I’m a little bit of a country girl at heart. We always had some type of livestock that we were raising when I was a kid living at home. I can remember having cows, hogs, chickens, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, and more. I grew up in the country where raising and caring for animals just kind of came with the territory.
We never owned sheep, that I can remember, but I imagine it is much like owning other livestock. When you are responsible for the care and well being of livestock, they are completely dependent on you for all of their needs.
I can remember my Dad and my brother getting up early and going out to feed and water in the mornings before school. Before dinner, they would make another round to tend and care for whatever animals my dad was interested in raising at the time. (Side note on my dad: He liked to hop around from one animal to the next depending on the year. One year he might raise hogs. One year he wanted cows. We almost always had horses, mules, and chickens. We even had a little pot bellied pig that lived in the house until it ran away! But I digress.)
The animals required continual attention for their provision and their protection. They depended on my dad and my brother for every aspect of their care and well being.
This morning I was reading in Ezekiel. Most of chapter 34 is written to Ezekiel telling him to speak to Isreal and remind them that they are God’s sheep and He is their shepherd. Much like my dad and brother (and even more so since my dad was a little wishy-washy as a farmer) a shepherd’s priority is provision and protection for his sheep. God was judging those people who had led His sheep astray and was telling them that He would be their good shepherd and was giving them a promise for their future.
I just selected a few verses from This chapter to give you an idea of what God is saying here:
Ezekiel 34:4, 11-12, 16, 31 “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Wow! I was a little overcome as I remembered my dad and my brother chipping away ice from the horse trough on a frigid winter day, or cleaning the barn in the brutal heat on a humid summer day. No matter the conditions, with no regard for their own comfort, they cared and tended their animals. Because that’s what a farmer and a shepherd do. They provide care for the livestock in their possession. How much more so will our good shepherd care for us?!?
Thank you for being the good shepherd. Thank you for understanding that I’m a little sheep easily led astray and prone to wander. Thank you for your loving guidance, your tender care, and your divine provision and protection. Help me to trust you more and to fully rely on you as my shepherd. Help me not to stray, but to stay safely by your side. Father, I look to you for my needs. I know that your love for me is true. You truly are the good shepherd and I’m so thankful to be a sheep in your pasture!”
Blessings and Love,
I don’t often write “How To” posts, but I’ve been repeatedly asked how I do my quiet time and how I make time to write. This always makes me smile, because I love a good, well laid out plan for some things. I also really enjoy the chaos of flying by the seat of my pants. And I’m a little bit of a drama queen. My quiet time just happens to be an interesting, quirky mix of those characteristics.
As a warning, before I share my morning game plan, I want to point out a few obvious things. First, I’m not any type of professional at Bible study and prayer. Secondly, what works for me, may not work for you. And Third, I know that this is going to sound a little odd, so just humor me and go with it.
Ok. Here it is. My game plan.
The Night Before:
As I mentioned, I’m an odd combination of OCD, chaos, and drama. The OCD in me really enjoys an organized, regular, predictable plan. I love lists and journals and organized approaches in some specific things. I like to start my quiet time in a very predictable, well planned out way the evening before.
Before I go to bed at night, I lay out all of my materials. When I have my time in the morning to study and pray, I like to have my journaling Bible, my binder, my journals, my pen, and my coffee. I have one of those amazing coffee pots where you can make your coffee the evening before and set it to start brewing at a specific time. I set mine for 5:10. That’s 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. That means that when I wake up in the morning, I can already smell that delicious Three Story Coffee percolating in the kitchen. It’s pretty glorious!
Those are my necessities. They each have a purpose that facilitates my time and how I use it. When they are all lined up like that on my kitchen table, they are very hard to ignore in the morning.
Here is where my drama queen tendencies really help out my morning routine. It’s also where I start to sound a little crazy, but hey, we all do what works best for us. I like to imagine that I have a little coffee date with Jesus in the morning. I’ve set my spot up and I picture his spot right there beside me. I know he really does meet with me there each morning, so I go ahead and take the liberty of imagining that it’s our daily little coffee date. (I don’t think He minds.)
I set three alarms five minutes apart. 5:05, 5:10, and 5:15. (I really like my sleep, ok?!?) when my last alarm goes off, I tell Jesus good morning and that I’m on my way.
I am aware that all sounds a bit silly, but here is why it works for me. I am a super relational person. Friendships and relationships are supremely important to me. I would NEVER make a date with a friend and not show up. I want to be a good friend, and Jesus just happens to be my best friend. I dare not miss our morning coffee dates!
How I Study:
As I said, the OCD in me loves to wake up to a perfectly laid out table and a steaming coffee pot, but the chaos in me like to have a loose approach to the way that I actually do my study time. There are a few standards that I like to follow, but my actual routine is flexible.
I always begin my time praying. It’s not a big, deep, scholarly prayer. Most often, my prayer is often just a little “thank you for meeting me here again this morning Jesus. I’m ready to listen to you speak”. After that, I dive in to my Bible reading. Currently I’m reading the Bible through from front to back, so I just pick up where I left off the day before.
I like to use a journaling Bible so I have space to underline, jot notes, ideas, and verses. Beside my Bible is my journal. I keep it open and as I’m reading through my Bible, I like to write out specific verses that jump out at me. Reading them and then writing them out really helps me to to solidify them in my mind and store them in my heart. I learn best by doing, so I write a lot as I study.
I don’t like to have a specific reading schedule. I read until I feel like God has spoken something to me. When He has, I stop. I make notes in the margin of my Bible. I think on it a bit. I write out the specific verse that struck me in my journal. That’s it. It’s not rocket science, but it has been what works for me. Sometimes I will read chapters and chapters before something specific really grabs at my heart and sometimes it’s much shorter. I try to just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. When He prompts me to think about something, I take the time to really consider it and then I process through it by writing out notes.
That consideration usually culminates in my prayer time. Along with the OCD tendencies, I’ve got some serious ADD tendencies as well. I get distracted easily and prayer can be difficult for me. My mind wants to wander. My solution is to write out my prayers. It keeps my mind more focused. I simply flip to the next page in my journal and write out whatever is in my heart. It’s like my coffee time conversation with Jesus. I write it as a letter to Him. I have found that it is the easiest way for me to have focused prayer time.
I also keep a journal of prayers specifically regarding my hubby and my boys. When there is something that I feel like requires specific prayer on their behalf, I pull that journal out and pray for those needs there.
The Rest of the Plan:
I’m a fan of lists and I love my handy dandy binder. It’s like my little organizational hub. I keep our weekly and monthly calendar in my binder along with our dinner menu, our weekly chore charts, info on work and homeschool projects, and my ever important to do list. After my quiet time, I like to take all of this before God. I thumb through my plans and look them over to get my bearings for the day. Then I flip to a my blank To Do List for today. I say a quick prayer asking God to give me a vision for what I need to do and then I jot down my priorities for the day.
This is may all sound a bit out there, but it’s how I like to start each morning. I intentionally get up a couple of hours before my kiddos and even before my husband. I spend some focused time alone with Jesus and then I plan out my day. It is what works for me and it seems to bring the level of crazy in my day down to a more manageable level.
I also have a hard and fast rule that I force myself to stick to. I don’t allow interruptions during this time unless it’s an emergency. (That’s easier to enforce because everyone in my house is often asleep.). I don’t look at my phone until after this time is over. I don’t check Facebook or Twitter or my email or anything else until I’ve had my quiet time in the morning. After I finish my quiet time and my to do list, then, if I feel inspired, I write. That’s when I may log in to WordPress and blog. I might log into Facebook and post on one of the ministry sites I help manage. I may log into word swag and create some memes for social media ministry. My creative juices are usually flowing after some sweet time with Jesus and my mind is calm enough to write after I’ve tackled my daily plan.
I’d love to encourage you to make your own game plan for each day. I’d also love to hear about how you spend time with Jesus and how you start your day.
Love and Blessings,
I saw this quote floating around on the Internet and I loved it for so many reasons. A blank page, depending on your view point, can be a cage to imprison you or wings to give you your freedom.
I love to write so I’m pretty familiar with the feeling of sitting down and opening up to a blank page. Honestly, sometimes, I can let that page tie me up and hold me hostage. It can be a little intimidating. There it sits, a wide open space, just waiting for me to fill it with whatever I chose. That blank page can be scary if I start to wonder what people will think about me and what I write. I can let their opinions shape the words I’m putting on the paper. I can start to feel insecure and limited.
The pressure to make this blank space into something worthwhile and beautiful can weigh on me as well. I want to be relevant and encouraging. I want to show love and character. I want my words and the use of this page to matter. That beautiful blank page can become like a cage to imprison me, if I let it.
Or I can shift my perspective.
I can look at that beautiful blank page as wings to give me freedom. That blank page is mine. I can dream, hope, think, process, and connect with people through that page. I can shake off the insecurities and the fears. I can kick aside the expectations. And I can just write about the things that I hold dear. I can express myself and enjoy the freedom that comes from just putting pen to paper.
Each time I open up my notebook to a fresh, new, blank page; I get to make the choice as to which perspective I will view it through. In 2016, I choose to fill my blank pages with the murmurings of my heart. I choose to not be improsioned by my own or someone else’s thoughts. I choose to use the blank pages as wings to fly!
Love and blessings!
The hospice chaplain just left my grandpa’s bedside and I can’t stop thinking about something he said in his prayer. He said “At the end of this life, Father, we only leave behind three things that matter: our faith, our family, and our friends.”
A dear friend of mine is also currently dealing with the loss of a loved one and when we were chatting on the phone last week, she also mentioned that she was struck by the truth that in this life we take nothing with us when we go. The only thing that we leave behind is our legacy.
That has gotten me thinking. What kind of legacy do I hope to leave behind? When I’m ready to go home to be with Jesus, who and what will I leave behind? Will it have mattered that I was here? Will I have made an impact? When I meet my Jesus face to face will He be able to say “well done”?
The chaplain’s three things and my friend’s observation combine to summarize the I hope to leave. I hope that the who and the what that I leave behind are wrapped in together beautifully in the legacy of faith that I leave with my family and my friends. I want people to say, “Man! She did her very best to be the hands and feet of a loving God to everyone that she came into contact with. She loved Jesus and she loved his people.”
My Grandpa did. He was a faithful man. He loved Jesus and he loved others. He was gentle and kind. He was so sweet. He always had a smile for everyone he met. I can’t recall him every saying a negative thing to anyone or about anyone. He was truly a good man who walked out Jesus’ love by the way that he loved people. The legacy that he leaves is the same legacy that I want to leave.
That sounds so simple, really. But, we all know that it isn’t. Loving people means opening up to them and letting them into your life and your heart. It means going out of your way to invest time and energy into building a meaningful relationship with them. It means daily living in a way that brings honor to God and points people in His direction. That takes real dedication. Heaven, help me because I have so much need for improvement in this!
I know with the Christmas season, we don’t want to dwell on things like this. But what if the gift we gave to Jesus this year was one of a lasting legacy of love to the people He loves? What a difference we could make if we decided to take steps daily to leave that kinds of a legacy of faith and love! What if we each focused our energy, time, and attention to leaving a legacy of faith for our family and friends? I don’t know about you, but that is something I’d love to live out just like my grandpa did.
Blessings and love,
Last week was one of those weeks that just left me reeling in exhaustion and emotion. Have you had those? Those are the weeks where, when they draw to a close, we look back and think ‘How on Earth did I just make it through all of that?’ Everyone has those weeks, where you are pretty sure the world has slipped off of its center and everything feels a little wonky.
I hesitate to lay out the details because I know that some of you walked through weeks that were so much more difficult than mine. However, because I really want you to see what God is working on in me, I want to share some things with you.
I am just starting to get over a bout with pneumonia. Pneumonia is no joke. I felt awful and so run down all of last week. Some of that still lingers into this week. Along with all of that, my grandpa, whom I’ve been in charge of caring for the last several years, is on hospice in the nursing home. He’s battled Parkinson’s Disease and Dimentia for a long time and took a turn for the worse about 2 months ago. It’s been a very long battle and has been so very heartbreaking to watch.
Just to make things a tad more interesting, all of this is happening on the same week that my Dad went into the hospital last year. The one year anniversary of his passing is this coming Saturday. That alone has been a very hard milestone to approach. The emotion and the memories that just hit me out of the clear blue have been enough to knock me clean off of my feet at times.
Needless to say, I’ve been a walking train wreck on the inside all week. I’m physically feeling sick and worn and emotionally feeling very raw. I’ve been trying very hard to take care of my family, move past my own health stuff, and be there with my grandpa. I’ve been trying to keep everything running smoothly. On the outside, things probably didn’t look too bad, but on the inside I was a mess.
The results haven’t been pretty friends. And would you like to know why? Because I was trying to do it in my own strength and for my own benefit. I was wearing myself into a frazzle trying to keep everything from falling apart all around me while keeping a smile firmly etched into place, because that’s what we think we are suppose to do.
Can I just be honest? That’s an exhausting game to play.
Yesterday, I went to church and then came home and watched my boys decorate our Christmas tree. When that was over, I packed my bag to go spend the rest of the day and evening with my Grandpa, by myself. When I got into the car, I realized how tired I was, so I put on a podcast by Francis Chan to keep me awake and alert while I was driving. It was so good. I love when God just gives you this little random thought, like ‘maybe I will listen to this to stay awake’ and it turns out to be exactly what you really need to hear. He’s good like that.
Anyway, Francis Chan was speaking at a retreat for leaders in the church and asking them to quit trying to be something that they are not. He was asking them to lay aside their phony facades of perfection and be real with their people. He was calling them into transparency and authenticity because sharing our struggles is one of the most sure fire ways to help someone feel like they aren’t alone in theirs. Not only that, but it shifts our perspective from one of ‘I must do all and be all’ to one of ‘God help me’.
It was just what I needed to hear. I had been running myself into the ground all week desperately trying to keep everything around me from plunging into chaos. I hadn’t asked for much help and hadn’t wanted to even admit how difficult the week had been.
So, last night when I pulled into the nursing home, I picked up my Grandpa’s hand and opened my Bible and gathered as much wisdom, peace, love, strength, direction, correction, and inspiration as I could find. When my Grandpa’s sweet nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I fell apart a little and told her how hard it was to watch this, especially after I sat in this same place exactly one year ago. I readily accepted her hug and words of comfort. I reached out to my personal friends and some of my sweet friends on Facebook and asked for prayers for comfort for my Grandpa and peace and strength for myself, and they responded in ways that bring tears to my eyes. I came home and crawled into bed and was graceful to myself by letting myself sleep in a little later this morning because my body desperately needs the rest. I’ve allowed my self time to read my Bible, reflect, process, and write this morning because that is the way I feel most connected to God. I let go of the ‘do all and be all’ and starting saying ‘God help me’.
The weight of perception can be crushing. Trying to keep all of the plates spinning in this circus act can be utterly exhausting. We often refuse to give ourselves grace and mercy. We don’t want to take off the mask of perfection because it’s possible that people will see that we really don’t have it all together.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I DO NOT have it all together. I never have. I’m sure I probably never will. BUT yesterday and again this morning, I was reading through Isaiah and was so encouraged that I DONT HAVE to have it all together because I serve a God who does. He is the beginning and the end. He is my protector, provider. His plans have been laid since the foundation of the earth and He never fails to keep his promises. He loves me. He has this whole great big world, and even my little tiny existence in it, firmly in His grasp.
I have no idea why last week was so rough. And it’s entirely likely that this week could be equally as difficult. But I know the one who created the moon and the starts and knit me together. He loves me and my grandpa. All that happens in this world and in my life will ultimately bring Him glory. I know that I don’t have to be perfect or understand His plans because He is perfect and His plans are perfect. As much as I can, I’m going to rest in that this week when things get difficult. As much as I’m able, I’m going to leave my mask off and show that the only hope I have of making it through is by clinging to the one who loves me and has this all firmly in the palm of His hand.
Isaiah 43:2-3a, 4a
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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, (more…)
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,
Alright. I’m warning you all in advance. This post makes it sound a little bit like I’ve gone off the deep end. That’s my early disclaimer. You’ve been warned.
I didn’t grow up in church. Matter of fact, I didn’t come to have a relationship with Christ until I was an adult. I can vividly remember going to church every once in a while with my aunt when I was a kid and being more that a little intimidated by those people who were obviously sold out Christians. They quoted God’s word. They prayed loud and proud. They praised unashamedly. Their lives were obviously different. I can’t even put my finger on it, but something about them was obviously different. It was totally weird to me and a little scary.
Even after I had come to know Christ in my 20’s, that fully sold out approach to believing was a little strange to me. I loved Jesus and was so thankful that He bore my sin and shame. I gladly accepted His gift of salvation and did my best to repent and turn from sin. I made some major changes to my life because I wanted to please my Heavenly Father. But still. Those fully sold out Christians weirded me out a little. I wanted to love Jesus, but maybe not with everything I had. I wanted to be set apart, but maybe not really far apart. I didn’t want to just go totally off the deep end!
It has been roughly 14 years since I became a Christian. And can I be really honest, here? Up until recently (like really recently), those all in Christians still kind of weirded me out. They intimidated me. I just could not grasp how they could just live and love and praise and pray like they did. It was uninhibited and bold.
But then something strange happened. Maybe it’s the time that I’ve spent in my Bible lately. As strange as it sounds, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with God’s word. He draws me to it like a magnet. Maybe it’s the amazing Sisters in Christ he has placed in my life who help point me to Him. Maybe it’s the books that some of these friends have recommended. Maybe it’s the time I’ve been able to spend engaged in small groups and in Church. Maybe it is the powerful messages of healing and love from the retreat I attended this weekend. Maybe it is that He has been at work in my heart for a very long time. Maybe it’s the community (real life and on line) that I’m beyond blessed to be a part of. Maybe it is that I’m finally getting out of my own way. I’m not even sure exactly what the catalyst was that brought about the change, but I think I’m becoming one of them! AND IT REALLY WEIRDS ME OUT!
What is even weirder though, is that it doesn’t really scare me anymore. Strike that. That’s not entirely true. It doesn’t scare me, but not as much as it use to. It still scares me a little, but instead of seeing it as weird, I see it as absolutely beautiful. And, oddly enough, I’m kind of excited about going off the deep end.
I can feel God calling me to go all in. I can feel Him asking me to just close my eyes and not be afraid to jump off of the deep end. Have you felt that? (Please tell me I’m not the only one because then I’d have to really wonder if I am, in fact, a little weird.😉)
I can feel His tugging on my heart to fully commit to the life He has called me to. I can feel His urging me to turn over the things that I’ve been hesitant to let go of. He wants those things that I’ve held on to a little too tightly because it might be a little uncomfortable to let them go. He is calling me to give him the hurt from my past, my stored up pain, my heart that’s been broken and mended, my time that I want to keep for myself, my present and the things I give myself to, my future and my plans. Really, I can feel Him asking for my all. And even though it may seem a little like going off the deep end, I’m going to just willingly hand it over.
Because, I’ve not really done a great job managing those things all by myself. Matter of fact, I’m kind of a hot mess. If you get a grade for trying, then I’m an A+ student. However, as far as performance goes, I’m more than a little lacking. I still let my past tangle me up. I still let this tattered heart lead me in more decisions than it should. I still guard my time and my plans like they are my own to control. I still cling to my own visions for my future. And that’s ok. Because God works at His own pace in each of our lives. Obviously, He knows I’m a slow learner and more than a little stubborn since I’m still very much a work in progress after 14 years. That’s what grace and mercy are for. So, as much as possible, I’m going to get out of the way and let Him have control.
Are you there too? Are you feeling Him lead you just a little out of your comfort zone? Is He calling you to step out of the norm?
It’s ok. Just jump with me. He’s trustworthy. He’s faithful. He’s good. He’s true. He’s strong and powerful and Holy. He loves us. He has plans for us. He’s big enough to catch us. He’s great enough to lead us. He won’t fail us. He’s got this even if we don’t.
So, weird or not, I’m going all in. See you in the deep end!
Love and blessings,
One of my favorite weekends of the entire year has come and gone. The Inspire Heart Retreat always seems to rush past me in a blur of emotion and activity. It drew to an end way before I was ready to let the messages and the images from those sweet days leave my thoughts.
I have spent any quiet moments that I could claim today just sitting and reflecting. I let the images from this weekend run through my mind like an old film reel. I closed my eyes and remembered the feelings and let them sink deep into my heart. The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable throughout our praise and worship time. It engulfed me. With a heart full and hands raised, I closed my eyes and let my voice join in with the sound of over two hundred women raising their voices to praise our Savior.
Our speaker, Nicole Johnson, delivered messages that were like a balm to the aches in my heart! My eyes were continually brimming with tears of laughter, tears of brokenness, and tears of healing. Her authenticity was refreshing. Her willingness to join into our little community and minister was inspiring. Her ability to point out our need for God’s healing and His love in the broken and hurting areas of our lives was just simply beautiful. I could feel my Father calling out to me through her words.
The entire weekend was just enveloped in Christ’s love, grace, and mercy. I got teary eyed as I moved throughout the weekend and caught glimpses of His pure love in action. Going though the foyer, I glanced out the glass of the front doors and saw two friends huddled close and deep in conversation. On my way down the stairs I watched a group of ladies sitting cozily in arm chairs sipping coffee and sharing their lives. In the kitchen I saw our speaker bowed in prayer over a tearful woman. During one of the messages I looked to my left and saw a woman protectively place an arm around the shoulders of her friend as she wept. I watched friends taking selfies to capture cherished moments together. I witnesssed women giggling with each other over a meal. I saw strangers becoming friends during a game. I saw women standing in unity during an ice breaker game and realizing that we have so much more in common than we think. I listened to women talk about staying up late into the night with friends and sharing their hearts.
Everywehere I looked this weekend, I saw examples of the kind of real, authentic connections that we all long for. I saw women showing each other Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. The walls that we, as women, tend to put up were crumbling because of all of the love shown in that place. That kind of love only comes because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He knit our hearts together all weekend long. He forged new friendship and strengthened old ones. He filled our hearts with love and He reminded us that when our focus is on Him, we can be vessels of love. He healed broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. He encouraged and strengthened us. He gave us faith in the power of our supernatural sisterhood.
Nichole Johnson used her last message of the weekend to talk a little bit about the separation anxiety that she gets as these types of events come to a close. That resonated deeply with me. I hated to see our Heart Retreat weekend come to a close. I knew that the moment that I stepped back into the busyness of real life, I would miss that sense of being enveloped in such a loving community of women. I would miss those intimate times spent engulfed in Christ’s presence. And I would miss the times that I simultaneously spilled tears of laughter, brokenness, and healing.
This morning was a little bittersweet when I woke up in my own bed. I was so grateful to be back at home with my family. It was wonderful to wake up to my husband and my boys and to jump back into the frenzy of everyday life. However, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the beauty of the weekend, so I sat down and I journaled.
I wrote down some of the things I learned about myself and my Savior this weekend. I acknowledged the areas where I felt the Holy Spirit’s stirring. I poured out my brokenness and described how He administered healing. I confirmed some of the decisions that I had made. I put all of those beautiful memories down on paper so that I could reflect on them and store them away like the treasures they are. I didn’t want to forget. I wanted to hold onto those sweet memories as long as possible so I wrote every single one of them down.
I built myself a little memorial with words. My journal is now a place where I can go to remember the work that Christ did in my life this weekend. I can look there and let those feelings be stirred any time I need a little rekindling. I can return to it when I need the encouragement that these memories will provide. I can go there and be reminded of His love when I am discouraged or hurting or just apathetic.
When we have those types of beautiful encounters with one another and with God, we need to be able to go back and look at them and remember. All throughout the Old Testament, men of God built alters to remind themselves of the work that God did. Often they returned to these alters to worship God for what He had done in their lives, to remember, and to be encouraged.
I challenge you to do the same. Build a little alter with your words. Create a way to remember the work God did in your life this weekend. Create a way to hang onto those sweet memories. While they are still fresh in your minds and in your hearts, I encourage you to write them down. Process through the events, the memories, and the feelings from those precious times with God and with His daughters. Recall the sense of peace and love you felt when you rested in His presence. Tuck them away like the little treasures they are and pull them out when you need encouragement. When real life is roaring around you, let them be a reminder to you of a time when you felt totally engulfed in God’s love!
Love and blessings,
Have you ever placed your trust in the wrong person or the wrong thing? Have you ever been let down by someone or something? I think we all have. I’m pretty sure that at one time or another we have all experienced the pain of broken trust.
I know I have. Even as a child, I learned the risk that comes with putting your trust in people. I came from a divorced home and I would often sit, dressed and with an overnight bag in hand, waiting for my Daddy to come and pick me up. Sometimes I’d wait for hours. It was a hard lesson that taught me that sometimes people will let you down. They often do not intend to. My Daddy never really meant to cause hurt. People are broken and flawed and sometimes react out of hurt or to protect themselves. Sometimes, even with the best intentions and with love in their hearts, they fail you. As Christains, we are called to forgive and to continue to act in love regardless.
We’ve all had friends that have failed us. Maybe a confidence has been breached. Maybe you’ve been betrayed. Even the truest friend isn’t infallible. People simply can’t be perfect. We understand that basic fact of human nature and we forgive and move forward in love.
Maybe it’s a spouse that has broken your trust. Marriage is hard, friends. When two flawed people come together, there is bound to be some difficulties. Even the strongest and most loving marriages have experienced some level of hurt.
I adore my husband. He is one of the best men I’ve ever met. He is so kind and caring and compassionate. He is so forgiving and so loving. He is generous beyond belief. However, our marriage has been littered with issues that involve hurt or broken trusts. Every marriage is to one degree or another. We’ve both made mistakes and we have both caused hurt. Regardless, of the challenges that we faced, we embrace our Christian duty to forgive, to be united, and to daily walk forward in love.
Just maybe, it is your own self that you don’t trust. There may be some thing that you are struggling with that has caused you to be the one who breaks trusts or causes hurt. Hurting people sometimes hurt people. It’s often unintentional. I know I’ve been guilty of this. I know that I’ve acted out of pain in a way that has caused hurt to people that I love. But I also know that God can forgive, redeem, and restore.
Here is where all of this gloom and doom takes a beautiful turn for the better. People will fail us. We will even fail ourselves. It is a given. We are sinful people in this flesh. However, that doesn’t mean that we should ever become hard hearted. We should never allow bitterness or unforgiveness to take root in our hearts or in our relationships. We should always seek forgiveness, restoration, and love.
Our hope doesn’t lie in people. Our hope lies in a God who is powerful enough to walk us through any hurt or broken trust that we may face. He is who we look to. We know people will fail us, but we know that God never will.
“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
If you are in that place where your trust has been broken or your heart is hurting, look to the one who takes brokenness and makes it beautiful. Pour our your heart to him. Let Him be your refuge. He has the power to forgive. He gives the power to forgive. He has the power to redeem and restore. He has the power to change hearts and minds. He specializes in taking situations and people that seem too far gone, and turning them in to a beacon of hope. He is trust worthy.
He does that in each and every one of us when we trust in him for salvation. He promises that if we call out to him in our brokenness, ask him for forgivenness, repent, believe in Jesus, trust in His name, and follow him; he will save us from death and hell. If He has the power to save our souls, He has the power to redeem any situation or relationship here on earth.
He is worthy of trust. He is strong and mighty. He is good. He is forgiving and loving. He is merciful and full of grace. He is the God who redeems and restores. He takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful.
And He desperately wants you to trust in Him. First, He wants you to trust in Him for salvation. After that, He wants you to realize that you can trust Him to redeem and restore other areas in your life as well. He wants to heal broken hearts and broken relationships and broken people.
The verses leading up to Psalm 62:8 are a beautiful example of why we can trust him. As you read these verses, meditate on them. Remember His saving power. Think about the fact that He is the only rest for our troubled souls. Trust Him to redeem and restore. Turn all of that brokenness over to Him. Trust in Him to make it beautiful.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Love and blessings,
Today’s blog post is a little different. I want to talk about plugging in to a community today and give you some practical ways to connect within a body of believers. I don’t know about you, but community is so very important to me. Having good, godly, like minded people in my life who help point me to Christ is a big priority. It’s been one of the things that has brought about huge growth in my life. For a long time, I didn’t really have a community and I felt a little lonely in my Christian walk. I went to church and I read my Bible and had prayer time, but I didn’t really have much in the way of authentic Christian connections. I knew something was missing.
God created us to function within a community or a body of believers. It’s really lonely and even a little disheartening to live out your faith alone. Obviously God gives us everything we need to be able to love Him, honor Him, and live for Him, even if we don’t have that community for support. He is enough for us. He is our friend, our Father, our comforter, our help, and our rock. He is all we really need.
However, He wants us to join together within a body of believers to be an encouragement to one another and to lift each other up. If you are in that place where you are walking with God, but you are doing it solo, I want to give you some practical ways to look for ways to plug in and connect with other believers.
One of my favorite ways to do this is though small groups. Small groups are a huge passion of mine. I co lead a small group with one of my sweet friends locally on Wednesday evenings. I also participate in a family oriented small group through our church on Thursday evenings. I’m looking at doing some online small groups with The Women In My World as well. Small groups are my favorite! If you find a good one, they are a place where real, authentic, friendships can be built and can grow. I can’t even tell you how much I love these groups! Leading small groupsjust fills my heart to overflowing! I’m always awe struck by the way God can unite a seemingly random group of women and weave them into tight knit community. Small groups often get together to study a book, the Bible, or watch book study videos together. Look around in your city to see what’s offered. Often local women’s ministries will offer small groups that you can participate in. (The one I lead locally is through Inspire.). If you can’t find one, grab a few friends and get together for some regular prayer and study time. I’m not a great teacher or leader, but you don’t have to be to lead a small group. Small groups don’t have to be super formal. All you need is a group that will commit to creating a safe place where you can openly and honestly communicate about your Faith. It’s a lot less awkward than it sounds, I promise! 😉
If small groups aren’t really your thing, there are other ways to connect. (Although, trust me, you are missing out on something spectacular!) Look at local churches and see if they offer programs within their ladies ministry like Apples of Gold, MOPS, or other larger women’s ministries. These can be a little less intimidating than small groups because there are more women and a little less intimacy. I’ve participated in both of the above groups and have LOVED them. They were a great way to kind on dip my toe into women’s ministry.
If these kinds of groups are still a little to intimate for you, then look for a larger women’s group. Locally, I am on a women’s ministry team called Inspire. It’s insanely amazing and I adore this ministry. It meets quarterly and has a yearly retreat. The meetings have had anywhere between 150-400 people. We invite in a guest speaker and work diligently to create a place that is welcoming and loving. We have an online and Facebook presence as well. These larger women’s ministries are amazing because they allow for group connection and create that community that so many women long for, but they do it in a way that isn’t intimidating.
In this digital world that we live in, there are endless opportunities to connect online as well. I work for a team called Fit Revival that is Dallas, TX based. It’s on Facebook and has a website that allows women to connect over fitness and faith. It is a huge encouragement to me as I try to live out a healthy lifestyle in a way that honors God. It’s pretty awesome too and something you should check out if fitness and faith are something you love.
I am the Director of Ministry and Creative Branding for a Hollywood, CA based women’s ministry called The Women In My World. I love the close knit community that is building on our Facebook page. Shari Rigby is the founder and leader and she has a heart of gold! Her passion to serve and connect women is inspiring. It’s a beautiful thing to share blogs, prayer, encouragement, and friendships with women across the world. I’m always so excited to watch God bring women into this group and see them lifted up by this ministry. I’m also really excited about the plans The Women In My World has in the future to create real life opportunities for connection as well. I would love for you to head over to Facebook and like our page. Share it with your friends and be a part of our community. This is your invitation. 😉
Link up with some of these online ministries and use them as a community to learn and grow in. They are valuable tools in our Christian lives and are so easy and convenient to participate in.
Friend other Christians on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, watch their interactions on periscope or blab. Read blogs that will encourage you and point you to Christ. Follow them so they contact you directly. (hint. HINT!). That’s a great way to get frequent interaction. I’ve made some very dear friends online that have helped me grow so much. Technology has made this world such a small place where connections are limitless. Use these social media outlets as a way to build up your faith and to connect.
Ladies, there are so many amazing ways to join in a faith based community. There are so many wonderful, God honoring communities to be a part of. I really encourage you to check into some of the things that I’ve listed above and plug in. You will be so pleased with the way these communities Can foster growth and connection! God didn’t create you to walk alone. Find a community to walk arm in arm with and get plugged in!
Love and blessings,
Today is Thoughtful Thursday at The Women In My World! I want to use these days to give you something to read, watch, or listen to that will really cause you to pause and think about your relationship with God and your Christian walk.
Today, I’m thinking about thirst. Have you ever been in that place where you are just thirsty for God? This morning I was reading in Psalm 42:1-2 and I realized that the more God meets with me, the more I see Him moving in my life, the more I crave His presence. It becomes like an unquenchable thirst.
Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
There are times in our lives when we know God is present but we do not physically feel Him or sense Him. He seems quiet and distant. But, because we know God’s character, we know that isn’t accurate. We just aren’t as in tune with Him sometimes as we are at others. In those times, we long to feel that divine connection to our Father and sometimes we chase after Him by filling our plate full of God things and hoping to impress Him. We hope that by checking all of the God like items off of our to do list, we will please Him and He will want to connect with us. That’s not how God operates. God is not impressed by our to do lists. He’s impressed by our focus on an authentic relationship with Him. When we set aside all of our pretenses and truly seek a relationship with Him, above all else, He meets with us there.
I have been reading through, and co leading a small group, on the book Chasing God by Angie Smith. She tackles this issue in such a real and relatable way. (Plus she is just terribly cute and hilarious! I adore her writing style and humor!).
She reminds us that often times, when we are thirsty for God we exhaust ourselves by doing all of the things that we think will allow us to catch God, instead of simply allowing ourselves to seek Him where He will most often be found.
Those times when we feel His arms of love wrapped around us, when we can literally feel Him guiding, protecting, and leading us, those are the times when we are meeting with Him in the way He calls us to. He wants us to seek a relationship with Him instead of making our Christain walk about doing certain things, looking a certain way, and living a certain life. He doesn’t want us to chase Him. He wants a real relationship with us. He seems to penetrate our thoughts and our daily activities in every way when connect with Him in prayer, His word, and an attitude of worship. In those places, we will meet with Him in such a real and divine way!
Because I know what it feels like to physically feel His presence, I just don’t want to ever feel the distance come between us. It’s like the psalmist writes. My soul just thirsts for Him. I want to feel His continued presence in my life and His hand upon me.
I’ve loved Angie Smith’s book, Chasing God. It has helped me to take a look at my relationship with my Heavenly Father and to identify the areas where I’m involved in a relationship with Him and the areas where I am just chasing Him. It has changed my quiet time, my prayer life, and my thoughts on my Christian life. It is a must read if you’ve been in that place where you are doing everything that you think will make you a good Christian but you are missing out on that relationship and you are thirsting for him.
Think about it and grab a copy of this book. 🙂
Love and blessings,
Yesterday was a hard day. There is just so much sin and hurt in this fallen world. There is so much pain. There is so much loss and grief and discouragement. My heart aches for the brokenness that is so evident everywhere I look. This whole earth is groaning and crying out for it’s Savior.
Do you see that too? Do you see loved ones dealing with loss and grief? Do you see sickness, pain, and suffering? Do you see discouragement and hopelessness? Do you see relationships falling apart and the scars left from that? Maybe you are the one in the midst of all of the trials? I’ve been there too.
I was confronted head on with all of this hurt in so many situations yesterday with several friends and loved ones dealing with very difficult tribulations. My heart breaks a little with each situation. And honestly, it’s easy to look around at all that is going on in this life and in this fallen world and get a little discouraged. It’s tempting to turn my eyes away from God and get overwhelmed with the way sin and hurt is wrecking so much.
But, when I keep my eyes fixed firmly on my Savior, Redeemer, Comforter, Friend, Father, Deliverer, Strongtower, and Help; I can see His mighty hand at work in the midst of each situation. He is right there. He is in the midst going to battle for us. He is busy working in our most difficult circumstances to soften hard hearts, reconcile broken relationships, comfort the grieving, and draw the lost to Him. He is hard at work uniting believers, encouraging the weary, giving hope, and strengthening us. He is pouring out grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, and love in our most desperate times. He is wrapping His arms of protection around us.
He is so good that when they enemy seeks to destroy, God is at work on our behalf to reconcile and redeem. He uses the schemes of the enemy to draw us closer to Him and build our faith. He is so Holy that He is moving in each trial to work it out for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. His Love is so great that in the midst of our hardest battles, He provides comfort, peace, and joy.
As I sat this morning, reading in Psalms, I was reminded over and over again how God is with us through all that we face. In case you are in that place, or in case you want to provide encouragement and direction for someone who is, I wanted to point out some scripture that really spoke to me today in my reading.
Psalm 25:15-17 “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”
Psalm 25:4-6 “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.”
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 28:6-8 “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”
Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
He is there. In the middle of all of the messes that we deal with, He is our hope. I’m so thankful that He loves us that much. We never face any situation on our own. He goes with us, giving us strength, love, protection, power, peace, comfort, wisdom, grace and mercy through the journey. Wow! What a God we serve! (more…)
I have been reading through the book of Psalms this week and I’m about to wear my highlighting pen out! There is just so much truth and so much wisdom stored up in this book of the Bible.
This morning I ran across this little nugget of truth and my mind just kept going back to it. Psalm 20:7-8 was just such a great reminder that I do not need anything else to trust in besides God. I don’t need to do enough or be enough because my God is more than enough.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”
There are so many things that we tend to trust in. Horses and chariots in that day symbolized power, strength, wealth, status, and success. When war was upon a nation they often sought help from neighboring nations who had many chariots and horses. Trusting in those things was trusting in all that a nation had been and had done. It was trusting in their power, their strength, their wealth, their status, and their success. Trusting horses and chariots was trusting in the physical instead of the spiritual.
When those hard times that we are in spiritual battle come to us, where do we seek our help from? Sadly, sometimes I looks to the things that make me feel powerful, strong, and important. I sometimes look to the chariots and the horses as my first help. That’s a lot of pressure! What if my chariots and horses aren’t enough? What if I haven’t been enough or done enough? What if those physical things I’m depending on aren’t strong enough?
Luckily, we aren’t called to trust in chariots and horses. We don’t have to feel the pressure to be sure our physical things are enough. My battle plan for overcoming the wars that I face should never hinge on those things. God’s word says that those things will fail me. They will make me fall and bring me to my knees. Things have no real power to save us. Only our Heavenly Father has the power to save us when we are in a battle.
Father, God, help us not to trust in horses and chariots or the power, strength, wealth, status, or success they symbolize. Help us to remember that the only way that we will be able to rise up and stand firm is by trusting in you. Father, we can’t trust in physical things to save us. We can’t trust in ourselves and our own merit. Lord, we don’t need to have enough or do enough or be enough because you are more than enough.
Love and blessings,
Life is complicated, isn’t it?
There is always so much going on. There is so much to be and so much to do. My to do list is long and my days seems short. I want to live life purposefully. I want to follow God’s perfect plan for my life, but sometimes I get so caught up in the little mundane details of life, that I forget exactly what that purpose is. And I don’t know if I ever got the plan.
Because surely there is a big purpose. I know He has a plan. Surely following God is more than these little steps I’ve been taking. It is suppose to be filled with lots of really big leaps, isn’t it?
For weeks and even months, I’ve been praying for direction and a clear path in some things. I’ve been diligently seeking God because I NEED to know what His specific plan for me is. I’ve been praying and really studying His word because He is moving in my life right now and I really want to be on board. I want to follow exactly where He is leading. Except I’m not one hundred percent sure how that actually looks, or maybe even exactly what I’m suppose to be doing if I am on board. I’m not even really sure exactly where He is taking me. It’s complicated. You know?
I’ve got a lot going on, like most of us do, so I’ve really been praying for a big blinking neon sign to just point me to right where He needs me. I’ve basically said to God, “You show me exactly where to go and tell me exactly what to do God, and I’m there! I’m ready for some big leaps! I’m your girl. Just point me in the right direction! Show me the plan, Lord, and let’s do this thing.”
But, I haven’t seen that big blinking neon sign. He hasn’t exactly given me the plan. I’ve had some leaps, but I’m not leaping all of the time.
Instead I’ve seen a lot of smaller (and yes, sometimes bigger) opportunities every day, in every moment, to make choices that honor Him. I’ve had opportunities to trust and opportunities to praise. I’ve had opportunities to seek Him. I’ve been given choices to do my own thing or do things that would bring Him glory instead.
These steps aren’t huge. Sometimes they aren’t even that big. These steps are often just little steps of faith towards Him. I’m definitely not always leaping.
Here is the crazy thing. Here is the part I sometimes miss. Looking back over these last weeks and months, even years, I have been walking the whole time. I’ve been making progress. Those steps have added up to a pretty decent walk of faith.
With each choice and every opportunity, I’ve been taking steps down His path. There wasn’t a big blinking neon sign, but He still managed to point me down the path He’s chosen for me. In those little steps, I’ve been walking down it without really even realizing it.
I’ve had opportunities to be a better wife, mom, friend, servant, and follower of Christ. I probably haven’t always made the best choice, but for the most part, He’s been keeping me on track. We’ve been walking along together and we’ve come a long way.
That shows me something. That shows me that maybe following God isn’t always these big, huge leaps of faith. Sometimes it is and that’s awesome. I had a few of those moments and they are truly amazing! Following God isn’t always that complicated. More often that not, it seems like following God is the act of choosing to honor Him with each step along our journey. It’s choosing to love Him, praise Him, glorify Him, and serve Him in the little moments, in the little choices, and in each step along the way. It’s really pretty easy. (more…)
Yesterday I told you how much I love the book of Esther. Today I began the book of Job. Can I be honest? It’s one of those books that I’ve always struggled with. I just don’t really understand it. I’m not a big fan of reading about how my good and loving God allows one of His finest men to go through such an awful time.
I mean, God himself, tells Satan that there is no one on earth like Job who is blameless, upright, fears God, and shuns evil. This guy got up every morning and offered a sin offering to God for his children just in case they had sinned or cursed God the day before. Every day. He was that good.
I’m not that good. Not even close.
But God still allowed the enemy to attack Job.
I just really struggle with that. Maybe because I know I can’t really compare to Job.
I understand that God is righteous and holy. I also understand that every one, no matter how good they seem, can’t stand before our righteous God. He is so holy that even our most honorable and good acts are like filthy rags in front of Him.
But he also loves His children with a fierce love. He is graceful and merciful. He is good.
I think that’s where I get a little stuck when I read Job. I have a hard time reconciling those characteristics of God.
I know that the book of Job kind of rubs me the wrong way, so I really prayed for understanding this morning as I read it. When I got to parts of the life of Job that trip me up, I paused to pray again.
This time, as I read through the first half of the book of Job, I noticed something that I’ve never really seen before and suddenly things shifted in my thought process.
I want to share this thought with you in case maybe you struggle to reconcile the holy, righteous, blameless God in the beginning of Job with the God of love, mercy, goodness, and grace that we enjoy reading about.
It’s just a thought. It by no means, makes this awesome and powerful and incomprehensible God understandable, but it does point out a truth that really spoke to me today.
Job 9:32-35 “He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”
Poor Job lived during the Old Testament times. Before Jesus. He feared God and honored God. He accepted God’s blessings as well as God’s curse because He understood that God is God. He is awesome. He is mighty. He knew he had no way to stand before a holy and righteous and just God and ask for anything.
Our sins separate us from Him. Even our most righteous acts fail in comparison. He is righteous. He is just. He is holy. Job was pretty awesome, but he knew he couldn’t even begin to hold his head up in front of God. On our own, we really can’t either.
We have something that Job didn’t have. Job didn’t have an intercessor to come between he and God to arbitrate on His behalf. He sure wanted one. Look at that verse again. He didn’t have the blood of Jesus covering His sin, making him pure and blameless before God. He didn’t have Jesus, friend of sinners, to lay his hand upon him and reconcile him with the Father like we do. He didn’t have anyone to bridge the gap between him and the Father.
No wonder Job begged for his life to just be over. He loved God and knew of His majesty and understood that there was nothing he could say or do to deserve God’s grace and mercy, just like there really isn’t anything we can do or say on our own.
The difference is Jesus.
Once we trust in Him for salvation, we can stand pure and righteous before God. It doesn’t matter how filthy we were before, or how good. Christ’s blood covers us. He creates the bridge between us and God.
God is good and if you know the story of Job, you know God blessed his ending much more than his beginning. He restored Job and all he had and blessed him greatly. But Job went through such a time of despair and hurt and pain. Although he knew God was there and with him in his trial and he never cursed him, he didn’t have the same comfort that we can have. He knew, just like us, he didn’t deserve God’s goodness at all and he accepted his trails because he understood how he compared to God.
We may have trials too. God doesn’t promise us an easy life just because we’ve trusted Christ as our savior. Trials still come. Maybe you’re there. Maybe you’re feeling a little like Job. I’ve been there. I’ve felt like my world is crashing down and I’ve been brought low.
One thing that we have that poor, old Job never had is the hope, comfort, and friend that we have in Jesus. He’s on our side. He stands before the Father and pleads our case. He makes us righteous and pure because his sinless blood is on our account. He stands in the gap for us, while Job had no one to do that. No wonder he was in such a place of despair!
I’m so comforted by this truth. It brings me so much peace to know that when things get hard, I don’t have to be in that place of total and utter despair like Job. I may not always have an easy time. Let’s be real here, life just gets hard sometimes. After all, the book of Job tells us that Satan is in this earth just roaming through it and going back and forth in it. He’s a trouble maker.
But, we have the hope that our Jesus is working on our behalf to arbitrate between us and God. He’s bridging the gap. He has made a way for us to stand in front our righteous and just Father and receive love and goodness, mercy and grace, poured out in abundance.
Because of Jesus, we can have a hope that Job never had.
Love and blessings,
My favorite book of the Bible is Esther. I love the drama. I love the story. At the risk of sounding trite, Esther is a fantastic script with a twisting and turning plot, rich characters, deceit, love, betrayal, an underdog overcoming great odds, and a beautiful story of grace and mercy. It’s a script that could only be written and directed by our mighty God, and produced in real life through his awesome power.
I love this biography of a young orphan girl, raised by her cousin, suddenly thrust into the palace with the chance to be a queen. She must hide her identity because her people are looked down on. She finds favor with everyone, including the king, and is made queen. In the mean time, her uncle saves the king’s life by uncovering a conspiracy to murder him. Simultaneously, the King’s main advisor is planning genocide for the queen’s people but he doesn’t even know the queen is one of them. It’s scandalous and the intensity is palpable!
In the face of her death and the death of her entire race, Queen Esther is warned by her cousin that she has two options. She can choose to stand by, try to protect herself, say nothing, and allow her faithful God to send another deliverer for the Jews. Or, she can rise to the occasion, and risk her own life for the chance to save her people. It’s a nail biter!
All this intensity leads up to one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. I’m a sucker for a good plot, and when reading about these events in Esther’s life, I’m always on the edge of my seat.
“…and who knows but that you have come to the royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b
Wow! What a thought for Esther to ponder. Her cousin Mordecai reminds her that God has been in charge of this scene from the opening act. He loves His people and will deliver them with or without her.
But, Esther has the choice. Will she just watch as God raises up a deliver from another place, or will she bravely step up and accept her divine calling. After all, it’s quite possible that this one moment is the entire reason that God allowed her to become Queen. Every detail, every event, has been leading up to this climactic choice.
Isn’t it amazing when you sit back and really think about it. This is a true account from the Bible. It’s not a script or a work of fiction. God actually called this beautiful, young orphan girl into a royal position and gave her the awesome opportunity to provide deliverance for her entire race from complete genocide.
Now, maybe God isn’t calling you to something quite that intense. Maybe it’s a smaller step of faith and obedience in marriage, your career, or your ministry. Who knows, maybe He is calling you to something monumental. Regardless of the fork in the road that you are standing at, God does give us opportunities for Esther moments in our lives. He brings us to a crossroads of sorts and allows us to choose which path to follow. We can meekly sit back and allow God to find another person to fill the role that He has called us to.
Or we can boldly step out in faith and obedience.
We can choose to let our Esther moment become the defining scene of our story where we choose to follow God’s call regardless of the risk. We can choose to bravely accept His plan and His will for our lives.
My prayer today is that we will each come to our Esther moments with purpose. We will gladly accept the challenge to follow where He leads. We will step into our calling, whatever it may be, without hesitation because we trust that it has been His plan all along.
Imagine that moment I described earlier. The ultimatum is given by Esther’s cousin. She is forced with a heavy decision. She can let God use her or watch someone else fill her divine calling.
Now picture yourself there instead. The ultimatum is given to you. You stand at your own personal fork in the road. You know that God has called you for such a time as this. Sister, boldly step into your role. Take courage, because God has a plan for you just as He did for Esther.
Embrace your Esther moment.
Love and blessings,
Don’t you just love this?!? The God of all grace wants to come to us, in the midst of our suffering, and restore us! He wants to make us strong, firm, and steadfast! I love that! I love that even in the middle of our pain, struggle, and trials, God has a plan for our restoration. He is working in our situations to make us strong, firm, and steadfast. The suffering isn’t in vain. It has purpose. It grows us into trees whose roots are deep, whose branches reach heavenward, and whose trunk is powerful enough not to bend or break in the storms of life.
Love and blessings,
I often find such encouragement when I read my Bible. Honestly, this is a new thing for me. I use to look at Bible reading more as a chore. It was just another thing to check off of my Christian to do list.
Read a chapter or two from my Bible today. Check. Next?
But a while back, I felt convicted to really get back into God’s word in a more serious way. I love to read. You can almost always find me with a great Christian book. I’ve got a crate of them beside my bed. They are stacked in piles on my desks. My easily distracted self prefers to have a few of them going at a time so that if I hit a dry spot in one, I can stick in a book mark, and pick up where I’ve left off in another. I study these books. They are a wealth of knowledge. I love how writers have the ability to take lofty Christian principles and put them into terms that I can relate to and easily understand. The authors feel like friends to me. They just get me.
The book pages are pen marked. The pages are dog eared. The covers show wear because of their constant handling. I pack them to read on trips, tote them along in my purse, and keep them handy in case I have a few spare minutes to read.
Can you see how much I love them? On our trip to California last week I packed six. I was feeling ambitious and Heaven forbid that I not have just the right one to fit my mood. As a matter of fact, I spent the better part of two days alternating between the couch in a hotel bathrobe and my bathing suit on a lounge chair in the sun, all the while with a book. It was heavenly!
There are many books that I’ve read this year that I love! Some of my most well loved books sit on a desk in my kitchen because I enjoy referencing them again. I love to pick them up, turn to a page that’s worn and underlined, and find a nugget of knowledge that relates to exactly what I’m feeling or thinking or dealing with.
These books are so great! God has divinely spoken through some amazing authors and I’ve been so blessed by their work. Please don’t misunderstand me in this. I adore Christian authors and the way they put pen to paper to flesh out stories that truly speak to me!
But, I had let these books replace my time in God’s word.
The Bible was a little hard for me to understand. I just couldn’t bring myself to mark up these holy pages. I didn’t know how to study it. I didn’t think I could relate to it. The language and even sometimes the principles were lost on me, so I had set my Bible aside in search of easier reading.
Until about eight or ten months ago. I’m not really exactly sure of the date, but I remember the situation. I was struggling with the passing of my dad. It was brutally hard. I remember realizing that I was seeking wisdom, comfort, advice, and guidance from Man instead of God. And honestly, it wasn’t working out too well for me.
For some reason, it hit me like a brick, that what I really needed to do, was get back to God’s word.
It was the best decision I’ve made in a really long time!
I pray each day over my Bible. I pray that God will speak to me through His word. I pray for wisdom to understand His truth. I pray for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to see His character and open my heart to receive His teaching. And I pray for people and stories that I can relate to.
I can’t honestly say that every time I open my Bible, I am awe struck by what I read. (Some of those genealogies are a little long.). However, I can tell you that God’s word has come alive to me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined before. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and David have become like dear friends to me as I’ve studied the Old Testament. Their stories resonate with me in such a real way. We share some of the same struggles and I’m encouraged as I see God’s faithfulness to grow them and use them. I’m moved to tears by His unrelenting grace and mercy towards a people that continually fail him. I see a parallel there and am awe struck that He shows the same grace and mercy towards me.
This morning I littered the book of Ezra with underlines and notes. Who would have thought that I could relate so much to this man of God? Who would have known I could find so many answers to the questions that trouble me today in these pages penned so long ago? Who would have known that these heroes of the Bible struggled with so many of the same things that I do?
I just want to take a minute today and encourage you to go back to basics. Don’t give up all of the amazing books that God is using to reach you. They have an awesome purpose and are instrumental in our growth. But, turn back to that old black book too (well, mine is actually hot pink) and see what truths it holds for you. Find comfort, wisdom, encouragement, and guidance in its pages. Understand that God’s word is alive and active and still so applicable to us today. Ask the Holy Spiri to give you understanding and immerse youself in conversation with the Father. Allow Him to speak to you through His word. Find what you’re looking for there.
Love and blessings,
Don’t judge me today because I’m just keeping it real. I’m pretty sure that the m&m’s and the caramel that I just ate for lunch were totally a coping mechanism. Comfort in an uncomfortable place. Chocolate and caramel can do that for a girl.
Have you ever been in that place where you just feel a little out of your element? Maybe you doubt your abilities. Maybe you doubt you can do what you know you’ve been called and created to do. Maybe you feel inadequate. Maybe you are feeling a little insecure. And just maybe you are more than a little tempted to comfort yourself with chocolate and caramel too!
You know what though? That didn’t really work. As a matter of fact, I’m a little hacked off at my self for eating that candy, especially since I’ve got skinny jeans laid out to wear this evening.
The thing that finally allowed me to get outside of my own head was a sweet and gentle reminder from God, my Father, saying that HE HAS GOT MY BACK. I am exactly where He wants me and I am exactly who He has called me to be. He has a specific purpose and a plan for me. He’s lined up every detail of who I am because He wants to use it. He will equip me for all that He has called me to. If He has called me to it, He promises to walk me through it. I just need to quit the worrying.
And so do you. He takes that burden for each and every one of His children. When we are walking in His ways, He promises to stand beside us and strengthen us for what He has called us to. He doesn’t want us to stay bound in insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. He wants to free us from that bondage and fill us with strength, boldness, and courage.
Man, that lifts my wavering heart and I hope it lifts yours too!
“The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Love and blessings,
There are often times I sit before God in total awe of who He is and what He does. Today is one of those days. Today I bowed my knees in humble adoration before a God who loves so lavishly, gives so freely, and delights in redeeming even the most tragically broken and flawed.
This Holy and Righteous God has taken a hot mess like me and has chosen to use me in spite of myself! His love over comes my weakness. His forgiveness, grace, and mercy redeem me. He brings beauty from my big, dirty pile of ashes.
And if he can do it for me, he can do it for anyone!
Our Father doesn’t require perfection from us. He doesn’t require us to be flawless, sinless, or righteous. He knows we are dust. He understands our weakness and our frailties. After all, he created us! Jesus walked among man and faced temptations and trials. He didn’t sin, but He understands that we are not God in the flesh. His word says no one is righteous, so he doesn’t hold out a measuring stick with unattainable standards to judge us.
What He does require from us is a trusting and repentant heart. He asks us to love Him whole heartedly and to follow His will. He wants us to turn from our mess and turn to The One Who Is Able. He wants us to be willing to be molded and shaped into His image and He understands that is a process. I believe that He even understands that for some of us, myself included, it is looooong process!
He is sovereign and mighty! He is good and holy. He is powerful. He speaks life into dust. He brings beauty from ashes. He gives new hearts, new life, and new purpose.
He can take our flaws, our imperfections, our failures, our frailties and use them for His honor and glory if we let Him. He is a God who redeems.
No one is too messy. No one is too broken. No situation is too difficult. No one is too far gone.
I’m so overwhelmed by His love this morning. I’m floored that He would choose to love someone as messy as me. I needed a lot of work. Sometimes I still do. It would have been so easy for God to find someone who would have been an easy little project instead of someone who would be such a fixer upper.
But He seems to delight in taking the biggest projects and doing a complete overhaul!
Moses was a murderer with a bad temper. Aaron let the people influence him. Rahab was a prostitute. Sarah laughed at God. David was an adulterer. Paul persecuted Christians. Peter denied Christ. The list goes on and on. Sinner after sinner. Failure after failure. All repententlay turning toward God and bathed in love and forgiveness. All then used in spite of their past.
God uses the broken who turn their mess over to him and commit to loving and following Him.
I’m just so thankful for that. I’m thankful that we can look to our perfect Father and know that He looks at us with eyes full of love. He sees our hearts. He sees our love for Him and our desire to follow Him. He sees our potential.
And he knows His plan to bring beauty from the ashes of our brokenness.
Love and blessings,
There are times I feel a little greedy when I come before my Father in prayer. I have a long list of wants and needs to lay out before Him. I know He hears my prayers and often answers them. He wants me to cast my cares on Him and bring my needs before Him. He has called me to do that and not to feel badly for bringing everything before His throne.
And I love that! I love that such a mighty God cares so much about me and my needs. I love that I can trust Him with that. It gives me such a peace and such comfort!
And he doesn’t think I’m being greedy. He knows I’m trusting.
However, this morning as I was reading 1 Chronicles 16, I got to thinking.
David sure praised God a lot and he was called a man after God’s own heart.
God sure praises us a lot too. He calls us fearfully and wonderfully made, child of the King, beloved, and forgiven. He reminds us all throughout scripture of his unfailing love towards us.
Can I be honest? I’m not great at giving or receiving praise. It makes me a little uncomfortable to receive praise. I’m not a natural praise giver either. I have to make a conscious decision to give praise because it isn’t something that just naturally flows out of me. It use to feel very forced and foreign, but, the more I learn to give praise the more I’m learning how important it is.
Praise shows love. It shows respect.
It is vital in relationships!
It’s important for me to praise my husband and my kids. Important for me to praise my friends and family and those who are a blessing to me. It shows them that I love and appreciate them. I need to do it way more often than I do.
It pretty vital for me to give God praise as well.
I think He enjoys our praise too. Just maybe it makes Him feel loved and appreciated too. Maybe I need to praise Him more often too. Above all, He is worthy of praise.
This morning I wanted to be like David. I laid aside my requests and my needs. God knows my heart. He already knows what I need and want. Instead, I just took the time to praise Him.
And maybe I’m taking a little too much liberty here, but I think He enjoyed it. I know I did.
And a funny thing happened as I began writing out my praise prayer to the Lord this morning, I felt a softening. I felt a welling up of love and gratitude. The more I thought about giving Him praise, the more reasons I found to praise Him.
Maybe that’s a little life lesson for me. As I focus on giving praise and using my words to show love and respect, just maybe, my heart will continue to soften a little. My perspective will continue to shift a little. Just maybe my focus changes from receiving to giving. And just maybe praising comes a little more naturally.
I think I may just give that theory a try!
Love and blessings,
Man, lately my life just seems to be hovering in the unknown. Have you been there, in that phase of life when things just don’t seem to make a lot of sense? I seem to be there a lot lately. It’s not even a bad thing. It’s just different for me.
I’m pretty good at just rolling with things. Although I love order and a control, I’m not to shabby at just flying by the seat of my pants sometimes too. This is different though.
This is not flying by the seat of my pants. There is still a bit of control in that. Most of the time, I still get the choice of where, when, and how to fly and when not to.
This is a little more out of my control than that. This phase of life almost seems like a roller coaster ride. There is a track and a destination and I’m barreling down it at full speed with lots of really high highs and some places where the bottom just drops out. Sometimes I’m thrown for a loop. There are some tunnels and some places where I get turned upside down a little, and sometimes I’m tempted to close my eyes when it gets a little scary.
But, I’m also tempted to give in to the ride. I want to just throw my hands in the air and scream and enjoy myself. I want to give in to the complete freedom! I don’t know exactly how this roller coaster works, but I don’t really need to. I mean, I am pretty sure I saw the end destination when I jumped on board, but every twist and every turn and every thrilling moment in between is new to me. So I just hang on tight. I mean, the operator knows what’s going on, so there is no need to worry. I can just sit back and enjoy the ride, even if I’m a little scared and a little confused and a little nervous!
Been there? Understand at all?
I know God has a plan and I can see where the destination might be, but I really don’t understand the path that’s leading me there. There are a lot of unknowns along the way. Sometimes I am at the peak and sometimes I’m down in that valley. Sometimes I’m in that tunnel where things look a little dark and I can’t see my hand in front of my face. At other times I’m turned upside down or thrown for a loop, but the operator of this ride is in total control.
After all, he isn’t just the operator, He designed the ride just for me with every detail along the way. Each high and each low was put in place for a purpose along the journey. He mapped out each turn just for me!
This roller coaster ride never surprises the operator. He knows every twist and turn, every peak and valley. All of my unknowns and completely known by him. I know he’s in total control and I trust him.
So, here’s to giving up control to the one who knows all, operates all, and designed each detail and JUST hanging on for dear life and enjoying the ride!
“Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In the days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.”
2 Kings 19:25
Love and blessings,
Sometimes during my quiet time, word just jump off the page of my Bible and connect deeply to my heart. They get me thinking and feeling and really understanding God’s character.
Yesterday, I wrote about wanting to have faith to just bravely step out into God’s plan like Rebekah did. I mentioned that sometimes I question and sometimes I even doubt.
Then today, these two verses just flew off of the page and landed squarely in my heart. They were like the part b to my thoughts from yesterday. These verses were like a healing balm for a questioning soul. They comfort me and remind me that God cares for me enough to encourage me when I’m weak. I love when God does that!
“…Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” Gen 26:24b
“…Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it…” Gen 28:16b
I will admit it. I have trust issues. My past has given me many opportunities to doubt people and their words. However, God is not ‘people’.
God is God.
His promises are true.
He is faithful.
He promises to be with us and he gently reminds us that even if we don’t SEE or FEEL him, He has been there the whole time.
I don’t know about you, but those words cover any doubts that I might have. They show me that I am completely safe in trusting My God in ALL things. He is my constant and He has proven himself trustworthy.
Love and blessings,
Sometimes my faith wavers a bit. It’s not something that I’m proud of, but I have the tendency to look at hard situations and say “why me?”, “why now?”, “what in the world is the purpose of this?”. My first response to something is usually emotional and full of questions.
This morning as I sat and read my Bible, I was floored by the faith Rebekah showed in Genesis 25. She was just going about her day, drawing water from the well like she always did, when God rocked her whole world. Everything changed for her in a mater of minutes when she was told that the Lord had a plan for her.
She didn’t question even once? I would have grilled that poor servant to no end! I would have needed him to go though and tell me again, step by step. I would have had lots of questions. This guy is trying to change my whole world after all! Am I just suppose to trust him and trust that God has a plan at work here? That’s a big leap of faith!
Rebekah did though! She RAN to tell her household and they all welcomed this traveling servant in. Without a second thought. Because they knew he came with a plan from the Lord.
As that servant laid out the events that led him there and told Rebekah’s family of God’s plan, they surely had to be shocked. Didn’t they have any questions? Who is this son of your master? God wants to do what now? You want to take her where? And you prayed what right before Rebekah showed up? Are you sure? Maybe we should take a few days to think this thorough?
But no. That’s not how it went at all.
“This is from the Lord; we have no choice in the matter…Let it be as the Lord has spoken.” (Gen 24:50)
“They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She replied, “I will go.” (Gen 24:57-58)
And she did. Just like that.
Even though it had to be hard to just drop everything, leave everything she had ever known, and walk into a situation that was very unknown and possibly scary. She unwaveringly believed that God had a good plan for her, and she stepped out of all she had ever known into his glorious plan without a moment’s hesitation.
I want to trust God’s plan like that. It’s easy when His plan is easy, but when that plan has me walking into something unknown or scary, I sometimes drag my feet. I question. “Why?” “How?” “Are you sure you’ve got me God, because this looks hard?”
Oh, to have a faith like Rebekah! As I’m walking though things that I don’t fully understand right now, I am choosing to turn away from my norm and respond like Rebekah. It may be hard. It may be unknown and even a little scary.
But I’m choosing to answer with, “I will go.” That’s it. Just, “I will go.” And then I will. Completely trusting that God has a plan for whatever it is I’m being called into and He will work it all for His ultimate good.
Love and blessings,
I don’t know about you but sometimes I look at the situations in my life and I just get a little overwhelmed. Sometimes life just gives us a lot to deal with. And honestly, sometimes I just don’t feel up to the task. I just don’t want to go to battle.
This morning I was so encouraged by my Bible reading that I just had to take a quick minute to share it with you.
2 Kings 6:16-17
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
WOW! I often need my eyes opened. I need a reminder to take my eyes off of my circumstances and look around at all of those who God has called to go to battle with me. He is by my side with the hosts of heaven, but He’s also given me friends and family who will go to battle for me. Some of those people stand in the gap in prayer. Some come along side me to encourage. And always, He is there strengthening me to stand strong in the midst of every trial.
Love and blessings,
Do you ever feel like the more you learn, the more you realize that you don’t know? Man, I feel that way that a lot. The more I study something or try to understand a situation that I thought I mostly understood, the more I see its complexities. I realize I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. So, I keep trying to get a better understanding and as I study, some things become clear and some times I realize there is still so much I don’t know.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I feel that way as I look at life and it’s situations.
I KNOW God. I KNOW Jesus. I KNOW what He did for me. I KNOW His love. I KNOW these things because I’ve experienced them. I have felt His presence and I’ve experienced His hand on my life. I believe and have faith because I KNOW, from personal experience, of His love, mercy, Grace, and forgiveness.
But, the more I read my Bible and study the character of God, the more I understand how much of a mystery He is. His ways are so far above mine that sometimes I just have to trust in complete faith. That’s a big part of faith, the act of just believing.
I love studying the Old Testament because I love learning about God’s character. I’ve learned so much about His love, His mercy, His patience, His kindness and His long suffering. I’ve learned how gracious He is to a people who just can’t seem to get it right and continually fail Him. I’ve learned that He is true to His word.
I’ve also learned that He is so much more than I could grasp. I’ve learned I can’t comprehend all He does and all He allows. I don’t fully understand the plan.
BUT He sees the beginning and the end and works accordingly. He isn’t limited at all by the tiny view of things that I am limited by.
This morning in my Bible reading, I was just awe struck by a couple of verses. 1Kings 12:15 says “…for this turn of events was from the Lord to fulfill His word…” And 1Kings 12:24 says…”for this is my doing…”
Wow! What a powerful, mighty, sovereign God! His hand can be seen in everything! The good and the seemingly bad.
Both of these verses reference situations that weren’t particularly pleasant at the time. But, they show God working out His master plan to bring His people back to Him. Because He loves them that much. Because He is good and mighty and sovereign.
I can only relate it to this; just like sometimes as a parent, I have to allow my kiddos to experience both the good and the bad of life to be a loving parent, our Father allows us the same opportunity. Because that is a part of His character too. He is rightous and just. He is sovereign. He is omnipotent. He is a good Father who looks at the long term when He is growing and shaping His children.
So, even though I don’t always understand the situation I’m walking though, I can trust in Him because I KNOW the one who is in control of it. I KNOW His plan for me is good and that His purpose is for me to grow closer to Him. I don’t have to understand or to have all the answers, because I trust the one who does.
Man, sometimes life can be difficult! It seems like so many people that I love are under attack right now. I’ve been under attack. Sometimes things get hard. It can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed by the chaos and strife that is just an ugly part of life.
Sickness, loss of loved ones, hurt, discontent, job loss, distraction, discouragement… The list can go on and on. And it often does. Sometimes the casualties of life just pile up and we lose heart a little.
I was reading in 2 Samuel today and just felt really connected to David. He just struggled sometimes. This poor guy has gone through it all. He came from a poor family. He spent the better part of his life under attacks from his king, his enemies, even his own family. He failed God is some pretty big ways and had to deal with some pretty big consequences as a result. He lost loved ones. He was shamed and ridiculed and his people turned against him. He just seems to be constantly dealing with life. He had every reason to get discouraged and lose heart. But through it all, God stood beside him and walked him through his trials. God loved him, disciplined him when necessary, and blessed him when he did right. And through it all, David kept his eyes on God and never forgot who He was.
This morning as I was sitting here just honestly feeling a little overwhelmed, I came upon 2 Samuel 22. Phew! If you ever need a little pick me up or some encouragement, read it and let it remind you who God is.
David reminded me this morning that God is flawless. He is my rock, my shield, and my salvation. He is alive! He is my savior who delivers me and preserves me. God is mighty. He arms me with strength and stoops down to make me great. He is God and He is worthy of praise.
He is my fortress, my refuge, my support, my stronghold, my salvation, my rock, and my shield. He rescues me from my enemies.
He is faithful. He is blameless. He is pure.
With My God, darkness is turned to light. With Him, I can advance. With Him, I can scale the walls that hold me back. He avenges me and gives me victory.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me. He drew me out of deep waters . He rescued me and delights in me. When I call out to Him, He hears me.
God lives. He is my rock. He is exalted. He is my savior. He shows me unfailing kindness.
When I sit and read 2 Samuel, I’m reminded that He is in control of the chaos. He brings beauty from ashes and He works things for my good because He loves me. He is on my side and fights for me. That discouragement and distraction that I was feeling just flee in the face of who He is.
Love and blessings,
Do you have a friend that you just feel connected deeply to, like a soul sister? There is just a really strong bond that binds you two together. You love them so much that you would do anything for them. You have even risked your own happiness to be sure that they were happy.
Those soul sister relationships are amazing!
This morning I was reading through the 1 Samuel account of the friendship of Johnathan and David. I’ve always been drawn to this friendship. It just seems like such a beautiful picture of the kind of relationship that we all want.
This friendship was built on love, trust, and care and concern for the other. 1 Sam 18:2 says that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. Man! Who doesn’t want a friendship like that, one where your very souls are knit together!
How does that even happen? How does that even look? It’s so vastly different than most friendships we see.
One of my favorite verses about this relationship, and what I think sets it apart from most friendships is 1Sam 23:16. “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”
I’m telling you, there is a big difference between friendships and real, intimate, authentic soul sister relationships. There is a depth to these soul sister friendships that just goes beyond the norm. And for me, one of the things that solidifies these soul sister friendships is that characteristic of strengthening and encouraging one another in God.
That’s a big deal.
A friend can give me advice and listen to me talk. They can even help, but a soul sister takes you to the feet of Jesus. They go there with you in prayer and keep you there with their conversation and actions. They cover you in His love and bathe you in His truth.
Spending time with them is like getting a little glimpse of Jesus.
I can remember praying earnestly that God would just send me some real soul sisters to encourage me and draw me closer to Him when I was in a difficult season in life.
God answered that prayer and I couldn’t be more grateful!
I’ve been blessed with a couple of nearly lifelong friendships that I just treasure beyond measure. They mean the world to me! However, in the last several years God has knit my heart together with several women in ways that can only be described as divine. They are my mentors and counsellors. They are my prayer warriors and ministry partners. They are the ones who know the nitty gritty, real parts of me and love me anyway.
They are also the ones who constantly go with me, hand in hand, to the feet of Jesus.
Friends, I can’t even begin to describe what an answer to prayer these friends are. Seek these people out. Pray for God to send you these soul sisters to strengthen you in God, just like Jonathan and David. Be the real and authentic you that God created you to be so that these friends can be grounded and genuine. Ask God to grow your friendships into those soul sisterhoods that you long for. He is able.
And to my soul sisters, I love you. Thank you for always helping me to find my strength in God.
Love and blessings,
Today I was reminded of two little words that instantly create a bond. These two little words can quickly turn strangers in to friends.
I spoke at our local MOPS meeting on repurposing. More accurately, I spoke about the work of repurposing furniture and drew some parallels to the way that Jesus has repurposed my life.
I was a little nervous. Speaking doesn’t really bother me. What made me nervous was that I really felt led to drop any pretenses and just be vulnerable and transparent. Just putting myself out there has always been a little difficult for me. I have a lot of baggage and a lot of junk. It’s not always easy to just leave all of that exposed.
It’s also beautiful in the hands of God. And sometimes necessary.
You see, by sharing our story- even the ugly parts- we can show the work that God has done to repurpose us. We can show the way he has turned messy into a masterpiece. We can show that nothing is ever too broken to be remade into something beautiful in His hands. And maybe, hopefully, we can give a little encouragement to someone who knows all too well what it means to be a little worn and tattered.
As I spoke today, I looked out into the faces of His beautiful daughters and I didn’t see looks of condemnation or judgement. I saw smiles and some tears. I saw nods of agreement and lips mouthing “me too”. I felt such love and encouragement. I felt such connection and community. I felt my walls crumbling.
Those walls that we build around ourselves as protection crumble a little when people are brave enough to be vulnerable . I think sometimes, God calls us to that type of vulnerability and openness as a way to not only point to His love and mercy and grace, but to connect us to others. Aren’t we all part of the same body?
Reach out. Be bold. Share. Encourage. Uplift. Point to Jesus. Connect with people. Let them see that you are an imperfect person, living your life to glorify a perfect Jesus, so that they can look you in the eyes and say “me too”.
Love and blessings,