My Birth Story, Part II: Labor and Delivery

If you missed part I, go read it first!

The best way I can describe what a natural birth without pain medications felt like to me is a marathon. If you’ve ever run a marathon, you know what a muscle cramp feels like, and that you can’t think “I can’t do this” or overthink about the numbers. You know what “the wall” is and learn to climb it. You know to rest but not to quit. And you get hooked on the finish line. It means much more to you to cross it than to the person who didn’t run the course and feel the hills themselves.

I had run exactly 3 marathons before pregnancy. I knew my body was strong and healthy. I knew the pain of a cramp and I expected that much, even though I prayed for a pain-free birth.

Contractions to me felt like very very strong cramps. Technically that’s what it is, but if you’ve ever had a running leg cramp, that. Over and over, it’d squeeze and release. After a while, I got used to it. I learned not to flinch and to relax as much as possible, and that helped.

What I didn’t expect was for my labor to start on a Sunday and end on a Wednesday. Yep. That’s one whole day, two whole days, three whole days, and some change.

Prodromal labor is the name of the game. It wasn’t false labor, but it was erratic. Contractions weren’t stronger, longer, closer together. More like 7 minutes then 3 then 5 then 2 then 14 minutes apart. Enough to mess with my head but not to get me to the birth center. Sunday night, I called the midwife line and was very gently told that my contractions didn’t sound strong enough yet, aka I’m breathing through it and still able to talk. That was the first day. I tried to sleep and managed to snooze a bit. Contractions didn’t stop.

On day two, Monday afternoon, my doula came over to work with me. We were hopeful that maybe baby just needed to move a little, and then labor would pick up the pace. By evening, we drove to the birth center to see if I was progressing. It had been almost two full days of stop and go, and I was tired.

We arrived and I was 80% effaced and 3 centimeters. Face palm. They walked me next door to get a chiropractic adjustment, just in case my pelvis was being unsportsmanlike. They decided to give me “therapeutic rest” aka a strong sleeping medicine so I could rest for a little while since my uterus was apparently dancing to jazz and techno. I barely made it to the car before passing out hard for about 4 hours.

Woke up while it was still considered Monday, proceeded to get very little sleep into Tuesday, and that’s when the real deal started.

I was IN LABOR.

I’ll tell you what I remember about laboring at home: Buddy looking shook, calling the doula and the midwife line. I was dropping into squat reps when the contractions hit, because it felt good to move down as they tightened. I started getting vocal. Loud noises and bright lights freaked me out. Buddy couldn’t touch me, but at this point our doula Mary still could. Buddy packing snacks and putting our bags in the car. Buddy trying to get me to eat and nothing sounded good at all. Me drinking at least 2 liters of coconut water, and attempting to eat apple slices. Us walking to the car, me with combs in my hands to squeeze during contractions in the car. Me basically forgetting about my phone and that I hadn’t told my Brazilian family the punchline: oh, it’s happening now.

We arrived at Atlanta Birth Center just after 4pm on Tuesday. We got the Water Room, the one I liked the most. I was the only one there in labor.

Then it all went foggy.

I went to another planet with God. I had coherent thoughts but I didn’t verbalize. I lost track of time and what day it was. I had to ask for the birth details because my eyes were shut almost the whole time.

I remember walking the halls through contractions, and it hurt. I remember telling my midwife that I felt like I was peeing but I knew I wasn’t peeing, so that was my water breaking, clear, thank God. I remember the rests between contractions were peaceful for me, there was no pain between contractions.

I remember at one point nobody could touch me. I was offered to labor in a tub but I said no (I wish I had at least tried it). I felt like this primal beast, spooked but in charge somehow. In my mind, I was praying, no longer for no pain, but for God to help me make space for this baby.

At one point, the midwives switched shifts. With this switch came a fresh energy and determination to get this baby out. Also, I’m sure I looked beyond exhausted and they knew the baby needed to come sooner than later so I could push. I was asked to crawl (yep) on all fours and when a contraction hit, to get into child’s pose. So I crawled, and this really was a turning point. I felt like the baby was really moving down. I don’t remember much in between this and starting to push, but pushing was amazing. I don’t know why movies paint it to be the worst part, it was so exciting for me!

One thing to mention before we get to the grand finale is that mentally I did not break. I didn’t say “I can’t do this” or ask for meds. I didn’t cuss out my husband. I said I was tired, and usually that meant to take a break from whatever inversion or crawl I was doing at the time haha. I did not question whether or not it would be possible, nor whether the baby was okay. This whole time her heart rate was perfect. No distress for her, no doubt for me. This, I believe, was not my mental strength but God’s kindness to help guard my thoughts. I firmly believe it was the Holy Spirit filling my mind with scriptures and positive words, like only He could do.

Pushing phase: I did some pushing on the bed, dangling off (innovative haha) and some squatting. My midwife spoke up about tearing being likely in squat position, and I decided I wanted to have the baby in a side-lying position on the bed. My doula and I had talked about this before, and it was the moment of truth: I had the choice of what position I wanted to have my baby. This should be every mother’s choice, and thankfully I chose a birth center that let this be my choice!

I was super tired and could only do about 3 pushes at a time. But I could feel her moving down! Buddy was behind me on the bed, seeing it all. I had my eyes firmly shut.

I pushed for about 2 hours, and with ever increasing cheering by the birth center staff and my doula, the baby’s head came out and… drumroll… her hand came out on her cheek!

Compound presentation baby, no wonder my labor was intense!

To top it off, her cord was around the back of her neck, so her hand kept the cord from squeezing all around. Talk about a blessing in disguise!

In a flash, the whole baby was placed on me, wet and big and mine. 10:40am on the first day of Spring.

The pain ended. There was no tearing, even with her hand making its surprising appearance. I did pray for that during the pushing haha.

The first thing my sweet angel child did was take the hugest dump on me, right on my belly. Nice to meet you too, baby girl.

They showed me my placenta and it was nasty. I could have probably gone without seeing it. My bleeding was normal, baby’s apgar was 9. She weighed 7lbs 10oz and was 20.5 inches long.

After birth, I was able to walk to the bathroom, deal with the hot mess that was all over me, and put on my pretty robe. I had a strong waddle walk and wobbly legs, and I got really wired. It lasted a few days before I could actually come off of the hormonal high that was birth.

I did feel pain but I didn’t feel abandoned by God. I knew He did what was best for me and Emília Grace, every minute of that experience. I felt like many, many parts of this labor and birth were supernatural, especially the way He guarded my mind (I did not have negative thoughts!), kept baby steady throughout the long labor, and then made recovery simple with no stitches. God is faithful!

I am so grateful to the Lord for the safe arrival of our little girl, and for entrusting Buddy and I to be her parents.

There will be a part 3, about postpartum!

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Recommendations:

Doula: Mary Hanks (the best best best) if you want a peaceful, motherly, Godly, knowledgeable doula, she’s it. Best decision we made, she took care of Buddy as well, making sure he ate and didn’t end up too traumatized haha!

Birth Place: Atlanta Birth Center I’m confident I would have had interventions at a hospital. The way the staff at ABC had faith in me and in birth was outstanding. They never gave up on me. I’d have 1000 babies there if I had to have 1000 babies.

Book: Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize- This book changed the way I saw birth altogether.

Affirmations (just have some, read through pregnancy especially!): My Pinterest board

My 10 Tips For Financial Freedom

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up learning about financial responsibility. As a kid, that’s “adult stuff” and as a teen, I was too focused on going to the mall, slumber parties, being a nerd, and if so-and-so liked me back. I didn’t get to think about budgets, credit, bills, savings, and what any of that stuff was going to be about. I had my first job, and sure, I started to take on more responsibility. I had to pay for my first car to get fixed every single time it broke down (97 neon coupe, and it was a glittery green that should be illegal). I was able to buy Christmas gifts for the first time. I could pay to get my nails done. Ooh. I was learning nothing.

Then I went off to college and learned more nothing about financial responsibility, because I GOT GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS FOR EVERYTHING. And then during the Summer semesters, my financial aid office was so kind as to provide me with LOANS of both the subsidized and unsubsidized varieties. I had no idea what any of it was, really, other than I would pay them off when I got my big paychecks with my big degree. Fair enough. Thankfully I didn’t go too deep in the hole with my loans, but in college I still didn’t understand what it was like to live within my means because my means were defined for me. This dorm. This cafeteria. This tuition.

Out in the big, real world, I started to have a lot more choices and pressure. Real pressure. If you add that to any kind of emotional turmoil, which I had plenty of, then you have a recipe for financial mistakes. We tend to rush instead of plan. We tend to jump instead of think. And then we get to fix our messes, and it takes double the effort it would have taken to prevent them.

All this to say, at 28, my big goal is to be debt-free by 30. I don’t have a husband or kids yet. I have a job that pays me more than my current overhead costs, which means I have extra to pay things off with. But I’ve gotten radical.

And I’m writing this particular blog today because TODAY, I paid off one of my bigger debts accounts! And it’s gone. Gone forever. Now let me give you some tips of what I’m doing that is helping me. Here are my 10 helpful tips.

1) FORGIVE

This seems like a funny place to start, but forgiveness is where it’s at. I had to forgive a lot of people for a lot of things that got me here, at 28, striving to get financial freedom. I had to forgive myself for not knowing better. I had to forgive those who were supposed to teach and model this stuff for me, and didn’t. I had to forgive those who contributed to my mistakes. I had to forgive people who took advantage of me instead of helping me. Lots of forgiveness. And when you can release the shame, anger, and judgment off of it all, you become spiritually debt-free and THAT is the most important thing. Jesus paid it all, and I get to say ‘amen’ to that.

2) PRAY

Yes. I do believe God has the resources to help me in ways I will never understand. He has looked into my heart and has decided that He loves me, and I have decided that I will trust Him to help me with everything. Both the things I can’t do by myself and the things that seem to fall on me to do. I prayed and passed my tests in college. I prayed and got the job I have. I prayed and He has given me help that is truly miraculous, financially giving me “deals” and rebates and sometimes unexpected checks in the mail. He’s given me fresh ideas, too. And He’s taught me to live on less… which is my next point.

3) GIVE/PURGE

America will tell you to buy stuff and have lots of stuff and when you have too much stuff, to get a storage so you can keep your stuff! If you let materialism guide you, it’ll guide you to debt and messiness and hoarding and frustration. Media will never tell you to save that money or to give away things. Be well aware of what you value as important and why. I started questioning my motives before making purchases, and that helped me a lot! I stop to ask myself if I need it, if I really like it, and if it agrees with my goals. Do you feel like you have a lot of stuff? It’s helped me to go through and give away my excess: lots of clothes, shoes, books… I made sure I’m not hoarding anything. Now, I have room to see what I need, and I feel more organized… which is the next point!

4) PULL THE ROOTS

I looked at my life and I found parts of it that were out of order! Frustratingly so. And I got to dig into those issues and find the root causes of why those parts of my life were out of order.

I found that for the most part, I kept making very spontaneous decisions that were throwing off my goals. I would randomly go out of town, for example, and then get tired, then get frustrated that my room was messy because I kept having to pack and unpack, and oh where did that extra money go (gas, food, etc)… see the problems here?

I needed to ask God why on earth I felt like I needed to make those spontaneous decisions and what I learned is that I didn’t feel satisfied. And also that I think it’s the most fun to be spontaneous. So… I got to pull those 2 roots out: one being that lie of not being satisfied in Christ, having a quiet night at home. Second lie is that only spontaneous things are fun: which isn’t true! I can plan for fun things instead (more on that in #6). What are some places in your life that are out of order? What are the root causes?

5) LOVE YOURSELF AS YOU ARE

Confession: I thought that I HAD TO get my nails done, have a tanning membership, get my hair highlighted (the expensive way), and that these things were necessities because I was born female. And 4 months before I went on my big mission trip, I realized with a sinking feeling that I had been wrong. Yep. That was old me. I wanted to compare myself to others and win. I wanted to feel prettier. Stronger. Skinnier. Tanner. I wanted to be more put together than others, so that I could feel like I wasn’t the total loser that sometimes I truly feared I was. And ya know what? Insecurity was super expensive.

After God helped me to understand my worth in Him, I went 3 years with my natural hair color, no fake nails, no tans, and… I felt beautiful and I saved some major cash. I recommend the freedom. And now I dye my hair red for fun. Do you find yourself spending money because of insecurity? I promise you that you’re better than that. Take great care of your body, rest, eat healthy, exercise, and trust that God made you so beautiful, because He definitely did.

6) PLAN AHEAD

This is where the rubber meets the road: I started to really plan ahead. That included FOOD, TRAVEL, COFFEE, FUN. Those were my four main spending categories that truly truly leaked my extra cash if I didn’t plan ahead. It is imperative that I eat. But that means I need to eat what’s in my pantry, and cook ahead. It’s FUN to plan ahead, though! I get to choose my menu of what I’ll be eating that week, and then follow through. I can try new recipes. And buy things I like at the store.

Planning ahead also means I put ‘travel’ on the calendar and have a budget for it! And when my Starbucks gift cards run out, I get to manage my coffee budget, because one thing is right: I reward myself. I like to go see movies, and find myself in new cities. God has given me an adventurous heart. But it doesn’t have to translate to reckless spending, and I can make space for adventuring every once in a while. Next month, I’m going to a wedding in North Carolina, and I’m so excited! I’ve already planned and set aside what I’ll need, and it’s not “out of control” or what I would call “spontaneous.” How do you plan ahead? Do you reward yourself?

7) KNOW YOUR SITUATION

For me, it helped to get all my accounts in front of me, to put my budget together, and look at it all in the same place. I did that through my amazing bank, Wells Fargo, which has a “my spending report” feature online. What also helps me stay on budget is Dave Ramsey’s website. I do pay the monthly fee to have access to his software for the Total Money Makeover, but it’s really great to keep up with everything in one place while I’m managing debt repayment.

Dave Ramsey has also released a free budgeting tool called Every Dollar, and he has lots of free resources on hand. It’s much, much better to look at your spending rather than to avoid it. ALSO: part of knowing your situation is taking responsibility for your cost of living. You can downsize. You can rent out a room. You can cancel certain bills that aren’t needed like, CABLE. You’re paying to live where you do, and if it’s too much, move somewhere smaller or more affordable.

8) EDUCATE YOURSELF

If you have a financial question, like whether or not you’re ready to buy a house, or if you should consolidate all your loans…. educate yourself! Don’t follow in blindly. Don’t go in with no plan. Honestly, I’ve learned a lot when it comes to making financial decisions from Dave Ramsey’s resources, and I highly recommend his articles. I currently rent, so I don’t have a mortgage to manage at this point. If that’s you, then get information so you can make decisions according to your situation.

On the flipside, educating yourself is also a huge part of financial freedom. Do you have the degree/certifications to do the job that you truly want to do? You should invest in that, and yes, it is an investment of both time and money, but it does pay off to get a job that you enjoy and that can put you on a whole other pay grade. I’m thankful to be able to use my degree and what I studied to do, and it was definitely worth the while for me.

9) EMERGENCY FUND

This and Jesus. You guys. Having a $1k emergency fund has saved me so many times. Oh, I need a new tire. Oh, I have to pay a deposit. Oh, I have an obligatory random chunky expense and ouch… it’s not coming from my checking, and it’s not coming from my credit card. It’s this third, miraculous place that holds: dun dun dun… emergency cash. And you put it back. You put. You put. You put. IT. BACK. As soon as you can, and you forget about it. You don’t even think about it. Shhh. It’s not there. GET AN EMERGENCY FUND. No joke. If you have a family, the recommended amount to have tucked away is proportionate to your expenses for 3-6 months. Again… it has saved me, big.

10) TARGET DEBT

So this I learned from Dave Ramsey, but you should have a particular method to paying off debt. He recommends the “snowball” where you pay your smallest debts off first, putting all your extra money (after you have your emergency fund) toward the smallest debt and paying minimums for the other accounts. Then, once that first debt is paid off, you do the same with the next smallest. That creates a snowball, where you’ll find yourself making some huge payments on your very last debt. Also, you feel like you paid things off and there’s a momentum and excitement, because accounts are actually closing along the way.

I did something a little bit different and I paid off first one of my debts that had the biggest interest rate. So now that’s paid for, and I’m back to the snowball method! What’s your method of targeting your debt? Are you being intentional and paying more than the minimum?

_________________

devo2

These are 10 things that helped ME. They may not relate to you, but I wanted to put them out there anyway. I didn’t have this advice when I was younger, and I wish I had these tools sooner. My personal goal is to eliminate extra bills so that I can get more prepared for life transitions and babies and all the things that are coming up in God’s timing, and so that I can be powerfully generous with finances. I pray that God will help you in getting all the financial breakthrough you need, so that you can turn around and bless others in their times of need.

How to Quit Ordinary Life

“You might not know your calling, but you’re not called to be ordinary.”

That is how I ended my last blog, but I didn’t tell you how.

I received an amazing email, asking for the ‘HOW TO not be ordinary’ and it was as if I’d found a new room in the house. To go further. Super thankful for the sweet lady who sent that email.

*go ahead and grab your journal and pen, breathe, it’s a long post*

Since God says He has GREAT plans for you, and you feel like you’re living a life that is ordinary, I can only imagine that there are things in the way of such greatness. Roadblocks. Confusion. False ideology. Fear. If you’re not stepping into your calling out of habit, out of passivity, then life has to get shaken up. Some trash needs to be taken out, and you need instead to fill up on Jesus. We’re gonna walk through that!

But first…

You have to get over the lie that people don’t change.

People can change if they want to change. Actually, people can’t even help it, they change against their will. They cannot stop changing. We age, we mature, our brains change, our bodies change. The things we fight to keep the same, however, are the very things we believe cannot be changed. Ludicrous.

You can alter any part of your behavior. Really? Really, really. You can beat your body into submission (1 Cor 9:24-27). Is it a fun process? Absolutely not, no, not ever. Discipline is hard (Hebrews 12:11). So what is it that you want so so badly, that you are willing to submit yourself to discipline to become?

The pure answer is Jesus. We want to be just like Him, to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6), and so we submit ourselves to sanctification and discipline. We invite and receive the refining fire, and push away comfort. Yes? Yes. (2 Cor 4:17, James 1:2-4)

Moving on from the lie that people don’t change, and pushing into the truth that we want to be like Jesus, what must we do? What’s our part in this change? I have two parts for you. TWO. And we’re gonna pray along the way.

Part one: Permission & Repentance. Change what you chase.

Easily enough, we cling to the verses that talk about how nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39). Truth. However, when we choose sin over the Spirit, we are changing our perception of God’s nearness. All of a sudden, we “FEEL” separated from God, feel unworthy, and the reason is PERMISSION.

You ever get super mad at a police officer for giving you a speeding ticket, when you gave him permission to give you a ticket by speeding? Bingo. Don’t do it. Don’t give satan the grounds and satisfaction of trying to shame you, torment you with guilt. Don’t give him that ability to devour you by purposefully choosing to open a door, choosing to sin.

Think about it. You’re inviting satan along every single time you open a door for him. Ephesians 4:27 says to give no opportunity to the devil. He has NO power, since the Bible says in Col 2 that the enemy has been disarmed. Yet, how much power do we give him!

Prayer: Jesus, I ask that you bring to mind any opportunities we have given to the enemy. I ask for a humble spirit within us to respond well to this life inventory, that we consider anything else junk compared to knowing You more. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

What’s a door for satan that you might have open currently?

Some people are more or less sensitive to these doors, but I guarantee you they are doors nonetheless. Some of these things are NOT INHERENTLY BAD, but they can contain toxic content. You know what’s junk and what isn’t. Your call!

Media: tv, movies, music, books, internet (content). You are filling your mind with this via eyes and ears. It does go inside your body and circle around. What are you putting in? Does it glorify Jesus? You might be filling yourself up with a whole lot of junk here, then wondering why you aren’t hungry for Jesus or don’t have time.

People: whatever struggles they are carrying, if you’re not aware, you might invite them along (intercessors, I’m looking right at you). Bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor 15:33). BUT does that mean you are better than anybody else? No. Jesus had the influence to hang out with the lowest of the low, and He would INFLUENCE them. Not the other way around. Be aware of your influence.

Places: spiritually dark atmospheres, usually places where you only go at night (hey!), which can include people’s homes! If your head is made of butter, don’t sit by the fire. It’s different if you’re going on purpose to influence and minister. I personally LOVE dancing, and I like to go out and dance. I have to be on my guard when I go out.

Substances: anything that sways your sobriety. With alcohol, for me, is moderation. Some people cannot have alcohol altogether, and I really respect their resolve to steer clear.

Idolatry/witchcraft: anything that worships a false god, places anything above the True God, or gives permission to the occult, duh! No compromise here, this is always a bad scenario. Dabbling in this WILL open awful doors, and if you’ve been involved in this, I highly suggest you get a pastor to pray for you and pray any strongholds off of you together.

Sin: anything of the above that says that sin is cool, sin is okay, sin is whatevs, and sin is yolo. That’s clearly the deceiver having permission to a platform, declaring lies. Has sin been forgiven? Absolutely. Shall we sin all the more, so that grace may abound? By no means. It’s sin because it isn’t ultimately good for us. God is not a withholding Dad. He isn’t stingy. He’s not a dud. He has better ideas. We’ll get there.

So I just went super drastic on you, and I admit, I am talking to myself in this as well, A LOT. I open doors with music and tv, and I find myself in places where the enemy has clearly been given dominion. Yet, I am a work in progress here, folks. Not perfect, not writing out of a higher standing, no. Trust me, I mess up a lot. I’ve been around people who bring out the worst in me, and vice versa. I have accountability aka few people who I tell EVERYTHING to, who call me out and pray over me after my royal mistakes. I have a mentor also, who is older. Above all, we have Jesus, who opens wide His arms and runs to us as we return to Him.

Okay, but what if I can’t control myself and I sin without wanting to sin, and I just suck at this holiness thing? Join the club. Ugh. Romans 7. Gosh. Why, Lord. Why. Why. Why can’t we simply switch bodies when we are saved, and just do life completely fresh, in non-sin-magnet bodies, no?

Back to the word SUBMISSION. We have “bodies of death” (Romans 7:24) that God has enough mercy to use anyway and dwell in. The Holy Spirit comes with the fruit of self-control. We learn. And we learn again. And we ask God to increase our capacity to contain His Spirit, so that we are stronger and stronger, resisting sins that we would fall for in the past. Read on to Romans 8, be encouraged.

Get out a journal:

What areas are you giving satan permission?
What will you stop doing?
When?
Why?
How?
Draw a hard line.
Write it down.
Tell someone for accountability.

So what decision will you make right now?

Examples: I will no longer watch 3 hours of Netflix at a time. I will stop partying at so and so’s house. I will stop communication with what’s their name, because they are leading me down a path I don’t want to go, and I feel influenced by them.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

Anybody can resolve to change, but you NEED to be desperate about the WHY of your change, otherwise your resolve will weaken and you will fall back on your old ways. You have to figure out that enough is enough and make the change. You will be known by your fruit.

What fruits of the Spirit do you want to be known by?

Prayer: Jesus, I revoke permission I have given the enemy over these areas: ___________________. I close these doors:_________________.  I repent of these sins:________________. Help me to not fall back into those sins, as Your grace covers me and Your Spirit teaches me self-control. In Your holy name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

Part two: Power & Devotion. Choose what you chase.

Matthew 7:7 was the first verse I ever memorized. It was my favorite when I first started reading the Bible in 1999. It says “Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened.”  Oh, okay. Cool. Rather convenient. Most of us don’t exactly agree with this verse. We don’t think we get what we ask for, or find the things we look for, or get the opportunities we reach for.

But imagine for a moment that this verse is actually true. Because it is. Imagine if you’re chasing the things you’re getting. Imagine if you’re asking for what you have, and reaching for what you’re receiving.

I have caught myself allowing fear to ask for me. I’ve allowed insecurity to seek. I’ve knocked on the door of thinking I deserve lesser things and the door of settling for less than God’s best. And my my my, I got those things I chased. I used to have a part of me that was determined to suffer, and that’s a part of me I won’t miss.

Maybe you need to take inventory, figure out what’s been asking, seeking, and knocking in there. Ask God if there are any curses over you or your family aka bad patterns that seem to seep through the generations. If you feel like there are patterns you want out of your family, ask a friend to pray with you for those curses to be broken off in Jesus’ name.

Prayer: Jesus, I break off the curses of: ______________________ from me/my family. These curses no longer hold any power over me/my family. In Your holy name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

What if I told you that you’re powerful enough in Christ, that you get what you ask for, because you are asking from a pure heart and you have the keys to the Kingdom in Jesus’ name? And for that reason, you need to be extremely careful what you ask for in full faith, because you will get it?

Some of us have been chasing comfort. Chasing status. Chasing beauty. Chasing recognition. What have you been chasing? Have you been chasing the wisdom of God? Chasing His voice?

compassI had a vision of someone following the direction on a compass, going on that direction, and they were disregarding the needle, that was pointing to the North. Someone did not know how to use a compass! They knew how to follow a direction, and they were walking, but they didn’t realize that if they didn’t walk based on where the needle was pointing, not the markings on the compass, they were not going the right way. The markings are subjective to whoever is holding the compass, but the needle is steady pointing North. So it is with our lives, the way to fullness of life. We are all walking and surviving, and moving, but are we doing so in the right direction or subjectively to our own limited grasp? Are we where He wants us? Are we fighting Him and getting stubbornly more lost?

So how do we chase Jesus? How do we seek Him?

Time with Him.

Daily. More than once, really. He just fits all over the whole day. He is your schedule. He is your job. He’s your family. How do we spend time with Him?

I could write a book about this, and I will. 😉

Think of the last time you felt well-connected to the Lord? Was it through nature, or a song, or a word, or a prayer, or art, or action? There are infinite ways to chase Him and acknowledge His presence. Here are some out-of-the-box suggestions.

  • Put on your favorite worship songs (I recommend this fresh album), and take a magazine or two, a piece of paper or a page of your journal, scissors, and glue. Spend a few minutes in prayer and ask the Lord what it is that He wants you to make a collage about. He’ll show you. Then go for it, flip through and cut whatever stands out. Glue it to your paper/journal.
  • Another thing you can do is look for journal prompts in magazines. Cut out those words/pictures, glue them at the top of bottom of your journal pages, so that you can write about those.
  • Go outside, to a park. Watch a sunrise or a sunset. Go read a book on a blanket, outdoors. Go sketch what you see, even if your hand drawing looks like a foot drawing. Go find the perfect leaf. Find a rock. Find a flower. Find Bible verses (biblegateway.com) that have those elements in them. What do you learn?
  • Sometimes, I just dance. I put on worship music that is upbeat and fun (Shekinah, This is What You Do, Round the Corner, Heaven is Here, So Good To Me, When I Am Afraid, etc). I like to do redemption radio as well, where I play songs that are secular (whoa) but I sing them to Jesus instead. Like We Found Love, On Top of the World, Unconditionally, All of Me, and so on… you can think of some! You go find those, bc those are hard to link haha 😉
  • ASK Jesus how He’s doing. Ask Him questions that only He can answer. Get to know Him. Yes that sounds a bit kooky, but think about it! He’s alive! And He speaks to you. Practice hearing His voice.
  • Open your journal and think “if Jesus was speaking over me right now, He’d say…” and start writing. Just write. Truth is, He IS speaking over you. It’s whether or not you’re hearing it, and that’s what you’re learning.
  • Ask Jesus what the lyrics are of the song that He’s singing over you. In Zephaniah 3:17, it says that the Lord rejoices over you with singing. SINGING! Can you hum a new melody to Him? What does your new song sound like today? Sing your prayers to Him.

I’m launching a daily devotional email newsletter called A Tree of Life in September. If you’d like to sign up, click here: http://eepurl.com/1L_9r
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Chase Him. Pursue Him, like you would pursue a person you love. Ask, seek, knock on the doors you actually want to open.

In what ways will your time with Jesus look different, so that you can encounter Him in a new way?

My prayer for you: Jesus, I pray that the person reading this enjoys time with You again, genuinely. That walls of unwillingness come down. It’s love. It’s a love that walks around and around and around, and shouts. I pray for these walls to come down, for eyes to see, ears to hear, and a hunger deep that is only satisfied at the Father’s table, eating the fruit of the tree of life. That this person will be filled. They will be changed. They will reflect Your extraordinary Spirit from the inside out. It’s our radical love for You that makes us dynamic, and I ask for tenderness of heart to fall crazy in love with You! I ask in Your name, Jesus. Amen.