"My faith was real but it wasn’t perfect. Because of that, I had built too many walls around my heart and life to even consider the possibility of authentic friendships. Those kinds of friendships would require me to be open, vulnerable, and to be authentically myself. That would also mean that these other Christians who would be my friends, the ones who seemed to have it all together, might realize that I wasn’t very together at all. I was pretty sure I didn’t need those kinds of friendships. I was much better at having acquaintances than having friends anyway." Click the link below to see what changed all of that for me!  I had the privilege of posting this article over at iBelieve.com and I'd love for you to give it a read and see if you can relate. http://www.ibelieve.com/relationships/just-because-you-ve-never-had-friends-doesn-t-mean-there-isn-t-still-time.html Love and blessings, Bobbie

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My heart aches this morning as I scroll through my news feed on Facebook.  So many people that I know and love are hurting.  I see so much heartbreak and pain and confusion.  I desperately long to hold tightly onto the shoulders of each person that is broken and look deeply into their eyes and tell them of the hope they have in Jesus.  He's the only thing that makes walking through the trials bearable.  He's the only constant and steadfast hope that I've ever found.  He's the only one that will never ever fail.

If I were with you right now and I knew that your heart ached for something better than this world can offer, that is just what I would do.  I would lovingly tell you that this world can be hard and God never promised that living in it would be easy.  I would tell you that although He doesn't offer you a life of ease, He does offer to make life a little easier by shouldering some of the burden for you as He walks with you through your trials.  He promises to be a comfort, a friend, and a constant companion to all who trust in Him.  He is good no matter the situation.  His love endures no matter where you are.

I would encourage you to turn to Him and to seek Him and I would do by very best to point you towards Him.

That desire spurred this prayer in my heart this morning.  I shared it with my Facebook small group and I felt led to share it here as well in the hopes that it might be a blessing to a hurting heart.

Love and blessings,

 Bobbie

31 DAYS OF CHANGE GROUP Day 26: Prayer: Father God, Help me to have a heart for your people. Give me eyes to see them as you do. You see the affliction of your people. You hear their cry and know their suffering. You feel the weight of their burdens and you long to redeem them. Your desire is that your children would know you, love you, trust you, turn to you, and be restored to you. You gave your only son, Jesus Christ, for that purpose. You love your children that much. Father, help me to look at my brothers and sisters, and all of the people of this world, and see them as you do. Fill me with love for people. Open my eyes to see those around me who are hurting. Break my heart for the broken. Give me a tenderness and a compassion for people, but Lord, I also pray that you would give me the ability to be a help and an encouragement to them. Fill my heart with prayer for them so that I can lift them to you. Let me be a witness of your saving grace, and of your love, compassion, and mercy. Help me to act as your hands and feet while I'm on this earth. Help me to be compassionate and merciful to others because you've been compassionate and merciful with me, Lord Jesus. I know that this world isn't an easy place to live. You never promised a life with our trials. In fact, your Word tells us that we go out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Yet, you still call us to walk in love. Give me discernment so that I can be as wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me a sensitivity to respond to its' stirring in me. Fill my heart with your love and my mouth with your words in the specific moments that I need them. Work through me to show your love to all that I encounter. In Jesus precious name, I ask these things. Amen. Bible Verses: Exodus 3:7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings. Exodus 6:5-7 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Psalm 55:17-18 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. James 5:11, 15, 19-20 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Matthew 10:16-20 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Discussion Question: How can we be more aware, sensitive, and compassionate to those who are hurting that God has placed in our lives
Be careful what you pray for. In the last year God has been almost palpable to me.  I've felt His presence in a new way in my life.  I think it started when my dad got sick.  I begged for God to just wrap me in His arms and give me comfort and strength because the ache from losing my dad just left me reeling. Through out this last year, my family has dealt with some things that have caused me to draw into those same arms time after time.  They have become a place of refuge and comfort for me.  I've come look forward to time in my Bible and prayer each day because I long to be in His presence.  It is peace.  It is encouragement.  It is a reminder of unfailing love. Or at least it has been until recently. It is still all of those things, but the more time I spend in my Bible and prayer, the more I realize how far I am from loving like Jesus loved and living like Jesus lived.  It is convicting and uncomfortable sometimes.  The discrepancy becomes more pronounced the more I study it. Several months ago Heather Gillion (author of Dancing on My Ashes and speaker) spoke at one of our Inspire meetings about being interrupted.  Her message was powerful and I prayed for God to interrupt my plans with His own. Mission Accomplished. Enter a plethora of crazy God moments that have lead to amazing Christian friendships and connections, ministry opportunities, and a renewed passion for my relationship with Jesus.  I was definitely interrupted.  And He keeps interrupting me by drawing me out of my comfort zone and into opportunities to put hands and feet to what I believe.  It is amazing and terrifying and utterly awesome. Then, fast forward to now. I read Jen Hatmaker's For The Love and fell head over heels for her writing style.  She's hilarious.  The book was so much fun to read but also full of good, Godly insight.  I loved it enough that I picked up another one of her books  called... Interrupted.  Jen is not the only one with a sense of humor because here comes God with the same message months later, after I already felt like I had already been pretty darn interrupted. I read her book on a flight to LA last week.  As I took off from a layover in Denver, I looked out my window into the darkness and saw thousands of porch lights and street lights and city lights twinkling.  I was reminded that each little light was a home or a business full of people. And I prayed, ""God, Open My Eyes To Really See Your People.  Interrupt Me." And because He's gracious and I am a slow learner, God continued to spell out what being interrupted actually looks like during my flight as I read through the book and in the following days.  I spent that week in LA working with my ministry friends, Shari Rigby and Claire Lee  (authors of Beautifully Flawed), as we hashed out plans to share stories of lives redeemed by our loving and merciful Savior.  I visited The Dream Center and was shaken to my core by the beautiful testimonies of broken lives made new by our gracious God.  (This place has my heart!  Look it up.  www.dreamcenter.org  It is one of the boldest, most beautiful examples of Christ's love in action that I've ever seen.) I came home and I've been a little crazy.  I've been unsettled and stirred up. Then yesterday, my kids and I went to our regular weekly work day at our local food pantry.  My heart was a little raw.  I can't even tell you how much these people have ministered to me over the months we've worked there.  I've had many people speak a blessing over me as I helped them carry out their bags.     I've been invited to church several times.  I've even been preached to a time or two. But yesterday was amazing.  I met this woman who was a warrior for Jesus.  As we walked out to load her bags into her car, we talked and I learned that she is a recovering addict and drug dealer.  Two of her three children are in prison and she is raising her grandbabies.  She's been clean for 18 years.  And she is one of the most beautiful examples of the heart of  Jesus that I've ever seen!  She talked about the love of her Jesus like he was standing there beside her holding her hand. She explained how hard it was fighting through her addictions and then leaving a profitable life as a drug dealer.  She talked about how Jesus has been her rock every moment of every day since then.  She shared the passion that she has for sharing her story with others because she knows that many other women struggle with overcoming their past and sometimes even their present. She praised God because nothing is ever too broken for Him to make it beautiful. She cried as she wondered if her boys saw too much before she was saved and were too tempted by that lifestyle.  She told me how fervently she prays for her children, her grandchildren, and her community.  She told me that we have to help those who get out of prison because way to often, they go right back because they have no hope. She told me we have to do more.  We have to spread His hope. She and some of the other ladies in her church feed kids in the projects over summer break and school vacations because a lot of people are hungry.  She gives a testimony in church every chance she gets because someone may need to hear her story to see a chance for redemption in theirs.  She asked me to help her reach others for Jesus and she pours out her desire to serve others because she is so grateful for all that God has done for her. And my heart turned inside out because I've been interrupted. Once again, He tells me to loosen my grip on my plans and to let Him work out His own.  Jesus reminds me that His heart is for those who are on the fringes.  He doesn't see the world or people like we do.  He desperately wants to love people and wants them to turn to Him.  He aches for those who are lost and hurting. Those are the very people He met with when He was on this Earth.  The woman at the well.  The adulterer.  The tax collector.  The leper.  The woman with an issue of blood.  The hurting, the lost, the sick, the broken, the poor, the needy, the outcast, the lonely, the unloved, and the struggling. Those people who were an awfully lot like me before I met Jesus.   And maybe a little like you use to be too. Just like my new friend from the food pantry, He wanted to reach those who need Him most  .And now I do too.  And it has interrupted everything. Mark 2:17 "On Hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."    
image Father God, This world is hurting.  It is everywhere we turn.  This whole world is groaning and crying out for its Savior.  People are reeling with heartache and confusion.  Lord, in the midst of chaos, help us turn to you for the peace that passes all understanding.  Help us to look for your comfort. Let us diligently seek your hope.  Help us to continually turn to you for strength. Father, in a world that's gone haywire, help us to remember that you are our constant.  You are our rock.  You are our good Father.  You heal broken lives, broken people, and broken hearts.  God, you are creator, sustainer, and ruler of all.  Lord, God, you are sovereign.  You are strong and mighty.  You are righteous and kind.  You are holy.  You are just.  You are near to all who call on you.  You are faithful and true. You are judge and jury. You redeem and reconcile.  You pour out unmerited mercy and grace.  You are love. We praise you for all that you are Lord.  We love you and we trust you.  We know that you watch over us.  You don't rest Lord.  Your eyes are continually upon your children.  You are our shield, our fortress, and our protection.  You hide us in the cleft of the rock.  You hem us in, behind and before, and your hand is upon us.  You are our refuge.  You are everywhere.  There is no where that we can go that you aren't present.  Let that be our comfort. Lord, when this world is madness and confusion, we turn towards you as our strength, hope, and comfort.  Father, give us peace in our hearts and our minds.  God, only you can bring peace in our world.  Give us the peace that passes all understanding. Amen Encouraging words from His word: Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 141:8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—leave me not defenseless. Psalm 139:5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 144:1-2 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,who trains my hands for war,my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, [...]
image Do you know what I just love?  I love authenticity.  I love it when what you see is exactly what you get.  I'm not a fan of false pretenses or underlying meaning.  I don't really like fake.   I like to be able to take things at face value and trust that something or someone is who they claim to be.  I kind of just like people to be real. Because of this love for all things genuine, I just adore Jen Hatmaker right now.  To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with her until last week when a friend mentioned that they were reading her new book and loved it.  The friend quoted some of her work on a Facebook post, and I was immediately hooked. I could tell that she was the real deal! I bought her book, For The Love, and I just LOVE it.  Jen is hilarious!  I actually woke up my son the other night because I was reading her book in the living room and was just laughing so hard.  Not only is she just really funny, she has a way of boldly and unashamedly  getting to the heart of a matter. Her manner is bold and brave but she is also very transparent and therefore very vulnerable.  She is a straight shooter and I very much appreciate that! I think I love that quality so much because God is such a straight shooter in His word.  He pretty much just tells it like it is.  He gives us some clear direction and clear commands in His word.  There are things that He leaves mysterious because we cannot understand His ways, but when it is time to lay out expectations, He takes most of the guesswork out. Not only is He clear, He is repetitive.  He knows that we need to hear things over and over for them to really sink in.  I've been reading through the Psalms over the last week and God keeps hammering in one clear message to me.  He used Jen Hatmaker's book to reinforce that message.  Like I said, he like repetition.  He's good like that.  He likes to give us the old one-two to really be sure we are getting what He has for us. He repeatedly showed me this week that He wants to use US to deliver HIS message to OTHERS.  He calls US to sing His praise, to declare His goodness, to speak of His might, and tell of His works.  He calls US to think on Him and share our thoughts with our children and our families and our communities so that we can make Him known. He calls US to extol Him.  I had to look that word up.  It appears in the book of Psalms a ton and I wasn't really sure what it meant.  It means to lift something up and praise it highly.  All throughout the Psalms, we are called to praise and extol Him. I don't think that God is calling us to a passive thing.  I believe He is calling us to take bold action.  He is calling us to stand for Him and tell the truth of what He has done for us.  He wants us to use our story to show Him to others.  He has given us each a specific story to share.  We get to be the connection for people!  Wow!  That's just plain crazy!  We have the privilege to introduce others to Him by sharing what He's done for us. Psalm 145: 4-7, 10-12 "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." That's kind of a big deal.  And it's not a responsibility that we should take too lightly.  It is a privilege and an honor.  Can I be honest?  It's also a little intimidating.  If I'm going to introduce people to Jesus, then I want the introduction to be a good one.  I want to share my story in a way that compels people.  I want to show other's how much Jesus has done for me.  I want to share His goodness, love, mercy, and grace.  I want others to be drawn to His saving power like I was.  But, that requires a lot of bravery and a lot of courage.  It requires me to be authentic and real and vulnerable. I can't really tell you of His grace and mercy without telling you what He's done for me.  I can't show you how He unconditionally loves me if I'm unwilling to show you how often I've failed Him and how often He extends love to me in the midst of that.  I can't really show you the power of His redemption unless you see how far He has brought me.  And I can't really show His strength until I show you my utter dependence on Him. To follow that call to praise Him and extol Him and declare His works, we must be uncommonly brave and bold.  We have to be willing to share.  And it's scary because being vulnerable is hard.  It's hard to just put ourselves out there for the world to see because the world can sometimes be a harsh and judgmental place.  But there is also a lot of love and grace and mercy there.  And there is freedom in the sharing because our boldness not only gives glory to God, it breaks down our own walls and it gives courage to others. My favorite quote from Jen Hatmaker's book addresses this specific thing.  She talks about telling our truth to the world regardless of our hesitations.  She says, "Just tell the truth because it sets us free.  This first domino unleashes a chain reaction of liberation.  If we tell the truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire.  This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving.  In a world full of the fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish starving hearts.  I promise to be gentle with your truth-telling, and you've already demonstrated tenderness with mine.  And as we witness this beautiful community, we aren't just observing vulnerability but rather chains breaking, darkness receding, victory rising.  We are watching the light win truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has no where else to hide.  Show up.  Be seen.  Tell the truth.  Be free." I seriously love that!  What a bold deceleration of our responsibility to share our story and to be the ones pointing others to Jesus!  This morning I prayed for a renewed boldness and strength to stand for Him.  I prayed that He would give me the courage to be authentic and to share.  I'm praying that for you too.  I'm praying that we all will take Jen's challenge To Show Up.  To Be Seen.  To Tell The Truth.  And To Be Free.  After all, I think God calls us to the same thing.  Let's Extol Him.  Praise Him.  And Declare His Greatness. Love and blessings, Bobbie