The Minimalist Heart: Creating Space for What Truly Matters in Life

“As I grew older the things I cared about grew fewer, but were more important… Things! Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful fire! More room in your heart for love, for the trees! For the birds who own nothing—the reason they can fly.” Mary Oliver

This quote resonates within my heart more and more, with each passing day. Throughout my life, I have accumulated many things, most of which I do not need. I am quite certain that we have all heard the phrase, “money can’t buy you happiness”. I dare say that it can. I have bought numerous things which have brought a smile to my face, and contentment to my heart. When I look around at all that I possess, and my heart starts to feel burdened. It is not the things themselves, but why I have acquired them that makes my heart ache.

If I’m being honest, the reason I have most of these things is pride. I grew up not having a lot of things. Much of what I had was hand-me-downs, and things I shared with my siblings. As I grew older, I bought whatever I wanted with the money that I had earned. It felt like freedom! I would constantly rotate my bathroom and bedroom decor as my tastes changed with the seasons. I would buy books and knick knacks just for decoration. Designer handbags and shoes, Sephora makeup, and expensive perfumes, because why not?! I had the money, and no one else was there to spoil me. It was the game of never enough. What once felt like freedom, began to feel like a prison. I felt chained to my possessions. I couldn’t possibly let them go; I had worked so hard for them!

 As my home became a place of storage for stuff, my heart became a place of storage for pride and discontentment. And it’s just a burden I don’t want to carry anymore. I cannot take any of these things when I leave, so why do I need them now? I am not saying it is wrong to buy things, but I have come to a place where I want to have a pure heart when it comes to what I have and why I have it. What are my motives when I am looking at all the pretty things I can purchase? Am I actually in need of it? Am I discontent and bored with what I have? Do I think others will think better of me for having it?

“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:5-6

The more I give these things away, the more I understand that what I think is mine is not meant for me alone. Whether it is things, money, or time, if what I can give will bring joy to someone else, then giving is what I will do. My pastor once said that “people are the true riches of heaven”. I love that. We cannot take our earthly possessions with us when we die. What we can do, is show love to the world around us by being generous with what we have been given. When we are generous, it breaks down the walls of our pride as we see a need greater than our own, and seek to meet that need.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Each one of us has something to give, and it is not about quantity, but quality–the nature in which we give. If you have ever been in need of anything, you know that even the smallest gift is precious in that moment.

Being generous might mean sharing more of our time with family, friends, or even strangers instead of staring at our phones. It could be giving food to the homeless, or  helping our next door neighbor. We can sponsor a child in need every month (Compassion International is wonderful), instead of buying coffee 3-4 times a week (make it at home y’all). We can donate all those books we have already read and the movies we have seen 15 times, or the outfit we wore only once because somehow it looked better when we tried it on in the store (that lighting makes everything look cute, I’m telling you).

To show love will always require a sacrifice, but it is so worth it. Each and every time I have withheld when I knew it was in my power to give, I walked away with nothing but guilt and pride. The times where I have chosen to stop and meet the need of someone (even someone I may never even meet), I walked away not the poorer. I walked away with joy and love in my heart. Now that I can take with me when I am gone.

Speaking Life: The Power of Confession

You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are whole.

These are words I have had to speak out loud to myself daily this past week. As I go through one of the hardest seasons of my life, I am having to constantly remind myself of truths such as these. I have been in this situation many times before in life, and my tendency has been to spiral down the hole of depression. I would let wave after wave of negative and hopeless thoughts wash over me.

But I’m not doing that anymore.

I’m not going to repress what I think and feel, nor am I going to let my feelings become my truth. I am choosing to be open and honest, no matter how dumb I think it may sound. Whether I am praying and laying it out before the Lord, or sharing my heart with trusted friends, I no longer hold anything back. Whether I am feeling ugly, rejected, and broken, or insecure, hopeless, jealous, and alone–I speak it out.

No matter what the enemy tries to tell us, we are not alone. Someone else is struggling just as we are. Every time I have shared what is on my heart with others, they have been there to encourage and pray for me. Sometimes they have been where I have been, and other times we are actually walking through it together. But we wouldn’t know that if we didn’t share our hearts. The beautiful thing about our confessions, is that once we speak them out, they are now in the light. They can be covered in prayer, and combatted with the Word of God.

So no matter who you are, or what struggles you are going through, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell someone. Let others cover you in love and prayer and encouragement. Don’t underestimate the power of community and confession, because there is healing in it (James 5:16). If you feel like you don’t have someone to share with, you can send me an email and I’ll be there for you. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed about whatever is in your heart.

We are all a hot mess.
We all need Jesus.
We also need each other.

Here Am I, Send Me [to Japan]

Hello everyone!!

A few months ago, I felt God put it on my heart pursue a mission trip. It is something that I have wanted to do my whole life, but I always seemed to come up with a list of excuses. I felt that I never had enough time, or money, or Bible verses memorized. The truth is I felt unqualified. I still feel that way at times, but I am trusting that God will work all things for good (Romans 8:28 ), as I use everything He has already given me. He knows my heart and my resources, and yet He says, “Go.”

This trip will be from the 4th-19th of June, and I will be traveling with a team of ten amazing people to serve alongside His Call Church in Nagoya, Japan. We will be helping them prepare for their Destiny Conference , as well as just reaching out and loving the people of Nagoya.

Less than 1% of Japan’s population is Christian, and they also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. This is largely due in part to the lack of community, or “hikikomori ” (isolation). Suicide is also not considered a sin in Japan, but is more often seen as taking responsibility.

My prayer is that they know how loved they are by God and that we love them too. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I want them to know that there is hope for every struggle they will ever face, and that they are not alone.

The funds will be used for transportation, food, and also to help cover my expenses back home, as I will not be getting paid for the 2 weeks I will be in Japan. We are also planning to throw a Hawaiian party for our gracious hosts, and we will be supplying all the food and entertainment.

I would need the donations no later than the 3rd of June. Any amount given would be an incredible blessing, and I’m believing with all my heart that God will provide. Even if you cannot give financially, your prayers would mean so much to me as well.

I created a GoFundMe account for donations, but if you would like to donate by means of cash, check, money order, Venmo, etc. instead, please let me know. I cannot wait to share all that God will do on this trip! Thank you in advance for all of your support.

https://www.gofundme.com/ynajg-japan-mission-trip

“I am convinced that my God will fully satisfy every need you have, for I have seen the abundant riches of glory revealed to me through the Anointed One, Jesus Christ!” Philippians 4:19 TPT

 

 

Silent Seasons: Trusting God When You Don’t Understand

“It’s during these moments when I am completely lost and feel like I’m drowning that I know God is doing His greatest work in my heart. I believe that the Lord is always calling us into deeper water—pulling us where we can no longer touch the bottom of the ocean or control the steps we take.” Heather Lindsey

Silent seasons shape us. It is during these moments we learn who or what it is we actually run to in hard times. Just this year alone, there have been so many things in my life that have caused me to wonder where God was or if He would answer. What I wanted was an answer from the Lord, but if I am honest, I was not seeking Him. In my anxiousness, I was trying to frantically see what I could do in my own ability to gain the outcome I wanted. And it wasn’t even in a “pray like it depends on God, work like it depends on you” kind of thing. I shot up a quick prayer and called it faith. What it was, was obligation and doubt. My mouth may have said one thing, but my actions showed that I didn’t believe God cared or would do anything about it. But here’s the thing: God cares about my dreams. And yours. No matter what it looks like or feels like to us. I don’t have to be afraid to seek the Lord about anything for fear of rejection. I have to learn over and over, that God has my BEST interest at His heart. So if something is not for me, I need to trust that there is a reason why. What I am learning is that God’s “No” is not a rejection. It is either a protection or a preparation for what is to come.

God’s “No” is not a rejection. It is either a protection or a preparation for what is to come.

When something hurts us physically, we feel pain. It is our bodies way of telling us that something is not right. When my heart literally hurts because of anxiety, or when anger, frustration and impatience come out, and I just want to crawl into a hole, something is not right in my spirit. It is the Holy Spirit telling me I have lost perspective and elevated the things of this world above Him. If God is truly first in my life, it will be evident to others in how  I live my life. I do not walk around wearing things that belong to the world (anxiety, anger, impatience, etc.), when God is in His rightful place in my heart.

If we want to be shown the way, it is going to take more than a 5 second prayer and 3 minute devotion. Anything in life where we have seen the fruits of our labor, is because of intentionality on our part. It is no different in our walk with the Lord. The moments where I have seen the greatest growth in my faith, and the most peace in my heart, were the times that I was spending time with the Lord on a DAILY basis. Even when I felt like I had so much on my plate, when I chose to be intentional in my prayer time and reading the Word, it caused a shift in my heart. There was greater peace because my eyes were on the Lord, and not my to-do lists.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

If you feel like you cannot hear God in the season you are in, or maybe you never have, DO NOT GIVE UP. He sees you. He hears you. He has not forgotten you.

  1. Keep pressing into His presence, and spend time in the Word daily. The more you read His Word, the more you will be able to distinguish His voice above everyone else’s.

    “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

  2. Pray. God longs to hear from us, just as any parent wants their child to come to them–in good times or bad. He also longs to speak to us as well during these times. Learn to quiet your spirit and listen for what God wants to say.

    “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

  3. WRITE IT DOWN. This is SO important! We can honestly become so prideful in our ability to remember things. In reality, the reason we remember things is because there is repetition, whether it is conscious or not. Write down what you get out of reading the Bible. Write down what the Lord speaks to you in prayer. Write down notes when you go to church. *Tip: Technology is all well and good, but nothing beats pen and paper here. Your mind actually has to put forth more effort to remember what is being said, because you cannot write as fast as you type.

    “And the Lord answered me: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habbakuk 2:2

  4. Connect with others. Have the humility of heart to reach out to others and say that you are struggling. More often than not, you will find others are struggling as well. Be vulnerable. Be compassionate. Be encouraging. Those things will come back to you as you give them away. There is strength and joy in unity.

    “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

When It’s Dark

6:30 A.M.
A soft piano crescendo set as my alarm, eases me into wakefulness.
Everything hazy as my eyes adjust from darkness to light.
I make my way to the bathroom.
Too many thoughts already.

How many minutes have I been awake?
One?
Three?
Ten?

My heart beats faster.
I realize my first thoughts were not grateful, but anxious.
I stop my worrying train of thoughts.
I begin to pray.
Thanking the Lord for this day.

I walk to my dining room.
I look towards my books on the table.
Eager to dig into the Word.
It’s still too dark.
What do I do? I thought.

Pray.

Pray when it’s dark.

I close my eyes and open my mouth to speak.

I lay down my burdens.

All the things that crowd my heart looking to be of greatest importance.

I lift up the beautiful souls I have been blessed with doing life with and pour out my heart for theirs.

The Lord hears me. He is with them too.

I finish my prayers.

I open my eyes and find that I can see more clearly than before.

It is light again.

Would You Still Go? Trusting God When It Doesn’t Make Sense

 

Would you still go
If you were shown
What it would cost
And all that’d be lost?

Would you still go
On down that road
Despite all the pain
And suffering?

Oh there’s joy to be had
But there’s so much at stake
It makes you hesitant
In this choice you must make

There’s a Voice that says,
“Trust Me.
I will show you the way.
You don’t need to know
Every step that you take.

My hand is ever on you
I won’t let you fall
I promise it’s worth it
To obey My call.

I have been where you’ve been
I have suffered the worst
I know what it’s like
To put God first.

All that you will gain
You may not see here
But I’ve prepared a place
Where treasures do not disappear.

All that you strive for
On this earth will pass
What awaits you in eternity
Forever will last.