Expecting.

I’m sitting here thinking about this time last year when I was preparing to go on my very first mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. I was nervous and excited all at the same time; I felt so blessed and privileged for the opportunity to embark on that adventure. I was also super expectant and just knew that it would be life-changing…and it was.

Today, almost mirrors last year. The only thing that separates then from now is 365 days of time and space. Just like last year, I’m nervous and excited and feeling incredibly blessed for the opportunity that lays before me. I will be embarking on a new adventure and relocating to Georgia! And I am expecting this May and beyond to be nothing short of life-changing, as well 🙂

As you can imagine, I’m stoked for the newness, but you know “new” can also be kind of scary. Not to mention, transitioning mentally, physically and spiritually into this new season has its moments. There are ways you prepare yourself (and others) for what’s to come, but I think you can only prepare so much.

As I reflect on last year, I think about what I did to prepare for that almost 8,300 mile voyage to Cape Town South Africa. I got shots, I shopped, I put in vacation time, I gave notice, I fund-raised, I prayed, etc. And there was another thing…I’m not sure I realized how instrumental this was to the preparation process at the time, but now it’s glaring—

I EXPECTED.

I expected to experience and see God in South Africa. I expected Him to meet me there and show me new things. I expected that I would return home changed. I expected I would grow deeper relationships and gain new friends.

I had a mindset of expectancy that said “I’m expecting great things and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

I believe this attitude opened me up to fully experience my situation in a different way.

I’m not talking about what you think “should” happen or how you think it “should” happen, I’m simply talking about expecting something to happen.

Expecting means to anticipate the occurrence of something with reason (www.dictionary.com). You’re not closing yourself off to the details of how it can happen, but leaving yourself open for it TO happen whichever way it may. And honestly that takes a great deal of relinquishing control so you can just experience – you know…undergo, meet, feel, savor, enjoy…

So just like last May, this May – I am expecting.

I can’t promise that I’ll ever be fully prepared for the journey ahead, but I can promise myself that I will expect to experience God, life, surprises, love and growth.

Sincerely an Expectant Lauren ❤

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GUEST POST: “Return.” By Anonymous

 

Luke 8:39 – “Return home and tell how much God has done for you”


I’m not a great story teller. I’m not exactly sure how to introduce my experience, so bear with me as I jump right into it…

The abuse started around year 1. Well, the physical abuse. There were always elements of mental and emotional abuse from day one, but I rationalized with myself and deemed it to be acceptable because his jealous and controlling ways meant “he cared about me” and his hurtful words meant he just “kept it real.” Little did I know those were warning signs to a much larger battle that I’d be fighting – literally.

The first big episode that occurred was the day before Valentine’s Day in 2013. I remember because he got me the cutest stuffed monkey and a pink card that read “I’m sorry for the bruises. I love you.” My bruised arms and ribs needed some TLC so I ran a bath and sat in the tub for hours. In that exact moment is when the thought of leaving him first came to mind. I had no idea how I was going to do it. I hadn’t told anyone about what was going on. I knew as soon as I told someone, I’d be held accountable to get out of the relationship and as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know if I was ready to leave yet. It wasn’t because I was dependent on him. Thankfully I was blessed with a great job and a high degree of self-sufficiency. And it wasn’t because I necessarily still loved and wanted to be with him (which was true in a sense)…but it was more so because of the threats. When someone constantly threatens you, tells you they’ll kill you if you ever try to walk out, you believe them. I believed him and I was afraid. I thought it’d be safer to stay and just pray that God changes him, versus me testing him and risking my life. Leaving didn’t sound safe to me. It sounded scarier than just continuing to be with him, so that’s exactly what I decided to do…continue to be with him.

As time progressed, so did the abuse. I’ll spare the details and stories of how and when each blow happened, but I do want to tell you how my spirit was being changed. See, I had always been my own version of a ‘Christian’. What I mean by that is, I went to church (when I wasn’t hungover from the night before), tithed (occasionally), and told people “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I was that girl. I never had a relationship with God, just a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts that I followed when I felt like it. But about 2.5 years into this relationship, something within me was changing. My heart, mind, and soul was yearning for Christ in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And at this point during our entire relationship we NEVER attended church together. Never. When I approached my then boyfriend about going to church, he was completely against it. In fact, just hearing anything that had to do with God or church sent him into a state of INTENSE anger. I prayed for him – but the more I prayed it seemed like the angrier he got. He didn’t want me to go to church, read the Bible, etc. He hated anything that had to do with my faith. Very quickly I realized the battle that I was fighting was no longer just physical, but a spiritual one as well.

Fast forward to our 3 year anniversary: Right after we exchanged our ‘Happy Anniversaries’ we got into an argument and I told him I was done and I was leaving. Which was something I’d wanted to do for the past year and a half and I finally gained enough strength and courage to get up and go, permanently. I remember praying beforehand and saying, “Lord, if you get me out of this, I promise you’ll get the glory and I’ll never look back.” Through some struggle I made it down the steps to the front door, but I was knocked down. The man that I called mine for the past several years straddled over top of me and placed his hands around my neck for the very last time. I remember laying there thinking, “Ok, this is it. This is the moment I’m losing my life.” So I decided to not fight back anymore. I knew this was a physical battle I was sure to lose, so I just laid there and accepted it. As soon as I stopped fighting, my abuser looked at me, quickly released his grip around my neck, and backed away from me with his hands in the air. The look he gave me was one that I’ll never forget. It was like he just saw a ghost or something. Not only did he stop harming me, but this same man helped me get my things together so I could leave!

I witnessed God move in my situation within seconds. It was a complete supernatural experience. And I also realized I wasn’t just fighting my abuser. I’m not taking away responsibility for his actions, but unfortunately he was just a willing vessel to carry out the harm, and the real battle that I was fighting was with the enemy. The devil doesn’t fight you when you’re compliant with his agenda. The opposition worsened while I was getting my breakthrough.

—-

Some of you are in the same position I was, maybe just in a different scenario. You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him. That’s when God can get our attention the most. I tried to run before, but I would go back to my abuser. I was persuaded and convinced back into the hands of a toxic spirit…and that’s something the devil is good at as well. He’ll tell you to stay in a harmful situation and reason with you to do so. I was there, and that’s a dangerous place to be – where your place of comfort is a place of destruction.

“You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him.”

At one point I questioned if God even existed. Logically, God didn’t make sense – that’s what I would hear often. But logically, I’m not supposed to be here today. Logically, my abuser would have choked me to death that night. Logically, through all the abuse, I shouldn’t have a sound mind and sleep well at night. But…my God surpasses all logic and I know, that I know, that I KNOW!

I’ve already talked way too long, but someone needed to hear this. I’m not sure who it is or where you are, but YOU need to hear that God can and will get you out of your trouble…you just have to let Him. The battle is not yours, it never was. It’s God’s. Give Him your battle and you’ll come out with the victory EVERY TIME.

If you or someone you know is battling domestic violence please tell someone while considering yours and their safety. You can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and they will give you resources or next steps in trying to figure out what to do. If you’re in a very dangerous situation, I would suggest and encourage you to visit your local domestic violence division and report the incidents.

Thank you for reading and letting me tell you what God has done for me…He deserves all the glory and honor! God bless you all!

Signed,

A Woman Renewed

*This post was written by a woman who wanted to share her story anonymously with YOU. Should you need prayer or have questions, please email LaurenRelinquished@GMail.com or leave comments below.*

share.

Sharing is undeniably one of the greatest duties you have.

You are you. No one else can be you. Therefore, no one else can share what you share; No one else can share what you share the way you share it.

There’s so much power in that truth. And the weight of that power can be felt in so many ways. I can only imagine what you’re thinking; how deep the pound in your chest; how weighty that great knowledge of self feels.

What’s on your mind?

What do you feel a great need to share?

What are you scared to share?

Don’t deny yourself the great pleasure of sharing – it’s unnatural.

Share with one body…two bodies…somebody!

It’s your undeniable duty to share —

s  h  a  r  e.

If you’re not doing that, then what are you doing? 

When someone feels empowered, they’re able to do almost anything.

Who are you encouraging, praising, or supporting today?

Today’s message is simple – EMPOWER OTHERS. When people feel empowered, they soar through challenges and delight in victories; They relish the sight of their light and encourage others to see their own light.

If you’re not encouraging, praising, supporting or loving on someone today, then who are you inspiring? And if you’re doing none of the above, then what are you doing??

Taking a moment to acknowledge someone else could be just the motivation you need to keep going on your own path.

Be generous with your positive and encouraging energy – essentially it plants something much bigger than just a seed…

a flower…

turned garden.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” -‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24‬ ‭

Waiting, waiting and waiting.

For some reason it hit me really hard this morning that I’m in a state of waiting. To be honest, it really pissed me off. Like waiting for what?!?

The only thing that I should seriously be waiting for is the day The Lord comes back, and I’m pretty sure scripture doesn’t instruct us to put everything on hold until then. I’ve GOT to keep moving and going.

When we’re in a perpetual state of waiting, there’s only one thing that comes from it – delaying or never doing something until the another thing happens.

Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a time and place for everything (and there are times to wait), but waiting doesn’t mean you stop living and being (sheesh, I don’t think I can say that enough).

 

We wait for so many things in order to feel complete. I think the hardest thing for me this morning was realizing that even when I reach the things I’m waiting for, I’ll still just be in another state of waiting for the next thing. I think it’d be different if in my head I didn’t constantly think I needed something in order to do something else.

And I think I use “waiting” a lot of times as an excuse. It’s easier a lot of times to say I’ll do this when this happens…

For instance, there’s this work project that I find myself increasingly annoyed by every email I receive on it. Mostly because I didn’t want the project in the first place – I was kind of volun-told (when you’re volunteered/told by someone else to do something). On top of that, I’m busy and have some other work things going on that I’m trying to work through. So the timing of this project just isn’t great. My mindset on the whole thing is kind of crappy tho… I keep thinking – if this project came at another time – I’d do a much better job. But the reality is, it’s on my plate now.

So I can’t just wait to get less busy – first of all, it doesn’t work like that and second I can’t just neglect it because I don’t want to do it. If I wait for one thing in order to do another thing, I miss out on the opportunity that’s in front of me presently. It’s true – I don’t want to do it, but this project could help me gain some professional leadership experience, help me build my network and grow advocates (because we know a lot of how the real world works is based on who you know and not just what you know). So there’s definitely some benefits to not delaying, but if my mindset says “wait,” I can’t grow, learn nor experience.

I also find myself holding my breath in my relationship. I’m waiting, but then there’ll be something else to wait for and then something else to wait for and so on and so on… I literally had to tell myself “Bruh, chill. 🙄✋🏾 Just go with the flow!” I just want to enjoy the present and what life has for me to enjoy right now. And I can’t do that if I’m always waiting. Period.

Care to join me in a toast?

*lifts glass*

Here’s to not waiting in order to LIVE! 🍻🎉🎈

Safe. 

It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when you don’t have a script or instruction manual to know what to say or do. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when what’s around you is new and foreign. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place for things that are unfamiliar.

But what exactly are you defining as “safe”?

Psalm 91:1-2 says – Those who live in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of The Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of SAFETY: He is my God and I trust Him. 

Is God not safe enough for you?? 

The task seems daunting when we don’t feel “safe” leaving our “comfort,” but God…yes God is THE SAFE PLACE

Trust what He’s intentionally showing you. Trust what He’s purposed for you. Jump into God’s safety and take risks today!

❤️

What Are You Searching For?

What are you searching for?

Be honest.

If you were to look over your last couple hours/days/weeks/months, how have you been spending your time? What kind of activities have you been engaging in? What have you spent your money on?

Think about it. Did you find a common theme(s) ruling all of your time?
I posed those questions because I found that the way I was spending my time, was not in fact aligned with what I proclaim to want.

We say we want one thing, yet we may lack the actions and behavior to get that. So I ask you, what are you searching for? 

Are you searching for affirmation and confirmation? If so, who are you looking to, to affirm and confirm you?

(If you’re waiting on a human, please know: if you live for their praise, you’ll also die from their criticism)

Are you searching for love? If so, who/what are you wanting/attempting to get it from? Does God love you? Do you love yourself? Are those two sources not enough for you? Why is that? Dig deeper! (You may be amazed at what you find out and need to change your mind on…)

(Please know: God’s love is enough. Of course others’ love is applauded and needed too, but if your foundation of love isn’t set upon God’s, you’ll search endlessly for the love you think you need/want.)

Are you searching for purpose? If so, are you basing your purpose on fleeting things? Are you searching by comparing what everyone else is doing?

(Please know: you were created on purpose for a purpose and your purpose is absolutely and positively, UNIQUE TO YOU. Spend time asking God what He has for you and then be patient and open enough to hear/see/do what he reveals to you.)

—-

I encourage you to be honest about what you’re searching for and your means to get it. If there’s a gap between what you’re looking for and how you’re attempting to get it, then reevaluate your actions and behavior and then put forth work to change things. For me, God is a great giver of instructions and guidance – so I encourage you too, to talk to Him (He’s waiting to hear from you).

-Lauren❤️

Unwrap The Gift! [[The “UNPACKING” Series – Part 4]]

I feel closest to God not just when I’m praying, but when I’m doing what He’s instructed me to do and I’m praying along the way.

When I’m doing what He’s told me to do, there’s this type of connection and dependency I have on The Father; A fine mingling between our spirits because we’re communicating on the same wave length.

I pray. He leads. I do it and I pray for next steps. I’m moving with God, not in opposition to Him.

Did you catch that?

I said: I AM MOVING WITH GOD.

Many times we pray out of habit (not a bad thing), but we directly neglect what He told us to do in the first place. It’s more of a series like this: We pray. He leads. We ignore and pray some more about the same things.

So in other words, we don’t do what He told us. ⬅️ This fact has been super amplified in my life especially after a friend’s recent introduction of a book called Wasted Prayer by Greg Darley (I definitely recommend this one).

I think over the last couple months, this is something God has really been trying to teach me. Not only has He placed people, things and messages all around me, but he’s been so faithful and generous with His blessings these last couple months as I’ve begun to start d o i n g.

As my Pastor Dr. Mike Scruggs said in church Sunday – “God rewards consistency.”  But consistency requires some type of action to be repeated over and over again. Notice I said: A C T I O N.

But yet so often, the action steps never happen for me because I’m so fearful of what it really means to take that step. To r e l i q u i s h control and really let God lead me to those necessary action steps.

It’s like I’d become such a scaredy cat (notice how I wrote that in past tense because I’m leaving that mess in the past), but I’d become such a scaredy cat that I wouldn’t allow myself to just reach into the box and pull stuff out because I wasn’t sure what I’d get or even if I’d like it.

If I think of these boxes God has given me to UNPACK as simple gifts, why would I be willing to rip off the gift wrap, tear open the box but still too scared to fully uncover what’s in the box??

My boxes are gifts. Therefore the contents of my boxes are presents specifically picked out for me (My what a blessing that is)! So let me fully UNWRAP and UNPACK the gift and see it out in the open – not confined to a box or any other type of wrapping. Taking it out the box actually F R E E S the gift and thus liberates me.

In that same way, praying frees the pray-er of stress and worry and allows God to present a set of instructions as a gift. The pray-er then should accept the gift of instructions and fully unwrap it and do as God has instructed! 

Therefore, the unwrapping is the action step in which we actually begin to UNPACK and live out our blessings bit by bit, one step at a time. 

So are we unwrapping the gifts of instructions God is giving us or simply pushing and praying away wrapped gifts with our names on them too afraid to actually unpack them??

#QTNA (Questions That Need Answers)

———-

UNPACK & UNWRAP!

Lord, thank you first and foremost for continually blessing me with gifts. Thank you for showing me all these gift around me that I have yet to open. I’m
So grateful that you still provide gifts even when I’ve ignored the ones you’ve already given. Please forgive me and all my ignorance, Lord. Help me to no longer discard nor toss your gifts to the side. Help me to be thankful for your gifts/answers and to UNWRAP and DO those gifts and blessings you give.

Amen.

When You’re Given Directives…[[The “Unpacking” Series – Part 3 

One of the clear ways that God speaks to me is thru writing. So He often leads me back to past journal entries and blog posts so I can re-read.
I was rereading part 2 of this series and God pointed out a piece of it to me:


“…often times my ideas of how things should happen, overrides His simple directives.”
But what is a “directive” exactly?

Let’s break it down…
So I took a little stroll over to my handy dandy dictionary app and the 2nd definition really hit me. Like, REALLY hit me – jumped off the screen and smacked me in the face -hit me. It said:

I interpreted this as, God acts as our psychologist. When things get bad enough, we humble ourselves to talk (or pray) to Him for help. We tell Him what we know and we wait for His advice back – like a counselor.

But what this definition pointed out to me, is that the counselor doesn’t just listen and take the information I’ve been able to relay, but the counselor actively offers advice outside of the details and info I give!

I want y’all to understand why this was such a juicy find for me – I can cry and whine to The Father with the details of my situation, yet God gives me answers NOT confined to the knowledge that I know.

Not only does this blow my mind but it also makes me marvel at how omniscient He is!

Despite how serious and how overwhelming a situation may feel, God supplies the right answer to ALL the things we bring before Him. He is not limited by the amount of information we give on a situation to tell us what The real and right answer is right NOW in our lives!

Listen to His D I R E C T I V E S !!!

⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️

So The Lord and I have been talking about my need to NOT override his simple directives (commands) with what I think things should be. So this verse literally tells me not only to submit to His right answer, but also to commit and follow His commands by reminding myself of them everywhere I go so I don’t forget!
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” -‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:6-7‬

So what commands or directives did The Lord speak over my life?

Well, I got the following:

POUR OUT

Stop withholding doing and saying that which needs to be said & done because I’m unsure of the answer The Lord has given me. Just let it out and submit and commit to The Lord’s answer to my life.
SUBMIT & COMMIT TO HIS ANSWERS

Often times how I think things should go causes me to put my hopes on what I’ve imagined. It’s ok to imagine, but when God has given me His answer, I need to flee from my own way of thinking and align myself with His thoughts and be flexible in that way.
EXAMINE MY OWN ACTIONS

Many times I find myself so worried about the next person, that I fail to seek guidance on what Lauren is doing and should be doing. I must examine my own actions and do what I’m prompted to do instead of critiquing my neighbors.

These are now the screensaver for my phone because I need to remind myself constantly of what it is I need to do! Because you know how it is…sometimes we forget things that we’re just taught…

When I want to hold back, I’m reminded I need to simply let things flow out as God needs me to without holding back!
When I’m stuck in the midst of my plans and how I want things to go, I’m reminded to RELINQUISH what I think, and submit to God’s right answer for me [[“We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer.” -‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:1‬]]

When I’m bothered by others actions and planning and agonizing on what I think they should do, I’m reminded to look in the mirror and assess what it is I’M doing and ask God what it is He needs me to to do right then.

—-

My prayer during this UNPACKING series has been for God to literally wreck me from the inside out. So much of growing into yourself is not only opening boxes and learning all the contents of those boxes, but it’s also getting rid of, cleaning out and adjusting all the contents too.

Let’s keep unpacking yall! ❤

—-

Should Unpacking Get Messy?? [The “Unpacking” Series – Part 2]

I am so tickled right now.

When God gives you opportunities to laugh with Him, please DO IT!

This deep belly laugh growing in my spirit is nearly bringing me to tears.

They say “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans” – I have my issues with that saying, but in my situation today, it really is proving true.

Like, have you ever just laughed at how ridiculous someone is?

Well…today’s knee-slapper is my own ridiculousness.

I’m over here shifting and planning and moving and shaking and holding up progress because I’m convinced this particular “thing” has to happen in a certain way, but God just stops me and is like “Really…Really Lauren…this is what we’re doing now??” (and He said it in his Kevin Hart voice lol jk 😂

Like seriously, we can be given the simplest of instructions, but yet we still make them complicated.

image

I know I find ways to make things complex, all the time and I’ve been doing the same with this “UNPACKING” thing. I still hold this deep underlying need to plan everything out. So for instance, before I unpack these boxes, I have to have a plan for where everything goes. So I’ve been browsing other people’s lives like Pinterest boards – trying to see what to re-pin, like and recreate. But can I tell you a secret?

“If you’ve been given a simple directive, JUST DO THAT!”

Because of my struggles with perfectionism and my want to plan, I feel this need to “prepare” before I do all this unpacking of Lauren. The funny thing is, I have no idea what I’m going to find out about myself as I unpack, yet I’m looking for how to organize it. Does that make any sense to you? Yeah, me neither! That’s why I’m not going to do that anymore!

Life isn’t as simple as a thumb-swipe, a like and a re-pin. We don’t just incessantly scroll thru pictures and ideas and plan our lives. There’s nothing wrong with admiring other peoples’ great ideas/gifts/talents/etc., but there is certainly a time and a place for it. And my ability to look into others “lives” to help plan mine, is not helpful. In fact, it’s quite misplaced.

Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with planning. But again, there’s a time and a place for it  and in my case, I’m just stalling because I’m afraid of what all I’m going to find out. 😔

If I’ve yet to unpack my own boxes and understand what all Lauren is made of, why would I be trying to decorate her like someone else’s place when she is her OWN place?!?

(I’ll wait…)

The idea of dressing Lauren up as someone else is ludicrous, right?

God never told me I needed to go on “Pinterest” and make these excessive boards full of ideas. He simply told me to UNPACK, but often times my ideas of how things should happen, overrides His simple directives.

My need to control situations does not change the fact that God still holds my life in His hands. So whether I delay it by putting my own thoughts and ideas on a matter or not, God still waits for us to position ourselves how He told us to.

So…

I began unpacking one of my first boxes over the last week…

And there’s so much freedom and joy in my spirit because of it! No, I don’t have any extravagant plans of where I’m going to put what I’ve unpacked, but just having them out in the open is freeing enough (who would’ve thunk it?)!!

Despite popular belief, UNPACKING doesn’t have to be this super organized and detailed process. In fact, it is likely to get a little messy.

But can I help free you?

LIFE IS MESSY – it’s full and its lively!

When we allow God to “organize” the mess that the contents of all our boxes create, we open ourselves up to divine plans that only He can set for us.

I’ll admit – saying that is one thing, but actually allowing God to do that, is another. I’m still in the “understanding” portion of all that, but I believe…YES (day by day, it is a task), but I believe.

It’s time to get messy.

-Lauren Still Relinquishing ❤

*Read Part 1 in The “Unpacking” Series here!