Above All Else

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I have always loved this passage in Jeremiah 29,

But today, I read this verse in a different translation and it washed over me in an entirely new way.

This version read, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me above all else.”

Above all else?

I always toiled with the idea of what it truly meant to seek the Lord with my whole, unhindered heart, but this made it clear as daylight:

He must be my one thing, the object of my affections, the center of my heart and life. 

So often, I do seek Him, along with success, perfection, acceptance, love, “the one,” a happy family, perfect friendships, beauty, material things, and I could go on for days.

But this just won’t do.

To find the Lord, I have to surrender the chase for each of these things. Things that the world screams in every way possible that we cannot live without.

So why would the Lord demand that we seek Him above all things, even good things, holy things?

As I prayed through this passage, the Lord laid a pivotal truth on my heart:

He does not ask us to seek Him above all else to deprive us of joy or our deepest desires.

He asks us to seek Him above all else because He knows He is the only thing in all of creation that can bring us everlasting joy and fulfill our desires.

The irony of my striving for success, perfection, acceptance, love, and so on, is that if I would only seek the Lord wholeheartedly and unashamedly, I would find each of those things.

Join me in the journey to seek the Lord above all else. He will not fail us.

Cookbook: Chicken Tamale Pie

So I always wanted this to be a place where I could share what is going on in my life and lately a part of my life has been learning to cook, so I thought I would share that too.

It’s been quite an adventure, but so far the house is still standing and no one has food poisoning, so what more can you ask for, right?

I got this recipe, for Chicken Tamale Pie, from the blog A Pinch of Yum.

Don’t compare pictures though, it’s the taste that counts =]

I loved the way this turned out, so if you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner, give it a whirl!

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup fat free milk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (14 3/4 ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce – I recommend going with an authentic Mexican brand
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup shredded white cheese (I used Raclette – random, I know, but it’s what I had on hand, and it ended up being delicious!)
  • cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine the first 7 ingredients (milk through green chiles), using just 1/2 tablespoon of the taco seasoning, in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a round pie plate (mine was glass) coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes. While corn is baking, toss the chicken in the remaining 1 tablespoon taco seasoning. When corn is done – it will be just barely set and golden brown – pierce entire surface liberally with a fork (it might stick a little bit to the fork). Pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with cilantro and Cotija cheese.

Single Ladies:

settle
Let’s be honest.

Being a single woman can often be extremely lonely,

it is easy to believe chivalry is dead,

and that a good romantic comedy is as close to a love story as you’ll ever get.

And it is precisely at this point that the temptation to settle arises.

Trust me, I know this from experience.

I like to act like it is easy to patiently wait for the man God is preparing for me,

But it’s not always easy.

In fact, I have said it would be easier to find a needle in a haystack than my future husband. [This may – or may not – have been a bit of an exaggeration, you decide.]

 There have been many times where I have considered taking matters into my own hands, but a quote by Matt Chandler that I recently stumbled across reminded me precisely why that would never be a good idea.

“Can I say something to young ladies here? I’m trying to pick my words carefully here. Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things. If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man that is Godly. And let me tell you this: I am well aware that Godly men are rare. And we’re working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that. But don’t settle, because it’s better that you be lonely now than you be married and lonely later. Are you tracking with me? It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man that will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus.”

Here’s the thing:

If we choose to settle on the man that we marry and do life with,

we not only settle for ourselves, we settle for our future families, especially our children.

Holding out for God’s best is so worth it, because I guarantee  you that every day you spend married to a Godly man, you will be thankful for the days where you patiently waited.

On the other hand, I’d be willing to bet, every day you spend married to a man who does not unashamedly love and pursue the Lord, you will wish that you had waited patiently.

Moral of the story: don’t settle.

[And when I need to be reminded of this, don’t hesitate to tell me.]

From Ashes To Beauty

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Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

This post has been a long time coming.

For the past several months, the Lord has carried me through what has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult seasons I may ever experience.

To be honest, I am still in ‘the thick’ of it.

However, I have felt the Lord so clearly urging me that it is time to begin sharing my journey & all that He is teaching me.

I protested these nudges by contending with, “I have nothing to say.”

However, the Lord graciously humbled me and pointed out that He didn’t want me to say anything, He wanted to speak through me and who am I to object to that?

So this marks the first post of’ ‘From Ashes To Beauty.’ I copied a few other posts from my old blog ‘Jordan On The Webb,’ but overall I wanted this new chapter in my life to be marked by the start of a new blog as well.

The title, ‘From Ashes to Beauty’, comes straight from Isaiah 61, which I have clung to on the hardest of days. This passage shows the gracious intent of our God and is, in a sense, a mission statement.

My favorite part comes in verse 3 where it says, “To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” In times of mourning, the Jews put on sackcloth & spread dust & ashes on their heads. In contrast, splendid clothing and ointment poured on their head marked times of great joy.

Our Redeemer came to heal the brokenhearted, to bring freedom and light into the darkness, to give joy instead of mourning, and peace in place of anxiety.

Though this season may be one of great mourning, one of ashes, one of surrendering all that I have clung to for far too long, I am placing my hope in the promise that Christ will bring forth even greater beauty from these ashes.

I want to share this process with you, because I know firsthand how Christ can work through shared struggles. In fact, my life was radically changed, as I read the heart cry of a dear friend and hero of mine, EA Wade at http://mourningrestoration.blogspot.com/.

Pride is the only thing that stands to threaten my willingness to share my temptations, my failures, my journey and that is countergospel. I truly believe that we withhold something from the Body of Christ at large when we conceal the work of God in us. My prayer is that somehow, in some way, you might glean something from this blog, this raw and real account of daily sanctification.

P.S. – I don’t know if it’s weird for a blog to have a theme song or not, but mine does. While praying through the idea of starting this blog, the name of it, et cetera, the Lord kept bringing me to Isaiah 61, but I kept doubting. I finally tested the title ‘From Ashes to Beauty’ and suddenly heard ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ playing. Right as I skimmed the title on the computer sing, the words “now I can trade these ashes in for beauty,” rang out throughout the room. I stopped my protesting. So heres to a theme song!

& You’ve Won My Heart,
Yes You’ve Won My Heart,

Now I Can Trade These Ashes In For Beauty
& Wear Forgiveness Like A Crown
Coming To Kiss The Feet Of Mercy
I Lay Every Burden Down
At The Foot Of The Cross.
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Here’s Why…

Since beginning college, I have found myself frequently asking, why I do a lot of the things that I do.
I have found that I often act out of habit, cultural norm/acceptance, or routine.
The beauty of reflection, has therefore become ever real to me.
Why, you ask? (good – you catch on quickly)
Because, if we are not careful,
routine, habit, and cultural norms will permeate into and define our spiritual lives
and before we know it,
little that we do will be a result of spirit-led communion with the Father.
Lately, I began to ask myself why I keep this blog going,
whether or not I am writing to myself.
Here is what I have determined:
I am committed to pouring my heart out in this way for two main reasons.
1. My Heavenly Father has called me out of darkness and into light.
Clearly, the things I post here are not top secret or classified facts.
Yes, they are personal, but it is one way I bring my struggles and tests to light.
There is freedom in light, in truth.
Satan’s goal for Christians is isolation and to me, this is one way of breaking that bondage.
I am laying my heart out, being vulnerable.
Which leads me to reason number two…
2. I am committed to this because if even one person finds one glimmer of hope from one word in one post, every bit of it will be worth it. 
I journaled throughout high school, but I never would have thought to share those entries with anyone.
Why? (You’re getting good : ] )
That would mean they would see that I’m not perfect…shocker.
Well, now I am here to tell you that I am not.
And if knowing that there is another young follower of Christ out there, wrestling with the flesh and struggling to die to myself daily, helps even one person, then there has been purpose in this blog.
I am learning the beauty of community, the beauty of sharing in our struggles, of being vulnerable.
So rather than keeping another journal all to myself,
here are the open pages of my heart and life.
My story is still being written.
Day by day, I am watching as the Lord illuminates the path to which He has called me to walk.
It is painful, hazy, confusing, frustrating, captivating, and glorious all at the same time.
I do not have the answers,
but I am free to admit that in Christ.
My security is not in having the answers,
but in He who answers when I call to Him.
I do not trust in the plan,
but The Planner.
Broken to beautiful,
That is my heart’s cry.
So in the good and the bad,
I am here to proclaim that my God is forever good, just, and righteous.
In Him I find life and freedom.
Anything good in me, is Him.
He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
And I yearn for my lifesong to sing His praises till the moment I see Him face to face,
and am able to embrace Him forevermore.
Until that day,
I will struggle through this life,
with my eyes fixed on the prize.
I am a servant of the Lord
and here is my journey Home…

You Doubt Your Value, Don’t Run From Who You Are

You know those moments, the ones where you instantly think, “I will never forget this as long as I live.” I had one of those while sitting in an AMC Theater the other day, which I was not expecting because I so rarely go to the movies anymore due to the decline of morality in media today. However, I felt rather safe venturing to see Narnia with one of my very dearest friends.

I had to fight to see many scenes through thick tears, but one scene particularly pulled at my heart strings and has permeated my thoughts many times since. As Lucy, one of the main characters, strives to change her appearance in an attempt to look like her older sister, Susan, she begins to lose her identity. Aslan, a lion representing God in the series, comes to remind her of her immense value in His eyes. I quoted part of the scene below and I cannot wait to share the powerful clip with you once it makes an appearance on YouTube.

Soak this in, whoever you are, if you ever feel unworthy or less than sufficient.
Then listen to the Lord, who forever tells you that He loves and accepts you just the way that you are.

Aslan: Lucy
Lucy: Aslan?
Aslan: what have you done child?
Lucy: I don’t know, that was awful.
Aslan: but you chose it, Lucy.
Lucy: I didn’t mean to choose all of that, I just wanted to be beautiful like susan. That’s all
Aslan: You wished yourself away and with it much more. Your brothers and sisters wouldn’t know Narnia without you, lucy. you discovered it first, remember?
Lucy: I’m so sorry.
Aslan: You doubt your value, don’t run from who you are

Don’t wish yourself away, as so often we are tempted to do. The creator of the universe knit you together in your mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on your head and the number of breaths you will take. Rest in that.

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Battle

Silence.
I have been silent lately because i felt as though the Lord was being silent.
I came to a realization this weekend, after the Lord graciously allowed me to see my sin…
He was and is not silent,
I have selective hearing

When I set my pride aside, I was able to hear what He was saying.
It was hard.
I didn’t like it.
But He is making me new.
His love for me is so deep, so profound, that He will not leave me where I am,
despite how much I think I may want to stay here.
When I chose to listen, He taught me a marvelously painful lesson:
So often as Christians, we assume our job, our purpose even,
is to ‘have it all together,’ to be joyful and content and patient in affliction.
And while these are fruit of a relationship with the Lord,
we are never called to ignore, diminish, or hide
areas of sin in our life for fear of being less than the ‘good Christian.’
In fact, I am beginning to believe the Lord loathes this common trend amongst Christ followers.
We will never be transformed to the likeness of Christ if we put all of our time and energy into “having it all together.”
So I am here to say that I don’t.
In fact, the Lord is beginning what I have no doubt will be one of the most painful reconstruction projects in my life that I will ever endure.
But I am not avoiding it any longer,
and if that means I don’t fit the “good Christian” mold,
so be it.
I am a work in progress,
I am dependent on my Savior,
I am safe in His arms,
and I don’t think He would have it any other way.
What area of your life has pride not allowed the Lord’s transforming power to permeate?
Give it up.
I believe it is far more honorable, noble and courageous to honestly lay your sin and burdens at the foot of the cross than it is to attempt to conceal them.
Let Him work, beloved. Let Him move and transform.
It’s His speciality.
Standing in a restaurant yesterday,
I noticed a quote by Theodore Roosevelt hanging in a frame on the wall
that really gripped me…
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

I want to be one who is in the arena,
who is marred and has battle wounds,
because we are in a war.
My cause is Christ and my loss is gain. 
The victory has already been won,
but I want to that victory to reign true in my own life. 

Let us battle.