Seeking Joy Through the Fog

This season is teaching me a lot about what it means to trust God’s kindness and choosing to be still (yes, again).

A lot of it has to do with my long-neglected habit of stopping to count the gifts in my life, rather than spending my time entertaining the lies and fearful thoughts that cloud my mind.

You see, if I don’t sit still for a moment, things stay foggy.

Have you ever dealt with something for a long period of time and, instead of using your energy to keep fighting it off, you just subconsciously decide to welcome it as a part of you? Almost as an annoying friend you have to take with you everywhere?

That’s me and anxiety.

There are some days where I’m feeling ultra-victorious, when I’ve been encouraged and reminded of the victory I ultimately have in Jesus. And man oh man, on those days am I ever. But then there are other days when it just feels like too much. I feel I don’t have time or energy to fight. I’m tired – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and I just want to give up.

Do you ever feel like that? Like the fog just follows you?

Like fog tends to do, it makes your vision a bit hazy. When I welcome anxiety as a companion instead of seeing it as an enemy, I can’t see well at all. My circumstances look different and my motivations are off, which then leads me to see God through the lens of my circumstances and not through His promises.

Through the lens of the circumstances of my mental health, I see God as unfair. It feels He’s forgotten me, that my prayers are not heard, that He doesn’t want healing for my life. What a hopeless and lifeless place to be.

In His word, though, and through the little graces in my life – if I’ll only stop and ponder them – I’ll see that none of that is true. It’s where working on my faith comes in, where I have a choice to stop and remember.

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I have a sweet baby girl turning twirls in my tummy, who could make her debut any day now. What a gift, what an unfathomable grace to be her mama.

God promises me that He hears my prayers, and will deliver me from all my troubles (Psalm 34:17, 107:13).

My husband is the sweetest gift from God. He is calm when I tremble, sane when my hormones are everywhere, and patient when I am frustrated with lack of control. He fights for me daily and intentionally speaks words of life over my fears and insecurities. What a blessed gift to celebrate.

God promises me that His kindness and His peace will never leave me (Isaiah 54:10).

God has given me a reason for my pain, an outlet to use my brokenness for good. He’s set His vision for a ministry in my heart, and given me a team of women to lock arms with to share His freedom and peace with others. What an incredible opportunity, what a purpose-filled calling.

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Maybe today you find yourself in a tough situation. Maybe you’re struggling with something in your life, and nobody even knows. Maybe there’s a sorrow – a hollow pain – in your heart that longs to be filled with joy.

Can I speak something over you, my friend? You don’t have to stay there, in that dark place. You have the choice to find joy in the promises and presence of God.

You see, God never leaves His children. The realities of His kindness and His mercies may be fogged by our circumstances, but His light and His freedom are always there behind the haze – we just have to choose to find it.

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Part of being still is choosing to stop fighting and letting Him fight for us. Instead of giving up and giving into the struggles in our lives, we settle in and welcome His truths as holy weapons for our battles.

Let’s search for joy today – in His word and in the little gifts in our lives. Let’s take time to stop, breathe, and choose to believe in His promises, to let Him stir up the hope and peace in our hearts that we so long for.

small, but big

Today for lunch, I went to one of my favorite spots. I got cozy in my booth and enjoyed a much-needed hearty meal for the first time in months (thank you to my appetite, who decided to make its grand return this week).

As I waited on my food, I heard buzz all around me, coming from business meetings, mom-to-mom lunch dates, and other chatters. Slowly but surely, I began to feel lonely.

It occurred to me, however, while I sat with my hand propped on my hungry tummy, that I wasn’t alone at all. There’s a little life inside of me.

That’s a small, but big thing to process. Kind of like the idea of having a baby in general.

My baby is small (the app on my phone says he or she is the size of a plum – how cute!), but so, so very big. Big enough to change my focus, how Tyler and I use our money, and the way I function (hello, hormones and dizziness). Big enough to give my body a second heart beat, and to make me feel as if my own heart could burst with joy, excitement, or fear at any given moment.

With great purpose set by God, this little life lives inside me, small but big.

And the more I think about it, my life should be that – small, but big. 

There are times when I should stay small. Under the shelter and in the safety of my Father’s wings, in the humility of my need for grace, in the quietness of His presence.

Other times, I need to be bigger. In loving people out of my comfort zone, dreaming God-sized dreams, having faith that moves mountains, and answering calls on my life that are so much bigger than me and my ability.

Small, like that little whisper you hear when Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. Big, like the amazing and perfect love our Father lavishes on us. Small, like the baby boy who entered this world with great purpose. Big, like the most captivating and sacrificial “I love you” that anyone could ever say.

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my struggle is not against the bugs

The past few weeks have been . . . (what word do I even use?) . . . a bit chaotic in the Funderburg household.

On Friday, November 18th, my husband and I were surprised to discover that we are expecting! That’s right, I’m growing a human.

There's a little one a'brewin'. #merrychristmas #babyFun #July2017 #Funderbrew

A post shared by Taylor Funderburg 🌿 (@tayfunderburg) on

 

On Saturday, December 3rd, we decided to go look at some car options since my beloved Cobalt blows across the road with a gust of wind and has a too-tiny-to-fit-a-carseat backseat. So, we settled on a 2013 Chevy Equinox from a reputable dealership in town. We loved the size and the color and the features and all was well. Until the days following, when we discovered a horrifying problem and I seriously had a conversation with myself about whether or not it was plagued (hint: post title. I know – ew!).

Beyond that, we’ve had some (minor) health scares and our heat go out (twice), along with my fun nausea and feeling of being gross and useless because of how tired I am.

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Without an eternal perspective (and trust me, that outlook is my initial reaction with things like this), it’s easy to get emotional (hello, hormones) and just downright frustrated pretty quickly.

But with an eternal perspective, it’s easy to see that the enemy is trying everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. Here we are, starting out the holiday season excited about a precious baby on the way, and in he steps with all-the-things. Jokes on him, because I’m onto his scheme.

I wonder what he’s trying with you right now? I wonder what nuisance, what fear, what doubt, what situation he’s pouring into your life to make you forget the goodness of God?

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See, my battle isn’t against the car or the heater, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”

Let’s choose to fight, my friend. And by fight, I mean stand still and let our God war for us the battle He’s already won.

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

I pray this over you, over us, and hope that you will grab onto the promises of God today and trust in His victory:

Father,

A whirl of frustration swirls around me as hard situations come and thoughts of doubt creep in. Today, I’m choosing to declare that in Your name, I have victory over the enemy and his schemes.

In Jesus’ name, I am blessed when I go in and when I go out. I am the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. In Jesus’ name, darkness, you have no power here. Sickness, you have no power here. Chaos, you have no power here! I declare that my God will trample my enemies under His feet, and will lift me up, blessing me with good things. I am His child, I am blessed, and no harm may come to me in the name of Jesus! My God will fight for me, I need only be still. At the sound of Jesus’ name, all darkness must flee, and all joy, hope, and peace reside. Thank you, Jesus, for Your sweet name, and for fighting for me.

In Your name I pray, Amen!

wrist words :: abide

Things I’ve been reminded of since summer started:

1. Blueberry coffee is the best thing.

2. Quiet time is inevitably harder to manage and routinely practice when you live with 4 people who search for you every hour (a blessing and a curse).

3. Boys are very strange.

4. The devil’s lies don’t back down. Like ever. Especially when I take baby steps toward God’s calling.

5. My home church family is special.

6. I love being alone for long amounts of time… My new upstairs “apartment” has helped with that. 

7. Letting too much social media and media in general into this heart and head of mine isn’t good news.

8. I need Jesus. And then more and more.

9. A two hour Skype call with a friend can go a long way.

10. Being home calls for a whole different level of self-discipline when it comes to keeping my heart and mind focused on Jesus — when it comes to abiding. IMG_2613 Abide. Sometimes when I want to remember something or deem it important to keep in the forefront of my mind, I find a pen and ink it on my wrist. This word came about as I was scrolling through social media and landed on this verse:

“Abide in me, and I in you.” – John 15:4

I began to ask myself if I’ve been abiding this summer. Have I been really seeking Him? And what does it really mean to abide anyway?

Dictionary.com says abide means to remain, to continue, to stay, to wait for.

There are some things going on in my life this summer that came out of nowhere and that I definitely didn’t expect. They’re good things, but sometimes they can be distracting as anything can. This is why I need this reminder right in front of my face.

Because when summer comes to an end, I want to be able to look back and see that my time wasn’t wasted no matter the outcome of the little journeys. I want to be able to go back to school closer to Jesus than I was before.

For today, abiding looks like being still after a long weekend and thanking Him for the little things. It looks like soaking in the Word as truth. It looks like fellowshipping for a couple hours over video chat with a dear sister in Christ and listening and learning from her strength and wisdom. It looks like remembering I’m along for His ride and that when conversations are hard, He’s fighting for me. It looks like finding joy in Him in a good cup of coffee and taking the time to sit on my front porch and enjoy the sunshine He’s given us today.

What does abiding look like for you this summer?

Feel free to share in the comments what may help you to remember to wait on the Lord and to seek His face each day.

resurrect

It’s Saturday. Tomorrow is Easter and my arms are already covered in chill bumps just thinking about what tomorrow means. Life. Freedom. Love. Sacrifice. Redemption. Resurrection.

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I woke up this morning with the need to write it out. I process and receive things a lot better when I do that. I got out my ink and my pen and as I slid the liquid red across the paper, I sang aloud,
“oh the blood of Jesus washes me
oh the blood of Jesus shed for me
what a sacrifice that saved my life
oh the blood, it is my victory.”
I sat alone on my floor there for a while soaking in what it must have meant. In my mind I saw Jesus- full of love in His eyes, looking at me with grace.

My mind the past few weeks has been so focused on the love God has for other people that somewhere in the midst of things I forgot the importance of remembering His love for me. I can’t even count on my hands how many times I’ve thought, “I wish they would just feel His love and understand.”

The guy in my life who needs Jesus so badly. The sweet girl who is in such need of a Savior.

I want them to feel Him, you know? Feel Him like I’ve felt Him. I want so bad for them to know Him and have relationship with Him because it’s definitely and undeniably the most wonderful thing.

But somewhere in the middle of thinking those thoughts, I’ve neglected to take time to reflect and to receive God’s love for me. I’ve been lost in my own mind and it’s brought on so much stress and worry. But today He’s finding me again. He’s bringing me back to Himself and today I choose to enjoy Easter for what it is and what it will be.

Pastor Chris Hodges made a great point yesterday when he said that Easter isn’t just a resurrection for Jesus, but also a resurrection for us.

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This Easter, I celebrate the resurrection I’ve already experienced in myself – when my Jesus brought me from death to life. I also choose to celebrate the resurrections in so many people that will take place this weekend, as we focus on the greatest Story of all time and the lives of people are transformed and refocused.

I also choose to hope in a resurrection for my friends and worship the Lord for being who He is in my life and theirs.

I choose to focus on the love in His eyes and not to drown in the worry of the “what-ifs”. I choose to hope in Him because He is alive.