Quieted By Love

Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

Silent, and soft, and slow

Descends the snow.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have learned to appreciate a good snow fall. I grew up in the Bay Area of California, so my understanding of seasonal weather conditions is severely jaded. When my husband and I moved to Ohio for three years, my lack of experience with climate extremes became strikingly apparent. I was blissfully unaware that there were so many diverse forms water can take as it falls, that trees may get so encased with ice they fracture from the weight, or that every wintery blue moon, it gets so cold that a once-bustling city can give the impression that it has been frozen.

A civilization covered in layers of white and stillness. Here, I find an earthly picture of the quiet spirit I long for. Instead of highways buzzing, to-do list conquering, and my mind racing, I hear God speak softly because all other voices have been swept away by winter’s kiss. When ice and snow blanket thick across the cityscape, people tuck indoors in search of warmth and forgotten hopes of a world at rest awaken. We stop. We breathe. We begin to see more clearly that the hurried life is not what we were designed for. Humanity in its beautiful diversity forgets that a heart can fracture from the weight of living up to expectations, and this, in turn, can leave us feeling frozen.

Rest often feels foolish, even ludicrous to ask for, and amity does not often coexist with forced huddles. My house is full of people requesting presence that is sometimes hard to give, and the demands of the day swallow time. Beyond my close and daily cares lies present day culture where my senses are violently accosted by the demands of a hurting world. The brokenness of society feels too brazen, politics too poisonous, and people are suffering through (or worse, serving) terror. There is much that is troubling to the soul.

It is during these times that I have to fight for peace — real peace, not this fake numbness found behind screens and disguised as my favorite sins. Complacency calls and I find myself convinced that lies I’ve told myself a thousand times are true: I must strive. I can do it. I will justify my existence.

Instead of fleeing to false comfort, I remember that there is a story that looms larger than the horror, and the inner turmoil is met with the hope that this world has been overcome. Peace can still be mine because it is not dependent on me. It was spoken forth by the man who is God, who was once the baby in the manger; who knew that darkness would persistently press in, so He came and offered light.

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.~ Jesus (John 16:33)

I will remember that it is through Christ, and Christ alone that I have been justified. So today as the temperature drops and human tempers flare, I will find a quiet place. I will remember the times when snow overcomes cities and take heart even when silence cannot be secured. God’s promises will not move. He cannot be shaken. I can be calm in the flurries of noise, I find solace in listening for my Savior, and I will relish in well fought for rest.

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

Without rest, I can’t do. I don’t have the strength to fight for justice or extend mercy when my soul is stretched thin. The “be” and “go” must coexist or only a phantom of who I truly am will be seen in my productivity. A dulled passion of lackluster faith is not the kind of stuff that moves mountains, but a quiescent spirit and dependant heart find the source of true power — the Lord God Almighty who brings peace on Earth.

I can make footprints on icy days not because I do not feel the chill but because within me resides a consuming fire that fears not. I can still move forward when I feel pressured to step back because I am willing to dedicate time to sit with The Savior. I cling to His word that restores my soul and let His spirit quiet me with love.


Chara bio pic square 600px.jpgChara Donahue loves to talk to women about Jesus, motherhood and discovering the abundant life. She has four kids, a brawny husband, and is a writer/speaker/biblical counselor when time allows. She has an MSEd from Corban University and is the founder of Anchored Voices. You can find her on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

What No One Tells You About Going Into the Hospital

After two and a half decades on this earth, I found myself strapped to a stretcher, my legs pinned down to keep me from kicking the cute EMT. 

Maybe an hour before that, I was in the emergency room, hurling my guts into a trashcan while precious Nurse Marco wrapped me in warm blankets and filled my IV with the medicine I so desperately need. 

Maybe four hours after the stretcher incident, I awoke to find one of my oldest Florida friends right by my side, tagging in for another friend who had previous obligations. 

For the first time in my life, I was admitted into a hospital. And my family was states away. 

But in those hours that are all now blurred together, I came out on the other side, incredibly grateful for surprising things, things no one ever told me about being in the hospital. 

1. Make sure your undergarments are comfy and breathable. I once heard you should always wear cute underwear because you never know when a firefighter will have to cut you out of a car. Three days before Christmas, I can’t tell you how many doctors saw my panties, and how grateful I am they were both cute and comfortable. 

2. Shave your legs. Sadly, it’d been about a month since I did this (it’s winter, leave me alone), and I was mortified as nurses moved about my body to clean me up. If you perpetually keep your legs shaved, it saves you the embarrassment of mumbling apologies to the kind man or woman who is keeping you alive. 

3. Count on the faith of others. Studies show patients who have faith are more likely to pull through a tough accident or illness. But I was barely coherent enough to form a prayer in my head, much less utter something out loud. But before I left for the emergency room, my coworkers laid hands on me and prayed over me. Two different pastors’ wives sat with me in the emergency room and in my hospital room. My phone was blowing up with prayers from around the world. In those fuzzy moments, I knew God had me because His body was reaching out. 

4. Man cannot live on bread alone, but a woman can manage on Jell-O and broth. Bread may have been the whole reason I was hospitalized to begin with, but Jell-O is a life saver. It’s nostalgic and delicious, surprisingly filling when you haven’t had anything to eat in a few days.

5. You don’t necessarily know the people who will show up. When I came to at one point, a new friend sat beside me. We’d hung out maybe three times prior, but she was there with a blanket and cookie pillow and socks and a coloring book. My daddy flew to me. A colleague’s husband–someone I’d never met–picked him up from the airport. My CEO called me. My friend’s mom, who is rapidly becoming a personal friend, joined me in the ER. Another colleague went to my home to feed and walk my dog. All of them I’d classify as lovely human beings, but I was incredibly touched when they stopped their lives to assist mine. 

6. God will show up. Y’all, I’ve stood on the other side of a hospital bed and watched a respirator mechanically pump my friend’s chest up and down moments before his parents pulled him from life support. I held my cousin while my family said good-bye to my great-grandmother’s lifeless body hours after her death. I know many do not equate hospital with hope. But, today, I do. God used nurses and friends and doctors and strangers to prove to me that I still matter to Him. In the pits of depression, I find myself doubtful of His goodness; but the moment I was hospitalized for chronic IBS, He was there. 

He was there in Nurse Marco who called me “my dear,” and kept my body as stable as possible in the emergency room. He was there in Mrs. Nancy, who dropped everything to sit with me. He was there in Heather, who showed up after my convoluted text. He was there in so many others, more than I even know, who lifted me up to Him. 

What no one tells you about the hospital is that it doesn’t have to be a dramatic life-or-death situation to encounter the Living God. 

I’m Not Where I Thought I’d Be

I didn’t expect this. 

Not the job, not the apartment, not the friendships, not the church.

I didn’t expect the crippling depression that runs hand-in-hand with my growing faith. I didn’t expect to spend my nights crying out to God, desperate to feel His love in the midst of frigid isolation.

But when you’ve been a Christian for two decades and run in circles that emphasize the Holy Spirit, your priorities get out of whack. Well, maybe I should say my priorities got out of whack.

In the last six months, I’ve discovered just how fragile — and paradoxically, deep — my faith has become. It’s in this journey that I’m writing to you.

When God gives you a gift, He expects you to pass it along. It’s doubtful most people think a major depressive disorder is a gift, but I’m learning that the emotions driving me can crack the most hardened of hearts because of empathy.

As I grow closer to God, learn to follow Jesus and trust in the Holy Spirit to guide me, I’m learning that I don’t need a shatter-proof faith. Rather, the holes I’m seeking to fill are precisely what strengthen me in Him.

In Justice I Am, I want to share with you my journey — the hysterical, the ugly, the painful, the redemptive — as I walk with my friends and community.

I want you to see the perspective of someone who has followed God her whole life and still has no idea what tomorrow will hold.

I want you to experience doubts in the faith that make you cling to Christ for answers.

And also, I want your prayers. I want you to pour your heart out to God on my behalf, and I’ll do the same for you.

I didn’t expect to be where I am, and no pat Christian answer will satisfy the longings of what my adventure still holds.

But if you’re on the ledge like I so often feel like I am, take my hand and we’ll walk these next steps together.

The Discipline of Forgiveness

“Tonight, I pray for those who have wronged me, used me, abused me — whether knowingly or unknowingly,” I wrote while a flood of emotions began to rise up within me as I came to a resolution. “I’ve decided that it’s between them and God.”


I had just gotten home from our weekly Saturday night prayer meeting at my church. My heart weighed so heavy, I just had to pour out my every thought into my prayer journal as soon as I got home. You see, that night after prayer, my Bishop had challenged our church to do something I honestly feel we as Christians don’t do enough. He asked us to pray for our enemies. He referenced Job 42:10 where Job prayed for his friends and the Lord gave Job twice of what he had before.

“We all know those ‘friends’ were really Job’s enemies,” Bishop Huntley continued, “The only thing keeping us from our double blessing is not praying for our enemies.” Then, he had us do something that changed the way I will approach forgiveness forever. He had us call out all the names of those who wronged us before the Lord in prayer. It was the most powerful and emotional end to any prayer meeting I’ve been a part of.


Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat on my bed and began to list the names of each person I have been hurt by in my 24 years of living. Staring at a once empty page, I noticed the list had turned out longer than I had expected. As I turned over the page, I began to do something I’ve never done before… I asked God to move on their hearts. I pleaded with Him to turn their hearts back to Christ and to have His way in their lives.

I then began to ask the Lord to work on MY heart. To take me back to those moments of pain and hurt, and to free me from unresolved bitterness and anger in those moments.

The flashbacks began to crowd my mind. Tears came, streaming down my face as I began to remember every detail. Every word cut like knives. Every tease, every painful moment came rushing back.

“They’ll never know the hell they put me and family through some days,” I continued writing as I relived every battle I’ve ever fought in my mind, “…Through it all, God had me.” Tears began to stain the paper as the words kept coming. I couldn’t stop. And then, I wrote down all the things every situation had taught me.

And as my entry came to a close, I looked back at those things and gave thanks. “So I guess if there’s one thing I could say, I would say thank you… Like gold tried in the fire, I know we can withstand the flames.”


There is so much I could say on the topic of forgiveness, but let me just leave you with a few thoughts…

Forgiveness is a daily decision. We always hear the expression, “Forgive and forget.” Well, excuse me for being a bit cliché but that’s easier said than done. A lot of times, there are situations that arise and little things that happen that can trigger a painful memory or hurt. It’s in these moments where we begin to feel the same emotions rise back up to the surface.

When this happens, we have a decision to make. We can allow ourselves to be bitter. Or we can forgive again. Each day, you have a choice to make. I pray you choose to forgive.

Unforgiveness creates resentment. I was talking with Nina a few days ago and she said it like this:

 Unforgiveness creates resentment in our hearts for the things we feel they stole from us. Suddenly, we begin to think of all the things we harbor resentment for and replace them by saying, “They stole _____.” Or, “I’ll never be able to get back the _____ they took from me!”

You may feel like someone stole something in your life. Whether it be the time you had with them, the idea of a perfect relationship, whatever it may be… Though it may be true, unforgiveness will cause you to harbor resentment and bitterness toward that person. Please, choose love.

True forgiveness means to wipe the slate clean. When Jesus died on the cross, the blood He shed was enough to wipe away every sin we ever committed. We should be the ones paying for our sin and shame, and yet, Christ paid a debt He never owed in the first place.

The same happens when we truly forgive others. True forgiveness is saying, “You don’t owe me anything.” Even if the person apologizes or admits that they were wrong, it can’t make up for lost time or change the fact that the damage has already been done. It simply means that you are moving forward. Choose grace, and move on.

So I want you to take a moment and search deep within yourself. Who are your enemies? Who have you been harboring resentment toward? It’s time to be like Job and pray for those who have wronged us. Write their names down and call out their names before the Lord. And then… let go.

Biblical Womanhood: When You Feel Like You Don’t Fit the Mold

A few months ago, I went on a second date with a guy who called me “cool.” We sat in the dim lighting of a local restaurant and he said, “You’re the kind of girl my friends would love. You’re a pretty cool chick.” I smiled and laughed; after all, it was a compliment. Yet, I couldn’t help but mull this compliment over and I found myself obsessively dissecting it in my brain.

Since becoming a Christian, I’ve often found myself struggling with my identity. “Sure, I’m cutting away at sin in my life, but am I biblical?” I ask. “Do I have a good reputation in my church family? Am I perceived as Godly?”

In the world of evangelical Christianity, there is usually a mold. There is a prescription for what it means to be a woman in the church outlined in the biblical womanhood podcasts and Proverb 31 bible study workbooks.

In many ways, I fit it. I’d consider myself to have very traditional values and interests. I love baking, I throw down in the kitchen, I arrange flowers, I lead bible studies and run bake sales, and even though I value my career and my college education, I could never imagine putting my professional goals above a husband or children.

But in many ways, I’m an outcast from stereotypical biblical womanhood.

I have a nose ring. I’m designing a tattoo that I want to get along the spine of my back. (It’s Psalm 23 in Hebrew letters, if that makes a difference.) I drink gin neat and like going to Indie rock clubs on weekends and have a snarky sense of humor. My lips are usually colored red.

With these traits, am I still in the running for a Proverbs 31 medal? Could I make it into the biblical womanhood Hall of Fame for the fruits of the spirit that I sow in my life, or will those other traits disqualify me even though they aren’t anything to repent over?

Christianity can seem like a very restrictive, homogeneous culture, one in which we all have to speak in the exact same way, dress in the exact same way, and have the same cookie cutter hobbies. It can feel like you’ll be shunned as an outcast if you fall outside the typical mold and this is one of the main ways Christian women end up feeling hurt by their church family.

I once read about one such woman. An artist by profession, she was known for her funky, creative style. One Sunday after church, a woman approached her and “warned her” that her style was immodest, even though it wasn’t overly revealing.

There are still times when I’m made to feel ashamed of the ways I don’t fit neatly into an evangelical box. I’ve been told to my face that  I’m too bubbly and talkative and need to tone it down a little. I’ve read tweets on social media that judge women for their makeup choices and make me feel like the fact that I love red lipstick is wrong. I’ve been made to feel like a good Christian girl would never be seen at an Indie rock concert, even when it’s vulgarity-free.

Even to this day, I still sometimes feel uneasy about whether I fit into the mold. However, I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to nor should I want to. God stitched every single one of us together and made us unique. He gave each of us inherent worth and value along with distinct personalities, dreams, passions, and tastes.

I don’t fit the mold because God didn’t use one.

We are not all mass produced copies, nor are we meant to be, and I rise above the voices of those who say otherwise.

I was uniquely created by a God who said, “Oh, that’s good,” after He stitched me together.

There is no mold for biblical womanhood. There never was.

Finding Peace Amongst the Chaos

I’ve had the opportunity to visit New York City several times and I am amazed each time. The towering buildings, bustling streets and endless nightlife make the city very unique. I love to watch the people who appear to be locals and wonder what it must be like to live or work in such a busy city. I marvel at the beautiful women walking quickly on 5th Avenue in their high  heels and wonder if their feet hurt. I watch the men in business suits hustling from cabs into buildings and wonder how they keep the pace. The noise and lights of Times Square is exhilarating to the senses. Restaurants, shops and entertainment line the streets of this “city that never sleeps.” It’s full of so many distractions, I wonder how anyone gets anything accomplished!

But nothing amazes me as much as Central Park. An oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle, it offers green grass, water, and peace to those who visit. Each time I visit I wonder how often the people who live in the city visit the beautiful refuge. People jog, walk their dogs and relax in the grass and if you didn’t know it, you could easily forget that you are in New York City.

This sense of tranquility among the chaos of the busy city reminds me of the peace and comfort that the Bible can offer us when life gets crazy. We are faced with tough decisions, demanding schedules and families to provide for and life can be very overwhelming. We need to remember to take advantage of the stories and examples that are offered to us. The Bible should be the first place we turn to when we need help or advice. God sent His only son to be an example for generations to follow. We can look at the stories in the Bible for guidance and direction when life gets as noisy and messy as a crowded city.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua 1:8 (NLT).

The Bible answers the questions that we all want to know: What is the purpose to life? Where did I come from? Is there life after death? How do I get to heaven? Why is the world full of evil? Why do I struggle with making good choices?

In addition to these “big” questions, the Bible gives much practical advice in areas such as: How can I have a successful marriage? How can I be a good parent? What is success and how do I achieve it? What really matters in life? How can I live so that I do not look back with regret? How can I handle the unfair circumstances and bad events of life?

Christians are so lucky to have this valuable resource to help us navigate the storms and busy pace of life. The question is this:

Will you remember to use it when everything around us presents a distraction?

The Humility of Godliness

“Does God really move mountains?” She asked me these words in Russian, looking up at me from my lap where she lay her head as I read to her from the scriptures. My mind raced. I knew that our God COULD move mountains, yet I thought I’d yet to see Him do it in my lifetime. I looked down at her face, ivory-colored framed by blonde ringlets, and whispered to her the truth that rang deep within my heart where it fed my hope. “Yes, He does move mountains,” my eyes held hers and I smiled, “But He rarely moves a mountain all at once and all in one piece. Usually, He moves it one stone at a time, one faithful follower’s hands at a time.” Even after she was in bed, those words I poured into her stayed with me, vibrating in the background.


Our Jesus gave and gave to us, all while knowing that we would never be able to repay Him. He was a God who became a man. He had heaven and He traded it for the earth. He let go of the glory that belonged to Him alone and allowed Himself to be mocked, ridiculed, and then crucified, all so He could have us. Our Lord is a kind and loving servant, and He was defined by his humility.

As Christians, we’re called to pursue Godliness.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV)

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1: 5-8 ESV)


We’re called to pursue Godliness in speech, in thought, and in action. Our quiet time, our worship, our fasting, our devotionals, and the Christian books we invest in all seek to bring us closer and closer to that ultimate goal of Godliness.

However, the pursuit of Godliness can become sin.

There have been times when I find myself focused more on pursuing godliness than on pursuing God. Even though Christians would strive for both, our focus should never be more on the appearance of Godliness than on God Himself. The pursuit of Godliness can easily become prideful, even an idol.

In ministry, so many of us desire the spotlight. We want to be the one on the stage who receives all the glory and credit. We want to have our face on the backs of bestselling books and preach messages that go viral and write articles that get thousands of shares on Facebook.

The truth is that God calls all of us to lives of humble servanthood, moving mountains for Him one small stone at a time. Most of us won’t be a bestselling author, a famous international missionary, or a megachurch pastor’s wife.

The Godly woman is defined by all of the deeds that bring her no glory.

All of the things that she does in quiet, away from the eyes of those who could praise her and tell her that she’s worth far more than rubies. All of the ways in which she serves instead of takes. All of the ways she follows the leader, content with helping to move stones one at a time instead of getting credit with being the one to move the entire mountain. All of the way she’s the unsung hero that no one in her church knows about. She is content with this, because His praise is enough.

Redeemed Weekend – May 21, 2016

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A few nights ago, a friend asked me, “So, how do you get all of your ideas?” The truth is that almost every idea I’ve ever gotten has hit me suddenly, manifesting out of nothing. My mind is always running, so it makes sense. The idea for Redeemed Weekend came about in the exact same way – suddenly – and I immediately sent our Head Editor, Kristina, a message about it.

Every Saturday morning, we will prepare a devotional and quiet time playlist for you. Our prayer is that we will bless your weekend and your walk with the Lord. Please enjoy the first Redeemed Weekend.

Nina xo


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Devotional: Anxious For Nothing

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6, 7 NKJV (emphasis added)

This passage has become a part of my daily walk in recent months. As someone who has struggled with anxiety in the past, it’s become one of my go-to scriptures when I begin to feel my mind wander into a battlefield of lies from the enemy.

Paul wrote to the Philippians to be anxious for nothing. As Christians, we have nothing to be anxious or worry about. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about anything — what we’ll eat or drink or wear. In Matthew 6:26 He tells us to look at the birds, “Are you not of more value than they?” If God is able to take care of the birds, how much more will He care for us… His children?

When you worry…

Pray. There’s nothing more effective than prayer. James 5:16 says, “… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” When God’s children pray, something happens in the atmosphere. God hears your every word, spoken and unspoken. Your prayers will not go unanswered. Keep praying. Keep making that special time with Him, for He will bring you out.

Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is defined as expressing gratitude. When you come to God with thanksgiving and praise, you’ll find that it automatically brings joy and peace. Don’t believe me? Try it. There have been so many times when I didn’t feel like praying, let alone expressing my gratitude while I was in the midst of a storm. But when we come to God with a thankful heart, it is then where we come to realize that it’s not about us… but it’s about Him. It is in the moments of thanking Him for the things He’s done, what He’s brought us through, and what He will do that we humble our hearts and truly give everything — every care — to Him.

It is in these moments of prayer and thanksgiving that we find true peace.

A peace that passes all understanding. A peace that guards us. A peace that comforts us.

What are you worrying about today? What thoughts are consuming your mind? What’s weighing heavily on your heart?

I encourage you today to set some time aside and pray… talk with God. Let Him know what’s on your mind. Then write Philippians 4:6–7 down on a piece of paper, a journal, a sticky note… and put it some place where you’ll be able to see it every day. And every time you see it, remind yourself: Be anxious for nothing.

When the Past Is Holding Onto You

It’s me Lord. I’ve been hurt.

This sincere, six-worded phrase is one that I find myself speaking in prayer over and over again. I have learned over the course of my life that in order to get through a situation, I must confront it. By confronting my situation, I mean bringing it to the feet of Jesus and letting Him take care of it. It’s not because I am easily offended, but this prayer is an overflow of feelings that emerge due to my past. Growing up, we experience situations and learn many lessons that cultivate us into the adults that we are. However, one very important lesson that we miss is the one about forgiving the past and letting go. We are frail human beings compelled by circumstances we have no control over and cannot change. Sadly, our future actions are governed by the hurts of our past, and we miss out on growing to the potential God has set for us. God never intended for us to be burdened by the things of the past because his blood covered that debt.

Often, consuming feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, disappointment, and hurt overcome me. At times, I must seek out the promise of a quiet room to let God help me through those emotions. These feelings have not arrayed from my own doings necessarily, but they are components of my past. More importantly, these feelings are chains that keep me bound to the past. Whether in church, or simply convincing yourselves, I am sure you have heard the phrase to, “let go and let God have control.” This is obviously the right concept, and one that is most effective in dealing with situations because we know that God will take care of everything. However, my imperfections wonder, “How can I let go of something that is holding on to me?” I do not ask for those feelings of hurt to arise, but they do. The feelings are as if I have been hit to unconsciousness and I am no longer in control. So, how do we let go?

Before moving on to the “letting go” phase, we must understand some truths that God fulfilled in our lives when He gave himself on the cross.

You Are Not a Victim

I know this sounds a little harsh. I am not in any way disguising or relegating your pain when I say that you are not a victim. However, we must stop victimizing ourselves. When we play the role that we cannot have a normal life because of what we’ve been through, we are putting the chains back on ourselves when God has freed us. It’s like picking an old wound that has healed. When we continue with the mindset that we are victims to hurt and pain, we are letting things that are not of God control us. We may have been victims to life at one point and time, but God has paid a price so that we don’t have to live in fear. A war is already waged. You are victorious in Jesus because he already fought your battle and won. You are not a victim anymore.

(Deuteronomy 20:4) For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Your Thoughts Are Not Your Own

We must take every thought captive. Many times, my mind unremittingly reminds me of where I use to be. Your mind will remind you of who you use to be and where you have come from, but that is when we take those thoughts and give them over to God right then. We must control our thoughts and fill our minds with the things of God. Reforming our mindsets when we have already been molded by life is a process that only God can completely alter, and that is why we must trust him with our past. We cannot change our past, but we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is perfectly okay to give God the same hurts over and over. He knows that we are weak at times; and the more we give our hurts to him, the faster we can relinquish our pain. You don’t have to live in subjection to shame and hurt.

2 Corinthians 10:5 — Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(Philippians 2:5) Let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ.

(Isaiah 55:8–9) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

(Romans 12:2) And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Forgiving means forgiving yourself, too!

I am changed. As circumstances happened in my life, I felt my heart harden and form like concrete. I felt myself building walls to protect my vulnerability. Emotions were passive, and life was only black and white for me. I went from compassionate to cold and was led by my brokenness. The most destructive mindset I took on was blaming myself and others. Then, I isolated myself from those who truly cared for me. Forgiveness is an enormous process in letting go. In fact, forgiveness is letting go. Remember that you are a child of the king, and anything is possible with God. Pray every day for God to give you the strength to forgive and let go, and trust him to take care of it. If you are led by God, you will be a new creature and everything in the past will no longer matter; all things will become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Paul says it perfectly in Philippians 3:12–16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, a let us be of the same mind.

Home is a “Who”, Not a “Where”

“You haven’t held me in ages, but I still know what you feel like,” my conviction stood tall and strong; it was unshakable. He threw back a flirtatious challenge in response, “Oh, really? So tell me. Leave nothing out.” I could imagine his smile through the phone and it made think of those repressed schoolboys. I took a deep breath, “You feel like all of the best things. You’re Rilke poetry, glasses of chilled vodka (the good brand, of course), Etsy candles, and ruby-red borscht simmering away on the stove. You feel like love letters sent through air mail and wooden floorboards that feel familiar to bare feet and the very last slice of my favorite pie,” I paused and then concluded, “You feel like home.”


At the age of eighteen, I stuffed my favorite possessions into bleached-white boxes and started the drive up North to a small women’s college in the suburbs of Philly. I moved into a small dorm room and the light filtered through the window-panes into the diamond-shaped cube of emptiness.

Emptiness. When I attempt to see back into that moment from five years ago, my father helping to bring boxes into the room from the car and my mother moving around the space to help me set everything up, what I see most clearly is that emptiness. I sat at my new desk with a drawer that always got stuck on the way back in and looked around the space.

The feeling of loneliness left a stain on my heart that seemed permanent. It was still there after the first year of school was over, aggravated by a big breakup and weighed down by adding some dating violence into the tangle. “Even when I return ‘home’ after my day is over, I still feel like I’m trying to get home,” I told a friend once while we sat in an empty classroom studying late one night after I blew out a single candle on a cafeteria cupcake in celebration of my 20th birthday.

When she asked me what home was, I recited a list of images that all represented a feeling. A certain kind of poetry. Candles and favorite food and how the floor feels on the soles of my feet. I wondered what it would be like to be able to create such a home for myself and I saw myself weaving a cart amongst the shelves of stores where I could acquire all of the necessary elements.


Three months later, I was on a long-distance phone call with my best friend and one of my great loves. He and I had once taken our separate worlds to try to melt them into one piece before we finally went our separate ways; our love story is a great one that was meant to be temporary. Over the phone, I said I wished I could leap over the Atlantic, overcoming miles and miles of wild and mysterious ocean. I told him that all of the days that passed could never erase what he’d left behind on my heart he’d glued the pieces back together for me, “You haven’t held me in ages, but I still know what you feel like.” He felt like all of my favorite things, I said to him. All of the beautiful things. All of the pure and good and beautiful things.

I’d found a home. My safe haven and my soft-place-to-land. My fort held up by Indie candles and Ed Sheeran music and fairy lights and marked up bibles and a mosaic of jewel-toned colours. Woven among the threads of that moment, I learned one of the most sacred truths of following Jesus: Home is a “who,” not a “where.”

When I gave my life to Jesus in September of 2015,  I wasn’t simply accepting Jesus as my savior. I was also accepting him as my home. The place to exchange my yoke for his lighter one. A place to rest and gain my strength from. He had become my safe-haven and my soft place to land and He sent along people who were just the same.

Jesus doesn’t just want to be the place we go when we’re in trouble. He doesn’t want us to just talk to Him when we need something. He wants to be our all. He wants us to put Him first. He doesn’t want to simply be a part of our lives, He wants to be our lives. He’s our home, the place we live in and act from, the place our lives are planned around and not vice versa.

The day I told the world I accepted Jesus wasn’t just a declaration of my faith in His forgiveness of my sins. I was saying so much more than that. “I’m home,” I declared. I’m home.