Joy and Pain…

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I remember the first time I encountered the phrase “Jesus is still on the throne!”. Christine Caine, a Christian pastor, made the statement on her Instagram page. When I read it, I must have been experiencing a rough day because by the time I finished reading it, I wanted to run around the room (y’all know how the seasoned saints do when they get happy). Gosh, it placed EVERYTHING into perspective! It basically told me to have a seat and relish in the fact that Jesus still reigns. It reminded me to set my sights on the things above and not earthly things. It told me that no matter what we are going through, Jesus is STILL on the throne. I almost want to shout right now…

“Jesus is on the throne. He was also on a cross…” Kyle Brooks

However, it was the above mentioned quote, that made the lightbulb really go off. In order to get to the throne, He had to endure the cross. There is not one without the other. In order to recognize and rejoice in the fact that He is still on the throne, I must acknowledge that the cross came first. In order to get to that heavenly, beautiful, and peaceful place, He had to endure pain and suffering.

Dear friends,

If I may encourage you all (and myself in the process), take comfort in the fact that Jesus is still on the throne. He is always and forever in that beautiful and majestic seat. But He had to endure the pain of the cross in order to get there. Jesus is considered the ultimate example for a reason. John 16:33 tells us that in this world you will have trouble. You will experience trouble here. Please do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise, scripture says it and your life probably echoes that same truth. Who hasn’t experienced pain and suffering? However, we also find incredible comfort in the same verse, in me you may have peace. The “in me” is Jesus. He is the source of our comfort and He is right there to meet us in our pain. He is no stranger to the troubles of this world. But the peace He has to give is optional, you have to choose Jesus no matter what you are going through. In choosing Him, there is peace. The same scripture also provides this incredible truth: But take heart! I have overcome the world. Your pain and suffering isn’t where the story ends! It is only the beginning! We can look to the amazing victor, Jesus! In the end, Jesus wins! And so will you! Your pain is merely temporary. And while there isn’t a throne awaiting you, there is an incredible testimony that will encourage and inspire others. After the pain, there is a reward for your faithfulness. The fire refines, beautiful people! There will absolutely be glory after this.

Yes, Jesus is absolutely still on the throne (go on ahead and get your run on!) but we cannot forsake the necessity of the cross…

Peace and Blessings

 

The Uncomfortable Zone.

I’ve seen and heard many variations of this quote and you can’t deny it’s validity. No matter how much I want to do so. 

Tanya fact 145: I like comfort! Who doesnt?! The literal definition of uncomfortable means void of comfort! I don’t like it all all. 

But heaven knows, the uncomfortable is where I have grown the most, where I have become the most creative, and where my faith has been stretched and strengthen.

The uncomfortable zone has its own beauty as well: 

The uncomfortable zone draws you closer to God. 

This is the place where I probably say the Lord’s name the most! I’m uncomfortable and vulnerable in this zone. I have to trust God in ways I haven’t had to do so. The uncomfortable is where I am able to learn more about who God is. In the uncomfortable, I learn that He loves me unconditionally, I learn about His unyielding faithfulness, and I learn about His provision and protection on a different level. I am drawn to Him because I can’t function alone in the uncomfortable. 

The uncomfortable zone isn’t as pretty as the comfort zone.

Think about comfort. Ain’t it pretty? For me, comfort is my pj’s (Before 8pm), with my favorite show on TV (Martin or Big Bang Theory), my favorite essential oil (Joy) diffusing in the diffuser, with a low light on in my bedroom. The comfort zone is a beautiful place, and when I’m in that zone, pretty much nothing is getting accomplished that evening except for sleep! But the uncomfortable, isn’t as pretty nor as sweet. It’s a little nerve wrecking, filled with anxiety, and peace can be hard to find. But it’s necessity possesses a beauty all its own…

The uncomfortable zone produces growth. 

When I think about being uncomfortable, this scripture comes to mind: “we are hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 In other words, it’s rough but we are stronger and wiser because of it. The fire of the uncomfortable zone produces a refining process that just can’t happen in your comfort zone. The fire won’t kill you, it will make you better and more prepared for what’s next. 

2017 has the potential to be the uncomfortable zone. I know it will be for me. On every level, there appears to be an uncomfortable zone just waiting for me. And it’s nerve-wrecking, a little scary, and it leaves me a little anxious. But there is hope!

It is my prayer that we all have an uncomfortable zone awaiting for us in 2017. In the midst of that zone, may we all recognize that God is with us, we will have peace, we will grow, and while the uncomfortable zone isn’t as pretty as the comfort zone, there is beauty there as well.

Embrace your uncomfortable zone, there will be glory after it. 

Peace and Blessings 

The Power Of Your Narrative. 

“My name is Tanya Sanford. I am 31, single, and childless. I am chubby, have a dark complexion, and short. I work, go to school, and am involved in my church. I come from a single parent home. I have friends and family. I like sleeping, seafood, purple, and Mickey Mouse…”

Society, often times, attempts to shape our narrative. If you are a person of color, your narrative can tell of a lifetime of hardship, racism, and persecution. If you are a woman, it may speak of the sexism you may face. If you come from a low-income home, the narrative may speak of the disadvantages one has because of the poverty they are in. Single parent home? The narrative may attempt to predict that you will have difficulty maintaining relationships. And the list goes on…
Think of the heart-wrenching names we’ve seen in hashtags. It’s not long before the media shapes their narratives.

However, WE have the opportunity to tell our own story, we can shape our narrative. Our circumstances do not have to define our narrative, they are merely speaking points…merely moments in our ever-growing novel. 

Beautiful people, we are a letter written by Christ! “Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3

THIS is our narrative. God’s opinion of us is our very narrative, not our mistakes, moments of defeats, nor the bad things that happened to us. They are a part of your story but they are NOT your story. Find your story in Christ alone. 

Scroll back up to read my narrative. I did not lie, but it is so riddled with my circumstances and so bland. It does not speak about what’s Christ has done in my life, it doesn’t contain my colorful personality, nor is it filled with my passion. It is indeed facts but it is not my truth, my truth is so much more.

My dear friend, yours is too. You are more than what happened to you. You go beyond flesh and blood. In you, there is life, there is a beautiful narrative that is being written. Live out the truth.

This sounds more like my truth…

“My name is Tanya Sanford. I am 31 years young, single, and childless. I am bite-sized, plus-sized, and chocolate. I LOVE Jesus, sleep, Idris, purple, Mickey Mouse, all things History, people, and children. I was raised by my Mom, have a little brother, big sister, and awesome nephew. I have the opportunity to serve families and children and to serve in ministry. Life has happened but through Christ, I’ve conquered and still am conquering…”

So, what’s your story? 

Peace and Blessings.

Tanya and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

So, last week was crappy. There were tears, I was hurt, I was betrayed, I was angry, and the whole nine. And truth be told, I was not even overly excited about the upcoming week until God pretty much told me to get it together. Bad things happen every day but even in the midst of it all, there is a lesson (in this case lessons) to be learned: 

Lesson Number One: People will be People.

Let them jokers be who they are, people. Messed up, tore up from the floor up, hurtful, mean, people. We won’t always get it right because we are…people. We walk around full of STUFF and sometimes we operate out of that stuff. Hurt people hurt people, simple as that. We are called, even still, to love them and to forgive them. Tiring, I know, but necessary. Why, you wonder. Well God says we have to but we also… (which leads into lesson two…)

Lesson Number Two: We need community.

Can I brag about my community for a moment? When I was down last week, each of my sisters in Christ poured into me, encouraged me, prayed for me, gave me a hug, and so much more. I needed their wisdom, I needed their embrace, I needed their comfort. Isolation is tempting but deadly. Life is hard but it gets a little easier with folks by your side. It’s not the quantity of folks, it’s the quality. We were never intended to do life alone, we need each other.

Lesson Number Three: In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I am blessed.

Romans 8:28 echoed loud and clear this week as God reminded me how all things work together for my good, even my screw-ups and moments of defeat. This does not mean I keep screwing up, it means that I must humble myself, give thanks, and figure out how to move forward. It means that I must forgive because I am forgiven. I must love because I am loved. It reminds me that there are consequences but I am still blessed. It reminds me that God’s redemptive power, grace, and mercy is continously available, even to the likes of me. And it reminds me…(leading into the last lesson…)

Lesson Number Four: It is well.

That link above contains the song “It is well” by Bethel Music. But the title also serves as lesson number four. Chile, it is absolutely well. I’ll heal. You will heal. And it will be well. God will restore and it will be well. When we refocus and operate from a Christ centered perspective, it will be well. When we keep our eyes on God, it will be well. When we let go, it will be well. Jesus is still on the throne, believe me, it is well. 

Be encouraged and don’t miss the message that our bad days or bad weeks often provide.

Peace and Blessings

Yes.

“…I will forever say yes to you, I will always choose you…”
So one random day, those words came to mind as I thought about the vows I would say to my future husband (sorry to spill the beans…). 

I was always told that marriage is all about choosing your spouse every day, saying “yes” to your marriage, and fighting to maintain your marriage, each and every day. Sounds like a lot of work but that’s love.

As I thought about this fact, I heard a gentle whisper that said “the same goes for Me”. That simple statement hit me like a ton of bricks. 

Our relationship with God requires a fight, requires a choice, and requires us to say “yes” each day and I never even considered that humbling truth.

Here I am dreaming up some pretend vows in the wilds of my imagination to a perfectly flawed man. The question is, however, am I saying “yes” to my relationship with God every day? Am I forever choosing Him? Am I fighting to maintain our relationship each day?

Let me satisfy any curiosity: sometimes, sometimes, and sometimes. 

And if I struggle to choose God every day who is perfect and awesome and amazing, how am I going to choose my perfectly flawed future husband?

Saying “yes” to God isn’t so that we can get whatever we desire. Saying yes to God means we say yes to His will, yes to His purpose and plan, yes to love, yes to obedience, and yes to His presence.

There are so many things and people vying for our time and energy, and God does not deserve the leftovers of the day. He deserves our best yes, our best fight, and He desires to be chosen time and time again. 

Relationships must be nurtured and protected. Our relationship with God is no different. We must fight the distractions, we must always choose Him, and we must forever say yes to the One who gave His very life to be in a relationship with us.

Peace and Blessings

Shut It Down.


So, I enjoy taking the long way home from work. It gives me time to think and clear my mind from the day, kinda polar opposites right? But I like it. 

So, today was no different. I am driving down Rte. 143 and this popped into my head: “Tanya, maybe you aren’t as wonderful as you think you are, that’s why you are single.” The following thoughts began to support that thesis statement. I even began to agree. 

A quiet whisper began to say: “cast down those thoughts”. BUT all that logic was perfect sense! I am still very single, so clearly those thoughts had a ring of truth. “Cast down those thoughts”, I kept hearing, soft and subtle. Finally, I said loudly: “Shut it down”.

That moment was bigger than my relationship status. That moment was warfare in its truest form. It wasn’t with flesh and blood, that was all spiritual. So subtle, so quiet, it crept right in, began to make perfect sense, and I started to agree! I was going to believe that lie and accept it as truth. 

Now, let me stop and say that I am well aware and cognizant of my flaws and shortcomings. However, I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. That is my truth! 

But how subtle and crafty is the enemy? Maybe the lies he whispers has nothing to do with your relationship status. Maybe his poisonous whispers tell you that you are a bad wife, a bad mother, that you’ll never amount to anything. Maybe his whispers have you comparing your lives to others or coveting something that isn’t yours. 

I have three words for you: SHUT IT DOWN. All the way down! Adhere to 2 Corinthians 10:5 and make those thoughts submit to Christ. Speak God’s truth over your life. Wash away those deadly seeds that are trying to take root in you with the Word of God. Ignore the enemy’s subtle and crafty comments and listen to the voice of the Lord. 

Cast down those thoughts, imaginations, speculations, make them obedient to Christ, and cling to God’s truth. 

Continue to fight the good fight, my friends. 

Peace and Blessings

Here I Stand.

“…I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

I am currently exploring “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer and getting challenged and checked by the Holy Spirit in the process.

In the midst of my study, the text discussed Peter and his walk on the water (Matthew 14:24-32). And this sentence rocked me completely: “Peter made a mistake: he spent too much time looking at the storm”. And the Holy Spirit gently informed me that I do the exact same thing.

When I have prayed, made the decision to stand on the promises of God, and begin to walk in faith that God would do what He said He would do, that’s when the storms, circumstances, and obstacles look incredibly massive and I lose focus and I buckle. In short, Peter and I are connected.

In those moments, part of me hears God saying “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I hear myself challenge God with that word by thinking—isn’t my faith suppose to be little? Lord, you said all I need is a mustard seed of faith (check Matthew 17:20).

I mean, have you seen a mustard seed? If not, here goes a picture: mustard seed

A mustard seed is incredibly small, however, God’s Word tells us that with this amount of faith, mountains can move. With this amount of faith, nothing is impossible for us.

Seems simple right? What’s the catch? The challenge is to stand on that mustard seed of faith, regardless of the circumstances, storms, and obstacles that you may encounter. Because the moment you take your focus off of that mustard seed of faith, you will buckle and sink.

So as we lay our cares at the feet of the Savior, as we go to prayer in our war rooms, as we repeat the promises of God to ourselves as we attempt to move forward, let us stand unmovable and unshakeable on that mustard seed of faith. May we move the mountains in our lives with that mustard seed of faith. May we recognize that the mustard seed of faith in Christ is bigger than any storm, circumstance or obstacle that we will ever face.

Here is a simple prayer for those who may struggling with their faith: Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). Your Word is tried and true. May I recognize that the waves and winds still know Your Name. May I believe that the mustard seed in faith in You is mighty than any challenge I may ever face. Lord, may my faith become stronger each day. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Peace and Blessings