Focus... a point of concentration. When we focus on the distractions of this world and how we feel at the moment (hopeless, despair, inadequacy) we are led down a path away from our Father's heart. When we choose to focus and center our lives on His Love and how He sees us we are able to walk into our destiny with the full force of heaven behind us.
Whether you're wanting to live out your dreams in a career, start a family or just be a happy person it all starts with putting our focus off of ourselves and onto the ONE who makes us whole.
Melissa's Brave Story is a perfect example of letting Holy Spirit knock on our heart and allowing ourselves to be wooed by the REAL LOVER OF OUR SOUL, Jesus. I'm so blessed to call this woman one of my friends and have loved watching her step into the role as a wife, mother and child of God with such grace and class.
Our walk with God is never a straight one, and my life is no exception to that. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced personal tragedy or had anything so life-changing that it has completely defined me, but just like everyone else, I am certainly a work in progress. Every person’s testimony is different, and mine is filled with years of complacency and flat out ignorance to what God was doing in my life.
I grew up in a small coastal town in California, where my family was devoted to a local Presbyterian church. We attended nearly every Sunday, and hardly ever missed Wednesday night services as well. I loved our youth group, and loved being involved with the church. It was a great church to grow up in, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I was learning about God and his importance in my life, and it laid the foundation for my faith. However, I wasn’t really developing a relationship with Him. To me, God was still very far away, Jesus was only the man who died for our sins, and Holy Spirit was just something I heard my pastor reference.
A couple years after high school, I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend Colorado State University. While I was doing well in school, my focus was on my social life and in no way on God. I had become very complacent in my faith. Like the Church in Laodicea, I was focused solely on materialistic things and not at all on God.
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other!” Revelation 3:15
I hadn’t necessarily turned my back on God or my faith, but there was absolutely no focus on Him. I was like lukewarm water. God was knocking on my door the whole time, but I wasn’t answering. Every once in a while I would sit and think about God and try to pray for whatever situation I was in, but I was definitely complacent in my walk. I remained like that for about five years. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, got a couple different jobs, was offered some amazing opportunities, and then started my Master’s degree. All l the while I was so wrapped up in the here and now, that I wasn’t realizing that it was still God who was providing for me.
BUT, how lucky are we that our Daddy loves us so much that we will never be able to wrap our minds around it? He never gives up on us, and will relentlessly knock on the door until we finally answer it.
“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
2013 was the year where I think God was like, “Ok, Melissa…it’s time to come back to me.” I had entered into student teaching, but quickly realized that being in the classroom was NOT where I wanted to spend my career. The panic attack was setting in because I had put all my eggs in one basket. Luckily, through connections I had made while at CSU, I was offered a position at a non-profit where I would still get to teach people about agriculture, but on their platform, and not in the classroom. (RELIEF!) Even when I didn’t give Him the credit, God was still providing. I started my job in June, and loved every minute of it. About a month after I started, another girl named Ashley joined our staff. I look back on Ashley’s time on staff, and I fully believe God put her there for me. Ashley and I quickly became affectionately known as “Mashley” by our coworkers because we were inseparable. She was unlike any other friend I had made in Colorado, and her love for God was incredible. Ashley started challenging me and my faith, and it made me realize how ignorant I had been for the last five years. God was continuously providing for me, and I was not spending even a minute in my day thanking and worshiping Him. Ashley helped soften my heart so I could begin to seek out God again. And I believe she ultimately prepared me for the next big step in my life.
In October of 2013, I attended a wedding of a good friend that I met in college. Caree and her (now) husband, Townsend, were getting married on Caree’s family’s ranch in Livermore, Colorado. I easily could have brought a date, but I just felt like I needed to attend this wedding by myself. (Again, God was still guiding and providing, even if I didn’t realize it!) During the reception, I walked over to a table were a few college friends were sitting to say hi and chat. Those friends introduced me to another person sitting at the table, a guy named Trevor. Trevor and I quickly dove into conversation, which led to dancing, and they say that the rest is history. Before going our separate ways after the wedding, we exchanged phone numbers.
From the time I met him, I knew there was something different about Trevor and the way I was feeling about him, and I knew he was one I should not give up on. He, like Ashley, started to ask me about my faith and where I stood with God. His faith was unwavering, and I realized it was something I desired too. After a few months of dating, Trevor brought me to his church, Northern Colorado Cowboy Church. I was in awe and completely blown away by the feelings that were erupting inside me during these services. I loved the Presbyterian Church of my childhood, but it was nothing like my new home at N3C. It was like getting a shock to the system that woke me from my complacency. I started asking Trevor lots of questions and he gave me guidance in how to talk to God, some resources to read, and Bible verses to turn to.
I was finally getting to KNOW God as my Papa, and better understand his heart. I was finally seeing Jesus for more than just the man in the Bible who died for our sins. And I was finally feeling Holy Spirit, and understanding His power in my life.
As life would have it, Trevor and I together went through a short period of complacency in late 2015-early 2016. Nothing terrible happened; we just got lazy and started making excuses. When we realized our complacency and started diving back into our walks, some pretty neat things began to happen in our lives. All in the period of about 6 months, we got engaged, I was offered a new job closer to Trevor’s family’s ranch, and then in the fall, we got married AND pregnant. God was starting to lay out Trevor’s and my path together in a very obvious way!
Fast forward a year and a half, I feel like we are now in a place where we can be our own, and each other’s, auditors. We each have our own individual relationships with God, but we also have each other to rely on when one of us starts to stray. We like to remember that marriage is like a triangle, with God at the top. The closer each of us is to God, the closer we become to each other as well. Marriage and life take work every day (even more so now with a baby in the mix!), but I have learned my #1 priority needs to be to keep my eyes on my Papa God, and not on the worldly things around me.
I have realized throughout my life God has always been there. He has literally never left my side, even when I was too busy and blind to see Him working in my life. That is the great thing about our Father. He will never turn his back on us, and he will continue to seek our heart. God loves to be found by us, you just have to put in the effort. If I had to name one regret in life, it would be that I didn’t pursue God sooner.
I continue to be a work in progress, and will be till the day I die, but I know that no matter how many times I stumble, His hand is always there to help me up! I will leave you with my favorite verse – it makes me smile every time I read it because it perfectly describes my life. I hope it resonates with you too:
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21