I’ve tried to start this post about 10 times in 10 different ways.
You know my intros into the current season of my life are always a bit jolted. And I was trying to find a smooth way to bring you into the land of my heart, full of its Joshua trees, valleys, mountains, and rainbows.
But the terrain is far too dynamic for a smooth takeoff of sorts, and so we begin here.
I was stuck in how to embrace this topic – this conversation the Lord and I have been having for about a year and a half now. Prior to today, I was calling this revelation an “anointing” of sorts, but the language didn’t quite fit the fullness of the experience, and thus the word “Blessing” erupted into my soul like a thunderous whisper.
So I wanted to remind myself…What exactly does the classic definition of “Blessing” mean?
Well…in case you were wondering:
“God's favor and protection.”
credit: Google Dictionary
And now I’m weeping.
Because I see more of God’s story over my life.
The purpose of it all. The love in it all.
IN. ALL. OF. IT.
I just don’t understand those that say they know God, but complaining is their native language.
I’m bumbling over here in tears and gratitude. Almost daily.
Because He is THAT Good.
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen.
And I want to see more.
But the last year, I’ve been ramping up, trying to save face. Trying to act like I was fine. Because I was fine. Everything was fine. You’re fine. I’m fine. We’re ALL JUST FINE.
But I was also bracing for my last year in my 30s.
Most of you knew this already.
Some of you thought I was fresh out of my senior year in college. Bless you for that.
And others of you could care less. Thank you.
But I’ve been vividly aware…
Next year, I turn 40.
It’s something to believe in the promise of marriage and children when you’re 18, when you’re 21, when you’re 26, but there’s something revelatory and eye-opening when you choose to believe at 39.
To note, I’ve come across beautiful new marriages (first time marriages at that) from those that are in their 50s and 60s. And that is a whole other blog post – delving into the extravagant display of God’s love and timing.
And I also know women in good health, who’ve had their first babies in their 50s.
I know. You might be exhausted just thinking about that.
I know I was.
As much as I admired the miracle story and journey of these precious ones, I in NO WAY wanted that story for myself.
I had things to do and things to accomplish before age 40 (yes, I’m an enneagream 3 in case you’re wondering…)
And as I looked around to my left and right, I saw women my age killing it at as incredible wives and mothers. Or well established in their careers or vocation, on their way to buying their second homes.
And I simply would shake my head and ask God, “What happened?”
What have I missed?
What did I do wrong?
When I was around 16 years old, I began praying for my future kids. Two in particular, a boy and a girl. Their names would fluctuate in my spirit, but I somehow felt as though I knew them.
It wasn’t until later in life, around my mid-20s that I began to pray for my future husband.
It’s funny, because I actually didn’t have a desire to be married while I was in high school. I had no understanding of it or value for it.
I didn’t understand that sharing your life with another in such an intimate way, within the beauty of true covenant was much like a vocation – a divine call, a way to bring one closer to God, but to also to display God’s love to a world that is so starved for true displays of real love.
I wanted in on THAT.
And from that moment on, once that revelation hit my heart, I was all in.
It was a promised land of sorts for me.
But on the way to the Promised Land, is so important to not forget the Promise Giver.
And He was so intentional about my heart and His heart being wholly connected to mine in the journey.
I fought this.
I tried to wrestle Him in this.
Just give me the land!
But He kept bringing me back to Himself.
He was taking Precedence.
He proved over and over again that He was my true source of Joy.
Before the babies, before the Bae, before the career, before the house, He would show me, that He was my truest champion, the realest Hope I would ever know.
And that sounds so flowery and almost unreal, but it’s FACTS.
So how does that play out in real life?
It plays out in me saying yes to becoming a youth pastor as a single woman in my 20s, called to mentor, love and lead teenage boys and girls in their relationship with God and the purpose He’s called them to.
God was truly my sustaining Joy in this.
It plays out in me stepping out of my comfort zone, and choosing to start a small company and learn a whole new career path. And in the meantime, moving back to my childhood home to do so.
God is most definitely my sustaining Joy in this.
It plays out in me giving my grief to God about my father dying before he could see me married and him enjoying his grandkids whom he so lovingly joked about feeding too much candy to in the future.
God continually sustains me with His Joy in this.
It plays out in me having extravagant amounts of fun at my job, within the entertainment industry.
God sustains my Joy in this.
It plays out in my learning to country line dance and partner 2-step by myself, as a single Black girl, simply because I LOVE to dance and the connection it brings to my heart, as my dad was an avid country culture fan (Hi, John Wayne). And I truly do feel the delight and joy of the Lord when I get to dance.
And even this, God is my sustaining Joy.
In the choosing.
In the doing.
God has brought me such supernatural joy – even in the midst of me not getting what I’ve wanted most in the moment.
This has been my most holy and high calling thus far. And with the purpose of bringing me so much closer to a God that I have always been fascinated with, but also a God that I had the inner assumption that I could control in some fashion. Or slightly believed that He was a God of my own making.
But I’m learning, He’s truly the God of perfect wisdom and love.
I’m holding the hand of Hannah on one side.
And within the last year, introduced to Caleb on the other side.
Let me introduce you to Hannah if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting:
“Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.
“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
Hannah’s Prayer for a Son
Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.
Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”
“Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.
Samuel’s Birth and Dedication
The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”
I understand Hannah. We just get one another.
Needless to say, I legit cried on my birthday this year. In public. At a café. With my mom.
Tears flowing. Snot bubbles brewing…
My mom feeling awkward and looking a bit uncomfortable, trying to find the right words to say. Bless her.
But me knowing that nothing she would say could change the situation.
Some folks just don’t understand the ache, or they’re afraid of the ache. Or some simply try to ignore the ache.
But that’s why Hannah and I have been friends for almost 2 decades.
She’s well acquainted with the ache. And it wasn’t seen as a stench in her life, something to get rid of, but rather an outpouring fragrance of hope and love.
Her story being told, preserved, and esteemed in Scripture, has brought such consolation and validation to my heart over the years.
But last year, God properly introduced me to Caleb.
I never thought much about him.
In fact, to me, he was like the sidekick you can never remember in a good movie.
Yeah, I know you did stuff. But what’s your name again?
Be careful who you overlook.
They just might be the key to your blessing.
But I came across a verse in one of my daily readings about a year and a half ago, and my face basically did this:
I knew about Caleb because of Joshua.
Joshua was the superhero in the story. He was the predecessor of Moses--Huge, Huge shoes to fill.
And Joshua was incredible. He was the kind of person you want running your family business after your gone. The integrity and courage that this man had is quite mind blowing when you think about it.
But Caleb has his own story.
As does everyone in the Bible.
They breathed, had real lives, real issues and encountered a real entity known as God.
But there was something that Caleb said to Joshua that SHOOK me.
But just as a quick refresher, it was Caleb and Joshua that came back from spying out the Promised Land and said that the land was incredible and that God was capable of giving them victory over what appeared to be legit giants in the land.
But everyone else, the 10 others on that expedition – said the complete opposite. There was so much fear among the others regarding the giants in the land, that they basically convinced the rest of the people of Israel that it was all just too impossible.
It’s amazing how fast fear spreads versus hope.
And because of the hope that Caleb and Joshua carried, they would be granted the privilege of seeing and actually entering the Promised Land with their descendants.
They would be the only ones from their “wilderness generation” to do so.
Caleb and Joshua previewed the land and believed wholeheartedly who God was and what He could do for them in the midst of a larger than life Promised Land filled with giants.
They didn’t actually enter the Promised Land until 45 years later.
FORTY FIVE YEARS LATER.
Did God give you a Dream, a Word, or a Promise?
Have you been waiting for what seems like eons?
Well you’re in good company.
That’s a full grown adult person.
New inventions and discoveries that change the world and culture happen within that time frame.
And I here I was, feeling fear and trepidation-- and even shame in turning 40.
I hadn’t accomplished all the things or received the promise of a husband, kids, or career success in my insecure timeline.
And in our youth-obsessed culture, I was feeling as though I had missed out on my prime.
All the 30 and 40 year old-somethings around me were already talking about how bad their bodies felt, and how unhappy they were with their appearances.
And I was like, “Wow. So this is how it’s gonna be?”
The Promise gets crusty.
I get crusty.
Everything just gets crusty and dusty and old.
And you’re okay with this?
But I had nothing else to go off of.
Nothing else to compare it to.
When I get to heaven, besides Jesus--Caleb will be the person I want to sit down and have a conversation with for about 10 years. And I can do that, because time won’t really exist, and 1,000 years is like a day to God.
But I just want to hang out with Caleb. And I want to meet all his family. I want to hear all the stories, straight from his mouth.
Because Caleb is such a gangster.
And ya’ll know how much I love a good gangster.
Plus he’s loyal.
I recently spoke at a best friend’s wedding earlier this year about the beauty of loyalty, especially in this day and age, not realizing I was also speaking to my own soul.
Loyalty truly does mean something in the economy of God.
Devoted, adventurous, loyal, and an incredibly passionate lover of God.
Caleb, I see you.
For the first time, I really see you.
So what was it that Caleb said that forever wrecked the narrative of defeat and disappointment I had been playing over and over in my mind?
Well, let me introduce you to my friend Caleb, at a key point in his life.
The moment before he finally enters the Promised Land:
“Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
“Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”
So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land […] And the land had rest from war.
There is sooo much in this that I could talk about, and I know you probably gleaned something fresh that I’ve never seen before.
But what continues to leave me awestruck is the fact that Caleb says:
“I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.”
You don’t feel dusty, crusty, and old, Caleb?
And at 85 YEARS OLD, You don’t feel tired and defeated?
You don’t sound entitled, bitter, or mean either, but rather, full of confident hope and love.
AND you feel just as exuberant and full of life as you did FORTY FIVE YEARS AGO??
Ohhh, sweet friend, that’s exactly what God is showing me.
The blessing is in the journey.
Because, you see, I often want to define love on my terms.
But God is so gently course-correcting me, and defining love on His terms.
This is how we overcome.
Leaning into the life-giving love of God.
And you and I need each other.
And that’s okay to admit.
In fact, it’s necessary.
Because in the end, Caleb still honored protocol and relationship and asked Joshua for what he knew was meant to be his.
The blessing— a portion of the Promised Land, although first spoken to Caleb through a supernatural word from God, was actually released to him through his friend Joshua.
This is beautiful.
I think this is apart of my life’s message and legacy.
The way in which Hannah meets Caleb in our lives. And the utter trustworthiness of God.
And although their voices belong to different generations and times, both Hannah and Caleb speak so profoundly to our lives today.
Their voices fill me with such compassion and kindness, and help to melt away the hardened places of my heart.
So as I roundup my last year of being in my 30s, I want to be full of celebration and not despair.
I don’t simply want to expect something “Good”, I want to expect something “Great”.
Because we serve a Great, Great, loving, awe-inspiring, incredible God.
He’s led me down the path of His “favor and protection”.
In not obtaining marriage, having kids, or financial success, as of yet (“yet” being key) or rather not having it all in my perceived perfect-accomplishing timeline, has all been God’s love and perfect wisdom in my life.
I can begin to see His heart for me in this.
Now don’t feel the need to stroke my ego after reading this post, that’s not why I wrote this.
I wrote this for us.
Let God define and speak to you about your Promised Land and the current giants you might be afraid of.
Maybe it’s time.
Maybe you feel as though you are running out of time.
Maybe you felt as though you blew it.
But what I’m learning from those that have gone before us, is that God is truly a Waymaker.
Because no matter how long it takes, God has already taken into account the passing years, your mistakes, deficiencies and lackluster efforts – And yet factored in His love and incredible wisdom, to bring you into a place flowing with milk and honey.
If I could encourage your heart in this: Don’t ignore the Hannah in you. The cry that validates the desire that God has placed in your heart. But never forget to trust God alone with the ache. Don’t try and fill or master the ache on your own. It will leave you weary.
In all your getting, get understanding….Understanding of God’s heart of love for you.
For you specifically.
Because the one thing I’ve learned in the journey, is that the more I lean in on His love, and actually receive it personally for myself, I am propelled beyond just the hope of a promise, but into an eternal relationship with the very one who formed the heart within me that cries out for love.
God is pouring out something over my life.
It’s slowing coming over my head and making its way past my shoulders, over my heart, down my back, and covering my knees, and wrapping itself around my ankles and feet.
It’s a blessing.
And it’s informing who I am becoming.
I may not meet my future husband this year, or next year.
And I’m not quite sure how the baby thing will play out.
But I want to become more and more like Caleb.
I’m not waiting to live wholeheartedly in the goodness of God.
The goodness of God is here--right now.
And because of this goodness, the places of pain and shame in my life are being transformed into a healing balm and a river—a river that flows directly into the gift of my glorious promised land.
Keep my eyes open to the truth of who you are God.
And thank you for my new friend, Caleb.
“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.”