Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In This Moment: The Mount of Beatitudes

"Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 

 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account."

Matthew 5:1-11

I distinctly remember where I was when I read that above passage.

I was kneeling down in the church on the top of the Mount of Beatitudes. 

As I was reading it, the Holy Spirit kept directing me back to the verse, "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."

It's not unlike the Holy Spirit to prompt me to pray for someone or to highlight a particular passage of Scripture. I was not surprised by that but by the particular verse chosen. 

I had received a message from my Mom earlier that day as we were headed to this location. She had asked if there was anybody on the trip who had an international phone plan. I responded that I would find out but that it would be later in the day before I would be able to call her. 

I knew something had happened back home if she needed to call me while I was overseas. 

I did not know anything other than that her, Dad, and my brother were all okay. 

So, when I arrived at the Mount of Beatitudes, I took some time to reflect and to pray for whatever had occurred back home.  

I'm no fortune-teller but the Holy Spirit always intercedes for you when you have no words to say or before you even know what to pray. 

That was the case for me. 

I really didn't know what to pray but simply followed the Holy Spirit's leading. 

I prayed for my extended family particularly my Grandparents, and I prayed for peace and comfort despite the news I would receive when I called home.

After praying in the church, I walked around the surrounding gardens feeling at peace.

The group left shortly after that and we went on with the rest of our day.

When we arrived back at our hotel several hours later, I made the phone call.

My Dad answered the phone and delivered the news that my Grandfather, my Mom's Dad, had passed away.

And that is when I knew why the Holy Spirit had highlighted that particular verse and had prompted me to pray for peace.

While I did cry later, the peace I felt when my Dad told me the news was only made possible by the Holy Spirit. He knew before I knew and that gave me great comfort knowing I had been prayed for by the Holy Spirit all day.

I'm so incredibly thankful that the LORD knew where I would be when my Grandfather went to meet Him.

Yes, it was painful not being able to fly home to be with my family and to bid my Grandfather a final farewell.

But y'all, what better place to mourn the death of my Grandfather than where Jesus of Nazareth had said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted," nearly 2,000 years ago?

It's been a month since that day and I still remember it ever so clearly.

Loss is always, always, always hard. It is never painless.

But Jesus always promises to walk with us through our grief.

I'm so thankful I was not only able to walk with Him spiritually, but to see where He walked physically on earth where He had said those words.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." – Matthew 5:4

They now have a whole new meaning to me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Breaking the Silence

I've been silent on this blog for two years now.

I don't think it was really intentional.

I just have been through a lot over the last couple of years.

As I sat in my last counseling session yesterday, my counselor & I reviewed all that I had learned over the course of the last two years.

Life wasn't easy for me back then.

I felt like I was being tossed back & worth by the waves, and my tiny inflatable raft was barely staying afloat.

The rescue came in the form of a counselor who gave me books to read, and helped me build my new boat.

Now, I like to imagine myself in a small yacht.

One where I can navigate the waters with clearer vision & have the necessary tools to help with the maintenance & the ability to anchor myself if the storm rages.

I make sure to check for leaks on occasion & make sure wildlife doesn't stay long.

I do have space for the few friends who come on board from time to time.

We sometimes dock right next to each other & party hard. Other times, they hop on my boat for a spell to help me clean up my mess. And, like next week, I'll set sail with a couple of them into uncharted territory.

Listen up, friends, I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't thrown my flare up when I was distressed.

I would have drowned. 

It's NEVER a sign of weakness to call out for help.

If you haven't already, please do so today.

You'll be forever grateful, I promise.

One day, I'll share on this blog what I learned in my counseling sessions. 

For now, I'll just tell you that I'm not the same Giann I was 2 years, heck even 6 months ago.  

I know I've grown a lot, and plan to keep growing. Always.

To those who have been with me from the beginning of the blog, thank you!

To those who are just now joining me, thank you!

Excited to see what the LORD does in my life over the next few years while I'm at school.

So, I think I'll be back on this site more often sharing about life & what God has been teaching me.

Stay tuned, my friends!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trust & Obey

I think it's important to understand, first and foremost, that this is my story. 

I want people to know that this is a glimpse into my walk with the LORD. 

This is what I have learned/am learning after walking with the LORD for 13 years. 

I say that so you can better understand what I'm about to tell you. 

So, why don't you make a cup of coffee (or tea) and join me as I share how the LORD has been working in my life lately. 

Last Thursday, I went and visited my prospective university to learn more about them, and the degree I hope to obtain. 

Later in the day, I had a conversation with someone in the college system. 

When I mentioned that my desire was to graduate debt free, their response was, "There is good debt and bad debt. Student debt is good debt."

I just nodded and said, "okay."

Hours later, I still couldn't come to peace about it in my mind. 

The Bible talks about how the borrower is the servant to the lender, that we should be good stewards of our time and money, and that the LORD is Jehovah-jireh (the LORD will provide).  

Now, before I tell you my response, I want to give you a bit of background...

About 3 1/2 years ago,  I attended a college fair where I met the Vice President of Undergraduate Admissions of my prospective school. He invited my family and I (plus my friend who is there now) to attend an informational dinner the following week. 

It was there that I decided to pursue this particular university. 

I toured the college the following the year but the LORD, in His infinite grace and wisdom, said, "Not yet." 

He kept taking me back to the story of Abraham. 

Abraham simply obeyed the LORD, and trusted Him. 

(now, I know Abraham is not perfect so please don't fixate on that. Fixate on the fact that Abraham obeyed the LORD, and trusted Him to provide.)

I gave my career/college plans to the LORD, and trusted that He would lead me wherever He saw fit for me to go. 

During that season of waiting, I continued to take classes at the community college, invest my time and energy to various activities, and develop friendships that I know will last a lifetime. 

Then, last Fall, the LORD allowed me to pursue the university of my dreams. 

I applied, was accepted, and attended a day specifically for transfer students like myself.

Within 18 hours, through comments from various people, I knew that this was the school the LORD had picked out for me.

So, here I am. 

I'm six months out from attending my prospective university. 

...and I'm short quite a few (thousand) dollars. 

And that's when the LORD led me back to the story of Abraham.

Genesis 22 tells the story when the LORD told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Right as Abraham is going to strike his son, the LORD calls out to him, and provides a ram.

 "So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, 'On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.'"
Genesis 22:14

The name used for the LORD in this particular passage  is Jehovah-jireh – the LORD will provide. 

And this is what I need y'all to understand... 

If the LORD wants me at this school in 6 months, He will provide a way. That could be through scholarships, job opportunities, and various other avenues.

But, I believe that going into debt is not one of them. I just don't have the peace about taking out student loans.  

Honestly, I don't think that's the LORD's plan for me.

He will provide. He's done it in the past, and He will do it again.

 All He asks of me is that I trust & obey Him.

I've seen it in the lives of my friends and family. 

One family in particular who titled their blog post:  If you think we're crazy, you should get to know our Father. 

Here's an excerpt from it:  

"The world will begin to listen when God’s children begin loving in a way that not only says but shows that, “There is no way this could work without God”.

And friends, if God doesn’t show up in this adoption- both the process and moving forward- we have no Plan B.

He is our only Answer.

He is the One we are trusting.

This is His plan from before the beginning of time.

Our God is looking for people who seek to make His glory known by stepping out in faith, stepping forward in obedience, and doing the very thing that we can confidently say,

“If God doesn’t show up, we are in trouble”.

And friends- He will show up."

Friends, what if we started to do that? To obey God and trust Him with each step? 

Think about what a witness that would be to the watching world! 

Just like Morgan and Hugh, I can obey the LORD, and trust Him with each step. 

Just like Abraham, I can prepare, and trust that He will show up. 

I don't have worry about anything. I know for certain that He will provide through whatever means necessary. 

So, what's my plan you might ask? 

To simply trust and obey.