2019: A Year of Growth

I first think of the very beginning of this year. My family had been in Smithfield for the day, spending time together, Darby and I getting our nails done, and all of us trying to track down a family friend in a nursing home. My family arrived home, and my grandparents showed up to help celebrate New Years Eve. I was journaling lying down on the floor. One of my favorite traditions is writing my last words of a year to my future husband.

I was too tired to even care much about the ball dropping last year. I had been in a season of seriously trying to figure out the plans God had for my life after high school graduation. Would I be at my community college, actually go to Liberty, do school online, or attend a ministry program? I was also leading my middle school girls weekly on Fridays.

February consisted of me sleeping very few hours and working on getting Fully Consecrated ready for publication! The Lord divinely orchestrated my class schedules as I was able to work on getting our book finished many hours during school! My heart had reached a place of deep contentment with where God had me. I was a few months into a season of clinging onto Him and needing His Presence close. I was learning more about God’s love. He deeply longs for each human, each of us, with every fiber of His being. I would watch someone I was once close to and realize the pursuit of God even in our distantness, rejection of Him, and desire to go our own way.

I was trying to maximize my senior year at a new school. I wanted to live at peace with my classmates. My heart was burdened seeing peers walk around lifeless and drained of vibrant spiritual color. My new school had fun “house” challenges where we would take time in a school day for competitions.

My eighteenth birthday fell on a Saturday in February! My sweet sister Darby had bought us matching jean overalls. She also bought me a mustard yellow scarf! I had been wanting that exact style of a scarf for years! We (my mom, Darby, and I) laughed in the kitchen as I put the new pieces of clothing over my crumpled pajamas. We had all just woken up! Mom pulled out a cute cake and made my favorite birthday tradition a reality again. She bought me flowers!

The afternoon of my eighteenth birthday consisted of me dressing up in the new overalls and getting my mom to snap a few pictures of me and the beautiful flowers in the woods. After that, my family loaded up in our minivan and made our way through Greenville to the Texas Roadhouse (our family birthday spot). The sunset we watched outside of the car windows was bright light pink. It looked like cotton candy was twirling around us! With stuffed bellies, my family ate cake and opened up a few more gifts after we got home.

My family made my eighteenth birthday such a special day. The next night was special too. Some of our new friends were at the same church we visited. I met two of my closest friends, Hannah and Julia!

The following month (March) consisted of getting to know my new friends better. I continued to lead my middle school girls weekly. It was one of my greatest joys of life! A purpose God had for me was fulfilled. I gained passion for girls ministry! It was no longer just a nudge from the Lord written down in one of my journals.

I felt like a teacher hanging out in the teacher workroom at school printing off lesson notes for my girls. They soaked up the words of God so deeply. They were receptive to desiring Jesus for themselves daily.

Teaching these girls changed me. God knew it would. I needed them, and they needed me. 

God began preparing me more for speaking opportunities ahead. I saw Him take over and speak to the girls for an hour through me. He worked and took away my reliance on reading every word. I would arrive to my lunch right after spending time with the girls. Darby and others would stare at me with big eyes. They thought I should calm down a little bit. I was hyped up ready to go change the whole world!

After sharing a God-given message with my Bible study girls and Facebook, my Pastor at church asked me to speak to our whole congregation! On March 17th, humbled, I was able to declare the words God had given to me. I was able to declare His power to work in people because I had seen Him change me. He freed me from fear. He healed my mouth and made me whole. I found my identity in Him. Yes, I am small. I know I am young. I am a girl. Yet, those things never stop God from using me.

It amazes me how God works through His Holy Spirit in a room. I have seen hearts raw and opened up to Him this year. God has divinely and specifically let people know they are loved, seen, and known. He is involved in the details of our lives!

Fully Consecrated was finally born into the world in March! Holding the first printed copy in my hands was a surreal moment. A dream of mine came to life with God! He wrote Fully Consecrated through the highs and lows of our journey together. He placed me at a new school to help me bring the physical book to life.

The Biscuit and the Bean Cafe in Winterville helped me celebrate the first book signing of Fully Consecrated in April. Friends and family piled in showing the most heartfelt love, excitement, and support. They celebrated what God was doing and continuing to do.

Over the year, I have gotten to hear stories of Fully Consecrated being read in a few days, every night, and as a daily devotional book. My prayer is that Fully Consecrated never takes the place of people reading God’s Word. My prayer is that it always points others to Jesus and His Bible of Truth!

My prayers over a life or college decision were answered in March and April. On the day I spoke at church, Jesus connected me with His daughter who was the vice president at my local community college. After meeting with this wonderful lady in her office at the school, I knew God wanted me there. 

My desire to go to Liberty was pushed aside for this time. As I sat in the new student orientation at my college, I saw how God had been leading me there every step He had been guiding me on.

More speaking opportunities opened up this year. I was able to share Jesus in a creative way with photographers at the beach in April.

I prayerfully decided not to go to my senior prom. The place for me to be was at The Victor, an annual play my church hosts. I was able to sit on the sidewalk outside and lift up the needs people had given me in colorful prayer cards. One lady took hold of me as we talked to God after the play was over.

Graduation started drawing close at the end of May! I found myself thinking back over the last four years on May 31st. That was the last day of being in the commitment not to date in high school.

I was thankful. Thankful for the protection God had given me through that commitment. Thankful for the time to develop a heart for Him and more Godly character.

I wanted Jesus first, but I was struggling to want Him alone.

My desire for the earthly love story God had for me was strong. I didn’t think I would be waiting much longer to see His plan unfold. I was praying over what I thought God was doing in my life. Full of expectancy and hope, I was broken after the plans I had imagined were gone over night.

God had not failed me. The plans I put my hope in fell through.

I wasn’t able to sing, “I just want You” to God. I had tried preparing myself for dating and seasons to come by watching certain sermon series. I was excited and thought I was ready to go.

God was shaking His head. I found myself at the beach this summer trying to make sense of what had happened. My prayers for one day consisted of singing Jesus’ Name. I could not form any other word to describe what I needed.

God met with me in a little blue antique shop at Emerald Isle. The stranger who owned the store began talking with me. Her words were God’s words that cut straight to my heart. God let me know He was using me powerfully in this season of just me and Him. He had things for us to do together before I walked with anyone else intimately. He made sure to remind me that in His perfect timing, He was and is going to bring His best in a husband right to me.

I accepted these words God had clearly spoken.The antique shop owner who was my sister in Christ also sent me a financial blessing to keep sharing Jesus on Undeniably His!

After getting home from the beach and embracing the summer of hope rising up amidst brokenness and being stripped of a reality I once rejoiced in, the Lord placed the name “cultivate” in my spirit. I later saw a picture on someone’s Instagram with the verse Psalm 37:3. The NASB version of it says, “Trust in the Lord and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”

I couldn’t believe this verse. It seemed like God’s specific message to me. I was living at home, making a difference in my community college, and “single” for a reason. I wasn’t alone. God was with me.

At the Forward Conference in June, I gained confirmation on starting a new monthly girls ministry. We kicked off a six-day-long  Bible study called Cultivate in July.

We have met once every month since then! The Holy Spirit has fallen on His daughters. Daughters trying to figure out who their Dad is. Daughters fighting brokenness and darkness. Daughters finding their identity in Him. Daughters finding freedom to open up their wounds to His healing hands.

My first day of college was marked by me being dressed in a black skirt being cheerful as I could be. I gained crazy looks since I was excited for the big day. This first semester was intentionally spent making a difference in the individual lives God placed around me. Landon. Megan. Lauren. Nelson. Mrs. S. Mrs. B. Even my success navigator has been a blessing from the Lord! She presented me with the news that I need to transfer to Liberty next fall.

Even though I am still waiting to see how God has worked things out in full, I now know He has things under control.

Instead of letting brokenness or hurt define my year, I am grateful for God’s gift of eternal life in Heaven and abundant life while we are on earth.

My heart has indeed grown this year. Growth was my word of the year.

God gave me a group of girls to point to Him. He grew my passion and ability to teach. I graduated from high school. He ended one season to welcome me into new atmospheres of growth. I needed to help others grow in the soil of His love.

I am now thriving and able to rejoice in this season of “just” me and God. He is truly all I need. I believe He + nothing = everything. I am doing life with Love Himself. Everything I started this year holding tightly onto has been fully surrendered to the Lord.

His plans for me and you are good. We lack no good thing in Him, my friend! I know God’s plans are most beautiful for us. I just want what He wants for me. If He calls us to a season of waiting, it is because that is what is best for us.

I have been watching Jesus rid me of things I never before realized were in me. Let Him heal your heart.

He has good seasons to come. He sure does. I am excited, but I see His splendor in this moment of time.

This truly is the most beautiful time of the year. It is beautiful because I am at a place I have never been at before with God.  I am whole and made complete. Life is being lived now.

What are you waiting for? Why not accept the gifts God has for you today? He alone is the most wonderful blessing of all. He loves you with all the love there is. God is love. You have a Father, Groom, Friend, Lover, Healer, and Encourager who is wild about you.

Please accept Him.

You are so loved.

I pray you believe it.

-Haley 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s