What the World Needs Now

flag in barn

When bad incidents happen we ask the question “why?”.  We don’t understand the shocking events which have happened of late and we try to impose order. Humans want life to make sense.  After the initial shock, it leaves us wondering “What will happen next and will I be the next victim?”

Our nation is grieving. Webster’s dictionary defines grief as a “deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” For many families, and the public as a whole, the idea of security is once again threatened at every turn.  Many communities have lost leaders, fathers, grandfathers and those lives will never be heard from again.

And it’s left us confused, angry, and feeling threatened.

Grief is compounded when the death is violent, untimely, and sudden. When there is a willful or intentional taking of a human life by another individual, the sense of shock and disbelief is suffocating. Our world as we know it is shaken to its core, and our sense of safety and security vanish. Oftentimes, overwhelmed by grief, confusion, and in a vacuum of comfort, leaves us to fear.

Grief is amplified when the death is a highly publicized incident. The media gives a doom and gloom perspective pressurizing the nation’s voice to protect ourselves or take matters into our own hands.  We are barraged with blame and shame leaving us to choose sides questioning who “matters” thus dividing lines with hate.  Nothing makes sense. The results are impacting our hope and ebbs away at our faith.  Turmoil and anxiety builds with each look over the shoulder or behind each closed door.

The brute force of many layered and competing emotions mount.  Feelings of anger, fear, confusion, exhaustion, sadness, and depression is intensified by grief.  As onlookers, we shut down and feel numb.  We throw up our hands and don’t know who to trust or what to do to repair these death-laden and devastatingly dangerous situations.  I understand death alright but what do we do with all of the death and progression of evil around us?

Like most wounds it scars our souls and we stop talking about it.  It becomes the white elephant in the room and we are afraid to stand up for our beliefs as to not offend or start another heated argument.  It paralyzes our voices and keeps us quiet.  But the pain of loss is still there and we stuff it down deep.  It festers, boils and wreaks havoc with our sound minds.  We openly pray for healing but there’s no joy in covering hurt of this kind.  The world’s empty words of comfort and feelings of false security become a new normal along with a strategically-placed policy.

Pointing the finger at the obvious won’t heal the pain this nation is in.

Healing takes time and it needs to fall on everyone.  In my opinion there is only one way to win over evil.  We want the pain to cease but as a nation, it’s easier to turn our heads and hope someone quickly sweeps it under the political rug to make it go away like a bad nightmare.  This tug on our souls has to stop or fear will always be after our hearts.

If you have been affected by the recent events please know I too am grieving with you. Words only travel so far and words alone don’t cause change.  No, you don’t forget the sound of your loved one’s voice, or a touch, and you certainly can’t forget the love you shared.  There’s no way to repair a broken heart from a human standpoint.

I wish there were shortcuts to healing.  But the facts remain, the fast-track to evil advances around us.  There is the power to heal our nation within the nation if we could all work together to be the answer for change we only complain about.  How often do we find ourselves asking “What are we do with all this violence?”

The answer is profound and comforting when we respond with an outpouring of love and count it all joy.  Jesus was a man of controversy, stood for justice and showed love to all.  You might say, “Sure, He could because He was perfect.”  You’ve tried being kind in the face of evil and it wasn’t reciprocated.  You’ve tried to love the unlovable and got taken advantage of.  You’re afraid to give this love thing a try at all.  Have we loved and have you only tried?

Jesus is our example to heal this nation.  He didn’t judge – only touched with His grace.  He didn’t beat politics with the rules – but spoke life over the wayward.  He didn’t run away in fear but knew His Father’s voice.  He met the needs of the unloved, the forgotten, and went out of His way to reach the least.  And He counted it ALL joy in who He loved.  Joy was His reward on the way to the cross.  He suffered and knew death.

“Instead of what doing what Jesus did, let’s all do what Jesus is doing!”  Mike Maeshiro

Let time teach you to love and have joy again if you are suffering a loss.  Let the love of God overcome the evil around you.  Let the love of God change you.  Be Christ’s love to others around you.  Show love over evil.  Start counting everything in your life with a reward of joy, and set it before you.  Afraid to show love because you’ve been hurt?  Who isn’t???

God’s love heals in ways we don’t know and kindness progresses healing further than we could ever know.  Jesus led His disciples by the love of God and knew how to do in a ways which advance God’s goodness.  Jesus in it to win it and He has already won!  We can feel secure in our homes and lives of if we would all work together to be the together-strength of love spoken in truth and in love to our communities, cities, and nation.  The progression of LOVE always invites God’s goodness.  His Joy is our joy reward for the suffering even unto and through to death.

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Living a life of stillness in this busy world

openbooks

Friends, let’s be honest on this day, today.  My  heart is heavy with stuff.  Yeah, I try to put it all together out there for others to see, flawless and whole.  But that’s not me.  I’ve been honest with myself and have taken a long look at what my life what it is about.  In this busy life we call ours, it’s really becoming a management of one urgent crisis or another.

My shoulders are heavy and tired and weak.

“Lord, I lift my burdens to You alone and I lay them down at your feet.  Will you give me some simplicity today?”  I prayed those words the other day.  I simply put it all out there for God to hear.  Liberation came in just in the confessing and I realized that I was trying to do things on my own.

Immediately, I was convicted of some false insecurities that continue to rise up (in my soul and spirit) and drag, weigh, and bear down upon my mind.  My problems, my cares, my duties, my hopes, my dreams were anchored in my own efforts.  “Wait…I thought to myself…I have freedom in those areas.”  Or at least I thought I did.

In the confessing, I realized I was trying to create a comfortable life for myself and my feelings.  On top of that, I also realized that I was covering my life with right “to-do’s” or tasks and such but I was forgetting about the one important thing needed.  Can we just be honest today?  Aren’t there those days we all face, where it takes this kind of realization to see where you need to grow in your simplicity of managing life?

What I heard back from God, (yes, I know it was His voice) was “Will you just walk with Me?”.  

There were a lot of tears involved in the process.  Then I remembered a season in my life that I used to cry often everyday and all day.  My life was full of regret of a list of things that I never accomplished.  My next thought became one of rejoicing because of a major shift and many changes that have occured in the recent years of  my life.  I don’t live a life of regret-filled days anymore.

I rejoiced in the fact that those days of regret are over and now I can choose to adopt the pace of God, my Father, in the life of my today.  If I could let you into my brain for a moment, there’s a stillness that needs to happen inside of your thoughts that causes you to choose your best life in considerations of what you have around you, the blessings in life instead of the regrets of life.  (I am realizing this lifestyle goes deeper than your task list or the things you think about any morning like…”I’m behind on so many things!” kind of thinking.)

Now I’m getting stuck in the multiple list of thoughts that come rising up in a woman’s mind especially when she feels behind, unfulfilled and a list of unmet needs are left open in her life.  Okay, now back to the choosing.

There has to be season that as you are emptying your life of what it isn’t, and there is a choice to rejoice in what it is.  In the choosing to accept the rejoicing, the living, the owning your life, the doing of life, you must celebrate with what you have, and begin believing that anything is possible with God in the middle of it all.

There I said it, not simply said, because life isn’t like that.  At all.  It’s complicated, full of tensions, stresses, and problems.  But when we confess that we can’t do life without God, then that’s when the miracles start happening.  In that way of thinking, you have to admit there is more than what God has intended FOR you and designed you for and you MUST surrender the controls over to HIM.  He knows what is best and right and good FOR you.  He knows how big your tiny shoulders are.  He knows your capacity for loads and He hasn’t forgotten your to-do list.  He put the passions inside of you to accomplish what He has designed you for.

He hasn’t forgotten where He has put those things.  Have you forgotten where your strength comes from?  I did.  I honestly thought…”okay God, I can do this (believing that I had to do what He has called me to do on my own.)  That’s not right honestly, because I need God to accomplish what HE has put inside of me to do and what HE wants to purpose in my life.

Simply said, I need Jesus every hour of the day to live.  Honestly, this IS the life I am in (and I don’t know how it is with you).  I need Him to carry me, to help me choose what I need to be doing, to carry out what He wants me to do, and most days I am overwhelmed simply by His goodness in my life.  I am complicated, full of tensions, and stresses just like you.  Challenges come and go, but I can’t live or exist as His much loved child without Him.

These are the things that are on my mind today.  What’s on yours?

 

Knowing God’s Will In Five Easy Steps

hand in his will

Is it possible to know God’s will?  Do you recognize when an opportunity is really “yes” by God?  In a recent chat with a friend over coffee, we discussed the courage needed to walk through a door that God was opening.  How can you tell for certain that God has giving a green light or a red for “don’t go!”

“You have a green light until God turns it red.  Go until God says, “No.” Pretty Simple, really!”  ~ Graham Cooke.  Do you agree or disagree?

The Bible gives us some helps to encourage us in faith leaps.  There are ways to know God’s will.

1. His “yes” will keep in you in church.  If an opportunity takes you away from attending church, you can be certain it’s not God leading you away.  God’s Word tells us not to neglect meeting together for worship (Hebrews 10:25).   You don’t need the four walls to worship, but you DO need to remain connected to other believers to be encouraged in faith and unity to build up the body of Christ.

2.  His “yes” will keep you in His Word.  He won’t lead you to fail nor abandon you to go it alone.  His “yes” would never result in a personal compromise or cause you to be disobedient.  His “yes” would never go against what has been promised.  God can’t lie, or contradict Himself.  Now, the devil twists the truth, and tries to get you to doubt what you carry.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he dislocates your ability to be used by God.  Plus he will do anything to get you to doubt that you are hearing God right!   Don’t shrink back in fear! (2 Timothy 1:7)

3. His “yes” will keep you close to Him.  We have such a relational God and knows every one of our personal details.  His “yes” always requires more of Him to accomplish and faith to experience Him in a bigger way.  If God is calling you to do something, it will never be outside of His will for you.  Many times that looks like we are being stretched and strengthed.   God is not going to give you something that will alienate you from Him or lead you to believe that you no longer need him. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”

4.  His “yes” will line up with the gifts He put inside of you.  God will equip you to what He has called you to do.  Never forget that He is the best skills trainer we know.  And that means letting Him develop what He has put inside of you.  You were made in His image, and our creative God loves to have His way with you.  Often that requires us to step outside our comfort zone to discover the God-given abilities He has crafted on the inside (Ephesians 2:10).  When things get tough (and they will) remember God measures not by man’s standards, but God looks at the heart, and sees you with His heart of love.

5.  His “yes” will always be a “yes”.  We have a good, good Father who is always on your side and in a good mood.  If you ever thought He was out to get you, punish you, or spank you, well…you have a skewed picture of who loves you.  His “yes” is His will for you and when you sense that this is “too good to be true” remember Luke 1:37 ” For nothing is impossible with God.”  Remembering the context of this promise to Mary, the mother of Jesus, she was found highly favored and annointed to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!.  That was her chosen role in the history of Christ, and her purpose and destiny.  God has the same important role for you to carry too!  What looks impossible is possibly setting you up for a miracle!

Many times an “yes” from God is often missed because of fear.  We make decisions on two ideas according to Dr. Caroline Leaf, either faith or fear.  I choose faith, although sometimes I miss the mark too, it’s the goal of God to grow us and carry Christ-likeness.

Micah 6:8 says it simply, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness].” (AMP)  

Remember His “yes” works FOR you!  God’s grace goes before each one of us and faith always trumps fear!

The Promise That Parted a Chocolate Sea

chocolate buffet

I gasped when I saw it.  I didn’t remember that much chocolate could exist in one single buffet line.  I was mesmerized by the shiny and sweet-looking goodness.  The lines to scoop up plates and platters of the decatant desserts were endless and filled with eager chocolate connoissuers.  I wanted to be in those lines twice over.  I wanted it all.

Worse yet, I was willing to hide that I wanted it.  Who would know if I actually jumped in head first?  Consumption of every square inch of all that light and fluffy cake? No problem.  There was such a desire to take a dive right in front of that guy who looked like he need to wait at least five minutes to let his food settle.

Ever want something that bad?

Y’all don’t know what it’s like.  You don’t know the depth of food temptations that reaches the soul.  You couldn’t know or realize the intensity of it, unless you have been there and are fighting to stay free of it.

My grade school principal didn’t get it either.

The day that Mister announced my weight to the entire 20-student class of my private school was the most humiliating and demeaning set of numbers a chubby girl could endure.  I’m sure China heard his voice that day.  I SO wanted to jump ship and drown in a sea of pity.

Again, here was another demeaning amount of desserts set before me.

The nerve of people making chocolate into a flowing sea in a place where to get away from it I had to jump ship…literally.  I just stood there all numb like and such.  The powerlessness I felt in that moment was transcribed as a chocolate trance to find the end of the line and jump on board.  My heart was on hold and my desires were captivated.  I.wanted.every.lick.of.it.

I remember that fateful day when Mister boomed my weight to the world and my desire was then immediately anchored to my dark chocolate history.  OOOH the milky sooth coos from a chocolate milk carton of comfort was overflowing with each imagined dip of satiny goodness.  So I just….dove into my shame and swam in a sea of guilt and blame.

I almost choked back the tears of how wonderful it all tasted as a third grader.  That memory came back to me as I stood in line on that floating chocolate boat.  For a second I wanted more and more comfort and then something shifted inside that made me quickly drop the idea of just a skewered pineappley dipped chocolate treat.

I saw myself (in my mind) at 244 lbs, (my weight at the beginning of my weight loss journey) and I realized that I didn’t want to go back.  Even knowing that one treat would not add over 100 pounds back onto my body, I put the plate down.  I remembered where I used to be, I remembered how I got to where I am today, and I remembered all the work and tears it has taken me to get to where I am.  And I thought of how God wants more for me over my selfish desires.

I remembered why I started this journey in the first place, plus my promise to invite freedom into my life over lusting desires.

I remembered Mister.  That day, in the third grade, I traded my self-esteem for a lie that returned in a failed way of comfort for my hurting inner being.  What I didn’t know then (because I was a child), was that I believed a lie as truth.  It was in the third grade that I chose to let food have it’s way in me.

Once I stood there and saw the endless chocolate river I remembered my “why” and that I became a power-filled overcomer.  I thought of all the lust that has been cut out of my life.  I also remembered a promise that was made between myself and God.  I vowed that I would stay pure in the area of my desires for unnessary calorie choices.

I haven’t always kept my end of the bargain but He has.

The self-esteem that I lost as a third grader rose up strong, renewed and wouldn’t be sabotaged again.  You see, I could have eaten as much as I wanted to and gotten away with it but I am the one who has to live with me after I put the empty plate down.  I have to answer to God about that action, since He is my accountability partner.

Remembering this convenant action with my Rescuer helps me keep this promise true:

Hebrews 8:10 “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Isreal after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

When I saw the brown river, all I could think of was my convenant with God that was written on my mind and heart.  Afterall, I am His “people”.  I remembered that obeying God was giving Him permission to control my desires in every area and having self-control in my choices.  I also remembered that I didn’t have to hand over my permission to a chocolate power anymore. Suddenly or not so quickly, I lost my desire to give my tongue to a lie once again.

Even chocolate with all it’s alluring power that flows in a river can’t break a promise between you and God.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about breaking a food rule, life is too short to keep my own list of wrongs when it comes to food rules and food was put on this earth to enjoy.  I’m relying on my relationship with my Deliverer that gives me strength and shows me out of every temptation known to man, even the ones dipped in chocolate.  Nope, I ain’t got time for that!

When you need to make it through

faith bridge

“Amazing encounters and experiences with God don’t come in ordinary ways.  They often come through adversity and difficulty.” ~ Graham Cooke

When talking about finding your place in this big wide world, it’s often unclear and a challenge to discover your purpose.  Rarely do we receive a holy green light or have all the pieces in place before moving forward unless, perhaps, you are Moses.

Have you ever wondered if Moses knew what he was signing up for?  I recently reread his history in the Bible and discovered something that I have missed many years from reading his story over and over.

Moses spent most of his life in misery.  Read his Exodus story.

As a baby, he was given up by his mom, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, became a prince in the Pharaoh’s palace, (even though he was a Hebrew), and because he killed he ran away to Midian as an outcast.  Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Isrealites were enslaved for years and cried out to the Lord for deliverance.  God sent a burning bush (which had to intrigue Moses somewhat) and had a discussion with him.  God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh (back to the place where Moses was running from) to bring my people, the Isrealites, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3)

Now here’s where it gets good…Moses stuttered and stammered around about his assignment.  Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go…?” He responded with the lack of faith and a lot of doubt.  God, the ‘I AM’, only promised that He would be with Moses.  So it was back to misery for Moses.

Although, along the way through those miserable years Moses witnessed miracle after miracle, even with the ten plagues.  Imagine Moses being the bearer of bad news to Pharaoh with killing of the first born in every family in Egypt.  Talk about fear! Yet, Moses conquered his fear and did what the Lord asked him to do with his simple faith and the promise that the Lord would always be with him.

Was there any doubt that the Lord was with Moses?  No.

Was there any doubt that Moses heard the Lord’s voice?  No.

Was there any doubt that the Lord wouldn’t deliver on his promise to Moses?  No.

No, not now that we are looking back.  It’s easy to say that faith worked for Moses.  But what about you?

When faith is activated, it’s the only thing you need to move forward.  Faith triumphs over doubt and conquers the biggest misery.  God has turned my misery into a miracle with losing over 100 + pounds.  I didn’t know that I was signing up for in this, but because I had faith that God wanted this for me, I obeyed and had faith that He was with me and would help me.

You  might say, “Anyone can lose weight!” and yes, that is true when you take in less calories than you expend.  It has taken a lot of miserable years to get to where I am today.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve sweat like a man, but in this misery I am also maintaining this lifestyle of good health by faith and my relationship in God.  Without a doubt, I won’t slip up and gain every ounce back.

 

I recently made a decision about a big thing in my life.  I didn’t stew over it like I would have years ago, nor did I have any axiety about moving forward.  When the opportunity came to make a commitment, I didn’t hesitate.  I just knew it was the right move and didn’t question it.  In other words I activated my faith to believe that God was in this decision and was granting access to His answer according to what I was praying for.  I was trusting Him for the answer as only He could supply.

My faith had me ready to act instead of react with fear and worry.

I didn’t need a confirmation because it came by faith.  I wasn’t anxious about the result because I trusted God to provide.  I didn’t fret over something that could have caused me great angst.  When you are praying for something that takes more of God to accomplish, by faith I believe He will answer that prayer and my part is to trust in God’s goodness.

All of you are looking to heaven for something.  I believe that.  I also have faith that God wants to bless you.  I believe that God wants to bless all His children and it gives Him great delight to do so.  Often blessing looks like misery.  By receiving the gift of faith it helps us trust God’s character and believe He is with us in the misery as He prepares the miracles ahead.

Faith is a gift and having faith pleases God.  When we believe God for who He is then our faith gives us access to His supernatural ways!  Often, God is working in others to bring your blessing together.  What I love about God’s ways is that He has a plan for us and we only have a small part in His purpose.

Your part is to trust and obey Him.  If having desert years with a simple faith is all it takes to see the miracles, well, you don’t need a bush on fire to tell you that!  Faith will lead you from misery THROUGH to the Promise everytime!

 

 

When you need rest

photo-rest

I wasn’t sure what to expect in this season.  I received an open invitation to a season of rest and was, quite honestly, afraid of it.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”

Why would a person be afraid of resting?  Could it be that there was something to learn in this season too?  Most people crave a break from the normal routine, but an odd feeling of unrest was rising up within me.  It was a battle to open my mind to the idea of resting.  But God has proved a worthy point in this season too!  The very thing I was afraid of was the very thing I needed to realize.

Rest is a gift from heaven.  The Holy Spirit whispered…”what if I could show you an easier way…”  My mind immediately spiraled into a “oh no, (regretful sigh) I’ve been doing this wrong!”.  Ever found yourself in a proving season that you are pointing inward instead of outward?  I have and that’s NOT a fun place to dwell.

Let’s talk in analogies here.  Imagine you are making a pizza with all the wonderful toppings on it and then baking it to perfection with the cheese all melting perfectly golden.  You slice it up to individual slices and then serve it.  You watch the taster just sigh with delight, and know you have hit their cheese nerve of delicious-ness!  It’s so wonderful, you know how to replicate this delicious delight plus how to serve a wonderful pizza product.

Rest in God is like that perfect sigh of delight that you want to replicate in your life.

But how do you get to this kind of rest?  Think of the pizza and it’s many slices.  The gifts inside of you are like those pizza toppings.  The crust and the sauce are like a foundation of faith in God.  The Holy Spirit adds the cheese, to help with those divinely placed gifts to grow and give the delight to you and back to God when you are doing what He has designed you to do.

God has placed His design upon your life a long time ago.  Maybe you are in tune with those gifts or not.  Fact remains there is divine “something” inside of you and you long for that to show in your life.  I’ve had those same longings to know and show God’s working in my life too.

Is what I write here the cheese?  Is this what God has called me to do?  Or is there more?  Yes, and yes.  I believe there is MORE of God to discover and how it’s proven in my life is something only HE can do.  So when I was faced with the thought that I might of missed or messed this design up, well, then I recognized I needed to rest my heart on His.

I needed another dose of holy confidence and assurance that this season was the place of rest for my pride and to go gently unto Him again with all my stuff and lay it down.  Rest assured that entering His rest is nothing to be afraid of nor reject.  It’s His perfect design inside of you, a longing to align with His heart FOR you.  You can’t mess up His work because He is more than that.

God’s work is bigger than your human efforts.  He works in the supernatural realm, which means outside of your human effort, or outside of your way of thinking, or outside of your realm of human influence.  God is at work in your life in all and every one of your life seasons.  No matter what you need, even when you don’t know what you need, you can have rest and He wastes NOTHING!

When looking for the work of God it’s often left at the bridge of faith and put in the doorway of our minds.  We have a choice to believe it and receive it, thus believing that God has gifted you with His divine “sweet spots” of grace over your life too!  Faith is a gift in itself and has to be received supernaturally to believe God for who He says He is.

Now, I don’t know where you are in all of “resting” idea.  Having faith is a good thing, believing God for who He says he is a great thing!  The Supernatural way is the “more” things of God.  To have confidence in your faith will get you there, and will keep you where God wants to work in you and through you.  So don’t question His invitation when the seasons change for you, or look different than you expected.  Even in seasons of rest He is operating from His heart FOR you.

Rest in His confidence is a sweet place.

Resting on Him is a great pleace of trust, is good FOR us, and often missed as needed healing in our lives.  Rest is a choice that even God made on the seventh day of creation.  When I think about how intentional He was in setting aside an entire day to rest on what He had done in the previous six days of creativity, I realize that rest is needed to remain in a creative place plus the fact that rest is a HUGE part of His design for our lives.

Resting, assurance and confidence are sweet places to dwell on and in.  I think, no…I believe, I don’t have to be afraid of resting when it aligns with His creative design in me and around me.  Thank you God that you give us rest.  Yes I will come to You to receive the lighter burdens you have assigned for me.

 

 

When you feel stuck

muddy road

My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day.  There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether.  “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought.  But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?”  My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.

This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016.  God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me.  Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt.  I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!

Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining.  Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department!  We worked on it for days.  God suggested, I rejected.

“Are you sure about that word for me God?  I’ve changed so much from who I was.”  I said.

God said, “Remain.”

Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there.  And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either.  (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!)  The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life.  I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.

I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt.  I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind.  And then something beautiful happened.

As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him.  Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run.  While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul.  But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it.  God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind.  Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.

I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?”  I went in for my last ditch effort with God.  (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!)  I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.”  He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)

With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately.  It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear.  I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point.  God is patient in the ways He deals with us.  We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger!  I wrote….

Remain

Remember

Eternity

Matters (so)

Abide

Intentionally

Now.

And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year.  As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life.  As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.

I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months.  I kept reading it over and over and over.  Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)

Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus.  That is a good promise to stand on.  The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you.  I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction.  He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.

The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires.  When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied.  If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks.  We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.

Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want.  And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith.  As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.

The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day.  Why is this so important to know now?  This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!

Getting past our past

reading alone

As we get older we believe what our past has said about us or how our past has shaped our thoughts. Whatever the reason for our failures, either because of someone else or by our own bad choices in life, the hurt is buried.  Recently, I had to dig down deep to rid myself of a bad thought life that was trying to overpower me.  I let go of my past and I stopped its pursuit.

How can you put your past behind you?

  1. Stop comparing and seeking perfection. Those two habits only lead to discouragement and feeling bad about yourself.  Discouragement leads to depression and inferior self-feelings.
  2. Stop envy. Envy is being jealous of another’s success or hard work that has been accomplished.  How often we think that God is running out of blessing because others are succeeding at something we want.  Stop that!
  3. Be grateful. When we compare, seek approval and envy it’s natural to dwell on what we don’t have.  Rid yourself of jealousy so that you celebrate wins and focus on what you can learn from others.  Be grateful for what you have and make the most of every opportunity.

Remember:  God doesn’t compare or criticize His children so why do we?

God placed us in the lives of others to build them up, not tear them down or try to dominate over each other.  We are not to be takers but partakers in what God is doing in and through His children.  God never intended for us to compete with each other.  How often we injure our own and leave them for dead in the pew.

Hurt people hurt people.   “Unfortunately, there are people who criticize, chastise and ridicule others for their work, efforts and accomplishments.  They are like cats ready to pounce.  Their own insecurities are their trigger.”  Bryan Hutchinson.  (Shared from his eBook “Good Enough: Stop Seeking Perfection and Approval”)

I will never find the perfect approval that my soul craves from an imperfect source. My self-esteem was bitten by the “disease to please” admits Lysa TerKeurst.  I started praying this verse over my life and it changed my perspective and helped me resolve some past issues that continually pounced.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-24.

Has your perfectionism caused you to put on the facade of cattiness, gossiping, whining, sarcasm, martyrdom, cynicism, snide remarks, realism or feeling left wounded?  “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great.” ~ Mark Twain.

Maybe you have been searching for validation, approval, and acceptance.   Start by looking past your past to put that behind you and be grateful.