Wednesday’s Wisdom- The Opinion of Man

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The opinions of others can be a slippery slope. For many of us, I don’t even think we realize how much we care about what others think- until something happens and we’re worried about what others are thinking! Maybe you’re going through something really hard and you are so worried about being judged by others for the choices you’ve made. You can’t live your life based on the opinions of others… you just can’t. Ultimately you are accountable to God and God alone. Seek His Word, seek His face, and pray to Him, and yes, still seek godly counsel. He will give you peace and guide and direct your steps. But don’t act or not act based solely on concern or worry about what others may think. You have to do what you feel God is directing you to do and what is best for your situation- You are the only one walking in your shoes, no one else.

I have lived my life far too long worried about what other people will think. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. When you’re in ministry it can feel like you’re living in a glass bowl. What if people know my family and I took a little vacation or heaven forbid we went out to eat… because we needed a break with our family. I’ve just decided I can’t worry about what others think anymore. I can’t. It’s a much higher calling and responsibility to know I’m answering to God and God alone, and it’s before Him I desire a clear conscience. We can start living our lives based on fear or worry of how something will look or what others will think, or whatever… but I’m accountable to God. He holds me accountable for my time, for this ministry, for my resources, what I do and don’t do.

It feels so good and so freeing when I make choices and decisions based on what God’s calling me to do and when I take out the middle man (people’s opinions). Because everyone will always have their opinions, their way they would or wouldn’t have done something. That’s okay. But I can’t base my life decisions on their opinions. Again seek the Lord above all, seek out godly counsel based on God’s Word, and then live your life answering to Him.

Be free!!

Lord, you are the One who tests and knows my inner most thoughts. Oh, that I would be faithful in living to serve You and Your people, faithful to answer the call, not worrying about what other people think or say or the opinions of man. Ultimately, I answer to You and to You alone. Amen.

1 Thess. 2:4- but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

Gal.1:10- For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Wednesday’s Wisdom- Man in the Arena

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On April 23rd, 1910 ex-president Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech that continues to impact people to this day. He spoke at the Sorbonne in the Grand Amphitheater at the University of Paris. He had traveled to Paris with his son Kermit to give his Citizenship in Republic speech.

“Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.”

The Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

There comes a point in your life where you will be called to step out. When you step out and begin to put yourself out there, I can assure you, there will always be critics. There will always be someone who either doesn’t agree with you, would have done it differently, or just gets offended by something you did (or didn’t) say. Being in ministry the past 17 years, you hear it said often, “If you don’t have thick skin, maybe being in ministry is not for you.” (Sad, I know, but true).

It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to point fingers from the other side of this computer screen or while sitting from the pew. It’s easy to sit around with your girlfriends and point out everything that’s wrong with the church or that particular ministry or how the speaker was boring or if you were the speaker you would have done this or that. Oh my goodness, we could point these things out in our sleep.

But the true hero is the man in the arena. The true hero is the one who decides to step out when he or she knows that by stepping out that they are putting themselves out there with the possibility of failing (in front of everyone). The one that is brave and decides to step into the arena is the hero of this story. And by this bravery you are unconsciously giving others permission to step out too. I will be the first to tell you, I don’t like confrontation and it’s hard being in front of everyone, risking transparency by not having it all together. But it’s worth it. And over the years I’ve learned to shake it off and silence the critics.

Roosevelt said that we should never judge each other by our success alone. If you have failed, I say to you today, “well done! Bravo!” That means that you’ve actually got off your butt and tried something and that my friends deserves to be applauded. It’s easy to NOT fail or stumble when you’re NOT doing anything! In my writer’s group in Colorado we would have a time at the beginning where we would share if we got a rejection letter and everyone would clap. This might seem strange to you, “Clap for a rejection letter?” But what this showed the rest of the group was that at least these people getting rejection letters were putting their stuff out there. They stepped out and tried to get their work published. They did something! (Thick skin doesn’t hurt in the publishing world either).

So today I ask you- are you the critic or are you the man in the arena? And if you are the man in the arena, may you spend yourself on a worthy cause, may your triumphs be sweet and failures hard earned. That we ourselves wouldn’t be one of those cold and timid souls that neither knows victory nor defeat. Be the hero of your story and not the critic of others. If you find yourself in circles with critics, kindly excuse yourself and run. Or better yet, stay and defend the man in the arena. If there’s something I’ve learned over the years, it’s that it always seems easier to point out everything when I’m not the one doing anything.

Today I will choose to be the man in the arena and celebrate my victories and learn from my failures. May we all do something… anything.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt

We Belong

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1 John 4:4 (NLT)– But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Maybe it stems from my rocky childhood, or perhaps the lies had been fed to me so much that by the time I became an adult, and somewhere it transferred over as truth. I’m not sure. As I have grown older and grown in my walk with the Lord, I would see it. It looked like doubt, fear, isolation, and sometimes even unaware self -sabotage.

I would see it on social media. I am a part of many groups on social media and love the connection with other women. But sometimes I would feel like I didn’t belong, or that everyone else knew each other and I was watching from the sidelines, or that I needed to say something or post something that was worthy of everyone’s time or attention, like saying, “Hey, look at me!”

We feel we need to achieve some level of success in order to be worthy of everyone’s time and attention. If I could just write that one piece that goes viral or if I could just get so many shares from my article. It almost feels like High School all over again, trying to do something that proves I’m worthy to be seen; worthy of a follow; worthy of sitting with the cool kids at the lunch table.

But I thought this was settled already? As a matter of fact, I know this to be true. 2000 years ago Jesus died on the cross for me. Yes, me. And you. And when He did this, He leveled the playing field. He said we are all important, regardless of our status, our standings, our family history, and our background. We are all worthy, we are all covered and we are all His children. That’s it. No fighting for who’s at what level in this thing, no comparing who does what better. And darn it, no more sitting alone at the lunch table! We are all family! I don’t have to write one more thing to prove I’m worthy of your view, or your like, or your follow. As a matter of fact, we would all do good to focus more on getting people to follow Him, than to follow us.

It’s not really anyone’s fault. No one from any group said or didn’t say something to cause me to feel small or inadequate. If I were to blame anyone I would blame the enemy. He is the one who takes pleasure in getting us to believe these lies. Sometimes we feel this way when we visit a Bible study or new church, go to a moms group, or we’re invited with a group of people we don’t really know that well. The enemy tells us things like, “Your questions are dumb, don’t ask them,” or “these people are so much further in their walk than you, you have nothing to add to the conversation.” Or what about this one, “There’s no one here like you, why do you keep coming?” Lies, all lies.

I want you to know, we are all the cool kids, because we are His kids, and everyone is invited to the table. No one is left behind. Bullying will not be tolerated in the Kingdom, and watch out if you mess with my sisters. We have all been given different gifts, talents, and abilities and ALL are great and needed in the kingdom. You belong. I belong. And we have something to say. It doesn’t matter how known or unknown you are to others, the most beautiful thing that I want you to get a hold of today is that you are known, oh, so intimately known and loved by your Savior. He wants to read your posts, He wants to hear you speak, He wants to see your photography, He wants to see your art, He is delighted by your song. And all are done as a beautiful, fragrant offering up to Him.

And guess what else? He knows when we’re feeling a bit awkward- hello…He made us. I wonder what would happen if we began to embrace our differences in ourselves and in each other, stopped obsessing over the numbers, and instead of comparing, we celebrated our differences? What if instead of comparing our gifts and talents with others, we could learn from others and respect the gift inside of them but also know that our gift is of equal importance- just different.

Please hear me. Please. You absolutely unequivocally belong- with your scars, with your past, new Christian, on the fence, seasoned author, shaky writer, scared mamma, empty nester- we belong. When will we stop this petty drama that has no place in the Kingdom, and stand up for one another and instead of judgment offer grace, instead of competing offer applause, instead of being concerned who’s at what level in this thing, remember the playing field has already been leveled. Sister, we belong. Red, yellow, blue, green, small, big, short, and awkward… let’s have each other’s back. I believe the Lord is beginning to unite us like never before but we’ve got to have each other’s back. And we’ve got to know our place, all of us….

  • You belong.
  • I belong.
  • We Belong.

 Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:16- Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

 

 

Wednesday’s Wisdom- When We’re Unified He’s Glorified

FullSizeRenderAs I was reading through 1 Corinthians I was struck by the amount of scriptures on unity & togetherness.There is power when we are unified!

1 Cor. 3:3- Don’t be jealous of each other, stop fighting!

1 Cor.3:7- It doesn’t matter who does what, it’s God who makes the seed grow.

1 Cor.3:8- Work together!

1 Cor.3:9- We are ALL God’s workers, God’s field, and God’s building.

1 Cor. 3:16- TOGETHER we are ALL God’s temple, and the same Holy Spirit that lives in you lives in me.

1 Cor. 3:21-Don’t brag or boast about following a particular speaker or leader. (They too have the exact same Holy Spirit).

1 Cor. 3:23- We ALL belong to Christ!

1 Cor. 3:11- Let us ALL make our goal to make Christ our firm foundation!! He is the ONLY foundation we should ever build our lives on- Christ & Christ alone, not a man. ** respect the person who does great things for God, but don’t worship him.

  • He is glorified when we are unified.
  • Stop all the comparison & fighting!
  • God is not glorified when we are jealous of one anothers giftings.
  • There is room at the table for EVERYONE.

Today, may we be mature believers and set aside our differences (sometimes we just have to agree to disagree), aim to bring unity in the body of Christ, and for Heaven sakes, instead of being jealous or intimidated by each other’s gifts & talents, CELEBRATE each other’s gifts!! Build one another up and watch Him (not us) be glorified!

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Wednesday’s Wisdom- Made to Rise

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Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing little nuggets of truth. Wednesday’s Wisdom will be a quick read of what God is putting on my heart.

Last week I shared this on my facebook and got so much feedback from it, I wanted to share it on my blog as well for those who missed it.

Every single night our peacocks fly up to the top of the tree to sleep- I find this fascinating. I had a revelation while reading about the peacock this morning (we have two of these gorgeous creatures). Here’s what I read: “While the peacock wing seems out of proportion to the size of the bird, it will sustain flight and bear the body to the treetops.”

Sometimes we compare this dream that God has given us in proportion to who ‘we think’ we are. We must stop acting & responding like who we ‘think’ we are, and instead start acting like who He has said we are! If He has called you to something, even if it feels out of proportion to who you ‘think’ you are, remember He knows what He’s doing. Just like He already knew what He was doing when He fashioned & formed the peacock. Although the feathers seem out of proportion compared to his head & body, God made him that way to sustain flight. He has made you to sustain the flight & rise up to the treetops. You are made for so much more…you have no idea. And when you start acting like the person He knows that you are, your life is able to bring Him glory, just by being you!

  • Be led by His Word, not your feelings.
  • If He’s called you to it, He must know more about you than you know about yourself. ‪#‎Hello‬
  • He believes in you, and He knows what HE can do through you.
  • You can and will sustain the flight, because He’s called you to this.
  • The moment you get a hold of who you are because of whose you are is when you can truly begin to soar to the treetops.

Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)- But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

More Blessed to Give than Receive

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A life not lived for others is not a life.
― Mother Teresa

When we are doing something to serve and to be a blessing to others, we find ourselves being much more blessed in the process than the person or group we came to bless. I’ve seen it throughout my life. Every camp we have done where we want to change lives and bless others, we in return find ourselves overwhelmed by the many blessings we receive. We are often humbled by the lives of these kids that cross our path. They come from hard places, and yet are so open to receiving what God has for them. Their smiles and their joy are contagious. And I realize what an honor and a privilege it is to minister to them because these kids have been hurt in the past by others, and for them to let us in is no small thing.

I have had friends come back from missions’ trips, and they share their stories through tears. Stories of brokenness and beauty all intermingled. But even more than the stories of what they taught the people, they share the stories of what the people taught them. How thankful these families were for small things like books or pots and pans. And how we so easily grumble and complain when things don’t go our way. My friends share the beautiful lessons they were taught when they themselves came to be the teachers.

When you give, and give out of a pure heart, without expecting anything in return, God does something so beautiful with your offering. You come as the teacher and you leave as the student.

Last week I was the one in need. Hope and I were driving along the freeway in the McAllen area. I noticed a lot of cars stopping ahead, and then I noticed many cars pulling off the freeway. I made a quick decision to pull off of the freeway with the others to avoid the traffic ahead. What I didn’t notice was the large curb my minivan would have to drive over. My van is low, very low. So I went really fast so I didn’t get stuck. The good new was that it scraped but I didn’t get stuck; the bad news was that it hit so hard when my van hit the pavement that it popped my tire. I could feel the thump thump from my tire, and pulled off the road quickly. There was an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store about a block up. I walked over to ask if they could help fix my flat, to which they said that they didn’t fix flats. Bummer. I felt about as deflated as that tire. Here I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, Jon was right in the middle of camp, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. (It’s always so much easier to help someone else than to be the one needing help.)

This man overheard my dilemma and said he could help me. Yes! The Lord sent me an angel!! He drove over to where my van was parked. He was a mechanic so he had everything in his truck. He tried to fill up my tire, but it was punctured, so he put the spare tire on. I gave him $15- and thanked him profusely. He saved me!

He then went on to tell me that at that auto store, after buying what he needed, he only had $2.50 left to his name, and he was going to use it to buy himself 2 tacos for lunch. He said he was a Christian and now he had $15 more to his name. He said, “God bless you” and that I helped him. I then felt led to give him whatever else I could find in my purse, because, hello! And here I thought he was sent to help me, and come to find out, God had also wanted to use me to help him. We were both almost in tears, because it was just a really cool God moment.

In those moments that you feel like you are sent to help someone else, keep your heart open to God moments and you will find that the they are also sent to help you. And in the moments where others are sent to help you, don’t let your pride rob them of their blessing- let them help you. And you will see that both, the helper and the helped, the teacher and the student, walk away with an even greater blessing.

 Acts 20:35- And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

An Open Letter to Women Everywhere

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This is an open letter of encouragement to women everywhere. No matter who you are or where you are, He loves you and has great things planned for you. Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies, and please… Don’t stop doing what you’re doing!

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
-Mother Teresa

2 Chron. 15:7- and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

2 Thess. 3:13- As for you, sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.

Galatians 6:9- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

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Don’t Trade Freedom for the Familiar

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We’ve been a little laxed lately with my daughter’s bunny. She usually lets her out at night to roam around the game room and get a little exercise and then in a few hours, back in the cage she goes. But recently we left her out for two days. Not good. What we discovered upon further examination was that she ate through all of Noah’s computer cables to his gaming computer (that he paid for with his own money). The cables and wires were completely chewed through and his gaming keyboard cable was severed in several places and we had to just call that one a loss.

My husband and daughter fenced in our little side yard because we knew bunny’s roaming days in the house were over. The outside will be perfect for her- she can get plenty of exercise and roam in the green grass and hop (and chew) wherever she wants.

They were able to get her out. She looked around and quickly hopped back into the house. At first, it was hard for my daughter, Hope, to get her back out. She’s been contained and indoors for all these years and now we offer her freedom, but she hesitates. Why? She was a bit scared and apprehensive about this big new world. Was this a trap?  There was a whole new world out there just waiting to be explored, but she wanted to stay in the house. It took some convincing (and lettuce) but my daughter finally got her outside. And after realizing this wasn’t some sort of trick, she began to slowly explore this new territory. She discovered that she really enjoyed her newfound freedom, even though it was a bit scary at first.

See the house for her represented what was comfortable. It was all that she knew. We opened the door to freedom, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to leave her safe and comfortable environment to see what was on the other side.

I’ve done that. The Lord has shown me a new way, something grand and beautiful, but I wanted to stay in the comfortable, where I thought I was safe. I used to think it was safer if I just kept doing what I always did- consistency, you know? But then when the Lord asked me to step out, and even though it looked vaguely like something I had been praying for, I was still scared to leave the familiar.

I’m no bunny, but I can only imagine some of her fears. “What if I get eaten by something? What if I get lost? What if I get hurt?” They are all good questions. Sometimes when the Lord opens a door, He doesn’t show us every single step we’re supposed to take. He just wants us to take one step, and then another, and then another, one obedient step at a time. See, bunny will probably find a few holes or bumps in the dirt. Does that mean she shouldn’t have gone through the door? No, it means she’s learning, and she’ll remember next time not to go that way. It’s the same for us- we seem to want to avoid every single mistake possible before we go through the next door, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes that’s how we have to learn, by stepping out and making mistakes and learning what not to do next time.

It is better to do something than to do nothing at all.

By the way, the bunny’s name is Love. So today, let’s follow Love’s example, and when the Lord shows us a door He’s asking us to go through, may we recognize it for what it is.

One more door to our freedom.

One more step to that thing He’s calling us to do.

He’s got a beautiful place of freedom and joy and it’s got our calling all over it, but we’ve got to stop being afraid to leave our comfort zone. We’ve got to step out into some unfamiliar land, not having all the answers and trusting Him to give us what we need when we need it. We take that first step with shaky knees, imperfect and messy, and He meets us in that place. The more imperfect but necessary steps we take, the more we allow ourselves the chance to step into the freedom and destiny He’s calling us into.

 

 

Bring Your Little

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In this podcast I’m reading from 1 Kings 17:7-12. I share the story of Elijah and the widow- and how all God needed was her little in order to do a miracle.

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The Calling- The Blessing and The Burden

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How do you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing?

I said yes to a speaking engagement with only a week’s notice (on top of our already busy schedule that week). I was lying in bed somewhat stressed about all that needed to get done and stressed because my message wasn’t coming together as quickly as I would have liked it to. My husband said to me, “Do you regret saying yes?” Me, without even a pause or a moments hesitation, “No, not at all.” I could tell he was somewhat surprised at my quick response.

I would do it all again next week because as I’m preparing my message I think of those women. And I count it a privilege and an honor that the Lord would choose me to bring encouragement through His Word to those ladies.

Is there a cost to doing what I do? Absolutely. Every time. You should see my house during speaking weeks…or not. It is emotional, mental, spiritual, and when I’m in my message-prep zone, it consumes me (just ask my husband and kids). And the enemy almost always tries to attack me.

But I would do it all again next week (and actually as I type this I will be doing it all again next week). Why do I do this to myself? Because no matter how nervous or stressed I get, it’s what I know I was created to do.

The Lord continues to open the doors, and I continue to walk through them. It’s the one thing in my life where I know that it has absolutely nothing to do with me and that it’s ALL Him. I have to be completely dependent on Him. If He doesn’t show up, then it’s merely just a talk. But as I depend on Him and trust Him for His peace and for all the words, He takes over. And it’s His presence and His Holy Spirit that changes and encourages hearts, not me. I just have to be obedient.

Sometimes we think life would be easier if we just stopped doing this or that- but last time I checked, God didn’t call me to living the easier life. He called me to be obedient. I know we all have something that the Lord calls us to do, and it might feel uncomfortable or awkward or hard. But then when we step out in faith and do that thing, even through the struggles to get there, we just know…. this.is.it.

The calling, His calling- it is a blessing and a burden, but it is also a great honor. And we carry on, doing what we know He’s called us to do. Not by my might or by my strength but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6).

 

 

Suffering on the Side of the Road

picjumbo.com_HNCK06251 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

I dropped my boys off at school, as I do every morning. Headed home to start my day, my mind was going in a thousand different directions. What I saw next happened so quickly and literally took my breath away. Near an exit on the side of the freeway I saw a woman. She was wearing a loose white shirt. The morning sun reflected off of her golden blonde hair. And she was kneeling at a cross near the exit. She wasn’t trying to hide her pain, but was visibly mourning the loss of someone right there, on the side of the freeway, for all those passing by to witness. Although I only caught a glimpse, I could see the anguish and pain in her face. For a brief moment I shared in this stranger’s pain.

We walk around on this earth and we encounter many things that bring us to our knees. There are many of us who stand upright on the outside but on the inside are kneeled, crouched low, in fetal position, aching for something… someone. It’s what we do. We suffer loss, but we have to carry on- for ourselves, for our children, and for our loved ones. But every now and then, most likely in the privacy of our own homes, we like the woman, kneel in a place of brokenness and pain. And we cry out for what is lost and what is unseen and the unknown. Because we don’t know. And not knowing is scary. And not knowing hurts. And sometimes we smile because the world is moving on and we feel like we need to smile. People are getting promotions and celebrating holidays and having birthdays…  but we ache inside because it still hurts. It hurts to watch the world move on when we don’t feel like moving on. We don’t feel like celebrating sometimes. Sometimes feel like we’re lost in the sea of people and we can’t quite find our place, we can’t seem to get a grip on our new normal, because it’s not exactly what we want.

What I want to say to this woman and what I want to say to you is that He sees. He sees you when you are inwardly wrapped in the fetal position and everyone around you is smiling and laughing. He sees your loneliness and how quiet and sometimes cold it feels in the inner chambers of your heart. He knows when you’re at a social gathering because you know you should be there and it takes everything you have to engage because honestly, all you want to do is run and get away. You despise the small talk and want to shout, “Doesn’t anyone see me, doesn’t anyone know I’m hurting.” And they might but they find their own comfort in the smallness of the moment and the small talk that surrounds them.

No one teaches us how to gather together and talk about the things that hurt, the things that weigh heavy on our hearts. And we tend to even feel selfish for bringing it up. “This is an awesome lunch, by the way I’m having a really hard day and don’t really feel like being here today.” How does one do that without feeling guilty for feeling like they’ve brought everyone else down?

We are definitely progressing on being authentic and real, but still have miles to go. The reality is this- whether you are the woman on the side of the road who is openly suffering or, like many of us, the one who silently just has some really hard days but smiles because everyone else seems to be smiling- God sees and hears and He gets us. He knows those things that keep us awake at night. He knows the ones that fight privately with their spouse but show up at every event smiling and together, because it’s what you do. I mean, how would we respond if we said to a couple in passing, “How are you guys?” and have them reply, “Honestly, we are not doing good. We’ve been fighting really bad lately.”  And so we keep moving on, pressing forward, some of us, quietly in our pain.

The Lord sees every single tear that’s fallen from your face. Many suffer quietly. The Lord sees every broken place. Sometimes we’re so wound up that we have trouble just letting Him in and we fight Him until it is all that we can do to drop to our knees. And when we do that, He tenderly and gently rocks us… back and forth, knowing we just need a good cry and His loving arms around us.

Because when no one else knows or understands- He does. And those secret things we think we’re so good at hiding, He sees. And although I don’t have all the answers for you today, there is one thing I am certain of- He can be trusted with our hearts. When no one else feels safe enough to let in to the deepest places of our soul, He is that safe place.

He is our refuge.

People are not always going to know how to comfort or have all the right things to say. That is okay because there is someone who does have answers and He knows exactly how to calm our anxious thoughts and heal our broken places.

Lord, we are believing, trusting, and praying that through the brokenness and the struggles and the pain and uncertainty for what lies ahead, that You will show yourself and bring healing and that through these things that we walk through, that it would only cause us to grow closer to You. Thank You that Your mercies are new every. single. morning. In Jesus name. Amen.

Here are some scriptures to bring hope and comfort. I’ve underlined the action verbs that reveal what He does. He redeems, He lifts, He is aware, He carries, He saves, He sees, He listens, He hears, He encourages, He comforts, and He is not only aware of our sufferings, but He preserves our life and wants to set us free.

  • Isaiah 63:9- In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
  • Exodus 3:7- The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
  • Isaiah 49:15- Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
  • Psalms 10:17- You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.
  • Psalms 118:5- In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.
  • Psalms 22:24- For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
  • Psalms 119:50- My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
  • Romans 8:18- I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be joy revealed in us.
  • 2 Cor. 1:5- For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

 

My Word- 2016

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I love getting a new word for the beginning of each year. It intrigues me as I’m praying to finally see what will end up being my word. Last year it was Digging in & Dreaming in 2015. For the most part it was right on. I’ve been anxious to see where the Lord was going to take me. I watched as many other friends got such beautiful words like abide, peace, joy, remain, etc. I wanted a pretty word that would look nice on a cup written in cursive with swirls. But my word isn’t fancy, and I’m not even sure I can find a scripture to go with it, but I know it’s right for me and it’s right for my current season.

Drum Roll…

Learn-

  • · to gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something
  • · to cause (something) to be in your memory by studying it

I know, I know. Nothing super spiritual or fancy, but I know in my knower that it is right. Other words that go along with my word for the new year are: teachable, student, grow, disciple, disciplined, sponge (soak it all in), apprentice, to be taught, master, study, absorb, prepare, specialize in, take course in, and acquire information.

I am going to focus this year on learning and improving my craft (speaking and writing).

We all know that a writer’s conference is a great place to learn and meet other authors. I am praying that I can attend at least one conference. These are my top picks:

I have a goal/dream of learning the art of magazine article writing. There is a plethora of information out there via books (many of which I already own), podcasts, YouTube, paid online courses, etc. I shall learn all about the art of magazine article writing this year.

I want to learn evernote this year. I get by with it, but I really want to learn all that I can do with it. Michael Hyatt has written extensively on the many great uses for evernote.

This year I want to take some online courses for topics and areas that I’m passionate and excited about. Here’s a couple I’ve already signed up for:

  • Make Over Your Mornings, a 14-day Online Course by Crystal Paine
  • Brene’ Brown has online video classes and I’ve signed up for the free one, The Anatomy of Trust. The other classes are: Living Brave, Daring Leadership, and Leaders Rising.

I am also going to be more intentional with my time. When I’m cleaning and driving I’m going to continue to listen to podcasts. A few of my favorites are:

 

I also want to be more intentional in my book reading this year. Confession: It takes me forever to read a book. The last book I read was by Bob Goff, Love Does. It was such an inspiring read, but it still took me forever! I’m going to try and read a little every night before I go to bed and see if having a set time each day helps (hopefully I don’t fall asleep- I am so NOT a night person). My husband also has an Audible account that I’m going to start using so I can listen to books when I’m driving. Like the saying goes, good readers are good writers. I like to learn from other authors- I observe their intros, story-line, flow, and their voice. I highlight, asterisk, and underline as I read. Some books on my ‘to-read’ list for 2016 are:

I also have many other books on the craft of writing and communication that I will be going through. And of course Bible studies and devotional reads.

So there you have it. I’m excited to be learning in 2016 and growing in those things that I love to do. I’ll blog about all that I’m learning throughout the year. My next blog will be on goals for 2016.

What about you? Do you pray about getting a fresh word for the New Year? I would love to hear what your word is! If you’re not even sure how to get a word over you and your new year, I usually just pray about it and see over the next few days or weeks if God confirms it. Sometimes I keep reading about that word or things keep coming up that have to do with that word.

Praying you have a Happy New Year and that God gives you a fresh new word as your word for 2016. Praying He will guide and direct your steps. May we press on towards the goal of knowing Him more and making Him known. And whatever gifts He’s given us, may we be faithful stewards, doing our work as unto Him.

Colossians 3:23-24- 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

 

 

Wrestling Changes Everything

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Jeremiah 24:7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Little boys love to wrestle with their daddies. It’s this sweet, sometimes rough (but fun) bonding that is inbred in some boys. Many of them start out at a young age wanting to tackle everybody. My son Joel would do this all the time with my husband.

There’s also another kind of wrestling that we experience. In our walk with God we go through our own seasons of wrestling. We wrestle with our faith, we wrestle with unanswered prayers, we wrestle for God to show Himself, or perhaps we wrestle through pain- to find meaning in it. Each of us at some point in our lives will be called to wrestle.

Let’s look at a few heroes of the faith who experienced their own wrestling.

Job, in the Old Testament, was a man who was blameless and devoted to God. Job was a blessed man, who loved his family and lived righteously. Job went through a season where the Lord removed His protection (read the story in more detail in the book of Job). He lost all 10 of his children and all of his wealth. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was also afflicted with a horrible skin disease. Job had shown honor to God in response to his suffering. In Job’s heart God was his most precious treasure, even more precious than his health. What’s interesting is that God didn’t answer all of Jobs pleas for help right away. As a matter of fact, Job suffered a great deal. The Bible is unclear on the exact amount of time Job suffered. We know it was less than a year but that it lasted at least several months. I can only concede that it must have felt like forever. God didn’t restore everything right away. Job, knowing the nature and character of God, wrestled with the whys, yet he still told God he would worship Him no matter what. After many months of loneliness, sadness, and loss Job came out of his wrestling with these words, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes– Job 42:5. Before wrestling with his suffering, he knew about God, but after the wrestling He knew God and felt a closer intimacy with Him. He was a changed man. He had seen God.

Our wrestling with God serves a purpose. It causes our own faith and walk with the Lord to be grounded and personal. It changes us.

Another hero of the faith that wrestled was Moses. The story is found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4. Moses wrestled with God’s calling on his life. Moses was called to lead the people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. He told God that He must have the wrong guy. Moses felt very under-qualified. But God knew what He was doing. Moses wasn’t confident in speaking and leading. You would think that if God spoke to you from a burning bush that that would be enough confirmation (Exodus 3:4). But no. Moses had to wrestle through his own fears and insecurities. Listen to some of the things Moses said and you can hear Him wrestle with his calling: “But who am I, how do you expect me to lead, they won’t believe me, they won’t do what I tell them to do, I’m not a good speaker, I’m clumsy with words.” Moses had to wrestle through what he thought he could do compared to what God could actually do through him. Once he began to obey God and step out into his calling, God performed many miracles through him. If there were any doubts in the beginning, Moses was able to witness and experience firsthand the faithfulness of God.

There is only one person in the Bible who actually ‘physically’ wrestled and that was Jacob. Jacob’s life up to this point had been one of many struggles. Although God had promised to make many nations from Jacob, he, like Moses, was a man filled with many fears. We pick up his story in Genesis 32. He had fled from his father-in-law Laban because of the awful treatment he received only to encounter his bitter brother Esau who wanted to kill him. In Genesis 32:6 we learn that Esau was on his way with an army of 400 men. Genesis 32:7-8- In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,the group that is left may escape.” Genesis 32:20b- for he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.”

During the night he took his wives, servants, and sons and crossed the Jabbok River. And then he sent over all his possessions. This put Jacob in an interesting position. At this point he was completely exhausted, had nothing left to give, and felt like he had no fight left in him. He sent ahead those things in which represented his riches and he was left all alone in the wilderness. Genesis 32:24- So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. It is believed to be an angel of God that wrestled with Jacob that night. Jacob and the angel struggled throughout the night until the angel could not overpower him. When the man (the angel) asked Jacob to let him go, Jacob said he would not let go without a blessing. Jacob would never forget this wrestle because not only did the angel bless him, but he also knocked his hip out of his socket and Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life.   

What’s the point of wrestling with God? Surely there is purpose and meaning in and through it. When Jacob came out of that experience of wrestling with God, he was a changed man. He was no longer the same person that he was before he entered the ring. To further demonstrate that he was no longer the same man, God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Gen. 32:28

The King James Bible Commentary says this: “The conflict brought to a head the battling and groping of a lifetime, and Jacob’s desperate embrace vividly expressed his ambivalent attitude to God, of love and enmity, defiance and dependence. It was against Him, not Esau or Laban, that he had been pitting his strength, as he now discovered; yet the initiative had been God’s as it was this night, to chasten his pride and challenge his tenacity. The crippling and the naming show that God’s ends were still the same: He would have all of Jacob’s will to win, to attain and obtain, yet purged of self-sufficiency and redirected to the proper object of man’s love, God Himself.”

Our wrestling breaks us down to realize that without God we are nothing. It’s about wiping away all of who we think we are, our self-sufficiency, and putting us in a place where we have to hash out all those things we don’t really want to face- our insecurities, our anger at something that’s happened, our questions about our own faith, and all of our fears.

When you wrestle with God, you come out changed. There is something about struggling and wrestling through that solidifies your relationship with the Lord. You enter in with so many questions, and you come out knowing that He is real and that regardless of how things turn out, He is for you, and that He desires a close relationship with you. When you come out of your wrestle you might not have all of your questions answered, but you get to a place of trust, where your desire to be close to Him is greater than your desire for all of the answers. 

What about you? Have you been in a place of wrestling with some things? Are you wrestling for your faith? Are you feeling discouraged?  Are you in a place like Job where you’re wrestling with suffering? Or do you relate more to Moses where you are wrestling with your fears and insecurities? Or perhaps your wrestle is more like Jacob, where God is initiating a wrestle with you and you think your frustration is about all these other things, when really God is fighting for you heart?

I want to encourage you this week to get alone with God- seek after Him. Write out your questions and frustrations. Give Him your pain. God can handle our questions. As a matter of fact, He already knows them. But He’s waiting to hear from you personally. Spend time in the scriptures. Cry out to Him in that secret place. And just like Jacob, you will be touched, you will be changed, and you will be blessed.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (ESV) 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

This article was originally posted in print form (in Spanish) from World Missions Outreach.  

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Seeing God in a Mattress, a Chandelier, and a Windmill

About three years ago I wrote my first book. It’s a 31-Day Devotional. And on the cover you will see several chandeliers, because I love chandeliers. They are elegant, and they hang and they shine and they sparkle. They make me happy.

I also have a love for windmills. I have a Children’s Christmas book in my head about windmills. When we go on road trips I am enamored and fascinated by windmills (just ask my children).

I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

My daughter Hope needed a new mattress. Hers was given to us already used, possibly 11 years prior. It had a spring that came out and would rub on her back when she tried to sleep. So she then decided to make a little fort on the stairs (she said her spot had better internet too). Then she moved her fort into the closet and slept there for many months. My husband and I knew we needed to buy her a mattress. We kept talking about it. We went and looked at a few. Those darn mattresses are so expensive, aren’t they! We were about to make a purchase when my daughter said to just wait until we moved to the ranch. The problem was, we didn’t know if we were going to move to the ranch for sure. We didn’t want to keep putting it off.

When we moved to the ranch, upon further inspection, one of the rooms had the EXACT same bedroom furniture in it that we purchased for my daughter 4 years ago, and it was brand new! “Only God”, we thought. But then, here’s the kicker, the mattress on the bed was a BRAND NEW Serta mattress! BRAND NEW. Again… If you don’t see God in this, well, there’s more. She also has always wanted a trindel bed for when her friends would sleep over. Yep- this bed came equipped with a trindel bed under it!

Our new house also has chandeliers throughout! Beautiful sparkly, dangling chandeliers!! Only God.

And last, but not least, in the back fields by the barn…. a ginormous windmill. It’s somewhat hidden, off to the side, in the brush, standing tall, display its grandeur. I’m telling you, I’m, seeing God here.

I had somewhat tucked these things into my heart and memory bank until yesterday. I was at an Estate sell looking for a bird bath. Something caught my eye off in the distance. It was an 8 foot windmill! I was shocked and my heart about skipped a beat! I couldn’t believe. The price was good and I was able to talk the lady down a little. And that windmill made its way into my heart, and into my new butterfly garden (more on that in another post).

I just want to encourage you today. See, sometimes we’re so busy focused on our challenges in life, we walk right by Gods love notes to us. I believe He sends them throughout the day. Someone brings you coffee. God knew. Someone blesses you with something that goes perfectly in your house. God thought you would like it. Your having an awful day, and someone just at the right time messages you, or calls you, or you get a card in the mail. He had a feeling you could use some encouragement.

It’s hard to fathom His love for you, because we don’t feel like we deserve any of it. We don’t. That’s called grace; undeserved favor. It’s not based on anything we could do or anything we’ve done. He sends us these love notes though out our lives, just because He’s thinking of us. Little things and big things. He’s in them all.

Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Seeing God in the Bible

IMG_0169 Hebrews 4:12- For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

I know your thoughts, “Really Celeste, isn’t that kind of…obvious?” Or some of you… “Wow, you are really stretching for content here.” I agree. I hesitated writing this one. But as I rolled and tossed and woke, I knew.

I was a part of an incredible group when I first got saved 21 years ago. I had one friend that would come over once a week to go look up scriptures in areas I was struggling. I had one friend that would pick me up and we hang out and talk about God. I ‘ll never forget she was the one who taught me how to worship Him. And our group was all 20-somethings, and we were all on fire and hungry for more of God. We would hang out during the week doing stuff like bowling, put-put, ice cream, etc. It was such an incredible time in my life that I will never forget.

What I remember most was our weekly Bible Study. It was in the home of an older couple (older to me at the time). We didn’t have a DVD series or a workbook. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing a good Bible study. But my memory is still fresh from that time. We would all gather around in a circle, and our study was just to read the bible together, chapter by chapter. And then after each chapter, he would stop and we would discuss what we just heard. We would ask questions and dig into what the meaning of it was. I grew so much and also grew a hunger for the Word of God like never before.

Fast Forward to this week. We finished our Priscilla Shirer’s study, The Armor of God. I had planned on ending our study, but many of the women really wanted to keep on meeting. My first thought, “What will we study?” And the Lord reminded me of my sweet time of sitting in a living room with a group of believers and just chewing on His Word together, week after week. And that is what we did last night. I played a quick Joyce Meyer video, we sang one song for worship (Kari Jobe, You Are For Me), and then we started with Matthew. I brought my concordance so if we had any questions about a particular text, the girls could see how easy it is to look it up. I was amazed at how much we could talk about, and we only got through 3 chapters! So much goodness just by going through His Word together! And we all felt so good afterwards. His Word, just reading it line by line, is so powerful! Sometimes we over-complicate things and we just need to get back to the basics.

Ephesians 6:17- Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Matthew 4:4- But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17- All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Seeing God in Divine Appointments

At least once a week my husband goes out to Mission (about an hour from here) and does work on the property we get to use for camp. Most of our Big Red Ministries stuff is stored there in a big trailer. Yesterday was no different except he just needed to go to load up some stuff for the Homes of Hope we’re hosting October 31st. Normally, I never go with him. I thought it would be good to go. We could grab lunch and then I could help a little before I had to leave to pick up my kids from school.

He was behind me, as I had the gps locked in for Free Birds Burritos. And I was singing away when I glanced in my rear-view mirror and realized I didn’t see him behind me. And I could vaguely see him off to the side on the freeway. I quickly called him and he said he had a really, really bad blowout. And it was scary, because not only did he have a blow-out, but he was pulling a very large trailer behind him. It was a miracle he was able to pull over in time and the large shards of tire not hit any other vehicles.

I found the nearest exit, back-tracked on the other side of the frontage road and got back on the freeway to find him. His truck and trailer were sticking out a little from the side of the road and way too close to cars getting onto the freeway. He proceeded to change the tire with me parked behind him so I could block him from getting hit, because wouldn’t you know it, it was the tire on the back left, the road side. And I prayed the whole time. Some of these cars would fly onto the freeway not realizing there’s a man changing a tire, and I would have to fling open my door to try and scare them to drive around us.

I thought I was going to have lunch with my husband, hang out a bit and and help him with some stuff at camp, BUT GOD knew differently. My assignment was already planned out. He already knew. He made provision ahead of time.

I honestly don’t know what my husband would have done if I decided just to stay close to home to get some work done here. It was almost an hour away where it happened. He said he would have had to hitch hike to the Wal-Mart with his tire, wait to get it fixed, and then try to find a ride back. And then change the tire hoping nobody was going to hit him as he changed it.

I am so thankful for God’s divine appointments. He knows what He’s doing. Sometimes when you’re late for something and get on the freeway, you realize if you had been on time, you could have been in that terrible accident. Or you can’t quite explain it, but you feel like you’re supposed to be somewhere, like you just know you’re supposed to go. Divine appointment. God can use us to be one, and He also sends others to be ours… right on time.

Be sensitive to Him. Look for Him. I don’t believe in coincidences or luck. He’s big enough to make provision ahead of time for exactly what we need. And He has protected us so many times, we have no idea, and might not ever know until we get to Heaven.

Seeing God in Mornings

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“We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.” Lysa Terkeurst

Mornings are my favorite. I know, all of you non-morning people are cringing right now, but just hear me out. It’s that time of the day when no one else in the house is up. It’s dark outside and quiet inside. I make my coffee and light my candle, and slip into my office. I listen. I listen to hear His still small voice. I position myself to be in a place of hearing. I read His Word, or read from a devotional, or work on my Bible Study. Whatever form of listening, it’s still intentional. And He doesn’t disappoint.

When I wake up late, hurried and frazzled, and no time for early quiet time, my day just doesn’t feel right. I know He redeems the time and He can actually give us more time for those things on our to-do list when we put Him first.

Psalms 143:8- Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalms 5:3- O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Lam. 3:22-23 – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalms 130:6- My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 30:5- For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

I read a blog years ago that still sticks with me today. It is by Platform expert Michael Hyatt, titled Slay your Dragons Before Breakfast. One of the best articles I’ve ever read about your morning routine.

I see God in my mornings. He shows up in my early morning sacrifice. He is present and speaks through my sleepiness and gives me Himself, and I am ready for whatever my day might bring, because I have given Him the first fruits of my day. I know He honors that.

 

Seeing God in Disappointments

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Have you ever have one of those days where something needed to be looked at or fixed and you’re praying it’s not too expensive. “Let it be something little, Lord.” Maybe it’s a home remodel, or a car, or your ac unit. We all say that prayer, “Lord, I know something needs to be worked on, but let it be the cheaper something!” This week my husband had the pool guy come because our pool cleaner was broke. We too were hoping for it to be some small part that we could order this week, and then just move on in our lives. But upon further inspection we come to find out that our pool needs a whole new drainage installed. My husband was disappointed to say the least. We just wanted it to be something simple!

Then yesterday the big enchilada blew. When we moved out of our rental house that we lived in for a year and a half, we worked very hard to clean and do the yard work so we could get our deposit back. For us, it was a big deposit and we were definitely counting on, at least getting most of that back, in addition a refundable pet deposit. I remember that week. We were both exhausted, but knew we had to push through to deep clean the house, vacuum, and clean out fridge and everything else. And my I was leaving that Friday to my Aunts funeral in California. My husband made sure to leave the yard looking nice and even took a picture of it, because we felt like the house looked great. And then I emailed our previous landlord and she never replied. A few weeks later I emailed her, copying my husband in the email and about the status on the deposit, yet still, with no reply. Then we received a letter stating we had a certified letter awaiting us at the post office. Of course we were both hopeful, because we knew it had to be something! And it was something alright, it was a list of all the things she said she had to fix (since she was selling the house) and said no deposit would be returned. Needless to say, it was very disappointing.

But the Lord showed me something yesterday. He can show us Himself, even in disappointments. If we would take the time to let Him, He can speak to those disappointments and actually give us peace in the midst of being disappointed. I just knew that no matter what I did or said to try and rectify the situation that ultimately it was Him that was going to fight for me. And even if nothing changed on the outside, I wanted him to show me how to live in my every day life and disappointments knowing that He had my back. Because He does. And the Bible says that the Lord himself will fight for you, all you have to do is be still.

We can actually grow in our relationship with the Lord during these disappointments, because it makes us have to dig deep in our faith and in His Word. These things bring about opportunities that we might not otherwise have if we didn’t have to walk through them. Trust me, I don’t like the feeling of being disappointed, but I believe that He can change our character through it.

I need to learn these rich lesson of seeing Him in my disappointments. He helps me to forgive and he helps me to get go. And I want to teach this to my kids. In this life, disappointments will be a plenty. Surrender your disappointments to Him, read His Word for encouragement and watch His peace take over. No one can steal your peace, unless you allow them to. We need to be a people that run back to His Word when everything else seems to disappoint.

Seeing God in Rest

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Life seems to be so busy. I have found that if I don’t make time for rest, it won’t happen. We just finished a pretty big event last weekend, our Mother/Daughter Retreat. On Sunday I was okay, but on Monday it really hit me. I told the girls when we met for lunch on Tuesday that re-entry is hard. I call it re-entry. Re-entry is when you’ve just spent a certain amount of time focusing hours, days, weeks, and months on putting together a big event and then it happens, and then it’s done. Back to life. When I got back I had the house to clean, dinner to make, and the kids still had some homework. I desperately needed to go to the grocery store, and the laundry, don’t even get me started on the amount of laundry for a family of five that accumulates when mammas working on a big event.

So yesterday, even though there is still work to be done (isn’t there always), I needed to take a morning to just ‘be.’ I needed to set aside the phone calls and emails and laundry, and just be a daughter. I needed to be able to just sit, listen to worship, read His Word, and not only love on Jesus, but allow Him to love on me. I needed to be refreshed in His presence.

I am someone that has been producing for years. I’ve been blogging consistently since 2007 and writing, and working on articles and book ideas and speaking topics for years. It’s easy to get in the habit of researching the Bible and studying the Bible in search of my next thing to share or write on. This is not a bad thing, I actually grow so much and the Lord uses those things to speak to my heart as I share with others.

But yesterday was different. I just needed to soak up Him and His Word just for me. I needed to be okay with not producing or working and just be loved by Him, not for anything I do, but just because I am. I am a daughter of the King. I am the apple of His eye. I am His girl. I am loved, card for, and made righteous, not because of what I do, but because of Who’s I am.

My friend said yesterday how she used to be so busy trying to get so much done. Now she spends time with God first and she said He’s actually given her more time to do what she needs to do, and she has more free time to spend with Him.

He redeems the time.

Matthew 6:33- Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

My friends, I am reminded that we don’t need to keep producing and working to striving to make everything happen and get everything done.

1)    He loves us just as we are. It’s not by works we have been saved.

2)    When we put Him first in our lives, everything else will fall into place. Will everything just be perfect and easy? No, but He can bring us joy in the midst and give us what we need to handle every challenge.

3)    You are greatly loved not because of what you do or can do. You are greatly loved just because you are a daughter of the most high. You are a daddy’s girl. You are already loved and highly favored. You are always on His mind.

I saw God yesterday by just being. I don’t have to ‘do’ to earn His love. I just am…I am loved. And everything I do flows out of that relationship. I am already accepted. He has shared my post in heaven a million times and hits the like button on me! I have nothing to prove. I am already loved beyond my comprehension by my Abba Daddy. Everything else I do- loving others, serving, giving, forgiving, it flows from that relationship, not because I need to prove I’m good enough. I am His, and therefore, I am enough.

Yesterday morning I saw Him in my rest. And it was good.

Hebrews 4:10- for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.

 

Seeing God- A Poem

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I didn’t notice Him at first

Didn’t even know He was there

But when I looked all around

It was His hand in my every day affairs

At first, quite subtle

Then my eye looked even more

And every time I looked back

It was Him, opening and closing the door

In the beginning, those closed doors made me mad

But looking back through my years

it had made me realize He had

He had His hand in everything

And everything was His hand

There was nothing that didn’t pass through Him

And His purposes were rather grand

For although it didn’t look like it

And my understanding was bleak

I now can flip the pages of my book

And see His story, unique

His story in me woven through every fabric

Every wrinkle, every line, every color

Without Him, the ending’s tragic

And when I learned to resist no more

And walked through the open door

I found a lesson so rich, so right

He taught Me to rest in His Words at night

He taught me to let go of those things bound by fear

Because the lesson in my story is that He is always near

Always near to me, never letting go

And His love abounds, this I know

So I resist no more, and my eyes are open wide

His presence, in every moment, His Spirit in me resides.

 

 

 

Seeing God in New Beginnings

His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness (from Lamentations 3:23)

I haven’t run for months. For me, that’s a very long time. I have been a runner off and on since High School. The season when my kids were little I was off, but as they got older, I was back on. It’s a love hate relationship. I love it when I’m done and it makes me feel good. But it’s definitely hard to fit it back into my schedule when I’ve been out of the habit for so long. I stopped when we were moving and I started to pack, then move, then unpack, then traveled to Colorado and California, then got busy with some big events. And then I dropped a dart board on my toe that needed about 3 weeks to heal! Now I’m at a place where I’m ready to start again.

Starting is hard.

I can’t do what I used to be able to do and that can be frustrating. My body doesn’t just jump into submission and obedience like I want it to.

And quite honestly, it would just be easier not to start. But the last time I checked, God didn’t call me to easy. I know the benefits, I know how it makes my body feel, and I know that deep down, there is something more to be experienced through the persevering and through the discomfort.

And so yesterday, I did my first mini run, just to warm up. And I started to realize, I can do this. I don’t have to let my mind or my body tell me what to do and what not to do. There is nothing great in life that isn’t accomplished without a little pain; without a little pushing. We seriously don’t do half the stuff our bodies were made for because we’ve trained ourselves to obey our feelings instead of what we know we need to do.

Life is a lot like that. We feel like it’s been so long since we’ve done something, what’s the point? We have started and stopped so many times, we don’t want to disappoint ourselves and others one more time.

What is it for you? Has it been a while since you’ve sat and just read His Word? Today is a new day. We all have to start somewhere. Maybe you used to journal and thought about picking it back up, but it’s been so long. There is no time like the present. Start somewhere. I’ve had friends tell me they want to start writing again but it’s just been so long, they don’t even know where to start. Start anywhere. Anywhere is better than nowhere. Just start stringing words and thoughts on paper. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’ve never regretted starting. Maybe you used to eat so healthy and you’ve completely let yourself go. Today is a new day. Baby steps. It’s one choice at a time. It’s learning to tell yourself no. Sometimes it’s falling and then just picking yourself back up tomorrow. Grace my friend… we can do hard things.

I see God in new beginnings; in starting fresh. In my mind, I can see Him up there with a host of heavenly beings shouting from Heaven, “You’ve got this”, “You can do this”, “Dust yourself off and get back up.”

His mercies are new every single morning.

May I encourage you today and even challenge you to get back up. You can do this and I promise you, it is worth it. Today is a new day. Shake off the negative thoughts in your head and start something; anything… today.

Remember Philippians 1:6 today…. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

 

Seeing God in Mothers & Daughters

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I took a break from my write 31 for a few days. I know you’re really not supposed to, but I’ve been planning a major retreat and I was gone from Friday through Sunday. I brought my laptop with me, but honestly, just wanted to give these ladies 100% and not be distracted by trying to figure out what to write. So, I gave myself grace and let it go for a few days.

And I’m back this Monday morning. Re-entry is hard. It’s hard when you’ve spent months planning for something, and then it finally happens. Your eyes are tired and you’re trying to get back to ‘normal’ life again, with routines and rhythms and schedules. And all those things I’ve been putting off because I’ve been working on this event is starring at me today. But with early morning coffee in hand and God’s Word on my heart, we can tackle this new day!

I am amazed and overjoyed at what God did this weekend. He blessed me with the most amazing team to help put everything together and run this special mother daughter weekend. And I was also able to spend some much needed time with my daughter who is 15. And even in the busyness, it was really good to be able to see her and play games with her and just to hear her on some things. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to be intentional or it just won’t happen. Making time together, even if it’s a special date once a month, is so important. I know for me, I want to start putting once a month dates on the calendar with my kids. Time rushes through life like a thief in the night, and if you’re not careful or intentional, you miss it. But today is a new day, and I don’t want to miss it.

This weekend was so special for so many reasons. It gave me such joy to serve these ladies and their daughters and to watch them have fun together. We had games, we had a silly skit, we had late night hang-outs, a fun photo booth with a selfie-stick, we had awesome praise and worship, we have four different messages with questions for the moms and daughters to answer together after each session. It was awesome to see these moms look up scriptures with their girls. The topics were Brave Identity, Brave Strength, Brave Purity, and Brave Devotions. And to have so many different churches represented…. I loved that! To lay aside our differences and come together to grow closer to our daughters and grow closer to God. It was beautiful!!! I think one of my favorite parts was the cards. During the day we had moms writing cards for their daughters and daughters writing cards for their moms. Then at our really nice dinner, at the Isla Grand Restaurant we had them exchange their cards. There were definitely some tears in the room. It was a beautiful moment.

And throughout the entire weekend we saw God- saw Him moving and healing and setting people free of some things. And we felt His smile as these moms and daughters reconnected and enjoyed each other. The best present you could ever give your kid is your presence.They are hungry for it and even though they sometimes don’t know how to express it, they want it so much.