August 11, 2017

The Morning Shines Brighter

Have you ever noticed how BRIGHT the sunshine is after the blackest night?  How welcome the blue skies are after the rain?  Everything feels new and instead of rehearsed and unthinking every breath is taken in so intentionally.  It's that calm after the storm.  The rainbow that paints the sky as the sun emerges after the rain.  
Joy comes in the morning.
We praise the day when the sun shines again.
We long for it.
We count the days.....waiting.

Can we find anything beautiful in the waiting?  Can we find redemption in the night?  Can we sing through crushed spirit and grief so heavy it steals our breath?  

These are those moments when I find the most beauty.  When the beauty that I DO find is such a miracle.  Such a saving grace.  When my song, be but a whispered prayer, is the sweetest.  Raw.  Unfiltered.  Pure emotion.  Crying out to God.  
And HE'S there.
These are the moments I find Him the CLOSEST.  When His presence is MOST evidence.
Not for ONE moment does He ever forsake us, or abandon us to grieve on our own.  No.  That would surely crush us.

He is NEARER.

He reaches through that black night and is all that we need in that moment.
That's the miracle.
When we don't know what to do.  When we don't have the words to say.  When we can't even catch our next breath.  He is what we need.


Joy comes in the morning.....but this too is where I have found joy.
Joy comes in my mourning.
In my sadness.

In my doubt.
In my sorrow and grief.
In my fears and weakness.
There is joy.  There is hope.
There is a PROMISE that morning will come yes.  But until it does, He sits and waits with us. Wiping our tears. Preserving us.  Sustaining us.  In the MOST unexpected place.  That's my miracle and my joy.  HE is my JOY.

July 23, 2017

He is Present at Midnight

     I remember the moment as if it were yesterday.  
......That moment when I found out my husband wasn't ever coming home.  The moment my life was forever changed.  I remember the feelings so vividly that I can almost reach out and touch them.  
I remember the deep grief I felt and I can still hear my loud cries ringing in my ears.  I can still feel the stomach ache I felt in the pit of my stomach when the reality swept over me like a wave tossing a ship out in the sea....."what am I going to do?"  

"I. Am. A. Widow."
These are kind of things you read in books.  The stories you see in movies.  The stories you hear on the news.  But this wasn't supposed to happen to me.  This wasn't supposed to touch MY life.  


As if I were exempt from life's heartache.  As if I got to opt-out of unexpected tragedy and grief and doing the hard things.  No.  I was now among them.

The night crept so quickly on us and the events of that evening were a blur.  I put my children to bed and opened my Bible.  I read Psalm 71 through whispered prayer.  I read over the tear-stained pages for what felt like hours.... "do not abandon me when my strength is failing.  God you have taught me from my youth.  Even still I declare Your wondrous works and miracles.  Even when I am old and gray....do not abandon me until I declare Your mighty strength to this generation. 

You will restore me to life again.  You will bring me up from depths of the earth."  

His Words were all I could speak that night.
HIS WORDS.  His Words that brought me life in the midst of death.  His Words that spoke HOPE to me when I was stripped of all that I knew.  His Words that spoke a FUTURE to me when the future that I thought I knew was no longer an option.  HIS WORDS SPOKE PEACE.  
   


I laid down sometime in the dark hours of the morning but sleep eluded me.  Throughout the night a friend sent scripture after scripture.  She stayed awake with me....texting me.....HIS WORDS. 

Then I saw Him. At the foot of my bed.  I knew it was Him.....a vision of Him....a dream, maybe, but it was MY REALITY.  He was there.  He whispered so lovingly and so assuringly....."Why are you looking for the living among the dead.  He is not here."

No.

He is not here.
He will never be here again.


But I didn't argue.
Jesus' words brought peace in the midst of my blackest night.  

He. Is. Not. Here.
He is HOME.  
I had visions of my husband in Heaven, worshipping.  
Worshipping was one of the things he most loved to do.  My tumultuous heart was suddenly brought to rest.  
In spite of my world spinning around me, the chaos of the moment, there was this stillness.  This peace.  This comfort.  This PRESENCE........a presence that never left my side.  He was so present and His presence was SO evident.  
Weeping with me, nudging me to keep moving, holding me when I just needed to be held.

  "This is what it means to be held when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive.  This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was that when everything fell we'd be held"-Natalie Grant
  
My husband played that song often.....and to this day I know it was for ME.  To remember those words in this moment and know that I would be HELD when my world crumbled around me.  That were would be something to stand on when the earth fell beneath my feet.  I would be held.  

I have never been more sure of the Sovereignty of God than I was in that moment.  (and even still) because when the darkness seemed as if it were going to swallow me whole, it was when I saw Him shine the brightest.  When the noise was deafening....the noise of  all of the questions....the fears.....the doubt.....HIS voice was louder.  His arms were stronger.  
This is what I learned that night.....
He is PRESENT at midnight.
He is in the MIDST of your storm.  
There is no night so dark that you can't find Him there.  
He was already there, waiting to be what I needed Him to be for me there.  

This is my story.....this is MY God.
In my distress [when I seemed surrounded] I called upon the Lord
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry for help came before Him, into His very ears. 
He made MY darkness His hiding place. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  My God turns my darkness into light.
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.  He trains my hands for battle. Your right hand sustains me.  Psalm 18



June 26, 2017

Navigating through your Seasons with Grace

"How you end a season is what ushers you into the next."-Daniel Bashta
I don't know how you entered this season. Or what kind of season you had before this. 
I have had seasons of transition, seasons of change.  New places, new people, new home, new friends, new city.
Seasons of grief and heartache. Having to face the hard things. That moment when "till death do us part" became a reality after only 15 years.  Our last year was our BEST year.  A season of blessings and provision, favor and miracles....became a season of grieving.  Having to raise our 4 children without their dad. There have been seasons of growth and learning. Some of those seasons were hard, dark and lonely.  But it was in those moments I have learned so much about the character of God.  I have learned more about His word and His promises in these times than any other.  I have learned so much about myself and have experienced the most growth when seasons were the hardest.
I have had seasons of tears, seasons of healing, seasons of brokenness, and seasons of celebration and joy.  
 What you do during the season you find yourself in, your response, your perspective, will determine how you end it...and how you end it will determine how you enter the next one.
Seasons are temporary. Transition and change is inevitable.  
I do know this.....God is at work in every single one.
Winter is dark and cold and every fruit and flower bearing plant lies dormant. Life ceases for a moment. But underneath the ground a seed is breathing and maturing....growing beneath the surface....waiting for spring to usher in new life.  
The activity of Heaven is constant and His Truth is an anchor through every one.


But we come to resent the process. Longing to find a short cut. Wanting to forgo this leg of the journey. It's uncomfortable and HARD. Sometimes painful and exhausting. Grief. Transition. Unforeseen circumstances.....everyday LIFE. We try to navigate around what we are supposed to journey THROUGH. When life gets uncomfortable the last thing we want to do is endure. We become restless and agitated and long to be ANYwhere but HERE. 

You may not necessarily appreciate it now but what God is doing today is preparation for tomorrow. 

He's always one step ahead of you. 
It's in those moments we have to remind ourselves.....
God is at work.
Preparing. Reshaping. Undoing things that needed to be undone.
Confirming things that needed to be confirmed. Sharpening our focus and shaping our vision. Fueling our faith and passion. There is work to be done {HERE}.

and THIS.....this, my friend, is our resolve through EVERY season.
.....but *NONE* of these things MOVE me.....that I may finish my course with JOY. Acts 20:24
Be DETERMINED. Be PERSUADED. Be IMMOVABLE. Be DILIGENT. Be CONFIDENT. Refuse to BUDGE from your CONVICTIONS. Hold FAST to the WORD of God. RESOLVE to STAND on His Promises......and you will finish STRONG.

April 22, 2017

David's Last Words

THESE......are David's *LAST* words. (2 Samuel 23) you know.....the David who messed up ROYALLY?
The David who slept with another man's wife and then purposefully had him stand in the FRONT line of battle so he'd be killed?
THIS man....
His last words were not ones of regret.
His last words were . TESTIFYING to the SAVING GRACE of God
THESE are the last words of the man *exalted by the Most High God. *ANOINTED by the God of Jacob. The SWEET Psalmist.
THE GOD WHO SET THINGS RIGHT FOR DAVID.
David says, "Is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant? Ordered in ALL things....ARRANGED and SECURED in every part? Will *HE NOT BRING TO FRUITION MY SALVATION, caused me to prosper and GRANT ME MY EVERY DESIRE?

THIS David.
His last words were ones of REDEMPTION. and RESTORATION.
His identity did not lie in the mistakes he made but rather in WHO God set him apart to be. WHAT God set him apart to DO.

It doesn't matter what lies behind you.
It doesn't matter the mess you find yourself in now.

What matters is how you FINISH.
What matters is what God DOES from HERE.

He is the Alpha and Omega.
The beginning and the end.
That means that wherever He found you..... whatever the mess He found you in .....He has no intention of leaving you there!
Only God can take what was meant to destroy you and make you an overcomer that you could even rise from the ashes and lay hold of all that Christ has already laid hold of for you.
There is a joy set before you and you're not meant to stay in the ashes. His story for you does not end here.
He is the God of all that is behind you... And the God of all that is ahead of you. He is the Great I AM! The God of right here and right now. He is the God of the hope and the future planned for you long ago!
Wherever you are today... This is not the end of your story.
Finish with Him and your end will be greater than your beginning! And *YOUR* last words will be words of HOPE, RESTORATION and REDEMPTION!!!!!

April 4, 2017

He's a GOOD Father

"How can such a GOOD God allow such heartache? So much grief?
"It's not FAIR"

How often I hear these words......
how EASY it would be for ME to ask such questions.  

My children are being raised without their father.  I am doing life without my husband.  

But here's the Truth in this war-torn, heart-broken world.
He IS Good.  He can't be anything BUT Good.  Everything He does.....everything He speaks.....every purpose and intention of His heart is ONLY good.  We were promised that in this world we WILL have heartache.  If you've lived any length of time in this sin ravaged world then you know.....you will hurt.....you will break.....and it will be hard.  

But have we FORGOTTEN??!  The same GOD that was in the MIDST Of the LION'S Den with Daniel is in the midst of your mess here and NOW!

The SAME God that walked THROUGH the fire with Shadrach,Meshach and Abednego is the same God that has never for one moment ABANDONED you to go it alone.  He has never withdrew Himself from your circumstances or your situation.  He is the MIDDLE of it.  

We are NOT exempt from the hard things.  But the God who SUSTAINED Elijah in the middle of a drought by calling the ravens to bring him food is the SAME God who will KEEP you and SUSTAIN you and BRING you *THROUGH*.

And what the enemy meant to use to harm you will become a part of your testimony of a FAITHFUL and GOOD God.  THIS season will either become a memorial of His miracles (because I can assure you...miracles DO await you)  or a memorial of your mess.  


So often we want to go AROUND our circumstances or skip the process altogether.  But we miss the MIRACLES that await us when we see it through to the other side.  We miss the GRACE that's in the middle of it all.  We miss the GLORY that's revealed in us, in our circumstances and the testimonies that become the TROPHIES of His Grace when we refuse to embrace the season that we're in.  

He IS Good.  Everything He does is GOOD.  Sometimes we have to go through the Lion's Den.  Through the fiery furnace.  THROUGH the storm.  Through the drought and famine.  THROUGH the wilderness.  But if we will CHOOSE to see it......
If we CHOOSE to embrace it......
We will see His hand.  
We will Him at work in the midst of it and we can call it GOOD because He is working ALL things together only for GOOD.  





August 24, 2016

Take it BACK!

It would be far easier for me to surrender to defeat.
Surrender to "what is".
To give up hope of anything ever being different than it is in this moment HERE.  
Sometimes breaking {FREE} takes effort.  
Sometimes it's a grit-your-teeth-dig-in-your-heels-bulldog-determination refusing to allow {THIS} to be the finale.  





When the curtains close I want to be dancing.


But there are days when I don't FEEL like dancing.
Days when I don't feel like {JOY}.
Days when I can't even......


     Sometimes those days turn into weeks and weeks turn into seasons.  But if we're not careful those seasons can consume us and rob us of every GOOD thing.  Every joy.  Every blessing.  Because, sweet friend, God. doesn't. change.  

Our circumstances do.
Our EMOTIONS do.  (Heaven help us!)  They attach themselves to whatever the situation at hand calls for.  They're fickle at best never predictable.  
But GOD. NEVER. CHANGES.  He's still just as much committed to you now as He ever was.  His promises and plans for you have never changed.  

     If He hasn't changed then neither has His word for you. The freedom He has for you.  The peace He has for you.  And the JOY He has for you.  
You don't find your freedom by surrendering to your circumstances. You find your freedom in taking back whatever was taken from you.  
Have you lost your joy?!?!? Take it back!
Your peace? It belongs to you! Take it back! 

     For me? Right now? I'm taking back my health. And I'm not going to get it by sitting on my couch nursing my aches and pains. I'm going to get it back by eating right, moving and pushing myself.  Some days may be slow. Some days I may ache.  But I can't stop and won't stop.  I'm not going to get energy by waiting till I feel like it.   I'm going to keep moving, even if there are days it is a SLOW CRAWL......I am going to take. it. back.  

     I know there are seasons for Grace.  Days when you can't even.   Allow yourself that rest but know that THIS IS NOT THE FINALE.  THIS IS NOT THE END.  We are to go from faith to faith not from problem to problem. Your greatest struggles and most difficult circumstances are God's greatest opportunities!  GOD has the final say.  NOT your circumstances, not your sickness, not your grief.  TRUTH has the final say.  Heaven wins.  So  GET UP......dust yourself off and KEEP. MOVING.   One step at a time.  One day at a time.  Take back what belongs to you!  

August 22, 2016

The View From the Top

I climbed a mountain today.  Well, Kennesaw Mountain.   But it might as well have been Everest.
It wasn't pretty.
In fact, it was downright ugly.

I got a small glimpse of the view from the top about halfway up.
Every cell in my body and every fiber of my BEING was screaming "CLOSE ENOUGH! You fought a good fight.  But here is where we bow out."  
I wouldn't have been ashamed to tuck tail, turn around and gladly make my descent.  
At least I gave it a good effort.  

As people ran----no. GLIDED past me-effortlessly, LEAPING over rocks and rough terrain I felt my inhibitions and inability grow GREATER by the second.  

No.  I came to climb this mountain and that is what I will do.  I came for the view.  

I turned the corner and there it was.  The plateau of the mountain with a view for miles.  


......and.....then as I mopped myself dry I gasped for breath, completely battleworn and exhausted, eyeing those who came up behind me smiling with makeup in tact and an air of perfume in the air!??!  The perfume was CERTAINLY not coming from my direction!  (HOW they managed to get up here without breaking a sweat is beyond me.)  But for ME?  I made it.  
I did what I came here to do.  

For you more experienced exercise enthusiasts this was NOT an easy climb for me. It was HARD.  Stress and grief is unkind to a body and my body took a hard hit.  This used to be a fairly easy climb for me but today I earned the right to see that view.

As I stood there looking over the silhouette of Atlanta I remember the day I finished a hard and difficult climb. 
The day my husband passed away.
The day that I made it to the top and it crumbled beneath my feet all in the same day.  

 There were days, seasons, years where our life together was a DIFFICULT climb.  
 Messy.  Sometimes downright UGLY.  Days when I wanted to quit and everything in me was screaming, ""CLOSE ENOUGH! You fought a good fight.  But here is where we bow out."  
The hard seasons.  The days that ended with both of us in tears with no answers. 
But I was in it to finish it.  
Quitting was not an option. 
I can't say I finished well.  I can't say I didn't make mistakes.  
I can't say that I loved him well everyday of our marriage.  But when the rubber hit the road, when things got hard, we didn't quit. 
Things we were believing for.  Things we had prayed for.  Things we had fought for....started coming to pass.

Our final year was our very best year.  
I would have never known the thrill of the view had I quit halfway up the mountain.  But there I stood.  On the top of the mountain we had climbed together.
Hand in hand.


That's where TRUE LOVE happens.
In the staying.
When things get hard to keep climbing- TOGETHER.

As it crumbled all around me and I looked around at all the pieces asking God, "What now?"  
GRACE held my hand and one step at a time- SLOWLY- we started climbing again.  

That's the thing about grief.  It takes its time.

It's not in a hurry.  These last 3 years I have been COMPLETELY, THOROUGHLY and TOTALLY undone.  I've been challenged.  I've grown.  I've confronted some HARD things. Found my footing and started climbing again.
I've gained perspective.  and MOSTLY?  I've felt the nearness of my Savior more than I ever have before.  

As I make my way back down the mountain (that's the EASY part.) I hear the lyrics play from my headphones, "By your Spirit I will RISE from the ASHES of defeat."

One. Step. At. A. Time.

May 29, 2016

Facing the Hard Things

Life isn't easy.  
If you've lived any amount of time you've already discovered that.
It's messy.
It's trying.
It's uncomfortable.
It's HARD.  

Every day we are faced with tiny decisions that make up our entire day....each day laying up for us an entire lifetime.
Do I eat this ice cream?  Or do I choose vegetables or fruit?
Call in sick or go to work?
Go to bed or finish what I started?
Face new challenges or run away from them?
We want what's palatable.  We want comfortable.  We want EASY.  We want to satisfy our cravings in this moment with little to no regard for its consequences tomorrow.  


Then there are cross-roads decisions.  LIFE changing, fork-in-the-road decisions that change your course and move you in a new direction.  Sometimes those decisions are made with the purpose of undoing a bad one.  To turn around when we've gone the wrong way.  Sometimes those decisions take you in a NEW direction.  With little to no promise of its outcome.  Only FAITH and the SPIRIT to guide you.

Sometimes that direction is forced on you.  Without permission or warning.
SUDDENLY you are left with a broken heart and unanswered questions.

These last 3 years for me and my family have been LIFE changing.  LIFE altering.  
A SUDDENLY......and things were different.  A looming "what now?" as I waited for God to show me what this is all supposed to look like now that my husband was gone.
And then there were all of the decisions......  

Decisions I needed to make on behalf of myself, my children and our family.
HARD decisions.
PERSONAL decisions.  Things I needed to confront and deal with before I could move forward.  It got messy, hard and uncomfortable.  God exposed things in me that needed to be exposed before I could move forward into the NEXT thing.  Do I deal with them....knowing it would be uncomfortable, PAINFUL, messy and hard?  Or do I bury it all somehow thinking I would be better off not facing and confronting those things that would one day keep me from being WHOLE and SATISFIED.  Living in the center of peace?
I chose hard.
I confronted the hard things.
I found ONLY life and restoration on the other side.


Then there were the decisions about my children's future.  
The day I KNEW it was time for us to move.
Every decision brought us to a new place.
NOTHING familiar.
Our home.  My children's school.  Our church.
NEW beginnings.
Surrounded by unfamiliar territory. HOPE in front of us...but a nagging fear.  
"Did I do the right thing?"  "What if I missed this?"

But all I need to do is look around to know I followed HIM here.  He was already here.  He'd already prepared a place for me.  I needed to be willing to leave comfortable, safe and easy do the hard thing.

My oldest leaned over today with a contented, satisfied smile on his face and said, "Mom.  I LOVE our life."
When I was finally alone and thought about those words I found myself with tears running down my face. Only this time?  It wasn't hurt.  It wasn't grief.  It wasn't confusion.  It wasn't brokenness.  I have cried those tears.  Many times.
These tears were tears of gratitude.  An OVERWHELMING gratitude for what I've been through and where I find myself now.  
In the center of PEACE.  
I am GRATEFUL for the HARD things.  GRATEFUL for the dark places.  GRATEFUL for the storms.  In those times I only found Him nearer.  He used those places to refine me, heal me, restore me, redirect me....

Do I expect easy tomorrow?
No.
I expect it to be hard.  Messy still.  Sometimes uncomfortable.

Life WILL be hard.  It will hurt.  There will be DARK places.  Broken places.
But I've learned this.  NOTHING worth having is EASY.  Sometimes the most BEAUTIFUL things come through the HARDEST and DARKEST times.  Jesus knew that more than all of us.....but for the JOY set before Him....He ENDURED.  He suffered.  He knew that on the other side He would have done what He came for.  I am not equating my suffering with His death on the cross by any means. But if we only had a GLIMPSE of the JOY He had set before US ..... the hard times would be a little more bearable.  KNOWING that He always has our best interests at the center of His heart.  Only GOOD things.  For He's a GOOD Father and it makes the hard things worth it.  



Here's to living life to the FULL!  

No matter what it may bring!

February 12, 2016

Miracles Happen in our Simple Offerings

God can display his power in fireworks and grandeur.
.......But sometimes He uses fish and bread.
If you are waiting for just the right moment, a sacrifice big enough,  a grand opportunity or a bigger stage .... the right words or a more influential and louder prayer!. .......know this......
Sometimes miracles happen in our most simple offerings.
The boy only had some fish and bread.
God didn't need anything more.
He didn't need a lofty and wordy prayer.
He didn't need a big platform.
He didn't need a person who had it all together. 
He didn't need a crusade....nor did He need to wait for a better sacrifice.
HE TOOK WHAT WAS AVAILABLE.
He TOOK the ONE WHO WAS WILLING. 
He took the smallest offering.
.....And HE did the unexpected.
Friends....some days that's you have to give.
A tiny offering.
Some days all you can muster is a bit of strength and a small amount of WANT-TO.
Some days you start with little. 
And SOME days just as the day's begun....you wish you could start OVER. 
Those days have as MUCH potential for miracles as the BEST of days.
Those days when your kids are golden and you have it all together.  The days when your offerings are GRAND and your strength is GREAT. 
At your weakest....your WORST days.....have potential for the GREATEST of miracles.
However INSIGNIFICANT to you....GO in the strength you HAVE.
GIVE the best you DO have in this moment.
An HONEST offering. A HUMBLE offering......
And allow God to make miracles out of the smallest things.

February 4, 2016

There are no Shortcuts


     
We come to resent the process.  Longing to find a short cut.  Wanting to forgo this leg of the journey.  It's uncomfortable and HARD.  Sometimes painful and exhausting.  Grief.  Transition. Unforeseen circumstances.....everyday LIFE.  We try to navigate around what we are supposed to journey THROUGH.  
     
     These were my thoughts this morning as I tried my hardest to find a way to AVOID the car rider line at my daughter's school.  I conjured up shortcuts in my mind trying to find a way around it all.  I decided at long last.....I had to do as all the other mothers had to do.  Wait.  
 

When life gets uncomfortable the last thing we want to do is endure. We become restless and agitated and long to be ANYwhere but HERE.  WAITING.

WAITING takes courage. 




WAITING when things get uncomfortable.  WAITING when things don't turn out the way we expected them to.  WAITING when things get hard.

You may not necessarily appreciate it now but what God is doing today is preparation for tomorrow. He's always one step ahead of you. 
It's in those moments we have to remind ourselves.....

God is here too.
God is at work.
Preparing.  Reshaping.  Undoing things that needed to be undone.
Confirming things that needed to be confirmed.  Sharpening our focus and shaping our vision.  Fueling our faith and passion.  There is work to be done in the waiting. 

 

I have learned the secret to LIVING.  Really living.
CONTENTMENT.  
Finding the JOY in every moment. 
Discerning the seasons and surrendering to whatever the Lord may be doing in that moment.
There is a time to be silent and listen.
A time to speak.
A time to live and a time to die
A time to move and a time to just be still.
A time to build up and a time to tear down.
And there is a time for WAITING.
Sometimes it's uncomfortable.  Sometimes it's hard. But He is  always moving you forward into that hope and future He planned for you long ago.
Peace will come when you can surrender to {NOW} knowing that He is just as present and at work {HERE} as He is tomorrow.  
He is just as much HERE as He is THERE.  
There are no shortcuts.
You cannot navigate around those things you must go through. 
We must endure.  


But Praise GOD He stands with us and gives us strength when we become weary. 
All we need to do is look to Jesus....who endured the hardest thing and know that THIS moment though a necessary thing.....is temporary.

Hebrews 12:3 keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

     

    

January 16, 2016

Being Faithful in a Foreign Land

"Bloom where you are planted"

I'm sure we've all heard that at some point in our lives.  It's what God told the Jews in exile. Jeremiah 29 records the story of the Israelites' exile into Babylon.  I can only imagine how HELPLESS and HOPELESS they felt being somewhere they did not feel they belonged.  They weren't HOME and they certainly weren't in a place of PROMISE.  

But this is what God said to them to ESTABLISH THEMSELVES THERE:  “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. INCREASE in number there....do not DECREASE."  If THAT wasn't enough----they were to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which they were carried into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers...you too will prosper.”  ...... they certainly didn't BELONG there.  Nor did they want to BE there.  THIS was not their home. But God gave them specific instructions.  WHILE you're in *THIS PLACE*.....flourish.  Be productive.  Be diligent.  Keep moving.  Life hasn't stopped.  My blessings haven't ceased.  This isn't permanent.  But while you're here?  You will PROSPER.  Don't quit.  BE....*FULLY*....HERE.  And I will bless you.  They weren't meant to just SURVIVE in this place. The welfare of the place they found themselves (Babylon) was dependent upon their attitude and willingness to DO what was in front of them to do while they were there.  *AND* it didn't come without promise......He says to them: "......then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land."  It wasn't a permanent resting place.  That season wasn't meant to last.  There was a HOPE to look forward to.  A destiny ahead for them.....but they needed to be FULLY present in the place they found themselves and continue to work and be obedient to what God gave them to do.  *HE* would see to it....*HE* would bring them into the place of PROMISE.  Their only requirement was to obey.  I love this quote by Chuck Swindoll:

"Endurance is not jaw-clenched resignation, nor is it passive acquiescence. It's a long obedience in the same direction. It's staying on the path of obedience despite counter-indications. It's a dogged determination to pursue holiness when the conditions of holiness are not favorable. It's a choice in the midst of our suffering to do what God has asked us to do, whatever it is, and for as long as He asks us to do it. " 


Every step you take to get to your Promised Land is a place of Promise.
Keep that in mind you won't miss a THING he has stored up for YOU.

You may find yourself in an undesirable place....and it's not what you expected or what you were promised.  This too shall pass.  While you're in this season allow the Lord to cause you to flourish and bless you and cause you to walk in His favor....yes.....even in THIS place.  Because even in THIS your testimony will be evidence that God is WHO He says He is.  He will continue to perform His word on YOUR behalf and bring LIFE and prosperity even in *THIS* place you find yourself.  You're not here to merely SURVIVE.  Be a GAME changer. He's still at work.  He's still moving. Being patient in waiting doesn't mean that you quit until conditions are in your favor.  You keep at it.  You keep pressing forward.  And hold on to hope.  An unshakable, unwavering, tenacious HOPE....that God will bring you into EVERY GOOD THING He's destined for YOU.