Thursday, January 4, 2018

What 2017 Gave Me: A Lesson in Honesty, Trust, and Letting Go

Happy New Year, folks. It's hard to believe that we have finally landed in the year 2018.  It is also hard to believe that I haven't posted anything since AUGUST. *gulp*

Just to recap.

September: Full of new experiences -- running the Charlottesville Women's 4Miler, adventuring through New York City, continuing to get into the swing of my new crazy life schedule, corn-mazes with friends, camping trips, and throwing Spudnut a crazzzzyyy surprise "sweet 17" party. 

October: I slipped down to my family's cabin with my sisters and a friend for a much-needed weekend retreat on the lake. October also found my sister Rachel moving back home after some unforeseen circumstances, which brought some changes to the house--and a lot of sunshine. <3 Numerous hikes, exploring sunflower fields, football games, and some incredible sunrises filled my Fall!

November: Exploring parts of Canada, adventuring through Boston, local waterfalls, a true southern-style huge family Thanksgiving and also visiting my godchildren! Basically...I was gone a lot. Heh.

(Rudd Family Thanksgiving 2017)

December: Toss in some more hiking, crazy adventures, work, 2018 adventure planning, AND CHRISTMAS. Throw in a ugly sweater New Year's party, a bunch of hours in the car and about 300 hours worth of loudly sung Christmas carols....and that's pretty much a wrap up of the last few months. 

(Charli, Rachel, Aimee and myself)
(Blue Ridge Mountains)

(Gettysburg, PA)


If you follow me on Instagram (annadumaresq), you may have also picked up that I had some difficult things going on this year. There were a lot of unseen "growing pains" occurring. Some of the growth that occurred brought joy; however, some of the growth brought a lot of painful awareness. Truthfully, as 2018 approached, I realized how much my heart was hurting. The year 2017 has been a roller-coaster of lessons. Lessons in trust. Lessons in humility. Lessons in healthy emotional boundaries. Lessons on letting go. I think I needed a reminder of how desperately this world needs Jesus--christians and non-believers alike. We all need Jesus every single day. This year made me remember why

The big thing that the Lord had to tenderly (but painfully) reveal to me in 2017 was how much I trusted others above HIM. I ran to others for help (emotionally and mentally) before I thoroughly exhausted HIS help. Just to remind you...His help can't be exhausted. ;) 

Just like any good caretaker, He started pruning things that were causing me to be weighed down or preventing me from seeing HIM clearly--the wholeness that comes from a relationship with HIM. Not from friendships, not from romantic relationships, not from spouses or MONEY. In Jesus Christ. He pruned some friendships that I held too tightly. He pruned hidden pride. He pruned the over-self-reliance. I have been facing tough questions that I wish with every fiber of my core that I had answers to--questions like..."why won't God heal me" and "why did they hurt me". I've been rendered silent because I can't actually answer these questions--some of these are answered with a quiet choice to believe in the unblemished goodness of God's character. You never can fully comprehend the intimacy of a friendship with Christ until He is your ALL. No backups. No plan "B". Jesus Christ has to become ALL.

Honest moment: As all this was happening, I slowly watched myself emotionally withdrawing from a lot of social circles. Not that it's a horrible thing (especially since I'm an introvert..hehe)'s just that...I really have a hard time trusting people with my whole self. I know we all tend to have a hard time opening up to people, but I've seen a lot of hypocrisy in my twenty-some years. I've seen Christians shred each other to pieces. People see the goofy, smiling side--but very few see the deep things I'm passionate about. Few people see the things that make me cry. After I found my heart healed this summer from something that happened about 4 years ago, I could feel a joyful willingness to know and be known by those around me. I wanted to share the passion and convictions that burned in the core of my heart. Heading into 2018, I know that some of the things that happened this fall caused me to falter in the freedom I had obtained. I rebuilt some walls that need to be broken down again. I need to gain that ground back from the enemy's camp....and by the grace of God, I'm going to.

Anyways. Long story short. 

I don't know where 2018 found you. Maybe you're sailing through life, maybe you're newly engaged, maybe you just found out you are expecting a child, maybe you just got your dream job. Or...maybe not. Maybe you just lost your baby...or watched the test come up "negative" again for being pregnant. Maybe you watched a future you built up crumble between your fingers. Maybe you're not the same person you were January 2017. Maybe you love who you are today. Maybe you feel like a little boat without an anchor--being tossed around from wave to wave. Maybe you're looking for a reason to live one more day. 

Wherever you aren't alone. I don't know why it takes pain and weakness for us to truly LEARN who God is--and the significance of WHY Jesus had to come to earth. But if I learned anything this year, I have witnessed that it is at our complete darkest that the light of Christ has capacity to shine the brightest. I have relearned that I can't let the devil use circumstances to cloud my perspective of God. I have relearned that when we stand empty-handed before God, He fills us up and gives us the sweetest gift--Himself. I don't have all the answers to these big questions. But He is a big God. He is undaunted by my fear, my growing pains...and my BIG questions. He's ready for YOUR big questions.

So I leave you with a 2018 reminder of who God is--yesterday, today, and forever. 

- God is full of LIGHT. Pure light. 
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." // 1 John 1:5

- God WILL take care of you.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? // Matthew 6:26

-God does not and CANNOT lie. He WILL bring to pass every promise concerning you. 
"God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? // Numbers 23:19

-God is your shield--your defender and shelter. 
"As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." // Psalm 18:30

-God is full of compassion for you. 
"The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.// Psalm 116:5

-God is just. He is a righteous judge and the wicked will not go unpunished.
"And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice." // Psalm 50:6

-God is a present friend...He takes up our everyday burdens and puts them on Himself. 
"Praise be to the lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens" // Psalm 68:19
Wherever you are today--be it rejoicing or wrestling--choose to rest in the promises of God. Even when you don't understand or can't "see"...choose the childlike faith in a Father who fulfills every promise and is undaunted by our fears. He will never leave you! Trust Him.  

Happy New Year, friend. 

In Him, 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

That Summer When I Disappeared.



It's just little ol' me. 


Long time, no post, huh?


In typical Dumaresq fashion, my calendar on my phone has been lit up in an impressive rainbow fashion. I've had back-to-back events for almost the entire summer. I say that as we head into Fall....which is typically my busiest season. *collapse* Hence...I disappeared from this little blog world for a while.

(I've been wishing I was back here, honestly)


However, I am DE-lighted that my favorite season (of the Autumn variety) is JUST around the corner! Bring on all things plaid, scarf, bonfire, and s'mores related.

I have a lot of crazy things I would love to share about this season of my life, but I think for now I'm just going to give you a bit of an update of what's been going on in my own little world. Are you ready?

June came on in full force. My pastor left for a month long Sabbatical, which left ME (the Administrative Assistant) running around like my hair was on fire. Just kidding (kind of). Everything went great, but it was definitely a season of maturation for me. I grew in my Administrative abilities, but also I grew a greater appreciation for all that my Pastor and his family do. This being said, PRAY for your pastors/families. Pray for guidance, strength, and the Holy Spirit to refresh them daily as they pour out continuously. I also scooped up some house-sitting jobs, baking jobs, Bible studies, and traveling down to my Grandmother's quite a bit to clean for her (she lives about 3 hours away). June also marked the 1-year anniversary of Grandaddy being in Heaven. 

(a cake commission from June)

(Rachel also visited us in June!)

(you just need breakfast tacos in your life, by the way)

July, too, seemed to fly by in a blur of summertime heat. Our pastor's continued Sabbatical, Youth events, Myrtle Beach, summer classes, worship team practices, friend adventures and more! 

(Volleyball has been a youth favorite as of late...I love these guys!)

Which leads us to this current month: ANGST. I mean August. This month has been a little...challenging. I have been....flat on my face more than I typically find myself. Honestly, I've been challenged by the Lord this summer to let Him heal a past wound that I had covered up DEEP inside my heart. I put it under the rug because it was really raw and I didn't know how to deal with it. But, in the most unlikely of people for me to share, I found someone to listen and...I've haven't picked up that weight in over a month now. On top of emotional challenges, I've also been struggling with fatigue again. For those of you who have followed me, I've had a lot of ups and downs in my physical health. Some weeks, I'm doing great! Other weeks, I work for a few hours and then am in the bed for the rest of the day. Earlier this summer, I was having intense pain which left me in tears every single night. ANYWAYS. Besides these things keeping my prayer life active, I've also had several blessings:

(Spudnut started dual enrollment at the local Community College)

+ A new (additional) job! At just the right time, in just the right way, in just the right family--He found it the right time to answer my (numerous) prayers for an additional part time job. I am currently working for a super dear family, helping run errands, small tasks around the house and hanging out with a very sweet young lady. Thank you all who have prayed for me in this area. It has been truly a joy to my heart and SUCH a testimony of how God prepares a place for us, even before we know it. 

+I am currently part of Katie Davis' launch team! Katie Davis, one of my favorite modern-day missionaries, recently finished writing her second book. "Daring to Hope" is about several events which challenged the Davis' family--and the faithfulness of God through trials and tragedies! I'm so excited to have been chosen (there was an application/process to go through) and you will be hearing more of it in the near future!

+ Lastly, I've been taking a few classes through a school called Toccoa Falls College. It's a teensy little Christian college in Toccoa Falls, Georgia. I already have my Associates Degree, but the Lord has opened the door for me to pursue my Bachelors and ALL my credits transferred! I have already been so blessed at the concrete, solid, Gospel-centered classes. I've felt my walk with the Lord growing and maturing in a way I've never imagined. (I also randomly found a friend taking the same class as me this week, which is the funniest, best surprise!)

(My dad's father came up from Florida--the first time we've all been together in a while!)
 *just missing Rachel*


Anyways, this kind of got a bit long winded. Sorry. But, I just wanted to give you a glimpse into my little world that seemed to be off the map for a while! Overall, this summer has been one of the hardest (emotionally) I've experienced thus far, BUT honestly...I've never seen the hand of God working so clearly to mature and nurture His children. He carries us--in seasons of prosperity and in seasons of poverty, in seasons of sickness and in wellness, in joy and in grief--in every season, He remains faithful. Just when we grow weary, He provides SUCH encouragement at just the right time!! I am able to walk into the next season (FALLLLL) with a heart of gratitude and eagerness to see what He will do next. 

Resting in His Arms, 
A verse I've been thinking about: 

Psalm 91:14-16
"Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What Love is Not - Getting to the Root

     Christians and non-believers alike are all keenly familiar with 1 Corinthians 13. The LOVE chapter. Usually gracing the middle of wedding ceremonies, the list scrolls: "Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". There are so many lessons in this text! What is this envy which challenges Love? What is this boasting which damages love? What does a protecting love look like? How can we persevere in Love? How do we do it all?!

     Recently, I have been mulling over the five words "Love is not self seeking". What does it mean to be self seeking? Is it really just selfishness...wanting your own way all the time? As believers (and hopefully mature adults...;)), it is kind of understood that we won't be going "gimme, gimme, gimme" all the time. We should not be hearing of major tantrums when someone takes something we wanted. We shouldn't be irate when someone gets a position we wanted -- whether it is on the Worship team or a position at our job. Where the Spirit of Christ is working, there should be an offering of preference extended to others. We SHOULD be going out of our way to show graciousness, mercy and generosity. 

     BUT. What I HAVE been thinking on are the sneaky little self-seeking thoughts that so often tiptoe their way into our minds. The thoughts that unconsciously can take root and grow into a stubborn weed. When someone says something with a "tone". When someone wears something we deem 'inappropriate' to church. When we see someone who seems to be better friends than we are with people. When we compare ourselves, our relationship with Christ, our physical appearance, our ANYTHING with others. When we get our feelings hurt. When someone makes a mistake which we think "foolish". When we see others with SO many more gifting than we see within ourselves. Note that I said WHEN....not IFWe are going to encounter each of these things. Someone WILL offend us (just go get on Facebook..aheh...). Someone WILL have a 'tone'--whether intentional or because of life stress spilling over into our conversation. Someone WILL be more "gifted" than us. We WILL get our feelings hurt. (We're human! and we aren't in Heaven yet!) ;)

     I, personally, am realizing more and more how sensitive *I* am. I am a conflict avoider, which makes me even MORE aware when there are undertones in voices or in situations  (I'm talking beyond "natural introverted quietness"). When this happens, I fold. I curl up in a ball inside and try to hide. I shut down because I feel helpless to fix things or I assume major guilt for problems I am not a part of. I don't want to get my heart hurt and so I put up a protection of silence. I have found that sometimes I withhold my opinion or my thoughts because someone might be hurt by the Truth...or they might reject ME. Jesus, in His INCREDIBLE kindness, has deemed it quite time to weed this out of my heart. PRAISE THE LORD! I never realized what it fully looks like until we recently had a series of several conflicts. I felt like my eyes were opened up to the way that I respond--which may seem harmless to the outside, but it is actually quite painful to those around me. I was putting myself first by intentionally shutting others out. "I won't let you hurt me" was the foundation I laid, brick by brick. Word by poorly timed word. I was seeking myself first.


     As the Lord has been healing my heart of some past wounds, I feel like He is re-teaching me the foundations of Love. Jesus Himself is LOVE---complete surrender to the Fathers will, ultimate giving of His entire life, and choosing to continue caring for us even while we were (and ARE) so unable to repay our debt. His love...His LIFE never was self-seeking. He never shut down when others hurt Him. He knew the Father. He knew where He stood in the Father's affections. He knew His Father's heart. He knew the Scripture. He poured out. He prayed. He walked in the Spirit. He healed, He encouraged, He challenged, and He never STOPPED. 

   So....I've been working on two new lists. I'm calling them "Lists of the Heart". Lists that we, especially as proclaiming Christians, need to fully grasp. If we want the World to actually SEE Jesus, WE have to get out of the way. We have to stop tearing one another down. WE have to make a decision--we have to stand against this. Self-centeredness has no place in the body of Christ. 

"Love is Not"
-Love is not defensive. 
-Love is not suspicious. 
-Love does not assume. 
-Love does not intentionally withhold affection. 
-Love does not withhold Truth. 
-Love does not accept a "defeated mindset" because it is not focused on winning. 
-Love is not self-centered. 
-Love does not build walls. 
-Love does not shut out or down.
-Love does not show partiality. 
-Love does not doubt. 
-Love does not rejoice in other's failures...or missed opportunities. 
-Love does not challenge harshly. 
-Love does not mock. 
-Love does not "lord" over another person. 
-Love is not vindictive (revengeful). 
-Love does not lash out in anger.
-Love doesn't harm. 
-Love does not gossip (speaking ill of another's character, even if "it's true")

"Love IS"
-Love is a defender -- a defender against the lies of the Enemy.
-Love seeks to address conflict without tearing another down.
-Love encourages -- when someone is struggling, Love comes alongside and says "lean on me".
-Love THINKS WELL of others -- even if evidence may suggest otherwise, Love CHOOSES to believe well
-Love GIVES affection without counting the cost. 
-Love generously shares the Truth, in kindness.
-Love shares the burden
-Love is Christ-conscious, eyes fixed upward instead of on self. 
-Love tears down walls and opens the door to all who would come in. 
-Love chooses to accept, unbiased
-Love rejoices in other's success!
-Love builds up others -- in courage, peace, hope and FAITH. 
-Love serves. 
-Love CHOOSES to forgive...not because they FEEL like it.
-Love pours out. 
-Love does not keep tally on favors. 
-Love speaks well of others. 

     What I want, what I REALLY want, is to fully grasp this. I want all of us to grasp this. What would it look like if we weren't satisfied with addressing only the outward signs of selfishness? What if we actually humbled ourselves enough to stare that weed in the face, and then have the Lord begin to remove it? I want to live out Corinthians. I want to shine the love of Christ--by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the thing is, we CAN'T do any of the above without the help of the Spirit. There is no physical way we can choose selflessness when selfishness comes naturally! But the most amazing thing is that "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5). God has shown us incredible, selfless Love. In turn, He has given us the Holy Spirit, not only that we might walk in righteousness and LOVE, but so that we might also show HIS love to others. We love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). It is not just a check list. "oops. I need to work on my patience today". The fruit of the Spirit--or the "evidence" of the Spirit at work--is something that comes as we grow in we put to death selfishness and self-centeredness. The Spirit at work within us is shown as we are earnestly pursuing Christ, listening to His voice, reading His Word, and seeking to love others as Christ does. We can't conjure up (and maintain) a life like Corinthians on our own strength. But that's the beauty of Christ. He knows that. :) It is the reason Christ died for us--because we can't save ourselves and we can't make ourselves perfect. But we can believe Him at His word, putting our trust, our hope, our life, and our salvation in the hands of Christ. 

So, friends, pursue Christ. Walk by the Spirit. Choose love--real, selfless love. Even when it's uncomfortable. Even when it seems like that person is unable to love you. And on the days where you stumble, look to Christ. Because "I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" ( Phil. 1:6). By the power of His Spirit and for His glory!

In Christ, 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

All Things New

I have started about 15 blog posts since December....or whenever it was that I last sat down and wrote something. As a friend reminded me, it's been a while since I put something up in my own corner of the world. Now here we are....having landed in April. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since that last post in December. New seasons of life, new struggles, new joys, new opprotunites to grow. I've been doing what I do best--keeping busy! Working, taking a few classes at TFC, baking, Bible Studies, crying out to the Lord for healing in some health issues, adventures, making trips down to Southern Virginia to keep up with my Grandma, and continuing to pray for the Lord's direction in my life. Like I said....typical Dumaresq schedule. ;)

I'll share a few highlights, considering it has been a while since you have heard from me:

 March 4 Life in Washington D.C. with our Church Family (CrossLife Community Church)

Afternoon Adventures

Holding Babies in parking lots (Abbie Brocke) and quick visits with Rachel <3

Farmer's Markets and new adventures!

Spring snuck up on me...not that I'm complaining... <3 birthday (and my mom's) also snuck up on me...*hello 24*!
As I have mentioned, I've been pretty quiet since December. Part of that reason is that I get frustrated with myself because I so want something encouraging and hopeful to share. I want to shine my own little "light" with those who happen to read my posts. However, another part to the quietness is that the Lord told me in January that it is time for something new. Something deeper. Something needed. Something that I would need to be still and quiet for. The Lord told me that it's time to let Him touch some places in my heart which I had kept tightly bound up because I didn't know what to do with them. I am an internal processor. I stuff things down inside like a tissue box....and...apparently...a heart should only stuff so much!  I don't know exactly how much I'll share here, but I will say that a person will never realize what they carry within the little corners of their heart until the Light of Christ is shown fully in those places. I realized that I have been carrying some burdens which are not mine to bear, ignoring hurts instead of forgiving (which is an interesting thing to realize!), and trying to make everything better for those around me. But, Jesus asked me to sit still and let Him work. It is time to let HIM work instead of my feeble attempts to "always make everything better". And so....I am sitting still. :) 

Also, if you wouldn't mind praying for me, I would really appreciate it. I have had a lot of health issues over the last 10 years and I'm frequently in a lot of abdominal pain. The last month or so, it seems that I have developed stomach ulcers which...are really really painful (this is an educated guess from my doctor without any internal scope tests being done). I sometimes go to bed at night doubled up in pain and eating has been difficult. Anyways. I feel like the Lord has been also prompting me to be more vocal about what I'm struggling with because we are the Body of Christ....and I could use wisdom and prayer. :)

I have a few things on my heart which I'll be posting soon, but I just wanted to pop in and let you know I'm still alive! ;) Until then, I'll leave you with this encouraging verse from Isaiah. 

"The LORD will guide you always; 

He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.

 You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." 

|  Isaiah 58:11 |

 May the Lord bless you, and I'll talk to you again soon!

In the arms of Jesus, 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hunting for "Christmas Spirit"

Merry Christmas Eve! I don't know if you are anything like me, but I had to look back on this year with wide eyes. This year has been HARD, y'all. So many things have happened for our family--job hunting, health issues, working on relationships, school, volunteering, deaths, beginning new friendships...I actually can't believe it is Christmas already. 

 Truth be told, entering Christmas season was challenging for our family. Not to mention coming right off of the...uh...swarm of election emotions. Honestly, there were a few times I cringed when I thought about Christmas approaching. NOT because I wasn't excited to celebrate Christ, but because I was looking around as people were backbiting, tearing one another down, and "unfriending"--all the while preparing to sing about "goodwill toward men" and "peace on earth"....I really didn't want to "pretend", because it didn't make SENSE. It wasn't the truth. At one point, we were so out of sorts that three of us girls were driving (being really goofy) around the Costco parking lot "hunting for the Christmas Spirit". Needless to say, we couldn't "find" it and were left laughing (and a bit dizzy!). ;)

Still, in the back of my mind this month, I've been wrestling with these questions.

Lord, how can we truly have peace when there IS no peace in our world? How can I show others the Hope I've found when even I'M struggling to have Hope? How can we cling to Joy when people have no joy? How can we rest in Your arms when it feels like we're drowning in the chaos, pride and fear of man? How can we celebrate Your birth when we are wrestling with such discouragement? How do we, as believers, show "the Christmas Spirit" of Joy?

And one of the most reassuring, awesome things I have learned about God as my Father is the fact that He CAN handle our tough questions. He can handle us. :)


I was really praying and crying out to the Lord for help, when He oh so sweetly reminded me of the Truth. The Truth is that despite how we feel right now--we CAN sing about the birth of a Baby, we CAN rejoice in the coming of a Child, we CAN celebrate this small form because He didn't STAY a baby. For His birth wasn't ONLY the miracle of a new life; it was the beginning of a craved Hope. He IS the Messiah. OUR Messiah. HE IS the long awaited Christ. OUR long-awaited Christ. HE IS the one in whom "nations would (and CAN) place their HOPE" (Matthew 12:21). He is the One in whom WE can place our hope. In HIM is forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). In fact, He came TO save us from our sins--pride, fear, lust, greed, jealousy, lewdness, bitterness, adultery, witchcraft, and every thing that stands in opposition to a Holy, pure God (Matthew 1:21). He came to bear our burdens (Ps. 69:19). He IS our all in the tiniest, most unassuming gift wrapping. A little, innocent child.

That's just like Christ. Humble. Unassuming. Yet SO powerful, SO true, SO unwavering, SO trustworthy, SO incredible. So very pure.

Tonight as you prepare to celebrate Jesus tomorrow and if you are finding your "Christmas spirit" lacking, just remember this. We don't just celebrate a birthday. We celebrate the birth of Hope. We celebrate the gates of Heaven being opened up to us in a NEW, glorious Way. He IS the promise of eternal life (Romans 6:23). He IS the Redeemer through whom we have been adopted as Children of God--inheritors of a Kingdom of Light (Gal 4:4-5). We celebrate the One who IS Himself JOY. We celebrate the One who IS our Peace, because no one can take Him away from us (Romans 8:31-39), Through Him, we can be freed from our burdens, our fears and our sins. Through one small bundle, so very long ago.

And in THAT, my friends, is every single reason to rest, rejoice and WORSHIP. No matter what, no matter where.

Rejoicing in Him!