Who knew a book would go so far…

I recently went through all of the photos I collected while I was in Rio during the summer. I’ll confess that I’m totally a photo album person. When I was little, I would print out photos, cut them into shapes and collage them into books with really cool stickers and fun paper; the whole shebang. Buuuuut now I go online and create books because they turn out way nicer than the ones I used to make… anyways, my photo album is ordered and on it’s way to me *Happy Dance* While going through all the pictures, I was reminded of more stories and miracles that happened in Rio! I hope you don’t mind yet another post 😉

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. “

On our first day on the streets of Rio, my sister Andra and I got the opportunity to talk with several young adults that were from all over the U.K. one girl was from England, two guys were from Ireland, another two from Germany and Scotland. It was super cool having so many countries standing in one conversation in Brazil! Anyways, this group was the first group my sister and I encountered; we were nervous and didn’t really know what to say. I’ve realized that before the first conversation you have about Jesus is always the one Devil puts up his greatest fight – because if you survive the first, the second and third come easier. Before you know it, you forget what you were originally afraid of! As we approached them I prayed that God would simply give Andra and I the courage to be real, the peace to be calm and the strength to be honest. Have you ever heard of the bread crumb theory? In a conversation, make a comment about God; going to church, your faith – whatever, say something in reference to Christ. If the person you are talking to comments or asks about it, make another small comment. When they ask and the conversation grows talk more and more about Jesus – not shoving the entire loaf of bread down someone’s throat; one slice at a time. You know?

Rio 1We told the group that we were from Canada and we were handing out these booklets to the people we met. “You came all the way from Canada to hand these out? Why??” the guy from Germany asked.

“We came with a group from our church to hand them out to the people we meet from all over the world!” First bread crumb.

“Why would you two come all the way from Canada to give us this? Which church are you from?” They ate it.

“‘We are here with 50+ other Christians from all over the world here in Rio to share Jesus to the people we get to talk to! It’s been so cool to see how many countries are represented here in Rio!” Second bread crumb.

“Why would you want to travel so far to tell people about God and hand out these books?” They ate it again.

So Andra and I began to explain our relationship with Jesus. We told them the story of creation and when sin first entered the world. “God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save the world He created from sin that will lead to death. For us to be saved from death, we must trust Jesus and live our life for Him instead of for ourselves…” As we continued to explain the gospel and salvation the group was listening and asking questions that allowed me to process why I was here. It was as if God was interviewing my sister and I through these young adults’ questions: Payton why are you here? Why do you want to tell others about ME? Why do they need ME? What have I done in your life? I had so much peace as I poured my life to these people. Andra shared her story about how Jesus has helped her in her depression. My sister and I shared about how all of us have sinned and need God, we shared about heaven and hell, about Jesus grace and mercy; after talking for nearly half an hour, one of them said, “You know, I think it’s cool how you both came all this way to share your faith. But just because Jesus works for you, doesn’t mean He will work for me. I think you telling me how Jesus has helped you in specific areas of your life – like depression and stress, helps me to connect with you and wants me to learn more about God. But when you come to me telling me that I’m sinful and going to Hell; I don’t want to listen to you. You should share more about how Jesus Christ helped you instead of Hell.” And with that, we split ways.

If you think of it, please pray for these young adults we talked to! God gave Andra and I 30 minutes to share Him and who knows where they ended up, but God can work through the booklet we gave them, and the conversation we had. Words can ring for years if they spoke to you. It was discouraging watching them walk away but my heart was encouraged because I saw how God used our encounter with that group to lift our spirits to press on and continue to share Him! With our first conversation on the streets being to grounding, I was excited to watch and see how God’s Hand would move during the rest of our time in Rio!

Rio 3A couple days later, another group from our missions team was at Copacabana Beach. Soldiers were everywhere in Rio. Almost every 20 feet were four soldiers with loaded machine guns. Being from Canada; where firearms are thankfully illegal, it was a bit unnerving to see so many firearms. As the team spread the gospel and handed out booklets to every one on the boardwalk they had opportunities to talk about the gospel, creation and salvation with people. After one conversation, my friend noticed that the guard he was near kept watching him after his conversation with someone else on the boardwalk. We had been told before going out not to approach the soldiers because they were on high alert and a stranger with a big backpack would not be the brightest idea. As my friend went about the boardwalk, this guard kept watching him! A few minutes later, the soldier left his post and approached my friend. He motioned for a book, said thank you, and returned to his post. My friend was in shock. Moments later, the guard went up to him again and asked for three more booklets for the other guards at his post; they all wanted one, but didn’t want to leave their post to get it! It was incredible to watch the power of God work in areas we could not!

Rio 2

One last story! When my team and I were at Copacabana Beach, it was hot and beautiful and packed with people! I don’t think I had ever seen so many bodies in one place at once! I realized what immigrants in Canada were saying when they said there is so much space back home! Anyways, it had been a long and exhausting day, my team and I were running out of books when suddenly a woman ran up to one of the guys on our team, “Here! I don’t need this” she said, as she handed a booklet back to him. It was discouraging to see her going to the effort of returning the book. As he tried to encourage her to hold on to the book and maybe pass it on to a friend or family member, she said, “No! Someone gave me this book yesterday. I went home and I read it. I became a Christian!! This book saved my life! I want to give it back to you so that God can save another life!” I was dumbfounded. Sometimes we underestimate the power of God’s Word. He does not need our words. God uses us to get His Word to those He has hand picked for His kingdom!!

Praise God with me for the work God did in Rio, is continuing to do in Rio and all that is still to happen in Rio! I will be the first to confess that I was one of those people to not believe that tracks and bible booklets were effective for Christ’s kingdom. But God opened my eyes to humble me; having that lady come back and share her story made me remember and realize the reality of Ephesians 3:21-22, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” I am thankful for the time I had in Rio and the opportunity the Lord gave me to be used and watch His work unfold! God is still moving people! Stay close to Him and He will show you and open your eyes to see!

 

– Stay Satisfied

I AM is with Us Where Ever We Go!

I have been home from Rio for over a month now – I am so sorry for not posting this sooner! It’s sad how the devil can distract us with other shiny things on the side to prevent us from sharing God’s glory and all that He has done! There’s so much I am excited to tell about my time in Rio; for this post I’m going to focus on what God taught me in Rio and how it’s changed my life since coming home! God enforced one lesson in my life and taught me a new lesson to focus on. He enforced stopping to smell the roses in the world Christ has created and He taught me how to be bold and transparent about my faith in Jesus. I was incredibly excited to experience another part of the world for the Lord.

BooksI love to travel and I want to travel as much of the world as I can, so traveling with a purpose other than fulfilling my own desires was incredibly satisfying and made the trip more valuable. I want to continue to travel with a purpose for Christ everywhere I go in the world! While we were there, other missionaries encouraged us to “stop and smell the roses” – to enjoy Rio while we served the Lord. I loved the reassurance that gave me: God wants our work for Him to be joyful and uplifting, not a chore or something we dread! On our travels there, I was at war with myself, “How was I going to be able to be a witness for Christ and be completely focused on doing this for God and not being distracted with the people, places and things of Rio?!” But the Lord gave me so much peace. “I have made this world for my glory Payton – and I want you to find a balance between enjoying what I have created for you and being my light. Remember I want you to be IN this world – not OF it.” It was exciting to explore the streets of Rio while sharing the gospel with everyone we encountered and tell other people my story with Jesus. There were 14 people on our witnessing team: 12 of us were from my church and then we had 2 wonderful missionary translators that were looking forward to not only guiding us through the city but giving us the opportunities to experience Rio; the people, the tourist points, the food – they wanted to share their culture with us and I was ecstatic! I loved getting to meet people and hear their story.

Prayer

“Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”    -Mark 16:15

streets 3

The greatest challenge for me, was the language barrier; it was more of a factor than I thought it would be. However, I truly believe that what the devil meant for bad, the Lord planned for good! Speaking only English forced me to be creative with how I shared my faith with the people there. Not knowing Portuguese also gave God so much room for His Hand to work and I got to watch it all happen! I knew that nothing was from what I said or did – because I could say or do much! I know I had asked for prayer in this area, but it was humbling learning that I am merely a vessel and that the Lord does not need me; He WANTS to use me and include me in His glorious plan. I was encouraged by my pastor that even though we may not get that exciting conversation every day; God’s Word speaks so much more than our own word. His Word is passed on and read and reread vs. our word floats away in the wind. I was reminded that God defends and spreads His word and that as long as I am getting it into the hands of the people – God will use it! One day, when my sister Andra and I were at the Olympic Boulevard handing out the gospel and making ourselves available to be used by Christ with our team we met a Brazilian lady named Sonia. She had just a touch of English; the three of us ended up playing a 45 minute game of charades to try and have a conversation. As we talked.. or acted.. Sonia told us how lonely she had been because she has no family near her and her husband travels a lot for work. As she conveyed her sadness my heart was pounding in my chest – Sonia NEEDS to hear about Jesus!!! I prayed asking God to send out translator back our way for that just maybe we could tell her about the love and grace she could have in Jesus! As our game of charades continued, our translator; Cynthia came along!! Andra quick explained our situation and how we have been trying to tell Sonia about Jesus’ love. So Cynthia talked to Sonia in Portuguese for us and told her about Jesus for Andra and I. A moment later, Sonia’s face lit up with excitement, “I KNOW JESUS!!” I was shocked. We talked more, turns out that Sonia is also a missionary for Jesus and her husband goes back to raise support for their missions work while she holds down the fort at home in Brazil! I could not believe it. Sonia then explained that she just felt the Lord telling her to come and talk to my sister and I. We prayed together, exchanged contact information. God had all of us there to encourage each other to stay strong and to continue spreading God’s seed. My heart was so full that not only was God looking out for His lost sheep, but also encouraging His sheep to press on.

Streets 1Since coming back from Rio, the Lord has shown me that I have no excuses here in Canada: I can speak the language, I understand the culture, I know the city, etc. While in Rio I learned how blessed I am to not be bound by language, culture, currency, etc. I have the freedom and knowledge in Canada to share the gospel and Jesus’ name far and wide! Being home now, I am challenged to continue to be bold about my faith and be open and willing to share and create opportunities to share Christ – not wait for them to land on my lap! Since coming back home I have had several situations where I was able to share my faith and pass on extra English booklets that I took home from the Olympics! The first weekend I was home, my family and I put on a garage sale. As people came and went through out the day, there was one man that came by that I felt the Lord putting on my heart. As I talked to him he told me that he was from originally from Chile and had moved to Canada a couple years ago – as we talked more we found out that we were both in Rio during the Olympics!! He told me the events he went to and asked which once I saw… Immediately I heard God encourage me, “Be bold Payton!” So I told the man all about sharing Jesus on the streets and gave him one of the extra booklets that I had brought back from Rio. I have no idea what God will do, all I know is that Jesus gave me ground to scatter seed. I am so blessed to share my experiences with other followers of Jesus and encourage them to also be bold and spread the good news. We are to be farmers for Jesus scattering seed everywhere we go – no worrying about the ground it falls on. I am excited that God is continuing to use me and I can’t wait to watch and see how His Holy Spirit continues to work in my home town!

 

 

 

– Stay Satisfied

Some people told me not to go to college… look at me now…

If you would have told me two years ago that I’d move to a tiny little town, to live with a family I had never met before to jump into a program I wasn’t even sure I was good at – I probably would have looked at you, said nothing and turned on my heel to walk away. There would have been a whole lotta “nopes” from me. I’ll be the first one to admit that change and I are not BFF’s – I literally buy the identical toothbrush from Walmart every time I need a new one. However, God made it clear that I was supposed to take Him up on His offer and move to Alberta for school. At one point I had already been accepted into a design school in Vancouver; I was going to be moving back out to the coast where my girl friends are and we’d have so much fun *Happy Dance* But God was the one who had a whole lotta nopes for that plan. He made Alberta so clear – until I had people telling me that I shouldn’t be attending a “secular” college. It was weird to have this feedback from people I talked to a lot. I heard almost all of the excuses, “You’re not strong enough in your faith to attend a secular school…” “You’re going to get caught up in the drugs and party life out there.” “You don’t even know anyone going with you!” “You’re not going to have any Christian friends to keep you accountable at a secular college.”

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

– Jeremiah 32:27

Trust me, the list goes on. But I knew that God had already made it clear that I was to go. I remember when I first moved out to this town; it was not easy. I had to learn a new place, meet new people, understand a new program and try to make friends. But God showed me that He was with me right from the beginning: I literally had hiking trails in the backyard, I moved in with a phenomenal, God fearing family, my class was hilarious and my teachers were fabulous. Despite all of these awesome things, my heart was still longing for something familiar’ I was running through the trails and talking to God about all of these mixed emotions, “God I don’t know how I am going to get through two years of this.” Immediately He gave me a verse.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3

When God put that verse on my heart, I knew it was His way of confirming that I had not started an easy path – it would be difficult and I would get hurt. But it will be great and I will walk out stronger after! Sometimes the Lord does not guide us down paths that are lined with daisies and full of sunshine. Quite often He’ll ask us to walk places that scare us and stress us out – but those are the paths that force us to seek Him. Those are the paths that strengthen you. I want to thank the people that discouraged me to take the path I did; the people that said I wouldn’t survive a college life. I knew the road would not be easy but what was meant to discourage me; God meant it for good. {Genesis 50:20}

Guys – as Children of God, we CANNOT stay in a Christian bubble. I don’t care how comfortable you are or how scary you may think it is to be out in the “big bad world”. The Lord did NOT give you grace so that you could keep it to yourself. As people that have been born again into God’s forgiveness, He commanded us in Mark 16:15, “”Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” When God reveals something to you, it is meant to be shared and passed on! Not kept to yourself where it won’t continue to encourage others! We cannot hide in a Christian bubble and expect to make an impact on the world for the Lord’s kingdom.While at a “secular”, “non-Christian” school, God has given me countless opportunities to be a witness for Him. There were times where God was able to use me and there were other times where God had to teach me. I did not hit the mark every time. But I do not want to meet God one day and be like the servant that did nothing with their talents. Matthew 25:15-27, “To one servant, the Master gave five talents, to another servant, two talents, to another servant a single talent; each according to his ability. Then the Master went away. The servant who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. The servant who had the two talents made two talents more. But the servant who had received the one talent, went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The servant who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And the servant who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ The servant who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, “Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.” Guys, I don’t want to be that last servant – and neither do you!

Melting Forest

I believe that God will finish what He calls you to. I know this because me graduating from a “secular” college is proof of that. A lot of people told me that my faith was not strong enough to make it through college. I’ve got news for you: God’s strength is our measuring stick – not our own strength. If anything, having a “weak faith” and STILL coming out hand in hand with my savior Jesus, gives Him even more glory. Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength”. I believe that we don’t need to survive on our own strength. A lot of people questioned whether or not I’d have accountability. I believe that my accountability comes from everyone around me – not just from Christians. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see Jesus in you and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” In fact, by being with people that don’t know about Jesus, I was kept more accountable because no one was correcting me. We have to keep our hearts in tune with Jesus to decipher between more than 50 shades of grey; to know what’s black and what’s white. Allow the Bible – God’s Word to be your accountability partner! Listen, Spring is a season of change (obviously my least favorite). I wanna ask you, is God giving you an opportunity to be a light for Him? Is there a crew of friends that don’t know the Lord that you could be spending time with and sharing Christ’s love? Are you praying for those around you? Are you diving into a new job or spring/ summer classes that you’ll be surrounded by people that might not know Jesus? I’m not suggesting that you run into these opportunities with New Testaments to shove down people’s throats – I’m saying be a light; be a witness. Let those people see by your actions who Christ is! And if they can’t see Jesus in you… then you’ve got bigger questions you need to ask yourself… Are you running away from opportunities to share God with others? Are you too scared to “stain” your “oh-so-pure-self”? A friend gave me a quote the other day, he said, “Light can only pass through what is transparent and what is cracked. God is the Light in us. We are to live our lives transparently and when we mess up and crack, people should be able to see Jesus shining through it.” Guys, we are not perfect. As Children of God, we are going to mess up because we are 100% human. But I want to encourage you to go. To go out and be a light for Christ. Don’t bury your talents and be like the third servant. I want Jesus to be able to say, “Well done – Good and FAITHFUL Servant” when we all get there. Last weekend I was praying with a friend; I was telling her some of my struggles and concerns about finishing school and she gave me a verse.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3

God finished this journey exactly how He started it two years ago. That struck a chord with me. I think God was reminding me about how far He has brought me. Reminding me to remember the past because He has brought me where I currently am; but to look forward to the future knowing that He will meet me there and take me further.

 

 

– Stay Satisfied

 

 

Jumping into darkness…

Red Rock StandI have no idea where I will be in my life in six months. I can’t decide whether or not I should love this feeling or dread it. I am a person that has always had a rough idea; a plan A and a backup plan B. For years I have always had a hunch on what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and how I wanted to go about doing something. I knew that when I finished high school I would go to Bible school on an island in BC. I knew that when I finished Bible school, my boss had a job for me to jump back into and I would work for a year. I knew after my gap year I would move away and go to school where I would study Interior Design. I know that when I finish school I am to go on a missions trip with my church to Brazil that God told me I would go on four years ago. As of now, I have less than two months left of school and there are 152 days until I fly to Brazil to share the gospel with the people there. So in roughly 175 days I’m clueless. Mmmmk I know I’m being dramatic about this – but still. After a student graduates, they are supposed to be grown up and ready to join the rest of the world and be responsible. That scares me.

I know I’m not the only one that feels this way in life. I know there are millions of people that have been in this situation too at some point in their life. Actually, at church the other day a friend of mine was speaking. She was a full time missionary to Africa; after living there for 39 years, the Lord called her to retire because He has new work for her here in Canada. Anyways, she was sharing about her experience in Africa and leaving for good, “You know those trapeze people in a circus? They are super high up on a small platform, they jump out into the darkness where they know a bar will swing just in time for them to grab onto and take them to the next platform. I feel like one of those people right now.  I feel like I have just jumped off my platform where I knew it was safe and what I was doing. Now I am flying in midair hoping for that bar to come my way. I have no idea what the bar looks like and I have no idea where it will take me. But I know it’s coming – and like the trapeze artist; I have to be ready and watching for it.” She took the words and feeling out of my body – that’s exactly how I feel right now. I feel like I’m bracing myself to jump into the darkness.

Red RockI’ve obviously been thinking about this for a little while now. I know this because God gave me a “Stop panicking letter” Seriously. He did. It was in my mailbox at church. A small note that read, “Psalm 32:8, ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.'” Two minutes before I read His note, I was literally venting to a friend at church about my “problem”. I also had to laugh because I felt this note was God’s way of telling me to shut up. My devotional book the other day said something similar, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME! As your circumstances consume more and more of your attention, you are losing sight of Me. Yet I am with you always, holding you by your right hand. I am fully aware of your situation. Your gravest danger is worrying about tomorrow. If you try to carry tomorrow’s burdens today, you will stagger under the load and eventually fall flat! You must discipline yourself to live within the boundaries of today. It is in the present moment that I walk close to you; helping you carry your burdens.Keep your focus on My Presence in the present. Let the future unfold and worry about itself.”

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”    – Psalm 73:23

Guys, I have not figured out what will happen in a couple months… but I’m getting the feeling that God is wanting me to simply lean back and ride the river. I want to encourage you to do the same. School is coming to an end and maybe you’re in the same place as I am. Or things at work could be completely changing, or maybe you have to move and you have no idea who you will even be able to call “friends”. God says that He knows each and every one of our situations and He cares. He knows how they will pan out. Don’t stress. I’m going to try my best to let go and see what happens. Quite often, God has something much better planned than anything we could work up.

Red Rock Edge

 

– Stay Satisfied

Girl in a World…

Building 1I love hearing about other peoples lives. However, I almost never share my life story. I started thinking about this more the other day, after I had been talking with a friend about it. Her son is at bible school in Australia and right now the students are focusing on living out their faith instead of simply talking about it. Anyone can talk but not every one can do what they talk about. “It’s so cool, the other day they were spending time on the beach with surfers and they were told to say to the stranger, “I’ll give you a dollar if you tell me your life story.” So they would talk and listen to this random person’s life and afterwards, they wouldn’t even want the dollar. “Nah man, I’m happy that you listened to my story and cared to ask…” Apparently, most people were taken back at first, but were excited to share their story to a complete stranger. It got me thinking about the last time I told someone my story. Three years ago. Three years ago was the last time I legitimately told MY story. My story about who I was, who I am and who I want to be and all that God’s done to bring me to where I am now. So I decided that I’m going to share my story with you. And, I’ll give you a dollar if you tell me your story *wink* When ever I think about all that God has done in my life I am reminded about how far God has  brought me and how far I still have to go. As I mark days off the calendar I forget the little things He’s done for me. Three years ago, I was terrified and totally turned off by the mere thought of sharing my story. I felt that my story wasn’t interesting, so why would I share it? There’s enough boring blog posts on the internet. However, God is helping me to grasp the fact that if something is important to me, and if there is something that defines who I am, reminds me of who I was and gives me a glimpse of who I want to be; then it’s worth giving Him glory and it’s worth being vulnerable.

 

I am 21. I was born on July 1st, 1994. My home is in the beautiful prairies of Saskatchewan. I grew up with my Mom, Dad, two younger brothers and a sister. My family are all Born-Again Christians; we love each other deeply and love The Lord deeper. I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and forgive me of my sins when I was four years old. If I’m honest, I don’t remember the day I made this choice but I do remember the still evening and the dark sky, the big black chair my Mom and I sat in and the smile on her face after I had made the decision to give my life to God. 11 years later I chose to be baptized. Growing up, I went to a Christian elementary school until I pulled out and did the rest of my schooling at home through correspondence. School was never easy for me. I was bullied a lot in elementary school – hence pulling out and I was not the most academic student on the face of the earth. I was not one of those lucky kids that “just did good on everything without trying“. School was better for me at home where I could spend more time on assignments when I needed to, in order to get the grades I wanted. I’ll fully admit to being a nerd; I worked hard to earn my diploma with high honors. Looking at my life, I’ve never been in a place of rock bottom, or no hope. People always talk about “a breaking moment” in their life. That point in their life when they decided to turn things around. I haven’t that. However, I am a person that struggles a lot with fear. Fear is something that has always managed to hold on to me. Whether its grip was with two hands or two fingers; I’ve never been able to shake it. Allowing my mind to wander is a constant problem that I have and I can’t overcome it. I think myself into holes that are too deep and I create issues that were never there or situations that won’t happen. Since acknowledging this about myself God has taken my hand and walked me through my fears, he’s teaching me that I need to turn to him when they creep up. I’m always afraid of something new but I also know that God is always there.

Kayking 3At one point in my life, I had the biggest fear of being left behind. I had been learning about the rapture in the book of Revelation in the bible, which is when Jesus returns to earth for all the people that have chosen to follow Him. The Christians are taken to Heaven while the people who rejected Christ are left behind on the earth to endure judgement. I remember having a dream that the rapture happened and I couldn’t find my family anywhere. As I walked through my neighborhood it was absolutely deserted. I woke up feeling scared and as much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake that fear of loneliness. One way that I often try to overcome my fears is by facing them. I will deliberately put myself in a situation where I will be forced to face my fear in hopes of getting over it. Usually, this doesn’t work – I simply get better at hiding my fear and making my reaction smaller yet inside, I’m still terrified. So, to keep step with my bad habits, a few days after my first rapture dream, I decided to watch the movie, “Left Behind”. Great idea; I know. The movie was literally a reality of my dream. Jesus came back and the main character is forced to live life not knowing where all the people diapered to and is now forced to deal with the Anti-Christ. After watching that movie, it became very real to me that the Anti-Christ is powerful and he was going to be ruling the earth after the rapture happened. It scared me even more because I immediately thought back to my dream. In my mind, I was going to be left behind, therefore I would be under his rule. A few nights later, I had another nightmare but this time the rapture had already happened. I was still left behind but now the Anti-Christ knew about me and was hunting me down trying to kill me. My original fear of loneliness had now morphed into a fear of death. After my second dream I couldn’t take being alone. I always had to be with someone or at least have someone within eye sight. If I was watching a movie; I was with a friend or a family member. If I was working on homework; I was in the kitchen where the rest of the family was. If I was out for a walk; I called someone. Looking back I don’t know why I wanted someone in eyesight. I think it was so that I’d know when the rapture happened; I’d be able to see my Mom in the kitchen and then all of a sudden, not. I wouldn’t have to go looking for the people I loved; I’d just know they were gone. Life carried on like that for what felt like centuries. I eventually thought I overcame the fear myself by trying not to think about it and by focusing on other things. A year or so went by and I decided to try and face my fear on my own again and read a book called “23 Minutes in Hell.” That was the wrong thing to do. I got through maybe three chapters until I couldn’t touch the book. My fear had been rekindled and I was angry at myself for allowing it to come back. once again, I couldn’t take being by myself. It wasn’t until one night when my parents announced they were going out and I’d be the only one at home that I lost it.

Kayking 2

I remember telling my Mom about my huge phobia; about being alone and being left behind in the rapture. I was petrified. Mom listened and then said to me, “Payton, go read your Bible. We’ll be back in a few hours” and they left. I was alone. And I was just like… I just… what?!?! I white girled… I couldn’t even… “Go read your bible” REALLY!?!? Now, I understand that this may make my Mom sound really harsh, but trust me, she isn’t. She’s wonderful. Anyways, I didn’t have any other options, so I pulled myself together went and read my bible. I decided to also ready my devotional book and that date was all about Jesus’ second coming. My mind was blown. I could only stare at the pages in shock. I had never had a “God thing” like that happen before. I remember looking at the page in disbelief; a good disbelief. The devotional talked about how, as a Christian, I was saved and that my name was written in God’s Book of Life and that it would never be blotted out. When I asked him to come into my heart; I was putting my life in his hands and he was going to hold on until I was with him in Heaven. I sat there in silence and it was also the first time I ever heard God speak to me. “Payton, you shouldn’t be afraid of when I come again. This will be a time of great rejoicing for you and other Christians! Be excited for Me to return because you won’t be on earth when judgment happens!” Hearing the Lord speak to me and reading exactly what I needed to read brought an indescribable wave of peace over me. The fear of being alone and death melted. Fearless.

“And there is no one who can deliver you out of my hand.” – Isaiah 43:13

I no longer had to fear the fact of being left behind; I was excited to know in my heart; confirmed by the Lord, that I am going to heaven. I didn’t fear loneliness or death. However, it didn’t take long for the devil to discourage me in another area of my life. I began to dwell on my past sins. I couldn’t let go of the things that I had done despite the fact that I had asked for forgiveness from The Lord and those I had wronged. It was this idea of forgiving myself that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around. I was afraid of not being good enough to enter Heaven when I did die. In my mind I thought if I forgave myself, I no longer cared about what I did. But I did care about what I did, so therefore I couldn’t forgive myself. I tried every angle; I tried making up for the problem and apologizing profusely, I tried guilt tripping and punishing myself. I tried not caring and completely ignored the issue. But I could not get rid of the sick, guilty feeling eating at me from the inside no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t until I was reading through the book of Isaiah and came across verse after verse about God wiping away our sins. Isaiah 43:1, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine!” 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” 44:22, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” And 45:2, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” I went over these verses several times and God helped me understand that he doesn’t dwell on the things I’ve done wrong after I ask for forgiveness. God ditches the memory and moves on. He throws them as far as the east is from the west. When I am able to forgive myself and move on I am able to continue my walk with God; growing with him. He showed me that the devil doesn’t want me to continue crossing bridges with him, so the devil was going to hit me with the frying pan of guilt as often as he could to make me fall. “Payton, don’t you see that I forgive you? So what does it matter if other people don’t forgive you or if you don’t forgive yourself I am enough – so let me be enough.” The fear of not being good enough was replaced with the reality of God’s grace. Fearless.

Kayking 4

My life continued on and the fears diminished. I knew that I was a child of God’s and my relationship with him would always continue. When I stumbled God caught me and taught me, but I slowly built this idea that I couldn’t look weak. I didn’t want to depend on anyone else, or anything. At first it started with the little things like not wanting help; I had to do it myself. I always wanted to do the best work whether it was in my school, sports, at my job or whatever. I wanted to be physically strong enough to accomplish jobs on my own. I wanted to be mentally strong enough to solve problems myself and I wanted to be able to fly solo and live an awesome life full of adventure and new experiences! I became so wrapped up in this idea that most women were weak and always needed a mans help so I did everything I could to keep up with the guys. I looked at my relationship with God as 80% my hard work getting me through everything and the other 20% as God really just being there watching the whole thing and lining everything up to match my imagined future. I had become known as a hardworking, dependable person that you could count on to be successful. People depended on me and people needed my help; and that made me feel on top of the world. It wasn’t long before I was put in charge of my coworkers and handled closing duties at my job dealing with customers, cash and problems. I always wanted to fix the issue but of coarse I couldn’t fix everything and it was bound to punch me in the face one day. That day came pretty fast; one evening I was closing the store and God showed me that I could not keep walking this independent life. Everything went wrong that night. I was trying to close the store but 4 out of 7 tills kept crashing and completely shutting down. It was a gong show trying to fix the tills and juggle customers while trying to appear under control. As my shift continued, the problems accumulated and I got so angry because I wasn’t able to fix the problems. I tried every trick I knew and nothing worked. So I was forced to call tech support and he figured out that the problem was my employee numbers that I key in to work on each till. I got even more frustrated. Here was something that I could not control or solve on my own and worst of all, I was the problem. I decided that I would deal with it once the store was closed. For now, I’d manage people on the remaining operating tills and hope it didn’t get crazy. After the doors were locked, I called tech support again to go into the system and fix the computer problems so that I could properly close the store. I was so bitter asking someone else to fix my problem. While I was on hold for what seemed like hours, in the silence, God showed me that I was not living my life the way I should be. He showed me that I cannot fix everything, nor was I ever meant to! It was a large pill to swallow. God told me that I didn’t have strength – I had stubbornness. I didn’t have a leadership mentality – I had an independent mindset. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with God – I had high expectations of him. Tech support fixed the problem, the store was closed and I solemnly went home. “I can’t keep living this way.” I remember telling myself while I was driving, “I don’t even feel good. I don’t stay happy and I don’t have continual joy. Why?” God gave me three words. Dependence. Humility. Submission. Those three things have definitely been long lessons to learn, but the more time I spend with God, the more He has shown me about myself and the things that I need to let go and change. Admitting that I can’t do something tastes like vinegar and the thought that I can’t do everything feels like a migraine. But I need to completely depend on him and swallow the pride. It’s not about physical strength, a sharp mind or how capable you are on your own; it’s about what The Lord can do through you and gaining glory for the One that matters.

Kayking 1

You would think that I learned those lessons and continued learning and growing closer to the Lord after that night at work. Nope. The summer came and went and I moved to British Columbia for bible school on Thetis Island the following fall. I was still the fat headed person that I was and pushed any memory of failure from my mind. I had a clean slate with no failures and I wanted to keep it that way. During the first few weeks of bible school, they do a lot of group activities so that everyone can get to know each other on  better, faster and deeper level instead of having an awkward month of “Hey, um, what’s your name again?” Every weekend there was a venture for groups to go on. You could go sailing, bungee jumping, cave diving; I decided to go kayaking. Why? Because I was told it was the most difficult venture to go on. Obviously. I wanted a bigger head. My venture weekend finally came and we were given the low down. “You will have two main partners during our trip; one kayak partner and one tent partner.” At this point the people in the group hardly knew each other but we immediately began sizing each other up as to who we wanted to be our partners. My tent partner was with a girl who seemed pretty sweet and my kayaking partner was with a guy who, let’s just say wasn’t my first pick. As our instructor was explaining the tandem kayaks I mentally decided that I wanted to be the anchor in the back of the boat. I wanted to set the pace, I wanted to steer, I wanted to be in control. As our instructor gave people their positions I noticed that he was putting all the men in the back. I got tense. I would not be under my kayaking partner. He got to my partner and I, “Mmmm Payton, how about you take the back.” I wouldn’t have it any other way, I thought. We spent the day learning our equipment, and practicing flipping the kayaks and getting back in with our partner. I had never been in a kayak before so not only was I trying to soak up every bit of information as I could but I was also trying to hide my inexperience from the people around me. We all got in our boats and one by one each team flipped their kayak and got back in. It was our turn and my heart was racing. Can I convince them? My partner and I paddled out and I talked him through it because he had never kayaked before either. “We’re gunna flip left on three… two… one…” and we rolled. I was underwater. I couldn’t get out of the boat. I started to panic. “You need to feel for the pull tab on your wet skirt” I remember my instructor saying. I quick grabbed the kayak and began feeling around for the tab. The moment it touched my fingers I yanked and I erupted from the boat and to the surface. I felt like I was underwater for 15 minutes but my partner came up the same time I did. Thank goodness. I got my composure as I held the upside down kayak and reached for my paddle, I watched my partner cling to the kayak and look around for his paddle. It had drifted a couple feet away, just out of reach. He looked at me. I looked at him. “You’ve gotta be kidding me…” I thought. I let go of the boat swam out and grabbed his paddle and brought it back to him. “Oh, uh, yeah thanks, I didn’t wanna let go of the boat and uh…” he trailed. This was not going to be my weekend. I was not going to be babysitting this kid.

 

Early the next morning we met at the docks to pack our tents, bags and gear. Shortly after, we were off; the ocean was like glass. There were no waves, no wind and I could see our shadow on the ocean floor as the island got smaller behind us. I was in the back of the kayak setting the pace, steering and in charge. “Guys, I don’t want anyone to say anything for the first hour of our trip. I want you to pray for this weekend and whatever God has in store.” That first hour was magical. The sun rose on the water line, seals swam beside us and I was mesmerized by the orange and purple starfish everywhere. I was going to love this weekend. Aside from being slightly annoyed with my kayaking buddy, our group was wonderful. Everyone added a different dynamic to the group – there were hicks, jocks, nerds, comedians and hippies and we all blended together. That evening we pulled up to a random island, anchored our kayaks and set up tent. We explored the island, made a fire and talked late into the night. My tent buddy was awesome, she was straight forward and to the point and hilarious in her own unique way. All five tents that night fell asleep to the sound of waves on the shore 20 feet away from us. If I had a “Top 10 Moments in My Life” list, that moment would be on it. The next morning we made breakfast over the fire, packed up and were back on the water. I was loving life. We all talked as we paddled; flipped each others rudders up and stuck starfish to our boats. As we made our way through the gulf islands one girl and I saw a narrow channel to paddle through. We both looked at each other with huge grins on our faces: challenge accepted. My partner began expressing how he did not think this was the best idea but, I was setting the pace, I was steering and I was the one in control. As our two boats got to the channel, we realized not only was it wider than we thought, but it was also more shallow. That didn’t stop either of us; we paddled on. Sure enough the farther we went into the channel the sand got higher and we beached ourselves. But the area we were in was so beautiful; it didn’t matter. As her and I laughed our partners expressed their annoyance. “Well, someone is gunna have to get outta the boat for us to get unstuck..” I suggested. Deep down I was hoping my partner would be a man and hop out but as I thought about it for a moment, he wouldn’t let go of the boat to grab his own paddle. There is no way he’s gunna get out. I waited a moment just to see what my partner would do. Nope. Nothin. “Whatever” I thought, “this isn’t a big deal.” So the other girl and I hopped out of our boats and began towing our partner and 200 pound beached kayaks toward deeper water. “Oh, uh, yeah thanks, I was wondering how we were going to get unstuck and uh…” he trailed. I couldn’t look at him. The weekend continued that way. Glorious moments of nature sprinkled with… “partner moments”. Our group came to the next island later in the afternoon and one by one pulled our boats on the shore. When it was our turn  I realized that someone had to get out of the boat to pull it higher onto the shore. I waited a moment. Nope. Nothin. I jumped out of the kayak once again and pulled him and the gear in. Once he was on dry land he walked up to the potential camp site and I was left to unpack the gear and haul it up to the site.  Thoroughly annoyed at this point I told myself, “I can do this. I don’t need a man to help.” As I made trips up the hill to the site with gear and back down to the shore for more gear he was no where to be seen. On my final run up the hill with his sleeping bag he came to help. “Oh, uh, yeah thanks, I was going to help with that and uh…” he trailed as he reached for his bag. That evening my wrists were throbbing and I had no idea why. I had never experienced this pain before. It was an aching pain when I moved my fingers or made a fist. I pushed it off. The last day of our trip I could see that my wrists were swollen. “It’s not that bad, you can push through this” I told myself. As I set the pace in the kayak my hands and wrists got tired and sore. “I am not sinking to his level” I thought. The day went on and I tried to ignore the throbbing pain. We got back to the school’s island, unpacked and washed up. At this point my wrists were so sore and I could see the parts in my arm that had swollen. My forearm was lumpy. I went to my friend and asked her. “Let me feel them” as she tightly grabbed my wrist, “move your fingers” I began pulling each finger into a fist as her eyes got wide. “Oh my goodness! I can feel all of your tendons moving under your skin and she released my arm. I did not want to go to the school nurse so I convinced myself that the swelling would eventually go down and the pain would go away. It was swollen simply because I was pushing myself too much while kayaking. Weeks went by and my wrists got worse. It got to the point where I couldn’t twist the lid off my toothpaste, I couldn’t stir the cream into my coffee or do up the zipper on my jeans. A month later I finally went to the nurse just to see what it was. The thing that bothered me the most was that I didn’t know what was causing my wrists to swell but I was too prideful to admit there was something legitimately wrong. “Payton, how long have you had this?” the nursed asked, “you have a very serious case of tendonitis in both of your wrists.” I mentioned kayaking was when I first noticed the situation and she told me that the only way to cure tendonitis was to let the area rest. “You can’t do anything with your wrists if you want it to get better. Anything from typing to lifting weights is causing your tendons to rub together. Right now your tendons are swollen which is causing friction under the skin – hence the pain. You need the swelling to go down so that they stop rubbing against each other which means not using them. “So I can’t do anything to speed it up?” “Nope. Nothing.” she answered.

Kayking 5Would it surprise you if I said that I didn’t listen? Not doing anything would mean needing other people to do things for me, and that just wasn’t going to happen. I am not asking my roommate to push toothpaste on my brush or do up my jeans. I am not asking someone at the table to scoop me food or stir the cream in my coffee. As logic would have it, my tendonitis got worse. Ignoring them didn’t work so I tried praying, I tried fasting, I tried pain killers; nothing worked. Two months later I was fed up and done. “God, I hate this. I’m sick of this pain and this limitation. Give me an answer.” I flipped open to a random page in the bible. I don’t know what I was hoping for, maybe an abra-cadabra verse that would magically heal my wrists. 2 Kings chapter 5 is what I opened to. God is amazing. No there was no abra-cadabra verse but there was the story of Naaman and his healing of leprosy. Naaman was the general of an army, he was a valiant fighter but had been afflicted with leprosy. In those days leprosy was known to be the ‘incurable disease’. However, Naaman had been told of the prophet Elisha that could heal him of his disease. So he went on his way to seek healing from Elisha. “Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.” Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off furious. But his servants caught up with him and said, “Master, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?” So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.” (verse 10-14) “Payton, there is nothing you can do to heal this. I have given this to you because you would not listen to me. This while time you have been living your life thinking you do 80% of the work. Well, you don’t. This tendonitis will not heal until you soften your heart to me and allow me to lead you through life. You are being just like Naaman, you want to do something to heal the tendonitis so that you can get credit. Instead, you are going to have to submit to me for complete healing” I sat there, on my bed with my bible in my lap. Wow. In that moment God had truly gotten a hold my heart and forced me to look in a mirror. I had an ugly monster of independence and self growing inside of me. “God, I didn’t know I had become this. I am hard, I kept trying to prove myself better than my partner during kayaking and my pride has gotten me no where. I am scared of a life where I am not in control but I also know that a life without you would be much scarier. Please take hold of my life again and soften my heart. I do not want to be a hard person. I do not want to be living that way if I am supposed to be an example of you. Please forgive me. Please mold me into the woman you need me to be and work in my life to want what you want.” For the first time in a very long time, I cried. God did heal my wrists and He did heal my heart. 8 months later at the end of the bible school year, God had completely changed who I was. I know that God’ plan for my life is much better than anything I could ever come up with. Fearless.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:30

Guys, I’ll confess that this has been one of the longest learning curves of my life because there are many times when I flip back to wanting to set the pace, steer and be in control. That is not how Christ wants us to live our lives. He wants to set the pace. God wants to steer and He wants to be in control. A few Bible verses that have helped me over and over are Isaiah 41:10 which says, “Do not fear for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Knowing that God is always with me and always there to help me when fear stands in front of me is a relief and a breath of fresh air. No matter how big the fear is, I know how much bigger my God is. Sometimes my fears of loneliness, death, failure and lack of control come back, but I have to continually submit them to the Lord and allow Him to deal wit them instead of focusing on them myself. Specifically, when I was out on the island at Bible school, God made Nehemiah 8:10 a reality in my life when I was struggling with tendonitis. It says, “The joy of The Lord is my strength.” And in John 16:22 we’re told, “…no one will take your joy away from you.” God is teaching me how to depend on him and how to trust him and how to be content in walking by his side. I don’t know what you are afraid of right now but I can guarantee you that Jesus knows how to eliminate that fear and He will meet you where you are at. Talk to God and tell him about your fears. Tell him about your hopes and goals. He will help you. “Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21. Thanks for reading my story. It actually means a lot that you read it. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I’d like to know your story!

 

 

 

 

– Stay Satisfied

You think you’re the only one, but you’re not…

You get restless when you don’t know what the next step is in your life. I know I’m not the only one that gets freaked out when I let myself think about the future. Whether I know what’s coming down the pipe or not. You probably get stressed out just like I do; frustrated not knowing the next step, anxious wondering what exactly is coming around the corner and irritated by those around you that “know exactly what they are doing” … Lately, God has asked me to do a couple things that make absolutely no sense to me. I mean, they do, but yet they don’t. I don’t really want to get into the specifics of these things but I’ll let you know that two major things God told me to walk away from – even though they were amazing on paper, was a job and a relationship. Maybe you can relate to that? I’ll be honest with you, I understand a little why God told me to walk away from both opportunities but it also makes me wonder why God didn’t correct the situation to function better and allow it to happen. At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever know. On the surface I want that to irritate me; why they didn’t work. But ever since I walked away, I have this indescribable peace and contentment from walking away. It’s weird, because I didn’t realize how much anxiety they were both giving me until afterwards and I had friends and family telling me how I was different. A good different. I think it’s one of those things where you don’t realize how heavy a weight was until you have a smaller one – or don’t have a weight at all!

Dock

Let’s put my scenarios in comparison with food. Because, well, who doesn’t relate to food? Mmmk, scenario number one: Picture a cinnamon bun. The pan was pulled out of the oven merely three minutes ago and the mouth watering, cream cheese frosting is running down the side. It looks beautiful. It smells wonderful. And it most likely tastes ten times better. You grab a fork and stab the soft sticky bun and pull a piece to your mouth. As you stuff your face with your first, over-sized bite and chew… it tastes, well, not as good as it looked. Strange. You chew some more. The baker mistook the salt to be the sugar. The cinnamon bun is disgusting. Disappointing. Why did the cinnamon bun look so good but turn out be so bitter? How could something look and smell so amazing but have such a raw taste like that? Put a pin in that thought. Now, for scenario number two: You’re at a buffet featuring all of your favourite foods. At the salad bar there is unlimited fruits, nuts, mixed greens, and salad dressings. The appies are phenomenal; wings, garlic bread, spring rolls, jalapeno poppers, nachos, and dips; the buffet table extends and keeps going but it’s nothing compared to the main courses available. From steak to pasta, seafood to the best Asian dishes and other exotic foods. Don’t let me get started on dessert. But, I’m sure you’re getting the idea. As you wander through out this amazing place full of unlimited food – going for seconds, thirds, even fourths, you stumble upon the kitchen: where all this goodness is made! As you walk towards the kitchen doors to see the glorious beginnings of the food, you can practically hear angelic harmony emanating all around you. You push open the grand double doors and are shocked. You don’t dare take another step into the space. Where to start? The smell is so rancid and sharp it takes your breath away. There is dark grey mold growing in the sinks and on the counters. You see the chef’s uniforms are covered in filth and their hands are horrifying. The tile floor is thick with grunge and dirt. How on earth is it even possible that the delicious dishes in the other room were prepared here? As you try to wrap your mind around your awful discovery you see a rat scamper under one of the dishwashers and it’s then that you notice all of the beastly eyes peering at you from under the sink, and trolleys around the kitchen. Repulsed; you turn on your heal and leave immediately. Take those two stories as you want, but it’s best explanation I can give you to describe my scenarios.

BeachrockWhen God tells me to do things that I don’t understand, there are two people that come to my mind. The first person is Moses. Moses is one of my favourite Bible hero’s. He’s actually my second favourite next to Elijah. The second person that I think about is Abraham. I’ll explain in a minute. Anyways, when I woke up to the cinnamon bun; it was amazing and was everything that I was hoping it’d be. Actually, I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice the salt in my first bite at all. It was sweet, soft and everything I had been hoping for. So when I went for the second bite and the salt was so evident, I was quite shocked and taken back by it. But as I prayed about it, God showed me the recipe of the cinnamon bun and why I should not eat it. He showed me that it wasn’t what I wanted and not what I needed. When I was enjoying the buffet, I didn’t mean to stumble upon the kitchen. I just, did. But God showed me the kitchen to help me realize that I had potential health risks by eating that food. I originally had no idea that all of the food at the buffet was so dangerous even though it looked delightful on all the tables. By seeing the kitchen I was able to understand that just because something looks flawless – doesn’t mean it is.

Do not look at the appearance. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the inside.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

We know a lot about Moses. He was pretty amazing and has an incredible, incomparable life story. You can read about all of his adventures, trials and successes in the beginning of Exodus. Chapter two to be exact is about the birth of Moses and how his mother saved him by putting him in a basket and floating it down the Nile river to escape the murderous hand of Pharaoh. Moses’ life extends all the way to the end of Deuteronomy in chapter 34. I have verse 10 highlighted in my Bible because it makes my heart skip a beat, “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” This verse makes my heart so happy because I see it as hope to be a friend of God just like Moses was. As exciting, adventurous and dangerous, painful and frustrating as his life was; I think about the time when he was leading the Israelites through the wilderness and they were thirsty. In Exodus 17 God works another miracle through Moses. “The the Lord said to Moses, “Take in your hand your staff and strike the rock and water will come out of it. And Moses did so in the sight of Israel.” The same situation happens again in Numbers 20 but instead of striking the rock, God asks Moses to do something different, “..Speak to the rock before the peoples eyes, that it may yield water.” However if you read on, Moses did no such thing and instead struck the rock again to bring forth water for the people the drink. Most of us would read that passage and think, ok, not that big a deal. Water still came. The People still drank. And really, talking to the rock would’ve been embarrassing. But as punishment for disobeying God, he was denied entry to the Promise Land. There are two major reasons why something that seemed so small was actually a big deal to the Lord. First of all, Moses wrecked a foreshadowing that God could’ve used about his promised Son. The water symbolized the washing of sins and hitting the rock the first time to get water was showing how the Israelites had to offer sacrifices to be forgiven. Speaking to the rock the second time was supposed to show that we would be able to talk to God for forgiveness of sins after the resurrection. The second big issue was that Moses hit the rock instead of spoke to it out of lack of trust. He knew that hitting the rock the first time worked so, why not hit it again? See what I’m sayin? So, when God asks me to do things that I don’t understand, Moses pops into my head and how he didn’t understand what God was doing either. I’m not saying that God is doing this awesome foreshadowing move in my life that will change the world as we know it… even thought that’d be pretty sweet, but I am saying that I have no idea what I could be wrecking by disobeying. We can’t predict what God is about to do in our life or other people’s lives and who are we to actually think that we know what’s best or more efficient?

BeachwavesAbraham comes to mind for a completely different reason than Moses. In Genesis 15 God promises 75 year old Abraham that his descendants will be equivalent as the stars in the night sky. It isn’t until chapter 21 that God’s promise is fulfilled to Abraham and his wife Sarah at age 100. That’s a 25 year gap for this kid. The reason why I emphasize this so much is because in the next chapter; God tells Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains.” Pardon? “Yeah, ok, no stress. I can do that.” Said no one. Ever. God asks Abraham to do something none of us could possibly wrap our minds around. But what’s even crazier, is that he goes. Verse 9, “Then they came to the place and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” I can’t even imagine what would’ve been going through Isaac’s mind at that point. But it then gets me thinking about what God has asked me to do. Walking away from a job opportunity and a relationship seem rather tame compared to slaughtering a boy. Just sayin. None the less, we need to obey what God has asked us to do no matter what the consequences might be. But listen to what happens as soon as Abraham raises the sharp blade above his kid in verse 11, “But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham! Do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God. You have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Do you see where this is going? An epic foreshadowing that wasn’t screwed up by a person’s disobedience maybe? God told Abraham to do something to test his obedience and trust and was greatly rewarded. Abraham obeyed knowing that God knew best and trusted His judgement. And in the end he still got the keep his son. Boom. Win-win.

StarfishSo in Moses’ case we can see that his disobedience messed up a lot more than simply having hangry people to deal with. In Abraham’s predicament he never did have to do the hard task that he was originally asked to do. Now looking at our own lives apply those facts. By not obeying the Lord we have no idea what bigger plan we are interfering with in God’s sight and who knows, God could be solely testing our obedience and trust in Him like He was with Abraham. Who knows what I’d be screwing up by taking the job or running with that relationship! I’m not saying it’s hard walking away, I’ll confess that I’ve looked back not once, but a couple times. Wondering if I actually made the right move or not. But each time I’ve looked back, God’s put His arm around me and turned me around to keep walking forward instead of backwards. “It’s ok Payton. Trust that I know what you need and have faith to keep walking forward without looking back. It’s not that these things would have been a disaster for you. However, I do have something that’s worth the extra distance if you’re willing.” So, I’m gunna encourage you guys to obey what God has been putting on your heart and go the extra distance. That thing you’re thinking about right now – and have been shrugging off the whole time reading this, you need to deal with it the way the Lord has been telling you all along. I’m not kidding. Whether you need to walk away or pick something up. Maybe you need to renew your self control and continue walking away with out looking back like I have or maybe you need to stop ignoring something that the Holy Spirit won’t let you forget. Keep that soft heart towards the Lord – because Abraham was rewarded for it and Moses was punished greatly due to that one weak moment. You can do this.

 

 

 

– Stay Satisfied

It turns out, it really is that simple…

I could tell you all the reasons why I haven’t posted in a while… but to put it bluntly; I didn’t want to because I wanted to see God expand on what I wanted to tell you. For about two weeks now I’ve wanted to blog about putting on a metaphoric blind fold and forcing myself to trust God with 100% of the things I struggle with. Whether it be anxiety, stress, control freak issues, you name it; work, school, friends family and dumb drama – we both know those lists could go on for miles. Every time I set aside an evening to write to you, God told me to wait. “God, why on earth would I wait; this is the first Thursday evening in months that I’ve had free – I could have the post up before the weekend for people… like when I first started blogging..” *cough cough* “I’m still writing” is how God answered me. Well alrighty then! I’ll write when your done.. just sharpen the pencil for me when it’s my turn *wink* As always, I hope you’ve just put on a pot on coffee or started a full kettle; because reading is always better with a warm drink, let’s get real. I literally took pictures of devotional pages, Bible verses, quotes, etc. of things that continually popped up that God was stringing together for one mega message. Forest Bridge

Now, recently, I’ve been really frustrated at myself. I have been kicking myself because I am constantly comparing my abilities to the people around me and continually beating myself up about why I’m not as good as the next person. I know I’m one of the only people on the face of the earth with this issue.. but bear with me.. It was a gross cycle. One example was with work. Everyday I would go to work, and everyday at work I would compare myself to the people I was working with. “Why are they so confident?” “How can they do this so accurately and smoothly every time?” “I wish I knew what to say in those situations like they do.” Etc, etc. Everyday I would leave work feeling defeated – even if it was a fun day! I didn’t get it. On complete opposite occasions, I would go home feeling the same way. Days when I helped clients, sold stuff and laughed with people vs. days when I literally asked for help with every question that came my way, didn’t sell anything and forgot my laugh box at home in my bed. I would go home feeling defeated and discouraged. On my drives back to the house I would find something negative to focus on. BUT WHY?! For whatever reason, it’s been incredibly difficult for me to focus on the happy and positive things in my day. This went on for what felt like decades. Each hour felt like a day, a day felt like a week and a week felt like a year. I dreaded waking up in the morning. The more I compared myself the more I felt like I could get it right. “Oh, so and so does this and it works. So I’ll just do that too and I’ll start to succeed.” Pure logic right? Mmmm no. I started feeling worse because I realized more and more that I wasn’t catching up or keeping up. It wasn’t until my boss stopped me before going home one night and asked what was up, “Dude, I’ve noticed you’re just off lately. What’s up?” I did not want to tell my boss what the deal was… “You don’t have to talk to me about it if you don’t want to – I get that, but know I’m always here to chat if you need to get it out. I’ve been feeling that you’re not doing 100% though and I just wanted to ask..” I then started to tell him how I’ve been frustrated with myself. Frustrated with myself at work, with friends, with family, and with myself in general. Feeling, not good enough. He just looked at me and listened. After I finished he put it bluntly, “K, first of all, you’re not perfect. You’re not gunna hit every ball outta the park. So stop thinking you can. There’s your first issue. Second, why do you think you need to be hitting home runs 100% of the time? You are actually pulling your hair out over nothing.” “I know,” I tried to

Babe Ruth; New York Yankees

Babe Ruth; New York Yankees

explain, “it’s just when I see you and everyone else I think I should be doing better..” He cut me off, “You cannot and should not be comparing yourself to anyone. You can’t roll that way. Do you know who Babe Ruth was? Babe Ruth was an amazing baseball player. On paper; he was phenomenal, in person he was a slobby pig that had one of the worst athletic forms in baseball. But he was amazing. Babe Ruth did not compare himself to other baseball players; he had his own swing that he found and made work for him. Anybody else looking at the guy saw his bad form, unhealthy body, etc. but they also saw his stats. You need to stop focusing on how others see you. Who cares if you have to ask questions all the time – you’re learning. Who cares if you don’t make a sale – you gave them information. If you get ten balls thrown at you and hit three outta the park but miss the other seven; you need to focus on those three home runs – not the seven outs! And that goes for anything in life. Be it people in your life, responsibilities, hobbies, whatever. As long as you are doing your best you can, you need to celebrate in the little victories. And, I’ll let you now that you have your own, very unique swing that is working for you! I’ve seen it, the others have seen it. You’re doing fine and you’ve hardly been here.” I was stunned. Sometimes I feel like my boss hardly knows me and other times I feel like we’ve grown up together. As I got in my car to drive home I felt God continue what my boss was talking about. “Payton, you’ve been allowing the devil to cloud your mind with undeserved stress, guilt and anxiety. You can do all things through Me because I give you strength. Anything that doesn’t happen wasn’t meant to happen. I know you’ve been discouraged thinking you’re not good enough for the people around you but you need to stop thinking that way and start thinking about how you can be My light for them. How can you show Christ’s love to them instead of your own love?”

CokeThe next morning I cracked open my devotional book and could’ve laughed about how bang on it was, “Do not bring performance pressures into our sacred space of communion. Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice. I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being. Your mind shuttles back and forth weaving webs of anxious confusion. As My thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky strings of worry. Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think My thoughts. This ability is an awesome benefit of being My Child, pattern after My own image. Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Sit quietly in My presence, focusing on Me instead of the things going on around you.” God also reminded me that morning that I was not fully committing the day to Him. In the mornings I would think and stress about how I would try my best to do well that day. I would strain my mind to think about how I should’ve done or what I didn’t do and how I failed instead of relaxing to see what I accomplished. God pointed out, that when I am spending time with Him, I’m constantly asking Him to help me at work; to do well and to meet the “standards” of the people I’m working with. I’m not supposed to be burning my time with God like that!

“When the Lord makes it clear you’re to follow Him in this new direction, focus fully on Him and refuse to be distracted by comparisons with others.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Day 2: “Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together, we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is difficult at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance light footed in the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step; clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is hard and scenery is dull at times, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you.” I felt that once again God was nudging me to first of all, set my eyes on Him. Second, to focus on my accomplishments through His strength and third, to dismiss the discouragements the devil was waving in front of my face. God then gave me Psalm 37:23 & 24, “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he may trip, he won’t fall, for the Lord holds his hand.” No matter how many times I strike out, I need to look at my home runs because that is what God has allowed me to accomplish. As this week went on it felt like every day God was giving me more rope to climb out of the pit of discouragement. You know when you’re out on a hike and you come to the last and biggest section? It’s steep and thick, but you know the top is going to be marvelous? When you start working your way to the top; you have a strange, new sense of energy – because you know this is the last one before you get to enjoy the rewards at the top. That’s honestly the best way to describe my week. Every day that went past, God gave me strength in the morning and helped me to take joy in what we did that day. The next day God gave me another boost. Like on Mario Kart when you drive over the rainbow patches! “I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved Child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.” Instead of trying to “fix” yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed n My righteousness, radiant in My perfect love.” That is exactly what I needed before work. In that moment, I felt that God totally showed me that He knows exactly how I feel and how I have been struggling. For Him to speak directly to my heart and say hey, I know you think that you have to be doing well in order for Me – or anyone to love you, but it’s ok, I’m going to love you and will always love you anyways. I’ve felt that if I drop the ball on someone I don’t deserve to be loved by them. When I’m sharing this now, I realize how dumb that is because I would never treat someone else that way if roles were reversed. For example, the other day I had planned to skype a good friend of mine in the evening, but consultations at work ran unexpectedly late and I got home three hours after we planned to skype. I felt like I dropped the ball on her. In that moment I felt like I had failed as a friend. God then told me that He has placed people in my life that will love me despite my failures just like I love people despite their short comings. It is not about who deserves who’s love and friendship or even how much of a friend to be – we all help each other to be stronger in Christ.

Quote

As each day past, each day got better than the previous. God helped me to be constantly looking to Him all through out my day. To shoot up those mini prayers and commit moments and people to Him. To give me knowledge and humility, humor and grace. At the end of the day my boss came up to me, “You’ve been killing it these past few days! You’re doing better?” I smiled, yeah, I’ve been doing a lot better.. “well it’s showing, not specifically saying sales or work wise, but your atmosphere is more positive. Way to be Rockstar.” My boss and I went on a couple consultations that day and we were able to talk about asking for God’s help but also being willing to act. If you want change you have to be willing to change and to search it out. You can’t simply wait around for something to magically appear on your lap. About a week ago (que dance moves) I was dreading getting out of bed and attempting to do things. But God sought me out and changed my attitude and helped me to want to change. I knew I didn’t want to keep that attitude. I love life. This is common knowledge to anyone that knows me – or has ever met me, really.  You have to be willing to do something. I had to constantly be adjusting my sight on the Lord through out my day. At some points, I was praying every fifteen minutes to give my anxiety to God and to ask for His help. It got to the point where I prayed before I talked to every client I encountered that day, because I knew I needed His strength to help them. I think that was one of the most encouraging parts though, knowing that God was there listening and ready for me every time I spoke to Him. It wasn’t my own knowledge, it wasn’t fluke; it was God giving me answers, allowing my boss and manager to “pop up” at the right times to conveniently answer questions. Once again, God gave me a Psalm, “Why are you in despair, o my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”(62:8}

“Therefore do not worry about {each moment} , for {each moment} will worry about itself. Each {moment} has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

“Payton, I heard your heart and I knew you were sad. I reached out to you and you grabbed My hand. While you focus on trusting Me, I will gently pull you up and clean you off. I have said in My Word, “I did this so that you would seek Me and perhaps reach out to Me and find Me; though I have never been far from you. For in Me you live and move.. {Acts 17:27 & 28} Keep reaching out to Me and relying on Me and I will continue holding you and guiding you.” Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality.” Guys, I want to encourage you to reach out. Reach out to those around you to encourage them and to push them to keep going. You have no idea the impact you can have on someone else’s life. More importantly, reach out to God because He is always watching you and ready to jump in and help you. I was struggling with my self confidence, work, and the people around me; but not only allowing but asking God to step in has given me a new joy, a new confidence and a new love for all those things. Stop putting it off like I was. Stop waiting around allowing things to get worse and letting your heart slip into a depressing state. Be ok to accept help and be willing to change. I wish I could stress that more, it’s kinda hard over the internet.. Going home is not an option, we can only go hard.

 

 

 

– Stay Satisfied

 

Ps.

I wanted to say thank you by the way, thanks for staying with me, and for praying for me and even just showing you care by reading 🙂 It means a lot to me, knowing that I have people out there that care about my life and what’s going on! Know that I care about you too and I’m praying for you always!