The Secret Heart

Psalm 51:6- Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

I remember growing up having to complete certain tasks before guests came over. It would take a family effort but I usually (not always) swept the stairs. These stairs were—and still are—wooden, collecting dirt and dust quite easily. So, I would begin at the top stair and work my way down. I would try to get in between the cracks and banisters. And in a continuous rhythm, I would sweep forward and backward and take a step down.

Foward and backward and take a step down.

Along the way, the dirt and dust traveled from the top stair to finally the bottom. And at the split-level, we had a small, rectangular rug in front of our door. Here, I paused, looked at the collected pile of dirt and dust, and was tempted to sweep it under the rug. 

It would be much quicker this way and I could probably do it before my parents saw. What harm would this do? Nobody would see it, the rug would cover it up? Out of sight, out of mind. Right?

I often still have the same mindset as my younger self. Not in physical routines such as cleaning or tidying up before guests come. But in the spiritual routines surrounding my relational well-being with Jesus.

I’ve realized in my life I wasn’t taking enough steps but remained in a forward and backward rhythm. Collecting pride, unproductive habits, and much more in a pile of dirt and dust. How had this happened? How had my heart gotten so dark? I believe it was the consistency of sweeping pain and hurt under the rug. You know, the vulnerable stuff.

I became quite well at hiding this vulnerability in the dark rooms within myself. This lifestyle of shoving the mess in a secret room and locking the door became my comfort zone. All I had to do was hide the key from not only myself but also from God.

As if.

As if God fears my hurt and as if my doubts shake Him. As if I had the key to my inner heart, to begin with.

In hopes of shutting the door or dropping the rug to hide my mess, I was prideful. The idea of the truth in my pain was an embarrassment I dared never to reveal. Yet, it was the exact place my Jesus wanted to meet me in.

Although I was ashamed, He wasn’t.

Although I was embarrassed, He wasn’t.

Although I was afraid, He wasn’t.

While the mess of unrepented sin traveled from year to year, I finally reached the bottom. And I was faced by the Enemy’s temptation. Here, I paused, looked at my pile of dirt and dust, and offered it to my Father.

Journal Entry from August 7th, 2017:

God, I wonder why I don’t see You how some see You. Lord, if there is something in my heart, please unblock it. I want to know all You show, I don’t want to miss it because of my flesh…

Nearly a year ago, those words were written in the negative space I had created. My own unrepented sin had blocked me from living free in the Truth. As I was going forward and backward, I wasn’t moving—I was standing still in the filth. While I had attempted to sweep it under the rug, it was still there creating a nuisance.

Friend, I want you to be freed from your pile of dirt and dust. I want us to take steps together in the wisdom and with the Truth of God. Together, we can encourage each other to align our secret hearts by daily surrender to Him.

I want us to see Him.

I want us to know Him.

I don’t want us to miss Him because of our flesh.

Removing the rug and opening the door will sting. Reorganizing habits will be tiresome. Remodeling routines will take effort. Tearing down walls of defense and unbelief will be messy. Oh, but the before and after will be breathtaking.

Then, our heart’s rhythm will no longer be forward and backward, taking steps down. It will only be forward with our Jesus taking steps up.

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Home Sweet Home

1 Samuel 16:7b- For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

The condition of America is no water-downed secret. Political views are swarming around hot topics such as gun control, immigration, abortion, and others. However, the battle between left and right is failing to recognize the battle between good and evil.

Life and death.

Heavenly forces and demonic forces.

While we try to group certain italicized words under liberal and conservative, we are missing a major influence. In open mouths and loud opinions, the Truth is being ignored. Leaving those in the middle divided, frustrated, and down-right hateful.

As this reality saddens me, we can prevail. America is not stuck in a gun, immigration, or abortion problem. We aren’t even stuck in a political problem. I’m worried our homes—our hearts are being threatened.

Proverbs 4:23- Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 

Above all else.

For everything you do flows from it.

Y’all, there is vitality involved in the condition of our hearts. I don’t mean physical—I mean spiritual. There are invaders surrounding us looking to hit. Opinions, lies, and confusion are all knocking and selling. Friend, if our hearts are the homes in which we live, I have some thoughts:

Who are we inviting in?

How long is their stay?

What is our foundation?

1 Peter 5:8- Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Fort Knox is one of the most secured areas in the world. Around it are electric fences, armed guards, granite walls, and not to mention a 22-ton blast-proof door. Security is so extreme there are zero employees who know a full code. Ironically, each employee only knows one letter, number, or symbol.

Why the extreme? Because, when you have something valuable, you protect it—guard it—from outside forces.

I’m afraid we have forgotten how valuable our hearts are. I’m even more afraid we’ve loosened security and invited evil to visit. As we are often embarrassed, nervous, or doubtful to admit satan has influence—he does. Our adversary and his recruits are intently searching for open doors to sly in.

Often this invitation comes in an unconscious informality. Perhaps we haven’t realized our doors were unlocked. Or we didn’t think we were being watched. Whatever the call, they are here and they must get. out.

James 4:17- Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

He will flee: bolt, run in pity, sieze attack. This the hope of our hearts. While the devil and his recruits have invaded our homes, stolen our joy, and wrecked our love—we have hope.

The enemy’s surrender under God’s attack.

No matter their length of stay, the God of Angel Armies will move in. Heavenly forces will repair, rebuild, and refurbish the damage. The Commander will order the enemy’s surrender to His sons and daughters.

But we must pledge allegiance to Him. Submission will unleash this Truth into our homes. The acceptance of His knocking involves a permanent and daily consent. Hearing and doing His Word, being in constant prayer, and staying near to the Holy Spirit. In doing this, we show our opinions and desires the doors. By doing this, we welcome Truth a seat at the table.

Matthew 7:24, 25- “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” 

Building on the rock; laying our foundation in Jesus Christ. The change will come when we heavenly renovate our hearts.

Aligning the walls to echo Scripture.

Removing doors of hate; adding windows of love.

Reinforcing a guard system to block the enemy’s attack.

When arguments come, tragic events continue, and our pride is threatened, our hearts will be able to stand. Our adversary and his recruits will experience a reality of no-vacancy. The barrier separating the left and right will be torn down. And the Truth will shine around a bond of unity and wisdom.

Home sweet home, friend.

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But God.

Growing up, I had a favorite VHS tape. I would watch it for hours upon days. Although the music was catchy and the animation precise, it was the story. It was one I had heard of before but there was something about watching it unfold.

Title: Prince of Egypt.

Starring: Moses.

Pharoh was there, the bush burned, and the Red Sea split. That’s right. All the major parts were evident in the movie. I knew this story front to back. So I thought.

Yet, while I am not that little girl, I have continued to read the story of Moses here and there. However, it wasn’t until this year a Bible plan led me to study the story of Moses.

Instead of skimming through the familiar passage in Exodus, I slowed down. And I’ll tell you, I didn’t see the events unfold. This time, I noticed God; what He brought and what He caused.

I saw the outcomes of God’s presence.

You see, God had a purpose for Moses. This purpose led His people to freedom. God used Moses to make His name known. However, when this was told to Moses, He felt the pressure—the nerves. Fear, uncertainty, and timidness were all there. Leading Moses to excuse himself and his ability all while God was with him.

“But, God, I am a nobody.”

“But, God, nobody will believe me.”

“But, God, I am not smart or talented enough.”

“But, God, is there not anybody else?”

Excuses can be our defense in the face of insecurity. Not only can we make excuses in ourselves, but in Jesus. This distrust brings us to believe He is not able or all-powerful. Or, in fact, we do believe Him and make excuses in the face of vulnerability.

I’ll be transparent to tell you I know fear, uncertainty, and timidness in the Lord. When my relationship with Christ became vulnerable early on, I used to run. I knew His presence meant teaching, instruction—a total detox. The presence of God was something I feared. The presence of God would require me to step out of comfort and into faith.

2 Corinthians 3:17- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

This is what the Truth says. Freedom. As I studied through the story of Moses, I saw his character refined. Moses became confident and sure of his Maker. Why? I believe he was changed by staying in the presence of God.

The presence of God changes us. 

The presence of God changes our attitudes.

The presence of God changes everything.

When we stay in the Word, the Holy Spirit reveals lessons to a fruitful lifestyle. When we stay in prayer, the Holy Spirit comforts our fear and insecurity. When we stay in fellowship, the Holy Spirit establishes encouraging relationships.

How can we expect to live away from God’s presence? Away from Him, change will not come, confidence will not build, and comfort will not heal. Friend, rest assured because the presence of God alters the phrase, “But, God.” It removes the pausing, the moaning, and the resulting excuse. The presence of God gives us a shield from the Enemy.

“But God.”

It is He. It is His Son. It is His Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is His presence. Where His presence is there is freedom. And where there is freedom there is joy.

Friends, let’s stay and walk in it forever.

Matthew 18:20- “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

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Friend Over Follower

I have this burning desire to be a friend. Not a mediocre acquittance, or a stand-still, but a solid friend. This is one area I never want to be satisfied with my performance. Because in a world full of followers, I want to stay a friend.

I think technology has changed how we befriend and encourage people. Its taken us from a world of love, to a land of likes. And if we’re not careful, friendships will become a game with manipulative rules. Online followers can unlike us, unfollow us, even unfriend us. But a friend will choose to actively love you offline.

I’ve been petty, paranoid, and poor in friendships. My attitude and words have been so two-faced that either was one bit attractive. I’ve forgotten to call, check-in, and cater to friendships. Where even the comment of, “Well, they did it to me” would it be meaningful. I’ve fallen into the trap of making friendships about me, and what I can get out of them. I’ve forgotten the heartbeat of friendship: support.

The people—not only our people—deserve our support. If we don’t support them, who will? If we don’t encourage them, who will? It matters the type of friends we are because friends change everything. A supportive circle busts down its defensive circumference. Leading to the friend we challenge ourselves to be is the level one we will receive. Not only does it take one to know, it takes being one *continually to have one.

So, if it is my burning desire to be a friend, I must be better. If I say friendships mean most to me, then it must show. Friendships will suffer from lackadaisical actions. Friendships will cringe from careless words. However, they flourish when a grateful heart and a supportive attitude becomes habituation.

To the friend I’ve hurt, I’m sorry.
To the friend I’ve judged, forgive me.
To the friend I’ve forgotten to call, “How are you?”.
To the friend I’ve gossiped about, you didn’t deserve that.
To the friend I’ve encouraged, no need to thank me.
To the friend I’ve loved, I always will.
To the friends I’ve got, I am thankful for you.

I truly am. On the day of Thanksgiving, the day of importance, remembrance, and thankfulness; I am thankful for you. I am grateful for our relationship; where it has been, how it is, and what it will be. Thank you for sticking with me, with me, and for me. None of us have been perfect, but we can do better…together and for each other.

Proverbs 17:17,  A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Ephesians 4:32, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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It’s a Balancing Act

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

I have a one-sided love affair with bicycles. Their quirkiness reels me in but it’s their beauty of balance to keep me there. I say one-sided because my only broken bone came from riding a bike. Still, the crash wasn’t from a faulty route or rusted gears, but rather because I let go, lost focus, and offset the balance.

There is something about us women staying busy. Our planners are a canvas of scribbles from a pen that always seems to be running out of ink. This is because we all have goals: to be an involved student, an encouraging girlfriend, or a loyal friend. As Christian women, these goals are spiritually healthy. So, where’s the catch? It lies in our hustle; it hides in our scribbles.

Be here.

Go there.

Do this.

Having goals is not a curse. In their purest purpose, goals are healthy. The problem comes when we let go of stability, lose focus of spiritual rest and offset the balance. We will teeter if our souls do not shove action toward progression. The realignment occurs as we carefully walk and become wise in our time.

Reminder: “Become balanced, Tuesday, 7:00 pm.”

If only this was a one-time entry. If only we were that disciplined. Becoming wise takes several careful walks through the demands of life (Ephesians 5:15). Positioning ourselves to be centered on Christ takes committing daily to making the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16) and choosing to boldly chase after His will and follow Him into eternity (Ephesians 5:17).

When I crashed my bike, the problem wasn’t letting go of my handlebars. Was it dangerous? Yes. But was it bold? You bet. Letting go of society’s restrictions takes courage. Being armed for spiritual warfare takes nerve. Refusing the Devils scheme of scheduling takes intent bravery.

Most days I don’t resemble the beauty of freedom. Often, I’m fearful to even loosen my grip. If I don’t go here then this won’t happen. If I don’t do this then this person will suffer. With white knuckles, I clench my agenda because I can handle it. If this is our mindset we have already toppled.

Reminder: “It’s a balancing act.”

So, what do we do? I’m not sure the solution is writing fewer scribbles, and I’m not positive it’s erasing them either. No, the Bible says rest. This doesn’t mean our schedules will clear. The demands, duties, and desires will continue to stack. Friend, balance is not in the back-and-forth, but standing in the middle with Jesus.

Just the two of us; staying steady and riding everywhere.

While I don’t recommend riding a bike with no hands, let go of the fret and raise your arms in surrender…it’s a balancing act.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of t

Well, This is Awkward

I’ve been a freshman twice, and both cases have been awkward, confusing, and filled with pressure. Both times have been covered with complicating, overanalyzing, and perfecting (all by me, pretty impressive). Add comparison into the mix and you have the standard. Entering a new atmosphere is almost always intimidating and usually embarrassing. Learning the norms, getting a feel for the real, and simply trying to survive, all remind me of the weirdness. If you’re a freshman (and feeling a little weird), here are three things I wish I had known:

1.) It’s okay…

All humor aside, I know you’re stressed. You’re constantly looking left and right and up and down. Trust me, I know. The unwelcomed pressure to measure up above your age, your grade, even your maturity. Listen though; don’t forget your voice, your heart, and your meaning. What do we think will happen? What is the loss? You can be your own warrior. You can hold your faith. You can want the better difference.

Romans 1:16a (ESV)- For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…

2.) You’re loved & you belong…

You seem out of place. I know, there is so much going on. Wondering, “Should I do this?” Wondering, “Should I do that?” As if by what you do, your worth will be set and social recognition will increase it. Trust me, I know. “I mean, everybody else is doing it.” “I mean everybody else is going there.” I get it… Here’s the steady reality, you are already loved and you already belong. So, who is lying to us? Why are we lying to ourselves? Our worth has been set by the Star Breather. It’s not a look, it’s not an opinion, it’s not this or that—it’s a sure thing.

Hebrews 13:6 (ESV)- So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

3.) God is still your guy…

We need Him in the awkward and we need Him in the uncomfortable. Freshman year is both and then some. Whichever stage you’re living; in school, in a career, in a marriage, in a family situation, this number three is yours to take. God is still your guy. He is still King of the world, and He still determines your fate. The God of lights and wonder is still the God in the low and quiet. We need Him here and we need Him in the highs. Where are we running? Do we even know? Let’s stay in complete awe of Him. Let’s keep our souls entirely starstruck. He is still alive. He is still roaring. He is still our guy.

Psalm 66:8-9 (ESV)- Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

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Goodness Gracious

It’s okay to be desperate. It’s okay to want goodness. It’s okay to want a better life. The problem: our world presents a range of false advertisement. It’s okay to be desperate, to want goodness, or to want a better life—when Jesus is in the heading. Here are three ways to literally change your life this week.

1.) Read Scripture

I’ll be the first to recognize my short-temper when I don’t get much sleep. Anything less than the classic eight hours, I am a straight grump. This is similar to when we live distracted from God’s Word leaving us deprived of the key to a better life. The Bible is able to refresh our joy in ways inexplicable. It activates our soul’s purpose. It awakens our love for God. It initiates a restless pursuit of serving. Take a day, see for yourself. If this is new, start with John and discover who Jesus is. Read a couple of Psalms, find a study, scroll through Pinterest…whatever you decide, get ready.

Matthew 4:4 (ESV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  

2.) Journal Your Prayers

There’s something so intense and delicate about journaling (I say this with no writers-bias). With complete honesty, something happens when you put pen to paper on the subject of Jesus. Especially in the specific of writing your prayers. No matter if they are verbal, mental, or written; it is direct communication to the King of Heaven. Still, the difference with writing them is the permanency and the option of recalling them. This gives us the chance to see answered prayers and strengthen the appreciation of God’s listening skills. Try it. Dedicate a journal to love letters to God. Because if I can be truthful, that’s what you’ll end up with.

James 5:13 (ESV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

3.) Be Kind

I know, it’s difficult. Mood swings are a thing, bad days are real, and people can be stupid. But the Holy Spirit enables our kindness and makes our patience possible. I truly believe our negativity hits our own hearts. I know it tangles our own thoughts. Also, rudeness is a chain reaction of disbelief on the cross—and this is the issue. We can cut the crap when we understand the blurred reflection it puts on Jesus. Kindness brings our love into one consistency. Not only that, kindness manifests the design of the gospel. It nudges those around us to love and it changes our lives.

Proverbs 16:24 (ESV) Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

It’s okay to be desperate for God’s goodness and take in a better life. This doesn’t mean a smooth life, but it brings along hope and it provides contentment. I want this for you. I want this for me. I want this for all of us.


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