Monday, April 18, 2011

When Fear and Faith Collide

You are standing in line at Six Flags, you have waited hours for this one roller coaster. Weeks of planning and saving, and the day has finally arrived! The anticipation and excitement has built up over time and as you inch closer to the ride, you feel like you could explode with joy. You are now standing at the gate, you are next in line. As you watch the roller coaster fly by, twisting, turning, climbing and dropping and as you hear the excited and terrified screams come from the riders it hits you: FEAR. I am about to do this, what if something goes wrong? You feel that familiar turning in your stomach. Now you find yourself mindlessly walking through the gate and strapping yourself into a potential death machine: Am I going to regret this? Suddenly the roller coaster jerks forward and it's too late to change your mind. You are in for the thrill ride of your life, you can either enjoy the moment despite the fear or you can let your fear consume your focus.

This is the story of my life.

As I enter into this new season of being in a relationship, I am obviously excited. Yet, just like the roller coaster story above, there are moments of fear and doubt. I have waited years for this season, yet as I find myself strapping in and committing, fear creeps in. I have a choice, I can let these fears overwhelm me and cause me to panic and run away screaming or I take a step in faith, despite the fear, and trust that God has good plans for me (Jer. 29:11). This season is full of making wonderful memories and very enjoyable dates yet it is also refining. When you choose to open yourself up, and be vulnerable you risk being hurt. The lies and insecurities that once felt far away are now so close, and at times it seems like I could very easily drown in the sea of insecurity and lies.

But as I take a deep breath, and turn my eyes to Christ, it is then that I remember the truth. When I look at Christ I find clarity and perspective. He is my hope, my rock, my savior, my redeemer, the lover of my soul, and my God. He defines me.

So friends, no matter where you find yourself in this roller coaster life, remember that Christ is your anchor and that His Word is always true. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you, resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 5:1

~Set Apart~

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Adventure-God's Faithfulness

The journey began about a year ago. I was in Texas, at Teen Mania Ministries serving as a second year intern. I began to seek God and ask Him about His will for my future regarding dating, "God will it ever happen? Will have to wait 5 more years? What's the deal?" and all the other questions that young woman ask God about their future. As I continued to pray in the days and weeks to come I felt God begin to challenge me with a few things. 

  • "Casey, what if the man I have for you, isn't at all what you have in mind?"
That one stopped me in my tracks, literally (I was walking and praying). So, I surrendered my list of ideal or perfect qualities I wanted in a man. 

  • "Casey, I want you to prepare yourself to be in a relationship a year from now."
Umm...excuse me God, do you not realize that I moving back to the Northwest? There are no single, godly men there! But ok, I guess I will just keep reading books, and seeking Your face, but I really don't think this is going to happen.

Fast forward.....
January 2011. 

I have lived in here for 6 months and life is great, I remembered God's promise about the relationship, and seeing as there were no prospects thought, "Well maybe I will meet a missionary on my trip to Ethiopia in May, maybe that was God's plan...I could do that."

My roommate excitedly told me one night, "I have met the perfect man for you!" I literally laughed in her face. She said he was totally my type, from Texas and was here as a college semester missionary. I was not interested. But told her I would meet him. His name is Phillip Grant.

I met him and he seemed pretty legit, he loved the Lord, we had similar interests, and we got along, oh and he was pretty cute. As time went on, I found myself serving with his ministry and hanging out with him and other people. Within a few weeks, I had to admit, I was attracted to him. I started praying, everyday about these feelings, I didn't want them and I was pretty sure he wasn't interested. The feelings didn't go away and the more we hung out the more I wondered..."God, was this the answer to your promise?"

Over the next two months, we had a few conversations about our feelings for each other. We both wanted to pray about the future and see what God's will is. And for the next month and a half I wrestled with God, and waited for an answer. The more I got to know Phillip, the more attracted to him I was. I prayed that God would close the door if that was His will, and I prayed that God would make it painfully clear if moving forward was wrong. It was the hardest season yet, neither of us were sure. I had peace about moving forward, but knew that Phillip had some things he wanted to work out with the Lord, so I had to wait.

One week ago, I had made up my mind to take a step back from our relationship because I was starting to be really emotionally invested, that same night Phillip asked me to join him on a walk. And after a few agonizing minutes of talking he asked the question I had been hoping to hear, "Casey, I am asking if I can pursue you?" 

My reaction was quite dramatic, I was ready to walk away and now this amazing man is FINALLY asking to pursue me! I threw my bag down on the ground, and shouted, "Are you kidding me God?!" and laughed only to realize poor Phillip had no idea what was going on! So I explained and then excitedly got up and hugged him. We then took a two hour walk around the park, he told me all the reasons he wanted to pursue me--and what woman doesn't want to hear that?! And we talked about boundaries, ministry and what we wanted the relationship to look like, and we prayed together.

As we began to go out on dates, and pursue the Lord, we had a lot of peace about the relationship and where God has us on this adventure. It is now public knowledge, which I am very excited to share. :) It's been a week, and I still have all those giddy feelings, and yes I would even admit that I glow a little.

In all my waiting and all my dreaming I would have never thought of this, and it was harder but so much better than I ever could have imagined. And God honored His promise of a relationship and of a season of getting the desires of my hearts...a wonderful Godly boyfriend and a mission trip to Africa.

God is faithful.

~Set Apart~

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Christ the solid rock I stand...

"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand"
Have you ever had God shake up your life? Things that you were confident in suddenly fail you? Your perfect plan goes completely wrong? 

As many of you know, I like to be in control, I like to plan and be prepared. I have been reminded a lot recently that I can not be in control and the God is the only One who has a perfect plan. Often, I can get so caught up in my plan, and my ideas of how things should be that when God changes my plan, I get angry! Can anyone relate?

I realize now, more than ever, that my desire to be in control of situations stems from a desire to protect myself. If I am in control than I do not get hurt by 'surprises'. This seems perfectly logical in the moment, but I forgot one small detail...I am human which means I am sinful and imperfect. Which also means, I can hurt not only myself, but others.

Lately I have come up against a few challenges that cause me to wonder what in the world God is doing in my life. God has promised me that this season would be one of adventure and that I would see some of the deepest desires of my heart come to fruition. Notice that God didn't tell me which desires? Funny how He does that. He gives me enough of a promise to remain hopeful and yet not enough specifics for me to make it happen without Him.

My desire for control is a lack of trust. I doubt that God will come through and I fear being hurt or disappointed so I try to find security in 'knowing' something, anything. The more I try and control, the more my life seems to spin out of control. I find myself worried, depressed and anxious. In those times that my life spirals downward I am reminded, Christ is constant. He is solid ground. If I can just let go of control, if I can keep my eyes on Christ instead of on the wind and the waves of the storm of life, I can find peace. 

I don't have all the answers, in fact I have even more questions. But one things remains, Jesus. When I seek Him, I will find Him. And I may not get the answers I so deeply desire, but I can find rest and shelter in the shadow of His wings. 

Forgive me for desiring blessings and answers instead of desiring You.
Father, You have perfect plans for me. 
I trust in You alone, You are the solid rock that I stand on.
Capture my heart once more Jesus, and may my eyes be fixed on You.
Hold my hand through these valleys of darkness
and may I find the treasures You have hidden there for me.
Draw me closer God and use my weakness for Your glory.

~Set Apart for Him~

God is faithful

This past few weeks have been crazy. My college group and I went up to Cheney, WA to serve over our Spring Break, we had a great time. As many of you know I have been rasing funds for my mission trip to Ethiopia, and I had a deadline the week we were in Cheney. I had only a matter of days to raise the money needed for my trip. I knew that God wanted me to go on this trip, but I had no more resources for the money. It became hard not to think about the upcoming deadline, and wonder "God are you going to come through like you promised?" 

Saturday night, our last night in Cheney was the most difficult by far. We spent the whole day scraping off tape and wallpaper glue and didn't get it finished. Emotionally I was on my last straw, the upcoming deadline hung over my head like a huge weight ready to crush me and my dreams at any moment. As I prayed that night, I was frustrated. "God, I thought you promised this would be a season of getting the deepest desires of my heart? How is this going to work out? I can't ask anyone else for money, I need $535 and I can't get it. Lord, do you hear me? I am tired. I can't do this. So You are just going to have to make it happen."

The next morning, I found an envelope with my name on, sitting on my bag. It was from our host church, and with trembling hands I opened it, $700. More than enough to meet my deadline. And a reminder to my soul...


I told God if I could just make it through this deadline I knew He'd provide the rest! And I am standing in faith that He will. Only $1000 to go!

~Set Apart~