Guest Blogger – Stephanie!

Hello Everyone! Today we have a guest blogger who is very dear to my heart. Right now she lives in Florida – which is way to far away from New Mexico – but she is doing great things there. She is deeply involved in Journey Church and just got back from a missions trip to Mexico where she absolutely fell in love with all the kids. I cannot wait to see where else she will go and what else God will lead her to do for His kingdom. It is beautiful for me to watch my friends grow up around me and she is one of them so without further ado Stephanie’s post!

steph

A Word Misunderstood:

“The number one question people are constantly pondering, studying, researching, asking, googling, reading about, and striving to find the answer to is: ” why are we here?” or, in other words, “what is the purpose of life?”. It is a question that has been attempted to be answered by millions of people in an infinite amount of ways. Each person may have a different answer. Some might say to be happy or to be successful or to have a family or to contribute something positive or to protect the environment or to make yourself and others happy. The list goes on and on.

As a Christian my first response to that question has always been “to reach the lost for Jesus.” – a noble cause. I always found that at the center. After all was that not Jesus’ last command to us? To go and make disciples of all nations. Therefore, as a good Christian, I could confidently say the purpose of my life was to tell people about Jesus, to point others to him. In my mind that was the purpose of every life. God gave people talents so they could use them to point others to Jesus.

The purpose of life is not to be successful because success will fade. The purpose of life is not to be happy because happiness is a fleeting emotion that can easily change. Not that these things aren’t a good part of life but rather that they are not at the center of life.

Recently I have found that the purpose of life is not to point people to Jesus. Here is where a righteous gasp would be allowed and an indignant “how dare you say we are not supposed to point people to Jesus!”

That is not what I am saying at all.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. He created man in his own likeness and from him he created woman. In the first couple chapters of the Bible we can see the purpose of life as God intended it. Before the fall of man and before sin came into the world, before people chose to forget God, before people needed to be saved and pointed to Jesus God had a purpose for our lives. Every day God met with Adam and Eve to walk and talk and laugh and have an intimate relationship with the people he loved.

The purpose of life is to be a lover; and not just a lover of anything but a lover of a Creator who loved us beyond any of our own capabilities before we could ever love him.

The word lover has been ruined by todays society – corrupted. The word itself would make me queasy and uncomfortable, feeling like I was intruding on something that was none of my concern. For a while all it meant to me was someone who had intimate relations with another – usually when they weren’t supposed to. It felt secretive and dirty to me and had little to no connotations of actual, real love.

Instead of explaining what a lover is not allow me to expound on what a lover is and how it fits into our purpose. A true lover is someone who stands in awe of another being. Nothing could compare to or satisfy like being in the presence of this being. Being a lover of our Creator is not something strange and uncomfortable: it is simply standing in awe of our Savior and losing our breath and losing our words. It is wanting to spend our life getting to know Him better, getting to spend time with the one who gave His life for us. It is us being satisfied that He is all we need. He is our everything. It is a love that realizes that He sacrificed himself for us and in return we willingly and lovingly do what he asks of us because we LOVE Him.

Life is, but a fleeting moment compared to eternity. It comes and goes and what we gained and accomplished in it will be forgotten and lost. So what is the purpose of life if at the end, when we are laying on our death beds, we cannot take anything with us and chances are in 100 years we will be no more than a name on a stone next to hundreds of stones that all look the same? Well to answer that you must look at the bigger picture: at eternity. For eternity we will spend our lives praising and worshipping a beautiful God. The one thing we can take with us when we die is our relationship with our Savior therefore our purpose in life is just to be a lover.

Naturally, when you are in love with God it affects the rest of your life. His love through you affects the people you meet, the way you act, they way you work, the things you do. Which in turn affects your happiness, your work, your success, your passions and desires, your family and friends, and everything else in life.

When God is at the center of not just your life but at the center of the entire essence of your being, when you focusing your love and adoration on him is at the center of every decision you make, of the words you say, of the relationships you have with others, of the work you do, and at the center of everything you are, THAT is when you know you have fulfilled life’s purpose. Because you are who God made you to be: His lover.

Sometimes I lay in awe and wonder of God and in these moments my heart swells till I feel like His love is going to make it burst. I cannot begin to fathom or wrap my head around a love so extravagant and so real. It shines through everything around me. All the things I take for granted and all the things I enjoy are strategically placed in my life as love letters from God. His handwriting is everywhere! Bleeding through my life as a pen bleeds through paper. His love seeps into my being and fills me with a joy that is incomparable.

Even in the hard times he leaves behind his beautiful handwriting. His hand is there guiding me. His arms are open to hug me and comfort me when my face is red and blotchy with tears. He knows. To have a lover that will never misunderstand you, will never let you down, will be there for you no matter what, and knows exactly how to make you smile: that is all anyone could ever ask for and it is already ours. It was ours before the world was made. What more could I ask for?

Words are frustrating because they can never convey the love of God fully. It is something you must experience for yourself to understand the full gravity of. My soul is bursting at the seams through these words trying to find a way to convey the complexity of a love that existed before words, of a love that invented languages. It is impossible. Sometimes it is best to just let yourself be wordless, speechless, and just let God be God.”

This spoke volumes to me.

In what ways do you and I need to just let God be God this school year?

Where must our worries cease and allow His hand?

Should I have more guest bloggers? Should I convince Steph to come back some time?

Please share in the comments!

God is faithful and you are utterly blessed.

Love,

Deanna and Stephanie ❤

God is so Big.

This year God has really been impressing upon me His bigness.

He made the heavens and the earth.

He set the stars in their place and whispered to the waves their gentle beat.

He created me, and you, and everyone and created us all for our certain time. He made us revolutionaries.

He sent His Son who died for our sins.

He gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us.

He loves us and accepts us.

He is sure in His promises to us.

He plans for us.

He graces us.

He provides for us and takes care of the very depths of our hearts.

He knows the hairs on our heads.

He created the morning and causes it to burst forth with a new Grace.

He created the night and is our lamp within it.

He knows the creatures in the depths of the sea. He set them there and is sure of all of their ways.

He has seen the gates of death and indeed He has overcome them.

He knows the height and depth and length and breadth of all things. From the universe to your heart.

He keeps the snow and hail in his treasury.

He knows how light is defused.

He knows how to scatter the winds over all the earth.

He is the owner of the thunder and of the lightening.

In all those ways God is big.

That in and of itself is the most amazing thing that I could have imagined.

But God goes above and beyond our expectations.

In Job 38:25-27  it says that He is the one “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water… To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, a wilderness in which there is no man; to satisfy the desolate waste.”

God is so big that even after having blessed us so immensely, even after caring for the needs of the universe and the requirements of the animals He even cares for the places that nobody lives in or thinks they need. He loves us and His earth so much that even if no one lives in that desert he waters it and prepares it for the people that someday will. He drenches the whole world in water and just as he does that with the earth He does that with us. He drenches us all in His love equally. He causes His love to rain down on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Even if you are far.

Even if you are desolate and no one cares about you God is still big.

God is still watering you in His love.

God still adores you.

God still wants to use you.

That is the big God we serve.

He seeks out the desolate places to water them.

He seeks out the lost to find them.

He seeks out the sick to heal them.

Whatever you are going through remember that God is most definitely bigger.

Storm 2014 Series Kick Off!

Every year I try to pen what the Spirit of God revealed to me at Storm. I do that because I want you all to see Him the way I do; so that I won’t ever, ever – not in a million years – forget what He did there; so that I will never misplace who He is and who that makes me.

Every year I have had a different experience.

The first year (2011) God gave me the word Compassion. He told me it was meant to use up my whole life and no matter what career route I may one day take Compassion must always be at the forefront of my selection. Back then I was so worried about who I would become, where I would go to college and what classes I would require.

Well, today I was sitting in a Hokona hallway. Today was my second day of orientation. Yesterday I chose the English-Philosophy double major. Yesterday I planned the classes I had stressed so much over and I realized the stress wasn’t worth it.

It doesn’t matter what I do to serve when I love Christ because he has consistently shown me that He is the only thing that genuinely matters.

My dear friend Jayne once told me, “Wherever God goes you will follow and wherever you go – there He is.”

So from 2011 to 2014 I can say that what God said to me was true. Compassion is still my calling and otherwise all that matters is His grace and fidelity. When I am small He is nevertheless a big God.

In 2012 I SAW God for the very first time! I felt as if I could never be loved, like I was too impure and too imperfect, but then God picked me up, took me in his arms and said, “All I want is you.”

From 2012 to 2014 I have found God absolutely worthy of my commitment and absolutely faithful in his pardon. Everyday I see His beauty consuming my calamity and His salvation consuming my humanity and I couldn’t ask for a better trade. It really is a beautiful exchange and now He fully has my heart.

In 2013 God called me to remember his bigness.

He said stop worrying, I’m bigger.

He said stop striving, I’m bigger.

He said lay off trying to burst your own chains, I’m bigger.

He said stop trying to figure it all out alone, I’m bigger.

From 2013 to 2014 I have grappled with giving God full control of my dreams and my affection. After this year I can say there is no part I am not steadily giving to Him.  He has my thoughts, my words, my actions, my dreams and most of all my desire for marriage. I need not seek out what he bears in His hand. I have not the strength to carry it.

Now in 2014 I realized the deepest aspect of God that I had ever experienced.

I went into Storm not sure of what I wanted to meet, understand or see of God. That had never happened before and so I knew nothing else to do, but pray for what my leaders were praying for. That prayer was for every student to meet God right where they are. I really focused in on the Students that were new and had never come to The Storm before. I prayed for new people to meet God for the first time, to truly see Him like I did in 2012, to dedicate their lives to Him. I got all that and more!

Unknown to me the spirit that God desired me to take from Storm 2014 was the spirit of His REACH.

That is my word to pair with compassion.

I am meant to “go unto all the world and preach the good news, to make disciples of all nations”.

This year I realized that the Storm is not about me, but about the people around me.

It’s about discipling my peers and those younger than me. It is about learning from and encouraging those older than me. It is about generation connections and generation building because when we are firm on the inside we can extend out and effect the world God loves.

Storm empowered me to remain in touch with the friends I made at Storm, to check in, pray with them and believe in them.

Storm empowered me to get into my writing with an even greater vengeance. We only have so long to be His witness.

Storm empowered me to become involved in The Forgotten Foundation and other community service opportunities.

Storm empowered me to take the focus off of my to do list and on to the people that matter.

Most of all Storm empowered me to stand up as a Light of Christ on my UNM campus.

God picked me up and made UNM my mission for the following four years.

He plucked me up and said, go heal the broken.

He emblazoned Joy, Compassion, Wisdom, and Grace upon my brow, calling everyone like moths to His flame.

He consumed me.

So going into orientation I prayed that he would use me somehow to change a life. I didn’t know what to expect, but it became so much bigger than I had anticipated.

All of the incoming freshmen from session 6 were gathered together for a lecture about the diversity of people on the UNM campus.

The speaker showed us a video about some people who created parties in which one would dress up in gardener clothes or janitorial wear with the names Pablo or Juan on their name tags. These parties were full of racial slurs and derogatory language specifically against the Latino community. There were other parties featured that had a bias against other racial minorities.

The speaker moved on to ask us questions concerning the substance of the video or any other such matters (the judgment against LGT community for example). One of the questions asked WHY do people behave in such a hurtful manner towards certain groups and I had the opportunity to speak up.

I brought up the issue that I believe everyone was thinking about.

Why do people of religion cause so many prejudices?

From African American Segregation to The Protests Against Same Sex Marriage Christians have propagated hundreds of discriminations against other races, choices and beliefs.

I said, “Honestly, one of the biggest reasons for bigotry is religious morals. The problem is that Christian people who behave in a mean way towards certain groups don’t understand the profundity of God’s passion for us. They don’t realize that God loves every single person the same. He takes each of us exactly as we are. Hence even though I don’t accord with everyone and I deliver my own morals, I find it infinitely sad that people are judged by Christians because God has adoration for the very person that they are judging.”

Obviously I didn’t phrase it that well, but that is it in a prettier nutshell.

I was so terrified that I would have a ton of people jump up and rebuke me for my beliefs in Jesus Christ, but everyone cheered! Even the speaker thanked me for being so “eloquent and truthful”.

I have been approached by multiple people since then who told me that they loved what I said! I even met one Christian woman who stated that she was so proud of me  and that meant the world.

It reads in Luke 1:17 that God will go before me and He proved it to me that day. I am already known as the young woman who spoke up at orientation and the girl who remains firm for what she believes in. I couldn’t ask for a better way to come into my freshman year. I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to my impact.

I was able to show the love of Christ despite what those around me may have thought of Him before. I was able to counter the confusion many Christians may of caused concerning God’s character. The Freshmen came in with one opinion of His acceptance and were able – by God’s grace – to leave with another. I am sure within my spirit that God changed someone’s life because of my words and I am so blessed to know that.

Beyond that God guided my writing and it has taken off among my peers! I was given the opportunity to share about my novella, The Home of Our Hearts, in a smaller lecture and many people now know about my Facebook page, my blogs and my books. They are all so excited to read what I have to say.

I feel so honored to know that God loves me in that way. That he cares about my dreams enough to establish them in a new place like He did today.

I have become a great light, a REACH, a COMPASSION in the lives of the Lobos and it wasn’t because of me. It was because God is continuously good, faithful and marvelous.

He has turned my world upside down and I know He will do so every single day.

I have endless possibilities.

Endless grace.

Endless favor.

And endless reach – so do you!

It’s all because God is so so so good.

– Deanna ❤