I love that first cup of hot coffee in the morning

that is freshly brewed with a little milk, honey and pumpkin pie spice (tis the season). There is nothing appetizing about coffee that is old, half cold, or roasted burnt (in my opinion).

We all have our preferences. Preferences are one of the things that make each of us unique. I have many other preferences and I bet you do too.

I hate peas. Canned peas or frozen peas. So if you invite me over I will politely decline the peas.

We all have our reasons and our stories to tell. My mom made me eat peas growing up and I even disliked the smell (sorry to all the pea lovers who may read this – I promise I will redeem myself). I would chug them down one by one with a huge gulp of water like I was swallowing awful tasting pills. Therefore, I resolved to never serve peas in my own home and I have kept my word.

What have you resolved to do or not do in your life? I said, before having children, that I would NEVER let my kids sleep in my bed. Well, I did. We have all kinds of opinions before we live through an experience ourselves. 

We prefer this, we have opinions about that, and we have our expectations too. 

We pray for a baby and we are shocked when we get one. There are sleepless nights, poopie diapers, and no one told us about colic or ear infections or childhood anxiety or ___________ . We may even pray something like, “God, why did you think I could parent this child?”

We step out in faith to run our own business and four years later as we pray for the growth of our company, we face the Great Crash of 2008, business loss, bankruptcy, and an out of state move. This is not what we preferred, liked, or expected.

We begin to witness miracle after miracle in the storm. Our faith grows in spite of the loss.

So we pray bigger audacious prayers. We step out by faith and start a church, get laid off of another job, close a church, and find ourselves moving out of state once again. The opportunity we are moving for makes no sense on paper or to others, yet the peace we feel is evident. The seeds of our dreams are being buried.

Seeds have to live in the dark before they push through to the light and sprout.

I tell my husband that this move is all about him and I’m laying low as far as ministry (my preference, my opinion and my expectation). Within two months I’m leading a small group of women I just met. I have no clue why, what to say or do. Each week I dig deeper in God’s word, desperate for hope for myself and to have something to share with these women. My life feels naked, tossed in the wind of transition, and turned upside down with no direction.

Yet, I found myself inspired as I encouraged others and they encouraged me.

I’m asked to teach a women’s class a few months later. “Over my dead body”, were my exact thoughts. The first time I taught I experienced the power of God’s anointing on my frail attempt to be bold and step into what I said, that I DID NOT want to do. This was the polar opposite of my preference, my opinion, and my expectation.

A passion begin to grow.

We kept praying BIG. Another job loss, lot’s of new self-training and networking and connections and we’re seeing God move in some crazy, amazing, and “this makes no sense” kinds of ways. Every step is another step of faith. We wonder, “What is God up to?”

There is hope bubbling up and bursting through the wrestling between fear and faith.

Are you praying BIG, insane prayers that only God, through a series of twist and turns, can form into something bigger than the BIG you imagined? Are you up for the ride? Do you want the real thing?

The greatest strength, faith, passion, and joy can come out of our most challenging experiences in life if we keep our eyes on Jesus.

God sees through our preferences, our opinions and our expectations to the depths of what he knows we are purposed for. He knows what will fulfill you like nothing else. He knows what he created you to do that will bring him glory and there, in that unfamiliar place, you will flourish.

So I have a question for you. Are you open to changing what you prefer, what you think, and what you expect?

In Colorado sweet friends of ours invited us over for dinner. They asked me if I liked peas. Of course not! Remember, I hate peas. They convinced me that peas straight from the garden taste nothing like processed canned or frozen peas. In their garden I picked fresh peas for the first time in my life. The peas were so, so good!  Our Father in heaven has a garden too.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). Will you lay down your preferences, your opinions, and your expectations? God does not serve processed canned or frozen anything. He’s inviting you to “Taste and see that the Lord is Good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him” (Psalms 34:8). Do you want the real thing?

I pray my words ignite your faith to keep seeking Jesus in every leg of the journey. The twist and turns have purpose. He has good gifts for you no matter the long wait, no matter that your dreams feel buried or dead – they will live again. “Every good and perfect gift is from above. . .” (James 1:17).

If you have not tasted the real thing, how can you know what you prefer? Hang in there sweet friend. Don’t give up! Pray those audacious prayers and watch God give you a taste for the real thing.

Trust the gardener beautiful one.

In This With You!

Joelle Povolni

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-2, 5).

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