How To Be The Light That Ignites Hope

How To Be The Light That Ignites Hope

Early one sunny spring morning, I went downstairs from my bedroom into our kitchen to make myself some coffee. As I put the grounds in our espresso machine and waited for my milk to froth, I felt defeated. The night before, my husband and I had been lying in bed and I had one of those moments where I should have held my tongue but instead decided to bring up everything he had been doing that bothered me. (If you are engaged or newly married or have even been married forty years, I highly recommend you do not do this).

I knew I had hurt his feelings because the tone of his voice completely changed. I was instantly convicted of what I had done and realized I needed to apologize. After I said I was sorry, we both rolled over and tried to go to sleep. I tossed and turned for hours, replaying what I said over and over, making myself more upset at what I had done. What I said to him was not out of a kind and loving heart but rather came from the stress and bitterness I had been feeling from work, relationships, and the devastating situations I kept seeing on the news. It took me forever to fall asleep because I felt like the worst wife in the world. 

As I waited for my coffee to brew, terrible thoughts played over and over in my mind. How could someone love me when I just pointed out everything that was selfishly bothering me? How do I deserve to be loved by this selfless man? I don’t deserve forgiveness. I feel like a fake in every area in my life. What started as good conviction turned into a big spiral of lies. I know now they were thoughts from the Enemy and completely not true. But they felt so real to me at the time. They ate at me and made me feel like my brokenness was just plain ugly. I felt shame. If only I could take back everything I had said and everything I had made my husband feel. I kept wishing that I could just be a better wife. 

Finally, my coffee was ready. I poured the frothed milk over my iced espresso and prepared to spend some time with Jesus. As I was walking from our kitchen into the living room, I noticed a blue image that was reflected onto the wall behind our front door. As I stared at it, I realized that the rising sun was shining through the blue stained-glass window. The window I always complained about. 

You see, when my husband and I moved into our house, one of the things I really disliked about it was that it had random stained-glass windows. They are not the beautiful modern stained-glass windows. No, these have pink roses on them that make you feel like you are in the movie Beauty and the Beast. Our front door even has a little blue stained-glass window. It made no sense to me and was something I couldn’t wait to replace. In fact, when people came over to the house I would say, “Don’t worry, we’ll eventually be getting rid of these windows.”

But this particular morning, I saw something I had never noticed before. Cast on the wall was a perfect image of the door’s stained-glass window. You could see in detail every broken piece that had been used to make it a true work of art. For the first time, I saw its beauty. And it brought me joy.

As I went to the living room to read my Bible, the Lord interrupted my thoughts. It was as if He said, Allyson, you are just like that window. You are often broken and shattered—too broken to put yourself back together. And yet there is beauty in your broken pieces, and I see the masterpiece that you are. It was a beautiful revelation; I visualized the Lord taking each of my broken pieces and putting them together, binding them with His love and grace. Just like in a stained-glass window, each broken piece is hand-placed into a very specific spot by the Artist Himself. He makes a beautiful masterpiece out of what we thought was a disaster.

I know that all of us have had very hard and painful things in which we have walked through in our lives. Have you had experiences that you feel can never be redeemed or used for good? Do ou feel as if there are things in your life that keep you from fully living in your identity as a child of God? If so, I want to remind you that our God is a redeemer. He takes what the Enemy meant fro evil and turns it into something good. He is not a God who inflicts pain, but rather He takes the pain that we have experienced in this fallen and dark world and shines His light into it. He is a God who is in the business of redemption, of creating beauty, not of shaming and belittling.

God takes our shattered pieces and creates a marvelous mosaic. I love to picture Jesus gathering all the broken pieces of glass that represent us. He grasps each piece so gently with His loving and careful hands. He speaks life and purpose over each piece. Then He starts creating the masterpiece. He picks up the shiny pink oval representing the traumatic event I saw as a nurse. He then chooses the periwinkle triangle that denotes the anger and bitterness of my heart and places it next to the oval. He picks up your emerald-green hexagon, the one that represents your strained relationship with your mom, and places it next to the cherry-red square that symbolizes the abuse you experienced as a child.

He does this with every shattered part of who we are. God wants us to see the beautiful masterpiece that He sees in each of us. 

God doesn’t stop with the arrangement of our pieces. He then shines His light through us, creating a reflection of His masterpiece through our once-broken fragments, now made whole in Him. And notice this: It isn’t the stained glass itself shining but rather the Light shining through it.

How different God’s view is from that of Satan–who loves to showcase only the individual shattered pieces. I know it is so easy to fixate on the one destructive moment, the mistake we made, or the horrible thing we witnessed. But remember, that one piece doesn’t define us. When it is placed among all the other fragments, it finds its home. It is washed by the grace of the Father. It has a place in the masterpiece of who you are.

In my home that morning I was reminded that the light of the Lord never stops shining, just as the sun never stops shining, even if we can’t always see it. His light is always shining through you, my friend. You, with all of your broken pieces bound together by the grace of the Lord, are a walking reflection of the love and light of Jesus Christ.

Excerpt from Arise and Shine: How To Be The Light That Ignites Hope In A Dark World by Allyson Golden

Arise and Shine

Arise and Shine

When you think about Christmas, what are some of the things you think of first?

I am taking a guess here, but odds are you think about Jesus, possibly family, possibly yummy food, and lights.

Have you ever paid attention to how many lights are lit up around Christmas time? There are lights on houses, lights on trees, and lights even on cars! December 1st hits and lights begin to shine everywhere. We plan outings with friends and family just to go and see the lights, whether that be in a neighborhood, at a park, or in a parade.

Why is it that the entire world is drawn to lights at Christmas? 

When you are looking at them, they leave you feeling this sense of awe that is hard to describe. You become filled with hope, and they bring immense joy. What once was dark, is now light, and not only that, everything around it is affected by it because what wasn’t visible, now is.

As a pediatric nurse, I work in a very dark place. Hospitals aren’t necessarily “happy” or “light-giving” places. Day in and day out, as nurses we see things that are very hard to see. We are there for families in their most vulnerable state and darkest times.

A few years ago when I was working the night shift, it was a cold December night, and I was taking care of a patient who had been through something so heartbreaking that their body became impaired in more ways than one. I had taken care of them often, but on this specific night, they called me into their room because they were feeling anxious. So many thoughts and feelings were flooding their mind and they were having trouble falling asleep.

I asked them if there was anything specific I could do to help them feel a little bit better. They asked me, “Would you massage my head?”

I said, “Sure!”

I began to massage their head and in my mind was praying for their anxious thoughts to cease.

As I stopped praying and I looked up, I saw that there was a small Christmas tree that they had plugged in the corner of the room. It brought me joy as I was staring at it, and I began to notice how this small little tree brought so much light to the dark room. Not only that, but it made the things around it visible. I felt the Lord whisper to me at that moment, “The closer you are to Me, the brighter I shine through you.”

The Lord was showing me that just like this Christmas tree lights up the things around it, the closer we are to Him, the brighter we shine for Him. His light is always within us, but when we draw near to Him, His light becomes more visible to others. As I was drawing near to the Lord in that moment which was really hard, He showed me that His light was shining through to this patient who needed His light desperately.

While the lights at Christmas are so amazing, and what they make us feel is very special, what this world needs more right now than the hope we feel looking at Christmas lights, is the true hope that is in the Light of the world. 

And I want to let you in on a truth that the enemy makes us most often forget: The Light of the world lives in YOU. 

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

The Lord wants to use you to shine His light into this dark world that so desperately needs it. And it’s not that you do any shining of your own, in fact, it’s quite the opposite! It’s letting the light of Christ shine through you in all that you do. And in order for that to happen, we must let the Holy Spirit transform us into His likeness like we are promised He will do.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

When we draw near to the Lord, He promises to draw near to us. He is always near to us, it’s our choice to also draw near or to keep a distance. The closer we draw to The Light of the world, the more visible His light becomes to those around us as we begin to look more and more like Him.

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8 ESV

Drawing near to Jesus can look like: Reading the Bible, sitting in God’s presence, spending time in prayer, plugging into a Christ-centered community, sitting in wonder of creation, and spending time in worship.

Incorporating those things in the list above in my own life has brought me to encounter the Holy Spirit in such beautiful ways. I have confidence that if you begin to do one or a few daily, weekly, or even monthly, you will also begin to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. 

When we look at the story of when Moses went up to Mount Sinai the second time to re-make the Ten Commandments, it says:

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.” Exodus 34-29-30 NIV

Moses’s face was radiant from simply speaking to the Lord. 

My friend, whenever you do anything with the Lord, you become radiant. 

As we finish out this year and the Christmas season, would we be like Moses after he spoke with the Lord on Mount Sinai–beaming with light so bright because we simply have spent time with Jesus.

Allyson Golden is the creator of the online ministry Words Are Golden, where she champions women in their faith. A pediatric nurse, Allyson also runs an online community for women called She Who Speaks Light and is the author of the inspirational journal Words Are Golden. Her new book Arise and Shine, which this blog post was inspired from, releases on February 20th, 2024. She is currently enrolled in seminary to obtain her master of biblical and theological studies degree. Allyson and her husband, Michael, partner in ministry at their local church in San Diego.

Staying in Step with the Lord

Staying in Step with the Lord

Have you ever been in a season where you feel like you have no direction for where you are going? Maybe you’ve asked God where He is at. Maybe you’ve felt as if He isn’t working in your life and it seems like you are completely stuck. I’ve been there too, many times in my life. But specifically at the beginning of 2022, I was frustrated with where I was. I was a full-time nurse, about to be a first-time author, ran a small business, was encouraging women through social media, and knew that the Lord was stirring something new within me. I just had no idea what that something new was, and it became all that I could think about.

I honestly was really struggling with being a nurse at the time. Work was draining, my co-worker’s morale was really low, and I had all these other new passions within me. It was getting hard to balance the writing I was doing along with having a full-time job, being a wife, a friend, and taking care of myself. Burnout was really close. I was waiting for the day when the Lord would tell me to quit. I selfishly didn’t want to be doing the hard work as a nurse anymore. I wanted what seemed to be the “easier way.” But deep down inside I still had this feeling that I was still called to be involved in nursing. Every part of me was trying to ignore it. My dream was to be part-time, but that was desired by many people and seemed impossible since we were short staffed so I never bothered asking.

One Sunday morning I was at church and during the last worship set I remember sitting down and pleading to the Lord, “What is next for me?” I began to see a picture of Joshua at the Jordan river, I felt the Lord remind me that the waters didn’t part until the priests took a step into it. It was at that moment that I felt the Lord tell me to quit my job as a nurse. I was hysterically crying as now I knew I heard clearly from the Lord and wanted to obey but now doing the one thing my flesh wanted felt like the most horrifying thing to do. I didn’t know what would come of it. I was stressed about what our finances would look like, and I had no plan whatsoever of what would happen once I wasn’t working, but I chose to be obedient to what the Lord asked of me. The next day I put my notice in for 2 months. Why 2 months? Only the Lord knew.

Fast forward a few weeks and I still had zero clarity on what was next. I found myself asking God, “Okay Lord, you told me to do this, and I still have no idea what you want me to do!” I felt the Lord call me to fast for a day from food. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but still, nothing. The next day I was at work and it was the day to tell my boss what my official last day would be with the new schedule out. As I walked into the office to tell her what my last day would be, she offered for me to go part-time! At first, I was hesitant and thought, “But God, you told me to quit?” and then I felt Him say, “I am giving you the desires of your heart.”

After talking with my husband and family it was evident that this was the next step that God had for me. As I began to work part-time as a nurse God then began to open other doors that filled my time. Looking back, I see God’s hand in every moment, even when I felt as if He wasn’t there.

As I walked through that season of my life, the verse I held onto was, The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV

 I could have made all of the plans in my head that I thought were best for me and tried to pursue them. But ultimately, I wanted and knew that God’s plan for my life was better than anything I could have ever come up with on my own.

When we choose to surrender everything that feels comfortable and step into the uncomfortable of the unknown with Jesus, He WILL show up. God isn’t always going to give us a list of the steps we need to take to get to where He wants us to go. Most of the time He is a step-by-step kind of guy or even “take this blind step and see what I will do.” But with each step of faith that we do take with Him, we can trust that we are on the path to the most abundant life. I love what Mark Batterson says in his book Draw The Circle, “God wants us to get where God wants us to go more than we want to get where God wants us to go.”

You are on the path of abundance when you are on the path surrendered to Jesus. He will get you where He wants to get you in His perfect timing. He knows every detail of how He will get you where He wants to get you. And in that time leading up to where He is taking you, He is preparing you for what He has for you.

So yes, maybe you are in a season where you feel no direction or clarity. I want to encourage you, instead of asking God for a 5-step plan or just waiting for Him to make a move, ask Him what the next step for you to take is. And then boldly and courageously take that step no matter how scary or daunting or vulnerable it may seem. Sometimes instead of just waiting on the Lord to move, we need to take an action step that says, Lord, I am ready to do what you want me to do. I lay down my plans for my life and submit to your plans for me whatever they may be. If God told you to do it, He will bless your obedience. Just like the priests touched their feet in the water of the Jordan river and then it parted. They had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. Out of faith, dip your toes in the water, and watch how God will make a way when there seems to be no way!

Believe in the promise that God is establishing your steps. Write it on your heart and remind yourself of it every day. The Lord is establishing your steps better than you could ever do on your own. Not only is He actively doing that now but He is excited about where He is taking you! It will be worth the wait. Waiting on the Lord is NEVER wasted waiting.

Allyson Golden is the Author of the devotional Words Are Golden and founder of the online ministry Words Are Golden. She is also a part-time nurse & on staff at the church in which she and her husband helped plant. Her heart is for women to recognize that their words hold power when rooted in God’s powerful word. She loves to host people in her home, cook yummy meals & learn about the heart of Jesus! You can read more from Allyson on Instagram @wordsaregolden

The Value of God’s Word

The Value of God’s Word

It was the year after I graduated college, and I found myself sitting in my apartment staring at my Bible. I knew that I should probably read it more often than I did, but honestly, it intimidated me. I never knew where to start, I felt like I was supposed to “get” something out of it for myself when I read it and was disappointed when I didn’t, and sometimes it honestly felt like another thing to check off my to-do list. Have you ever felt this way too about reading God’s word?

To be honest with you, I found myself seeking words of encouragement and motivation from people instead of going to God’s word first. The enemy would slip into my mind and lie to me saying, “man’s approval will fill you more than God’s approval”. I ended up in a place that was isolating and lonely. I was seeking affirmation from the words of man, rather than going to The source that would be able to satisfy every longing I had.

In psalm 19:9-10 it says, “the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold.” A lot of times in the Bible when it says “rules” it means God’s word and His teachings. So this verse here says, His word, is to be desired more than gold. But, think about the context of this. The value of gold when the Bible was written was THE most valuable possession. 

God’s word is to be more desired than anything that exists on this Earth! Our Bibles are our most valuable possession. Friend, I was not treating it that way. I wanted worldly approval. His word didn’t have the utmost authority in my life. As we hide our valuable possessions, His word was not hidden deep within my heart.

I remember I had a moment with the Lord where I sat at his feet with all that I was feeling. I felt empty, I felt lonely, I was struggling with comparison, and I just wanted to feel loved. I had come to the end of my rope and was desperate for the Lord. I felt Him speak to me, “Allyson, seek my face and I will seek you.” I didn’t know where to start or how to, so I just prayed and asked the Lord, “Jesus, help me to have a deeper desire to know you and to be hungry for your word.”

And because the Lord is so good, and keeps His promises, ever since then, I have had a hunger for the Lord like never before. I think a lot of times the enemy makes us think that reading the bible and getting to know Jesus is complicated (of course, because He doesn’t want us to read God’s word!). When in reality, it is simple. When we seek Him, when we make that 0.1% of effort, God sees it. He is constantly pursuing your heart. He is constantly chasing after you, wanting you to experience His love for you. 

His word is life-changing. His word is alive and active. His word is what we can use to combat the lies of the enemy.  I still have my moments of struggle. Do I read my bible every single day at 6 am with coffee in hand and in an Instagram-worthy spot? No. Reading God’s word isn’t supposed to be something we do to say we did or to check off of a to-do list. Reading God’s word is something we do because we want to seek all of who He is. 

God’s word is golden, and your words can be golden too! His word gives us a deeper understanding for how we are to live our lives and speak life over others. Having His word written on our hearts allows us to believe His truth for ourselves. He then gives us strength to be filled with His word and go out and speak it over others! When rooted in the Word of God that holds the ultimate power, your words have the power to change the world!

Here are some steps to help you dive into God’s golden word today:

  1. Pray and ask the Lord to instill within you a hunger for His word.
  2. Start small, read one verse per day, then increase to one chapter per day.
  3. If you don’t know where to start, start with the book of Matthew
  4. Order my journal Words Are Golden to help you dive deeper into the meanings of words in the bible, how to live them out, and how to speak them over yourself and others!

Wanting a tool to help you dive deeper into God’s word? Allyson’s new journal Words Are Golden and Inspirational Journal is the perfect place to start! Inside the journal you will find 47 different words along with their meanings, a short devotional, questions, a creative activity, and a challenge to do! This journal will give you the space to reflect on specific words and explore ways to believe them for yourself and go speak them over others. When rooted in the word of God that holds the ultimate power, your words can change the world!

Head on over to LO sister for a chance to win a copy of Ally’s new journal!

Allyson Golden is the author and creator of Words Are Golden an Inspirational and creative journal that is newly released! She runs the Instagram page @wordsaregolden where she encourages women to be rooted in God’s truth. Allyson is a pediatric nurse and lives in San Diego, CA with her husband Michael where they are involved on staff at the church they helped plant 3+ years ago. Allyson loves to write, encourage, and spend time with her community hosting people in her home. Say hi to her over on Instagram and order her new journal Words Are Golden today!

The One and Only Best Friend You Will Ever Need

The One and Only Best Friend You Will Ever Need

Throughout high school and into my college years I felt unsatisfied in my friendships. I would look at those around me and think to myself, “If only I had close friendships like them, then I would feel so loved.” Social media wasn’t very helpful at the time either. I didn’t have healthy boundaries with it and it made me feel so isolated. I was constantly comparing myself and the friendships I had to others. My mind would become overwhelmed with questions and doubts about my friendships.

The enemy loved to whisper little lies in my head like, “They like her more than you” “You weren’t invited because they don’t like you” “You just aren’t a good friend.” And the list goes on…

Why was I feeling so alone when I had good friends? Why did it feel like everyone around me had a “best friend” but I didn’t? Why wasn’t the deep longing in my heart to be loved filled by my friends? Wasn’t that how it is supposed to be?

Sister, if you are reading this right now, and you feel like you relate to any of those questions or feelings above, know you are not alone. But also know, that is not what God intended for you.

The deep longing in our soul to feel loved can only be fully satisfied by Jesus.

No human, no parent, no sibling, and no friend can fully satisfy the longing in our hearts to be fully known and fully loved.

For so long I had it wrong. I wasn’t running to Jesus to be filled up, I was running to people. I wanted to feel known, seen, and heard, but I was left feeling empty and confused. I was placing the expectations on my friends to love me and provide a friendship that only God could fully fulfill.

While we were created to be in community, we weren’t created to be dependent on community. When our dependency is in Christ alone we don’t need anything else but Him to sustain us.

It took me a few years before I realized – I was trapped in a cycle. It wasn’t fair of me to place these unrealistic expectations on my friends. But, God chased after my heart. He knew the deep desire I had to be a good friend. He knew the void I had in my heart for deep friendships. He saw that I was looking in the wrong places for fulfillment.

He met me in my brokenness and restored me. He reminded me that it is only Him that can fully satisfy. It is His well of love that never runs dry!

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

He is chasing you, friend. He wants to show you how He is your ultimate best friend. He will satisfy every deep longing that you have. He will fill every empty space with love and grace that never runs dry. You are not stuck where you’re at. Let Him dig up your roots and re-plant them in the soil of His never-ending love and friendship. He wants to pour His love into you so that you overflow with that love to those around you.

When we are rooted in our identity as a daughter of Christ we bloom into the sister and friend God has called us to be.

The world we live in is a very self-centered world. It is almost engrained in us to ask “well what is in it for me?” “How will I benefit from this?” This mindset has wiggled it’s way into relationships. It can be easy to walk into a relationship with a mindset that can be a little self-centered. But in the bible we are called to put on humility. Friendship isn’t about “what can I get from them?” But rather about, “what can I do for and give to them?”

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

When we meet with Jesus and make the decision that He is our best friend, He provides our every need. When we let Christ fully satisfy our hearts, through compassion and humility, we are able to outpour with that same love to those around us.

He brings the right people at the right time into our lives. He surrounds us with the community we need. He wants us to be in sweet friendship with one another. Jesus modeled how to be the ultimate sister and friend. When we meet with Him, He transforms our heart and our minds to become more like His so that we may be the best sister and friend we can be.

Maybe you find yourself in the same lonely place where I once was – meet with Jesus.

Maybe you have friends surrounding you who aren’t a good influence on you – meet with Jesus.

Maybe you are desiring deeper friendships – meet with Jesus.

Maybe you are having conflict with a friend right now – meet with Jesus.

Maybe you want to pour into your friends more but feel empty – meet with Jesus

Maybe you have been meeting with Jesus – Keep meeting with Jesus.

The ultimate and best friend we will ever have is God, and He is all we will ever need.

Ally is a pediatric nurse in San Diego, and on her off days she is writing and creating encouraging content for her Instagram page @wordsaregolden. She is a big fan of Jesus, lover of all things pink, drinks iced coffee every day, and loves to cook for and host people in her home.  

Follow her on Instagram: @wordsaregolden

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