Praying by Faith, Not by Sight

Yesterday evening, a group of us gathered together on a ranch.  The purpose was to seek His face, with no agenda other than to experience His Glory.

As we worshipped, I felt the Lord impress upon me to make out a list of desires and present needs to surrender at His feet.  I also felt I was to revisit the list and write out the testimonies of what God did the following week.  As I wrote it out, I felt my faith increase, and I truly expected His hand to move upon each item listed.

Have you ever felt as if a situation became worse the moment you began to make it your focus in prayer?

I have.  In fact, I felt that way this morning.

When I awoke, it wasn’t long before I saw several of the items attacked, and for a moment my heart was discouraged.  Until . . .

I made the decision to not let what I saw affect my faith.

I prayed once more and surrendered it all at His feet, as I did yesterday evening.  I took a look from a new angle.

Instead of seeing my prayers as the reason for the attacks, I realized that perhaps . . .

God knew the attacks were going to come, so He gave me the strategies ahead of time to prepare my heart to stand firm and believe for victory.

We need God’s eyes.  We need to see things from His point of view.

So, before we ever make an assumption on what He is doing . . .

All we have to do is ask for His perspective.

 

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Walking in the Spirit

When we walk in the natural, there is a certain level of control we feel over our lives, but that feeling of control is merely an illusion.  We fabricate our own plans and build a false sense of stability by trusting in our own abilities, all the while limiting God to whatever our flesh wants and desires.

Sometimes, without realizing, we create a God in our own image.  A God who accepts, even encourages, our behavior and justifies the choices we make.  With this frame of mind, we block out the voice of truth, and everything is filtered through what looks and feels right to us.

We may even find ourselves praying prayers that are rooted in manipulation.   Instead of surrendering to the Spirit, we already know what we want and choose to ignore His voice.

While saying,

“Your will be done”,

We are truly saying,

“Make this work out according to my will, Lord”

Walking in the natural may not involve a lifestyle of blatant sin.  It can be a life of settling for less than God’s best and staying in our comfort zones.  It trusts fear rather than love.

When we walk in the Spirit, we come face to face with the feeling of being out of control, as we hand all of our control over to God.   We put ourselves in the position of relying fully on Him to reveal His plans and choosing to not lean on our own understanding.  This goes against everything we are taught in the natural.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” —Galatians 5:16

All our lives, society tells us to put our trust in what will secure our future.  We are told to make decisions based off of what has worked for others, rather than being the unique individuals God created us to be.

To walk in the Spirit is freedom.  While the world focuses on what will be lost and what can no longer be done, the reality remains that there is much more to gain in the never-ending possibilities found in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit removes all boundaries and allows God to have complete access to change and rearrange our lives . . . as He wills.

A scary thought at times.

Even so, the thought of being outside of His will is much scarier to me than the feeling of being out of control.

It is much scarier for me to think about holding even a single part of my heart back from Him.

One thought I had this afternoon was about how Christians often say things like,

“Don’t pray for patience, or God will give it to you.”

It’s said in a negative tone.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

I admit, I’ve said it in the past.  I’ve also have many people say it to me.   Often it appears to be said in a joking manner, but still there is quite a bit of honestly written between the lines.  Excuse me for stepping on some toes (including my own) . . .

Isn’t patience one of the Fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5:22-23)

I suppose what I am getting at is that we can’t truly experience the deeper things of God, if we attempt to live a life of picking and choosing what we want of Him based off our level of comfort and how easy it will be for us to walk it out.

Total surrender does not involve us holding back any part of ourselves from Him.  When we ask Him to have His will in our lives, except for one or two things . . . we are still trying to be in control.

It’s a journey, friends.  It involves taking one step at a time with Him.  Allowing Him to reveal His truth to our hearts.  To make decisions to obey Him even when it feels uncomfortable, even when it hurts.  Learning to trust that the pain of missing out on even one aspect of who He is, is far greater than the pain of dying to ourselves.

I believe it is His plan for us to constantly be moving from glory to glory.  It is His will for us not to stay where we are, but to be continually growing our roots deeper into Him.

Lord, teach me how to walk not according to my flesh, but to walk wholeheartedly according to Your Spirit.  To rely on You, to trust You, above my own instincts, desires, hopes and dreams.  To listen to Your voice before I receive a word from any other.  

To stay in Your presence.

Soften my heart to Yours, so that my desire will be to hold nothing back from You.  Let my life be aligned with Your plans and purposes.

 Not my will, but Your will be done.

Creating an Atmosphere of Faith

I’ve been back in California for around six days now.  Up until yesterday, most of my time has been spent sleeping, as well as settling into my temporary home.  My mobile office/recording studio is now ready to go.  I even started to work on finishing up a single I began before moving a few weeks ago.  My goal is to get it out to you all within the next month.

This week has been set aside for much needed rest, even though I did spend an hour recording yesterday [oops].  I plan to hit the ground running next week and move forward with the things God has been burning in my heart.  I am excited and scared to be freelancing—that is the easiest way for me to sum up what I am doing.  [Side note: If any locals are in need of portraits, my camera and I are looking for more gigs!  Contact me for more details.]

So far, I have come to realize that I am even more tired than I thought.  It’s interesting how one often doesn’t know how tired they are until they stop for a moment.  It turns out, I truly needed to sleep and sleep, and sleep some more.  I needed to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen without any distractions.  I am so thankful that He provided me with a safe place to catch my breath and be restored.

It’s odd that most of my possessions can now fit inside one room.  It feels terrific.  During my recent travels, I walked away with a fresh desire to lighten my load and live off of less.  For over two weeks, I lived out of a suitcase and my camera bag.  To the best of my ability, I am aiming to keep my life as minimalistic as possible.  When God tells me it’s time to move on, I want to be able to go quickly and easily.

So, what’s next?  I have some projects to finish up and a vacation to look forward to in September.  You can expect to see a much more consistent flow of new audio and visual content coming from me in the days ahead—now that I am freelancing and making my passions my job!

This being my first week [in quite some time] without the promise of an actual paycheck, I’ve already wrestled with fear once or twice.  One of the keys to winning a match against fear is to make a list [in your head or on paper] of all of the ways God has come through thus far.  Fear cannot survive in an atmosphere of faith.

Another key is to not allow your heart to linger past today.  Don’t allow yourself to worry about tomorrow [Matthew 6:34].  If your focus is fixed on what has not been provided tomorrow, you will miss out entirely on the provisions found in today. [Check out one of my older posts titled, Enough for Today]

Living life in such a way is impossible without His presence.  So, I continue to press into  His presence which never runs out.  It is only in His presence where true faith is born.

Lord, teach me how to create an atmosphere of faith wherever I go.  Let my heart trust in You more than I trust my fears.  Let me be quick to count each blessing and miracle, remembering all that You have done.

 

 

 

 

Hello from Kansas!

This morning I woke up at a truck stop in Emporia, Kansas. By eight o’clock, I had successfully cleaned myself up and had many a conversation with lady truck drivers and fellow travelers. One in particular happened to be from California. We chatted a bit while we brushed our teeth. It felt strange, yet normal.

After living on a shuttle bus for almost two weeks, I feel like I could live anyway and live off of much less than I ever imagined. I can’t help but think that God has been preparing me for this all along, as I reflect and look back at all the steps that have led me here. From all of my mission trips, to my days as a street performer, leaving home, resigning from good paying jobs on a whim, following His light straight into the dark. I am watching in amazement as God uses every experience to strengthen and prepare me for each adventure.

His mercies are new every morning, and He has been supplying me with grace upon grace. As each wall of my comfort zone is stripped away, I find an even greater depth of intimacy with Him. Even in the midst of recuperating from a cold, I have seen His sovereign hand resting upon me. In my moments of exhaustion, He has met me here.

I’m a shower-every-single-day kind of girl. I like my hair to be clean and I like to smell nice. It’s been a couple days since my last shower and I have now become quite accustomed to bathing with baby wipes and washing my face in the Walmart restroom. It honestly makes me laugh. I welcome the awkward and the uncomfortable. Life is much more joyful.

We are now on the final stretch of the tour. Our last stop is in Dallas, Texas. The closest I’ve been to Texas has been the airport, so I am rather excited to see a bit more of the state before I head home on Monday.

Special thanks to all of the truckers who put up with me running around the parking lot with my camera. Also, special thanks to the Flying J truck stop for providing me with the opportunity of purchasing this crazy wolf shirt that I am wearing today.

All Things are Possible

As of today, I have now been to the same amount of states as days I’ve been traveling.  Tomorrow will be a week since my trip first began.

Where am I now?  Wisconsin.

I had the lovely pleasure of dipping my feet into Lake Michigan in Kenosha this afternoon.  It was stress relieving to walk barefoot on the beach while shooting photographs.  Most of this trip has involved driving, so it was a nice change to get outside with my camera and unwind a bit.

As much as possible, I’ve been spending most of my alone time in silence.  It’s a refreshing change, bringing healing to my soul, after many months spent in a chaotic environment.

I am reveling in simply being present in His glorious presence, allowing His glory waves to remove the debris of yesterday.  Ever so gently, He reminds me of who I am and who He is.  He helps me to remember that I am never alone and that He is more real than the sand beneath my feet.

I close my eyes.

I wait.

I listen.

Holy Spirit, wash over me and remove everything that hinders my heart from hearing Your truth.

Lake Mich_Waves_9499

My heart comes back to life, as He reaffirms every dream found within me.  The deeper things that only He and I share.  And just as I begin to think I can’t dream any bigger, Heaven opens wide and I find myself being taken higher and higher.

Higher and higher into Kingdom reality.

Lord, the place where You dwell does not have a ceiling.  Teach me to live in Your Kingdom reality.  A place where all things are possible.

Align My Eyes with Yours

We made it safely to St. Louis, Missouri yesterday evening.  I admit that most of the days are starting to blur together and I find myself constantly going back to my schedule to figure out the day and the state we are currently in.

That said, I am adjusting well.  I am getting used to sleeping in my tiny bunk, which is a top bunk.  I am hitting my head less on the ceiling and figuring out more efficient ways to change my clothes while horizontal.  It’s strangely comforting, even though it reminds me of what it would be like to sleep inside an MRI machine.

I am at peace.  My mind is clear.  I feel like I am returning to my usual self, for the first time in awhile.  More and more, I am realizing how stressful my job was and I am so thankful God brought me out of that situation.

Lord, You are good.

I tell people all the time how important it is to get away and gain new perspective.  To step away and refocus.  Sometimes our dreams are right in front of us, but we can’t see them until we look at them from a different angle.

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.”—Psalm 25:4-5

This is where I’m at.  Throughout the last six days of traveling, God has been solidifying the answers to decisions I have been praying about and revealing His plans for me in a way I wasn’t able to see before I refocused.

Regardless of how long this trip lasts, I know I will be returning with restored vision and a fresh confidence to walk boldly into the direction He is calling me.

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”—Psalm 86:11

Unite my heart to fear Your name.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so reveal to me Your holiness.  Bind my heart with Your wisdom.  

“O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.”—Psalm 43:3

Let Your truth be the filter that guards my mind.  Lord, let me not worry about any other voice but Yours.  

Align my eyes with Yours.  Give me eyes to see what You see.

 

Wait. Listen. Respond.

Wait.

Invest a moment of your time to stop and . .  .

Listen.

He is always speaking, always moving.

And when He speaks . . .

Respond and

Act.

Take that next step.

He will meet you there.

We stayed in Fort Wayne, Indiana last night.  A friend of the band blessed us with a place to stay and a shower.  Yes, it was the best shower I have had in quite some time.  I feel like a woman once more. 😉  One of their dogs even randomly appeared and snored by my side all night.  It was just like being at home with Chad.

At this moment, the bus is headed to Chicago.  I am doing well, even with quite a bit of sleep deprivation.  God is here and He is good.

I told a five year old today that he needed to pray for me to have energy like him.  He prayed for me on the spot,

“Thank you, Jesus.  I ask you to give Stephanie a lot of energy.  Help her to also do a lot of silly things.  Amen.”

Grace for Today

By living with less, I’m finding abundant joy.

Each morning brings a fresh measure of grace to see me through the day [says the girl who hasn’t taken a shower in three days].

Years ago, I know this would have been a much bigger stretch for me, but I am thankful that God is giving me the opportunity to grow without my normal luxuries.

His grace has no bounds.

I’ve learned that good quality dry shampoo does wonders for my unwashed  hair [for the first few days], but today it is starting to get a little bit grungy.  Well, it is what it is at this point.  I will probably talk about my next shower for years.  It will be the best one I have ever had.  That said . . .

Compared to what I am watching the Lord do on this trip, my hair really doesn’t matter.

Also, I went into Walmart three times today and it didn’t even phase me.  If you know me, you know that even the thought of going into Walmart gives me anxiety.  Walmart is only okay if I plan it out and bring moral support.  Yes, I went into a Walmart in Dayton, Ohio this morning.  Three times.  Alone.

I am enjoying the simplicity and ever-changing adventure that comes with traveling to new places day after day.  This is the first time I’ve driven through this part of the states.  Today we drove through Ohio and Indiana to get back to Michigan for the band’s show this evening.  A lot of barns and corn.  It’s lovely and fun to shoot.  I’m a happy photographer-camper.

I have no idea where this journey is headed, all I know is that God is pouring out a tremendous amount of grace and endurance for me in the present.  Leaving my previous job was the best decision I could have made.  I feel so much lighter.

Lord, continue to lead me in this season.  Show me the path I need to walk.  Let my eyes stay fixed on You.  

Reveal to me Your righteousness, and let Your holiness take control of all that I am.  Let my thoughts, my words, my actions be aligned with Your Kingdom plans.

Guide me with Your peace, so that I will no longer be swayed by the circumstances surrounding me.  Holy Spirit, have Your way.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road

I don’t know where this road will lead me, but I know that Your grace will be the light that guides my path. Awaken my heart, Lord, to Your Kingdom plans.

I am writing this post from a bus, as we head toward Cincinnati, Ohio. Last night I landed safely in Lansing, Michigan. Due to supernatural God-opportunities, I am on a brand new adventure with a team of wonderful people I met for the first time yesterday.

Friday was my last day at my full time job. I have closed that chapter and I am officially freelancing. God said it was time, and there is no other way to describe His confirmations other than supernatural.

So, now I am on a bus, heading over to Cincinnati, Ohio. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought I’d be here a week ago.

I know, I know . . . I am being extremely vague. Few people know exactly what I am doing, but then again do I even know?

The gist of it is that I have an out-of-the-box job/ministry opportunity this month. I’m traveling in a shuttle bus converted into a tour bus, with a band that impacted me greatly when I was 18 years old.

Only God can open doors like this, and He did it when I became fully surrendered to walking straight into the unknown.

This road is far from easy, but my God is faithful. He is definitely keeping me on my toes.

Which Risk Should I Take?

I am standing at a crossroad very similar to one I stood at a couple years ago.  In less than a few weeks, I will be leaving my  current full time job and continuing on with my journey elsewhere.

My decision to resign was not simple.  My position includes my home, which meant I would need to find a new place to live.  It  meant I would not have a steady income and that I would need to find a new job.  I have also been on the cusp of burning out and it was almost too exhausting to even consider stopping and changing my life path right now.

That said, I realized that my health was on the line and I needed to take care of myself.  So, I gave my notice and felt completely at peace.  In that moment, it was as if a large burden fell off my back.  There was hope.

This place of employment was a stepping stone.  I found healing here.  I found people who I am proud to say have become part of my family.  I thank God for this season, but I also know that it is time for the next season to begin.

The peace I felt is still with me and so is a new excitement.  Thankfully, Chad [my dog] and I have a place to live during this transition, but I don’t know a lot beyond that.  I stand at this crossroad, asking myself,

Which risk should I take?

Do I go down the path I already know, and fall back on what I know I can do?  I could do that.  I know I could do that and get a job quickly.  I have experience and already have a lead or two.  This would be a risk.  Maybe I’d have more money, that would probably be true, but do I want to take this risk just for the steady income?

I’m learning that I don’t need as much as I thought I did.  In fact, I was a lot more joyful when I had less and was able to do the things I’m passionate about.

I expect to be scoffed at by some for saying things like this.  I’ve had people look at me [in the past] like I’m being irresponsible for not saying yes to the first job that opens up.  After all, that’s what we have to do, right?  Here’s the deal . . .

I’m twenty-six years old.  Life is only going to get more complex at this point.  I figure, if I don’t jump now, will I ever have the courage?  I see this open window of opportunity and it’s terrifying, but I know I eventually need to jump and see where it leads me.

Anyone who ever wound up doing what they are passionate about had to take crazy [and sometimes unpopular] steps to get there.  I know that in order to see my dreams come to fruition, I am going to have to put myself out there and start walking it out with God today.

I don’t have time to start tomorrow because tomorrow is always going to be out of reach.  Regardless of how nonsensical and out of the box it may seem to other people . . . is this the risk I need to take?

Money has always stood between people and their dreams, but I know that God is much bigger than money and my dreams combined.  I know that my first job is to listen to Him and follow His direction.  I’ve seen Him provide in supernatural ways, when I’ve had a steady income and in the seasons where I’ve lived from one day to the next.

I think I’ve made up my mind.

Which risk should I take?

I’m going for the path I haven’t yet taken.  I’ll take the risk to do what I was created to do.  The risk to do what I am passionate about, even if it means I have to face the unknown in the process.  After all . . .

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
― Max DePree