Weathering the Storm

Floridians, you know the drill. A tropical depression turns into a tropical storm and it’s a buzz of conversation. Then it turns into a hurricane and it’s a constant rain of questions; what category it is, what track it’s on, how fast the winds are, what stores are out of water, and who’s still selling gas?

Then, we wait.

One of the most difficult parts about hurricane season is the not knowing. The waiting, questioning, and anticipation for something that we really don’t know anything about. It could slow down, speed up, turn away, turn toward us, or break up over the ocean and never really “hit”. These storms are out of our control and can’t be accurately predicted. Every warning is an abundance of caution because these storms have the potential to swell up or change direction so quickly.

The emotions and changes of life often feel like hurricane season. We end up rushing to prepare last minute, we stress and prepare for things that never happen, or we think our survival depends on us and how well we prepared, when it doesn’t.

Other times it’s more devastating or comes more quickly than we expect, all of our preparations can’t prevent challenges and trials, and even in a season of rebuilding or heartbreak, we aren’t in control.

Before learning that hurricane Dorian is approaching, we also learned we have to move and dove into the buying/renting market a little sooner than expected and finding a place has felt like hurricane prep. Despite knowing this would one day happen, we didn’t think it would be so fast or feel so pressing and it’s still subject to change any moment. We can look for places, research, compare and stress till our minds are simply exhausted, but we really aren’t in control of when this move will happen or where we’ll go. Anxiety feels so real, but it really doesn’t help. God has a plan and He ultimately provides.

Though we want to be good stewards the same way we stock up on water and gas and put up our shutters for a storm we can’t see, our attitude in the challenges of life and waiting for a hurricane should reflect the state of our heart, and that should be of complete trust in God.

Weathering the storm is often silent and uneventful; it’s waiting for an ever changing event with no timeline, one of the most prominent times to be a walking testimony of how we trust the Lord. So as you settle down and wait, remember who holds your heart and your home. Let the attitude of your heart speak of an abundance of trust in the Lord who cares for you, who settles storms, and provides for all trials.

Praying you have water, gas, and comfort food, but even more so that you’re using this hurricane season to press into the Lord.
Trust Him & be safe my friends.

8.30.2019

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God Is My Refuge

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

I’ve always found such comfort in God being my refuge to run to during times of uncertainty. In every trial, He is there. In every storm, He is there. After each of my failures, He is there with arms wide open. Lately I’ve been dwelling on this verse and the fact that God has always been and will always be there, that His past faithfulness demands my present trust, that He’ll always come in and surprise me with His goodness if I lean on His strength rather than attempt to live on my own.

Then the foundation of this verse struck me. How can I be so blessed by this unconditionally loving Father, if there is nothing to take refuge from?

I reached a point where I was tired of the trials. Tired of having to forgive, tired of asking forgiveness for the same thing again & again, tired of collapsing at Jesus’ feet and feeling like the trials would never stop.

God would be an absolutely useless refuge if we had no trials, no fears, no challenges to take refuge from. I believe He ordains these things in our lives to draw us even closer to Him, to show us how desperately we need Him.

Now when the trials come, it’s not the same sinking feeling of having to run to Jesus and be protected, it’s an opportunity to run to Him, glorify Him, and be blessed by Him. Don’t get me wrong, trials are still difficult. But when you see purpose in them, they take a much smaller toll.

What are some trials you’re facing right now? Let yourself vent to Jesus, run to Him and be blessed within the refuge. How is this trial an opportunity for you to glorify Him and grow in the process? Thank Him for this trial and for the time it allowed you to have a deeper level of intimacy with Him.

6.30.2019

Bloom Where You Are Planted // Taking Root

“Bloom where you are planted.”

I’ve always struggled with this phrase.  As much as I like analogies and the image of us humans like delicate flowers or flourishing trees that sprout, grow, bloom or bear fruit, I didn’t want to picture myself stuck in one garden forever; living a life with one gift, working in one ministry, restricted to one career. It seemed too “new age” for me to justify with reality, too much like a fence and I hated feeling trapped by it.

But now God has shown me a correlation with His Word & made this over-instagram-captioned phrase a sequel to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  

He has been reminding me of the word “season” in my life and for a long while I wasn’t sure why.  It seems to be such a common word in Christian communities, but now I think He’s revealing the type of season He wants me in and how much more depth this analogy carries.

Each plant goes through seasons, but the identity of the plant remains the same. A sunflower is always a sunflower, a lily is always a lily, a gardenia is always a gardenia no matter where it’s planted, and each bloom will be unique according to its design. Different plants also require different saturation to see growth.

But the most important thing I’m learning about blooming where I’m planted is the first step; taking root.  Taking root is the challenging part to an adventurous heart.  It makes it more difficult to wander, but once rooted, it makes it easier to abide in Jesus (John 15), and to connect yourself with the community you are planted in, your root system intertwined with that of other believers.

If I don’t take root, I won’t grow in this garden, and if I don’t go through an entire season of growing in this garden, I won’t be strong enough to move to the next one when that time comes.  Community & accountability are essential to growth.

“Bind my wandering heart to thee”

Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing – Robert Robinson

For those who (like me) feel lost in all the different branches of this metaphor (pun absolutely intended), I decided to study some literal plants to help clarify. Here are some of their characteristics that helped me understand my own growing process.

In different seasons, plants direct their resources where it’s most necessary.  Depending on the time of year, they’re either directing all their energy to deepening their roots or using their roots to create the stunning blooms we get to appreciate in the spring.

It’s also critical that plants are moved only during a certain break between these seasons.  Moving a plant involves breaking some of the roots. Once it is moved, it has to take hold of the new soil all over again. The deeper its roots go the better the plant is going to bloom, but the more it will hurt to be moved if it is moved out of season.

“Plants in flower or about to flower hate being moved. It’s a big no-no in their world. All their resources are going in to producing a flower so they can create seed, not new roots.”

Alys Fowler

“Moving a plant means breaking roots – usually the fine root hairs that do the job of exploring the soil to find moisture.”

Alys Fowler

I think I’ve been disappointed that I’m not blooming, that I’m awaiting my next spiritual spring and I’ve been looking to other gardens longing for that to come.  God is teaching me to be content in this season, with a hope & joy for the future that doesn’t distract from enjoying where He has me now.

With this reminder, throwing yet another pile of my cares on the Lord, I kept digging….

Not only has God designed plants to be stationary as they take root and grow, but He’s designed them to REST in order to grow!  Plants don’t ‘sleep’, but they do require the atmosphere of dark in order to perform work within their roots.

“When your plants aren’t performing efficiently due to the lack of true night hours, no equipment in the world can cure what ails them. So, make sure they have the required break from light and the right amount of hours for each stage of growth.”

Tammy Clayton – Garden Culture Magazine

“Be still” doesn’t mean, ‘do nothing.’  To be still requires work underneath the surface that often requires the dark, silence, & stillness of the night.  This is why the second half of this verse is so important, “know that I am God.”  Our part of the work is to know God is in control and sovereign over our circumstances.  We grow in the season He’s placed us in when we grow in Him; in love for Him, trust in Him, & joy in Him.

In this season, God is doing more to grow me then I could ever dream to do for myself hopping around from one garden to another. He’s plowing, turning over the layers of soil in my heart, removing weeds, bringing fresh nutrients, and burying me so deep in His love & His presence that I can grow where He has me now and bloom where I’ve been planted.

Now I know, even when I do move from one garden to another, one season to another, I have to be still by continuously trusting Him, seeking Him & filling myself with His Word.  HE is my gardener, HIS hands will move me.  He’s teaching me that we will change gardens when the time is right, not while he has us rooted for growth, and if we’ve just moved, we have to take the time to grow new roots.  Be still. 

“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.”

Psalm 96:11-12 NKJV

I’d like to encourage you reading this, if you’re feeling unstable, unrooted, or not in the garden of your choice; spend time in prayer. God will make it clear whether or not you’re in His will. If He keeps you where you’re at, take root; plug into your church, sign up for that class, grow your community, start a Bible study, join a Bible study, set up an accountability relationship, or whatever step God is asking you to take in order to plant yourself deeper into Him. Read scripture, journal your thoughts, write songs of worship, record the songs you’ve written, & be still by knowing that HE is GOD.

5.30.2019

From Ms. to Mrs. // 2018

“Oh you got married?! Congratulations MRS!

Hello MRS. Curran!

How’s married life MRS?!”

Yes! I got married! Yes I am now Mrs. Curran!  This was absolutely the highlight of my 2018, but it was not just a single event or instant change. This transformation has been such a rich journey!

As we wrap up this year & begin to set goals & dream for 2019, I’ve been looking back on what I learned this year and these are just a few things that have stood out and helped me grow.

So this is my initial journal entry of what’s it’s like to go from Ms. to Mrs. and what it’s taught me thus far.

On April 7th, 2018, I married Mr. Michael Curran; my best friend, my greatest blessing, and especially lately, my greatest comforter. He’s also the FIRST to laugh at me when I mispronounce words or get a joke punchline wrong, but he’s the first to pick me up when I’m down, to wipe my tears away, and encourage me in things I can’t see in myself.

Being married has taught me some priceless lessons about Michael, about myself, and about how we function in our life together. There’s a lot I still have to learn and experience, but I’m taking these nuggets with me as we continue our adventure.

Lesson #1 // My identity has changed.

Not only have I gone from Ms. to Mrs. but from Ms. Alibrandi George to Mrs. Alibrandi Curran. I have a new drivers license to prove it!  I am learning to embrace the title of Wife and know that my goals & dreams are now blended with supporting my husband’s.

This new filter has changed my intentions & actions in everything, from job decisions, to ministry decisions, to scheduling decisions, all the way down to my  choice of words.  My words usually affect my husbands’ feelings directly or his reputation indirectly, & with the identity of wife I have to consider how my words, whether to him or about him, support & build him up.

Lesson #2 // Patience is key, especially with myself

When I say patience is key, I mean it pretty literally. Patience is like a key that we carry and can choose to utilize or ignore & waste time and energy pounding on doors and never actually getting anywhere.

I initially set all the bars way too high for myself. The meal prepping bar, the homemaking bar, the working two jobs while being the homemaker bar, & the do over the top thoughtful things to serve and surprise my husband bar. By my own expectations, I have failed every single one. I expected too much of myself and I haven’t had the ability to do all the things I wanted and have failed some of the ones I’ve tried.

But, when pouring out all this failure (mingled with some tears) to Michael, (enter my comforting husband yet again) he didn’t see failure because he didn’t see the bars. He simply saw his wife doing her best and absolutely loved & appreciated it. So when it comes to those imaginary bars of unrealistic expectations, confront them. Do your best, take the time to learn what your husband needs or wants first, and then you’ll still mess up.

When you find that your spouse just wants to have fun & enjoy the adventure of life with you, the bars disappear and you have a lot more fun laughing at your mistakes, learning from them, and finding new ways to embrace your new identity.

It also takes patience to merge two lifestyles.  Your practical habits will collide; no doubt about it.  In marriage, the habits themselves are truly small and typically unimportant.  It’s the communication concerning them that will turn into nagging, frustration, bitterness, or neglect when not handled well.  I’ve found it’s important for me to communicate in all gentleness and love why some habits bother me so I don’t harbor any afore mentioned negativity and so I can receive communication about habits I should strive to change.

Lesson #3 // I’m the most selfish person I know.

When you’re a ‘Ms.’ (or a single Mr. for that matter, just writing my perspective) your daily, practical focuses really do revolve around you.

When you become a ‘Mrs.’ those focuses and goals change even if you haven’t caught on to them yet.  Your ‘I’ is now ‘We’ and that sounds easy enough when it’s, ‘What do we want to cook tonight and what movie do we want to see?’ but it’s the topics that are a lot more subtle where this gets deeper.

Having to stop and merge some very different expectations & desires has made me realize just how much my flesh really cares about it’s own desires and just how sacrificial love needs to be.  I may not always want to do whatever the task or event at hand is, I may not even feel that I need to, but if it’s something that my husband wants, I have to consider how we are going to proceed, not just how I am.

Lesson #4 // I’m not perfect, I need to be constantly humbled

I recently heard this lesson worded best this way,

“marriage is the nicest way to confront your own inadequacies on a daily basis”

Y’all this is so true.

Beyond false expectations or unrealistic goals, there are some ways we just downright fail. I have had to acknowledge that I need help. I need to help my husband however I can, but I have to accept his help too. He has the best role in my life to say, “I know you can, but I’m here so you don’t have to.”

I had lots of help & preparation going into marriage, from family, mentors, friends, scripture, books, etc. but there are things that you have to experience to truly understand and failures only a spouse could point out for you to truly accept & that has been so enlightening for me.  Marriage is humbling and this has been extremely fruitful for me.

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In addition to sharing these more difficult lessons I’ve learned, I must close by sharing that marrying my best friend is the best decision I’ve ever made aside from accepting God as my Lord & Savior.  Amidst all challenges, marriage has been a blast!  Living, traveling, & learning with my husband brings me joy every single day!

I’m only 8 months in, but the amount that I’ve learned in this time has only made me that much more excited for all the lessons and growth to come!  With all the challenges, joys, & growth we’ve seen in 2018, I know God will do even more marvelous things in 2019 and we are striving to pursue Him together.

~ Mrs. Curran
12.31.2018

PASSION 2017 // Photo Journal

“Adventure is out there”

This week was one of the most challenging and fruitful adventures I think I’ve ever ventured on.  21 people, traveling and living together, encountering God together, & battling spiritual warfare together.

Day 1: Three packed cars caravanned from Davie, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.  We ran late due to traffic, arrived nearly freezing rain, and finally joined 55,000 other college students to worship in the Georgia Dome.  Later, we had our own devotional as a community group in the house we were renting.

Day 2: Four PASSION sessions in one day is like drinking from a fire hose.  Add in navigating an unfamiliar city and temperatures in the forties, and it’s exhausting.  But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it overwhelmed my soul like a wildfire.

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Day 3:  We sat closer for the last session and looking up from the floor at the vast amount of people all singing to one Lord and Savior blew my mind!  Having another devotional time at the house refreshed me immensely.  Exploring downtown from a horse drawn carriage and breaking bread together (okay it was pizza) definitely revived my energy.

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Day 4: With a final devotional and meal in the house, we re-packed our caravan and headed home.  A long car ride provided a sweet time for me to rest my body & mind, and process all that God did and taught me this week.

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We faced massive spiritual warfare throughout these four days.  There were disagreements, delays, and unintentional emotional daggers.  But God, oh that is truly my favorite phrase.  But God, crushed us intentionally.  He allowed us to struggle in order to bear greater fruit and the fruit still blooming now that we are home is oh so sweet.

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He taught me to breathe.  He taught me to love at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)  He taught me to forgive.  He brought me to know the grace and love He pours out on me and broke down the dam in my heart to let that continue flowing through me and into the hearts of others & to instead build a dam of humility, patience, and love blockading the rivers of strife that flow in every human heart.

“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”  Proverbs 17:13-14

Despite the challenges we faced I’m so glad we made this trip.  I’m glad we got to know each other more intimately.  Our pain will not be wasted.  I’m grateful we were seen worthy enough to embrace a challenge.  I learned so much about keeping my eyes on other people and caring for them more carefully and vocalizing how I love them.  I also learned to keep myself accountable to my own advice and practice everything I preach.

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“When you know Jesus, nothing in this world can satisfy.” – Beth Moore

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 4:12-14

“Train for the trial you are not yet in.” – Levi Lusko

2017-01-05-05.22.44-1.jpg.jpg21 strangers did not embark on this trip, 21 family members united in Christ did.  We survived this trial because we have trained for it before we knew what it was and we have a common hope in Christ.  Nothing can shake that hope and like natural elements are crushed to produce the sweet fragrance of essential oils, we were crushed to produce a sweet fragrance to our Father.

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This week I learned to be passionate for others through my passion for Christ, to prefer God above all else, and choose to actively love His people every day as He loves me.  If you haven’t faced spiritual warfare yet, you will.  Please train for that trial!  Dig into the Word and be sure you are perceiving life through the lens of the gospel and your hope will endure.  I will not waste my pain because Christ did not waste His and I will love because He loves me.

My dear koinonia family, I love you all so deeply!  Thank you for suffering with me and loving me even during trials.

1.6.2017

inspired by Acts 17:24-28

It refreshes my soul
It restores my joy
It causes my heart to beat

The breath of my Creator.

It leads me out of stagnance
It humbles me to my knees
It gives me hope in hopelessness

The breath of my Savior

It brings me to reach for God when I can not see
It protects me from life’s heat
It moves my cold heart to action

The breath of my Father

It drips down a wooden cross
It cleanses my impurities
It defines me

The love of my God