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peace that transcends

Dear Maliyah,

You know those people you meet and you just know they are Christians? You can tell they know who Jesus is and that they are free in Him. They just have that something different about them that makes them stand out from the rest of the world, from the rest of the broken and captive people that walk this earth.

I have always wanted to be one of those people. I want someone to see me, meet me, and within a few minutes know there is something different about me. I want it to be obvious to everyone that I have something the world doesn’t offer. That I know who I am and whom I am loved by. That I know where I have come from, what I am called to do, and where I am going. I want them to see Jesus in me.

For years I have wrestled with this idea, and wondered how I can make this happen. How can I walk around and shine the light of Jesus bright enough that everyone notices? That people wonder, “Hey what does she have that I don’t?”

Maybe I need to post more about our Father and His faithfulness on Facebook. I could volunteer more, or go on more mission trips. Should I bring up my faith more often in conversation? Maybe I should be asking more people if they needed prayer.

What could I do to make people see how much I loved Jesus? How could I stand out?

As you can imagine, none of those things have worked. None of my obvious efforts have helped the situation. Because let’s be honest, those people who claim to have Jesus but really don’t, can do the exact same things. They can post Bible verses, tell their testimony, and give food to the homeless all they want, but it doesn’t mean they truly have Jesus living inside of them, encompassing their whole world, and transforming their hearts day after day.

Finally though, after many years of awkwardly trying and pushing to be seen, it happened. Naturally and without me trying.

Just recently I finished my first year of teaching. (Hallelujah, I made it!) Walking into it, I was terrified. Worried I would find myself crying silent tears in the back of my classroom. Not leaving school until 8:00 at night. Hating the fact I had chosen teaching as my profession. People, and lots of them, had warned me how hard my first year would be. Some teachers even apologized to me when they heard I was a first year. I knew I was called to be a teacher and that I would make it through the first year, but I had fully prepared myself that come the end of May, I would be an exhausted and overworked adult dreading to continue life in the real world.

Praise the Lord this was not the case, but don’t get me wrong- the first year essentially tore me down and then rebuilt me from the ground up. But still, I am smiling, loving life, and so thankful that I chose the profession I did.

And there is one reason for this. Jesus and His peace.

Maliyah, your sis used to be a stresser. A pretty major one. Even in elementary school I stressed over everything. I am type A and lean on the side of being a perfectionist. (You probably know all of this by now.) If I’m being honest, not much in my life has ever been very hard for me, and I have always found success in what I have done. I have always been the leader, and have rarely needed help. I am self-sufficient and independent, and unfortunately take too much pride in it. My point here is not to brag about my successes, but rather to help you understand why my first year tore me down.

You can imagine it. Here I am, a bit prideful in my independence and ability to figure things out on my own walking into a school where I am the youngest person with no experience whatsoever. Automatically, I am at the bottom of the pack, something I am not used to. And as soon as the school year started, it was painfully obvious to me how little I knew and how much help and guidance I needed. And so knowing that in order to be successful and be the best teacher I could be, I decided to become the best student possible and seek help and take advice whenever I could get it. I was determined to learn as much as I could this year, and grow in every way possible.

And with that, pride no longer had a place in my world, and I was forced to let go of my old ways. I asked lots of questions, sought help, and admitted when I did something wrong. All of this was exhausting, overwhelming, and extremely humbling.

Taking a look at the challenge that lay ahead of me, it was daunting and a journey I knew I could not walk alone. And so daily I begged my Father to prepare the path ahead of me and walk with me. To provide for me the energy, peace, and love needed to be the teacher He called me to be.

And throughout this whole process, without me knowing it, Jesus was shining brighter in me then I ever could have imagined. He was transforming me and molding me into His vessel.

Multiple times throughout the year someone told me I seemed really calm for a first year teacher. But here was the thing- I didn’t just seem calm, I was calm. Throughout the course of the nine months, when people would ask how I was, I would tell them I was great. Not much seemed to overwhelm me, and I felt like everything was under control. Towards the end of the year, as I sat down to do my end of the year reflection, I realized that the level of peace I had felt over the course of the year was far beyond my explanation or understanding. And that’s when it hit me.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Maliyah, the world yells at us to worry. It fills our mind with fear and over time, we have become a world where living in fear is normal. It is acceptable, and what is assumed. You are supposed to dread growing up and paying bills because finances are all consuming and never easy. You should go into relationships assuming you will get hurt eventually. And at some point in life, everything will crumble, and you too will crumble with it for a little bit of time. It’s just what humans do. We let circumstances define us, and we allow our emotions to control us.

But Maliyah, please hear me when I tell you our Father says the opposite. He tells us that when we seek Him fiercely, and pursue Him relentlessly, He will give us peace. And not just ordinary peace, but a peace that transcends all understanding. A peace that doesn’t make sense. When circumstances are raging, your life is in shambles, and there is no reason to be at peace, you still are. When everybody around you tells you to worry and be overwhelmed, this is the kind of peace that still wins. Still perseveres. And still overpowers it all.

The world told me to fear this year. To be prepared to be overwhelmed. To wrap my head around the idea of always feeling in over my head.

But that’s because the world simply doesn’t understand the peace that is offered to us. The gift of His presence that makes every worry seem small and every fear dissipate.

And that is exactly what happened to me this year.

The peace that transcends all understanding flooded me and my world to the point where others could see it and others could sense it. While my attempts to shine the light of Jesus failed, the time when I let my Father transform me and mold me on His own, others saw Him in me.

In the moments where my world was “perfect” and I was fully capable on my own, I was shining my light far more than His. It required me to be broken down, humbled, and so in need of my Savior and His help, for His presence to flood me so immensely that others finally saw Him in me.

It was all His doing and not mine. The wonderful first year. The peace I felt. The balance I found. And the joy I experienced. It was all Him.

And so Maliyah, you know those people who you meet and you can just tell they are Christians? Generally it’s because they have this unbeknownst peace that emanates from their pores. A peace that can’t quite be described or understood, but one that just puts a heart at rest and a smile on the face. And this peace, this peace that transcends all understanding, is yours if you want it. Peace that will bring hope to the most hopeless circumstances, joy to the most defeating moments, and rest to the most weary of people. It’s peace that will transform your heart, and the hearts of those who meet you. Peace that only has one explanation. It’s from Him. Our Father who loves us so.

All my love,

Sissy

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