Season of Pressure

Has anyone else felt the pressure of life lately?

Even putting aside politics, there have been so many people in my life going through personal seasons of transition. I look around and see so many people feeling stuck or in spaces of waiting.

The weight of these things and the pressure of not having answers can leave us feeling frustrated. We can feel stuck or defeated when situations are not looking like we thought they would. Our circumstances can feel like they confirm that our efforts have been for nothing. A lack of control can lead us back into old chains of shame, regret, and doubt that we are on the right path.

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Paul was someone who found himself in many spaces of little control and lots of waiting. As I was reading more about Paul two verses kept sticking out to me. In Philippians 2:17 we can find Paul comparing himself and his ministry to a drink offering and sacrifice. In 2 Timothy 4:6, he refers to himself once again as a drink offering. Seeing this a second time got me curious. Why would Paul compare himself to an old testament offering of wine?

Numbers 15:7 talks about how a drink offering is a pleasing aroma for the Lord. In Numbers 15 we find out that with each blood offering that a libation (a drink offered to a deity) was also required. God’s people used their best wines to please the Lord while they used blood sacrifices to repent for their sins. The Israelites were called to do this because in the chapter before (Numbers Chapter 14) Israel rebelled at Kadesh Barnea, by impulsively doing what they thought was right and attacking the Amalekites. When the Israelites made it their mission to do what they saw was right instead of following God’s path, God punished his people by leaving them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. God specified that the drink offering was not to be used until they had reached the promised land. For 40 years the Lord has his people wander in the desert where they continually had to relearn the lesson that only God is in control. When we do not follow his lead we are opening a door that stalls us from receiving what good things God has planned for us. Similar to how wine is made, there is a process of waiting before the harvest. During this type of growing season, there is a lot of pruning. God used the desert as a way to expose the vulnerabilities of his people and to prune out their idols, weaknesses, and distrust of God.

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Have you been feeling burnt out? Do you have things happening that no matter what you do just feel like everything is out of control? God may be using your emotional frustration and lack of resources to show you that it is time to turn back to the Lord. You are operating from a dry dead space. Similar to a desert the Israelites were wandering this is because you have been relying on your own strength and not on God. God has so many good things for you and his love will do whatever it takes to draw you back in.

God does not want to keep you in this desert.

We get so caught up in the whirlwind of life that we often forget we are a part of a much larger love story. Everything that happens is a deeper call from the Lord leading you to intimacy with only him. There is no condemnation or shame in this stage. We all have lost focus and found ourselves wandering down paths that lead us further from God. We are human and humility does not come naturally. If you give back your need for control to God, he will finally be able to prune out the relationships, circumstances, and generational chains that need to be pruned for true fruit to grow.

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Some of you may be wondering how does this apply to Paul and the seasons of waiting and sacrifice he had to walk through? By the time Paul had started his ministry, Jesus had already died as the physical sacrifice for all of our sin. At the Passover Jesus even referred to his cup of wine as the blood that was going to be shed. So why would Paul refer to himself as a drink sacrifice and what does wine have to do with you? When Paul referred to himself as a drink sacrifice he was implying that the crushing pressure that he had endured while following God’s call on his life was a sweet aroma to the Lord. All that the Lord allowed for Paul to walk through was meant for a greater purpose. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are becoming new.”

Some of you are in similar spaces as Paul. You have been obedient and your heart is for the Lord. You have taken ahold of the new person you are in Christ but feel stuck by the old sin or circumstances that hold you back. Some of you have found yourself blindsided by question marks and further uncertainty. You might be wondering if you got freedom in Christ then why do you still feel like you are waiting for more? I would like to encourage you as well. The physical sacrifice has been made and Christ paid the price. The step that comes next is sanctification. Your complete dependence on the spirit is the wine offering, the pleasant aroma to God. Yes, you are free from the law in Christ but through faith you are now bound to the spirit to start your path of becoming fully like Christ. Just as they take the grapes off the vine and they go through further crushing and molding – through sanctification you will become the person God created you to be. This can be exhausting as well, but I encourage you to remember that the pressure you feel in this stage of faith is the act of two becoming one. You are the Bride and this process or pressure is prepping you for the day of the Lord.

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No matter what season of life you are in, I want you to know that your frustrations are valid. Living under pressure was not what we were ever meant to do alone and it can be exhausting. I want you to know that you’re not in the wrong place, but just like Esther God has placed you exactly where you are “for such a time as this”. Do not push away or ignore the feelings of frustration or confusion but let them serve as reminders of our continual need for the Holy Spirit. You already have the victory in Christ, let him work out the details.

If God has led to the awareness that you are in a desert of burnout it’s time to let the Joy of the Lord become your strength. Ask for the spirit to guide you closer to him and reignite the love you have lost. If you are finding yourself waiting in a season of transition use this extra time the Lord has given you to rest in him and build your faith. Prayer and getting into the word can turn into a to-do list in the busyness of life. Remember that your relationship with God is the only thing that truly matters and prioritize it as so.

We must let the Spirit transform our hearts into a state of gratefulness for this process of pressure that leads us to sanctification. We read in the Bible that the Israelites and Paul had so many moments where their circumstances felt impossible and they had little control. Looking back we can see how God’s used their seasons of transition and waiting to gain them more fully. Their testimonies are now a sacred tool that believers use to persevere. Just as God never left them, always provided, and did what was good for his people – he is doing the same for you!

I want to encourage you that the pressure you feel is growing pains and not red flags! The Lord wants to deepen your relationship and your dependence on him. As Americans and Adults, the need to be codependent on someone else feels foreign and uncomfortable. Forsaking Independace and embracing humility is hard work. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

In our humanity, we have little awareness of the extent to which our actions impact things because what we see is not always what is at stake. This is why it is important to acknowledge that you cannot make decisions without talking to God about it directly.

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WEEKLY CHALLENGE

I challenge you to give yourself a physical piece of encouragement in this season of pressure. As mentioned earlier our current circumstances can distract us from remembering our true purpose – which is to become like Christ. When you start to see your current circumstance as an opportunity to fall more deeply in love with God you have surpassed the milk of spirituality and have learned to chew the meat.

Get a sticky note, a note card, or set a reminder in your phone that has 2 Corinthians 5:5-7 noted,

“He has prepared us for this very thing God, who has given us the spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. For we walk in faith not sight.”

Sometimes I like to create my own backgrounds for my phone screen so I see the verse each time I check my phone. Every time you see this note or the reminder pop up take the time and turn to God. Let it remind you to be continually in a state of conversation with the holy spirit.

When you gave your life to Christ you made a lifelong commitment to sacrifice yourself to gain more of Christ. Every day you have a choice to offer up a drink offering of your obedience to the Lord or take your own path in a desert of your own making. No matter what you are walking through or the pressure you are feeling, the Lord will continue to fight for you.

God loves you, delights in you, and is waiting for you to turn towards him.

Your peculiar friend,

Karlee Vazquez

Featured post

Consistently Loved

Last year I struggled reading daily devotional books or reading the bible. I was trying so hard to make it a priority. The ups and downs of making the time and reading the content usually just left me feeling discouraged. I have never been a disciplined person. I do things when I feel inspired and I walk away when I am not. I used to feel so much shame and guilt each time I didn’t finish a devotional book or each morning I had trouble prioritizing it. I am so thankful the Lord showed me something this past year that has changed my view on devotions and most importantly taught me to love the inconsistent part of myself. I was so focused on changing my behaviors and routines yet there would always be this point where the uncomfortable and mundane part of consistency would creep in and my flight mode would be activated. I knew that God was real and I wanted to live a life that reflected him yet I was ashamed and embarrassed that I couldn’t consistently put aside the time to do devotions. Through therapy, sermons, friends, and my husband I realized that I was so focused on myself being consistent I had lost focus on what devotions were about. By focusing on changing my habits and reactions to things I had been putting the need to change on myself and not trusting God to do it. I was trying to kill a weed but was avoiding the root.

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I was operating out of an old survival skill that I could not trust the authority in my life. Anyone who knows me can tell you that most of my life I did not trust or have any respect for authority. Through abuse, my brain had learned early on that adults just wanted to hurt me. My childhood brain coped with the trauma I had been through by coming to the conclusion that I only had myself to rely on. By the time I was six years old I had experienced sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. I had lived in 5 different homes and had 4 different father figures. I watched my mother die and lived at my grandmother’s until I was placed with an aunt and uncle that were not the aunt and uncle I was told were my new parents. There were so many situations where I learned that adults could not be trusted and that I had no control over myself or my body.

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Through it all my desire of being a chronic people pleaser was suddenly fighting the part of me that did not trust any authority figure. It was an exhausting battle between wanting to please my parents and wanting to take care of myself. I was constantly labeled the bad kid. The overdramatic girl. The attention seeker. Being shamed and labeled those things as a child further proved to me that adults were not capable of being there for me or knowing my needs. I was punished for my bad behavior when in reality I was a child who was fighting for what I believed was important. My unmet needs as a child did not just stop as I got older they started to affect my life in larger and more significant ways.

A lot of people in my family were processing their own grief and it felt like I had zero room to adjust. In my new home Spanking was used to discipline and it just further perpetuated that if an adult was mad they had access to hurt my body. I had no control over what things I could keep or watch in my new home. Pokemon, Barbies, my Mom’s grateful dead music teddy bear were all considered “bad”. I was alienated from the things that brought me comfort through the abuse. These types of situations used to bring me to places of such anger and bitterness because they were things that further traumatized me and proved the narrative that those in authority wanted to hurt me. As I have been working through the way my abuse and adoption shaped my survival responses, I have realized I was using the authority in my life to dictate how I saw the authority of God. After years of fighting God’s authority, I finally accepted his forgiveness and was able to forgive myself and others. To survive the first five years of my life I couldn’t trust adults and the last 27 years I have acted and reacted in ways because of that.

I had to forgive the men who abused me and my mom who was too depressed to notice what was going on. I remember being too short to reach the counter trying to reach the cereal box so I could eat. I remember being left for hours in a dark room not able to reach a doorknob. I remember walking over to my adopted parent’s room in the middle of the night because my body was giving me physical longings that were not supposed to be awoken in any child’s mind. I had to forgive my adopted parents for not knowing that they were hurting me. I do not have anger towards my adopted parents because they were doing their best to navigate everything a child is fighting when coming from an abusive background. Looking back I can finally start to see the good memories and things they have done to make me feel safe and loved. If they would not have taken me in I would not have the biblical foundation I have now. I would not have my siblings that feel like an extension of my heart. I would not have had the spiritual mentors that I have gained in my adopted dad’s mother and through my childhood church. God has been showing me that if I give the same grace to those around me that he gives me, that my understanding surpasses my judgment. I find myself reacting with compassion instead of reacting with bitterness the closer I get to God. I have a CPTSD diagnosis that trained my brain to see red flags, but because of Christ I can look back and find the green ones. It may not have been perfect but there was so many times I did feel loved and safe and I am so grateful for it.

Some people wonder why I keep bringing up the past. I speak about it because I no longer need to avoid it, hide it, or feel shame from it. I have always felt called to share my story and bring comfort to those around me who feel they have no voice. I will continue to write about the abuse and my adoption as long as God asks me to. It is uncomfortable and the overthinking people pleaser in me gets anxious. I am thankful that God’s mercy is new every morning and he takes my anxiety to replace it with joy.

His plan for me was never for me to be abused. His plan for me was not to lose my parents. His plan for any of us was never darkness, sin or death. Do not feel shame for your past or the areas of your life you are not succeeding in. Even Jesus got angry, took breaks, and cried while here on earth. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us of the attack the devil has going on here on earth. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour”. Even though we are born in sin and the devil is doing everything he can to keep us in shame and chains, we do not have to be afraid! The Holy Spirit holds us, even in spaces where we are abused. The Holy Spirit is guiding us in places where our hearts are overwhelmed and experiencing the lack we experience here in the world. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid” You can be confident when you approach your time with God. Not because you are consistent, or your life is good, or because you are put together but because he is good and loves you exactly where you are. He doesn’t need to look at your to-do list, your degree, your home, or your brand-name outfit to know that you are worthy of his love.

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If God can take someone like me who has struggled for 26 years to trust authority and turn my heart to a place that longs for his authority and direction – I promise you that he can do the same for you. Even if you haven’t experienced abuse, we all have experienced people and circumstances that we felt have failed us, or that we have failed. Instead of striving and setting new goals to change yourself, let God show you the root of your struggle and let him love you anyway. Just like a child, only from a space of feeling loved can you be free to live without fear. If you are struggling with devotions, going to church, or forgiving others the problem it is not your actions and God is not waiting up there to punish you. He longs to get to the root of your heart and face the deep together as you gain more of him and he gains more of you.

I love you all so much and I know that no matter what you are struggling with – God will use it to love on you and reveal himself to you in an even deeper way.

Your Peculiar Friend,

Karlee Vazquez

Action over Apathy

This morning I was cooking breakfast and decided to listen to Francis Chan’s Podcast “Courage”. I saw the title and knew that it was something I was desiring in my own life. As I listened to the podcast I was not overwhelmed by this courageous inner warrior in myself clawing its way out, but I was immediately convicted. He talked about how desensitized the church has become to those hurting around us. If it is too much of an inconvenience to our time, our finances, or our comfort zone we shrug it off. I realized I was spending so much time trying to build my life to my own expectations that I lost what I have been called to be as a believer. Francis Chan mentioned that there are children being sold into sex slavery and being raped – right now as we go about our day. There are children being transferred to a new foster care home because the adults have decided they do not have what it takes to love them. There are people walking in front of us and in our familiy every day bound in the chains of death. Yet we do nothing about it. If these things do not stir a call to rise up in you, I can tell you the devil has been using the apathy in your church and social circle to harden your heart. I was convicted by this but I still felt an immense pressure to just turn off the podcast, clean the kitchen, eat breakfast with Tavon and go on my way. It would have been easier to put it away for later but I knew God was calling me to dive deeper. I had to force myself to stand still and ask the Holy spirit why I had become apathetic when it came to people around me.

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I could blame my Major Depression Disorder or CPTSD. I could blame the timing, that my mom passed away in January and so much has come up for me emotionally. I could tell you that the way I was raised taught me that how you appear to others is more important than your daily actions. I could blame social media and how the constant reminders of what we cannot control never stop.

These are all valid reasons AND as a believer, I am called to so much more than I am currently doing. I will be honest, I am already struggling and if I tried to put anything else on my plate I would be headed towards some serious burnout.

So how can I be who God called me to be and not reach burnout? It is all rooted in where I am placing my identity. Our identity is supposed to be rooted in Christ. God tells us who he is – “I am”. He is the strength to keep going. He is the love you need to serve your spouse and children after a long day of work. He is the joy you need when things are more confusing than you expected. He is the peace when the world feels to be spinner faster towards darkness. How do we become more like God and God’s perfect love? Submitting to him and resting in him is the only way we can gain these things.

The Bible shows us all of this. After creation humans chose sin over God. The Bible starts out by showing us the law and the fall for a reason. All of the dos and do nots point to an extreme lack that we all have in ourselves. This part of the Bible is not meant to shame you but presents us with humble reminders and deep convictions. These show us that without God, you are limited to the pain and the sin we are all born into.

You can do your best to have integrity at work, you can volunteer at church, adopt a child, go on a missions trip or get to know your spouse’s love language – but the truth is without having a daily relationship with the Holy Spirit – everything you are trying to amounts to nothing. Sure, it may bring temporary answers, temporary satisfaction, or worldly recognition. Without being sanctified daily in his love you are making the choice to put your own knowledge above God’s wisdom. The direction you are choosing is to remain in the bondage of sin and death. When we get saved we are choosing to know God and his love. When we get baptized we are choosing to make a lifetime commitment to getting to know God. A lot of us stop letting God lead us after those steps. Our actions have changed slightly and we are semi-regulars in the church pew, but we forget that our true calling as a believer is the act of gaining God’s characteristics every day.

There is a reason that no one wants to go to church and that church hurt is such a big topic these days. This generation is not “just complaining” but merely pointing out the lack they see. The religious and legalistic way that most of us have been raised in has taught us to look for all the bad and all the wrong things in ourselves and others. This generation is pointing out the apathy and hypocrisy that has become the western church. The church no longer sees the individual people as God sees them. We view humans as projects and start to do things as though we are the savior because we know what is best. As believers, we have gotten to this place where we feel that we have to be assertive in being right and keeping the law. Holding people to the law when God saved us despite the law is hypocrisy. We are only forgiven because of Jesus, not because of how well we do the right thing. Our words and actions are shouting to people if they just work harder and do more they can obtain the righteousness we use to turn our noses up at them. We have forgotten the basics – we are nothing without God’s love. Jesus came just as much for you as the person or lifestyle you are disgusted by. Christians are so set on changing the world around them that the church has forgotten that the point of walking with Christ is that he changes us individually. We get so comfortable with just being saved and showing off our clean slate that we forget that pursuing God and God’s path for us intentionally every day is what should be writing the new story.

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Hallelujah that the bible does not end with the law! Thank God we are not limited by our own apathy and hardened hearts towards other people and even ourselves. We might find ourselves convicted by biblical law but we are not kept there! Our flesh tells us that our conviction is a reason to keep striving…BUT GOD!

He sent his son, Jesus, who was the only one capable of fulfilling the law. Jesus sacrificed his life so that you could gain second chances, grace, and love through the holy spirit. Once you accept Christ into your heart you are immediately recognized as one of God’s children. He does NOT require an immediate transformation. God simply asks that you pursue a relationship with him. Stop striving – even faith is not something you can gain yourself! It is only because of his mercy that God gifts us with our faith. As we humble ourselves before him he shows us how to give grace to ourselves and those around us in the same perfect way that he does for us. The law showed us our lack of God. Jesus paid the price for what we lack. The holy spirit is here with us every day to guide us through the deep daily process where the old us is slowly healed and stripped away and replaced with perfect love, peace, and joy. We are not bound to the chains of death because of Christ and there are still a whole lot of consequences, emotions, and habits we still need God to walk us through.

If you are comfortable with where you are at in your spiritual journey, you are apathetic to God’s voice in your life. It seems like a strong statement but it’s biblical. You cannot be close to God and still be trying to do everything yourself. We are limited to our flesh! The only way to truly love yourself and love those around you is to turn to God every step of the way.

Accept it, feel it, revel in it, and let the fear of trusting something perfectly good remind you that you are called to live a life outside your comfort zone.

Our brains can be filled with tons of knowledge but only God can give you wisdom. Do not let your heart be hardened or apathetic to the fact that you are nothing apart from God.

God loves and sees you exactly as you are – and he still pursues you EVERY DAY! He created us to be free from the sin that limits us and provided us a way out even though we continually seek our own comfort above Christ. YOU are the one coin, the one sheep, and the prodigal son that he will never stop calling back to him.

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How do we remove apathy from the church and ourselves? How can we love those that continually are pushing our buttons and highlighting our incapability to love them? Girl, there is nothing you can do! Any attempt you make to fix your own life is a bandaid on a bullet hole. The only requirement is to be still. Church burnout and Church hurt happen because people are tired of hearing people preach about a sanctified life without seeing the fruit of it. There is so much bad fruit being shown right now, not because it is new or because things are getting worse. But because God is using this generation to expose the ways apathy, sin, and pride have wrongly built the foundation of the western church. They see the church and they see a bunch of people afraid to leave the pew and fighting to be seen as “in the right”. The church should be a place where people are leaving the pew to tell people about the God who loved them when they did not deserve it. Loving others by abandoning yourself in Gods presence is the only way to truly point people to Christ.

Being still and letting God do the work is not an American or independent concept. It is one of the hardest things to do and yet that is what we are called to. We are called to be completely dependant on him. In those small moments between a thought and an action, God is there ready to connect with you. Call out to him and tell him you want to be loved and know love. Tell him you want to know his voice and feel his presence. He promises when you knock he will answer. It might not look and feel like we expect it to, but as your relationship with the Holy Spirit deepens you will start to crave God as much as he craves you. It will not be immediate and it may not even feel comfortable at first, but I promise you the joy, peace, and love you gain because of Christ is worth it.

I love you my Peculiar Friends

Karlee Vazquez

Do you Mind?

Last week I wrote my testimony related to mental illness and what my struggles and symptoms looked like because of it. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that is constantly pulling me back to moments, emotions, and circumstances in a way that has me constantly reliving my past. One thing that has helped me since the beginning of recovery is practicing mindfulness. In each moment of every day, there is so much for us to be mindful of. In society, we have so many things distracting us and pulling us in multiple directions we forget to be mindful in the present moment. If you are like me and constantly coming up with to-do lists and thinking of what we need to be doing next, we can miss a lot of moments that make life meaningful. The Oxford dictionary for mindfulness is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy Mindfulness is defined as “an awareness of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and behavioral urges”. Mixing these two definitions results in mindfulness as being conscious and aware of our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and urges. While this seems simple, if we are not regularly checking in with ourselves throughout the day we may find mindfulness harder than we think.

Mindfulness has helped me grow in every area of my life but spiritually it has helped me the most. In the beginning of my relationship with the Holy Spirit, I struggled with knowing when God was speaking to me and when I was just projecting out what I wanted to hear. While God is omnipresent, or always present, my favorite space with the spirit is in times of musical worship. I am an empathetic enneagram four so I feel what other people around me are feeling and sometimes it is hard to tell what is my anxiety and what is just the anxiousness of other people. Whether I am alone or I am in a group of people worshiping I love expressing my love to God through song. When I stop thinking about whats going on in my life and start remembering what I have to be thankful for I am able to receive peace, stillness, and contentment. All distractions are lost for me in the music and in God’s presence. The more I spend time with the Holy Spirit the clearer her voice became in my life. The more time we put away distractions and focus on being mindful with ourselves, with God, and with our other relationships we will find our relationships naturally growing. Intimacy, vulnerability, and mindfulness are sacred and holy ways that build connection.

It is hard to explain a transcendental peace and contentment that come from worshiping God. The best way for me to explain it is my favorite moments from when my husband and I got married. Elopement was perfect for us because it was just us. We hired a minister who met up with us and our vows were so deep and personal, we even made the minister cry. And while I did love celebrating with those I loved a year after, my favorite moment in our wedding was a simple moment between Tavon and I. When I was walking down the aisle I felt no anxiousness of people looking at me, I no longer felt my dad’s arm interlocking with mine or had any awareness of what the church even looked like! I saw Tavon, our eyes locked and I just wanted to be with him on the stage and have him holding my hands. I felt beautiful, loved, safe, and overly peaceful. That special intimate connection that brings the world to a stop is something I feel between God and I every time I worship and turn my thoughts towards the Spirit. God created us in the image of the trinity and believers in the bible are mentioned as the bride of Christ multiple times for this reason. Being a believer is about being mindful of the Spirit communicating what next step God has planned out for us. It is about us becoming one with perfect love and light and learning to being mindful about how we reflect our relationship with God while on earth. Marriage is about two people becoming one operating unit and always being mindful how we can grow and love on each other. Mindfulness is the key to both relationships growing, connecting, and learning, and communicating together in the way God has intended them to work.

Practical ways that I cultivate mindfulness during worship for me looks like closing my eyes, taking off my shoes while grounding my feet on the floor, and putting my hands in an open palm position. They may sound and even look silly to some people but these simple things help me to be more mindful in the moment. Some people can get annoyed with the repetitive wording or chords in Christian music, but for me it is like a comfortable meditation sound where the only thing on my mind is showing love to God. By doing those things my mind, heart, and soul are open and ready to receive and hear from the spirit. As I make myself vulnerable and focused on thanking the Holy Spirit for who she is in my life, I find clear direction and contentment being spoken back to me in what I can only compare to a warm embrace of my best friend or my husband. The type of hug that feels natural and helps you reset in moments of uncertainty. The act of musical worship is how I thank God for our relationship and shower the trinity with words of affirmation. Sometimes during the week when I feel overwhelmed or I feel like things are not going my way, I know that if I put on some music and spend time with the spirit it always results in contentment and peace I may have felt disconnected from a moment ago. When I am watching kiddos or have my siblings over and I have a moment where I start to feel agitated or upset, I will always tell them I need time with Jesus and I proceed to turn my music up and recenter myself back to love. My husband is the opposite of me in many ways and the way we worship is one of them. While I like to show my thankfulness by raising my hands and lifting my voice, he prefers to worship and be mindful of God in a different way of stillness. Sometimes he will sing, but he mostly likes to focus on the words we are singing and assessing how he connects his relationship to God with each one. While his mindfulness and meditation with God look the opposite of mine, it does not make it any less meaningful or intimate. Each of us gives love and receives love in different ways because we all reflect God differently. Mindfulness, prayer, meditation, and worship will not look the same for you as you it does for me. The most important thing is your intention in each moment. Are you singing at home or church while doing something else or thinking about what’s next in the day? Or are you making sure to listen, appreciate, and take advantage of the moment? If you struggle to hear God’s voice or feel the Holy spirit’s embrace, it is not because God hates you or is not real, it may have more to do with how willing and vulnerable you are to experience God’s love for you.

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That is not to say that on days you do not feel connected to love and light, that you are to blame and deserve shame. You do not deserve to feel a certain way or be going through a circumstance that seems to have control of your life because you are not perfect. What I am saying is that even in those imperfect moments we still have two choices. We can be mindful of what is happening, how we are feeling, and how it is making us want to react or we can just react and project in ways we may regret later on. Mindfulness is a way of checking in with ourselves and God before we check back in with other people. Not only does it help me be better with boundaries and approach things with an open mind but it also has helped my relationships as well. A form of mindfulness could be working out without music and just being aware of how your body is moving and how you feel and breathe with each movement. It can look like having 1 hour a day where you shut off all screens as you spend time with your spouse or your children or just spending time alone doing something that you love to do. Mindfulness is noticing when you start to feel certain emotions that bring out secondary reactions that are impulsive. It helps break the reactionary and projection cycle. Some of us feel sad, or angry, or even happy and we immediately, shop, eat, lie, turn to our phone, put up walls, drink, commit to another thing, and the list goes on. Whether it is something that is the textbook definition of addiction or not the bible says that anything that takes priority over our relationship with God is an idol. If your first reaction when you are happy, sad or mad does not include turning to the Holy Spirit you are putting something else above your relationship with God. We are human and I do not want the perfectionists reading this to feel pressure or shame when reading this. I had to learn and teach myself how to be mindful and there are still days I have trouble re-centering myself in the present moment. Mindfulness helps make us aware that most times our spiritual life is lacking is because we are not being intentional in our time with God or open to the way he wants to reveal himself to us.

WEEKLY CHALLENGE

Put two reminders on your phone, 5 minutes apart, for once every day. It does not matter if it is during a lunch break, shower time, the kid’s nap time, or even when you usually walk the dogs. Have the alarm go off and for the next five minutes put your phone screen down and on silent (No vibrate!). Whatever you are doing be fully aware of how you feel, what you are doing, how your body is positioned, and what your senses are observing. The second alarm will go off five minutes later. Some of you may not know what you feel and just think you feel nothing. I challenge you to do this seven days in a row and keep being intentional with it despite how it makes you feel. Noticing what each of your senses are aware of will not only help you to connect with yourself, others, and God on a deeper level it will also give you more reasons to be thankful for how amazing God has made our bodies. We have so many ways of processing our surroundings and emotions and it is a truly a beautiful thing even when it does not feel the most comfortable. We were made to be connected and grounded to earth, to each other, and to God. Once you start making mindfulness in your life a habit you will start to crave the connection to the present more.

Thanks for reading my blog post today! Please like, comment, and share if you liked what you read. Do not forget to sign up at the bottom of the home page with your email to make sure you get notified of each post, giveaway, and update! I love you my peculiar friends, you are loved and worthy of light in your life. Never forget it!

Survivors of Stress

(TW : Sexual Abuse)

You may have noticed that the past few weeks I have posted zero content. Most of my followers right now are people close to me or people who have known me for a while. And while I would love to write that my inconsistency on this blog is surprising, it really is not to surprising at all. And even though this blog is small, I promised an open and honest space to be ourselves and then ran the minute my life did not look the way I wanted it too. I do not owe an explanation but I want to tell you why I find myself fighting following through on things and why I struggle to be honest on this platform sometimes.

When you have mental illness you have to learn how to be self aware of what your survival instincts look like. The main three are – Fight, Flight, or Freeze. We all have automatic responses to stress and these are not limited to people with a mental illness diagnosis. This is what our bodies do when they sense high levels of stress or a threat to our body’s hormonal balance. It can be anything from a fight with someone we know up to a loss of a loved one or how a person’s brain learns to handle abuse. It is an automatic choice our bodies make for us to help us survive the overwhelming emotions we feel in that moment.

When we go through high stress situations some of us fight. We keep working and keep moving because we feel some level of denial, anger, frustration and irritation. It has us do things to feel like we are moving forward or as if nothing has happened at all. This survival mode has us saying “I can” and “I will”.  It helps our physical bodies move forward but when we are caught in this for too long we can find ourselves constantly burning out, being frustrated with everyone around us, and getting more upset at  things than a situation may actually be calling for. This is because while we might keep phsyical moving forward we have never mentally proccessed what happened and until we do our body will keep giving us reminders of the anger we felt until we learn how to let it go.

Some of us may freeze when we go through something stressful. Our bodies and emotions feel numb to the people around us. We have shut down emotionally and sometimes even physically as a way to help ourselves prepare for the next bad moment. It feels like a cloud of weight is filtering everything in life to hold extra pressure and expectation. We feel trapped by whatever emotion is present or circumstance is happening even if that situation is no longer present or has passed. A lot of people wonder why people stay with their abusers? Their body is so conditioned to be in survival mode that they can only process how to survive it. Getting away or leaving is not relevant when your body is already preparing for the next attack.

Some of us do not stay in situations because our survival mode is to take flight. We do everything we can to avoid situations that cause us to feel stress. We shop, we clean, we change the subject, we avoid. Our brain can use anything to rationalize walking away from our emotions such as religion, an unhealthy fixation on our kids or spouse or even new career paths.  While we do everything to run and convince ourselves everything is fine there is still an underlying anxiety and worry that bleeds into other areas of our life. It leads to panic, fear, worry and concern. While this may help us get out of a stressful situation in a prolonged state of flight, survival mode can result in a lot of intentional pathways that lead to no follow through and feelings of emptiness or failure.

We are human and different levels or stress can bring out different types of survival modes. While you may have a main one you identify with the most, you also may feel like you can see yourself as all three. It does not mean you have a diagnosis on the way or that you have failed. It just means you have been living life. Life comes with a lot of joy but it also holds a fair share of pain for each of us. The DNA we are built with and the situations we are raised in help our brain to learn what automatic survival mode works best for us. God has made the brain so detailed that it has an automatic defense shield when you feel too much stress. Your survival mode is really a super power that helps you cope through the lower points in life and keeps things in balance. 

So that is the quick overview of survival mode. I am sure you are wondering at this point what that has to do with PTSD or me not keeping up with a peculiar philos? 

The past few weeks I have been fighting my survival mode of flight. I have had some of the best things happen this past month! I have seen my best friend of eight years marry her boyfriend of nine years. I got to see my baby sister graduate from college and get her first job. And right now as I type I am waiting for my chalk sign for my other baby sisters bridal shower to dry. There is so many good things that have happened and yet Mothers Day still kicked me on my ass. As much as I cope ahead for mothers day it still is full of flashbacks and anxiety attacks every year. My body and my brain make a choice to take flight and I find myself just hanging on waiting for it all to pass. I clean, I shop, I plan, I go places and I do everything I can to avoid time with myself and my own thoughts. Distraction can be a healthy coping skill but at the end of the day it is not a sustainable way to live. I lost my concentration in clouds of brain fog. I lost focus on my priorities when my main focus became avoiding reality. My blog and my mental health went from being a daily part of my checklist to the bottom of my brain. 

Am I not trying to be more positive and take deep breaths and be in the present? Yes.

Do I not take medication and have coping skills in place for when I feel this way? Yes.

Does practicing all this make a difference when my body decides to automatically go into survival mode? No.

PTSD stands for Post traumatic stress disorder. It is something that effects my everyday life. Some days, weeks, and months are fine. Other times I spend hours in bed having flashbacks I cannot ground myself from. I have had to accept that my body has been in survival mode since I was three years old. My body is always prepping, preparing, and fleeing automatically anytime I feel any level of stress because it sees any stress as a red flag to start flight mode.

The reason for this is when I was about three to five years old I had multiple adults molest me. My body would cope with it by going into flight mode. My body made a safe space for me to be able to handle and distract myself from the abuse. I started by redecorating my room in my head. I would make the furniture, the walls, or the floor into different colors and different shapes. 

This hard wired my brain so that every time I felt stress my brain would find a way to escape. As a child it was mostly mentally. I would dissociate or day dream. I still know how I would have redecorated each members of my family’s different bathrooms! There are years of my life I don’t remember. Not because of time or getting older but that I actually cannot remember one thing from. Years in flight mode for me led to lying. I didn’t remember certain things or dissociate during events I felt stressed at and because I couldn’t explain that as a child I lied to make others and myself feel better. Lying eventually led to stealing. When I felt too old and silly to redecorate bathrooms I turned to stealing. I struggled with stealing from peoples bathrooms until I got married. I would feel nothing but a need to steal. Eventually that turned into stealing drugs. I am blessed because my husband can read me and helps me get out of situations or leave places when he can start to see me feel unsafe.

Another thing that my flight survival mode from sexual abuse led to was pornography. You can have any opinion you want about porn but from 13 on up for me it was a way to figure out if what happened to me was okay. It turned from confirmation that what happened was okay to a way to avoid stealing when I was in peoples bathrooms. All the shame from lying, stealing, porn and drugs led me to believe I was a bad person. This flight cycle has been going on in for years and has went from distraction, to impulsive, to shame to freeze. I did not get the help I needed at a young age and this has led to an inconsistency that has affected my career, my marriage and my relationships. 

While some of you may be wondering why I seem to be typing out excuses I want you to know these things because I said this was a safe and vulnerable space. I am not perfect. I have been struggling just to stay alive and believe that God really does have a purpose for me. I have worked very hard in the last 8 years to build new coping skills that turn trying to survive into thriving. I have not gotten high in 5 years. I have not stolen something in 3 years. I still struggle with lying to make people feel better and to avoid confrontation. Where is the purpose in this? Would it really matter if I was not here?

Where is the love and light? I have been struggling myself to find them in this mess of flashbacks, set backs, and survival modes roller coaster.

The answer is that there was no love or light in those low moments of abuse. There is no reason for why I was abused, why my mother passes away, why I had to be adopted, or why I struggle to have babies. Their is no love, light, or reason in darkness. Our bodies fight, flight, or freeze because our brain knows something is wrong and does not want any added emotions or stressors to be added . This is where love and light are no longer an emotion we can connect to. This is where once again that daily time in meditation or with God remind us where true love and light can be found. I may feel like I am failure. When I am not daily checking in with the Holy Spirit I can believe my darkest thoughts. That I do not deserve good friends or an amazing husband. Even though I may struggle with a lot of things does not disqualify me from the joy in life. What we struggle with, hide from the world, or cry about in quiet does not disqualify us from being worthy enough to receive the good things God has promised us. He died and paid the price for the sins of those who have abused, used, or mistreated us. He died and paid the price for the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves that we may be fighting and fleeing from or freezing in.

WEEKLY CHALLENGE

This is a heavy topic and it took a lot for me to write this in a place anyone can access it. I know that I am not the only one struggling or at a low spot. Even if your story does not include abuse you may still be feeling the weight of everything that has happened this past year. Take five minutes of your mediation time or God time and just thank God for being a higher power who takes the evil and lows of the world and still creates beauty from them. Check in with yourself and try to see if you are in emotional or logic mind and then try to balance them with the other. If you feel at peace maybe start asking your loved ones how they are really doing and do not take “okay” as an answer. We are the body of Christ and called to lay down our lives for our friends. For me it is looks like still be vulnerable and honest on my blog even when I am not where I want to be. For you it may look like making yourself uncomfortable in your emotions to makey sure the people around you are okay. I love you all my peculiar friends. Please reach out to me if you are not okay and remember there is no shame not being okay.

Dialectical Faith

Last week I wrote about what trusting God should look like reflected in us and in the church. While I still feel the church needs conviction in this area, I created this blog to be a safe space for us to learn and grow together. I realized that what I wrote was more of my own yearning for justice in the church then what God had laid on my heart. The holy spirit has been showing me God’s heart towards the American church. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in anger with how people treat other people and instead of turning to God first I turn to typing or writing. I forget that I am also a member of the body of Christ who makes mistakes and has to be redirected. This is not a space for my opinion or my life to be seen but a space where love is magnified through what God is doing in me. God loved us so much that he not just gave his life for us, he took the punishment we deserved and took it for himself. I am not talking about specifically the cross, a lot of people have died on crosses and still do today. The physical act, while still something I would never want to feel or experience, is not what made what happened that day a unique or peculiar act. After the world was created and humans were cursed, the placement of Gods anger, wrath, and judgement became something that made humans fear Gods punishment and justice. In Psalm 11:7 David writes “The Lord is righteous, he loves justice”. For all the evil things in the world God had to hold his creation accountable. When Jesus came to earth and died on the cross he took all the emotional, spiritual, and physical pain we were condemned too back in Genesis and died with it on the cross. 1 Peter 3:18 says it this way, “For Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’. Another verse a lot of people reference but forget the significance of is John 3:16 and 17 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, and whomever should believe in him should not perish but have eternal life”.

We have all been in situations where we felt at the end of rope mentally where we felt too physically tired to move, and where spiritually we felt detached from God. We know how lonely and alienating that can feel on our bodies, mind, and souls. When Jesus took this shame and guilt on himself he not only felt and paid the price for your sin but he felt and died for the sin of each human being. Everything the human race deserves I believe that Jesus held the weight for all of us. We are all sinners, its not taught it is only enabled. He bore the sin of Derek Chauvin knowing that he would stray from Gods love and kill one of his creations, George Floyd. God sacrificed his son for the rich man in Matthew 19:16-30 who could not leave his materialistic stuff behind to have a relationship with God himself. He bore the sin of my abusers when they molested me as a three year old child. He carried the weight of the American Church putting laws and patriotism above their love for him. Jesus died for YOU and whatever you struggle with or whatever you are trying to keep hidden or repressed. Pride, gossiping, lying, judgement, jealousy, the list of individual sins we personally struggle with can go on forever. But why? Why would someone die for me when I spent 25 years running in the opposite direction of God? I am a person who has lied, stolen, broken promises and commitments, and I have said things I should not have said. Why would God keep pursuing me and love me even with all my struggles? I denied my PTSD and past for YEARS and I hurt so many people along the way because of my denial. Why would God knowing this over 2000 years ago still sacrifice his son for me?

It all goes back to the first love story told in the bible and it starts in Genesis. God looked at a planet that had no life on it and was “without form or void and darkness over the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). God used this planet and created every type of life by just speaking it into being. Water, Land, Plants, and animals. When he got to his final creation in Genesis 1:26, humanity, he made two different beings that both reflected God’s likeness, and he called them male and female. It goes on in Genesis 1:27 to say “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” to As I read this passage I noticed that first, this verse seemed to repeat itself so God really wanted us to know that both men and women were made in his image. I kept trying to find the reason why he created us in his image when he knew we would not be a complete reflection. As humans we do not usually feel motivated to help or pour ourselves into a project when we know the outcome is going to be the opposite of what we want. I researched for an answer in multiple study bibles and research documents on why he would make us to reflect the trinity when he knew we would fail. God knew they would spend the whole span of humanity fighting for our hearts. Out of everything I came across there was two major theories or themes presented. The first theme I noticed is that humanity was made to glorify God and the second was that the trinity longed for a relationship with someone who chose to love them back. After taking each one and researching further I would have to agree with both. God wants to multiply and extend perfect love in and through us because love cannot be forced but only given. Secondly, as the creator, God wants to see his masterpiece called earth reflects the trinity and bring them glory. Us wanting to be in relationships with those around us reflect Gods heart for wanting to be loved back. Our drive to have meaning reflects God’s desire to be seen and glorified. No matter who you are or what direction you are running God loves you. No matter what path you are going down or what you are idolizing over a relationship with God it is just futher proof that human bodies have limited capacity and cannot put more than one thing first at a time. It does not matter if you have been in church for years or you are doing all you can to run from anything associated with Christ – you are still a reflection of the trinity. Every hair on your head, wrinkle on your face, and curve of your body was created by God and you give him glory when you get up each morning take care of yourself. Jesus died for you because each of us where made in the image of God, and in our human capacity of a brain – that makes us children of the trinity. As a reflection of the trinity, God shows us through marriage, through children, and through those around us that we need each other just as much as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit need each other. One is not better than another. All work together for one purpose. Each one has different ways they display their purpose and represents true love, righteousness, and holiness.

God created a world that would reject a perfect love and spiral into hurt, sin, and sickness. God could have chosen to make a creation that always obeyed him and that he would not have had to fight for. He could have chosen a different plant and never created Adam and Eve which would lead to Abusive families, Murder, Slavery, Wars or even Covid-19. He knew I would struggle with lying, stealing, and drugs. God knew my body would struggle physically to be pregnant and yet still placed a desire in my heart to be a mother. While some people see this as torture or sad, as I grow closer to the holy spirit and the trinity I trust that as the artist, God has a bigger picture of how he will use these negative things to build our relationship and use it to reflect his glory and love. God loves you and wants a relationship with you because that is your ultimate purpose. Once you realize that God knew every single human would fail to reflect the unity and love of the trinity yet still created and pursues us, you will start each morning in reverence for who God is. God loves us so much that he sacrificed a part of the trinity to pay the price so we could all have access to the gifts of the holy spirit. This lead me to a revelation that the security I was searching for in the materialistic things i stole, the purpose I was hoping to find in multiple career paths I attempted, the intentions behind all my broken promises and my dreams of creating a family with my husband – are all a reflection of misplaced glory and attempts towards a feeling of belonging and love.

God created you. You already belong. You are already loved. You do not have to feel any shame for who you are or where you are at. The price for past mistakes has already been forgiven. All you have to do is believe and accept the trinity as they guide you to go out into all the world and spread God’s glory; thus completing the masterpiece of a shared love that God has been painting all along. God made a way so that through Jesus and with the holy spirit each of us have a way out of ourselves and into a path that is victorious every time.

WEEKLY CHALLENGE

I hope you can forgive me for the way I hastily threw last weeks blog together and in short challenged you to refocus your priority on reflecting God when I, myself, was falling short of that same purpose. I promise to always do my best to make this an authentic space where only unity, love, and righteousness are reflected. I love you and I hope that if you are a church regular or a christian critiqu(er) that your heart opens to the dialectical truth that you are both in sin and cursed while also being forgiven and victorious. And while it may be overwhelming and not seem possible in the limited part that is our brain – I pray that God reveals the holy spirit’s love in such a way that your doubt is turned to faith. This week I challenge you to continue taking that extra 10 to 15 minutes a day on top of your normal God time but to use it for a specific purpose. Use it to thank God for creating you, to thank Jesus for saving you, and to thank the Holy Spirit for guiding you. In every relationship we like to hear appreciation and have recognition. Take the time and really reflect how how God has been there for you despite the ways we all self sabotage. Make sure to sign up on my home page with your email so we can build our relationship as well 🙂

Forever your peculiar friend,

Karlee Vazquez

The Reflection of Trust

Does your life reflect your trust in God?

The american way is if you work more you will have less stress and more happiness. This has become a familiar inner critic in most of us that leads us to taking responsibility of success into our own hands as a way to feel in control of ourselves and our lives. It gives us the ability to look the other way and lack grace when we see someone around us hurting. We constantly hear ourselves and those around us saying things like, “well if they just did this” “well they should not have done this” “well that is what they get for doing things this way” etc. It has us working harder, more often, and distracted from what we were actually created to do.

On the other end of the spectrum there is a modern western church concept that has taken “be still and know that it is God” and “everything happens for a reason” to such an extreme passive place. By doing this the church has taken away the responsibility of what we are required to do as believers. It has led to many people sitting at alters waiting on God to move when they are the ones that are refusing to just step away from the problem.

So how do we go about finding the spiritual balance of putting responsibility on ourselves to be the ones to move and when do we sit back and let God be the one to move? When there is a mountain, a crisis, a family issue, annoying coworker, or even those days that leave you emotionally spent – what should a relationship and trusting God look like? Do you expect or pray that God changes a specific person or circumstance? Do you read a verse or two before bed or in the early morning hours and hope that the extra biblical mantra will help you through the day you already expect to go badly? Or are you like me and just hope that if you distract yourself enough the problem will go away?

We know what is required of us, in Galatians it tells us that, as believers, we are supposed to be an overflowing cup of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Do all of these seem attainable when you are already feeling burnt out? Does God really know us if he expects us to be able to treat ourselves and those who drive us crazy with all those fruitful attributes? I would love to say my relationship with God and my relationship with my husband mirror these things but especially after a long day they are not a top priority.

We can drive ourselves into a muddled mental mess by trying to control or deny our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Here we are striving to be more like Jesus but then God tells us we cannot do it in our human strength. So do we just hope practice makes perfect and that one day Jesus will save us from this trying to be perfect in a imperfect world madness? Do you just give up while doing what you feel is right and pray that God works it all out for good?

The disconnect here is what I love to call the American Faith. You have two options – you can walk into a church that prides itself on legalism, working, and calling out the people around them or you find yourself in the middle of a pentecostal worship service where they will not leave until everyone feels good and heard.

So what is wrong with the American Faith? Are these not just slightly different theologies or worship styles? No. If you read back about the two different types of churches you will find that both have missed the point of church entirely. It is not about feeling better by judging others around you and feeling good as you check off your list of rules and tradition you have always followed. While we should be looking inward and assessing where we are at it should not be to the point where it becomes all about us and our personal victories that we miss the one who has given us Victory.

It is simple – both of these churches are built to be places of communal worship but they have both fallen back into a pattern of making it about themselves. When you think your way is better because it is what you find comfortable then you need to do an assessment. If your not flexible your full trust is not in God and your church is not led by the holy spirit.

Hold up. I am not talking about being flexible in what you believe and I know that not all churches fit exactly into these two categories. I am simply stating that when you have a relationship with God you are not always going to leave church or your morning devotions feeling comfortable or feeling better about yourself. Most believers or spiritual people we look up to are women and men who boast on the glory of God and have no issues talking about their own weakness. They have shown us what most churches in America are missing. Not a God who is just a judge or is just a peacemaker, but a God who needs to be shared with the world even if it means sacrificial vulnerablitiy and uncomfortable conversations.

When you have a relationship with God, you also have a relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I am not going to dive into the whole trinity theology right now, but basically you just need to know they are a three in one deal. God loved you and created you and is referenced as our Heavenly Father. Jesus is God’s son who was born on earth but was still fully God while being fully human. The Holy Spirit is the third being in the trinity who comes along and helps us in current day to understand, interpret, and guide us. I like to think of the Holy Spirit as the mother figure because she is the one who brings it all together and makes things happen!

We cannot do it alone. Not only do we need God we need others who have the same faith to keep us focused on the race. Why do you not fully trust God and keep falling back into old routines and old habits? It is because you have lost your focus. Imagine if we were putting in the same effort in our relationship with God as we do into our careers, our marriages, parenting, our art, or school? If you want to know why and how to trust God you need to start by not just praying or being on the alter when things get hard or you get burnt out. It starts by letting go of control each day and leaning to lean on him in each moment. It begins by being more intentional when it comes to our spiritual walk with God.

If you are like me and really committed to growing your faith, you may have looked inward and realized that you want the rewards of a relationship with Christ without really putting in the work into the relationship. We can find ourselves as overly busy women trying to feel successful through control or as the woman who would rather not talk about deep topics and only know a few verses that help us feel better when in a tough situation.

First I want you to take a deep breath. Do not just read it – do it. Eight seconds in through your noise and eight seconds out through your mouth. You may feel uncomfortable, you may feel walls going up, or you may not feel anything and that is okay. We all have survival instincts that have gotten us this far in life and obviously they have worked – here you are! Surviving. Yet we all are yearning for something more. God does not create us to just survive or get through life, he created us to thrive.

We need to dive deeper then prayer before meals or serving in the most convienent for us place at church on Sundays. God is asking both you and I to really assess how much effort we put into having a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. How do you communicate with them? I wish I could meet you where you are reading this and really talk about when you and God had your last conversation. Not to judge but because each person is such a different revelation of God himself. We preach that a relationship with God is the most important relationship to have and yet beyond praying to get you into heaven and a help alert button most of us really do not know who God is or how he speaks to us personally. You cannot trust someone you have never met and you most certainly will not be able to conquer all the fruits of the spirit if you do not know the Holy Spirit in the first place!

God created you because he loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. As you draw closer to God he promises to draw closer to you. A relationship with God is so full of treasures and blessings. Along with the bigger blessings comes bigger responsibility and a deeper calling. Its no small commitment and its not going to make your circumstances go away. Just like how some of you may know that marriage is a blessing but a lot of the time keeping love and trust alive in your relationship, for the long term, takes hard work.When you start to put more time in your relationship, with the Holy Spirit, you will slowly start to trust him more. You will hear his voice in your daily activities and feel obedience to his guidance start to come a little bit easier. He changes hearts to reflect how is heart has always felt about us as his creation.

Can you imagine what our life would look and feel like if we would start trusting God? Can you imagine looking at each family member, coworker, or stranger with so much love and compassion that even at the end of the day you still have more? Think of people you have encountered in the last 24 hours. They are all made in the image of God and deserve your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Are you willing to let go of control and your sense of self and let God use you to spread his love and light?

WEEKLY CHALLENGE

I challenge you to do something with me and take a baby step of adding a ten minutes to your regular (what I call) God time. If you do not already have a daily time you spend with him then just start doing ten minutes a day. Do not go buy a new devotional or a new notepad. Just open your bible or a bible app and ask that the Holy Spirit reveal her wisdom. You can use five minutes to just pray and the other half to play a worship song and explore where you are at emotionally and let God take care of you. It will feel weird at first. Like any first date it requires awkward vulnerability and not always the most inspiring results. There will be times you feel it and other times you feel like doing everything but spending the extra ten minutes with God. From my experience I can promise you that as you get to know the holy spirit you will be amazed at how much easier and effective it is to let go and let God overflow. At the end of the day it is not what we can do but how much we are willing to let the Holy Spirit in us love those around us.

As God has been teaching me this I have felt led to write it out for you. Please let me know what you agree with, disagree with, or want to see more of. I am a woman who needs just as much prayer and advice as I learn to trust God as everyone else. I will be continuing to dive deeper into what trusting God looks like in our daily lives and I hope you will continue this journey with me. It is not always easy and is going to require change and vulnerability but I promise you that letting go of an imperfect self to be fully embraced by a perfect love is worth it. If you have not – please sign up with your email so I can let you know when I post next or have an update. I love you.

Always your peculiar friend,

Karlee Vazquez

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