Now, fast forward to about a couple weeks ago.  It’s been two and a half months since the last communication.  I walk into a party – and there he was.  A million thoughts ran through my head – but the clearest was, “Vengeance is not mine to have.”  So, I said hi (not in the sweetest tone by any means) and walked on to enjoy myself.  Eventually, he came up to me and asked if we could talk.  So, we did.  I was in awe – the Lord rushed over me with peace and I could feel him holding me, protecting me and thankfully letting me see – this really is good that it did not work out.  I had nothing to lose, so I could ask any of my questions – worst thing that could happen is he said he wasn’t going to explain.   It would have been sweet if the story ended there, but oh no – I am sinful and so of course it did not end there.  As we were talking, there was a sick satisfaction welling up inside of me – to see that there was pain in this for him and that I still had power over him – I knew that I could get what I want and this time be the one to wipe my hands clean – gah, why is my heart so sick and dark?!!  Vengeance is not mine to have, and yet I still sought it in a subtle manipulative way.

I want freedom from myself.  I want the Lord to change me.  I want to trust the I am where I am for my good and stop trying to take matters into my own hands – seriously.  But, I did what I did – I need to walk forward.  I want to rest in grace and know that God can and will change me – I am not defined by anything other than God himself.  But I need to let Him – I need to chose the way out of temptation when He gives it to me, because He always does – that night I just chose my selfishness – and yet, still the morning after He was gracious to me feel like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I finally feel like my heart is healed and I can fully move on – I have finally released this ex – and for that, I am extremely thankful.  The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.  Today is a new day – and I can honestly say today that I want to change.  I want to fight my temptations because they do not fill me – they cannot fill the void that only Jesus can fill.  I want that to be sweet good news again.

There are still lessons to learn and things for me to work through in my heart.  But at the same time, there is closure to that season.  I can now look back and remember the happy times with a smile and own the poor decision I made, and learn from them.  The Lord really can redeem all things and use them for good.  Those that know me well, know I am rather stubborn and tend to need to learn things the hard way.  I know a lot of this pain could have been avoided had I listened to so many that love me, but I didn’t.  I chose to walk down this path – but the Lord never forsake me.  He is my sweet shepherd, and has brought me back to himself – so thankful that this good news is true for me today.

I know that this is rather personal – and that a handful of people that read this will know the people involved – but I share because the Lord works through our stories.  I share this story to show how committed He is to us – there are so many evidences of grace at work in this story.  I share because I want people to see Jesus more clearly.  He loves his children and deals with us graciously, so graciously that he even gives this stubborn little brat closure to show me He is with me in this – and He really is better.

Hope this finds you this Monday seeing that Jesus is sweeter than anything this world has to offer – whatever that greatest draw is for you.  I am sure it is a good thing, but it is a good thing that is meant to point you back to Him and not be an end in and of itself.

Much love,

B

 

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The Wedge of Deception…

Deception.  The act of deceiving, which is to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.

Wow, when I look up the definition and see it spelled out before my eyes it sinks in so much more.  Deception is evil and hurtful – not innocent.  Yet, it is so easy to convince yourself that you are not doing something wrong.  You simply do not want to tell this one person the whole story because you know what they are going to say – and you feel fine with the decision you made or are making.  We have an amazing ability to convince ourselves why we are justified to keep some things in the dark from those we dare to call our closest friends, so close they are family.  Sin itself is deceptive.  The problem is, if these people really are that close, then they will still love you, even if they think you are making an unwise decision.  They will tell you it is unwise, because they love you, but still be on your team and fight with you and for your best.

Last night, my deception became too much.  I had to go sit in front of two of my best friends and confess that I had not out right lied to them, but I had very intentionally chosen not tell them about a choice I had made.  I felt fine before the Lord about my choice.  I had told the other people in my inner circle about my choice.  I just didn’t want to tell them because I know they are my most conservative friends and that they had a different stance – sure, they don’t think it is sin, but they certainly think it is unwise – and I just did not want to hear it because I did not want to feel like a child.  I did a great job of justifying it in my head why I was withholding this information.  I had a whole case built up.  I wasn’t lying –  so I was fine right?  I mean I was living in the light with others – so it is all good, right?  Wrong.  I was misleading them to think something else.  It was a lie of omission.  Like any lie, I was found out – someone else had told them, assuming they already knew – they were hurt and hot pissed, and rightfully so.  I had greatly wronged them – I had full on deceived them – two of the people that have been far more committed to my life than anyone else ever has.  They did not come to me and confront me though, and I am thankful that the Lord broke me down to come to them, confess, talk through and ask for forgiveness.

It was not an easy conversation by any means.  I broke their trust.  I drove this wedge in our relationship – and made them question, what else had I deluded and mislead them on??  And how did these two respond?  With grace and forgiveness – there were tears because there was deep hurt – but they both in their own way said, “I forgive you because you are forgiven in Jesus the same way I am forgiven in Jesus.”  I went to bed last night thinking – wow, the cross is so big and covers so much more than I can comprehend – because I know that all three of us prior to being believers (we all became followers of Jesus in college) held trust as a number one and if you broke that – good luck getting it back.  I sat there knowing, I may have just destroyed two of the best relationships I have had in the last eight years – and I certainly bruised it, but God has been so gracious to me yet again.  They forgave me.  They want to trust me (though I said please feel free to question me).  They want the best for me.  They want me to fall more in love with Jesus.  They really are on my team.  Such a practical picture of the gospel played out in my life.  I felt like the prodigal son – so undeserving, yet they welcomed me with open arms.

Will there be things in the future that I decide to do that these two think are unwise?  Without being one that knows the future, I can still fairly confidently say absolutely.  Will I be honest and upfront about it?  By the grace of God, I sure hope so – because being honest and disagreeing is far better than what we went through last night.  As one said last night, “No one was winning here,” we all had hurt and pain – though, that is not totally true.  There was a winner last night.  Jesus won.  Jesus ripped out that wedge that my sin had driven in because that is what Jesus does.  He rips open wounds and goes in and works and heals – and that is what he is doing in my life.  I do not  naturally trust people or believe they will be for me.  I too easily think I will do something to push them away.  Jesus Christ died to bring healing to this brokenness and He is committed to healing this wound.  He is using these two very practically in my life – even when I get in the way and seem to make matters worse.  He uses it for me to soak in truth and love deeper.  These two were a clear picture last night of how God, Himself, continues to forgive me.   Forgiveness at the cross does not run out.

Come back to Jesus, that is the only place where there is true freedom and joy.

Much love,

B

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The Shirt Off My Back…

Yesterday night, I was leaving a wedding.  I had noticed this woman sitting outside the building all day (I was in the wedding so had been there literally all day).  It was obvious she was homeless.  It appeared as though she had no one to turn to.  When I was leaving the wedding I was leaving in full on pain, hurt, and feeling rather pissed – and the best part, the person that caused all of that was my ride home.  Then, I saw Farah again.  Seeing her snapped me out of myself and before I knew it I was talking to her and getting to know her.  She looked so small and fragile – and who did she tell me cares for her?  Jesus.  She knows that the God of the universe has not left her or forsake her – and she is freaking homeless.  I just had a minor heartache and got mad at God.  Wow, talk about reality and perspective check.

After that lovely realization, I felt freer to listen to her – I wanted to hear her and learn whatever I could from her in a few short minutes.  As we were talking all I could think is what on earth do I have with me that I could give her that would actually help?  And it kept coming to mind – my blue flannel shirt.  But, wait – that is my favorite flannel that I wear all the time?!  Really – yes, really I couldn’t deny that it was all I had to give her and I knew it could be replaced.  Farah ended up not taking it because it clashed with her red skirt she felt, which then had me laughing – as I am a fashionista after all.  She has a routine and wanted to stick to it she said (we wanted to give her a night in a hotel), and she told us she felt loved even by the conversation.

I sit here today and remember Farah.  Is she perfect and without sin?  No, but she helped me last night.  If she can be where she is and still fight to believe that God is good, not withholding good, supplying all of her needs – then, me with the sad heart today, also can rest assured that though this is a very real feeling – I will be okay.  The God of the universe loves me, Brittany Hayes, whole heartedly because of Jesus alone.  And even better, He is far more committed to me and my good than I ever could be.  He sees the whole picture; I only have my vantage point – and remembering that gives comfort to my soul.  I know this is better – for both involved.

So, today with the help of the Spirit, I fight to rest – and yes, it is a good sweet rest that has already been made mine, but there is also an active fighting to stay in that rest.  I am my beloved’s, and He is mine – that is right where I belong.

Much love,

B

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