There she is … my little, ceramic Scottie dog, Sassy, affectionately named after a beloved Scottie we had years ago. But she’s sitting on a ledge in the nativity and with a great view. I just noticed her today … one of my littles obviously relocated her to be with Jesus.
My guess is my 2-year old grandbaby, Lonnie girl, put her there. She’s so fascinated with the baby Jesus. I can’t tell you how many times he has been rocked to sleep. In fact, he was accidentally dropped once and I had to superglue his toes back to his feet.
I’ve been seeking God almost desperately these last couple of months for direction. I’m wrestling with a serious health issue that requires surgery. I’m meeting with the surgeon on Monday for scheduling. I know what I’m called to do but honestly – I’ve not had what it took physically or emotionally to show up here for some time.
My October was full of deadlines and back to back weekend speaking events – I was plum worn out in every way. But I realized from feeling poorly and the tiredness that I’ve been putting so much pressure on the calling, that I allowed the enemy to make me feel like I can’t do this ministry thing. I would have a good day and then two bad days that wiped me out, putting me in bed … it’s like riding a roller coaster.
I know my healing is coming in the name of Jesus. But I feel like I’ve let so many of you down as well as the Lord.
But this little Scottie placed in the nativity gave me a new perspective. It made me laugh at first but then I realized, the weight of writing, teaching, speaking, and sharing the gospel isn’t on me. It’s all on HIM … I just have to lead people to the nativity to get a view of Jesus – and let God do the rest.
That may sound simplistically silly to you, but God reminded me again for like the tenth time – I can’t but He can … in all things! The pressure is off in the name of Jesus!
So here’s to 2022 … with great expectations of God giving people a view of Jesus that resonates deep in their souls.
Don’t let the enemy use anything against you!
Happy New Year! May you see Jesus all around you in unexpected ways!
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
As a teenage girl full of brokenness, I wrestled hard with condemning voices from the enemy. Struggling with suicidal thoughts, I opened my green Living Bible one day and made a connection that changed my life forever.
When reading scripture, the voices stopped. When I quit reading, the voices attached to feelings of being unloved, alone, and rejected returned.
That day I fell in love with God’s Word.
I found peace in every word I devoured.
It was during this time that God called me to ministry. I didn’t know what that ministry looked like or when it would arrive, but I knew He called me to tell others how to find peace.
Where would I be without Jesus?
But the enemy is where all my hardship originates. Just as God has plans for our lives, so does the enemy.
As a teenager, he tried to snuff my life out. He tempted me to quit my marriage as a young bride. As a floundering mother, he wanted me to trust my ways instead of God’s. As a restless housewife, he didn’t want me to step out in faith and return to school. In grief, he hovered over me with depression, chaos, and rejection.
He deceived me into putting walls up around my heart to keep friends at a distance. The betrayals, the hurts, they were too painful to open my heart back up to possible future hurts.
And the Devil didn’t stop there. That wicked old deceiver has tried to take me out in other areas of ministry. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but unfortunately, the enemy will use flesh and blood to mistreat us and knock us out of fulfilling God’s call on our lives.
As Christians, we must work harder to do no harm to one another.
Go the extra mile.
Be brave enough to have the hard, honest conversations that depend on our integrity.
Love even when it’s hard.
Stand up for those oppressed even if it’s not returned.
Defend each other’s character when necessary.
Refuse to follow the lead of those who want to judge and make unfair assumptions of others.
And last but not least, forgive when it seems impossible.
I’ve wrestled hard with this … but where would I be without Jesus helping me, right?
My family and I returned from a much needed, COVID cautious vacation last week. A few days before we left, we kept our 16-month old granddaughter overnight. That precious baby girl fights sleep like a pro. I wrestled her into the wee hours until God spoke to me.
“You’ve been wrestling hard with me these last few years, Mel.”
“Yes, I have God. I’m sorry,” I whispered into the dark.
Immediately, I felt compelled to reread Jacob’s story of wrestling with God. So, on the long ride to the beach, I started reading and researching this divine event in Genesis 32. Each morning I awoke and opened my laptop to online concordances, devouring all I could about Jacob.
On Wednesday, four days after I started this study, I took my granddaughters to the pool. Sitting down in a low-to-the-ground, lounge chair, I felt a breath-taking, sharp pain in my lower back and left hip. I was in so much pain; I had to call my family to come help me.
Nothing gave me relief: ice, heat, Tylenol, nothing. I found myself in a chiropractor’s office early the next morning. I sought treatment for two days before we left for home on Saturday. Needless-to-say, it was an extremely uncomfortable ride home.
Later that evening, I opened my notes and carefully read over a few that I had compiled during the week:
The events at Bethel and Peniel are important milestones in Jacob’s life.
His nighttime face-to-face encounter with God remarkably transformed Jacob.
God renames Jacob … giving him the name Israel.
Israel means “God prevails.”
This wrestling event with God was a significant turning point in Jacob’s life.
In that moment while revisiting my notes, I heard God say … “This is your turning point, Mel.”
I gasped and immediately went to tell my husband. I realized my injury was no coincidence.
God used my sleep fighting granddaughter, the details of Jacob’s story, and my injury to bring about a turning point of a hard wrestling that’s gone on long enough.
So, these last few days, my Lord has sweetly ministered to me about my future. I’m listening, praying, taking notes, and digging deeper into His Word.
I’m grateful that He brought me the assignment to write for Proverb’s 31 Ministries, First 5 App, during this hard season. Honestly, I don’t think I would have ever written another word without the desire to study His Word and tell others. Being apart of this team kept me writing.
Where would I be without Jesus?
And truly … that’s the fuel that gets my heart going, friend … I just want you to know Him greater. I want you to realize that even when life is hard, you’re not alone. I want you to let Him lead you out of the hard wrestling of your darkest days.
I guess my simplistic mindset is that Jesus can make it better even when it’s hard because He did for me.
We live in a time of many unknowns. Loss abounds all around us. Broken hearts are in abundance … its understandable we wrestle with God and fallen world circumstances. Life isn’t fair, but don’t let what the Devil brings to harm you, cause you to quit.
But I pray you know that the answer to my question leads to hope. Without Jesus, there is no hope.
I challenge you to spend time with the Holy Spirit and let Him show you what you’ve been wrestling and why.
I pray you find the courage, to be honest with yourself. I pray that you find peace like I have so many times from His precious Word and presence.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
I pray that you have called upon the name of Jesus and made Him the Lord of your life if you’ve never done so.
The truth is, I would be as lost as a ball in high weeds without Jesus. He’s everything to me, and I desperately want you to find this hope too.
Wrestle well, my friend.
If you don’t know Jesus, this simple video from Charles Stanley will help you find true peace.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore, I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)
Did you wake up feeling defeated this morning?
Are there regretful actions or words on replay in your mind?
Did you blow it in a big way?
Girl, have I been there!
But I’m here to give you a word from the Lord. God started speaking to me yesterday about you when I went and shared the word with some sweet women in jail. You see … these ladies need hope because their life situations are pretty dim right now. So many are experiencing the consequences of their poor decisions, and they are mourning their sinful actions.
God reminded me that we all need some encouragement too.
The prophet, Jeremiah, spoke these scriptures in Lamentations to the children of Israel after they were taken captive by the Babylonian empire. The Israelites were in great mourning and despair because God’s judgment had brought the consequences of bondage upon them for their sin.
In truth, the Israelites deserved death for their gross idolatry and sin, but our merciful God spared their lives.
This scripture in Lamentations reminds us that no matter how we sin or mess up, God’s steadfast love for us never ceases. According to the Hebrew interpretation, the word steadfast far exceeds the basics of mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion.
This word steadfast translates to a “great love.” That’s the kind of love we have from God, a love that hangs in there when we are at our worst in the most challenging situations of our lives.
And no matter what … God will not break His Covenant Love. He proved that over and over with His chosen people.
Every morning that we wake up, we get another chance at making things right or learning from our mistakes.
If we’ve repented … we can start over with God.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences there may be. But it means that God in His unfathomable love will give us mercy to navigate those circumstances.
So, don’t wallow in defeat because the enemy has convinced you that you can’t overcome certain situations or mindsets. You can, in the name of Jesus! (Philippians 4:13)
Don’t think your transgressions are so bad that there is no forgiveness or redemption for you. (Acts 3:19)
Choose today to grab hold of God’s mercy and don’t look back.
With true repentance … God will pave a way of mercy that will take us to new places of hope, redemption, and victory. (1 John 1:9)
God’s got some fresh mercy for you today, friend, so wash your mind in His love and start over.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)
I scroll away until I feel that shift in my spirit. You know, the post that stops you in your tracks and feels like a dagger thrust through your back? Or it may be the purposeful or unintended omission of acknowledgment? Or the distorted or twisted comment that’s left open for personal interpretation.
Oh, the woes of social media. I’ve come to realize that I have a love-hate relationship with all things online. I’ve even limited my activity to 15 minutes a day, but of late, I haven’t had the heart to jump on for a few minutes. I don’t mean to appear anti-social or ignore those I love, I’ve just concluded that unless I am sharing God’s hope, social media isn’t helpful for my mind or emotions.
God’s used this situation to remind me of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:23:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
The apostle Paul is warning us about abusing our Christian liberty. This chapter has many precious truths, but verse 23 is rolling around in my heart and mind.
Paul refers to the Israelites self-indulgent and careless discipline that led to sin. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.
The Corinthians didn’t seek after the things that built them up them, they pushed the envelope, practicing what they could get away with and still be a Christian.
They didn’t see there were activities or even people that fractured their fellowship with God or distracted them from faithfulness.
We all have habits, people, or situations in our lives that we know are not spiritually helpful, yet our flesh wants what it wants. Unfortunately, the trade-off for gratifying the flesh comes later in circumstances that deplete us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
If we know something is harmful or isn’t beneficial to our lives, shouldn’t we run from it?
Paul warns about habits that lead to sin. He even mentions being led astray by the company we keep. (1 Corinthians 10:6-22)
He basically says, “I have the right to do anything I want, but if that anything enslaves me in sin, then I don’t need to do it. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Breaking free from those things that are oppressive, impure, discouraging, or pleasing to the flesh may be difficult, but not impossible. (Matthew 19:25)
In truth, we know what edifies our soul or what wounds or violates our consciences, don’t we?
So, I’ve started asking myself a couple of questions to get to the gut of my feelings:
Does this activity harm my emotions or distract me from God’s truths, leading to sin?
Does this activity or person splinter my peace, or do I feel encouraged?
Does this activity cause me to lead others astray?
Your gut questions may look different from mine; we each battle the flesh in different ways. But I encourage you to take a soul inventory to identify those habits or people that may be bringing you down.
Honesty with God is helping me decipher what His good and pleasing will is for me.
Yes, all things are lawful, but that doesn’t mean they are good for me.
I’ve wasted too much life on things that are not God’s best; how about you?
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Do you ever feel like the troubles of life are similar to a leaky faucet that’s constantly dripping loss?
Is there an unwanted change or a new wound that’s caught you off guard recently?
Unfortunately, that’s what we get when we live in a fallen world.
But the enemy’s plan is to pull us down emotionally, spiritually, and physically to a point where we can’t cope.
Whether you’re mourning the death of loved ones or the loss of health, a job, a marriage, friendship or even unforeseen drama, the enemy’s goal is to put you in a state of depression so that you’ll give up and react sinfully.
I experienced a serious tango with depression after the tragic loss of family two years ago. The grief of losing two family members at one time alone is enough to rupture one’s emotions, but the enemy complicated our grief with a full out assault that involved even more loss.
Depression can certainly stop the flow of life and that’s where I found myself for the entire year of 2017.
Through God’s Grace … I found my way out. The word of God is so precious to me because it was my lifeline.
The truth is … there is nowhere to take our broken hearts except to God. He is the only one who will handle them with tender care and divine guidance.
God loves you my friend. He sees your brokenness. He won’t leave your hurts undone. Take your broken heart to the Father … He’s waiting to comfort you.
Father, you tell us that you are close to us when we have a broken heart. We ask today that you remind us that you love us and want to help us navigate the hard places in life. Thank you for your promise to never leave us alone. God, show us the path to healing. Shine the light in our souls to block out the depression. Help us to pray honest prayers and to keep turning to you in every moment that we feel overwhelmed. Heal our broken hearts Lord, please. In Jesus name, amen.
Scriptures to encourage you:
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Food for Thought:
Do you have the peace that passes all understanding? Have you given your heart to Jesus to be the Lord of your life? And if you did … did it change you from the inside out? If there wasn’t a real-life transformation … there is a good chance you didn’t give your heart completely to Jesus.
As a child, I thought I made a decision at the age of 6. But years later, I realized as a young adult that I had no victory in my life because I had never made Christ the Lord of my life. At the age of 26, I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me. Praise God! I don’t know where I would be today without Him?
If you would like to ask Jesus to be your Savior, below is the Salvation prayer that Dr. Charles Stanley provides on his website. I encourage you to take inventory of your heart and honestly seek the truth. Peace, victory for living, and eternal life are only a prayer away.
Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance.
Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. AMEN.
If you prayed this prayer, I encourage you to reach out to someone and let them know. In fact, you can send me a message – I would so love to encourage and send you some materials. Your next step is to find a Bible believing church that will help you grow in the Lord. To be around other believers will accelerate your growth in the Lord.
Thank you for stopping by friend – I pray you find God in the deepest valley’s and seek Him in every way! HE LOVES YOU BIG!
Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV)
The conversation was light and friendly enough to pass the social meter test, but the pointed tone of her dialogue was lacking. It was clear that I didn’t measure up to her standards. The heart knows when it’s been embraced and this person’s distance is close enough to discern. In fact, this relationship has been a source of constant prayer for many years. I can’t put my finger on the problem, yet I know its there.
We will never know this side of heaven why people choose to see what they see in us, or rather why they don’t see what they should? Or rather what God sees.
The pain of subtle rejection is the enemy’s playground. He loves to slowly chip away at our hearts with a steady repetition of slight snubs, outright oppression, and unfair eliminations. Reminds me of the beautiful Woodpecker that faithfully drills his holes into our Bradford Pear trees outside our windows on a daily basis. He’s always at it, come rain or shine.
But knowing my worth in Christ has been a theme in a long season of healing. God has made Himself real to me by ushering in His presence when my heart is downcast. The first chapter of Ephesians is helping me see the truth of who I am in Christ and all the benefits I have as His child. I challenge you to study this chapter in depth, marking the truth statements that you can recall consistently.
Knowing the truth will help us refocus on the lavish blessings we have “in Christ.” In the past, rebuffs would cause me to focus on my flaws and shortcomings. God has made it ever so real to me that the rejection I feel is not about me, it’s all about what’s going on inside of those who come against me.
So, here are some truths that God reminded me of recently:
The measure of your worth is not found in man’s opinion. Your worth is measured by God’s unending love.
Goodness … if only we could grasp the Father’s love for us, then we would never care about man’s opinion ever again. You are beyond valuable to your Creator. He gave His son to die on a cross so that you could live and breath every day. (John 3:16) Your worth is equal to His only child’s precious blood. That’s a BIG LOVE. (Romans 8:37-39) Recall all His benefits that are evidence of His great love.
Faithfulness always outlives the enemy’s lies.
Keep showing up and being who God created you to be. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been redeemed from or the mistakes you’ve made. (Romans 8:1) God sees your faithfulness and when His purposes are exalted in your life, no man will be able to hold you back.
Show up, be faithful, love people (even those who look at you with that brow of disdain) and share the Gospel. God is for you and He is always fighting for you. (Exodus 14:14, Romans 8:31) You were given specific gifts to be used for the Kingdom, don’t let man determine your faithfulness to the Great Commission.
Regardless of our messiness, Grace is our anchor.
Fight for grace in your heart toward others and let God handle the rest. We can’t change hearts, only God can do that, but we can control how our hearts respond. Nevertheless, be encouraged! God can do a work in your critic’s heart and they could one day become your biggest fan. Where Grace abounds, trust is found. Trust God and His redemption process.
Big Love covers it all. Your insufficiency and their insufficiency. Love regardless. Love even if you are disrespected, ignored, or discouraged. Just love BIG.
From one messy girl to another, God has shown me how important love is … even if it’s from a distance or practiced in my prayers.
Not everyone will believe in you, like you, or even love you. But I share these words to encourage you to continue on in your calling. The enemy knows how to discourage you and just who to use in that process. Don’t let him mess with your future, your purpose in Christ is of Kingdom importance. Believe who you are in Christ. Think about His love for you and recall all He’s done for you in the past.
Remember, you have a Father in Heaven who is always in your corner … and that’s why YOU ARE ENOUGH!
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
The service was just starting as I found my place in the choir loft last Sunday. The music started and immediately my eyes found Jon, keeping beat with the rhythm, slightly bouncing his knee up and down. It made me smile to see this sweet boy acknowledging worship in the Lord’s house.
I first told you about Jon in 2015 and I thought it would be neat to give you an update of how God continues to bless this boy and his family.
Jon is now 20 years old and he’s still defying the odds. He’s currently a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, majoring in mathematics. He’ll be going into the engineering program in the fall semester and it’s no surprise to regularly find Jon’s name on the Dean’s list.
Employed with a major government firm, Jon does CADnet drafting and actually started this job when in high school. Every morning he drives himself across town and navigates the madness of campus parking to make his classes on time. This still makes his momma a little nervous, but trusting God with Jon is old hat for my friend these days.
If ever God’s hand has been on a child, it’s Jon.
Four years ago, right around Easter, Jon felt the Lord pursuing his heart on a Sunday morning. His older brother, David, sweetly led Jon in the sinner’s prayer as he asked Jesus into his heart. It was an unforgettable day of rejoicing for all, especially mom and dad.
Jon faithfully attends the college ministry meetings at the local Pike House Coffee shop with a determined attentiveness. There have been a few times Jon’s dutifully given the college pastor an update on the time, after all, punctuality is important for success, right?
To run into Jon in the hallways at church makes my day. He always gives me a hug and says; “Hi! How are you, Melanie?” I always reply, “I’m good, Jon, how about you?” “I’m good,” he says, always. That’s our routine, and it’s sweet.
He’s still got that wit and can land the one-liners with perfect timing.
He gets more handsome every day and he’s always a true gentleman.
And he’s now an uncle which brings a new dimension of fun for the whole family.
The obstacles that Jon has overcome in his 20 short years are a true testimony to God’s faithfulness.
Months after Jon’s birth, the unknowns for Mike and Kelli were paralyzing some days.
There were times that fear shrouded any visions of what they could imagine for their boy today.
But my goodness … God has outdone Himself with Jon.
I’ve watched my friends trust, day by day, consistently giving God glory for the victories … and it’s truly been victory after victory with Jon.
Trusting God in the darkness is hard … but what a testimony of trust we see in this family.
And so on this Light It Up Blue Day … Jon’s story is a good reminder that when we can’t see what’s up ahead … we need to remember who can.
It’s so easy to sit and think about our hurts, isn’t it? To relive the moments that cause such a ripple in our souls, right?
But are these thoughts causing you to collect wounds?
In days past, I found myself stuck in a quagmire of grief, loss, disappointment, rejection, and more since the tragic death of my step-daughter and son-in-law, two years ago.
There were days that I thought I was losing my mind, days that I begged Jesus to return, and days I just didn’t want to go on. I cut myself off from everyone and everything. I was easily hurt by everything that came my way. Unfortunately, the enemy was watching me every day, and he knew just how to complicate my grief greater.
Finally, I got tired of waking up hurting. There was a shift in my soul that reminded me that how I was living is not what Jesus died for.
It’s been quite a spiritual journey finding emotional freedom. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever come back from the hurts – and I didn’t think I would ever write again … BUT GOD!
I’m sharing a bit of that journey today on Proverbs 31 Ministries website. I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell you about the healing that God’s been leading me through these last two years.
Jesus came to free us from emotional bondage that holds us back in this fallen world! He came to give us abundant life! That means He wants us whole and walking in freedom.
I invite you to read a little about my journey and I encourage you with this thought: the best thing to do with a broken heart is to embrace God’s truth!
Thank you for stopping by today and thank you to Proverbs 31 Ministries and the Compel training program. My how the Lord has used this ministry to encourage me on many dark days – and for that, I am so grateful.
So, I’ve been quiet on this forum for some time now. I’ve never addressed it here formally – and thank you to those who have continued to reach out in messages. I’m grateful that many of you continue to read old blogs and send messages of encouragement to keep writing.
For those in faraway places who don’t know … My husband’s daughter – my stepdaughter, and our son-in-law were killed in a tragic car wreck on January 30, 2017. Our three, precious grandchildren lost their whole world that night. And I want to be clear … any pain my husband and I have felt can’t compare to theirs.
In the days and months that’s followed, the enemy orchestrated chaos and our grief’s been complicated in ways that our family should have never experienced. A lot of loss has peppered our lives and it’s still hard to comprehend. So … I’ve been quiet – not because I didn’t have anything to say … but because I didn’t like how I sounded when sour words found their way onto pages and pages of countless journals.
A lot of tears … a lot of honest prayers … and a lot of sleepless nights have come and gone over the last 16 months. We will never find a new normal because what our family experienced is flat out abnormal. It isn’t the natural order of living.
The losses and pain hurled my way over the years have left me at times asking if this life is worth living?
There have been moments that courage floundered and my faith shilly-shallied like a triple crown filly that’s thrown a shoe.
The last year’s events have brought the realization that there are defining moments in our faith that will make us ask hard questions.
Like when the unbearable happens and you almost feel like God let you down?
Is there a line that God can cross in your relationship?
Have you ever thought about that?
What it would take?
That’s rattled around hard in my brain … cause all I’ve ever known is trying to seek Him out in an imperfect life. I naively existed as though faithfulness will keep me safe from the reality of life and death trials.
I’ve wondered how in the world can the last year and a half of losses ever work for God’s glory like the verse in Romans 8:28 proclaims.
I’ll be honest … I’ve asked the Lord if all this pain is worth the glory because from where I’m sitting … I just can’t see what good can come from it.
And then after I repent of thinking thoughts that I recognize came from the enemy, I ask Him … am I living in a way that will make the loss worth God’s glory? I don’t want to mess that up.
So many questions and not enough answers for a hard thinking girl that probably thinks too much.
At the end of the day … the pain is only lessened by time, a lot of honest prayers and the word of God. That’s it. That’s all I got.
Grief is a place where you put up or shut up so to speak.
It’s where you find out if what you’ve practiced as a way of life is going to carry you through the darkness.
Grief wrestling sure ain’t for the weak -pardon my Tennessee twang.
In my grappling, I went back to the Ecclesiastes 3 scripture – you know the one about … “to everything there is a season.”
As I studied word meanings and cultural explanations, verse 7 jumped out at me.
“A time to tear … and a time to sew.”
The bible is full of people who would rend (tear) their clothes when great grief, pain, regret or even sin were a factor. We see this term a lot with those who mourn death.
As I studied further … I learned that after a period of time, they sewed their robes back together. Not only did this signify that we are to move on from mourning in time … but it’s a beautiful picture of a tapestry of faithfulness … that God puts our hearts back together … just like the garment.
The stitched-up tear reminds us of the pain … but also of the faithfulness of a Holy God to bring healing and hope again. I’ve found this truth very comforting of late.
And if this scripture in Ecclesiastes signifies anything its that God made life to be a cycle of activities. Some of those activities are darn hard, while others are joyful.
We may think sometimes that what He allows will kill us.
But in each hard place that we experience … we find balance. God balances everything with time … joy … sadness … death and new life. He leaves nothing undone … ever.
Grief has the makings of a great come back and restoration if we are willing to let God do with time and purpose what He wants to do in our lives.
It’s a fierce buckling under a Holy God that allows the incredible pressure of heartache to melt and refine stubborn hearts.
It’s hard. Just darn hard to learn from grief … but God deems it necessary to make us more like Him.
That almost seems harsh … doesn’t it?
But in truth … He knows what will make us better … kinder … more loving … more patient … more forgiving … more generous … more faithful … just more like him – period.
God allows grief with a period of mourning to measure the good things in life and to learn from the bad. And we have to fight the enemy’s schemes for grief to take us to places that we can never recover from.
Some days it feels like this time of grief will never be over … and then out of nowhere a day of pure joy will surprise us.
We still have days of overwhelming sadness and it sure makes this old girl tired.
But the one thing I have come to believe with all my heart is … grief and all of its questions have to lead us to faith … because faith is where the hope is.
If there’s no faith … you got no hope to heal, restore, or find a purpose out of the pain.
So, I’m going to keep digging a hole in my bible … and refuse feelings that want to bury me in acrimony.
I don’t want to be bitter at the losses or those who have inflicted our family with their bitterness.
I don’t want to let the losses and pain of life entomb me … because then I will be useless for the kingdom.
I’m not going to lie … it’s a daily struggle … but I know this … I have to press on in doing the right thing even if I don’t feel like it because God is in the process.
And as long as He’s here with me in this process and I’m honest with Him … the weeds of sorrow will eventually be pulled out and I’ll relish in the beauty of new growth.
Lord, Help us run to you in our deepest griefs for a shelter of protection from the enemy’s attempts to break us. Help us believe you are in the process and in the mourning. Give us faith … give us hope … and help us endure until you turn our mourning into dancing. Amen.
“As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” Genesis 50:20 (Amplified Bible)
For months I’ve lost track of life mourning the fact that some situations can’t be redeemed this side of heaven.
Some pain can never be reversed can it?
Like the death of loved ones … a way of life … relationships.
I’ve spent days in bed with my bible just trying to get a word from the Lord that would pull me out of this funk.
The enemy has used the pain and my introverted tendencies … to tempt me in walking away from the church and community in general.
The Devil loves using pain and loss to persuade us that faithfulness doesn’t matter in light of our circumstances.
But the story of Joseph has been a great encouragement these last few months.
This story has it all – betrayal, loss, oppression, dysfunction, jealously, rejection, false accusations and bondage … the list goes on and on.
And every time Joseph was oppressed … falsely accused … rejected … the scripture reminds us that God was with him.
I recently read a story about Andrew Murray who was a beloved pastor and writer in England in the late 1800’s. He suffered from debilitating back pain as a result of an injury. As he was eating breakfast one morning, his maid came to tell him that a woman was downstairs in great distress and was seeking advice or encouragement. Murray handed his maid the piece of paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice that I’m writing down for myself. It may be helpful to her too.”
The paper read:
“In time of trouble, say, ‘First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.’ Next, ‘He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.’ Then say, ‘He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.’ And last, say, ‘In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.’ Therefore, say ‘I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”
When I read this story, I realized that Mr. Murray’s advice is the exact model that God used in Joseph’s life … over and over.
Amazingly … Joseph remained faithful in all things … good or bad.
As a result, God used him to save many lives … including the lives of the brothers who hated him … yet Joseph held no bitterness in his heart for his oppressors.
Trusting God with our pain and learning to walk in the fullness of His sovereignty … just like Joseph did … can lead us to our purpose in life … if we remain faithful.
Faithfulness matters … especially when our world has turned upside down.
So, let this truth seep into every crevice of your heart …
You are here by God’s appointment … kept under the shelter of his loving wings … for His instruction to grow … within His timing.
Oh, sweet friend with the broken heart …
God has a purpose for your pain … so trust Him and remain faithful.
And that’s the Big Picture that Joseph so wisely understood.
When I look back on the people that have come in and out of my life … the enemy wants the losses to overshadow those who remain loyal friends.
We know when people pull away … when they are for us or not.
It’s obvious by their speech, actions, and heaven forbid … even in their Facebook activity (that’s a truth said in jest by the way).
It’s difficult when we realize the loyalty we give … is not always matched. And that’s okay because we know too well how human we all are.
But loyalty – that true kind that eptiomizes God in every sense of the word … has been on my mind for some time. Recently in a meeting with one of my pastors, he hit on the subject -reiterating how important loyalty is for Christians to practice.
Loyalty comes in many forms.
There is loyalty to God that says … no matter what … I’m going to be faithful to you Lord.
This determined faithfulness to His statutes and commands, compels us to do the right thing … even when we don’t feel like it.
There is a persistent, unwavering commitment to our spouse that hangs tough when life is less than perfect.
In fact, this kind of loyalty builds character. It’s a determination much like a tenacious hound dog that won’t let go of a bone.
There is a loyalty that a mother hen gives to her children.
A mother’s devotion will take on a herd of bullies even if it means being smashed like a bug in the dirt. NOBODY messes with my hairy, man, babies … and that goes for my daughter-in-law and grand-kids as well.
Then there is the sibling allegiance – like the kind my boys have.
They may aggravate and irritate each other but by golly … nobody’s gonna’ mess with any one of them … or there will be a hellacious problem.
There is steadfastness to an Alma Mater … our favorite learning institute … or die hard dedication to our favorite sports teams … and even to our preferred hobbies.
Then there is devoted constancy to the church … to God’s man in the pulpit … and to the body of Christ over all. This kind of loyalty guards against fickleness or offense.
Loyalty is vast in variety, but the one that’s wrestling in my heart of late … is the loyalty of a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
It’s a beautiful picture of walking through life’s valleys with those you value during the hard times and even the good times.
And as I’ve tried to wrap my flawed brain around what loyalty really is and means in regards to friendship … I keep thinking about what loyalty isn’t. Those descriptions are much easier to name and recall for obvious reasons, aren’t they?
You see, we all can find a reason to abandon someone … when it’s not convenient … when we’ve been hurt … when there’s no apology … or when we just want to sit on the fence and not get involved.
But the truth of that is… we can still be loyal in neutrality if we desire to. And perhaps we don’t realize when we’ve walked away from loyalty? Or, maybe we justify it by flawed reasons?
Then for some reason we think loyalty is about shifting the relational balance and standing in one’s corner. But that’s not true loyalty. It’s not about taking sides … it’s about faithful friendship, period.
But as I search the bible looking for examples of what it means to truly be loyal … I keep hearing the Spirit say … “It’s all about the love, Mel.”
“It’s all about the love.”
That’s a thought that makes me think … well if it’s all about the love … then the people that abandon us never really love us, is that right God?
Maybe … probably … maybe not.
So, if we don’t feel this love to the core … then either we don’t love like Jesus loves … or we allow the enemy to draw our intentions away … making us abandon God, and each other.
In fact, I believe the loyalty we give is equal to the love we have in our hearts. This truth is making me examine some wounded places deep in my soul.
We can always find a reason to walk away … whether it’s a righteous one can only be determined by the Holy Spirit … but the flawed words of man should never pull us away.
I’ve finally realized, if loyalty is all about love … then I need to adjust my love meter, I guess.
The truth is … there are times when it’s easy to be loyal, right?
Like when it’s not costly or when it’s righteous … when we feel it to our core. I guess that’s the love part the Holy Spirit uttered to me.
But the point is … we are all so stinking flawed … we blow it in this love and loyalty thing.
If there is anything God has taught me at all in the last 12 months … loyalty matters because it’s a reflection of God’s Covenant love.
If you’ve never studied God’s Covenant love … then you will never understand true love or loyalty.
So … I want to love better, period.
And loving better doesn’t mean that I dive in without boundaries … but it does mean that I love … without judgement … without hypocrisy … and without giving up the desire to want God’s best for those that abandon me.
Loving better means I don’t take sides and I sure as heck don’t wag my tongue.
Loving better means I forgive … and I move on to heal.
Loving better means I don’t look back.
And finally, loving better means that even if my love and loyalty is not reciprocated … I love anyway … without offense.
Loyalty may be a dying character quality to the world … but Christians can show the world a better way – if we truly love what’s important … and what’s most important is God … and each other.
Lord, May our love be evident to you and each other … by our loyalty to do what’s right.
“I got off social media, the devil was using it against me.” This message came from a sweet, young mom of two littles. I shot back, “I’m proud of you, you are a wise, young woman!” And she is. My friend gets how the enemy can lie about perceptions. She totally understands that this comparison game on social media is one big hoax, 90% of the time.
Don’t get me wrong – social media can be fun and a tool for good. I love seeing special moments in friends and family’s lives. But outside of the real moments of life, Satan has used social media to wreak havoc in our lives with this comparison sham, and it ain’t pretty, pardon the Tennessee slang.
We see the pictures posted of what appears to be the perfect person, in the ideal setting, smiling ear to ear, and making us all feel less than perfect, right? I don’t have to tell you that comparison messes us up, we know that.
My sweet, young, mama friend said that she felt like a failure when her kids were screaming and she was cleaning house like a slave – and then the glossy pictures with perfect, behaved children on the fun mom outings pop up. Needless to say, she was defeated.
The real truth behind those types of pictures is that nobody’s life is perfect – It doesn’t matter who we are – there is a mess in our lives somewhere – or a difficult circumstance we are enduring.
I really became aware of this last fall when a friend told me that we had the perfect family. That we seemed to have so much fun. I realized she perceived my life to be different from what it really is. So, I just point blank told her. We are far from a perfect family. We do have fun with each other, but we have situations that are hard for us.
For example, my husband’s PTSD from his time as a combat soldier in Vietnam. My sweet daughter-in-law, Kayla, recently said; “No one would believe how he is behind the scenes if they didn’t see it for themselves.” My husband is a charismatic, fun guy when he’s in public; however, there is a deep sadness that comes over him sometimes when he is alone with his thoughts. As a result, my children have lived life in ways that most kids will never face.
For this very reason, I am more aware than ever of the pictures I post.
Losing our precious Paula and Ronnie in a tragic wreck on January 30th has left our lives in a mess frankly. The same is true for our grandkids, they’re really feeling the loss of their parents in a messy kind of way that we will never get. That fact is, we’re all broken in ways that we will wrestle with for years to come.
So, I’m not going to pretend that my family is all that when we are not, nor have we ever been.
But the Lord gave me a scripture that brings great comfort and truth during this time:
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19
Here is the truth that I can sink my heart into … and it’s never been more true in my life than of late.
The cares of my heart are many, but God consoles through tender moments just for me.
The pictures I post are merely “pockets of joy” wrapped in imperfections.
They are moments that have been ordained by my heavenly Father to console and cheer my soul.
They are precious times when we laugh in the midst of our pain.
They are sweet, sweet memories that I cherish afterwards for days.
I wish we could all just get wise and honest about those pictures that we post in the moment. Yeah, it’s a good moment and a blessing … but it doesn’t mean life is perfect.
So, don’t let the enemy trick you into thinking, posting, or believing in something that isn’t real. Be real, share your “pockets of joy” and savor the memories.
Here’s your challenge … live your “imperfect joy moments” with the hashtag #PocketsofJOY
When Mamas cry … surely heaven gets out all the buckets, right?
And surely the good Lord knows how long that Mamas gonna’ cry, and how many buckets she’s gonna’ need?
I reckon the angels are pretty busy when Mamas cry.
In my big imagination I can see the stealth, precise movement of angel wings as they swoop in and switch out the buckets … carrying them back to heaven for safe keeping.
These blessed tears of pain manifest a deep dependence on the Holy Spirit: because being in the presence of the Spirit strengthens a Mama’s heart. Heck we are all changed when we’re in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
But oh how God works through the tears of worry that birth a hungry faith.
The bible says there is a time to cry. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
Mamas don’t pick those times … the heart does all the picking.
Mamas cry at the silly things too. The first day of school, the first time a heart gets broken, and the first time we realize our babies don’t need our help anymore.
But sometimes the biggest tears are those that bring the biggest fears. These are the most precious tears because they beg for a stronger faith and learn how to rest in a sovereign God.
God made us to cry so it’s okay to just boohoo when we’re at our Mama’s wit’s end. A good cry clears out all the cobwebs of anxiousness and lets the soul breath in the prince of peace.
God knew we needed an emotional release in this complex Mama makeup that’s wrapped up in our babies.
Even Jesus cried and He didn’t have no babies. (John 11:33,35)
So it makes sense that He knows the heart of a Mama’s cry and what He needs to do for her.
Oh you rest assured that God don’t waste a Mama’s tears. He’s just storing them up in His glory pools. One day He’ll release them like a broken dam and His glory will burst onto the scene to do its work.
Yes, He works through every tear a Mama cries.
So think about all those precious tears you’ve cried Mamas. Nothing so precious to you will ever be forgotten by your Creator … on no … He sent His son to die for those tears.
There’s a couple of sweet Mama’s I know that’s been using up heaven’s buckets lately. They are precious friends to me. One’s a grand-mama who’s taught me a lot about Jesus. The other is her daughter. These girls sure do love Jesus.
But right now they are crying because their precious, 7 year old, Johnny Sawyer, received a diagnosis of MLA / Leukemia last week.
There’s some hard days ahead of them but these Mama’s are warriors. But even warriors need some help every now and then.
I got a lot of friends out there in cyber space and it would sure be nice if ya’ll would pray for my sweet friends. Here is a link that will share more of their story. I promise … you’re gonna’ fall in love with the Dyers.
You can also find Johnny Sawyer’s Facebook page at this link. Go visit, like it … and please share it.
I don’t take this sacred place that I share my heart with you for granted. I just love these sweet Mama’s so very much and they’re just flat out heartbroken right now … they are desperate for our prayers.
If you are a Mama who knows what its like to have endless tears … will you pray, please?
Thank you sweet friends. I’m so thankful for you … and for a Heavenly Father who cares about every single tear that each and everyone of His children cry. (Psalm 56:8)
Everywhere I’ve been this week I see Christmas decorations. In the stores, in yards, and even Facebook is splattered with pictures of Christmas trees going up.
As much as I love Christmas, I couldn’t find it in me to take down my fall mantle. It has a set of broken pilgrims that stand tall and proud. If you shake the mantle … the male pilgrim’s top half will topple over, making him look like he’s been sawn in half by a magician.
I know … I need to superglue this universal symbol of gratitude together but somehow … I feel led to leave him broken. He reminds me of how I feel sometimes … broken … but still showing up and taking my place as God would have me do.
I purposely don’t want to forget the raw places that keep me close to God. I may whine at times … but the truth is … I need to see and be reminded of how desperately I need God.
Just as I write these words to you today … I sit here in mismatched pajamas … Indian style on my bed. My bible is laid open to Psalms 71 (a new favorite), there are about 10 used up tissues scattered about because I have a vicious cold.
The heating pad is on my lower back at the moment because I landed in the doctor’s office yesterday, doubled over with intense pain. It seems I have a rather angry kidney/urinary tract infection because God gave me two urethras. What a blessing right?
I’m miserable, physically, head to toe on this special day … but yet I am most thankful.
In my younger days, I am ashamed to say that I couldn’t always find gratefulness when life wasn’t all sunshine.
How about you?
Is there a situation in your life today that is swallowing up the goodness of God?
Are you wondering this morning how you were dealt the cards you are playing with?
Are you confused at how God allows the good and the bad … even from difficult people … into your life?
Yes, our infinite God allows places in life that we don’t understand … but HE is ever understanding about our plight.
Unfortunately, some of these difficult places we find ourselves in is of our own making … yet some are trials.
God wants us to learn the truths of His faithfulness through our mistakes and the trials … but sometimes we choose to check out on God in the middle of the test.
Sometimes we are walking through the wilderness and we decide to camp out for a while.
Bitterness, anger, and depression often stall us.
Just like the children of Israel, we can complain, blame God or someone else … but the truth of the matter is … we are responsible for checking out on God.
We are the ones who take our eyes off God and put them on self.
Trust me … I know.
I’ve done it too many times in years past.
So today on this Thanksgiving day … I challenge you to take your eyes off of what it is that’s stealing your peace.
Shift your focus … if only for an hour … to our faithful God who wants you to see Him today.
Make a list of the good things in your life. Then make a list of how HE has been faithful to you in the past.
I challenge you to spend some time in prayer thanking Him for all good in your life, past and present.
It’s time to shut down camp and move on.
We can choose to wallow in our circumstances or we can be grateful for what “is” good in our lives.
It’s simply an attitude adjustment my friends … one that replaces misery … with a faith in the one who created you and knows all about you.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
So what is your “everything” dear one? Will you get alone with God and figure it out today? You might just be surprised at what He shows you.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May you see our loving God through all of your circumstances today!
Change can turn our world upside down if we’re not careful. Trust me, I know. There was a time in my life when God allowed change to become my normal. I fought it tooth and nail just like an unruly toddler.
But looking back I can see God’s hands were lovingly moving all the pieces of my life around … and it was for my good.
Today I am humbled to once again share a part of my journey in a guest post over at (In)courage. If you are not familiar with this beautiful place where women connect and share their hearts then today is your lucky day!
What is (in)courage?
Founded in 2009 by DaySpring, the Christian products subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, (in)courage is a vibrant community where thousands of women have gathered since then to connect, share stories, and spread encouragement.
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I promise you will love this place to connect with others and our God … this site has certainly been a beacon of light for me in recent years.
But don’t forget to click over right here and read more about the year that God totally changed my world … for my good and His glory.
Change is messy my friends … but our Heavenly Father knows that change can bring us closer to Him if we will let it.
The waves lapped the shore as we sat side by side on the sand. Sitting with my first born, we were soaking up the beauty of the ocean. All defenses were down as he relaxed in the sun and became the brilliant, talkative boy I remember. He and his brother were excited to have tickets to a medieval dinner show later that evening.
We found ourselves in a sweet conversation that I’ll treasure forever. It started with the subject of knights and their noble causes.
As he talked … I realized boys big and small, want to live out nobility.
To have a cause gives purpose.
He continued to tell me about Roman history, naming his favorite emperors and historic battles. And then he mentioned Constantine and the significance of the cross that was put on the soldier’s shields … taking me all the way back to the crusades.
His eyes danced as he relayed historic and symbolic meanings of Christianity.
Then I asked: “Would you have been a knight, son?”
“Well yea mother” he said. “I would fight for my faith, absolutely.”
Joy swelled in my heart. When sons and daughters grow up, taking their own paths, it’s a sweet blessing when they confess what we taught.
I struggled through the years with letting go and trusting God with my boy’s future: But in all my mistakes as a well-meaning mom, I see a hairy, man boy who isn’t perfect, but he gets what it’s all about and deeply believes his faith is worth defending.
I smile and remember the time he got a perm because he wanted hair like the knight, “Arthur” in the 2004 movie.
“Girls like curls” he said with a mischievous grin.
The qualities of a noble knight are loyalty, generosity and chivalry … and my boy gets all these right. He is loyal to a fault, generous till it hurts, and he defends the weak fearlessly. He works in the medical field and is so compassionate that his patients fight over him. For all his human frailties … my boy has some mighty noble qualities.
I will forever cherish those two hours with my son that day. I saw him as a man … and not my little boy.
Too often we take this parenting thing too personal. We think our kids are a reflection of us … when they do good … and when they mess up.
But that’s just pride, because any good thing in our children is because of the Creator.
And even when they make a bad choice, it doesn’t mean we didn’t do our job as a parent.
A sweet friend recently said; “Kids do stupid things because their brains aren’t fully developed.”
How very true. So lighten up moms, our sons and daughters have to live and learn.
Our job is to keep pointing them to JESUS.
My boy immensely enjoyed the medieval dinner show that evening. He even decided to be knighted. When asked what proclamation should be put on his knight certification … he replied … “Because being a knight is awesome.”
And so as he knelt for the ceremony, the Lord of the Manor “dubbed” Sir James Matthew Porter, a knight, and proclaimed to the masses that he was granted all the rights and privileges of a noble man … “Because being a knight is awesome.” He giggles like a little girl when we talk about it.
So moms, embrace everything about your kids, big and small, quirky, normal, good and bad.
Feed their dreams, guide them through their messes and celebrate their victories.
Take every opportunity to view into their souls … because I promise, you will cherish it forever.
Wrap them in your prayers but leave their future to their creator.
And most important … give them unconditional love … just as our Heavenly Father gives us.
So on this October day 2016, I celebrate my noble son’s 30th birthday.
Happy birthday Sir Matthew. You are precious in my sight … as well as your Heavenly Father’s.
Gosh how I love you son!
Aaron- my middle son, Matt- my first born, and the Falconer
Relationships have a way of packing on the hurts. They add up with each offense, snub, direct or indirect injury, and pretty soon we find ourselves hiding in retreat.
Walls go up and we keep a safe distance. Then as time passes the enemy comes around to taunt with memories and regrets.
Pulling further away is the reaction the Devil is going for. He wants to keep us isolated for obvious reasons.
I’ve been so guilty of letting hurt feelings dictate my waning desire for friends. I’ve declared at times that I don’t need friends … but the truth of the matter is … God wants us to have friends.
Over time the guilt builds that I could have done more or I should have done this or that. But in truth … I know there have been times I have loved well.
It’s a vicious cycle that the enemy wants us to wrestle with. He wants us to walk away and give up.
He uses our imperfections to overwhelm us but kicks our victories to the curb.
These emotions can prick the heart and bleed for days.
At some point we have a choice to make. We can pull away even further or we can dig our heels in and refuse to lose any more ground in this relationship merry go round.
The Devil wants us to hop off at every turn, every slight, every instance someone withholds good from us … but the Lord wants us to hold on for love’s sake … even when the turning is infuriating, exhausting or disappointing.
The beauty of real love is endurance … an endurance that exudes a beautiful fragrance of acceptance no matter what happens.
We’re not always going to be treated right … we’re not always going to be loved … we’re not always going to give love with excellence … but the important thing is … we can’t stop loving.
The sum of our hurts should be viewed as a beautiful tapestry that gets more colorful and rich with every stitch.
It’s not a perfect tapestry that would win awards or bring a great price … but it’s one that will warm the soul … and bring a smile that proves it worth.
Relationships are a big barrel of emotions. Sometimes the good ones rise to the top and sometimes they don’t … but we decide which emotions fill the brim.
And we must never forget … nobody is perfect, nobody has it all together, and nobody can be everything to everyone.
We are flawed beyond flaws.
The Amish people are beautiful artisans. Every exquisite piece of art they carefully make is always given one simple and often unnoticeable flaw … they do this on purpose. It’s to be a reminder that no matter how beautiful a piece can turn out … there is only one who is perfect … and that is our heavenly Father.
Love forgets the imperfections … even when it hurts.
So look for the places of redemption in the relationships that make you ache.
Love without expecting love in return … and leave the rest up to the Lord.
If we will simply love … He will take the sum of all our hurts … and cover them with His perfect love … and He never disappoints because He is the ultimate friend.
Father, help us discern the emotions that can harm our relationships …and teach us to love with endurance.
This Christian walk is no bed of roses for sure. Some days it’s more like a terrifying roller coaster ride that takes you on breath taking dips and turns all while people stand on the sidelines laughing, scorning and pointing fingers at you.
Christianity certainly isn’t for the weak. And if you serve God in any capacity, you better have a thick skin because it’s harrowing out there in ‘Jesus loves you’ land.
I’ve been mistreated by more Christians than I’ve ever been by non-Christians.
We ‘Jesus loving folks’ are pretty hard on one another.
I stand up for Christ and get pummeled to the ground. I don’t stand and feel guilty for not doing so. The enemy calls me a coward while God reminds me that He gave me boldness.
Then if you are trying to live close to Christ and please Him in any sense, you got your own mess going on. The enemy tries his best to thwart, condemn and dismiss you in all regards.
And I can’t forget that the world puts Christian’s under a microscope. They wait for every fail and opportunity to call us out on scripture yet they interpret God’s word ignorantly because they don’t study context.
It’s much harder to be a Christ follower than to NOT be one at all.
I’ve been feeling this heavy weight of my faith lately.
It’s made me long for Jesus to come back every day.
The enemy keeps whispering ‘what’s the use in pressing on?’
But God is so good to sit with me and speak hope when the world is ugly.
Every stinking day, He pursues me in some way … and even more lately since my heart has been hurting.
He knows all about the heaviness of life, relationships, ministry, loss, unfair judgments, and disappointments.
He knows all about this flawed heart that struggles to process the arrows from the enemy. He knows when my reactions and thought patterns are sometimes less than pleasing as a result … and He celebrates when I get it right.
He also knows that no matter what is thrown at me … I know and acknowledge that He is all I got.
HE’S IT for me.
I’d be ruined without Him.
He’s the only reason I hang on.
So I know it may come as no surprise to you, but I’m not perfect.
Far from it.
But God recently told me that’s okay because He knows I’m trying.
I’m a pretty honest girl. There’s no pretense here. No fakeness.
You always know where you stand with me and that’s how me and God do life together.
So today as He has done so many times before … He reminded me;
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 The Message
Perhaps you are feeling a heaviness in this walk we are called to? Maybe the enemy is trying to make you feel less than … worthless?
Maybe he is using another’s actions to bring you down?
Take heart my friend … we will never be perfect and God knows this.
The important thing to remember is that we keep looking to Him and live out the righteousness of the blood that Jesus shed for us.
Perfection is over rated because it leaves out the love factor.
This love factor keeps me running back into the arms of a Savior who loves me, my flaws, my hang ups and all my hurts.
I’ll take Jesus over perfection any day. Press on my friends.
Stillness. A place my soul is learning to rest in. It’s a place where I am all alone with my thoughts and the Lord.
It’s been a gradual journey to get here. Little by little He sets activities aside, narrowing the focus to Him.
Some days my introverted side loves the quiet, other days the extroverted me wants community with hearts most like mine.
At the core of this stillness is surrender. So I press in, soaking up the truths that He makes me aware of … and for the most part I get them immediately. Then there are times when He has to thump me on the head like a ripe melon.
Today the stillness finds me at my middle son’s hospital bedside. Sickness has a way of bringing life to a halt.
So I surrender my thoughts and plans for this time … to wait, to focus, to listen, and to rest in His unwavering faithfulness.
I eagerly anticipated this day … to celebrate my risen Savior. There’s a sadness that we couldn’t be in the Lord’s house as a family today. No festivities, fellowship, or good food.
Of course Aaron’s sickness didn’t catch the Lord by surprise. So with every detail or event that the Lord allows to touch my days … I linger … waiting to hear His voice. Today in the quiet He reminded me of a few simple constants that my heavy heart needed to recall.
1 – When life takes a curve rendering you helpless and powerless … He is fighting for you and stands guard over every overwhelming detail.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes. Deuteronomy 1:29:30
2- When you are tempted to worry … pray instead.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
3- Let your faith kick in.
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24
Yes sometimes those directives are easier said than done, especially if fear creeps in. But though we go through these life bumps … He hasn’t deserted us.
In fact, it’s for the sicknesses we have … that He hung on a cross and died.
It’s for the many regrets that nag our memories … He willingly laid down His life.
For all the brokenness, the mistakes, the hurts, the barren places … for every inadequacy we are or feel … He became the sacrifice.
And finally the stillness reminded me that … one day when I see His face … all the longings in this patched up heart will become obsolete. He will fill in all the cracks of my soul with a love that completely fulfills.
I’ll be whole. What a comfort. What a faithful Savior.
So if and when you find yourself at a place where you are forced to be alone with your thoughts … there is a good chance the Lord wants to remind you of a few things.
It’s good to hear from the Lord.
I challenge you friend … Don’t resist the stillness.
What circumstances tempt you to intervene or provide a solution?
What are you afraid will never change?
Fear is a life sucker for sure.
If I had a dime for every time that fear has caused me to step out of the will of GOD … oh my … I would probably be sitting on a tropical island this very moment drinking a little fruity drink with a tiny umbrella … non alcoholic of course.
Oh the Spiritual and emotional ground that fear can steal.
Fear of loss, fear of the future, fear of man and what he thinks.
King David grappled with fear many times. We see this in the scriptures as he ran for his life … crying out to GOD … begging rest from his enemies.
But David’s struggles and victories, give me hope.
The Psalms he penned all those hundreds of years ago reveal a man who was desperate for GOD to show up.
How many times have you been desperate for GOD to show up in your life?
Maybe you are desperate right now?
David landed smack dab in the middle of desperation. The man after GOD’S own heart was on the run from a jealous, King Saul who wanted to kill him.
In first Samuel 21 we learn what fear made David do. He lied to Ahimelech, the priest, claiming to be on a special assignment for King Saul. In addition, he faked insanity before King Achish of Gath.
David reacted to fear in extraordinary ways to say the least. And in truth … his actions were not customary to his true character.
Can you relate? What has fear caused you to do that went against the grain of your conscious? Your character? And even your faith?
Oh the story gets better. David flees Gath and continues to hide from Saul. In chapter 23 of 1 Samuel, David finds himself faced with fleeing again after he helped Keliah defeat the Philistines. Once again, GOD reveals to David that Saul is coming for him, so David flees.
David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but GOD did not deliver him into his hand. 1 Samuel 23:14
And Saul sought David every day … but GOD did not deliver him into his hand.
Oh my … sweet friend … just like David, we are fleeing and fighting for our lives in so many regards. And yes the struggle is real … it’s exhausting … it’s discouraging … but GOD is in control of our situation.
Let me prove that HE sees and cares about what you are going through.
“When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David, and he came down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain; and David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them. But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing David and went to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape. 1 Samuel 23: 25-28
Oh my! Did you just see that? GOD sent the Philistines as a distraction to draw King Saul away!
How cool is that?
Oh friend … GOD sees your fear … your desperation … and HE is working on your behalf … even though you may not feel or perceive it. Time and time again we see GOD’S faithfulness played out on the pages of His historical word.
So what can we take away from this encouraging story about David?
1 – We must guard against fear causing us to sin … and turn away from GOD. We must not step out in flawed wisdom and make poor choices that separates us from GOD’S presence and will.
2- TRUST GOD in the overwhelming moments of fear. Get honest and cry out to Him just like David did in the Psalms. Pour out your heart and pen your own Psalms to the Creator.
3- Never underestimate the omniscient GOD who sees everything … especially what we can’t see. HE knows the exact moment of our deliverance and it will be right on time.
4- Believe that HE is always working on your behalf. He is your defender in all regards.
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4
5- Openly rebuke the enemy who brings fear into your life. If you have been born again, you have authority over Satan in the name of JESUS. Don’t let him put fear on you.
6- Trusting GOD protects your peace of mind. You can’t fear and trust GOD at the same time. GOD doesn’t contradict himself in that way. Trusting GOD cancels out fear.
We have a COVENANT GOD who promises to never leave or forsake us. Man will let us down, but GOD will never forsake us.
Sweet friend, won’t you let a trustworthy GOD take care of your fear?
Do you say a quick prayer on your way out in the mornings … or do you often forget? Do you find yourself praying as you turn out the light only to fall asleep and not finish talking to God?
Prayer is a discipline for sure … but did you know that the enemy does whatever necessary to keep you from prayer?
“The enemy will seek to discourage you from doing it. Dissuade you. Disarm you by putting a distaste for prayer in your mouth. He wants to see you passionless, powerless, and prayerless.” Priscilla Shirer
Everyday we are at war.
The enemy has a plan to spiritually bankrupt our lives.
Across the pages of Priscilla Shirer’s book, “Fervent,” there are nuggets of wisdom and strategy. In order to do battle, we have to know how the enemy attacks. We can be sure that everyday he will come against our passion, focus and identity.
He will stop at nothing to attack our families, our confidence and calling. He lies in wait to take our purity, our rest and contentment. He goes after our hearts by wounding and soaking them in anger, hurt and unforgiveness. In addition, he goes after our relationships, causing dissension in our families and the body of Christ.
Many times we don’t recognize the enemy for what he is and does. That very use of deception is part of his strategy; however, we must learn to discern when we are being attacked and battle back.
Its time to do battle on our knees.
Priscilla says … “You and I can come to the Father through the mighty name of Jesus. We can pray like the victorious saints of God we’ve been empowered to be.”
She says that some days, prayer can start out simply as an obedient appointment, an act of discipline, because its the appointed time that we said we’d be there.
If only we’d keep that appointment like we do a needed doctor’s appointment when sick? What could God do in our lives?
Priscilla says that a good place to start is praying specific scriptures and promises from God’s word. You can never go wrong praying scripture. Often times I will pray Psalms 1 and insert my 3 sons names where the pronouns flow.
“Blessed is Matthew that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But Matthew’s delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth Matthew meditate day and night. And Matthew shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth for fruit in his season, Matthew’s leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever Matthew doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
That’s the beauty of God’s word … when we don’t know what or how to pray, we can go to scripture.
Praying God’s word simply turbo charges our prayers by reminding God of His promises … and friend, God is the ultimate promise keeper.
Is your prayer life lacking?
Do you have no desire, focus or passion to pray?
Are you hungry for breakthrough and real change? .
There are countless stories and testimonies to fuel you faith and show you just what prayer can do in our lives. Priscilla will walk you through the areas of life the enemy attacks and give you practical application that is easy to follow and incorporate into your daily life.
If you need a strategy against the evil one or wisdom to discern his attacks, this is the book for you. If you long to see God move and restore your passion, peace and contentment … this book is a must have.
Nothing in our lives can change unless we petition the one who can change our circumstances.
“Fervent” is a prayer tool that every Christian needs in their tool box.
Priscilla gives the charge … we are all called to pray. What are you waiting for?
A long day of labor turned into an emergency C-section; yet 27 years ago today, a beautiful, bouncing boy with olive skin and big brown eyes, roared like a baby lion upon his arrival.
I remember being despondent over less than favorable prospects in my life. With one baby already, I felt weary thinking about the responsibility of another little life.
My husband didn’t know the Lord, and a new baby certainly didn’t encourage him to get help for an alcohol addiction. He made unwise decisions in numerous drunken stupors including quitting a very profitable job just months before Aaron’s birth.
That Christmas I felt hopeless. Two babies under the age of three, no money, and an unemployed, alcoholic spouse … the future made me very afraid.
We took our new baby home on Christmas eve and my emotions were bouncing around as though they were inside a pinball machine. I pushed through the day because my little Matthew eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa.
Desperate to provide a normal Christmas, I crawled up in bed with Matthew, baby Aaron, and a bible. Reading scripture from Luke, I told my little boys why we celebrate Christmas. I kept it simple … but my smart Matt seemed to understand that JESUS was a special baby.
As I fought back the tears … little eyes soulfully sparkled with childhood wonder … and in that moment … I felt hope.
Suddenly, this miserable mommy with dismal prospects understood why HE … JESUS, came to earth as a baby.
The realization that JESUS came to give me life … an abundant life, free from chains and worldly pits of sin and consequences … spawned hope from despair.
Supernaturally the HOLY SPIRIT lifted the heaviness from my heart … and in that moment I knew … my future would be better than the hopeless place I wrestled.
I go back to that Christmas eve every year when we celebrate Aaron. The Lord always uses this day to remind me that new babies mean new life, and no matter what …
There is always hope because of the baby JESUS.
So I send these words out to those who are feeling hopeless today.
No matter how dark your world may seem right now …
No matter what the circumstance is …
No matter the diagnosis … the loss … the betrayal … the loneliness … the heartache and misfortune …
No matter the poor decisions … the imperfect situation … the longing …
No matter what life change that’s turned your world upside down …
Because of JESUS … there is always hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
I encourage you sweet friend … ask the Father to fill you with the HOPE of Heaven that came down in a little baby … over 2000 years ago.
Merry Christmas my friends.
Click here to Worship JESUS this Christmas. Music by the group “Downhere.”
Happy 27th birthday sweet Aaron. You are the best Christmas present I have ever received.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF-CONTROL. Against these there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Often times I have the love, the peace and all these things under control … except … the very last command … self-control. It comes in a form of discipline because of my ADD. I have to work really hard to keep my mind from going a million places. And because it’s hard … I am tempted to take the easy route and give up at times.
Do you struggle with self control? Disciplines issues?
If we have no self-control … our desires for pleasure and comfort will quickly become our master. This is a very dangerous place – for then this “unholy master of self” will lead us to sin and hinder our spiritual walk.
If our SPIRITUAL Self does not govern our physical self … Satan will move in and make strongholds in our life because of our lack of self-control.
The flesh wants what the flesh wants … so does the enemy.
We must constantly be on guard for areas in our life that can get out of balance. Too much or not enough of anything … can ruin us … just like a vine that can drown or starve from water.
Remember today … The enemy is at work to distract and discourage us. His methods of madness include condemnation and obstacles of the mind and flesh. He knows our weaknesses and will capitalize on the vulnerable places that render us weak.
The last thing the Devil wants us to do is become all that the Lord has created us to be. The last thing the Devil wants to happen is for us to walk in our destiny and fulfill all the kingdom initiatives the Father has for us to accomplish.
So today – be on guard – but pray for self-control in order to keep all areas of life in balance …. and put your mind on the Father.
HE has given us the HOLY SPIRIT to help us in all things. HE is the key to overcoming the flesh and living the life HE has called us to live.
“This I say then, WALK in the SPIRIT, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
She was funny. Kind. A go-getter. She definitely knew her stuff … and was nothing like the horror stories I’d been told. And trust me … the stories were not good.
I was new to the company and it was my first time meeting the regional manager. I was quite nervous … but pleasantly surprised when she finally arrived at my store.
We got along well. We accomplished much … and though she was 20 years younger, I realized this young lady had paid her dues and worked hard.
At the end of the visit, I told her …. “Dayna, you are nothing like I expected.” Her reply … “Yea, I know all about the rumors that fly from region to region because I do my job by the book. But that doesn’t matter to me Melanie, I’m a rule follower. Those that don’t follow the rules will always have a problem with me.”
That was a valuable lesson for me that blead over into my faith.
A very wise man named Bryan, once taught me …
“We must always believe the best about our brothers and sisters in Christ … regardless of what we have heard or think.”
Every time I meet someone who’s reputation precedes them or is attached to questionable and spicy details … I remember this.
There is scientific proof that every time a story is retold … the individual telling it manages to embellish it a little in some way.
And then we decide to believe it.
As my daddy always told me …
“There are two sides to every story.”
It takes two to tango … and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Chances are … the real truth will get lost in translation.
So why should it matter to a Christian if the story is accurate, partially accurate … or not?
How should we handle our attitude when we’ve been told details that may or may not reflect this person’s true character or what really happened?
When we allow the influence of the relayed story … to affect our opinion of this person … or it causes us to judge this person’s every motive … or treat them different … we do the Father no good in this grace exchange.
In a court of law, a story being retold by a third party is called “hearsay” and it’s not allowed to be considered by the court for the final outcome.
If only we could adopt this “hearsay” policy as Christians, my, my… what the body of Christ would look like?
Honestly ask yourself these questions.
Every time I see this person am I mentally recalling the relayed experience?
Have I purposely withdrawn from or excluded this person?
Am I guilty of examining their motives?
Is there something deep inside of me that wants to believe the worst about this person?
If so friend … we might as well throw grace out the door and stop saying we believe in the redemptive blood of Jesus … because regardless of what did or did not happen … we are not obeying the Matthew 7 principle …
“Judge not … that ye be not judged.”
We are merely sitting ourselves up for the same standard that we are practicing … in regards to how poorly we are treating them.
Let’s just look at this from another angle.
So let’s say it is true? Do you want to be reminded of certain things you did wrong in the past? Especially if you are trying to live for Christ?
I don’t know anyone who’d want their past rubbed in their noses, would you?
That is a tactic of the Devil called condemnation … a blood bought Christian who claims to love Jesus does not condemn.
And then what if you find out one day … the story was not exactly accurate? What if the story was told from a guilty … angry … jealous … or even vindictive perspective? Or what if you learn the person isn’t at all what you were deceived to believe?
What a weight that would be right? To think we judged someone based on another’s lies, misinformation or our own condemning thoughts. WOW.
And a key point to remember … everyone is flawed … every single one of us.
So the next time we are tempted to treat someone different based on what we’ve heard …
Try to remember this … Satan is running circles around us … whispering untruths, dissension, accusations and condemnation in our ears.
I know you are thinking …. how can we know if what we are hearing is from the Devil?
If the thoughts you are having contradict God’s commands … then your thoughts are from the Devil.
If the thoughts you are having creates animosity, criticism, confusion, anxiety, disunity or dissension … instead of peace … then your thoughts are from the Devil.
Or if the thoughts you are having are full of condemnation … rather than grace … guess what? Your thoughts are from the Devil.
Choosing to believe “hearsay” speaks volumes about our character.
The only truth we know is … we will never know what really came down in certain situations concerning relayed stories. And … we will never be able to correctly judge someone’s character or motives … period. We’re not God.
None of us want someone to think the worst about us right?
So because of this fact it’s important to remember …
We are all terribly, flawed humans … therefore, we must operate in grace … because grace gives birth to grace …
And dad blame it …how lost would we be without grace?
I felt invisible. I sat in a room full of chatty women, feeling out of place. Others were being greeted or engaged. I sat alone and unacknowledged. Regretting the decision to show up, I contemplated slipping out. No one would notice I surmised.
Introduce yourself, you’re not shy….my muddled mind reasoned. So I did, to the lady on my right and my left, and that’s as far as it went. Though this happened years ago in a professional business setting, I still remember that feeling of being all alone.
I left that event thinking women are catty. Had just one person smiled or included me, I wouldn’t have felt so dejected. I resolved that in the future, I would seek out the lonely soul in the crowded room and make her feel welcome, set her at ease, and make her feel special.
How do we get so caught up in ourselves that we can’t see the uneasiness or timidity of a sister? Why is our focus streamlined to bling and importance? Why do we value some over others? Have we grown so insensitive?
I’ve often thought about the emotional damage that cliques can cause. When we advertise our girl’s night outings on Facebook, how does that make our sisters feel to know they weren’t invited? Is it possible God would want us to use discretion with our posts?
When committees are picked because of who we like to hang out with and not on the individual’s merits….how does that glorify God? When seeking to have relationships with only those who are highly respected or wealthy….how does that glorify God?
Over and over we see examples of Jesus reaching out to the outcasts, the lonely and the lowly. Repeatedly we see Him make the point that everyone matters and everyone has purpose. Even the little children were precious in Jesus’ eyes.
The bible gives us warning….
“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:9
Plain and simple, when we show preference to certain people, we sin.
Job tells us….
We are all created equally….and God loves us each as if we were His only creation.
We dishonor God and mar our influence by picking and choosing who we deem worthy of our attention or company.
It takes Godly character to refuse getting caught up in favoritism. It takes a desire to please God and a resolve to be different.
Being left out or overlooked tends to make one withdraw. Our actions must never cause a sister to withdraw from fellowship.
In God’s economy, everyone matters.
We must never underestimate the burdens of a sister who just wants a place to belong.
A simple word of encouragement or a welcoming introduction can fill an empty emotional tank, sending that lone soul on a cruise of uplifting sentiments for days.
As Christians, our reputations will only be as Godly or ungodly as our actions.
Tell me friend, will you be the one in your group to make a sister feel like she really matters?
I’ve been studying Romans 8 and God has been speaking to me about specific things in my life that Satan uses to push my buttons.
You see, we all have very vulnerable flesh patterns. We all struggle with different things that can pull us out of operating in the spirit…..and instead…operating in the flesh.
So as I looked at this over and over, it occurred to me that – first we got to get it through our minds – to remember that at salvation – the old self was crucified. (Romans 6:6)
Therefore the Holy Spirit lives in us…and seeks to fill (control) our entire person.
If I truly believe HE changed me at salvation – I will live like I believe it. I accept by FAITH….that the old self was crucified….and believing is half the battle my friend.
So here’s what it says in Romans…..
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5
Here is the key friends….hang with me here…..
Today….ask yourself….What’s your mind set on?
What is your focus on?
Is it things of the flesh that are occupying your mind?
The worries of the world? The fears? The secret places of pride that we can’t go to in our heads? Is it the love of material things? Is your focus something sexually impure ? Is it bitterness, pain, grief or a judge-mental attitude? Are you stuck in the past? Is there unforgiveness sleeping in your heart? Do you worry about what others think of you? Is it greed, jealousy or dishonesty?
To live independently of the Spirit means we operate in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.
We all have different struggles…..God spoke to me about the desire for comfort, worry, doubt, and fear…..
Whatever your flesh struggle is…..you don’t have to live this way any longer.
We can’t operate in the Spirit when the enemy is controlling our minds….. that my friends is a stronghold.
Yea- good little Christian boys and girls can talk about how good God is, how faithful HE is, go to church or read the bible….. and then turn right around and walk in the flesh on a daily basis.
This is where the rubber hits the road. If we truly believe HE overcame absolutely everything wrong in us when we came to salvation….then we will operate in the Spirit….not the flesh.
So whats the solution? How do we apply this knowledge from here?
First – we confess. We confess every stinking, fleshly thing that is dominating our focus and our body.
Second – we accept that HE changed us by faith at salvation and we start desperately seeking the Holy Spirit on a minute by minute basis. Dig in the word of GOD and find all scriptures that pertain to your flesh bondage. Fall on your face and cry out to GOD for help to rely on the Spirit.
Third – When you fall….oh and you will….you get back up and repeat steps 1 and 2 and start again. You keep pushing and fighting for your focus to be saturated by the Holy Spirit! And before you know it…..you’ll fall less and less as you follow the Spirit constantly.
It takes will…it takes effort….but if we do….the Holy Spirit will help us do the rest.
So are we going to believe and “LIVE” like we are filled with the HOLY SPIRIT?
Or are we going to allow the enemy to control our minds by holding our flesh hostage to the things that push our buttons?
God gives us the free will to choose…flesh or Spirit.
Oh sweet Lord….help us choose wisely today and everyday.
Is it humming right along with the upbeat Christian song playing on your radio? Or is it sitting in the middle of the wilderness….wallowing in despair?
Does it take a dive and slowly climbs back up to the peaks and then falls again, like a roller coaster ride?
Oh how important our faith meter is in this life.
Faith is the courage to our convictions.
Faith is the assurance to God’s promises.
Faith is the confidence of you future.
But if your faith is broken….your future is broken.
Today we finish up with our final sign in the blog series…”Four Signs You Are Living A Life That Matters.”
And so our fourth and final sign is….
You are walking by Faith.
Now you may say…Oh Mel…I am walking in faith. I believe Jesus came to die for me…and HE rose again.
Well great…you hit the salvation absolute on the head!
But is it possible that we can believe in GOD; yet we don’t believe that HE can do specific things in our lives?
A verse in Ephesians eludes to exactly what GOD can do for us….
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20
Simply put….GOD is telling us…..”Hey child….I can do more than you ask or think of. And not only a little….but exceeding abundantly…beyond your imagination!”
Why do we believe JESUS came back from the dead; yet, we struggle with believing HE can do big things for us?
Coming back from the dead would logically seem the harder thing to believe…wouldn’t you say?
That’s kind of contradictory isn’t it?
I must admit…I haven’t always hung my hat on total faith in GOD.
But HE started taking me to places that only HE could lead me through…and little by little I started learning that….HE’S the only one I can depend on.
And depend on HIM I do….for hope, for joy, for provision, for guidance…and healing. And through my roller coaster ride… something glorious started happening between me and GOD….…I started loving him….and loving him more…and then a little more….and more….and more….now HE is everything to me.
And the more HE shows me, the more I love HIM.
The more HE does for me, the more I depend on HIM.
The more I obey HIM, the more HE blesses me.
And through this gradual metamorphosis of my soul….I’ve learned to listen for those directives that lead to my calling. That calling that has word nerd written all over my DNA and satisfies my soul.
I see it clearly now.
So I step out and walk in faith toward the calling HE is working out as I love on people with words.
I don’t seek fame or fortune…I am compelled to share hope….I can’t not write about how good and faithful HE is.
So what about you?
What does walking in faith look like for you?
Is HE waiting for your total surrender to trust HIM in the murky places of life?
Is HE longing for you to love HIM more than anything in existence?
Is HE telling you to go to the mission field? Adopt a child? Or just wait on HIM to divinely cradle life in your womb?
Is HE leading you to directives that involve finishing your education to prepare for the next level?
Does He want you to change careers and work for purpose….. instead of money?
Sell everything you own and start a ministry?
Is HE calling you to forgive? Let go? Trust HIM to vindicate you?
It takes great faith to do any of the above….and it may require a great sacrifice; but in the end….when your life is said and done…..what will really matter?
Will it be your bank account, the car you drove or the house you lived in?
Will it matter that you traveled the world or saw the Eiffel Tower?
Will it matter you lived for selfish pleasure or for others?
What will be of value if you don’t live the life GOD is calling you in faith to step out to?
Will it matter in eternity?
Walking in faith is the key to living in the present…. living with purpose….. And living with a sense of urgency. You’ve got to have faith to do all three!
I want my life to count for something. I don’t want to face JESUS one day and realize HE had so much more for me…….if only I had stepped out in faith…..lived with urgency….lived in the present….and with purpose.
I challenge you to sit down and take an inventory of your life. How is your faith meter really?
Do you believe HE can do big things in your life? If yes…why are you not walking in faith toward those things?
Do you worry about what others will think of you? Well quit worrying because that thought is of the Devil.
What will your life reflect after you are long gone friend? Bold faith? Purpose? Wisdom? Faithfulness?
Don’t run out of time friend……
As long as you are breathing….you can start living a life that matters…today.
Close your eyes and imagine you are on a game show called “The Time Of Your Life”.
The premise is you have certain chores, activities, events and accomplishments to choose from as sand trickles down through a giant hour-glass to the left of the stage.
As you pick up the numerous cards labeled with life events and run to place them in the designated slots…..the sand escapes faster by the second. With each trip across stage…you have to choose which life event to pick up because you can only take 2 at a time.
As the sand escapes grain by grain…you barely get your last two cards placed. Your breathless as the game show host takes inventory of your life. Your eyes dart back to the tower holding all those cards you didn’t get to.
That trip you wanted to take….. didn’t make the cut. The graduations of your grandchildren….didn’t make the cut. That degree or dream that seemed elusive…..didn’t make the cut either… all because you chose something else in its place.
Reality sets in….You ran out of time.
A deep sense of sadness captures your emotions.
There are things left….undone. Dreams unmet…you feel as though your life was not truly satisfied.
Today we are in our third day of “Four Signs You Are Living A Life That Really Matters.”
So let’s dig into point number three……
You live life with a sense of urgency.
My husband says…….
“Life is like a roll of toilet paper….the closer it gets to the end…the faster it goes.”
There may be a little Forrest Gump echoing in this sentiment but its truth.
The Psalms tell us…..
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
The Hebrew meaning of “teach” is….to perceive, to discern, or to be aware of.
Living with a sense of urgency means you are wise enough to perceive….your time here on earth is limited, so make healthy and wise choices.
Living with urgency means you discern that GOD has a specific calling for you to fulfill.
Living with a sense of urgency means you are setting and reaching goals.
Living with urgency means you are praying fervently just because you can and should.
So what are you putting off?
What or who are you taking for granted?
What is that deep desire that you keep tucking away under your heart?
What is that “thing” God is telling you to be brave about?
Urgency is a must in a Christian’s life. We have but just a small window of time….what we do with that time matters greatly in regards to eternity.
What you do with your time will determine a life fulfilled or left undone.
Will you be ashamed of what you did with your time when you come face to face with JESUS one day?
Will HE find you faithful? Obedient?
Will you have any rewards to lay at HIS feet?
I challenge you to spend some time taking inventory of your life…and what you’ve done with it.
What is still left for you to do?
What has GOD been speaking to you about?
What activities in your daily 24 hour span…really have value and matter?
Be aware my friend…be aware of every minute in your day….and seek to eliminate the clutter. Will that hour long television show or extra round of golf…. really matter when you walk into heaven one day?
Living with a sense of urgency….means you don’t waste the time GOD gives you.
And don’t miss this beloved…..living with a sense of urgency means you don’t omit the precious moments in life that will never pass your way again…..like the skinned knees, the glorious sunset shared with a friend, the wet, little kisses of little ones, the last dance at the wedding, the smile for a stranger, the wagging tail that greets you with joy….or that precious time in early morn when the FATHER is waiting for you to start your day in HIS presence.
Living with urgency means you value the air in your lungs and realize one day it will be gone; therefore, you don’t leave the precious and eternal things….undone.
Tell me friend….are you making the most of your time here on earth?
You know the unsatisfying feeling in your gut that you were created for more?
What about that restless feeling? Or the gnawing sense of feeling trapped?
It’s like being stuck in the movie “Ground hog Day” right?
Day in and day out, you are just going through the motions. Nothing seems to change.
When I was a stay at home mom, the enemy had convinced me that I had no purpose in life besides being a mom. It wasn’t until my kids were becoming teenagers did I realize how very important that season was.
Oddly I felt as though I had wasted opportunities. I even listened to the lie that I would never be used of GOD because of my past.
The enemy doesn’t want you to think that GOD has something for you to do in this life.
Oh beloved…..please don’t believe him.
Your past doesn’t matter to GOD….but your future does.
Satan maims our outlook by dragging us through our cluttered past.
Everyone is born with a purpose.
I think we miss it too often.
What are you good at?
What obvious talents do you have?
What are your passions?
Who do you think gave you these attributes to your personality?
GOD of course…..weaved straight into your DNA.
GOD made you a one of a kind. No knock offs of you beloved….you are an original.
GOD will never draw you to do something HE has not already given you the ability to do.
HE may desire you to develop those abilities, get more education or hone those talents…so that you can be more effective….but make no mistake….HE has something for you to do.
Today we talk about purpose as we continue in our series of the “Four signs of living a life that matters.” The second sign is….
You live life with a purpose.
Every day that you climb out of bed….know that GOD has something for you to do.
HE not only gives us a purpose for our life…but HE gives you a specific purpose to accomplish for every day.
This life is not about pleasing our flesh…..when we please the flesh…eventually we are dissatisfied…there is no true, lasting happiness.
This life is about being light bearers in the image of GOD.
If you can lighten someone’s burden by giving a helping hand….that is your purpose for the day.
If you can wash peanut butter and jelly off of a precious, chubby faced toddler….that is your purpose for the day.
If you can serve, love, or encourage by dropping off a meal for someone who’s lost a loved one, or just send a note through the mail sharing hope….that is your purpose for that day. The scriptures tell us…..
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
HE made us to share HIS love. But…those talents and attributes that are unique to you….HE wants you to use those gifts for HIS GLORY.
If you determine to find your purpose for each day…..everyday…something along the way happens. As you seek to be the light for someone….you are learning to be sensitive to the leading of the HOLY SPIRIT. Stay with me here……
As you respond to that urging of the SPIRIT….using your gifts in some simple way….HE starts leading you to new places. I promise you!
When you give more of yourself to GOD….HE takes delight, and sees your obedience.
The more obedient you are to HIM…the more HE will trust and use you.
Start where you are at…using what you have….for whoever GOD has put in your life for that day or season….and you will be amazed how GOD will bring you to the purpose you were created for.
And be mindful…there are different seasons for your purpose. Just because you may be limited or feel stagnant for a time….be faithful….just like the Winter, Spring, Fall and Summer brings change, growth and new life…. the same will be for the purpose you were created for.
Determine to live every day with a purpose….make a difference…be the light.
When your life is over….will how you lived have value?
I’m not talking about matters of melancholy……
I’m talking about living a life that matters.
Time is painfully deceitful.
We think we have plenty of it to do what we want in life, or someday we will arrive at what is meant to be.
But the truth is we’re always putting things off….dreams, goals, education, good deeds…ministry.
I look back and kick myself for losing 10 years of life in what was a very dark period. I don’t know what is worse….wishing our lives away to dodge the bumps and hit the highlights…. or being stuck in the past?
Will it matter that I even walked the face of this earth?
Will GOD be pleased with me?
Or will HE be disappointed because I didn’t live up to the potential HE weaved into my DNA?
What about you?
Are you living with purpose?
Are you stuck living in the past?
Do you think you have plenty of time to get to those dreams in the future?
Does your life reflect value or fleshly causes?
Over the last 3 years my life has changed drastically….for the good…..but it wasn’t easy to face this simple truth……
“You can’t change your life until you change your choices.”
Miserable in a dead-end job traveling and working for a foreign company that did not value me, I prayed for a way out. GOD answered and brought me a new job working for Christian owners.
Battling health issues like blood sugar problems ….out of shape…poor sleep habits….I didn’t feel great on a regular basis. But I changed my habits…I lost weight and I can accomplish more now.
Being the book nerd I am, my dream to write words to impact people beyond the stage, was just a faraway dream. Then I stepped out in FAITH – believing the LORD was calling me to share hope and just be real….just be me.
No longer am I putting off my future.
As I reflect back…..I see years wasted, hope deferred by fear or lack of faith, and missed opportunities.
Does the landscape of your life look the same? Regrets….waste….shaky faith?
As long as we are still breathing…there is time to live this abundant life that JESUS sacrificed HIS life to give us.
So I lay my heart out for you…. to share what GOD has shown me…and just maybe it will help you.
I’ve decided to give you one sign a day for four days….just so you can let it soak in and pray about what GOD may be speaking to you.
HE is so sweet to show me things in my obsessive thinking….perhaps you can relate?
Four Signs you’re living a life that matters
1. You’re living in the present.
Living in the present means we’re not looking back at loss or the good ole days. We can’t see the future if we are always looking back. It’s not healthy and it’s not wise to long for days that have come and gone.
GOD has a new day waiting and it’s our responsibility to go forward. HE clearly tells us in Jeremiah…
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11
I love the old Hebrew King James Version of this verse – there is so much depth to specific words. “End” translates to reward, posterity, and a remnant.
Even though end may sound final, in GOD’S economy…it means we have blessing awaiting us. Even if we’ve blown it…we can try again and there is still hope in a remnant of blessing.
There is no end in GOD’S kingdom….if you are HIS child….you will live in HIS love infinitely.
And backing up to the word “thoughts”….it translates to imaginations, intentions, purpose and plans. This is so beautiful; I don’t want you to miss this….
GOD is dreaming for you.
Isn’t that cool? HE’S thinking about what will be best in your life…what goals you can rock and what lives you can affect for good. This fact… just wrecks me.
Write this on your heart beloved…….GOD is dreaming for you.
Living in the present means you are living in expectation of the future GOD has for you, and not looking back.
Don’t let the enemy rob you of your future by holding you hostage in the past.
GOD has a new path….a new beginning and a new work HE wants to do in you.
So let it go…whatever is hanging over your head….let it go. Be present in what today has waiting for you.
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Let this permeate your heart today….HE wants to do a new thing in you!
“I could never put something so personal on Facebook. Can you imagine what people would say about me?” I asked.
My husband and I were having this conversation years ago, about someone who had posted a prayer request, and the request revealed a lot of personal things some might see as dirty laundry.
I felt sorry for the sweet girl, marveling in her bravery.
“We are supposed to confess our weaknesses to our brothers and sisters and ask them to pray for us….you know like the bible says in James 5:16?” he said.
“But sometimes I think we can be guilty of judging one another and praying at the same time,” I replied.
“Yea, I know…..I don’t think men struggle with that like women might,” he said nonchalantly.
I am ashamed I could relate to what he meant.
As sister’s in Christ, sometimes we can be pretty hard on each other.
Why are we women so apt to gaze into each others life and clearly see the wrong and reason out the circumstances, chalking it up to sin failure?
Does it make us feel better to see someone else struggle too?
Could it be a coping mechanism the devil has taught us to use in order to compare our sin? Maybe we feel better about our own sin when compared to others.
For years I missed the whole point of the scripture in James.
The reason behind confessing is to hold us to a standard of accountability.
Gosh its tough to admit we even need accountability isn’t it?
It was for me.
We don’t like to admit to ourselves much less another Christian our character flaws or sin. Heck, we have trouble confessing to GOD.
We are supposed to be Christians….not sinning Christians…..at least this is the world’s view of the church. It would be taboo if we admitted to each other we struggle with judging, gossip, jealousy or hate etc….yet James tells us to.
The plain and simple truth is I am a sinner. If we are breathing….we are all sinners.
The accountability I got from my brutally honest husband was the catalyst to help me face my sin. The pride and judging issues had nagged me for years.
God started convicting me about looking at the negative in a prayer request.
This sweet soul was hurting…..regardless of the why or how she ended up in the situation resulting in a prayer request….she was in pain.
GOD took me back to a time when my own decisions resulted in a time of pain.
Something inside me clicked.
I related to her anguish.
I am just like her…..messy enough to need prayer.
If we are honest….we all have areas in our life making us messy enough to need prayer.
When I judge another…I am putting myself in GOD’S place of authority.
I imagined GOD asking me point blank…..
“So you think you are HOLY enough to do my job?”
Now I ask him to help me focus on my own messes, and not my sister’s when entrusted to pray.
Since I have been praying this simple request over the last few years….there has been sort of a revolution in my heart.
GOD is making me more compassionate…..something I struggle with.
I’m finding my prayer life is more enjoyable….easier and sweeter.
I am experiencing real freedom through GOD’s grace and mercy.
And it feels good.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16
To be righteous means to be right with GOD.
I want to be right with GOD….everyday.
I long for my prayers to accomplish much in my own life as well as those who ask me to pray.
How about you?
GOD make us accountable, trustworthy, prayer warriors….and make our bonds of sisterhood stronger than any snare Satan can set.
To wait for him to move when we need movement……to exact justice when we need justice….to reward faithfulness when we’ve been faithful.
It’s so easy to be tempted to go it alone….but what about going deeper?
Going deeper is tough when it feels like everything is against us.
Rejecting the enemy’s lies.
Going to the word of God daily…sometimes numerous times.
Baring our hearts in prayer….over and over.
Waiting patiently while trying to have a faith attitude.
Being faithful in the small things when we want to give up.
All the above is what I call going deeper.
To be honest, this faith walk is miserable some days. And we know he sees our misery, but we forget it’s for a purpose.
The famines, the pits, the heartaches, the persecutions, the loss…all the negative that comes our way is allowed for many purposes.
The Lord showed me years ago that suffering brings me to the edge of my existence….I’m not living for this world….but for eternity. He has also shown me that many times I have invited suffering because of sin.
Yet the one purpose that keeps me coming back and seeking him with all my heart ….he wants to have a relationship with me…..and because of that one purpose….he has shown me how I desperately need him.
You see he is a relational God.
He’s not like the Greek mythology gods portrayed in books that look down from the sky and get their kicks by moving mankind around like chess pieces.
We are not sport to him….we are his creation….created to be in a love relationship….one on one.
Recently I texted two of my hairy, man boys, inviting them to dinner. Now hairy, man boys will usually show up for a free meal; however, one replied yes while the other texted back a flimsy excuse.
When I miss my man boys, I want to see them; therefore, I am not above shaming if the need arises.
I replied back…. “The whole purpose in taking you to dinner is not necessarily to feed you….but to be with you. We love and miss you.”
How’s that for the perfect guilt trip? It didn’t work…but it gets better. As we neared their house, I gave the 2 minute warning to be ready because we were arriving soon. I added this little tidbit to the message. “Tell your brother that he will regret not going to dinner one day, when he can’t pick up the phone and talk to us ever again.”
I’m giggling as I type this….but it worked. I got to spend a little time with my stubborn, independent, hairy, man boys and it was sweet.
But this got me to thinking…..just like my “well intended momma manipulation”……God will do whatever it takes to draw us closer and closer to his side.
The illness that knocks us on our back and we can’t do anything but pray…..Oh the Father cherishes those tender prayers for help.
The persecution that makes us angry, takes our breath and drives us to cry out to him for justice. Oh the Father relishes in our acknowledgement that only he can exact justice.
The depression that locks us in darkness, straining to lift our heads up…..grasping for his unseen hand. Oh the Father delights that we know he is the only light to lead us out of the abyss.
The famine that is threatening our lives….robbing our peace…..dropping us to our knees in desperate prayer. Oh the Father takes joy in seeing us turn to him with our overwhelming circumstances.
When we quit trying to figure it out…..fix it, or stop reaching out to another flawed human for help ….and just turn to him….Can you imagine his joy?
Doesn’t it make us feel good as a parent, when only we can do for our children, like no other can?
So here we sit…. out of solutions. Tired of our own fixes. Our creativity, human thinking and resolutions are useless….and it’s only when we get to the end of ourselves that we can choose to go deeper with him.
Just like a momma missing her man boy babies, the Father will do whatever it takes to draw us closer and closer….even closer than we think we are. Why?
Because he loves us beyond comprehension and he wants to be in a crazy.…know me deeper….trust me greater….love relationship.
Whatever valley you find yourself in today…be it the depression, the famine, the sickness…the unknown circumstances…..can you go against your feelings…choose faith and believe that the Father is wanting more of you?
Tell me friend….are you willing to go deeper with the Father?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
Worship the Father with Bethel Music….calling us to go deeper.
He’s handsome. He’s super smart. He’s delightful to be around and an incredible artist. He is an award winning student in numerous disciplines. His honesty is refreshingly childlike yet inherently mature…. a divine combination that could only come from his creator.
He’s gentle yet assertive. His sense of humor rivals any late night TV comic. Basically I could say he is a typical teenage boy; however, Jon is far from the typical teenager, he excels in everything.
I distinctly remember the blue October sky, the day Jon was born. A tired but beautiful mommy held this bouncing baby boy while I gazed at big, soulful, curious eyes. He was definitely a looker though he was only a few hours old.
Jon’s story is one of faith, perseverance, two incredible parents and a big God.
The murky unknowns during the early days were no cake walk for my dear friend, Kelli. She and Mike were in unfamiliar territory.
I can’t begin to relate to the incredible journey they have been on for the last 16 years; however, I am not surprised at the victories God has given Jon.
It’s pretty astounding the research and knowledge a driven momma can discover. My friend is ahead of her time in keeping up with cutting edge resources. Kelli became an expert pretty darn quick.
They are relentless in the cause, resilient to the battles, and faithful to their charge. God has blessed their faithfulness many times over…..for they have been devoted to God’s unknown purpose.
They still have days of walking in obscurity. They still have moments of overwhelming fear. They still trust God while some would turn against him.
They still love and serve a God who is sovereign.
You’ve heard it before, a momma’s love knows no limits….this momma AND daddy carry their cause to the throne of God persistently. The truth is….nobody prays for their kids like a burdened mom and dad does. Jon has been covered in prayer, abundantly well.
And so on this “LIGHT IT UP BLUE” day, this is a post about a blessing named Jon…..an incredible blessing that is fearfully and wonderfully made according to his creator, but it’s also about two faithful parents who are very special.
In fact, they are so special that God looked down on them one day and said…..
Who doesn’t dread Monday mornings? When the alarm sadistically halts the weekend refuge, dragging oneself out of bed is like trying to separate your toes glued together with super glue.
Sometimes the dread of going back to reality is as debilitating as the actual reality.
Before we even get out of bed….we are defeated.
Sweet friend, I so understand all about the places in life that are not fair. The workplace drama, the power struggles, greedy and jealous people, health issues, financial deficiencies, the sick child, the loneliness, the prodigal loved ones, difficult relationships, and the staggering grief that won’t subside.
At times we wonder how we will get through the day right? We live in a fallen world; therefore, life just stinks sometimes.
But when our focus is saturated in our situation, we are automatically catapulted into defeat.
Can I encourage you today?
Whatever you are facing that rains down dread like a monsoon….take it to Jesus in a drop to the knees, can’t handle it prayer. Today, ask God to take over your mindset and help you focus on His faithfulness and the good things in your life.
For as much as we think is wrong in our lives, there is good to balance the heartache on….we just have to choose to see the good.
Do you have a home? A family or people who love you? Good health? Are there children in your life to make you smile? Is there a little money in your pocket? What about a beloved pet eager to greet you every day? Do you have a true friend, a praying momma or a caring spouse?
The fact that you woke up breathing is a miracle that God orchestrates every day. He wants us to acknowledge the good in our lives even when we are walking through the valley. When the focus is on our problems, He can’t grow us to trust Him in the hard seasons.
The creator God who put the stars, sun and moon in place, faithfully oversees His children’s lives, giving us good things; revisiting His previous faithfulness, gives us hope.
Hope my friends…. is what will carry us through the dread of Monday mornings.
Never forget about the good he has given in the midst of your trial.
My challenge for you today…..
1 ~ Ask God to carry the burden of your oppression today…and actually let Him have it. Giving Him the burden means you don’t dwell on it, worry about it or walk around in gloom. Instead you choose faith, believing God will bring you through this trial in his time.
2 ~ Make a list of all the good things in your life and thank the creator for that good.
3 ~ Take each moment…and enjoy the moment for what it is……A beautiful sunset, a brief rest from the noise, a game of catch with the puppy, a 15 minute walk in the evening, an unexpected phone call from a friend, a lazy night at home, a bible story read to a child, prayer time with your family or a friend. Whatever the gift is for the moment….bask in it and thank God.
Choosing to not focus on the things we dread is a discipline of obedience to God. Life is never going to be perfect even when the house is clean, the bills are paid and the kids behave.
Life is never going to ever arrive at perfection.
Don’t let the dread of facing the hard things in life push you off the slope of hope.
Choose faith and enjoy the moments of perfection God gives in the little blessings that come your way every day. Just focus on Jesus and pour your heart out to him.
When no one understands…..Jesus does.
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Proverbs 13:12
I tripped over a memory today and lost my balance for a while.
You know the type of memory….a voice from the past that comes back around to hurt? It reminded me of a devastating experience. Horrible words, overwhelming circumstances …a flood of tears.
Along with the memory came the voices provoking the details.
Before long, the memory exploded like a glorious Fourth of July fireworks display. Only the emotions accompanying the fireworks are anything but glorious.
The emotions reveal insecurities…feelings of being unworthy, unwanted, unloved.
I entertained the voices. I listened, and since I didn’t shut them down immediately…they continued.
Then suddenly I realized what was happening….and I cried out to JESUS.
I went to the Word of God. Reading three different translations…I grasped my failure. God opened my eyes clearly.
“This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life or death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesian 6:12 The Message
We Christians can be guilty of being too casual about the enemy’s intentions.
Our attitude must be that of a soldier tiptoeing through a mine field.
Because we don’t palpably see him….we forget about him.
We must get smarter than the Devil.
We must watch for the traps…deceptions…the dangers.
When it comes to the Devil and his schemes, we must live on the defensive but pray on the offensive.
We must be wary of our weaknesses before he uses them against us.
We must assert truth to our situations when he whispers lies.
We must affirm the word of GOD when he hurls the accusations of the world.
We must prepare ourselves for the life and death battle to finish well.
We must prepare for the battle…every day.
Any negative thought, past sin or hurtful memory that comes to us…..is of the Devil. God will not bring up your past, or feed the hurt. Simply refuse to listen or think on it. Instead replace it with scripture, prayer, worship, and truth.
When the Devil tries to dig up your past, immerse yourself in truth. Believe who you are and take authority over his ploys.
Be a fierce soldier and put on the armor of God before you take your first breath of the morning.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:14-18
Suit up soldier and use your battle plan, don’t let the enemy gain any ground.
So I tripped over a memory and lost my balance for a while….and then I remembered who I am.
How can a girl ardently seek Jesus every day and still worry? How I’ve wrestled with this question so many times.
“Those who have faith, deep abiding faith in an artist who has all things under his control, have no need to rehash the past or predict the future.” Michele Cushatt
Such wise insight from Michele’s new book, Undone.
Bottom line, if we don’t choose faith….we won’t have faith.
Michele’s story is probably similar to the rollercoaster story we all find ourselves riding, yet somewhere between the hurts, the heartaches, the losses, the failures and even the cancer….
Michele finds the beautiful artist, lovingly at work……one brushstroke at a time…..in a life that is undone.
“Faith isn’t rooted in the past or the future. It’s birthed in how we approach and handle today.” Michele Cushatt
This resolute heart for Jesus has met him in the tender, swollen and irritated moments of weakness…and found….his presence is enough for each moment.
She reminds us that even life with the most imaginable hurts is in the here and now.
You see….when life becomes undone…..in just one phone call or one indiscretion or one bad decision…..we are forced to stop in the middle of the road.
We can catapult to the pits of worry and despair.…
Or we can breathe in the presence of the great artist and choose faith.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
What has worry ever done for you? Nothing friend…nothing.
“Worry like cancer consumes life, eating away at a person from the inside out. It exaggerates the unknown and clouds the known until the worried person sees only the horror of what might be, rather than the beauty of what already is.” Michele Cushatt
Worry seeks to take what good there is in life and condemn it with the hurt, the pain, the cancer and the loss.
This beautiful memoir met me in a recent battle that had turned into a stronghold of worry. A blessing from God that I thought was secure in my life….all of a sudden became unsure because of greedy man.
Two days ago I hit my knees at 1:36 a.m. and …..I chose faith.
Life is going to come at us with both fists wielding. It may knock us down, but we can look up before we get up….and remember who is in control…trusting him to help us in each unknown moment.
This is a beautiful book, one that you must read. It is a book for the divorced, single parent, the perfectionist mother or wife, the blended or new foster family, the career professional, the struggling faith walker and yes even the cancer patient.
Michele relays the poignant details of her struggles refreshingly real….. yet agonizingly raw. She can take a simple bible story and retell it in a way that makes you forget you have heard it before.
Filled with gospel truth yet soaked in intimate honesty, I feel like I have known Michele for years.
I can’t wait to meet her face to face one day soon and put my arms around her neck, and give her a holy kiss. This brave woman gives me hope…and a new perspective.
Reading this book will be a wise investment to your spiritual bank…..it will greatly strengthen and prepare you for the undone moments of life.
I just want to share one more nugget of wisdom from Michele, plucking at my heart strings for this undone life I too am living….
“Only a marred life gives birth to the most beautiful redemption.”
It seems we don’t see the richness of the struggle and how we mess it up at times….until after we have experienced the mercy.
What a beautiful work the great artist can do when we trust him in the unexpected and unknown.
Oh thank you, thank you Jesus.
If you find yourself at a place in life that is undone…..take heart my friend….God’s presence is here and now….so choose faith. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you….even when life is undone.
It is an unspeakable honor to be a part of Michele’s launch team for this beautiful book. You will be able to find it in stores on March10th or go to the Undone website and preorder it now. You can also read a sample chapter and find out more about this awesome lady.
We were just looking for a fun girl’s night out. Some lighthearted merriment and laughs to escape the winter blues; however, a misunderstanding quickly escalated into a night of embarrassment and humiliation for the four of us.
We misconstrued an invitation, thinking we were all invited to an event when that was not the case. Though we tried in every way to cooperate and diffuse the situation, Satan did everything in his power to heighten it. When I asked if they wanted us to leave, I was reassured no; but from there we were privy to a round of rules and regulations cited for our benefit.
I get rules are a necessity to life and maintaining order, but when rules, passions, ideals, and money get in the way of how people are treated, well….I have to wonder if the man-made rules are pleasing to God?
And then it happened….when I tried to explain we were there just for fun and had no intentions of stealing ideas….the church card was pulled out.
You know the card….the statement made insinuating you’ve done something wrong, and how could you because you go to church? It’s the churchy kind of statement laced with accusation and reeking with judgment?
It’s funny now that we sit back and have the whole picture, but it wasn’t funny the moment the offender threw the proverbial church card on the table.
I was new to this unjust trick from the pit, but one of my friends, a pastor’s wife, knew it well. On more than one occasion, she and her family have been slapped with this method of demeaning a person’s faith.
So how do we handle those who want to pull the “church card” whenever they feel threatened or offended?
First we recognize…..
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesian 6:12
The chaos of the moment was orchestrated by Satan, not man. I am grateful for this truth because I can walk away realizing “the blindsiding” was definitely a move by the dark side.
We choose to love and show grace in spite of all things. It doesn’t matter what was said or done, I can love regardless. And the reason I can is because I have a Father in heaven giving me the same grace and love.
Anytime you are known as a person of faith, you are going to be held to a higher standard so be on guard……don’t let the Lord down.
I sat there and prayed, “Lord, what would you have me do? You know our intentions were not evil, what should I do?”
Above the clatter of the moment HE whispered, take the blame, apologize, and show love.
Even when the church card is used by the world, going the extra mile in the kingdom of GOD is always worth the effort.
My friends and I did everything we could to remedy and handle the situation in a Christ like way. In fact we went out of our way to do the right thing.
So let me encourage you friends, don’t walk away and let the Devil have the victory….step up to the plate and take a slug at the accuser of your faith….knock him out for the kingdom and stand tall.
Leave the world no reason to doubt that you are….what you say you are.
And always remember this…….
Satan is in the confusion, the chaos, the presumptions, the miscommunication, the misunderstanding, the intensity, the bewilderment, the disappointment and the failed expectations.
But JESUS is always in the regret, the humility, the sincerity, the love, the forgiveness and the restoration.
Do you ever wonder what’s the use? Why keep praying that prayer? Why show up for something that is going to yield the same results?
Why clean a house that will get dirty again? Why cook supper for a thankless crew? Why show up to a dead-end job?
Day in and day out, it’s the same thing, same story, and same old tune.
Progress if any, seems to move like a snail. Of course the Devil wants us to think nothing is ever going to change, but in reality, nothing stays the same.
So what would it look like…..if you walked away from a cause that you know GOD has called you to be faithful to?
Or give up on a people HE has entrusted to you? Or abandon a task HE has given you to do?
What would it look like for you to let go of the dream? Turn your back in bitterness or defeat and strike a new path?
How would your life be better? Or worse?
My husband was abandoned by his mother at the age of 4. Tired of taking care of kids, living in the same place, with the same man, she was over the monotony of daily household chores. She wanted more. She wanted out and that’s exactly what she did. Like a thief in the night, she packed up a two-year old baby and left behind her other child, my husband, moving over 1000 miles away.
My mother-in-law gave up, and the emotional peril to my husband has been life-long.
Letting go of your cause may not be something so damaging….or is it?
Let’s talk about the consequences of walking away.
Chase down the path of giving up. Where will it take you?
Maybe you are a single person thinking about letting go of your purity? Or maybe Bible study is too difficult and you are having trouble comprehending? What about the diet? The one your doctor told you is imperative to good health?
What about the dream that’s stalled for the time being, because you have responsibilities to take care of, or GOD’S timing is not in it?
There are many heroes in the Bible who could have given up, yet didn’t.
Remember Joshua? He knew GOD would deliver the children of Israel from their enemies. He believed and stayed the course when no one else did. Eventually he received the inheritance promised while the others didn’t.
Then there is Paul…beaten, imprisoned, oppressed, harassed, and hunted…yet he never gave up for the cause of Christ…he was faithful. How many countless souls have come to JESUS because of Paul’s faithfulness?
What about Noah? Can you imagine how hard it would be to build a big, honking, gopher wood, cruise ship, while everyone is making fun of you? Bible scholars say from 55 to 75 years Noah endured the critics, the scoffers, and the naysayers….yet he saw the project through to the first rain drop. I guess you can say he didn’t miss the boat.
Whatever “good” you are doing in life…get ready…the resistance and warfare is coming.
Satan wants us to think the worst about our situations so we will give up. But what is the potential if you stay the course? Close your eyes and imagine step by step what your life could be if you hang in there for the good of Christ?
Who will benefit from your faithfulness? What will your golden years look like as a result of your faithfulness? What child will know JESUS? What generation will be most affected by your contribution of faithfulness? What will you family dynamic be like? Who will you bless? What rewards will you have to lay at JESUS’ feet one day?
The warfare is the bullet to stop you.
The enemy knows faithfulness always wins, but he wants to make the journey hard so you won’t finish.
If you are lost in a fog of monotony or discouragement today, don’t give up.
Maybe you feel GOD has turned his back or is withholding something from you….please don’t give up.
Perhaps life has changed and you can’t imagine normal or happy again….oh child there is too much at stake to give up now…..if you are in a place like this….you faith is on the line.
So why stay the course?
Why show up every day to the task GOD has put in front of you?
Because faithfulness matters.
The Bible says….
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
If we stay the course and be faithful….we will reap a harvest from all our efforts and toil.
Faithfulness affects every aspect of our life and every relationship including our bond with GOD.
Faithfulness means that no matter the valley you are walking in, no matter the hurt you are carrying, no matter the rotten circumstances you are dealing with and no matter what man throws your way…..
Being faithful means you trust GOD for the outcome.
Faithfulness tells GOD, you are in this journey with HIM till the end.
Don’t give up friend, don’t run out and don’t let Satan win…..
If you are faithful to GOD…..HE will be faithful to you.
Stay in the fight friends, GOD sees you…HE cares for you….and HE will reward your faithfulness.
I am sending love and prayers to all my readers today who are tired and wanting to give up. Fight for your faithfulness!
Here are some scriptures and worship links to encourage you to fight for faithfulness in all areas of your life.
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.
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.
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,
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.