I’ve been talking about writing a post on BuzzFeed for years. Well, I finally found my topic. Here it is . . .
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.
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.
Holy Spirit, wash over me and remove everything that hinders my heart from hearing Your truth.
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.
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.
Invest a moment of your time to stop and . . .
He is always speaking, always moving.
And when He speaks . . .
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.”
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.
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
It’s easy, isn’t it? To get so caught up in what is not yet here. To so quickly be willing to trade in the moment for the promise of what is to come.
It’s in our nature, in all reality, to seek out the greener pasture. In those times when all hope seems to be lost, we reassure ourselves . . .
“Things will get better.”
That’s advice I’ve been quick to give in the past. It’s a string of words that honestly have become empty of all power to me.
I don’t know that it will get better. Perhaps the only thing that will make things get better is a change of heart and attitude, but I cannot even begin to assume anything beyond my own self. Only God can see the heart.
One thing I’m learning on a personal level is that many of the disappointments in my life have been caused by my own expectations. If my outlook is distorted, how would I be able to see anything as it truly is?
How would I even recognize what better is?
There is so much of an emphasis placed on things getting better and of the wonders waiting for us on the other side.
From experience, I know that I am never happy or content when I put my hope in tomorrow. When I cope with my surroundings by telling myself that “if I can just make it through this” the new things coming are going to change everything.
As someone who, in the past, has coped by jumping from one new thing to the other. New isn’t always better.
In fact, new will never give you the lasting satisfaction you are longing for. It isn’t until we embrace the mundane, old and ordinary, that we will ever be satisfied. It doesn’t matter how bleak our past or spectacular our future. I’ll be bold and say that we will quite possibly miss the better when it arrives, unless a change within takes place.
It gets better today.
It gets better as we begin to allow God to change the way we think, the way we see, the way we live our lives.
It gets better when we give up on chasing our dreams and meet with God right here, right now.
It doesn’t mean life will be perfect. You know that, I’m sure you do. Things will not be perfect until we are at home with Him. Terrible things happen every day. I get that. I understand it well. You do too. But . . .
I am learning that we don’t have to carry the weight of this world that we face. I am learning that there is always light to be found.
Don’t give up, there is hope found in the now.
Your present is bright
because His light
is all around you.
I wanted to share a testimony with you of what happened yesterday after I wrote my latest post, Take Me Higher.
For the past month, I’ve been struggling with the album I have been working on. It started off great, and then I got lost inside my head. I began to overthink everything. So I prayed, and I asked God if it was a spiritual attack on my mind or if I needed to step back for a moment. I had to completely remove myself from the project for a couple weeks because the stress became so great that I could barely focus.
You see, the track list of this album is full of symbolism. The lyrics are deep with emotion and honesty. Though they are laced with hope and light, most of them were written on days when I was in so much pain that I could barely speak. I am proud of the songs and I’ve been complimented on the writing. Many opportunities opened up for me when I first started to play them in coffee shops and out on the streets. In 2014, I was determined to start recording the album.
Right before I moved back to California, a little over a year ago, I played a concert in LA. I had intended on playing these particular songs, but when I arrived I decided to simply worship in the way that I would in my own private time with the Lord. The outcome was life changing. I was able to share my testimony and I had several people come up to me afterward asking more about God. As I left the venue, I felt completely alive and I told the Lord,
“If this is what You desire for me to do for the rest of my life, I would be happy to simply be a carrier of Your presence and create an atmosphere of worship wherever You send me.”
Months passed, I put the album on hold and produced a worship EP instead. As many of you know, 2015 was a very difficult year for me. God rescued me out of a very dangerous situation that would have impacted the rest of my life. It has been a journey of great healing and a time of God showing me, once again, who I am.
To be honest, for quite a few years, I have been walking around feeling like a shell of myself. Last night, when I gave up, I knew exactly what I needed to do. It was as if a ginormous burden rolled off of me. I woke up feeling as if something I lost a long time ago had finally returned.
Yes, I am completely dropping the album I thought I was going to release. There were parts of me that felt I needed to prove something to myself, as well as to those who had hurt me tremendously during the time when I wrote the songs. I don’t want that to be the reason I produce music.
I am letting go because I can no longer carry the words and images that live between the lines. I need to start fresh or I know I will not be able to heal.
Don’t get me wrong, God used those songs to reach people in my previous season. He also used them to heal me in many areas of my heart. Perhaps He will one day use them again, but for now I am completely letting go . . .
and I’ve never felt so alive and confident in the Lord.
When I lean on my own understanding, I open a door for fear, and his many friends, to enter in. There is no room left for trust.
Trusting in God is a daily—moment by moment—decision. My hope is that as I continue to grow in the Lord, the lapses where I find myself leaning on my own understanding will become less and less. That I will be more inclined to wait for His leading, rather than rely on my own intuition, my current emotional state, my ever-changing feelings, and everything else apart from Him.
The biggest liars that we will ever encounter in our lives will most likely be our own feelings. Quite a few of the biggest decisions in my past were made based on how I was feeling at the time.
I would say no based off of fear or hurt.
I would say yes to avoid letting someone down, or simply because it seemed like the right thing to do.
I was trusting in myself.
I’ve learned that just because something looks good—or looks GOD—doesn’t mean it is actually from God. I’ve learned that if I had waited a moment, and asked for His input, before taking another step, I could have easily spared myself from many painful consequences.
Timing is also important. We need to stay on His timeline. There are moments when we jump so quickly, and prematurely, that we end up missing out on what He was trying to speak to us in the first place.
When you can’t take a decision and hand it fully over to God, saying, “Lord, if this is not of You, please close the door. No matter how much I may want this, I give even my desires to you”, that is usually a sign that you are not truly surrendered.
As I look back and think upon the poorly made decisions of my past, I see a common denominator:
I would let God know what I wanted, leaving very little room for Him to tell me no, and pray that it would all work together for good.
We are human.
We are far from all-knowing.
We see things at ground level, whereas He has a much higher perspective.
His ways are so unlike the ways of the world that we live in, yet still He is always willing to meet us right where we are at.
He is closer than a breath away. Closer than our own skin. He is here to cover our weakness in strength and to give us the courage to live the life we were created to live.
All we have to do is reach out and respond to His ever present invitation.
Lord, give me eyes to see things from Your perspective. I don’t want to go against the flow of Your Spirit. I don’t want to move unless I am being moved by You.
If there is anything that is hindering my ability to fully trust in You, I ask that You would shine truth in those areas and give me courage to completely surrender it all to You. Increase my awareness of Your plans and purposes.
I ask for Kingdom vision.
Lord, take me higher.