The Sisterhood of Messy Hearts #Grace

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She was the funniest girl in school with the coolest clothes. Everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch, but she decided who did. She formed a club and chosen members met on Friday nights at the skating rink.

Then her parents got a divorce. She told fewer jokes. The trips to the skating rink stopped.

I found her crying one day, and my sixth grade heart hurt because her world was falling apart. I could have been a good friend. Not like the one’s talking behind her back … but she wouldn’t let me.

Just like the popular girl in sixth grade, big girls have holes in their hearts too. We all have secrets, heartaches, betrayals and shameful details.

Wary of trust, a wall goes up blocking sweet connection on a Jesus level.

That’s exactly what the Devil wants when it comes to sisters in Christ.

When he separates us … he causes unity to fade.

With the fading of unity … the kingdom’s work is stalled.

So what is the solution?  What can we do?

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If we really want change … we have to be willing to change.

The scriptures say …

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

The Greek interpretation for the word esteem means to lead … or go before. This made me think about not only putting others before myself … but taking the lead in loving my sisters first … before they love me.

I ache for this holy sisterhood to bond through the beautiful redemption process … to be real on a come to Jesus level … to find sincere connection and genuine grace.

What could happen if we all take the lead to love first?

What would that look like?

Perhaps a good starting place is putting our sister’s feelings before our own, letting selfishness fall to the wayside.

What if we put away all unfavorable perceptions and think only the best about our sister … instead of judging her in specific measures?

What if we forget previous clashes and renew our thoughts?

What affirmation for her if we’d speak truth in kindness, encouraging and praying for her.

What if we keep secrets in perfect trust and serve her in ways glorifying to our Father?

And because we are terribly flawed and we will fail her … we humbly ask for forgiveness … as we forgive.

You see in order for this sisterhood of messy hearts to flourish in Christ … grace must go both ways.

Oh what beauty is found in grace.

What hope is exchanged in love.

What redemption is mined from humility.

The meekness of a messy sisterhood can be a beautiful tapestry of merciful grace … if only we’ll take the lead to love first.

So tell me sister … will you take the lead?

“A Love Letter To A Prodigal Child”

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Dear Prodigal Child,

I dreamed you came home today. Oh the joy in my heart as I hugged you in an emotional momma moment. You know those moments…the ones with the tears and the kisses…and the antidotes of all the dramatic, annoying things a momma can say in a moment of pure ecstasy.

Your eyes were dancing with exuberant bliss….a pureness I haven’t seen since you were an innocent child and full of so much happiness.

I know the past has been confusing and disappointing. The enemy has chosen you to sift…… and sift he has child.

I wish you truly understood, the numerous attempts to snuff you out is because he doesn’t want you to reach God’s purpose for your life. He comes to kill, steal and destroy…but by the grace of God, you’re still standing child.

And be encouraged, because God will restore what the locust has stolen from you.

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The world fooled you with its pleasures, leaving you bruised, unsatisfied and isolated.

No matter how long you have traveled the wrong way, you can always turn around.

Jesus can fill all the holes in your heart….even the ones you are running from.

You’ve been gone for too long child.

So many nights, prayer replaces sleep. I hate to admit, sometimes worry replaces peace. I know you belong to the Father, but the enemy taunts me with fear.

Thank goodness, the Father reminds me that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He loves you more than I ever will.  It’s so hard to wrap my mind around that because I would die for you child…. until I remember …..He actually gave his son to die for you. I could not give my child’s life for another.

Your earthly father continues to fatten the calf for the day when you return home. Oh the celebration we will have.

Momma will make all your favorites, the prime rib, the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, the fried corn and the homemade macaroni and cheese.

I’ll even make the chocolate cake you love, along with some hot, chocolate chip cookies.  Remember how sweet those warm cookies taste with a glass of cold milk?

We’ll call your siblings, your cousins and have a big party and play games like we used to on family night. Dad will build a fire and let you have the recliner you love. I bet there will even be a good movie on the tv we can watch together, like we used to.

Your pup will be so glad to see you, he misses wrestling and playing fetch. Remember how excited he gets when you come through the door? Why at the sound of your voice, his little paws sound like he’s tap dancing on the wood floor.

Oh child, the thought of your arrival delights my heart to the point of rapture.

We’re waiting precious one and while we wait, we are praying and anticipating the victory you will have with Jesus.  And beloved, upon your arrival, you no longer have to look back.

The past is the past, because with Jesus….. His mercies are new every day.

Isn’t that cool?

Just think of the dreams in your heart?  It’s not too late child. All that potential He gave you is simply simmering beneath your soul. He wants to unleash the supernatural power of heaven to restore and replenish you.

He loves you so. Oh how He loves you…..it may be hard to fathom ….but He does….and He has two nail scared hands to prove it.

Come home child. We all miss you…we all long to sit and laugh with you. Your momma misses you so……but Jesus misses you most.

Love,

Momma

  If you have a loved one who has traveled far from home, may this love letter encourage you to never give up on your prodigal….so keep the faith…..and keep praying…..the Father has his eye on your prodigal.

Love to you all,

Melanie        

Honored to link up today with the precious Suzie Eller at #live free Thursday – if you are not familiar with Suzie’s writing – consider yourself now blessed to have been introduced. Her writing is anointed and cuts straight to my heart.  This post was partly inspired by my new pastor, Jeff Laborg.                                                                                          

“Gratitude For Our Broken Places” Day 5 ~ Five Days Of Thanksgiving ~ Drawing Closer To The Giver

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We stood hand in hand in a big circle around the room.

Bright eyes….

Hungry souls…..

Grateful Hearts.

Over 30 women from different walks of life.

All with a story…..

Battles survived….

Heartaches endured….

Some with loss still waging war on their souls….

Yet they were grateful.

I stumbled into this group on accident.

I was asked to share a devotion at KARM’S Serenity Shelter.

I came away changed.

How these women press on is nothing short of a miracle out of GOD’S playbook. 

My heart was so excited to return this month to celebrate Thanksgiving.

A precious sisterhood of women from our church have been going for months to love on this magnetic group. And yes my heart is now knit to these special women who have been serving faithfully.

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I’m hooked.

We do simple activities, play games, eat, laugh and pray with them.

This month we took a THANKSGIVING tree to hang ornaments of gratefulness on.

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It struck me it could easily be a TESTIMONY tree.

Reading the ornaments made my heart swell…..much like the Grinches crusty heart did when the “Whos” showed him unconditional love.

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I find myself thinking about these ladies all the time.

We go to love and encourage them….

We come out loved on and encouraged.

They are so grateful we come.

It’s ever so obvious they love us too.

Cassandra came in late from her job having missed the opportunity to share what she was thankful for earlier.

As we stood holding hands for prayer to end our evening, she spoke with humble eloquence.

“I am thankful for a second chance. Ladies, we have all been given a second chance.  Because we belong to JESUS, we get another chance at life. HE lives in all of us girls….HE is inside of us. I am so thankful for that.”

The humility in her voice as it cracked literally split my heart.

Earlier in the evening I prayed with four other ladies ranging in age from 20 ~ 55 years old..

The prayer requests were not of the material means….instead they consisted of….

Restored relationships and Salvation for their families….

Freedom from addiction for their families….

Requests for favorable results for upcoming educational testing, court dates, custody hearings.

They weren’t ashamed to share how long they had been sober…clean…..drug free.

I marveled in their humility wrapped in gratefulness. 

Their stories are not pretty by any means….

In fact their stories are shocking to someone like me who lives in a bubble.

Yet they shared….unashamed of their brokenness….with ugly details….ugly facts….ugly consequences.

Transparency is key to humility.

Transparency is necessary in GOD’S eyes. 

I can’t help but think about the ugly details in my life…the ugly facts…the ugly consequences.

I am not so brave to share such things with my sisters.

Why?

The LORD whispered in my ear…

     “It’s because of your pride, Mel.”

Pride keeps GOD at a distance in our lives.

Pride breaks down truth.

Pride hinders the SPIRIT’S desire to work in and through us.

Is there a broken place in your life GOD worked for good?

Are you ashamed to share it?

When we hide our broken stories….

We deny GOD’S glory.

We deny HIS work in our lives….

We cheat GOD….

We cheat ourselves…..

This THANKSGIVING can we lay down the pride?

Can we allow GOD to work through our ugly, sordid brokenness?

Can we let go of the shame of our weaknesses and let GOD do HIS work?  HIS will?

Can we ignore Satan’s attempt to silence our stories?

Can we start living transparent in JESUS CHRIST?

We keep too many struggles secret…..yet we probably all struggle with the same things…. doubt, greed, jealousy, hate, bitterness, lust, selfishness, insecurity ….and the list could go on and on.

In this 5 day series of THANKSGIVING I have challenged you each day to do draw closer to the GIVER by thinking different…being different…engaging GOD in a different way.

I can think of no greater way  to start engaging GOD ….than laying down our pride and letting HIM have HIS way with our stories.

Instead of being ashamed of your places of brokenness…..

Be THANKFUL for the GLORY GOD has worked in your life….

And pass it on.

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Start sharing what you have overcome…

What God’s done in your life that no one can see on the surface.

The truth will set us free…..

But GOD wants to use our truth to set others free as well.

Happy Thanksgiving friends….

May you engage JESUS in a way like never before.

Love,

MEL

To worship our LORD please click this link from the Elevation Worship Team.  Ask GOD to give you the boldness to share the broken places in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Live With Hope? Day 4 of FIve Days Of Thanksgiving ~ Drawing Closer to the GIVER

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Are you a person of vision?

Do you see the glass half full or half empty?

Do you live life with the expectation of GOD’S deliverance?

Our attitude often determines our faith.

If we have a rotten attitude…..

Often times our faith is weak.

When our faith is weak it’s hard to see life through rose colored glasses so to say.

Some of us are so beat up by the world.

Maybe you are existing day in and day out in a state of acceptance of your situation.

We’ve become resolved to living in defeat.

We wallow in the past…..

Recalling happier days….

Wishing we could go back….

But friend, going back will only set you back.

The good news is GOD is always working your redemption story.

You are a child of the true KING, you don’t have to live with a pauper’s mindset.

You are a blue blood!

Though you are living in a place of life that is disheartening at times…..

As a child of the KING, we need to be living with expectation of what HE will bring our way.

If we have experienced victory in the past….

We will have victory again.

If you have seen GOD do amazing things in the past….

You will see amazing things again.

There is a story in Luke of a Prophetess named Anna. She was a member of the faithful remnant of Israel who was waiting for the Messiah.

She was over a 100 years old, living and serving in the temple even in her old age.

Yet she anticipated better days.

She daily lived with the hope and expectation there would be a Messiah born to save her people.

In Luke 2, Mary and Joseph bring JESUS to the temple as an infant, to be presented to the LORD.

GOD revealed to Anna who JESUS was…..the scripture says….

And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to GOD, and continued to speak of HIM to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:38

Oh friend….Is there a situation that needs to be redeemed in your life?

If so…

Start living and believing in the expectation of the KING’S arrival to redeem you.

Living in anticipation of what the LORD is going to do is a faith attitude.

Living in expectation of the LORD’S deliverance is a hopeful surety.

Be THANKFUL for hope…

Be THANKFUL for the anticipation of redemption….

Be THANKFUL for the expectation of the KING’S arrival.

HE has not forgotten you.

 

To worship the KING click on this link and worship with Elevation Worship team. Close your eyes and anticipate the KING’S presence in your life.

“How GOD Fixes Broken People” My Vietnam Vet’s Struggle With Alcoholism

My story…..is tightly woven into my love story. What a man…what a GOD…and oh what a story of FORGIVENESS.  I am recycling an old post to link up with the precious Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday.

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The year was 1968.

He was barely 19 by just a few days when he received his mandatory invitation from Uncle Sam.

Life was simple….. but he was far from a simple boy.

Talent, smarts and personality oozed from every pore of his body.

Required to report within 21 days, he left his boyhood behind.

After 12 months of combat training he stepped off the plane in Chu Lai, Vietnam.

All he could see on the tarmac were thousands of body bags laying side by side for three lengths of a football field.

Fear struck his heart….

He told himself he would never make it home.

His boots hit the jungle ground running.

His daily goal was just to survive to see the sun rise.

He once went 3 weeks without taking his boots off.

When I asked why?

He said you didn’t want to get caught with your boots off.

When he finally removed them ….the medic had to strip the socks from his skin.

The nights were sleepless.

The smells were endless.

The noise was miserably deafening.

The sights were horribly unforgettable.

The emotional and physical stress took its toil….

He had his first taste of liquor to cope.

One by one he watched his friends die.

He was one of the lucky three that survived his squad.

The tactical missions occupied his mind…..

Shifting his focus from the prospect of death.

Once after an intense night of battle….

He carried a dead GI on his back until he met up with the medi-vac helicopter.

You never forget that kind of weight….he says….

It’s a weight that lays heavy in the mind….

It’s a weight you still feel 44 years later.

Every 3 weeks his squad would go to the rear, aka command base, for a precious 3 day rest from death and destruction….

That’s where he learned to drink in order to numb the stress.

He tells stories of GI’S who shot themselves in the leg or got food poisoning on purpose…

He laughs about one soldier who actually tried to fake being crazy…..

These were the ones who would suffer being a coward rather than face the alternative.

The gruesome images he saw….are still prominent in his memories.

The desperation of surviving affected him in ways he could never imagine.

There are times he is still in survival mode even today.

The shock of all his senses engrossed in the worst horror story you can imagine….

Is who he is….at the most unexpected recollection.

He was wounded…

They patched him up and sent him back to the jungle a few months later.

Again….he fought to live….

Day in and day out…

Fighting for a people who for the most part….

Didn’t appreciate the effort…

Or the sacrifices.

He managed to survive….

He managed to come home….

But he wasn’t the same simple boy who left at the tender age of 19.

He came home and turned to alcohol more and more.

He worked hard and long hours during the day…..

He partied hard and long hours into the night…..

Every hour of productivity or leisure was occupied with anything to ease the memories.

I met him in 1985.

I didn’t know it then….but he was still broken from the war…. 15 years later.

He was a functioning alcoholic.

A good one too.

He was the life of the party….

But after we married…

The party was getting old to me….

Especially after the first baby came on the scene.

I just wanted to be normal….

But he couldn’t give me normal because he was carrying the weight of an unresolved emotional trauma.

Statistics cite severe drug and alcohol problems for 60-80% of Vietnam veterans.

Divorce rates hover around 90 percent.

Somewhere around 58,000 Vietnam vets died in combat….

Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.

Over 500,000 have been arrested or incarcerated.

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 are in prison and over 200,000 are on parole.

These 800,000 men will never get back what they lost.

They will never know normal….

At least in the way it was before it was taken from them.

My veteran gave up so much promise….

So much hope….

So many dreams that have never been reborn.

He lived with years of pain….

Years of functioning dysfunction….

Years of guilt.

Until it all caught up with him….

And the self-destructible behavior cost him everything.

You see that’s what happens when we can’t cope with the pain….

The guilt….

The mistakes….

The horror of the past….

Man self -destructs.

Interceding prayers made the difference in my vets life.

There were numerous….a too many to mention, faithful prayer warriors…..who prayed for him.

Then one day….

When he could bear the burden no longer….

He surrendered to JESUS.

When the bible talks about a new creation being born at salvation…..

My vet instantly became a new creation.

What rehab couldn’t do….

JESUS did….

What an undying love from a faithful young bride couldn’t do…..

JESUS did….

Nothing the world could offer helped him in anyway….

But JESUS did.

Immediately his countenance was different.

Immediately his heart was light…

His smile was bright….

His soul was at peace.

I will never forget the conversation we had a few years back…..

He talked about how the LORD had removed all the guilt of what he had to do to survive the hell hole of Vietnam.

“All that guilt…and worry….the faces I used to dream about…it’s all gone, GOD took all that from me when he saved me, I am FORGIVEN,” he said.

GOD also took his desire for alcohol away.

He has been sober for 23 years.

What GOD has done in his life is nothing short of a miracle.

He is far from a perfect man…..

But he lives a spirit filled life of joy….

Peace….

Hope…..

Freedom….

He has health issues due to his service…

But he has JESUS….

And though life is hard at times….

And never reaches a perfect place……

JESUS helps us endure….

JESUS keeps us going…..

JESUS helps us live daily with love, laughter and vision for the future.

And now JESUS uses my vet for HIS kingdom….

He teaches Sunday school….

He witnesses and helps others struggling with alcohol….

He goes and prays with those who need a touch from JESUS….

He has led several in the sinner’s prayer.

You see…….

GOD doesn’t throw people away….

Because GOD never uses perfect people.

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No matter what emotional trauma you have suffered….

No matter what addiction or stronghold in your life…..

No matter if divorce happens…..

No matter the mistakes you’ve made with life changing repercussions…..

It just doesn’t matter to JESUS

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When you are HIS….

You are a new creation…..

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!            2 Corinthians 5:17

GOD wants to use you…

And your brokenness….

This past summer I heard a quote at a Proverbs 31 Women’s event and it gave me such hope….

“The thing that we think disqualifies us for GOD’S use…is the very thing GOD wants to use.”

Won’t you surrender to JESUS today and you can be FORGIVEN too?

If you have never accepted JESUS as your savior….there is no better day than today to become a new creation!  Please follow this link …..It’s so easy to come to JESUS!

“Getting Past Life’s Mistakes”

Do you ever wish there were “do overs” in life?

Like the stupid decisions that led to shame…or pain…or loss?

Or the lost opportunities we couldn’t see the value in when we had the chance to be something different….do something important?

How about the conversations or remarks you wish you could take back?

And the regrets of ungodly actions?

The older I get….the more I think about the “do overs” I wish I had.

If only we had the wisdom and discipline to make all the right choices….our lives would go a lot smoother for sure.

But there is hope….

Even when we make the wrong decision….GOD is there…..

If we trust him.

In Lysa Terkehurst’s new book “The Best Yes,” she shares we can’t let our mistakes make us think our life is ruined or forever soiled.

Lysa says…..

“An error is an unintentional mistake; an end is a termination. When considering the potential outcome of a difficult decision, its important to distinguish the errors from the ends in our thinking.”

 

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Even when we mess up…it’s not an end….it’s a mistake we did not intend to happen.

We CAN recover from poor decisions…if we let GOD have control of the situation.

Yes we may have to face some uncomfortable consequences but GOD doesn’t mark us off as disappointments.

In fact …. here is the kicker…..my favorite quote of the whole book……

“My imperfections will never override GOD’S promises. GOD’S promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on HIS ability to use well.”

I don’t know about you…..but this truth just pierces me deep down and makes me want to cry like a baby.

What comfort it is to know my mess ups will never disqualify me from….

HIS love….

HIS mercy…..

HIS kingdom purposes….

or….

HIS ultimate will for my life.

There is so much anointed wisdom from this new book….and I want to leave you with one more quote from Lysa to think about…….

It’s not the activities or accomplishments we string together that make lives well lived as much as it is the hearts of wisdom we gain and use along the way.”

We are going to mess up on this winding….rocky path of life, but if we will let the mess ups (errors)…teach us wisdom ……we will learn to make wiser decisions in the future.

Friend if you are mourning a poor decision and your stuck in the mire of consequences……

Don’t get discouraged……

Don’t hang your head in shame……

Don’t think your life is in a dead end……

Remember…..you are in the redeeming process…..

And what GOD redeems……

HE always uses for HIS GLORY!

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“We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so the best of who we are can emerge. What has “rushing” stolen from you?”

Taken from Chapter 2: The Way of the Best Yes

http://thebestyes.com/

“Letting Go Of The Hurt”

My heart was as hard as stone.

I had built a wall all around my fragile emotions.

I didn’t trust anyone….nor did I want friends.

I allowed circumstances to poison my heart toward all people.

I withdrew from relationships and checked out of the only social scene I participated in… which centered around church.

My husband accused me of being unfriendly.

He would go out to eat with friends….I would not.

My job became more demanding requiring me to travel….I stayed tired so it was a good excuse.

I allowed myself to only care for my immediate family.

Thank GOD I did not give up on church.  HE kept me engaged with the drama ministry I served.

My broken heart kept me desperate for GOD.

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In the midst of my internal pain, I knew GOD was the only solace for help.

I lived in this fog for about 6 years….disillusioned with loyalty….friendship….trust.

As time passed….I smiled and put on a good front…but I kept my distance.

Let me just say….distance is never good.

Distance just keeps us farther away from facing the root of our heartaches.

The LORD did many things in my life during those dark years of living in isolation.

First HE showed me how deceitful my heart was.

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I was so weak in reality….I believed the lies my feelings were telling my mind.

Not everything I felt was true.

Second HE helped me see….I can’t fix others…but I can fix my heart if I will listen and obey HIM.

HE forced me to identify the true root of my heartache…and I finally surrendered my brokenness to the only one who could restore.

You see….sometimes we spend more time looking at others hearts instead of looking at our own.

It’s so easy to pray for GOD to fix another’s heart isn’t it?

HE showed me regardless of whether certain people in my life are loyal….trustworthy….or not….HE will always be loyal…. and trustworthy.

I’ve learned not to judge all people from the hurtful experiences life throws my way.

Just because someone betrays or lets me down today….doesn’t mean a new friend will do the same tomorrow.

When I realized GOD wanted me to have friends whether I wanted them or not….I knew I had a spiritual problem.

HE let me waller in my misery until I felt the need for GODLY friendship.

HE created us for companionship…to bear one another’s burdens…to encourage….to be accountable….to love.

GOD started speaking to me about letting go…and letting others in.  One day I found a great quote by C.S. Lewis….

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

 

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We don’t need friends to survive…..

but we need them to be able to walk the path GOD has planned for us….

because HE knows the rocky roads we will encounter…..

the great fogs we will get lost in….

and the deep valleys that will threaten our existence.

HE knows the value of the friend who will listen…guide and pray for us.

I grieve because I isolated myself from so many.

I grieve because I probably appeared apathetic….maybe even arrogant.

Heartache changes us…..makes us become something GOD does not want us to be…..

Bitter….

Hardened…

Alone.

So I send these thoughts out to the big blog-o-sphere with this encouragement for you to think about…..

If you have unbelievable hurt or betrayal you are carrying around….

if hurt is causing you to isolate yourself from others…..

and pain is making you view the world through the lies of feelings….

Friend….give yourself a gift….

Let it go.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..in the grand scheme of things….the situation really didn’t matter in regard to eternity.

Are you going to care about this hurt when you are with JESUS one day?

If you know JESUS….the answer to that question is NO!

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…you lost precious memories and experiences you could have had with new friends….family….or restored friends.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..

Your heart was as hard as stone…..

And that stone heart made you cold….apathetic…unapproachable….unfriendly….judgmental….lonely.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

You have regrets….and should have done things different.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

It could have been so much different….if only you had let go of the hurt.

Letting go is a gift you give to yourself…..

And the great gift is…. you are no longer allowing hurt to jade your heart or rob you of peace and joy….it means you value your life and existence more than the negativity in your life.

Letting go is an act of obedience to GOD.

GOD’S blessing will come to you when bitterness is excavated from every layer of your heart!

Letting go of the hurt…is the beginning to restoring you.

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Tell me friend…….what do you need to let go of today?