When No One Raises Their Hand

You just finished explaining everything. You just finished telling the group of kids that you’ve come to love so deeply, how much they are loved and wanted by the creator of the universe and you asked if any of them would like to join his family. Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Until you realize that what you desperately wanted to happen, isn’t going to happen; no one is going to say, “yes” at this moment, no one is going to raise their hand.

There’s a sadness inside of you that overwhelms you in this moment and your first typical, human instinct is to look inward, selfishly. You think that you screwed up, you didn’t explain the story of Jesus well enough, like it was your job to change their hearts and make them believe in something they didn’t before.

I’m pretty sure this is something that’s happened to everyone who has ever shared the gospel a few times and I believe that it’s something we need to experience at some point, it taught me a lot.

I’m gonna be 100% honest here so watch out.

I want to see people want to follow Jesus and for about an hour after no one raised their hand, I thought it was completely my fault that they weren’t moved to want to follow Jesus. To me, this is inconsiderate. I should have been consumed with sadness simply because they decided not to follow Jesus, I should have been sad because they didn’t accept the incredible gift of grace. I should not have been too wrapped up in myself and “what I did wrong” to ignore these other things and pray that they would decide to follow Jesus some day in the future.

I think this is something that happens all too often, we want numbers, we want to see “the fruit”, we want to know that Jesus is moving in the lives of the people we’re preaching to, but sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes Jesus makes us wait. He makes us sit there and trust him to do the work. This kills us because we want to do it all by ourselves, we want control, we want to change hearts and minds and the world and do something incredibly significant but the truth is, we can’t. Only Jesus can. Sure, we can be the messengers and we can tell people about God’s grace until we’re blue in the face but only Jesus can change hearts, only Jesus can make someone believe and only Jesus can make someone raise their hand.

So stop beating yourself up while your waiting to see results. It seems that most things I learn come down to this one simple thing… Trust Jesus and know that He is good.

 

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When You Can’t Stop Thinking

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Hi, my name is Tatiana Blackburn and I am a professional over thinker.

I like to think I’m quite good at it actually. I stay up all hours of the night, replaying situations (ones that hurt and ones that make me feel warm inside) over and over again until I fall asleep due to exhaustion. I easily get caught up in the web of my own thoughts and go through every single “what-if” that could be possible.

My thoughts consume me. Most of the time it things I hate thinking about, things that make me wish those memory eraser things from Men In Black actually existed because I desperately want to forget.

I think way too much and the problem with over thinking is that when it happens, I begin to doubt God and the promises he’s made with me.

I doubt that he loves me, that he’s saved me, that he’s given me grace and I get so wrapped up in thinking about myself and my problems that I forget what Jesus has told me in the Bible.

That’s the biggest problem with over thinking – it’s selfish and it gives birth to doubt.

I think that’s how the devil tricks us, by planting seeds of doubt and not just planting the seed but by cultivating it and helping it to grow, doubt completely consumes us until we begin to see the lies as the truth.

I let lies consume me when really Jesus and his love should overwhelm me. This web of “what ifs” is spun by the devil and his elaborate scheme to trick me into thinking I’m not good enough.

I let it happen so often and it actually scares me. I start to believe the lies when really, I need to cling to the truth the Jesus has for me.

The truth that I am loved.

The truth that I have worth.

The truth that I can receive grace.

I am definitely a professional over thinker but I’m learning to “set my mind on the things above” and the beautiful truths that Jesus whispers to me rather than the dangerous ramblings of my own mind and I think you should choose to do the same.

A Letter to the Baby Who Came Too Early

Dear Adalia,

Your due date is tomorrow but here you are.

Here you are alive and breathing when all the odds were against you. Here you are, you and your tiny legs, your nose that’s as big as my fingernail and your body that barely weighs anything.

Here you are, thriving.

There are so many things that I want you to know, that I want you to learn and that I want you to experience. But I know you will be taught all those things along the way because you are so loved. By your mother, your father, your brother, your two sisters and the rest of us who have not stopped praying for you since the day you were born. Oh, we love you so.

It’s strange to me that I could have so much love for someone I barely know.

So here’s what I want to tell you;

You are a fighter, Adalia. You’ve already proved that in these short three months you’ve lived. I pray that you never lose the fight in you, that you always stand up for what you believe in and that you always choose to be brave even when it’s hard.

You are a miracle. You were born on December 1, 2015 when you weren’t supposed to be born until March 3, 2016. If that’s not a shining example of the power of our God then I don’t know what is.

But you are not just a miracle because you’ve conquered the impossible odds you’ve faced, you’re a miracle because you are only three months old and already I see Jesus shining through you so brightly. I look at your face and immediately I see the work and majesty of Jesus and that makes you a million times more beautiful than you already are.

Adalia, I don’t know you very well yet and you don’t know me very well either and maybe we’ll never be best friends but I want you to know that I’ll never stop believing in you, I’ll never stop praying for you and I’ll never stop loving you.

So, sweet girl, welcome home and welcome to the rest of your beautiful life.

The Little Reminders

I’m realizing that this grace thing is never ending; I constantly need to be reminded and those reminders come in so many different, even crazy ways.

Sometimes I’m reminded through the peaceful way Jesus writes on my heart.

I will not shame you.

My grace is enough for you. 

Sometimes it’s just through stories I find in the Bible. Beautiful stories of people who have messed up big time, people who are similar to me and who have found grace and forgiveness in the same God I do.

But other times, reminders come from the most unexpected places. Like from a small church in a Peruvian city.

The past two weeks we’ve been staying in Urubamba which is a city that is about an hour away from Cusco, Peru. We’ve been staying at the Seminary here and last night we decided to attend their church.

This church is just a little hole in the wall. You could walk right past it and never know it was there but sitting in church last night, Jesus hit me in the face with his grace all over again.

If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to the guy preaching at the front of the church. Sometimes trying to follow a sermon in a foreign language when you’re not completely fluent in that language can be an extremely hard task that takes all of your energy and last night, I felt exhausted.

I was in my own little world, reading a completely different passage when I heard the pastor say these words,

“El justo murió por el injusto.”

The righteous died for the unrighteous.

The only perfect person to ever walk this earth died for the “bad” people, the murderers, the liars, the cheaters, me. He died for me.

I think this is a truth that will never cease to amaze me. It’s something that will keep me in complete awe and wonder of this man named Jesus who loves me.

It’s something that’ll keep hitting me square in the face, leaving me on my knees in worship and leave the words, “grace upon grace” ringing in my ear.

Tat blog

 

when you think you’re too far gone

It’s happening again.

My heart is starting to race, my palms are beginning to sweat, I feel the fear and dread welling up inside of me until it feels like it’s going to consume me.

I hear someone say, “You screwed up.”

In my heart I know I did. I know I messed up big time.

I hear the man start to tell me lies. Somehow I realize that what he’s telling me is deceitful but I’m to weak to fight and I begin to believe him.

You’re too far gone.

He can’t forgive you now.

What you did was too bad.

It’s too late.

I start to cry as I believe these lies. Is he right? Is it over? It can’t be, can it?

And just when I think I’m about crumble, just when it becomes too much to bear, I feel Jesus with me.

I feel Him hug me.

I feel how much He loves me.

I hear Him call me, “daughter.”

I hear Him tell me it’s okay, that He’s already forgiven me and not only that but He’s already forgotten about it.

I hear Him say that He won’t shame me, that I am made new and the girl I was in my past is dead and gone.

I hear Him say all this and I feel loved. I feel accepted. I feel free. And I walk away with Jesus knowing that I am.

Young and Naive

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to grow up. I think we all have really, we dream of the days when we’re “all grown up” and we can’t wait to be adults. I can’t say for certain I know why you dream those dreams, but I know why I do and maybe it’s your reason too.

I’ve always hated being young. Being young made me feel weak; it made me feel insecure, unintelligent and insignificant. I’ve always felt like my youth held me back from being able to do what I felt was the right things at the time and make my opinions heard. Even now, I’m 18 and legally, I’m considered an adult. But I don’t feel like one. I still feel young and sometimes I feel like it’s holding me back.

I struggled with this for a while. I want to make a difference it the world, I want to do big things for Jesus, I want to help as many people as I can but I felt like I was failing because my youth was in the way.

Trust me, I’m still learning, I’m no expert yet but Jesus, as always, has been teaching me about youth.

There is power in being young. I see it over and over again in the Bible, God uses young people to bring glory to him. It happened to a boy named Elihu in the book of Job, he was a voice of reason in Job’s life when nothing else was making sense. It happened to David when he obeyed God, took on Goliath and won. It happened to Mary when God chose her to be Jesus’ mother – Mary was 14.

So if you’re young and discouraged, don’t be. God still has a plan for you and that plan starts now. Not when you become an “adult”, now. Not when you have all the experience in the world, now. It starts now in those awkward, confusing, and wonderful childhood, pre-teen, and teenage years. God will use you now because you were significant from the time you were born, not because of your age or what you looked like or what your personality was like, you were and are significant because you are a child of the Creator of the universe and that’s what matters.

I’ve always wanted to grow up. But now I’m learning that God can still use me even if I’m young and he will use because I’m young, all I have to do is follow him and that’s what I plan on doing.

the word I picked

It’s finally 2016. I guess I shouldn’t say “finally” because 2015 went by at the speed of light, it almost feels like it didn’t happen, like it was all just wonderful dream. Nonetheless, it’s still a new year and on January first I found myself trying to figure out what I wanted this year to be about.

Last year, I unintentionally found myself focusing on authenticity. I desperately wanted to be real and stop hiding behind the mask I loved to wear. Last year was really good for me, being real with people deepened my friendships, it suffocated my fear of what people think, it helped me relate with people more and I really believe that it helped me grow up.

This year I wanted to be more purposeful. I wanted to pick a word that I could focus on this year and I wanted it to change me.

I picked the word, “grace.”

Grace has always been really hard for me to understand. I’ve never felt good enough for the type of grace Jesus offers.

“What do you mean it’s free?”, “You mean I’m completely forgiven?”, “Are you sure we’re good?” are questions I have asked Jesus over and over again. Maybe it’s because I’m insecure or maybe it’s because grace is really something incredible. I think it’s the second option. I think Jesus intended grace to be this unfathomable thing that we can’t comprehend. I think he wanted it that way so we could fully understand how much it’s worth.

So I picked the word, “grace.” This year I want to attempt to understand this amazing thing that Jesus gives me daily and I want to be able to show it to others.

It has already been challenging and I already feel like I’m failing. I felt like I had failed on January first, but I’m learning the best part about grace; as long as we yearn to know Jesus, it’s always there waiting for us to accept it.

So it’s 2016 and this is my year of grace upon grace (upon grace upon grace upon grace…)

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my thoughts on Christmas this year

There’s a play happening this morning. Men and women are running around the church getting everything ready, fixing things that aren’t right, preparing for the service that’s about to happen. Workers labor over the hot chololate and paneton, making sure it’s just right. People crowd into the church, filling all the seats until there’s standing room only. 

I’m sitting down, watching all of this happen and I can’t help but buy into all the excitement that’s happening around me. It overflows inside me and the butterflies in my stomach take flight. 

I think that’s one of the things I love most about Christmas, the electrified anticipation. We anxiously await so many things this time of the year, the Christmas play, the music, the presents, the food. You feel it everywhere you go, in the busy churches, the hectic shopping malls, your beautifully decorated home. It’s remarkable and its exciting, this anticipation, it makes you sit on the edge of your seat waiting for what going to happen next. 

I’ve always known that our Jesus steps onto the scene at Christmas time. I’ve always been aware that Jesus is the whole reason why Christmas even exists and I’ve always been so thankful that he came. We’ve always celebrated Jesus birth on the 25th. But this year has been different for me. This year I can’t help but think of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men and how they felt on this week so many years ago. Surely they were feeling the same way I am, even more so. Surely they felt nervously excited, anxiously awaiting a baby boy who was going to save them all. They must have felt so many things that week. 

This year, I’ve put Jesus at the top of my list of things I anxiously await at Christmas. I’ve never done that before and it’s made me love Christmas in a whole new way. 

He’s coming in two days. Our Savior is coming. The man who truly, deeply, unconditionally loves us is coming. I think it’s time to start living like it. We get so caught up in all the other excitement that we forget about the baby we should be most excited about. 

I feel the electrified anticipation all of December and now, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for my Savior, the love of my life. 

Make Me Small

Sometimes I make Jesus seem so small. I always forget how big he really is, he fits perfectly inside my heart but I forget that he is so much more than I make him out to be.

Without knowing it, I put him in a little carton and save him for when I need him most… little does my dense brain know that I need him always.

This happens subconsciously but Jesus sees it and then creates something to show my unsteady self just how enormous he really is.

Mountains are what he makes for me.

I immediately see Jesus when I look at mountains and last week, when we visited Cusco, I looked out at the mountains and instantly realized the huge mistake I had been making.

My God cannot be put in a box.

 

As I looked out at the massive mountains towering over me, I realized one truth. This truth I seem to learn over and over again because I forget it so often. This truth is tattooed on my arm but slips my brain time and time again. This truth has been taught to me from the time I started attending Sunday school but I can’t seem to get a grasp on it.

Jesus is bigger than my fears, than my doubts, than my past, than my future, than everything and anything I will ever face on this earth. He is greater than I am, ever have been and ever will be.

 Knowing this truth, who am I to put Jesus in a box? That’s impossible. Who am I to think I can do life without him? That’s out of the question. Who am I to forget? That’s absurd.

In Cusco, I was standing in front of a horizon full of huge, gorgeous mountains. Those mountains struck me speechless, all I could think was how my Jesus could move those mountains, how he created those mountains, how enormous he is and how microscopic I am.

I never want to forget that feeling. I never want to forget again how tiny I am because when I start to believe I’m big, I try to squeeze Jesus into a box and I forget how much I desperately need him.

Make me small, Jesus.

When You’re Called, “Princess”

When I was younger, I loved Disney Princesses. I talked about this briefly on the very first day of this series.

To me, Disney Princesses were the epitome of beauty. I was enthralled by their perfectly coiffed hair, their blemishless faces, their perfect figure and I wanted to be as beautiful as them. I fell in love with their stories as well, how the beautiful prince fell for the beautiful girl and they lived happily ever after. I thought they were perfect.

At seventeen years of age, I still love Disney Princesses. I love watching the movies and singing along with Anna and Elsa as they move through their beautiful, musical lives. I still love their stories and I still believe they are beautiful. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that Disney Princesses are a lot more than just beautiful on the outside, they go deeper than that.

They are also beautiful on the inside.

They are kind. They are kind to everyone no matter who they are; they show kindness every moment.

They are brave. They have the courage to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means getting themselves into dangerous situations.

They are humble. Even though they are stunning, none of them actually realize it because they’re too busy serving other people.

They are dreamers. They have the courage to dream big, seemingly impossible dreams.

They are joyful. They are happy no matter what, even if they’re stuck scrubbing the floor (Cinderella), trudging through waist deep snow (Anna), or cleaning a dingy apartment in New York (Giselle).

I believe Jesus calls us to be like these princesses. This is a cheesy thing to say; but we are princesses. We are daughters of the King and Jesus wants us to act like it. He wants us to be kind to everyone, to have the courage to stand up for what we believe in, to be humble, to dream and to be joyful but most importantly, he wants us to love him.

That’s the one thing that Disney Princesses miss, loving Jesus.

I believe we have to work on our beauty. It’s a choice to be kind, brave, humble, and joyful. And it’s a choice to follow Jesus. But if we’re looking to be beautiful this is what we need to choose.

The external beauty of the Disney Princesses mesmerized my seven-year-old heart and now, their internal beauty and how Jesus calls me “princess” mesmerizes my seventeen-year-old heart.

So Princesses, choose to be beautiful with me.

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This is the last post of the 31 day series I’ve been participating in! I have genuinely enjoyed this challenge, it stretched me and really challenged me (which I think was the point so mission accomplished!)

Thank you to everyone who has read even just one day of this series, it means the world to me! I cannot wait for next year! #write31days

If you’d like to see the other posts in this series, click the photo above.