When Standing by Your Man Harms Your Heart

I have had lots of thought lately with regards to what it looks like to be a follower of Christ, specifically, a woman of God in a toxic marriage… only because I lived in one for so long. My heart hurts when I think about the many Jesus-loving sisters who share a similar journey. Thank the Lord that my story is now being rewritten and I no longer am living that life. God’s grace rescued me and rerouted my journey and now I am married to a man who shows me what it’s like to be loved as God intended. It’s not perfect as we are not perfect. We both have messy stories from our past. We both have scars. We both have had our walls. But God!! When our stories collided the walls began coming down and a new story began. It’s a story formed and being written by God’s incredible grace and I truly am amazed. I am thankful for my past – not because of the pain – but because of what I learned in the midst of it. I have gleaned some wisdom and see things much differently then I once did. So please bear with me as I try to put into words my thoughts as of late.

I have heard comments like, “She was such a good woman, she put up with so much from him!” referring to her alcoholic and cheating husband.  Women have been deemed as somewhat heroes when spoken of with regards to standing by their man as he cheated, lied, and lived a life that not only dishonored the covenant of marriage but dishonored his wife with reckless living.  Some of these women have been blessed with the fruit of their enduring stance…their prayers were answered and their marriage and hearts have been beautifully made new and whole by the redemptive power of Christ.  BUT for some, that has not been the case…not even close.

Remember this song?

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Givin’ all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times and he’ll have good times
Doing things that you don’t understand
But if you love him you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand

And if you love him
Oh be proud of him
Cause after all he’s just a man

This song is similar to what my mom and countless others grew up believing (okay, maybe in part, I need to include myself in this…ugh!). This is what many were taught to do and how to live as a wife. I can tell you without a doubt that there have been so many wounded hearts and mentally scarred wives for having believed this way. Though this is not by any means labeled a “Christian” song, the Christian community embraces this kind of thinking and even MORE so. After-all, God HATES divorce! An underlying belief is that as a “Christian” wife, you stay with your man at all costs. He is deemed the leader of the home and you submit no matter what. He can lie, cheat, be a drunk, choose porn, frequent sex chat rooms, be abusive and more….but still, your calling in life is to win him over by your sweet and quiet spirit. Just pray more, read your Bible more, have dinner ready when he comes home, make yourself sexually available to him 24/7 AND have faith that one day he will turn his life around. You may separate from him if your life is in danger but don’t EVER entertain the idea of the “D” word. That is the unforgivable sin. As long as he wants to be your husband, then so be it. After all, he’s just a man. Part of your holy calling is to continually show him the love of Christ, even when you become aware of him habitually making a mockery of your marriage vows with reckless ways and lifestyle choices that wound your heart. You will be okay! Your heart matters but only to the degree that you sacrifice yourself at the mercy of his choices because after all, he’s just a man. Suck it up, cry those tears but hang in there. While he lives a double life behind closed doors don’t dare disrespect him by revealing truth to those who only see his mask. Keep his secrets and just tell Jesus. That’s respect and that is what you are called to give him.

AND before I get off this rant…… if your husband happens to be a Pastor or involved in some sort of leadership role within the church, just grin and bear it, sister.  YOU would be the one to bring shame upon your family AND the church, should you reach out for help…YOU not him.  No one would believe you anyway!  Not him? Your words certainly would not line up with the way others see him in public, right? UGH!!!!

Oh, sweet sisters…..This. Is. SO. Messed. Up. Some of this may sound extreme but the harsh truth is…so much of it is true, even if nobody wants to admit it.

Let’s be real. The above picture of marriage is NOT the way our God created marriage to be. How in the world did we ever come this far as to put marriage on such a pedestal that the marriage itself is of more value than the hearts involved? Does the husband not have any responsibility? Of course he does. Read the Word. ALL the Word! Not just the parts about the wife being submissive. That ONE SCRIPTURE has been used and abused in so many ways. It is time the church rises up and protects God’s beloved daughters instead of telling them what THEY must do differently, then sending them back home to appease and enable the toxic, addictive and hurtful behaviors of their husband. It’s time for my sisters in Christ to rise up from their ashes and reclaim their strength and dignity as abundantly loved and cherished daughters of God Almighty! It’s time for our own daughters to be told and taught truth about boundaries and their value and worth in Christ. It’s time for those who have been in a toxic relationship to rise up and be a VOICE for righteousness and Holiness as we hold out HOPE for our wounded sisters.

IF you are currently living in a toxic marriage, by all means find a trusted confidant/counselor/pastor whom you can talk to. Do NOT allow your husband’s ongoing and hurtful secrets to become your secrets. You will become a shell of a woman in doing so. As a wife, you are called to be your husband’s helper; NOT his doormat. You were created by God Almighty. You are chosen, valued and treasured….so much so that Jesus died for YOU! If you are frequently being treated less than this, please realize this is NOT how God ordained marriage to be.

I know you are very familiar with the Scripture about wives being submissive to their husband’s but go BACK and read the verses that follow. Your husband is commanded to love YOU the way Christ loves the church. What does this look like? I am not saying he will be perfect but what I am saying is if your heart is wounded and broken by the same behavior and betrayal over and over again…you are in a toxic relationship and your marriage is NOT as God intended it to be. Get help, my friend. Do not overlook, deny, or enable. Rise up and show love to the man you married by holding him accountable to Truth. There is NO benefit in carrying on with life behind a mask and covering up his “stuff” in the name of pride, fear or even love. You must have boundaries if your man is habitually dishonoring you and the vows He made to you. I am NOT talking about a man who is repentant and taking full responsibility by working through and owning his stuff but is still struggling. I am no way condoning divorce nor am I encouraging it. What I am saying is do all that YOU can do to stop this destructive cycle. Don’t believe that if you just keep hoping for change that change will happen. Don’t believe that your “calling” is to simply love away your husband’s habitual, addictive and hurtful behaviors. It won’t work! That kind of love only enables his lifestyle of betrayal. You need to be brave and decide that this is NOT God’s best for you, your husband or your family! God WILL show you things and reveal things to you as you humbly keep your eyes on HIM. He will give you wisdom when you ask for it! If your husband has narcissistic tendencies, please read up on this and become educated on how to handle this type of personality.

Maybe you feel trapped? Stuck? You have the ability to change this but first you have to get fear out of the way. With an open heart, ask God to show you what you should do, then do it. I will ask you the same question that was asked to me…if not now, when? Just in case you didn’t catch it the first time….YOU ARE VALUED, YOU ARE CHOSEN, YOU MATTER! Maybe today is the day you embrace TRUTH and really hear what God is speaking to your heart. HE LOVES YOU and has GOOD plans for YOU no matter what lies have become your truth and painfully comfortable. YOU can’t be your husband’s savior nor the hero of your story. Only GOD can change hearts! Your husband needs a divine encounter with the ONE who died to free him. Just maybe it’s time for YOU to be brave, execute boundaries and get out the way so that God can do what only God can do. Truth WILL BE revealed as you give God a chance to work! I promise you this…no matter what is revealed, HE STILL HAS PLANS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU!! They just may not look like what you thought they would but nonetheless, they will be undeniably beautiful and full of His amazing, extravagant grace! Believe it, sweet sister!

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-32

Live Loved

live+loved

Live Loved……….

I am still trying to wrap my mind around this as I type.  I will try to explain.  Each year I pray and seek God regarding my “word” for the year.  This seems to be a trendy thing to do now days but I can testify to how richly and hugely God has used this in my life in recent years.  It’s a powerful thing! I have found it to be so much MORE than just claiming a “word” for the year.  It helps to keep my easily distracted brain focused and gives me an anchor to hold onto, especially in the difficult and challenging moments.   You see, I don’t just look at it as a word but I also gather scripture references that magnify what God desires for me to embrace in whatever season I may be facing. However, this year I truly struggled with what my “word” should be.  I had a list that I brainstormed but none of those words seemed to jump out at me like times past.

On a side note,  one of the changes that I had been praying for in 2020 was that I would experience complete freedom from my past.  How many of you know that God, in His great mercy, can and at times, does rescue us physically AND relationally. However,  we have to prayerfully and intentionally not allow ourselves to remain bound mentally and emotionally? Right?  Easier said than done!  In my case, I have triggers that rise their ugly heads from my past that I am having to confront. SO many triggers that seem incredibly silly, nevertheless, they are real for me.  I can tell you, our past can indiscriminately effect our today and tomorrows if we don’t get a grip.  It is altogether ridiculous when you take a step back and see them for what they are.  Even though they are real and my experience with them includes automatic panic with a knee-jerk racing heart beat and lump in my throat (PTSD?) …they are dumb! Yes that’s my word for them…ha!! God in His AMAZING GRACE and MERCY rescued me….took me OUT of the pit that I had lived in for years and yet here I am STILL dealing with the aftermath of what was..ugh! Dumb! I believe it’s the enemy’s way to keep us in the yuck that God has freed us from! I have been adamantly praying that in 2020 that I would have wisdom and insight as to how to handle them more victoriously as they come.  You see, obviously before I was remarried, these recent triggers lay dormant as I was not in such a relationship.  The truth is, some healing can only come as we are forced to face our emotional hangups.  Getting remarried has been my force.  It’s been abundantly beautiful in some ways and extremely hard in others.   I have, most assuredly, had many growth opportunities that I did not even realize I needed, ha!  Some progress can seem slow and get downright frustrating.  This messy girl is thankful that God has blessed me with a sweet husband who understands grace because he has experienced it in abundance for himself. He is patient and graciously helps me face and walk through these triggers in a safe space.  The thing about triggers is they can come at any moment, out of now where, and trip me up.  TO say I dislike them is an understatement, but my dislike for them does not make them go away, by no means. However, my obedience to Christ in my messy moments, CAN!  Maybe this is resonating somehow with you and if so, please hang with me.  We can all have things from our past that distracts and seeks to destroy the very freedom that Christ has already given to us.

Back to my “word” for 2020.  My husband and I chose to take a week to pray and fast to start off our new year.  I was anticipating that one of the things that God would reveal was that special “word”.  A we ended our fast, I still had no clue.  Though I was feeling disappointed, I continued to believe it would come. That was on a Friday night…fast forward to Sunday morning.  I was waiting to leave for church and it hit me….YES!!! Thank you, Jesus! AND it makes SO much sense though I can’t fully comprehend the magnitude of it at this moment.

Live loved…..

I understand about living loved by God and what it looks like to walk that out.  Such a precious and life-giving, life-changing revelation.  That Divine knowledge has been my lifeline and saving grace throughout (okay, maybe I haven’t fully comprehended ALL that entails in my human mind as I still get tripped up at times,  but I have understood it enough for His amazing love and grace to be a difference maker in my life!) However, it is living loved within marriage, by my spouse, that gets me tripped up and entangled in all kinds of anxiety and insecurities.  As I have mentioned before, love to me within marriage meant pain.  It meant that my heart was never safe with my spouse.  It meant that after a heart-breaking reveal, it would be just a matter of time before my heart was broken again.  I was taught by my wounds that things weren’t always as they seemed and that there were always secrets lurking in the darkness. It meant there was no trust.  It meant half truths, if any truth at all.  Subsequently, I never fully experienced the love that God ordained to be shared between husband and wife.  How do I know this? Because of what God has allowed me to experience now! Like wow!! My NEW normal has been a huge beautiful adjustment and my heart, at times, is still trying to catch up and walk in it’s Truths. THAT, my friend is why this is extremely exiting to me!

Sweet friends, God doesn’t miss a thing! This challenge to “live loved” has touched my heart in ways that words can’t express.  I do NOT have to live less than loved any longer by my spouse.  It’s like God is revealing to me that it’s okay.  My heart is now safe.  It’s a NEW season, a NEW day and God is doing a NEW thing!  No more toxicity.  No more betrayal.  I am free! I can breathe.  I can relax.  I can let go of marital fears and doubts,  suspicious thinking and ENJOY this life that God has so blessed me with.  AND peace, such sweet peace.    I can “live loved” as I am abundantly loved by God AND deeply and affectionately loved by my husband.  It’s going to take work on my part.  New thinking, aggressively taking thoughts captive that are attached to the past, and embracing every sweet and beautiful thing about living in freedom.

My husband, since I met him,  has declared over and over that he wants to be beautiful for me.  Honestly, when he first shared that with me,  I thought it sounded strange and I did not quite understand what he was trying to say.  But now, I get it! He has certainly taught me and continues to teach me what it looks like AND feels like too experience love, God’s way! God is so good, ya’ll!

I am striving to embrace this “LIVE LOVED” life as I detach from toxic mindsets. Maybe you need freedom, too? Maybe your story is different from mine but you still have ugly, messy “stuff” from the past that is battling to keep you bound.  Can I encourage you today?  Don’t give up! Keep pushing through….keep wrestling!  A trigger moment does not make you are a failure or any less spiritual.  God understands why you are the way you are! However, His love for you will not leave you that way nor abandon you to battle alone.  Maybe you need some outside intervention.  Maybe you need a mentor to come along side of you.  Maybe YOU need a “word”, an anchor of sorts to hold you steady with scriptures to combat your triggers.  Maybe YOU need a divine and/or renewed revelation of how very much GOD loves YOU!! Sweet friend, pray and seek God and wait for His answer.  He knows what lies ahead of you and He will graciously equip you to rise above all that desires to hold you captive. LIVE LOVED and know that greater is HE that is in YOU than all the yuck, the lies, the deceit, the wounds, the losses, the betrayals and the disappointments of your past! Rise up, sweet sister!! God has amazing plans for YOU!!! You are extravagantly and completely loved! Now go and live like you believe it! By God’s amazing grace and power, we CAN do this!!

1 John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Song of Solomon 4:9: “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Proverbs 30:18-19: “There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.”

 

Freedom in Knowing and Embracing Truth

Truth will set you free

Friend, I don’t know about you, but as the longevity of my walk with Jesus increases day by day, my heart is becoming more aware of the lies that I had previously believed and embraced over the years.

Time and time again the enemy whispered in my ear.  He told me I was not good enough and that my life would always consist of pain and brokenness, that there was no way out. After-all, I was a Christian and Christians endure the unthinkable.  They never give up on a relationship.  They sacrifice for the sake of others, just like Jesus.  They embrace brokenness and heartache as a good soldier of Christ.

When you begin to believe the lie that your heart does not matter and that God has called you to live a life full of brokenness for the sake of another – friend, that is called enabling.  Last time I checked, enabling another to continue in their repetitive sin and hurt those who love them only brings disrespect towards you and in no way do those actions bring honor to God.  I used to very much dislike that word.  That very word was penned to wives who found themselves in similar situations like mine.  How could I possibly be “enabling” sinful behavior when it was the very thing that broke me time and time again? All I wanted was to be the kind of wife who helped, supported, and encouraged my husband.  However, this is where the problem was.  I wanted it MORE than my (then) husband wanted it and therefore, I was blinded by my own skin in the game.

Read the Bible more carefully! What did Jesus do? How did he respond to those who chose to continue in their sin?  Don’t fool yourself, please!  Don’t think that what you are doing by loving without boundaries and allowing yourself  to be wounded by the same kinds of betrayal over and over and over again is honorable.  I have come to learn that we can live sacrificially in a way that brings honor to God but we can also live sacrificially and nothing about our sacrifice is God-honoring.  This kind of sacrifice does not at all help the person who is held in bondage.  We may color it pretty with all the right “Christianeese” wording, but this will only work for so long.  A high cost is being paid for you to continue to stay in the pit with your betrayer….something needs to change and it starts with YOU!

I recently read a quote by author Gary Thomas which said, “It’s not a failure to know when it’s time to walk away; it’s a gift.”  I agree! The key is KNOWING.  Until you know, you wait.  Until you know that you know…there will more than likely be MORE heartbreak but the treasure of KNOWING is worth the waiting. Be patient.  Knowing is a process.  It is NOT a quick fix nor an easy way out.  It is NOT a decision to be made based on emotions. It’s attained by much waiting, prayer, fasting, wrestling, seeking God, and counsel. To know is powerful.  Knowing will NOT leave behind a heart of regret.  Knowing will give you the courage and confidence to move forward with strength and dignity as your God-given shield to combat the unknown and possibly difficult season ahead. But remember, unlike what you are used to, it will only be a SEASON; not a life-style of messiness and brokenness! Big difference!

I know this sounds harsh and somewhat bold but these are things that I wish someone would have shared with me.  And maybe they did, but my heart wasn’t ready to listen.

I remember in my early days of my (then) marriage reading the book “You Can Be the Wife of a Happy Husband”.  I marked it up, I hung onto every word.  I highlighted most pages and rewrote quotes in my journal.  I tried my best to live out the advice from this sister in Christ regarding how a wife who loves Jesus lived to make her man happy and above all to please Christ. It seemed to be on point with my understanding of marriage at the time.  Somehow I came to believe that if I did all the right things, checked them off my list of “what Godly wives do” my (then) husband would forever love me and his commitment would never waver.  Unfortunately, as time went on, I learned from actions and my repeated brokenness I couldn’t trust this person.  So, what did I do?  I  determined in my heart if I couldn’t trust him, I would just trust Jesus and I penned this as victoriously living. This is how I lived – for 30+ years.  Yet, it was far from victorious.   There was a constant wrestling full of battles I could never win.  You know why? Because this is NOT how God intended marriage to be.  Marriage should be a safe place to land not one of continued betrayal.

In hindsight, I had some really skewed thinking when it came to forgiveness.  Actually, I had the forgiveness part down…but my mercy was way out of balance.  In my thinking, if someone says they are sorry then as a Christian I need to forgive 70 times 7, which is true, right?  You CAN (and should) forgive… it’s a process that we have to work through with much prayer and surrender.  Forgiveness is about YOU, not the betrayer.  Forgiveness sets YOUR heart free from the bitterness that brokenness can cause.  However, we get this so messed up.  Forgiveness is totally separate from reconciliation….it takes only ONE to forgive but TWO to reconcile.  You CAN and SHOULD forgive without giving the repeated offender, the proven untrustworthy person, access to your heart again.  Don’t do it!! Did you notice that I said, “proven untrustworthy person”?  I am not talking about a stand-alone moment or event that hurt you; rather, I am talking about a lifestyle or pattern of behavior – repeated consistently with no repentance  – which has proven unsafe for your heart.

And Boundaries? Hmmmm.  What were those anyway? This term should be reserved for markings on a softball field or lines on a basketball court, right? Once you are married – in my happily ever-after girl mentality – I would have never thought you even needed them.   I. was. so. wrong.

All I knew was I had waited all my life to be married; to have babies and be the best wife and mom I could be with a husband who loved me as much as I loved him.  I was stubbornly determined to make it work even if it meant living life as a broken girl. Was it pride? Maybe! Was it fear? I am sure it was!  Was it about my children? Of course! Was it the desire not to disappoint others, including God?  Yes, that too.  I adamantly held on trusting that God would fix it and would take care of what I couldn’t as long as I worked on making myself a better wife, kept the faith and kept believing.

Yet, there I was.  Depressed, lonely, and crying buckets of tears behind closed doors nobody knew about.  I was so broken.  Suicidal thoughts? Yep, nothing serious, but nonetheless…my heart was full of regret.   There were times I wrestled with feeling hopeless, stuck, and trapped. This was not what I had signed up for.  I didn’t know love could hurt so deeply and so often.  However, I began to think it was normal.  After all, every couple has problems and are told to work through them, stick it out, work on changing yourself and let God take care of the rest.  So this is what I struggled to do over and over and over again, but somehow, I always fell short and my (then) marriage and broken heart proved it.

I poured my soul onto tear stained pages of pretty covered journals during those long ago seasons.  It was therapy for me. A means of  letting out what my heart so deeply felt but I couldn’t dare tell anyone.  Recently, I read back through some of those journals and literately cried for the girl that was.  She was young and gullible and so wanted to get it right that her stubborn resolve resulted in a toxic mindset of jumping through hoops of religious “good enough’s” and enduring relational pain that was destroying her from the inside out. What was once done out of love for her Savior soon turned into acts done with selfish motivation in hopes to save herself from being hurt again and to save her family.  With each new heartbreaking discovery came words out of anger that led her to feelings of guilt and shame.  It was a vicious cycle. Feeling as though if she just tried harder….prayed more, read her Bible more, etc. things would change and her heart could finally have a chance to heal.  She  was a broken, trapped young wife who didn’t understand why this was the life she was called to live.  She had done all she knew to do and yet, her life was marked by a brokenness that only Jesus could understand.

I saw a quote which said, “Marriage is like having a sleepover with your best friend every night of the week.”  Sounds so sweet, right?  Thanks be to Jesus, I now can say a big “Amen!” to that! But back then, not even close!  Secrets and betrayal do NOT nurture this kind of relationship; they only destroy it.   I finally realized, after many years,  what I thought was cut and dry as a “Christian” wife didn’t quite work like I had believed to my core to be true.  Yes, God hears and answers prayers! Yes, God is a way-maker! Yes, God heals broken marriages everyday.  Mine was just not going to be one of those and today I am okay with this.  I have not only survived, but I have felt peace and freedom of my soul like I have not remembered knowing before.  My kids have survived and thrived and I can honestly say we are all stronger and closer as a family than ever before!  God is truly restoring the “years the locusts have eaten” and He can do the same for YOU!

Here is the truth…..marriage was created by God to be a mirror of His extravagant and sacrificial love for the church.  However, it takes TWO in a marriage, humbly submitting to Him, then to each other for it to be a true reflection of how God designed marriage to be.  When both are living as God designed, it is beautiful.  Not perfect, but beautiful, nonetheless.  Grace in action – knowing the other never intentionally seeks to hurt, betray, dishonor, or destroy the heart of the other.

Let’s be honest…life can be messy and break our hearts. Yes, especially in marriage. However, even when there has been an incident of betrayal (not a lifestyle), there are many testimonies where there was true repentance and the couple was able to restore their relationship and come out on the other side stronger and with a story that helps others for the glory of God.  Subsequently, this is not always the case.  Sometimes the betrayal never stops. My lessons learned do not come from a one-time, backsliding season but from a lifetime of lies, deceit and betrayal over and over again.  Just like everything else God created, Satan seeks to tarnish it and ultimately destroy it.  He may have won the battle and left a heart full of scars. BUT God!

The lies I believed were exposed and I have now have a greater appreciation for God’s abundant grace.  Everything I have today is all because of His amazing, extravagant grace.  Yes, there has been a divorce; hearts of have been broken and lives have forever been changed.  Does this mean I am headed for hell? Does this mean God’s grace isn’t enough for all the messy brokenness that has affected so many? Is divorce the unpardonable sin? Is divorce even a sin?  All of these questions can only be answered in truth by God himself.  Who are we to put marriage on such a pedestal in the Christian community and think that only those who are married and have been able to stay married are more holy than those who have walked through the devastation of such terrible destruction and still have their faith intact?  I know my Jesus.  I know his heart for me and my children is nothing but love and healing of our broken hearts.  I know that while I was a divorced single mom, I was still accepted by God and He was STILL very much ordering my steps with His wisdom while pouring out blessings in the midst of the pain and challenges.  I have stories that involve “only God” moments!  Nobody can ever tell me differently. I have walked through it and I have experienced His faithfulness in abundance time and time again.  The religious haters of our day who call me and others who have been divorced and remarried adulterers and bombard us with Scriptures about God hating divorce are focusing on the wrong thing.  Shame off us and shame on them! We ALL are in need of the extravagant grace of God; not to habitually take part in sin, but to overcome it and rise above the trials and tribulations that come from living in a broken world.

To my divorced sisters who love Jesus and never thought their story would include the “D” word…..I would say, you are the bravest and gutsiest girls I know.  It takes BRAVERY to finally stand up to toxicity.  It takes GUTS to open your eyes to truth and quit justifying, downplaying, and hoping your life away while taking responsibility for someone else’s unhealthy and hurtful choices.  It takes a HOLY RESOLVE to STOP the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome.  It takes DIVINE STRENGTH to rise up and realize you are valued and worthy to be treated as such.  It takes DETERMINATION to walk through the darkness of divorce with your dignity intact. It takes COURAGE to fight for what is right and not allow compromise and rules to be broken because of scare tactics and threats.  YOU are chosen; YOU are loved; You are called; and YOU are the beloved daughter of a God whose grace and mercy trumps divorce and all the bad accolades that come with it.  He, my friend, is your Healer.  He did not cause your divorce but He is the ONE who can bring redemption to your broken heart and beauty for your ashes. None of us would have chosen this.  Life happens and we cannot control how others choose to walk it out, but we CAN choose to grab on to the hand of Jesus as we step out of the sinking boat and walk with Him towards a future that is full of His abundant grace and sweet beauty.

As I am writing this, I am profusely  in awe of my God.  Back then, I would have never imagined I would be where I am today.  Instead of tears of pain on the pages of my new pretty covered journals there are tears of joy and thankfulness.  The really amazing thing is when I look back I don’t see as much of the yuck as I see of God’s love in every page of my story – even the worst parts!  No doubt, I am where I am today because because I serve a God who redeems and makes all things NEW for HIS glory!   The pages that are now being written are full of life I have never experienced before and it is altogether beautiful and lovely.

Our God is writing your story, too, my friend.  You may be in the midst of the most horrific chapters this very moment but it’s NOT the end of your story.  New chapters are already in the works.  Don’t get stuck on one page, one period, and certainly not on one drama-filled event or even the heartbreaks and wounds that never seem to heal.  Pause if you need to; catch your breath and determinedly hit the carpet surrendering your messiness and heartbreak to your Savior. Be Brave, sweet sister! Pray, wait, seek counsel then follow through in obedience to what God shows you to do.  Anticipate His goodness.  He is NOT finished writing YOUR story! Keep turning those pages.  Keep your focus on HIM knowing that the best is yet to come.  Your heart will NOT always hurt as bad as it does today.  Because you are in the midst of…in the middle of….in the trenches of…. you may be wondering where God is.  You may feel as though your prayers are hitting the ceiling.  Keep praying.  He hears you, my friend. He sees you.  In His timing, He will reveal what you need to know.   As your story continues to be written and revealed….. God’s fingerprints of faithfulness from the front cover to the back will be undeniably evident! True story! Believe it!

What I Love About You….Our Happily Even-After

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     I truly felt like a love-stricken teenager at heart as I taped each envelope on the door to surprise my sweet husband.  This was only our second Valentine’s Day together as husband and wife but felt even more significant than our first. Why? Not sure! But I think it may have to do with the fact that I feel like I fall in love with him more everyday! Yes, it’s true!

As I purposely wrote each thought my heart was overwhelmed by God’s abundant faithfulness and amazing grace.

You see, Just a few years ago I really didn’t think I could entrust my heart to anyone in marriage again. The risk seemed way too high for this messy girl.  From my past experiences, love to me was painful and it meant to live sacrificially broken with unrelenting heart wounds for the sake of another…..because that’s what Jesus-loving girls do, right!??? (Not!! That was simply WRONG thinking! Blog post or maybe I should say “rant” coming soon, ha!) Unfortunately, just when hope of change was sparked and healing was in sight the messiness would come again and again….and again. So the story goes. 

But God….

When I first met Chris, even though I was undeniably drawn to him, my fears told me to run and I listened…ha! I was understandably scared and with a determined  stance, I stuck a  “closed” sign tightly over my heart.  But thankfully, with much prayer and wrestling AND the support of my dear mentors and friends the story didn’t end there! Chris respectfully, patiently and gently continued the pursuit and the rest is our happily-even-after!!! 

Even after….. 

Even after we both had made our share of mistakes. Even after we both had hidden scars from our messy and broken past. Even after we both had experienced the tearing apart of significant relationships. All because our God is the God of the “even after”! Our God is so so good!! He truly does bring beauty from ashes!

The words I wrote on each note were a reflection of my heart being able to experience…for the first time ever, the love that was meant to be shared between a husband and a wife! It’s altogether beautiful and I can say that I am truly thankful for the lessons learned from our “before” scars that have brought us to our “even after” story today. 

Friend, whatever your gut-wrenching story looks like today, it’s not over! In Christ, it is only a chapter, a season, and a tool to propel you towards your God-ordained, God-weaved, God-blessed and God-planned destiny! YOUR happily even-after story is coming! Believe it! 

Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

You’re Going to Be Okay!

 

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Are you at a messy place right now and your mind wonders if  God really does redeem our stories?  Not just when we enter our heavenly home but here and now, this side of eternity?  Maybe you have found yourself on a detour that you never saw coming.  Maybe you are facing this very moment some ugly, difficult and untended parts of your story that have left you face down on the carpet desperate for God’s intervention.

Friend, can you just pause for a moment from your tears, your questions, your doubts and hang with me for a moment?  Our. God. Is. Faithful. Always.   I get it….. your circumstances may NOT be okay!  However, YOU’RE going to be okay! How can I proclaim this so boldly and confidently? Because I have walked through those kind of chapters and am now reaping the joys that God brings as the pages turn.

The pain in my eyes that I had for literally years is now gone and has been replaced with precious peace and radical relief.  God DOES redeem! He takes the worst parts of our stories and redeems and truly creates beauty from the ashes that may surround us.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Is. 61:1-3

If you need hope this very moment please read the above scripture again.  Pay attention to every word.  Do you see it?  Heavy words like brokenhearted, captive, darkness, prisoner, the grieving and all who mourn are the ones being addressed in this passage.   Friend, if any of those words describe who you are or where you find yourself on this journey, your heart can be FULL of hope! You’re going to be okay!! Why? Because Jesus came for YOU! He has already made a way for you.  Your ashes are no match for His abundant grace.

February 2, 2019 represents so much more than my wedding day…but a rescue of sorts.  A day when God boldly declared to my heart as well as others that He is well able to redeem and take what the enemy meant to destroy me and my family and make it so beautiful.  It represents the answer to countless prayers prayed by many that I did not even know were  praying for me and my family.   You see, it’s not just our victory in Jesus but other’s victory and testimony, too!  Those who loved us, supported us, believed in us and more importantly those who believed that God had good plans for us in spite of how it looked then.  My heart is so thankful.  My prayer is that in sharing this it will give YOU a shot of hope because at numerous times, I was wondering and struggling, too! Broken, wounded, stressed to the hilt, and ever so desperate.  It wasn’t just one hard thing but many that left me with eye twitches and stress rashes…..but God! No, things did not happened as I had prayed but God took me on a path that has been paved with amazing grace and beauty for ashes.  If you are wondering if this could ever happen for you my answer to you is a resounding and confident YES!!! It is so hard to believe when your heart is filled with pain and you can’t see clearly for the fog that surrounds you. I get it. I really do. I promise you, our God is faithful.  He sees you.  He invites you to trust Him as He is working out the future that He has for you and those you love.

So my friend, whatever chapter you are in know this;   it’s only for a season.  Many times we have no control how long our painful seasons may last  but you can be assured that God’s timing is perfect and purposeful. You, my friend, are on the pathway to greater joy and intimacy with Christ than you have ever known.  Stay on the carpet, ugly cry and let your knees burn.  Don’t ever stop wrestling. Stubbornly hold on to your faith as you hold on to your God.   Follow hard after him…stay obedient no matter what your feelings tell you. Expect God to move! He will sweet sister, He will!! Your waiting time is not wasted time…He is creating room in you for the beauty that is yet to come!  One day,  you will see clearly that He not one time left you in your darkest moments.  He was cutting away the lies from the past to make room for a NEW season, a NEW beginning that could not compare to anything you have experience before.

Psalm 27:14

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the lord.

 

 

Like Mother, Like Daughter

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Over the past few years we have experienced the death of two marriages in our family. To say that our family dynamics have dramatically changed is an understatement.  To see where we are today is nothing short of a miracle.  Not the instantaneous kind but the kind that comes from wrestling and determinedly walking out your days with God’s gutsy braveness and strength not because you are super spiritual but because there is no other option.   The odds were certainly against us.  The chances of us coming through such huge changes with relationships still in tact were not at all in our favor.

To be perfectly honest, when my oldest daughter came to me and told me she was getting a divorce…I selfishly fought against it.  See,  I was in the midst of my own messy, crazy and hard divorce from her father.  I held it together for the moment and then as soon as I could get away, I hit the carpet in disbelief.  Really, Lord? Why now? This is absurd! I can’t carry her brokenness and my own at the same time let alone my other kid’s brokenness!!  This was just too much….for her, for me, and for our family.  “Like mother, like daughter” was not a phrase that felt good  in the midst of our unwanted circumstances though it would seem fitting, Ugh! Having five children experience the terrible aftermath of the destruction of their own family unit is one thing.  However, to have one of those five children also experience the same kind of loss……in the same season, was inviting chaos of the worst kind to reek havoc in the hearts and minds of ALL my children. Oh my word!! I knew I had to get a grip.  As I ugly cried into the carpet that day in prayer pleading with God to intervene and wallowing in my own pity party,  I was reminded that He knows all things.  This was absolutely no surprise to Him.  His grace would be sufficient.   What seemed like such horrible timing and so messy would be worked for good no matter how things felt or looked from my limited perspective.  I had no choice and I knew it.  I had to embrace what I knew to be true of God and not let my emotions get the best of me.  I had to be strong for all of us.  I eventually stood up with a stubborn resolve but it was only a short time after that the guilt bombs and accusations attacked my mind from different directions. Subsequently, this only gave way to even more stinkin’ thinking.   I went from “please, God” to “oh, no…did I cause this?  Were my children reaping the consequences of my decisions? Was my own divorce giving my precious daughter permission to give up on HER marriage?  After-all, God hates divorce.”  Reality is, I hate divorce and yet here I was on the cusp of the “D” word being a part of my story and now doubly so for my daughter. We all know as a mom,  it’s one thing for life to happen to us but when it hits our kids it’s a whole different kind of brokenness.  They had already lost enough.  The possibility of it being a part of my daughter’s story, too…broke me.  “How dare I claim to be a christian and put my family through this.  Have I opened the door of destruction for those that I hold most dear to my heart?”  This thinking and more attacked every aspect of who I have ever claimed or wanted to be.   I hated the helplessness I felt but I knew  I had no control over outcomes.  This was not something I could fix nor wish away.  In the midst of this overwhelming sorrow, I repented.  I begged for God’s mercy to cover and heal any brokenness in my children that I may have caused.  I was so sorry for my part in all of this messiness.  Then I rehearsed in my mind the road that led me to the decisions that I had made and  I had a renewed resolve.  Now was not the time to question what I had already previously settled in my heart and mind through much prayer and counsel.  I knew what I knew.  I needed to be extremely careful of whose voice I was giving power to.  Did what I was hearing line up with what I knew to be true, if not…then I had to choose to let it go!! Not to say that I didn’t struggle anymore, because I did. I just did not allow those tormenting thoughts to be the boss of me……..I surrendered them to Jesus over and over again and slowly but surely they lost their power over me.  Thank you, Jesus!

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.     John 1:16

Now, several years later we are living out our stories redemption style.  The losses we went through do not compare to the new joys we are now experiencing.  What was meant to destroy us has only made us stronger and has given us a story that shouts of God’s amazing grace and faithfulness.  Only my children know the depths of the chaos and craziness that we have walked through but with that they have also known and witnessed the greatness of our God as He has came to our rescue time and time again!

Just recently, as I had a few precious moments with my daughter before she said “I do”, I was given the opportunity to pray with her.   As the words begin to flow, so did my tears. God so sweetly reminded me of how He had given us each other to share not only in the pain that had been a part of our stories, but also in these specific joy-filled beauty-for-ashes moments.  I don’t know of any mom who would ever plan nor want to go through a divorce at the same time as her daughter BUT not every mom gets the blessing of sharing the season of being engaged and married with her own daughter either.  How precious and how special.  I could not see in the get go, as I poured out my heart beside my bed that day, that God would so graciously weave our stories so closely together and create a beautiful ever after from the ashes we both carried.  I could not see then that God would take the ugliness of divorce and bring a strength and closeness among my children that wasn’t there before.  I couldn’t see then that I would get to meet and marry a special man and have the privilege of being  a bonus mom to two incredible kids and a mother-in-law to a man that would love my daughter and her siblings like no other!

Our God is truly the God of abundant mercy and grace and He is no respecter of persons.  In the midst of the unwanted parts of our stories, God redeems. He covers our shame with His love and creates within our story HIS story of amazing grace.  His grace is even more beautiful to me now than ever before.  I have been ever so desperate for it and I have  experienced the extravagance of it.   His grace has anchored my messiness to His marvelous perfection and created something so beautifully new.  His grace has truly been sufficient for me and my children and I can assure you that His grace is truly sufficient for you. Believe it, my friend!

I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;  Be strong and let your heart take courage;  Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord. Psalm 27-13-14 

I have set the Lord continually before me;  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

…May grace (spiritual blessing) and peace be given you in increasing abundance [that spiritual peace to be realized in and through Christ, freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts]. 1 Peter 1:2

 

 

 

Unanswered Prayers and Longing Hearts

Daisies were my mom’s favorite flower. Honestly, her life resembled their beauty. She was a sweet spirited, gracious woman of faith pouring out JOY and the love of Christ to all who knew her.  Though her marriage of almost 50 years was not how she would have envisioned it, she stood strong and courageous and embraced her place.  She believed God for better days ahead and kept believing, in spite of the many obstacles.  Hidden behind her beautiful smile, her life consisted of frequent frustrations and brokenness.  There were seasons when she wanted to walk away but it was fear that kept her where she was but faith that gave her the guts to dare to believe that her tomorrows would be different.

I understand my mom so much better these days. The struggle between fear and faith, comfortable and risky, holding on and letting go.  Oh, how I wish her life could have been different.  Fear is a prison that shows no mercy if not reckoned with.  As her daughter, my heart breaks for hers still today but really, that’s so silly.  She is basking in her eternal home with Jesus now which takes away so much more than the sting of death but also the brokenness that she lived through.

I hoped and believed with my mom for things to change.   After all, we knew we were praying according to God’s will, so why did my mom not get to witness the fruit of her prayers?   I know about free will, choices, and all of that however, being aware of those kinds of things doesn’t lessen the pain of our heart’s longings, right?

SO, what do we do with unanswered prayers, longing hearts and chronic suffering?

The day I lost my mom is the day I lost my best friend.  It was a loss like no other.  I  think about my fervent, pleading prayers and belief for my mom to be healed of cancer and am wistfully reminded of her passing each day and most heavily each time my kids have milestone moments that I am unable to share with her.  AND now with my precious grand-babies, her loss is felt even more.  Oh, how she would so love them!! Nevertheless, I am quite aware that we are not, by no means, the only ones on the planet to experience this kind of long-suffering in what seems to be a never-ending journey through the wilderness of pain and unanswered prayers.

I think about the couple who unceasingly prayed for years to conceive a child, finally giving birth to a beautiful baby boy, only to have their dreams forever crushed as they lost their precious baby to cancer.

I think of the little girl who cries out to God to heal her daddy, only to have him die in a car accident, three months later.

I think about the parents who fervently prayed for their child who was put into prison for drugs, only to have him released and then die from an overdose.

I think about the missionary who felt the call of God to go to a foreign country, who interceded on behalf of the lost, who believed God for protection only to be martyred, never seeing the fruit of his labors.

I could go on and on about loss, suffering, and unanswered prayers and perhaps even add your story to the above. This side of Heaven, THIS. IS. LIFE. IT. IS. HARD.  However, this is not meant to depress you, to tell you that prayer is meaningless or to deflate your faith!  Please stay with me.

Though my mom’s prayers were not answered  this side of heaven the way she had hoped,  she died in faith, STILL believing that our God is faithful.  And you know what?  There are MANY who passed before her, whose FAITH stood the test of much patience, suffering, brokenness, along with those who were burned, tortured, stoned, imprisoned, whipped and oppressed even unto death. Of course, for the most part, these beautifully brave and courageous followers of Christ were not noticed by our world Their faith did not earn them any special accolades or awards.  I can promise you this; if they were standing before us they would say none of that mattered to them.  They were doing what they did for an audience of ONE.  Friends, that ONE took SPECIAL notice of their kind of faith, so much so, that He felt it important enough to speak of them…

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.  But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.                Hebrews 11:13-14

Did you catch that?  Read the first part again.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them.  

They did not receive what was promised

Friends, sometimes our prayers are answered quickly, obviously, and even miraculously.  Our faith is ignited and our doubts are laid dormant in light of God’s evident working power in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Other times, God’s perfect plan comes to fruition in ways that we might not recognize or understand.

Over the long haul of asking and believing, it gets tough. We get weary.  Our faith wavers.  We don’t like to think about having to continue in the wilderness of suffering and unmet longings and certainly we don’t want to even consider leaving this earth without seeing our gut-wrenching prayers answered.  Friend, you already know this, but maybe it is time to really embrace it; your prayers may not be answered THIS side of Heaven the way you would like them to be.  Can you be okay with that? What will your response be when things don’t go as you had prayed?

Whatever it is you are praying for or against, GOD has a purpose weaved all through it.  He lovingly filters ALL things that impacts the lives of his children.  If he allowed it, HE plans to use it for GOOD.  Not only will He use it to transform YOU, but to bring about HIS Kingdom purposes on this earth and in the hearts of those you love.

This is a quote worth sharing;

“We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”  Tim Keller

If you step back and look at it from a Heavenly perspective, those in Hebrews 11 really received the GREATER promise…the promise of their happy eternal after with Jesus.  By God’s grace and strength, that is what they kept their eye on, as the scripture tells us.  That is how they faced the horrific and unimaginable suffering that they were subjected to.  I adamantly pray that I could do the same. How about you?

Friends, this journey on this earth is NOT the MAIN thing!  So much of the time we are so short sighted that we lose our eternal perspective.  In the scheme of things, THIS life on earth is SO short, so minute compared to eternity.  Let me just remind all of us, myself included,  that God’s calling upon our lives, first and foremost is to be His hands and feet to a lost and dying world.  That is God’s heart…to save the lost.   Are we grieving over the lost and interceding for them or are we obsessing more over our own unanswered prayers? I know for me, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own little world that I lose sight of what is REALLY important.  I get so distracted by what is right in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am in no way belittling the heart-wrenching things you may be praying about.   Even as I write this, there are tough and difficult circumstances in my own life that I am continually laying on the alter of prayer.   I want things fixed NOW! I don’t like waiting, I don’t like feeling out of control, I don’t like pain, and I don’t like the unknown.  So, are things changing? No, not altogether…but what is changing is me.  Trusting, believing, and even waiting brings growth and maturity that cannot come otherwise.  For now, that is MORE important to my loving Father than to change the circumstances I am praying about.  So,  I will keep praying and believing that my God is in control and hears every prayer. I can be confident that God has a Divine plan that exceeds my limited vision.

It is obvious that prayer is important to God.  After all, it has been noted that there are around 650 prayers in the bible. Prayer is powerful and brings about amazing and Divine things on this earth! Jesus even prayed and gave us the ultimate example to follow.

Without prayer, there is no communication and no communication means no relationship!  Therefore, keep praying, by all means.  And as you do so, think about your difficulties this way; if what you are suffering and/or praying for is keeping you humble and dependent upon Jesus then consider it a divine blessing of grace! Amen?!

Will you continue to believe God and not allow your faith to be shaken though your prayers may seem stagnant in the wilderness of waiting or chronic long suffering? Can you passionately pray a bold and courageous prayer just as Jesus did and proclaim from the depth of your soul “not my will but thine be done”?  Lord, Jesus help us!

Will YOUR name be added to the precious saints that God deemed worth mentioning because, by FAITH, you continue to believe until your last breath on earth?  I don’t know about you, but Hebrews 11:13 gives me tenacious HOPE and a resolve to bravely and steadfastly continue to BELIEVE and TRUST God no matter how long the waiting or the pain of brokenness my heart may endure.

Friend, God sees you! God hears you and His perfect love for you will answer your hearts cry as every circumstance and every difficulty is filtered through His amazing grace.  Keep praying, keep believing, keep trusting, and keep serving!  Always remember what God has ALREADY done for you! May you be filled with HOPE as you see heaven and Jesus as the backdrop in every single thing you encounter on this journey! He is faithful and the ultimate Promise Keeper! Believe it!

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Luke 1:45

So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in Heaven which we have not yet seen.  The troubles will soon be over; the joys to come will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:18

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

Trusting and Waiting

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It happened several years ago, one August morning. In some ways it seems like forever ago.  Yet, I still remember it so vividly.  I was awakened from a deep sleep with the following scripture on my heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:3-5

I would love to sound all spiritual and say this was a normal occurrence in my life.  However, being awakened with a Word from God just pouring into my spirit wasn’t something that I was used to.  It is for that very reason that I knew this was special and I needed to pay attention. Of course, I didn’t understand it then but it was soon to be my life-line for the most difficult season I had ever encountered.

You see, a few years before that memorable August morning, something had gone way south in my marriage. It had happened many times before but this time was different. I knew it. Sure, our marriage had been extremely difficult over the years and there was much brokenness and betrayal throughout but I believed that we had finally progressed beyond all of that.  I so longed for the testimony that we had previously shared with our church family,  to continue to be the testimony of our tomorrows.  I knew God was able! Even though my gut persistently screamed at me and I saw the red flags waving, I didn’t want to give significance to any of it.  I wanted to believe that I was just being paranoid and overly sensitive.  But deep in my core, I knew.

My consistent and gut wrenching prayers became more desperate as time went on.  I asked God to bring light to the darkness, for Him to reveal what I felt like I already knew.   I begged Him and pleaded with him time and time again.   Consequently, there was no big reveal, no explanation, no tangible evidence, nothing! However, God was not totally silent. Thankfully, He gave me an anchor to hold onto.  The word “faithful” was graciously dropped in my spirit.  What did that mean?  I knew.  God was calling me to be faithful in the midst of the not knowing, the brokenness and the pain. He was asking me to simply trust Him and wait.  I had to be faithful…as a wife, as a mom, as a daughter of God and in God’s timing, He would bring truth to light and reveal His wisdom.  I could not let my feelings dictate my actions.  I could not run, I could not give up.  I had to continue right where I was, doing what I knew to do in that season of waiting.  It was a daily battle.  I prayed and surrendered my concerns, fears, frustrations, anger and pain to Jesus as I had so many times before.  However, things seemed to only get worse.  I cried and grieved a lot during that time and to say a lot is not an exaggeration. I think I knew in my heart what was coming and it broke me.  I had dear friends who tried to intervene but, unfortunately,  their kind efforts were unfruitful.

Looking back, I am beyond grateful that I was given the gift of divine space to begin the grieving process while still within the boundaries of marriage. I think I can compare it to a loved one being taken care of by Hospice at the end of this life. You know the end is coming and God, in His amazing love and grace, begins to prepare your heart to let go. I have no words to describe the difficulty of that season. It truly was like a slow death.

In the short years that followed, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I was his care-giver.  He lived in my home  before he entered his heavenly home. I will not go into the added chaos and brokenness this brought into my life but it was very much a distraction from the sinking feeling that my world was about to be forever changed in more ways than I could comprehend.  Looking back now, the Lord was so very gracious.  He cares so very much about our burdens and brokenness. He knew this broken girl could only handle one huge life changing thing at a time.  It was not until about seven months after my dad had passed away that some truths were finally revealed. Subsequently, a month or two after I had awakened with the scripture I mentioned earlier. God’s timing is always perfect!  His ways are so much higher than our own!  Though my heart was broken in more pieces than I could count, I praised my God! I distinctly remember falling to me knees at that precise moment…it was bittersweet.   I thanked Him for finally bringing to light what I needed to know, even though it hurt so deeply.   It was then that I knew it was time. When you know, you just know.  I was rescued. I was released.

I used to always wonder how couples who had been married for 30 years could end up getting a divorce.  It seemed totally crazy to me. After-all, if you made it that far, you should be able to ride it out for the long haul, right?  Well, now I get it.  There comes a time when you finally say, enough is enough. I can’t do this any longer.  I need peace. I need to take the short years I have left and live them to the fullest even if it means living them alone.  It is not the life we would have chosen but that is how things sometimes turn out this side of heaven.

It has been nearly three years since I made that decision,  I dealt with two deaths in a short amount of time, the death of my father and the death of my marriage.  The death of my father was so very hard..but the death of my marriage and the challenges that have followed have proven to be the most challenging and painful season I have EVER walked through. Even though the struggles were overwhelming at times, I know my God rescued me.  Yes, God ordained marriage, Yes, God hates divorce! However, I know He loves His daughters MORE than He hates divorce.   I do not for one second condone divorce.  It is ugly.  It is hurtful.  It is devastating.  It affects SO many people. It is not how it was supposed to be.  I would NOT encourage any sister of mine to walk this path without first seeking wise Godly counsel and WAITING for God to reveal His guidance.  Waiting is a key factor.  You cannot make this decision based on your hurt and brokenness.  Emotional decisions are not wise.  You have to give yourself time to work through some of your brokenness before making such a life-altering decision…this applies to every area of our life!

I am 100% FOR marriage!  I am 100% for commitment and staying for the duration.  I am also 100% convinced that when you have done all you can do… the braver, more courageous choice is to let go and let God lead you out.  After 30 years, it was scary, it was stepping out of the boat of “I can’t do this” and taking hold of Jesus, trusting Him to keep me and my children from sinking.  It was like having a somewhat twisted, toxic and unhealthy security being pulled out from under us.

So why am I writing all this? Because somebody needs to hear it.  I used to think that going through a divorce was the worst thing that could ever happen, so I adamantly avoided it at all costs.  Friend, I can confidently say with humble thankfulness, that what seems like the worst thing that could ever happen is NOT the worst thing because we serve a faithful God! He  walks with us through the yuck and the messy and helps us to be braver and more courageous than we ever thought we could.

The morning when I woke up with Proverbs 3:3-5 on my heart was a divine father-daughter moment in which I will never forget.  Of course I did not understand the significance of it then but now, wow!!  He wanted me to know that I could trust Him through the unwanted, challenging and downright messy season I was about to enter into.  He was going to be with me… leading, guiding, protecting, and upholding me and my children and though I would not understand it all, I could still trust Him.  He would make me brave.  He would give me courage to face what was coming.

Throughout this journey, I was reminded of that scripture  time and time again.  I prayed it, repeated it, cried through it and stubbornly held onto it when my feelings told me otherwise and my God never failed me.

AND so it it with you, dear sister!  Our God can be trusted!  I have heard it said, “You don’t really know what trust is until you have to trust!” That is so true!  I can tell you, at your point of desperation, God is there.  He is with you.   He is writing your story and His grace and mercy are weaved all through it bringing beauty from what may have appeared to be something that you could not fathom having to endure.

Sweet sister. NO matter what your scary thing is, God is bigger! Though you may experience pain like you never have before, you will also experience God’s amazing grace like never before. He is such a loving Father.  So what is it? What scary thing is the enemy using to torment you with by whispering “you can’t do it, you can’t make it, you’re not good enough, God can’t use you, you’re too messed up, you are not smart enough”, etc? Stop listening to THAT voice and take hold of what God says! Your problems are no match for God’s promises! Be brave and take hold of HIS grace and step onto the waters of obedience and mercy and see what He will do!  

Is it a time of waiting and preparation or is it a time of action and application? 

Whatever season you are in, God’s grace is precise and sufficient for YOU! Trust HIM with ALL of your heart.  God’s plan is so much bigger than what you can think or imagine.   Seek that father-daughter relationship with Him and as you do, you can be CONFIDENT that He will hold you, comfort you, lead you, protect you, provide for you, empower you, bless you, and work ALL things together for your good and for HIS glory!  THAT, my friend is WHO HE IS!  Believe it!

Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

Fake or Faith?

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Recently,  I had a dear friend transparently express to me that she feels like a “fake” many times as a Christian woman.  Yay! Somebody was finally real enough to say it!  I can so relate and just maybe you can, too! Our feelings and flesh are at war against our Spirit. When life is not going as we had hoped, prayed and envisioned the wrestling is fierce. We put on our smiles and our best foot forward in front of the watching world as we battle against anxiety, stress, pain, anger, unbelief or doubt behind closed doors.

I vividly remember that feeling of “fakeness” during countless seasons of feeling betrayed and deceived.   I sucked it up and lived many of my days pushing aside my brokenness in front of the outside world.  I would intentionally put on my mask like makeup as I headed out the door, all the while hearing whispers about how “fake” I was being.   But what I didn’t recognize at the time was that satan wanted to not only destroy my family but the very foundation of who I was as a beloved daughter of God!   How? By accusing  me of being a  “fake” Christian, time and time again.  For a broken girl who wanted nothing more than to serve the Lord and honor Him, those accusations were felt to my core.   The majority of the time while attending church events, girl’s night out, small group meetings, family gatherings, prayer meetings, etc.,  I was there with my smile in tact but inside I was a train-wreck.   The accusations of the enemy left me feeling even MORE defeated.  Since then, I have gained a different perspective.   It reminds me of the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:11 in reference to satan…”For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  This feeling of “fakeness” is no doubt, one of his “schemes” to cause us to lose our footing and faith and give up all together.

Here’s the deal…I believe that when I chose to stubbornly walk in a room with my head held high,  replacing tears with a smile, forcing one foot in front of the other, faith was winning! Sister, that is NOT fakeness!   Did my smile make me fake?  Did my determination to hit the floor each morning in spite of wanting to give up mean that I wasn’t authentic?   All of this wasn’t because I was a “fake” in my walk with Christ, BUT because I HAD faith even though my feelings were all over the place.

It is true that sometimes, okay…many times, we put on our masks.  Let’s just be honest.  We ALL do it! If we all walked around allowing our feelings to dictate our lives, what a messy and ugly world it would be!  Therefore, we wear our masks.  We wear them NOT because we are fake but because we live by faith.  Faith that doesn’t reveal our brokenness but our hope that our lives can be a testimony of God’s faithfulness to those who need it. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about transparency, sharing our stories and by all means, inviting others into our brokenness….but I believe that the enemy tries to discourage us by telling us that we are less than and not authentic in our walk of faith when we choose to put on that smile while feeling as though we are dying inside.

I am extremely proud of my dear friend that I mentioned earlier. Why?  Because her wrestling proves that she is throat punching the devil every time she chooses to continue to serve Jesus even though behind her smile she may be filled with doubts, fears, anger, pain, anxiety and all that other unwanted yuck that life tends to dump on us.

As women of God, we cannot base our life on our feelings. You may feel “fake” but if you are holding onto Jesus and battling those negative emotions by believing His Word, you are anything BUT fake! You are walking out your faith in a way that trumps your feelings! “Faith it till you make it” wins!  The next time the enemy whispers that you’re living a “fake” life, sweet sister remember this;

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL smile even if it is forced for a season and  even if, behind closed doors, your tears cover the carpet.

Your faith is the the very reason You can STILL get up and show up even though you may not “feel” like it and getting out the door takes all the fight you can muster.

Your faith is the very reason You can STILL worship even though it may be the last thing your flesh “wants” to do as the enemy is relentlessly whispering his lies in your ear.

Your faith is the very reason you can STILL serve and minister in spite of the tears and wrestling that no one sees because your faith is not based on your feelings but on choosing to do the right thing, in spite of them.

It is God’s grace that upholds us in the darkness so that we can display His Glory in spite of our fickle and changing feelings and circumstances.  That is living by faith!

Let God lead you, my friend!  There are opportunities that God places before us for the purpose of being real, vulnerable and transparent that is beyond the scope of  our intimate circle. However, there are many more times that you may need to intentionally put on that smile and put on your faith as you walk out the door AND that’s okay!  You are NOT a “fake”!  YOU, my friend. are a daughter of God Almighty who is walking out her faith in a way to bring honor to her Lord! Keep walking, keep shining, keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that one day your faith will become sight!  Faithin’ it and smiling with you, my sister! Faith wins!!

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

When Things Can’t Be Fixed

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Life is full of broken moments, broken things and broken hearts…..

As a daughter…

Upon getting older in life, we realize life really does come full circle.  As children, our parents  care for us when we can’t take care of ourselves.  As we then become adults, we end up taking care of our parents and watch them return to that child-like dependence that we once had for them. Walking along side of them as they go through the transitions of old age including sickness, loss of strength, loss of memory, loss of mobility, and eventually, the  loss of their beautiful lives, is a pain that is in a category all of it’s own.  There is nothing that can prepare you for these difficult and heartbreaking seasons and years.  It can seem unbearable, at times.  I never knew my heart could hurt so much, It really is true that you wake up the next day after such loss and wrestle with the morning itself….after-all, you feel that the sun should not be rising, that life should not be going on without them. It just feels wrong.  It cuts to the very core of a child witnessing the deep emptiness of death itself.   I so remember feeling like an orphan after losing both of mine. I did not anticipate that, but nevertheless, it was something that I had to process and work through.  Maybe you can relate.

As a wife…

When our marriages are on the brink of destruction we pray like nobody’s business.  We plead for God to fix it.  We invade heaven asking for Divine intervention.  After-all, we want our happily-ever-after! It is what we dreamed about as a little girl in pig tails watching Cinderella.   We anticipated the day when our own Prince would come and rescue us and forever love us and in return, we would fully and devotedly love them and write our own “happily-ever-after’ story!  That’s just how it was supposed to be, at least that is what Disney wanted us to believe!  But then, real life happens.   We are left feeling short-changed.  We marry but we find out that it is hard and even heartbreaking at times.  Some struggles challenge the marriage and only propel the relationship to be more intimate than ever before.  Some things, however, drive a wedge that can forever separate and destroy.

As a mom…

Walking along side of your kids as they go through painful stuff is heartbreaking. We do everything we can to try to protect them and try as we may, we can’t always keep them from those unintended times when situations are out of our control and our protection is not enough. We are confronted with the harsh reality that just as we can’t protect them from pain, we can’t easily “fix” their broken hearts or protect them from life-altering situations or sickness. There are also those gut wrenching moments when your child may become “that” child…you know, the one that you heard about that got in trouble with the law and you swore your child would never, ever do such a thing? Then there are those courageous moms who have experienced the excruciating pain of losing a child. There are no words that can describe the pain. This is life. It’s hard, It’s humbling.  It’s full of unwanted devastation as we get the front row seat that demands us to experience the heartbreaking moments of being a mom who loves so deeply. Yet, whether we are moms by birth, spiritual moms, moms by adoption, grand-moms, we would choose it all over again!

As a child of God…

There are experiences in our own lives that take us by surprise and knock us off our feet. Unanswered prayers, broken hearts, pain, sickness, loss, and yet we know from scripture that we WILL have trouble.  The “why me?” questions force us to examine our true motives for being a Christ follower. Is it more about our relationship with Him or about what He can give us beyond the greatest gift of our salvation? If we are not careful, our expectations can turn selfish over time.  We get mad at God and blame Him as if we should be able to dictate our own lives with the avoidance of pain and suffering. Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from the tough stuff.  Jesus told  us in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” There is no where in the bible that ever promises a life without difficulties this side of heaven.

SO what do we do with our brokenness, disappointments,  loss and those things that can’t be fixed?  How do we carry on when the pain goes so deep?

Here is what I have found….there are days when darkness seems to win; when fear bullies faith right out the door, when facing another day takes all the courage and bravery we can muster.  There are moments when desperate and broken hearts wonder if their dreams of the “happily ever after” are but, forever gone. So is life. I get it! However, there is an underlying component that brings a powerful flip-side to each and every agonizing heart.   It’s the God-factor! Because of our “BUT GOD” that follows and pursues us on this journey, we are never, EVER without hope, even in the most dire circumstances.

Friend, what if we spent LESS time focusing on our difficulties and MORE time looking to Jesus and capturing the precious blessings He provides in the midst of our mess! Not easy, I know. BUT it’s the most productive, powerful and peaceful option! I promise, you WILL see Him  in the worst of circumstances if you can but change your focus! He IS with you! He IS walking you through to bring you out!  Can I just say that faith challenged is a faith that is growing as opposed to faith that is comfortable and stagnant?  Comfortable faith brings us to lukewarmness and even a subtle move towards self-reliance which leads to pride and compromise…ugh!  We don’t like to admit it, but our flesh is so prone to wonder when we don’t feel a “need” for Jesus or when things are going great.   True story!

You may very well be thrown into the fiery furnace of difficulty, loss, divorce, or chronic illness.  You may find yourself in the lion’s den with fierce situations and roaring opposition!  You or someone you love may be going through the dark valley of loving a prodigal child.  You may stumble upon Red Sea moments that stop you in your tracks,  BUT God.  He comes.  HE rescues.  HE delivers.  HE protects.  HE heals.  HE comforts. HE speaks “peace be still” as the storms rage around us.  Throughout these turbulent seasons, we are reminded  that God does and will do what we can’t as we painfully SURRENDER our hearts and the hearts of those we love to Him, fully TRUSTING HIM for the outcome.  It’s called grace! And God has an abundance of it precisely stored up just for YOU and for me! We will find that in His perfect timing, His purpose will outshine the pain and that He will use the very pain we tried to pray away to transform us and others into the beloved children He created us to be!

Friend, because we know Him as our Lord and Savior,  we can say with stubborn resolve and unshakable courage “I am blessed!”  What a testimony for the Glory of God! As God’s very own beloved daughters, we have this ANCHOR that keeps us steady no matter the strength of the winds that threaten to destroy us or the devastation and loss that surrounds us.  Sister, our “happily ever after” WILL come because our future is secure in Jesus! Our hope goes way beyond the here and now! When all is said and done, we WIN because Jesus has already won this battle for us!! Can I challenge you to start focusing on and proclaiming out loud how very “blessed” you really are!?  That is TRUTH that no circumstance, devil, or person can take away! LIVE blessed, THINK blessed! It is YOUR inheritance! Receive it today and everyday with abundant JOY and know that the best is yet to come!

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Revelation 21:3-4  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

How Will They Know?

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Deuteronomy 32:3

I will PROCLAIM the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

If you have known the Lord for anytime at all, you have, no doubt, experienced the greatness of our God.    Since the day of your salvation, God has been writing your story.  A story FULL of His divine, amazing grace.  What has God done since that day?   What storms has He calmed?  What wounds has He healed?  Are you proclaiming His greatness? Somebody needs to hear about the faithfulness of your God….somebody this very minute needs hope.

Think about it……….

How will the mom who has lost her precious baby know that He is the God of all comfort?

How will the wife whose husband left after many years of marriage know that He is the God that will never leave her nor forsake her?

How will the man who is bound by addiction find out that He is the God of deliverance and freedom?

How will the couple on the brink of divorce find out that He is the God of restoration and redemption?

How will the parents who are utterly devastated by the choices their child is making find the strength and courage to continue to pray and believe for divine intervention?

How will the woman who has just went through the brokenness of divorce find that her identity is not defined by her marital status but in who Christ says she is?

How will the man who feels he is at the end of his rope find hope and hear about Jesus dying on the cross for his salvation?

How will the lady who has just been diagnosed with cancer find faith to believe that Jesus is her healer?

How will the woman who aborted her baby and is now consumed with regret and shame find out the He is the God of abundant mercy and love?

How will the father who has lived a life of regrets and shame find out that He is the God of forgiveness and new beginnings?

How will the girl who feels she can never measure up and therefore, wants to give up, find that she is fearfully and wonderfully made…created by God who loves her completely and unconditionally?

I could go on and on with regards to life and the gut-wrenching things that people face day in and day out.  Life is hard! This world needs HOPE.  This world needs you to share the HOPE that has brought you through! 

Jesus walks with us through the wilderness of pain, loss, rejection, and brokenness not only to transform us into His likeness and to heal us but so that others can be transformed and healed, as well.

Here is what I have found to be true.  Broken people can confide in a Pastor for prayer and wisdom, which is very beneficial and recommended.  They can go to a Godly, licensed counselor to help facilitate healing and wholeness, which is absolutely wise and proactive.  They can share their pain with a friend which will bring great comfort to their hurting heart. But there is nothing like hearing God’s story of redemption and hope from someone who KNOWS what it is like to go through what you are experiencing. 

I understand this first hand.   The years of betrayal leading up to my divorce left my heart broken and full of loneliness and even shame, at times. For so long, within my close circle of friends, there was no one who had experienced what I was going through. Though they were so very kind and gracious, they couldn’t really understand my pain. When God finally brought someone into my life who had been where I was and was willing to share her own story, I found hope like I hadn’t had before.  I devoured every word she had to say….I knew she understood me.  The LIES that the enemy had been shouting to my wounded heart were exposed.  I wasn’t the only ONE who ever faced this.  I was NOT alone.  My feelings were NOT crazy!  God was STILL with me!  Truth  brought some bright hope to my darkness that day  because one dear sister was willing to be transparent about her past and God was glorified.

Dear friend, our painful and messy lives can be used to proclaim God’s powerful message to the hurting!

Part of me wants to passionately ask…how can we NOT tell them? How can we not tell about how God gave us hope when we had none? How He saved, healed, redeemed, restored and delivered?  How can we possibly keep silent when God has been so abundantly gracious to us?  

Lord, thank You for Your amazing and precise grace that has saved us and brought us victoriously through our most darkest and unwanted seasons.  May we boldly proclaim your goodness!  Help us to bravely allow our struggles, brokenness, and pain to be used to bring GLORY and HONOR to your name.  Amen!!

2 Corinthians 1:4  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

 

 

Divorce, Remarriage and a Handful of Stones

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I never thought I would find myself writing about this subject matter.   This week, someone, who did not like my posts about my journey through divorce, shared my link in a “Christian” group page.  Since then, several have contacted me with regard to their disdain towards me.

Because I am divorced and I am a Christ follower, I have been sent videos on divorce and remarriage, that condemns both.  I have received horrible comments.  Some of these strangers who commented were seemingly kind but felt the need to correct my erroneous thinking.  Some picked up stones,  surrounding them with pretty bows of christian “cliches” and then proceeded to throw their ugliness full force.  Some just got right to their stone throwing without hesitation.

Below are some of the comments I have received.

  • “You should not be making believe that God approves of your divorce.”
  • ‘God does not bless your disobedience.  He hates it.”
  • “You need to repent of breaking your home and be forgiving toward your husband.”
  • “No true Christian can pursue divorce and claim Christ.  These two are incompatible. You do not know the heart of Christ if you claim otherwise.”
  • “Marriage is permanent. No exceptions.”
  • “You are still every bit married today in God’s eyes as you were on your wedding day….”
  • “Your sin brings destruction on the Church and smears Christ’s face in the mud.”(This one hurt the most)

The purpose of my blog is NOT to draw the attention of those who believe differently than me and inadvertently invite their judgement.  The intended purpose is to encourage other broken girls who need hope and courage in the midst of their own difficult journey.

I will not post, debate nor will I respond personally to comments from people who choose to carry stones in their hands.  That would be useless and of no good benefit, anyway.  I want to honor God not use this outlet to prove a point or debate such things.

I get it, there is a wide chasm that separates “Christians” because of their beliefs about divorce and remarriage, among other things.  There are scriptures that can be misconstrued, twisted, and taken out of context to support both sides of this debate. I have researched both arguments.   I have sought the heart of God for my own self.  While I do not in any way claim to be a biblical scholar, nor a “know it all” when it comes to this subject, I am at peace with what I feel God has revealed to me.

So why am I writing this? Part of me is venting, ha! The other part of me is sharing because this is a learning curve for me that maybe others can learn from, as well.

It’s a rough world out there friends, yes, even among those who identify themselves as Christians.  I have never, in my 50+ years on this planet, been addressed by “Christian” strangers in such a condescending, condemning and ugly way.   Sadly, I know this happens in the church world all the time but this is new for me.   I am frustrated and trying to find my footing in the midst of such ugliness.  I have prayed that the Lord would search and purify my heart from the evilness that is behind this.   I am reminded of Psalm 37 that has been my go to throughout the last couple of years.  I wrote about that here:  https://blessed-is-she.com/2018/03/22/185/.  I have to make an intentional decision to not fret, to trust God, to commit to Him, delight in Him, wait upon Him, guard my own heart and leave the hearts of others in His hands. SO much easier said than done BUT by God’s grace it CAN be done and done well! STILL learning this one!

The blessing that I am choosing to find in this messiness is that these people have caused me to reflect and search my own heart.  How do I treat others who do not believe the way I believe? Who interpret scripture differently from me?  There is a right way and a absolute wrong way.   I would not want to be guilty of causing my sister or brother in Christ to feel that they were my latest target for judgmental stoning because we believe differently.  I understand that there are times when we DO judge for our own protection.  The Word specifically tell us that we will “know” them by their fruits.  This requires judging the actions and behaviors of others BUT not ever for the purpose of condemning or picking up stones. That kind of judgement is rooted in pride, arrogance and an accusatory mindset.  However,  I may not have been as bold and cruel as these people but in my thoughts am I guilty of judging (stoning), as well? Have I done this very thing to others?  God knows our thoughts and motives way before others experience our actions.  Lord, please forgive me. What about you?  If we were all honest, we all have done this more than we care to admit.  We can do better!

Lord, Jesus help us! Help us to minister your love to those who are broken among us and to those who believe differently about such debatable topics.  God is big enough to correct each and every one of us if our hearts stay humble and teachable.  We have no idea the things some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have had to walk through.  There are many hurting.  There are many wounded.  Life is hard.  Help us to remember why you have given us space on this planet.  Not to throw stones but to be a light for you for the unsaved and to come along side of and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we be humble vessels that bring honor to your name as ambassadors for Christ.  Empower us to represent you well, so that others will experience your love through us.  Your Word tells us that it is your kindness that leads to repentance.  Together, may we show your kindness to those who are struggling to find their way.  We need you Lord! ALL of us! The married, the divorced, the widowed, the single, the remarried. the young, the old and all in between!  Judgmental Stones were meant to hurt not to heal.  Help us to use stones only to build a bridge so that others may find their way towards You.  The world is watching.  May they see the love of Christ in place of judgmental stoning within our church body and communities.  May we allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do and quit thinking that it is up to us to change or “fix” others.   May we fix our eyes on Jesus and thank Him for His amazing grace that transforms not only our own lives but the lives of those we are called to love and serve, even if they believe differently than we do.

He Gets Me!

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The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7

I am so very grateful that God gets me.  He understands me.  Lately, I have found great comfort in knowing this.  Not to justify or make excuses for my messiness but to find the grace and strength to expect change.  I can’t do it without Him, nor do I have to! Thank you, Jesus!  He knows why I am the way I am.  He has witnessed my brokenness.  He understands my insecurities. He understands why I am so messy! A toxic marriage and now divorce have left their ugly marks and I sometimes get frustrated with the depth of those marks. Ugh!  I am good at justifying and downplaying red flags.  I question my own intuition.  I struggle with insecurities.   I sometimes carry the burden and responsibility of the choices and consequences of other’s upon myself.   Please tell me I am not the only one? Oh, and there is more…Ha! The truth is, we can get upset and frustrated about our own weaknesses and struggles OR we can thank God that we recognize them and allow Him to turn our weaknesses into strengths that will glorify and honor him.

Transformation is more often than not, an intense and long process.  Unfortunately, short cuts cannot be taken. Old mind sets can take a while to rewire.  It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes a whole lot of grace.  However, we need not allow our struggles define us.  We have a loving Father who patiently and kindly reveals, heals, and makes new.  He is so eminently patient with us and FULL of grace.   He WILL complete the good work he started in you and in me.  He loves each of us way too much to allow stinkin’ thinking and past survivor- mode- mindsets to continue to hold us hostage.   He wants us free and He will not relent until that happens.

Today, I choose to surrender wholly to Him all my inconsistencies, all my insecurities, all my stinkin’ thinkin’, all my fears and all of my messiness.  The truth is, life will continue to have its messiness in one way or another, which means more messiness in me to work through, ha! Therefore, this will, by no means, be a one time event, but an ongoing need throughout this journey.  AND that’s okay because as long as you and I continue to surrender and replace lies with Truth,  the devil can’t win and we are truly made MORE than conquerors through our Savior who love us! Amen!?

How about you? Aren’t you glad that God gets YOU? You don’t have to invite discouragement to be your companion because you are still struggling to overcome.   The Lord understands.  Let me remind you that He has walked with you through your most darkest seasons.  He has witnessed all that your heart has gone through.  He has seen the well of tears that you have cried when nobody was looking.  He is fully aware of your knee jerk reactions to certain situations because of your past.  He knows that you want to be free and the good news is… He reveals only to heal, sweet sister!   He is the Master Potter who re-forms, re-shapes and chisels away those unwanted rough and sharp edges that are placed in His hands of mercy.  As the scripture says, “The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble…”  Think about that! He is GOOD! He is your STRENGTH and He is your STRONGHOLD in the midst or your troubled heart.  “He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him.”  Rest in that, my dear sister knowing that you are understood and that your God GETS you and even MORE profound than that is that He’s GOT you! Friend, remain on the Potter’s wheel and your beauty will shine forth as you encounter your happily-even-after days ahead! Believe it!

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.  Jeremiah 18:1-4

What Divorce has Taught me About Life and the Hard Stuff

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I thought I knew a few things about God, life, myself and relationships pre-divorce… ha!! Needless to say, I knew so very little.  It is interesting how going through the wilderness seasons can be so full of difficulties and yet it is during those times that we learn and grow the most.

Just a warning, this is a long post. I am breaking the “blogger’s 101 rules for success”…but I am okay with that!  Believe me, there is more I could write on this subject so there may be a part 2 at a later time.

Please understand that journaling is heart therapy for me and because I am choosing to live #fearless in 2018, I am sharing!  Everyone’s journey through divorce is different so not everyone will be able to relate to everything that I mention.  However, just maybe there is at least one nugget that may help you in your own life if you find yourself in this place.  If divorce is not a part of your story, maybe this will help you in understanding some of the thoughts and struggles that divorce brings to the heart and mind of someone you may love and care about.

The following is the result of things said to me, things I had to learn the hard way, things that God showed me, things that helped me, things that I struggled with and things that I felt needed to be said. New things will be added later as I am still on this journey.  Please don’t judge me or anyone else who is walking down this road.  Nobody approaches their wedding day thinking or wanting this to be a part of their story! It is so messy, so hard, and so crazy difficult!

First of all, you CAN be divorced AND love Jesus!  You CAN have God’s favor and blessing over your life unlike what some may have told you!  You are NOT a heathen.  You have not been ousted from God’s grace and love. Yes, I had to say it! Now we can move on…ha!

Divorce is life-changing not life-ending!  Your marriage may have died but you are still here! Believe Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11.  The Word of God STILL applies to you!  God’s promises for you have not changed!

Letting go of your toxic marriage is NOT giving up on God NOR your faith.  There are times when it takes MORE faith and courage to let go than to hang on.  KNOW the difference.  I believed that lie for way longer than I care to admit to.  Our Father God is so gracious toward His broken daughters!

There are many losses that divorce demands.  The loss of  your dreams, your family unit, some friends, your extended family,  your “wife” and “Mrs.” status, your plans of growing old together, celebrating 50 years together, sharing grand-babies together and on and on. It is good heart therapy to make a list of your losses and take time to grieve over each one.  It is a process.  Embrace this season and the pain you are feeling.  Don’t deny it or try to hide it so that you can get THROUGH it!

Need some joy?  Let God use you in the midst of your own brokenness! Yep, it is possible!  Sister, you have NOT been put on a shelf! You are not deemed unusable for the Kingdom of God.  That is a lie from the enemy!  I understand that you may need to take a break from some ministry commitments for a season, and understandably so.  However, being overly self-absorbed for a lengthy period of time is not at all beneficial.   Take some time to reach out or simply make yourself  available to encourage a hurting sister.   Not only will it bring you joy to do so, but it might just help with your own healing!

You will be judged.  That’s okay!  Not everyone will understand because not everyone knows the details of your story…AND not everyone needs to know.  The Lord will reveal truth in His timing to those who need to know, the rest… let go!

Guard your heart! You are vulnerable!  Give yourself time to heal.  Give your kids time to heal.  Do NOT rush into another relationship! Make peace with who you are and embrace your singleness. Wait until you can confidently say and know that you are going to be okay with or without being in another relationship.  Ask your Godly mentors and friends if they think you are ready to date.  USE wisdom! Don’t be needy thinking you HAVE to have another man in your life…sister, you don’t!  Under these circumstances, desperation invites devastation! Seek God’s will for YOU!! HE knows what you need! Deal with your stuff…your mess, as much as possible so that you are not a target for another toxic person to come along and bring MORE messiness to your life.  Remember, your choices effect all those in your sphere of influence, especially your children….choose wisely!

The big “D” label it feels you are wearing on your forehead does not exist.  You are not an outcast as though you have the plague. Hold your head up! You are the beloved daughter of God Almighty! Walk like it, talk like it, and act like it!

Find your tribe! You will need prayer warriors who will go to battle for you and your kids on a consistent basis.  You will need those surrounding you who will speak God’s truths to you to combat the lies that the enemy wants you to believe.  You will need mentors, counselors and/or pastors who will come along side of you giving you encouragement and much needed support, wisdom and even rebuke. This is so very important!  Seek them out! Pray about who God wants to use in your life that will have your best interest at heart along with Godly wisdom.  There will be days when you will be in a brain fog, numb, and unable to even pray, but these precious God-sent people will fill in the gaps and lock shields in prayer on your behalf.  DO not for one second underestimate the power of your inner circle and those who you are allowing to speak into your life!

The enemy is your accuser, not God!  You are a child of God.  Your marital status does NOT define you, only God does!

Do NOT use your kids to hurt or get back at your ex.  Do NOT try to get them on your “side” by slandering and speaking negatively about your ex!  Do NOT post degrading and ugly things on social media about your ex!  Your children don’t miss a thing! They are watching! They are listening! Let God be your defender. Let God reveal truth. Do NOT bring more messiness to their broken hearts by taking part in this type of yuck!  Love your kids MORE than yourself and your need for revenge! (Leave the revenge part in God’s hands! Take the high road  always! Read and study Psalm 37) Look out for their best interests! Keeping your mouth shut is the best policy.  If they ask questions, speak truth as God leads but stick with the facts. Don’t bring your emotions into it.  This is not easy but the most beneficial and God honoring, heart-protecting thing you can do.

Some relationship dynamics will change.  Don’t be upset with the friends who do not send you invites any longer.  Show grace.  After all, it’s awkward.  Things ARE different.  Just maybe they do not know what to do with you so they just don’t invite you.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings when all the couples show up and then there is you.  Maybe they think they are protecting you.  Again, show grace, live in grace, and do NOT let offense take root in your heart.  You have enough messiness to deal with, don’t add to it!  God knows the close circle of friends that you need surrounding you.  Be thankful for them and don’t get bogged down with those who are choosing to love you at a distance, it’s okay!

Live. One. Day. At. A. Time. Seriously, I HAD to live this way on my darkest days.  I could not fathom my tomorrows and how things were going to turn out with all the craziness that never seemed to end.  Friend, God will give you grace for THIS day.  AND when tomorrow comes He will give you sufficient grace for THAT day.  He tells us to NOT worry about tomorrow.  Be obedient to His word. Trust Him with ALL of your heart. AND at the end of the day do it all again the next day! HE is faithful!

There are times when you will want to hide from the world and go into seclusion. This is okay in small amounts but if you find yourself in a pity party in which you can’t seem to find the exit door, force yourself to reach out to a friend or mentor.  You were not created to live life without community.   Recognize that caving into seclusion is a tactic by the enemy to destroy you.  Don’t let him.  YOU have a choice to make….choose wisely and don’t ignore that text from a friend or that phone call.  It just may be God’s life line and blessing towards you…receive it!

If your ex is toxic (and maybe even if he is not), cut off all ties except for what is absolutely necessary (due to children).  Looking at his posts on social media will keep you bound and hold you back from moving forward.  I did this. I looked. I watched. I checked it often. AND guess what?  It was NOT at all beneficial to me or my healing, it was just the opposite.  I ugly cried, I battled with the “that’s not fair” scenarios, I got angry, I had to forgive over and over again, I lived in fear.  I wanted to defend myself (thankfully, I didn’t! Always choose the high road!!!)….it broke me time and time again.  Everyone kept telling me to stop but I found it so difficult to do.  Thankfully, God’s mercy saw to it that it was stopped by His intervention and I am SO thankful! Guess what it did for me? FREEDOM! That’s right! Wow! I did not even realize how very much it was affecting me until it was stopped.  I walked a little more upright  without that heavy burden of accusations and negativity that I was allowing to keep me bound.  I moved forward in ways that I hadn’t before.  It may be hard to do but once you break that need to “see” and “know” you will find freedom that is so lovely, I promise! LET it go!!!  Just do it already!

It’s okay to not be okay!  You will experience some of the same emotions as if someone you loved had died.  You may be sad, angry, depressed, lonely, and downright heartbroken… you are normal! You are grieving the death of your marriage. It’s a process.  You are not crazy! AND just when you think you have got your footing, it starts all over again.  That just means you loved deeply and there is no fault in that!  Jesus’ promise to you is that He is with you…He is close to you in your brokenness!  You are NOT alone!  Psalm 27:18 declares it!

This could very well be the time that you have to be braver than you have ever been! You may have to stand up for what you believe is right! Let God empower your backbone! Fight for righteousness, fight for what’s in the best interest of your kids, speak the truth and don’t cower in the face of opposition.  You will be surprised at the inner strength and courage Gods give you….it’s a beautiful thing, really! “Jesus makes me brave” became the words I spoke over myself SO many times! AND He DID it!  I did things I felt so incapable of doing because of Jesus in me! He is the difference maker AND game changer in any and all things that we will face in this life! We are blessed! If God is for you, who can be against you? Romans 8:31

Just to re-emphasize…..You may have lost your partner in life but recognize that you are not alone, not ever.  God is your partner, He will help you and fill in the gaps. He will help you as a single mom, as well! It’s you and Jesus and He will not fail you!

A few final thoughts…

Friend, you are going to be okay! Jesus came for broken girls just like you and me. His Word tells us that He came to bind up the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:3).  He is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts.  He forgives, heals, redeems and makes new!! I understand that this is not the life you had planned. It stinks. It hurts. It’s devastating. However, this is NOT the end of your story! There are chapters still to be written! The Lord’s GOOD plans for you are STILL good and have not changed just because your marital status changed.  What you are going through right now is only for a season.  It will not always be this hard or hurt this deeply! I promise! I understand that may be difficult to imagine right now.  However, I am confident that you will look back one day and be amazed at what you gleaned and the beauty that emerged from this time of broken holy dependence upon God…..from one broken sister to another, that is TRUTH, my friend! Our God is faithful, Believe it!

 

Everything

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HIS Divine POWER has given us EVERYTHING we NEED for life and Godliness through our knowledge of HIM….2 Peter 1:3

EVERYTHING means EVERYTHING…

When our hearts feel overwhelmed  
When we’ve been hurt
When we need strength
When we need courage
When we need wisdom
When we mess up
When we need peace
When our marriage is failing
When our kids are straying
When our health is declining
When we feel alone
When we feel overlooked
When we don’t understand

Friend, can I just encourage YOU today?  Can I speak into your life as if we were sitting across from each other at the local coffee shop and you have transparently just shared with me your greatest fears and your anxious thoughts?  As your sister in Christ, I feel compelled to be a voice in your life this very moment to dispel the lies that the enemy is using to hold your emotions captive.

No matter what you are thinking regarding your specific situation, know this;  As daughters of ALMIGHTY God, we have been divinely equipped for LIFE… in all of it’s messes, pain and uncertainties, struggles and adversities! Go back and read the above scripture! We aren’t just equipped to handle such things but armed with all that we need to respond with bold faith and unwavering tenacity.  Just maybe what you need is a change in perspective? If your faith is wavering, maybe you need to sit at the feet of Jesus and allow His wisdom and knowledge to be poured into you and the way you perceive your situation. So, When was the last time you have allowed God’s Word (His knowledge) to feed your spirit? When was the last time you hit the carpet in surrender and worship and turned your focus onto your Savior?

Sister, you and I have been given ALL that we need at ALL times to be brave and courageous through our knowledge of Him! This is NOT some pie in the sky positive way of thinking…this is Truth to live by. Truth from God Himself, straight from His heart to yours!

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  Romans 15:4

The Word of God is what brings hope and encouragement to our wrestling souls. You may not FEEL like you are equipped but what does God say? What is the truth? More importantly, what will you choose to believe?

We CAN respond with wisdom, strength, endurance and God-confidence.  Not because we have those things in and of ourselves, but because the same power the raised Jesus from death lives on the inside of us!

We can embrace our now moments with hope and stubborn faith that allows us to shine and rise above our unwanted circumstances and bring glory and honor to God.

When you feel weak and the devil is screaming in your ear that you can’t make it, remember what God has spoken!  Replace lies with God’s Truths!

I am not sharing this with you as some wishful thinking, fluff  or “christianeese”…..but from a messy girl who has had to walk out these truths for herself to survive. AND I can honestly tell you that I am so very thankful for those desperate moments that beckoned my heart to hit the carpet time and time again.  Not for the circumstances themselves, of course, but for the desperation in my heart that landed me at the feet of Jesus.  There is nothing that will empower you more than the presence of God…nothing!  I still struggle and I still have my many anxious moments but I KNOW what to do.  I know who to turn to.  My flesh is not always quick to do it, I will admit, but I am learning and surrendering more often than not these days! Thank you, Jesus!  I remember the enemy’s accusations so clearly.  Time and time again I heard his lies and many times I allowed him to reek havoc on my mind and emotions.  All peace was gone and I was left struggling and feeling defeated until I chose to hit the carpet in trust and surrender to my Savior.  Those are such precious, holy moments! With my faith arising, I knew in my spirit that I could NOT give into the enemies accusations.  My God, my family and even my own life depended on it! Remember the promise that when we are weak, HE is strong?  Sister, that is truth!  You can do, accomplish, and walk through things you never imagined! God abundantly pours out His precise and sufficient grace for every situation you will ever encounter.  As I look back and reflect on my most difficult seasons I am amazed by my God.  He empowered me to do things I could NOT have done otherwise and He WILL do the same for you as YOU choose to trust Him!

So let me ask, what is it that you need this very moment? Lean upon Jesus, let Him speak to you and empower you through His Word…you will find what your beautiful soul needs in the very pages of His love letter written just for you! Read it, believe it and trust HIM knowing that you have been well equipped for “this” whatever your “this” is! You go girl!

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Hebrews 13:20-21

Perfect Timing

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It was a dreaded and difficult day as I sat across the table from my oldest children at a local restaurant and shared the devastating news to them that would forever change our family dynamics.  I hated it.  It was the first conversation of several that I never wanted to have.  We do all we can to protect our kids from such things but sometimes our efforts are just not good enough.  I tried to come across strong and full of God confidence but inside I felt as though I had failed them as a mom and I was a broken mess.

Subsequently, just a few short days later, I found myself sitting across the table at our favorite coffee shop with my daughter and her husband as they excitedly announced that they were expecting their first sweet bundle of joy and for me, my second precious grand-baby.  Wow!  Talk about the gamut of emotions not only that I was experiencing but my daughter and our whole family, as well.  I was elated and filled with happy tears and yet the truth of our current circumstances quickly and unfairly tried to deplete and overshadow our sweet blessing.

Isn’t life like that?  One moment is painful, difficult and unwanted and the next is full of eager anticipation and downright excitement!  God created us as really amazing beings to be able to emotionally and physically handle the wide chasm of heart-changing, heart-breaking, and heart-warming circumstances that are inevitability, a part of our story.  How do we keep our footing?  How do we balance it all and keep moving forward?

In my mind, life certainly did not seem fair in those moments, especially for my daughter.  My heart broke as I tried to imagine what she was going through at the painful news of her mom and dad’s pending divorce intertwined with the thrilling news of expecting her first precious baby.  Loss and new life certainly makes for a bittersweet bag of emotions! Even though there was a side of this momma bear’s heart that roared and questioned God’s timing, there was an anchor of hope that held steady.  Yes, our family was broken and on the cusp of entering a season of questions, change, pain, and loss,  BUT GOD.  There was a fierce battle raging in my soul for my children, but God’s amazing grace came to my rescue and silenced the voice of the enemy.  He so sweetly reminded me that His timing is always perfect….even at that very moment when our world seemed to be crumbling before our very eyes. Even in the midst of our broken hearts.  He was giving us a precious blessing that ignited JOY and lit up the darkness which hovered heavily overhead.  Yes, this indeed was HIS perfect timing and HIS perfect grace cascading over us.  A precious and welcomed diversion from the hard and burdensome days that lie ahead.  My anxious thoughts were put to rest as I embraced God’s timing knowing that He divinely ordained ALL of what was happening.  His precise grace would cover and protect my daughter as he equipped her with inner strength and bravery to embrace this painful season of change AND precious season of pregnancy. New life and new beginnings were being birthed in more ways than I could comprehend.  My children WERE going to be okay and our family WOULD overcome this difficult season of divorce, in spite of what the enemy was whispering in my ear.

SO it is with you, sweet sister! Whatever losses or uninvited and unexpected predicament you find yourself in, God knows. AND not only is He aware but He is working His purposes in the midst of your messiness!  Yes, there may be loss and pain that you never saw coming but God has been preparing you for this day.  He is not at all surprised at what you are facing! If you will allow yourself, you will see HIM.  He WILL reveal Himself to YOU! He WILL bring blessings that will bring light to the darkness that surrounds you.  What may seem as horrible timing is God’s perfect timing.  You may very well have tears because of your pain but God will provide blessings that will bring you tears of JOY!  Embrace them! It really is possible to experience both! He wants you to know that HE is with you in the mess, in the loss, in the brokenness! You are so loved by Him! Your future is secure in Christ! YOU have this anchor of hope to keep you steady in the midst of the unwanted seasons. There is beauty arising from the ashes. Believe it, my friend!

Let me tell you the rest of the story….the beauty and blessing is that God gave our family this precious baby girl but there is a much bigger picture of grace in how God divinely orchestrated it all.   You see, my first birthday following my separation and pending divorce, was the very day she was born.  For most people who have gone through the arduous season of divorce, every first holiday following is painful, just as when someone you love has passed away.  However, God in His extravagant mercy gave me a precious gift and a MORE extraordinary reason to celebrate than I had to grieve.  AND, this was not just any birthday, it was my 50th birthday.  Coincidence? Absolutely not! God’s timing is perfect and significant, always! Now, year after year, on my birthday AND hers, I am humbly and delightedly reminded of God’s abundant faithfulness and amazing grace in the middle of our mess.  I have much to celebrate, year after year….because I will remember!  That is how our God works, that is who He is and this messy momma and blessed Mimi will forever be thankful!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance... Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Psalm 126:3

Death AND Goodness in the Land of the Living

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Psalm 27:13-14  I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

What does despair really mean anyway?  The dictionary defines despair as losing all hope.  Have you ever been there? Does that describe how you are feeling today?  If so, I believe that it is by no accident that YOU are reading this right now! David declares in the above Psalm that he would have been in the same place you have found yourself in (without hope) had he not BELIEVED that he would see the goodness of the Lord this side of Heaven.  He made a choice to believe that He would see God’s goodness even though His circumstances did not change right away.   Believing meant he had to wait on God.  I know we do not like to wait. ever. But believing followed by waiting is key.  I believe that our God super-naturally and graciously imparts to us just what we need to push through and push forward when we choose to believe.

Believe + wait = strength + courage + hope + peace + trust + Joy

Though, at the moment, you may not be able to see anything “good” IN your circumstances, we know that God IS good and because God is good, His goodness CAN be experienced in the midst of our darkest moments, in the here and now, no matter what that “now” looks like!  As Christ followers, we believe to see not see to believe!  SO, look for Him, wait for Him….EXPECT to see His goodness revealed even BEFORE your mess changes.  I understand that some of your hopes and dreams may not be alive and well in the land of the living.  I get it! Actually, you may be having to grieve the death of some of them, BUT God!!  Friend, no matter how painful, hurtful,  devastating and unwanted your losses or you mess may be, GOD desires to pour out His goodness upon YOU, His beloved daughter!

Psalm 23 is often quoted at funerals and rightfully so,  but I have come to love this scripture in walking through my own valley of the shadow of death.   Death of my marriage,  death to my dreams and death to what I thought my life was supposed to look like.  Despair tried too many times to count to take up residence in my heart and mind.  Believing that God was with me and that His Word trumped my feelings and despairing thoughts helped me to rise up from the ashes in the valley and keep walking through the darkness…  Sometimes, actually many times,  it took the prayers and encouragement of my faithful friends and church family upholding me and pouring God’s love into my broken heart.  That, my friend was part of God’s goodness that I was blessed to experience.  His goodness is there all the time, we just have to have eyes open to see it!

What about you?  What hopes and dreams have you had to grieve over?  While the enemy roars defeating accusations to your vulnerable self,  God’s Word for you declares that there is reason to HOPE in this valley of death.  HE is our shepherd, HE walks with us in the valley and He comforts us.  He brings us through to bring us out and when we come out we are never the same.  As God’s chosen daughters, His invitation to walk us THROUGH brings transformation and treasures we take with us as He leads us OUT.

Psalm 31:19  says “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You, in the sight of the children of mankind!” I want to draw your attention to the word ABUNDANT.  You could easily exchange that word for plentiful, liberal, bountiful,  or even galore.  Let me ask you, do you fear God?  Are you His child? Do you take refuge in Him? Then this promise is for YOU! God has an abundance of  Goodness galore…that is stored up just for you! Stored up means it is ongoing, it will never run out! It is there when you need it! OF course, the devil would like to shout to you otherwise and cause you to lose all hope and stay and live in his prison of despair.  Don’t do it! Believe God’s Truth and live in freedom that keeps you free no matter what you are facing! HE is with you my friend, and HE will not fail you, no, not ever! EXPECT to see God’s goodness galore, WAIT for it. Be strong, be courageous, TAKE refuge in GOD and HE will bring you through this valley with goodness and mercy as your faithful companions.  Rise up dear sister, and believe that you WILL see God’s goodness in your midst! There are many rising with you!

Keep Running, Sister!

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Need some encouragement today? Are you weary from your season of difficulty? I understand!

Friend, read the scripture below again and again AND apply it to your own life! Let the TRUTHS of God’s Word be an anchor of HOPE for your troubled heart. THROW OFF distractions and hindrances (stinkin’ thinking and actions), RUN your own race with determination. FIX your eyes on Jesus (don’t be consumed by your circumstances). Think about the secure future God has ordained and provided for you! CONSIDER Jesus and all that He suffered for YOU! HE gets it…He understands your struggle! You are not alone, ever! AND His unfailing, abundant love for you will never change! You can be assured that there are treasures to glean, things to learn and God-ordained opportunities and purposes right in the midst of the hurdles and challenges you may be facing this very moment!
Therefore, keep on running, beloved sister! There are many running with you! We are strong and we are brave! Jesus in us enables us to run THROUGH this present darkness with JOY, strength and God’s sufficient Grace! You GO girl!! 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

No Turning Back

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After a lengthy season of engaging in travailing prayer for a specific heartbreaking situation, weariness can set in. Especially, if what you have been praying for seems to be going way south…. heading in the opposite direction of what you have been praying and believing. You have done all you can do. You know you are praying according to God’s Word. You have believed with all your heart and still, you wait. However, the winter season has been long. Your wait is losing its strength and your hope of change is fading. Maybe you are praying for the healing of a close loved one or friend and you hear the devastating news that it is time to remove “life support” or maybe you are told that hospice has been notified.  Maybe you are praying for a spouse whose choices have destroyed your marriage and you can know longer deny the evidence that God is preparing your heart to let go. Or maybe it is a son or daughter who is headed down an extremely dark path that has left your heart immensely broken as you struggle to find a way to rescue them only to finally accept the fact that you can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued. Oh, help us dear Jesus! How do you keep from being taken under by discouragement? How do you NOT take on offense towards God? In these times, deep seeded discouragement begins to wrap itself tightly around your bleeding heart and instead of healing the wound it only works to squeeze all joy and hope out until there is no peace. 

I understand. The struggle is real. After one phone call, overwhelming joy that I enjoyed just minutes before, quickly dissipated. Discouragement and hopelessness became my companions. I felt myself starting to cave into my own pity party. It was at that moment that I felt this question evade my broken heart. It was if Jesus was asking me, “What if you don’t get what you are praying for? What if the very thing you want to happen more than anything never happens? Will you STILL trust me?” It reminded me of the question that had been placed before me in the past, “What if I never answered another prayer, will you still love me?  Will you still allow me to be your Father?”  These are the moments that question our faith and cause us to wrestle with our beliefs, motives and even our own selfishness. Will we stay committed when we don’t get our way or will we turn away from Jesus just as many did because they did not understand what he was doing?    

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”  But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)  And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”  After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:60-69 

There have been hard moments in my wrestling when I have been reminded of the above scriptures.  Sadly, I understand those who thought His sayings were “hard”.  I understand the disappointment of things not going as they thought they should.  I understand the offenses that can come from not understanding His ways.  God’s Word tells us that some disciples turned back from following Jesus because they were offended by Him.  They did not understand so they let their misunderstanding lead their heart away from the ONE who could save it.

Jesus then turns to the twelve disciples and basically asks if they want to turn back, as well.  There is something about His question that causes me to pause.  To camp there a while.  My heart tries to imagine what Jesus was feeling at that moment.  Rejection is hard…even for Jesus.   As I think about the times I have asked that question in my own mind regarding relationships that I have had, I feel grief.   Going through a divorce magnifies those kind of thoughts and demands losses you never saw coming.  It is heartbreaking.  So is life.  Rejection is just part of it.  I am thankful to know that Jesus understands.  He gets it.  That is enough for me.  That is all I need to know to surrender my losses to Him and let them go.   I appreciate Peter’s response to Jesus.  He was not offended by Him, only committed to Him.  No turning back for him.  In my own wrestling and in the midst of unanswered prayers, I too, like Peter realize that no matter how much I don’t understand His ways, Jesus holds the words my heart needs to hear.   His invitation to surrender and stubbornly plant my messy self in the safety of his loving sovereignty and amazing grace trumps the bate of offense that satan offers.

More than answered prayers, more than things going my way, more than understanding the why’s of life, I need Jesus.  Not so much for what He can do for me this side of heaven, but for what His extravagant love has already done for me that guarantees my happily ever after in the next.  What love!  He has proven Himself faithful to me in the past, no matter how my heart perceives the trials and tribulations that may be in my future.  God is STILL trustworthy.  He is STILL faithful.  His plans are GOOD.

Matthew 11:6 says, “And blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is he who takes no offense at Me and finds no cause for stumbling in or through Me and is not hindered from seeing the Truth.”

Friends, allowing ourselves to become offended towards God is a real issue.  It can happen.  How will you respond when your prayers aren’t answered that way you wanted?   What about when you don’t understand…when the questions come?  Jesus tells us that we will be blessed when we do not take on offense towards Him and allow it to take root in our hearts.   Throughout my seasons of heartbreak, I can boldly proclaim that I have been sweetly blessed! God’s Word to me has never failed to lead my heart through the valleys and dark places I never thought I would travel.   It has not at all  been easy but I decided a long time ago that there is NOTHING worth losing my relationship with the Lord, nothing! Not unanswered prayers, not misunderstanding, not offense, not bitterness, not divorce, not disappointments, not brokenness, not pain……NOTHING!

What about you?  Sweet friend, can I encourage you to search your own heart?  Do it before the hard things come.  Determine that you will not let ANYTHING cause you to turn back as many did.  Allow God’s Word to be the compass of your heart and NOT your misunderstanding of His higher ways.   Remember His faithfulness to you in the past.  Remind yourself of how very much He loves you.  Let His truths be your anchor in the wrestling.  Just like Peter, let’s follow Jesus and determine to not turn back…ever.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18

 

 

Freedom in Surrender

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He came unexpectedly and out of nowhere.  She uncomfortably and bashfully squirmed with a smile as she tried to embrace the extremely sweet and generous affirming words coming from the other end of the phone.  Her heart undeniably longed for them to be true and trustworthy but her heart struggled to believe.  And rightly so.

Over the years, she had gotten used to feeling less than and undervalued.  It was her normal.  All the while, masking the deep desire she had for her spouse’s love behind stubborn faith and her Father God’s unconditional love and acceptance.  After all, as a woman of faith, God’s love was what mattered most.  So what if her then husband’s actions broke and wounded her heart time and time again?  So what if she could not trust him?  She tried really hard.  She wanted that with all of your heart.  On several occasions, she even prayed to have a bride like love-like-you-have-never-been-hurt kind of trust but the truth is, trust has to be earned and earning it was not something her, then husband, did very well.  However, she had God. She could trust HIM.  We are never told in scripture to trust man, anyway, right? She was called to love the unlovable and just maybe her love would be the catalyst for the deliverance she adamantly waged war for.  Her battle scars were many, with wounds that never stood a chance of healing with each new discovery and reminder that she would never be enough.  Nothing could fix this.   Each season of counseling and accountability gave her hope but hope that quickly would turn to despair again.  Nevertheless, she did not let that stop her.  Consequently, she even began to wear that as a type of prideful badge of martyrdom after years of the same brokenness.  BUT just maybe that is what helped her heart to survive each new season of pain.   She wanted so badly for God to be glorified in her life and in her marriage.  And for her, if that meant sacrificing her own heart, then so be it.  To some, she came across as strong and whole but inside there was a different kind of story to tell.

She kept believing after every revealing that maybe THIS TIME would be the LAST time.  After years of the same destructive cycles repeating,  it had become obvious to her that she could not control his last time  but she could control HER last time, and she did.  She finally gave up on her dream that change would permanently come.  She knew that the final revealing was her prayers and the prayers of others being answered.  Freedom and bravery came to her that day.   You see, God always answers our prayers but it may not look like what we had envisioned.  Nevertheless, His ways are so much higher.   She knew she was being released and rescued and she embraced it.  For her, it was bittersweet.  Tears of relief but yet tears of sadness realizing how far unchecked sin can takes us.

And Now.

After nearly two years following her divorce, she meets him.  Their meeting was nothing but miraculous and still yet, she was determinedly cautious and understandably fearful.  Looking for red flags and any reason to run, she did what she could to find out about this man who was awakening things in her heart that she had long ago determined to let go of.  And slowly but surely, it happened.  She began to imagine life with someone whose values and love for God were similar to her own.  She began to dream again.  She hesitantly allowed herself to believe that just maybe there was someone that could love her as God intended.

She is still learning. She is still growing.  She is moving forward.  She is intentionally surrendering her past at the feet of her Savior and He is setting her heart free. Free to believe in love again and free to hope in new beginnings.   And, even though she is not fully confident she can trust again, there is a glimmer of hope in her heart that just maybe she can.  SO it is with that, that she is bravely allowing her soul to be awakened to love and her gut tells her, it may just be worth it!  Let it be so, Lord!

What about you?  What is it in your life that you need to let go of in order to embrace the good plans that God has for you? Are there fears from your past that are holding you back from your tomorrows?  Friend, God is faithful and He can be trusted to take your mess, your hurts, and your disappointments and work them together for good and for a future that has His blessing and favor interwoven throughout.  No need to fear…God’s got you! Today, will you be brave and choose to surrender all the ashes from your past and give your heart freedom to experience life to the full? With God’s grace, you CAN do it! There is truly freedom in surrender…freedom to embrace this new day, new beginning, new chapter and new you!  Let’s do it! Are you with me?

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].  Psalm 37:2

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19

Divine Sisterhood

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Everyone has a story.

Stories of  love and loss.

Stories of beauty and brokenness

Reality is…..in every one’s life there will be stories of both triumphs and tribulations.

So, what about you? What’s YOUR story? Are there things you’ve overcame?  Things you’ve endured?  Things that left scars. Things that humbled you?  Things that changed you?  Things that you STILL struggle with?

Could it be that God may have brought you through the very same circumstances that the lady you run into today is going through?  She needs hope.  She needs to know that she is not alone.  You may be the answer to the prayers this sister has been praying…her heart cry for a friend who understands her, who really gets what it’s like to face what she is facing.  Please, don’t be silent.  Look deeper, past her smile and recognize the pain.  Reach out to her.   Love on her.  Bring light to the darkness that surrounds her.  She needs you.  She needs you not just to give her a hug and tell her how sorry you are, she needs to hear YOUR story. There is something divine that happens as we share with a transparent heart what God has brought us through.   As she hears how God transformed your brokenness to beauty, a flicker of hope ignites in the ashes of her heart.  God may use that very moment to whisper to her wounded heart that Jesus desires to bring healing to her heart, as well.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  2 Cor 1:4 

This is Love

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He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief…..

Isaiah 53:5

Have you felt the pain of rejection?  Has your heart bore the pain of being broken by those you love the most? Have you lived with regret over your past?  Have you experienced sorrow and grief?  If you have lived on this earth for very long you soon realize your heart will not go untouched.  To live and to love brings the opportunity for pain.  There is no getting around it.

The good news is, there is hope. You are not alone.  There is One who sticks closer than a brother.  Do you know HIM?  His name is Jesus.  He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you and now is seated at the right hand of God interceding for you!   JESUS KNOWS about rejection.  JESUS KNOWS your pain.  JESUS KNOWS your sorrow.  Not only does He know about such pain, but He, Himself, has experienced all of these and MORE.  The amazing, beautiful thing about Jesus is that He experienced pain, rejection, and sorrow by CHOICE.  He chose to experience these things in order to set your heart free.  He chose to suffer because of His amazing love for you and for me.   No one would choose the pathway of pain. No one would choose to walk through the door of grief and sorrow.   We all know, It is one thing to experience pain at the mercy of others but to choose to be broken, to be wounded…  Who would do that?

Jesus would. And He did.  For you.  For me.  For the world.

Hebrews 12:2 says “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross… what joy could there possibly be in the excruciating death He suffered? YOU…you were His joy!! Joy which compelled Him to walk the pathway of darkness…to endure the suffering of the cross…. He was filled with joy at the thought of redeeming you and me and of saving a lost world.   He knew you needed a Savior to heal you, to deliver you, to take your sins and my sins upon Himself.

He went through it all so that He could write your love story.  He came to rescue you.  He came to save you.

Do you sometimes have issues with self esteem?…Do you sometimes feel like no one cares, no one loves you?  Turn your eyes to the cross and see His love poured out for you. You are so very valuable to HIM!! Because He CHOSE this kind of suffering, there is healing for you, there is beauty awaiting you in the midst of your brokenness.

There is no one, nor will there ever be, anyone who loves you like Jesus loves you!  At the cross, He meets you there and He offers extravagant love, forgiveness,  rest for your weariness and healing for your deepest wounds.  Place your hand in His….His nail scarred hand, and allow your heart to be captivated by His love.

Will there be more pain in your life?  More struggles?  Yes.  The difference is Him.  He will give you strength and peace in the midst of your storms. There will be treasures to be found in your trials.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.  He will turn all things around for good in your life.  Your life of surrender will have purpose and meaning.  

But you must Choose.

Are you going to hold on to your life, your ways, your sins, your pain,  or will you surrender ALL to Him and allow Him to give you His beauty for your ashes.  You will find His grace is sufficient for you.  Look into His Word, get to know Him and fall in love with your Savior, your Lord, your King.

Just as Jesus was resurrected from death to life, He can bring life to the dead places of your heart.

How do I know these things?  I know them because I have experienced His love and mercy in my own life.  His forgiveness has freed me from the chains of guilt and shame. He has brought life to places that were dead.  I have seen His power and love change hearts and turn brokenness into beauty.  He has given hope where there was no hope. His love has captured my heart.  The dreams I used to have as a little girl of the “happily ever after” have been resurrected.  My future is secure in Him,  My prince has come and rescued me.  He offers the same love to you.

Run to His arms, my friend, experience TRUE love…. say YES to the extraordinary love He died to give you and allow Him to write your love story.

For God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE His only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in HIM, would not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Helpless But Not Hopeless

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There are days when life throws unexpected drama, issues, troubles, pain, and you name it.  There are moments that rip a momma’s heart right out of her ever loving chest. Moments that cause anguish, worry, and can totally freak us out. Most moms, myself included, like to feel that they are in control and when a situation arises that can’t be fixed and made all tidy with a little gorilla glue or pretty designed duct tape, we get our ugly cry and this-can’t-be-happening-to-MY-family on real quick.  True Story! Just when you get through one difficult season a new one is on the horizon.  Different circumstances but the same helpless feeling that tries to attach itself to us and steal our peace and joy.  No one is exempt.  This. is. Life. We all have been there and will be there again.  How is that for encouragement, ha!

Sweet sister, may I remind you…as a beloved daughter of God, though your circumstances may cause you to feel helpless, you are not hopeless! Not. Ever. The enemy would like you to believe that the two are interchangeable but that is far from the truth. The fact is, you were never meant to be in control in the first place.  Our place of helplessness invites us to a powerful and beautiful place of undone abandon to the One who knows all and cares about the tiniest details.  In one act of surrender, God reminds us that HE is in control.  It is in this place of humble surrender that enables us to exchange our helplessness for God’s hope.FULL.ness!

Phillipians 4:6-8 has been a special scripture to me.  While attending a connect group at my church we were challenged to memorize it.  In doing so, these verses became a life line to me that has given me hope and peace for many situations that has left my heart feeling helpless.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The Word of God tells to not be anxious about anything……that means there is nothing that we should allow ourselves to be anxious about.  Easier said than done, right?  So How do we do that? It pretty much spells it out for us.  We pray! We bring our anxious thoughts, our mound of worries, our list of fears, and our helplessness before God.  We thank Him because thanking Him takes our mind OFF of our burdens and on to our Burden-bearer.  Thankfulness helps us to align our focus back to our gracious, faithful and loving Father.  Thankfulness infuses the trust that we have in our Mighty God.  Thankfulness reminds us of ALL that He has done for us in the past.  When we are thankful, we find peace!  That peace…God’s peace,  will actually set a guard over our hearts and minds! However, in order to keep our peace we have to keep reading.  What does it say? After praying and releasing our worries to God we have to be proactive with what we allow ourselves to think about.  We are to think GOOD thoughts…not the what if’s, why me’s or how-can-this-be thoughts.  Stinkin’ thinking will take you right back to that pit of anxious thoughts, again!  I get it. It is not at all easy. When you feel as though your world is falling apart it takes determined faith, stubborn courage, and stark discipline….but isn’t peace so worth it? Your peace and hope is important to God and it should be important to you.

No Fretting Allowed

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Psalm 37:3-6

Do not fret because of evildoers,

Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

And wither as the green herb.

TRUST in the Lord, and DO GOOD;

DWELL in the land, and FEED on His Faithfulness.

DELIGHT yourself in the Lord,

and HE SHALL GIVE you the desires of your heart.

COMMIT your way to the Lord,

TRUST also in Him,

and HE SHALL BRING IT to pass.

HE SHALL BRING FORTH your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

REST in the Lord, and WAIT patiently for Him;

DO NOT FRET because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

DO NOT FRET—it only causes harm.

Before I get into these scriptures, I want to preface it by making it clear that the words above have been my anchor and my guide throughout what seemed like a very long and difficult season.  Going through a divorce and the aftermath that goes with it is full of obstacles and challenges.  I have been brought back to these verses time and time again!  In the get go, I embraced solid and loving advice that was given to me ….”Don’t shoot arrows back no matter what! Take the high road and God will take care of everything else.”  Good, Godly wisdom, right?  Well, Psalm 37 shows us what that really looks like.  As I am sure you are aware,  social media can be used as a blessing or a curse and even for ministry or misery.  As Christ followers, no matter who is coming against us, we must be careful what we post and how we respond to the posts of others.  Many are creeping on your Facebook page. Especially when there is drama going on! Many want to see if your actions line up with who you claim to be as a follower of Christ.  I can tell you that as I have chosen to take the high road and put these scriptures into practice I have seen God reveal truth and clothe me with strength and dignity time and time again.  Thank you, Lord!!

Friend, God has made it so very clear as to what we are to do when faced with opposition and it applies to EVERY Christ follower including you and me. Those who say that Christianity is just a crutch obviously don’t get it.   Let them try holding their tongue, to forego the opportunity to seek revenge,  to not be easily offended, to not worry themselves right into a full blown panic attack, to turn the other cheek or to determine to think on good things in the midst of the mess!  It takes a woman of strength and courage to believe God when all hell is breaking lose!  Okay, this rant is over…let’s dive into this scripture.

No matter what your life looks like this very moment, The above scriptures can help you experience abundant joy instead of discouragement, peace instead of chaos, rest instead of panic and calm instead of confusion.  They contain the antidote against anger, revenge and bitterness and even fear.  Yuck, yuck and yuck!!! However, it won’t just happen because you have read them and checked these scriptures off of your daily reading list.  NOR will they help you just because you call yourself a Christian.  There are things YOU have to DO.  You see, my friend, we cannot be lazy disciples of Christ and expect to receive ALL that God has for us.  We cannot be passive and just allow our circumstances or emotions to rule our lives.  We must be intentional.  It is work.  It is hard.  It is warfare.  It is not for the faint of heart.

So why this Psalm of encouragement? Obviously, those David were addressing were really struggling with some of the people that were in their midst, evil-hearted people to be exact.  It seems that these certain people were causing so much alarm in the camp that David decided to step up and say enough is enough! Maybe those he was addressing were wanting to escape their homes and run away in fear because of the evil doers. Maybe they were fretting over things that were being said to discredit their character.  Though we don’t know exactly what their enemies were up to, we know it was causing an emotional response by those who were getting the brunt of it.  Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and fretting with them, David shows them how to handle their situation God’s way!  It seems that the real battle here is in their own minds which is where most of all our battles take place, as well. SO what does he tell them? Don’t fret about them, your enemy, because God will take care of you.  David mentions the word “fret” three times in this Psalm.  In verse 6, the bible tells us it can lead to harm.  Obviously, we need to take these instructions to heart. When we are fretting, we can be anxious, worried, upset, displeased, troubled, angry, and even grieved.    He is telling us to NOT fret about the actions of others…..GOD will take care of “THEM” as we choose to trust in HIM!! It won’t happen by accident.  It goes against our flesh.  However, as followers of Christ, it is who we are and what we do! It is a life of day in and day out faith in our God.  Subsequently, we TRUST Him but we don’t just trust Him…we do good!  DO good, really?  That’s asking a little much, HA!  So, I can’t try to fix this MY way?  I can’t put them in their place?  I can’t go after them the way they have come after me? How many times are we tempted to make wrong choices in the midst of being attacked by the enemy?  We allow ourselves to dwell on them and become consumed with what “they are doing or saying” and find a way to get back at them.  This is not God’s way. His way is actually quite the opposite!

SO, what do we do?  We trust, we do good and we stand tall and courageous…not ducking our tails and running away in fear and shame.  We stay put.  We dwell in our place in peace, while feeding on God’s faithfulness.   How do you feed on God’s faithfulness?  Honestly, you are feeding on something at all times.  You are choosing what you think about, what you dwell on and what you allow inside your Spirit.  You can choose to fret and live in fear and allow your enemy to consume your every thought OR you can choose to feed on God’s faithfulness.  SO, in other words you can choose junk food or healthy food to feed on?  David’s menu recommendation is to chew on what we know to be true about God and his character. His very nature is faithful, steadfast, and constant.  He never changes.  When we remind ourselves of that and choose to have a steady diet of His Word, we then can’t help but do the next thing….DELIGHT in HIM instead of focusing on “them”.

Delight yourself in the LORD and you won’t be fretting about your enemy! THAT is what we are called to do.  No excuses will suffice.  Either you are going to believe God is who He says He is and choose to delight in Him OR you will lead a miserable, less than, defeated life.  It’s a no brainer, right? Again, I know first hand, that it is not at all easy to do.  Our flesh wars against our spirit constantly.  Thankfully, God has given us the grace and the keys on how to overcome and live victorious!

The next few verses go onto say commit, trust, rest, wait and again do not fret!  As we trust and commit our lives, our circumstances, our loved ones and even our enemies to our gracious Father, we will find rest for our anxious souls.  Rest that enables us to wait patiently for HIS plans and HIS will to unfold.

Now the good part…..tucked in the middle of what we are called to do is a sweet but bold word of encouragement that we can lean into that will help carry us through.  God tell us the HE will bring forth our righteousness and justice as the noon day sun! There it is.  This is God’s promise to you and to me! Our righteousness is God’s character shining in and through us that invites His light into every messy and unwanted moment. It is God who goes before us and will extinguish every fiery dart that is pointed our way.  He will do that!  His justice will be demanded….we do not have to seek it for ourselves, God will do it!

I do not know about you, but Psalm 37 helps my anxious heart to rise up and say no to the enemy and his attack on my life and and big yes to God.  Friend, can I encourage you to read it, study it, learn from it and DO IT!!! Go and Fret no more!

 

Faithfulness in the Midst of the Messiness

 

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Not so long ago, I found myself in a hard place. Maybe you can relate.  It’s one of those times when your whole life seems off kilter. You try, you pray, you surrender, you try some more and STILL can’t seem to have peace and respond in a manner that lines up with who you are as a daughter of God. Well, it was in the midst of that hard place that God showed my stubborn self what my problem was. You see, I was praying for God’s help…I wanted to choose HIS ways over my own and to be faithful and obedient to His Word with my actions, yet I failed many times over. Why? Because I kept allowing my thoughts to center around what was right BEFORE me instead of the ONE who was FOR me! It doesn’t work! Faithfulness comes only by keeping our eyes on GOD and desiring obedience to His Word MORE than attempting to control our circumstances. Honestly, we can say all the right prayers but if we get up from our knees and go right back to focusing on our mess then our strength and courage will be quickly depleted.

Can I encourage YOU today? Sister, if you KNOW God has called you to remain FAITHFUL where you are, don’t challenge your obedience by focusing on the situation, the difficulty, the person, or the pain. That is just a set-up for defeat. Instead, focus on GOD and you WILL move forward in PEACE and in HIS strength and favor!

As a wife, mom, friend and daughter of God, walk worthy of your calling! Yes, it may be painful and difficult, however, if you are at a hard place where you KNOW you can’t move one inch forward without the Grace and presence of GOD almighty then get ready to experience Christ in a brand new intimate way! This is called growth. Your burdened heart WILL experience beautiful blessings as you push through. Don’t miss them. Stop long enough to SEE them, to see HIM….Jesus in the midst of your mess. He IS right there with you!! Focus on HIM!

It is SO easy to get distracted, to become so preoccupied with what is right in front of you that you forget what God has previously showed you about the season that you are in. I get that!

Your marriage may be difficult.
Your child may have broken your heart.
You may be sick in body.

Dear one, I do not know what you’re facing this very moment but what I do KNOW is that the ONE who calls you to be FAITHFUL is the FAITHFUL One! He will equip you, empower you, and sustain you to respond in faithfulness to who you are as His beloved daughter! The TRUTH is, in Christ you have ALL you need to be who He has called you to be right now, in this place, in this moment, in THIS season!

Friend, there is beauty and blessings to be found in your midst, all you have to do is change your focus and be willing to be obedient to God right where you are.

Faithfulness brings favor, fruitfulness, and freedom!

Let’s be intentional with our thoughts and walk in faithfulness in ALL areas of our lives starting today, no matter what our messy looks like! Because our messy invites God’s mercies as we choose to act in obedience to HIS Word… to God be the Glory!!

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

Now the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1

Bitterly Broken Woman or Beautifully Beloved Daughter?

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All of us have been wounded at one time or another.  All of us have been hurt by someone who was supposed to love us.

In the rawness of our pain, we begin to believe the lie that we are the ONLY one and that our hurt is GREATER than anyone else’s.  We become angry as our self talk screams that life is NOT fair and someone needs to pay for our brokenness.

We can hold so tightly to the pain that the weight of it keeps us in a PIT of despair threatening to destroy the very core of who we are.   The chains soon wrap around our broken hearts as self-pity consumes us and a root of bitterness begins to grow.  Been there!! What do we do?

Will your life portray a bitterly broken woman or a beautifully beloved daughter?

One is trapped in a prison of her own making, the other is free not because there is no pain but because she has learned the importance of surrendering her broken heart to her Savior.  She understands the reality of our journey on this earth was not guaranteed to be pain free.  We were NEVER promised that. Not here. Not now. Not this side of heaven.

The truth is the resentment, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness that is trying to destroy you is MORE toxic than the actual source of your brokenness!  In other words, it is not the action of someone else that will harden your heart…it is YOUR response to it that will do the most damage.  Oh, sister if we can only get a picture of this! Your enemy will try to use other’s hurtful choices to blacken YOUR heart   He is out to destroy YOU, as God’s beloved daughter. Let me just stop here and say, it is okay to have those feelings…you have been deeply wounded!  It is okay to be angry, to cry, to have emotions you didn’t know you had but the key is not to stay in that place.  Don’t deny how you feel! Pain causes all kinds of things to surface on the get-go.  I just want to encourage you to give yourself some time to deal with those feelings and work THROUGH them.  Determine in your heart that you will NOT let your pain destroy the YOU that God created YOU to be!

The truth is, the enemy would love to destroy the beauty God desires to bring from your ashes. But, seriously, hasn’t the enemy stolen enough from you??  Think about it! Isn’t enough, enough???

No matter what has broken your heart and left it in pieces, there is HOPE!!  This WORD is for YOU!!

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; HE HAS SENT ME TO BIND UP AND HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the (physical and spiritual) captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (the year of His favor) and the day of vengeance of our GOD, to COMFORT ALL WHO MOURN,

To grant (consolation and JOY) to those who mourn in Zion, to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES, THE OIL OF JOY instead of mourning, the garment of PRAISE INSTEAD OF A HEAVY, BURDENED, and FAILING SPIRIT, that THEY MAY BE CALLED OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the LORD, that HE MAY BE GLORIFIED.

Sweet one, did you get that? Read it again!! Jesus came for YOU and for me….for the broken! You do NOT have to allow “THIS” to destroy you, whatever your “THIS” is!!! Friend, JESUS already purchased your healing and wholeness! He CAME to HEAL your brokenness, to give you beauty for your ashes, JOY instead of mourning, the garment of PRAISE instead of the heavy burdened failing spirit that you now may be experiencing!  Oh, how HE loves YOU!!! He knows of your brokenness, He SEES your tears, HE understands your pain!

WHAT is His purpose for this promise??  “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Here, God likens His people (HIS daughters) to Oaks of righteousness. This speaks volumes about the way HE sees YOU!! Oak trees are known for their great strength and stubborn durability. Their strength and life do not come from what you can see on the outside but from their deep roots that are hidden underground. The root system grows so deep into the soil as to reach the water and nutrients that is needed for them to be what they were created to be. These deep and large roots provide the foundation for this tree to withstand all kinds of conditions from wind, drought, storms, and even earthquakes.  That is God’s heart for YOU and for me and for all of His beloved children.   Jeremiah gives us an even clearer picture of what this looks like:

                                                Jeremiah 17:7-8

(Most) blessed is the man (woman) who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the LORD and whose hope and confidence the LORD is.

For he (she) shall be like the tree planted by the waters that spread out its roots by the water;  and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green.  It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Friend, I believe YOU desire to live out your God-given destiny as His beautiful beloved daughter! Your hope, your trust, your confidence and the ONE you rely on MUST be in the ONE who loves YOU like no other!!  Even now.  It’s not your husband, your best friend, your pastor nor your parents! THE ONLY ONE who can bring light to your darkness is the ONE who is LIGHT!!  Don’t waste another moment.  Turn to Jesus, tell him of your hurts, release your bitterness and allow Him to grow your roots deep within the soil of HIS unending, unrelenting, unchanging love for YOU!  Don’t allow those unproductive roots of ugly emotions to poison and infect the strong deep roots in Christ, that He has for you.  Invite Him to set YOUR heart free and stand strong against the storms, the wind, the rain, the hurt, the pain, the anger, the bitterness… so that the display of HIS splendor is revealed in you and through you!  That is timeless beauty that no person, no circumstance, no pain can ever take away! You go girl!

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  Hebrews 12:15

Lay Your Burdens Down

Are you heavy burdened today? Me, too!  It started last night for me.  Dealing with the repercussions of divorce is hard.  However, getting a front row seat and sitting by helplessly as you watch your children deal with it is just too much.   I thought by the time I went to bed that I was good.  I had prayed and surrendered their broken hearts with determined trust.  However, this morning the heaviness was back. What I appreciate is that God knew we would have moments and even days like this!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken”.  Psalm 55:22

I am so thankful that the heaviness I was feeling this morning was unwarranted and became obsolete in the presence of my Lord.  The song below is the song that God placed on my heart to hush my anxious thoughts and sound the battle cry of my heart.  An invitation to lay my burdens down in complete surrender.  Honestly, the first few times I listened to it involved the ugly cry….laying down those we hold so dear is hard! Especially for us momma bears! But, I was determined. By the 10th time of repeating it (okay, it wasn’t quite that many times, ha!) my heart finally found release.  This ole flesh is stubborn, ya’ll!  The struggle is real! But God! He is so patient and gracious!   What about you, my friend?  Can I encourage you to make the time, find a song, and worship your King in the midst of your troubles! Choose to cast your burdens at the feet of Him who longs to be your Burden-bearer!  Your circumstances will most likely not immediately change, but God WILL sustain you by His sufficient grace and His powerful presence! You were not meant to be the one to carry those heavy burdens.  Jesus paid a high price to take all of your unwanted baggage upon Himself.  Sweet one, you are free! God’s got you and will take care of the things that compete for the consumption of your mind space.  How are we able to cast those burdens onto Jesus?  We can do this because we trust that He cares of us and those we love.  It is a beautiful act of faith! It is strategic warfare!  As we lay our burdens down we rise victorious!  Go and be victorious today!

 

The Best Choice

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When we find ourselves in the midst of unwanted circumstances that are distressing and beyond our control…we have a choice to make. We can miserably continue to fight it, attempt to fix it or even cowardly deny it.  The best choice is to simply embrace it, placing our hope, expectations and confidence in Almighty God.  Our prayer then becomes “not my will, but Thine be done”! It is in THAT place of abandon where we will find and experience God’s sufficient and precise Grace, HIS overcoming strength and HIS power to endure in a whole new way.   Our God is so good!

My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my HOPE and EXPECTATION are from HIM. He ONLY is my ROCK and my SALVATION; HE is my DEFENSE and my FORTRESS, I shall NOT be moved. With GOD rests my salvation and my glory; He is my ROCK of unyielding STRENGTH and IMPENETRABLE hardness, and my REFUGE is in GOD. TRUST in, LEAN on and have CONFIDENCE in HIM at ALL times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. GOD is a REFUGE for us! Psalm 62:5-8

Our New Normal

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It has been just short of two years since my divorce.  For the first year and a half, thinking about entering into a new relationship has had no appeal.  Instead,  I lived with an intentional guarded heart as I  poured my time and energy into my children and in the quiet moments, gleaning over all that had previously transpired.  It was a precious season of healing and blessings in spite of the many court dates, the attorney fees, the forced bravery and the utter unbelievable craziness that had unfolded. However, within this defining journey, came the realization of how very distracted my mind had been throughout the longevity of my marriage, by the way, which never served me nor my children well.  I could easily say this became an idol in my life, an all consuming thief of my emotional energy and time. I was overly occupied with fighting for my marriage and for my husband.   This is not a bad thing…for a season.   However,  being on this side of that battle shows me that I was fighting a war I would never win without losing myself in the process. I am not talking about the lose-yourself-like-Jesus-sacrificial way but the lose-yourself-like-your-heart-doesn’t-matter kind of way. Yet, I was determined.  Many of my days consisted of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about doing all I could to keep my family together while dealing with my own personal brokenness and pain.   I had learned to wear the mask well and hide my messy self behind my stubborn faith and relentless hope that things would get better.  However, I know in my heart that my preoccupation with my, then husband, and his issues is what occupied a huge space in my thoughts and with my actions.

It is interesting and yet, sad to me how we can learn to live with brokenness and weeping wounds, for YEARS for the sake of marriage, children, reputation, and what you think is the “biblical” way for those who claim to follow Jesus.  The pain is always there no matter how hard you try to pray it away.  However, God is so faithful! He is right there with you in the middle of your mess. He is so very gracious to His daughters whose only desire was to grow up, get married, have children and live their happily ever after.  Am I the only one?  I don’t think so!  Maybe you are reading this right now, and you can relate.  I can tell you, my God never left me.  His sweet presence enabled me to rise, if only my head at times, from the pit that had become so familiar in a twisted yet comfortable way and I am utterly thankful! He saw every gut wrenching tear and I am wholly confident that He even divinely protected my heart from things that I still to this day, do not know a thing about.  AND, I am okay with not knowing.  I know enough.  Exposing lies and secrets became my dreaded challenge time and time again.  However, the uncovering of hurtful things never got easier, never.

My prayers for my, then husband, and our marriage were not answered the way I, and so many others had prayed and hoped, and I am okay with that now, too.  He had his issues and I had mine.  We were both broken, just broken differently.  By God’s undeserved and extravagant grace, He rescued me.  The lie that I had held close for so long was gently and unashamedly exposed.  To let go of my marriage was not, by no means, giving up on God NOR my faith.  It was quite the opposite. Trusting that my God had brought me through only to lead me out took MORE bravery and MORE courage and challenged my faith way beyond what this girl could ever muster.  Instead of gaining a healthy marriage, I gained something so much more than I even have words to express.  I gained Christ. Yes, I know… I was His daughter throughout but I have undeniably experienced a deeper level of his amazing grace, his presence, his love, his strength, his faithfulness, and his blessings like I had never experienced before.   All this in the midst of my broken, unpredictable and unintended journey. That to me, is worth SO much more than answered prayers.  What I have experienced is something that no earthly relationship can ever compare to, at least that’s my broken girl story, for now. 

I am not shameful of who I was all those years, at least not now.  I have worked through the shame that tried to attach itself to me in my brokenness. You see, I know I tried. I tried REALLY hard to be the best wife I could be and the best mom I could be.  I endeavored to do everything I could to fix us, to fix him (this is NOT recommended, you can only fix yourself), to make it better, to hide the hurt and to survive.  I was not at all perfect nor was I a “holier than thou” kind of wife.  I had my sins, my struggles, and my shattered heart that wanted control so that I would not get hurt, again.  I have realized that is what fueled my selfish stubbornness, at times.  I own it.  AND I have released it, forgiven by my Father whose extravagant love for me overshadows the broken girl that I have been.  If not for the grace of God, where would I be?

Subsequently, the first year following my divorce I found freedom.  Freedom to be the mom I had always longed to be buried beneath the insecurities, the confirmed suspicions and a wounded heart.  My kids captured my complete attention.  They are who I built my life around.  Them and Jesus.  We needed each other.  They needed to know by my priorities that they had someone in their corner.   Someone that they could depend on. Someone who would love them, invest in them, and love them unconditionally.  And I needed to know that I could do this single mom thing with the Lord up girding me, day in and day out.  Life as we knew it had forever changed; new home, new school, new job, new friends, and only the three of us.  And yet, our faith was our constant companion.  Our God never changes even when we feel ripped to shreds in the confines of the crazy and the messy.  Even when our heads were bent low attempting to escape the new labels and scary statistics that the world threw at us. By the way, have you seen them lately? Well, don’t seek them out if you are a divorced parent….your kids don’t stand a chance from what I have read. BUT GOD is all I can say to that!!! HE IS BIGGER!!! Amen?

Since then, we have pushed through, we have stood together, strong though broken.  We have experienced God’s sweetest blessings through the relentless support of family, faithful friends, church family and Pastors. We have proven that life can go on after such brokenness and that we can even laugh, smile, and enjoy our space again. The beauty of God in our midst is the light that has invited confident hope in the darkest places of our hearts.  It has not been easy.  I will not candy coat any of it. There has been more hard stuff and more brokenness to walk through that caught me blind sided.  That. is. life.  My “word” for 2017 was surrender and that is exactly what I had to do time and time again.  Hitting the carpet in abandoned surrender was truly my survival arsenal.   AND yet, again, God has been so faithful.  HE has been our Anchor that has held us steady through the most horrific storms.  I am abundantly thankful!

A new season is within reach! I am looking forward to the future God has for me and for my children with expectancy and anticipation and maybe, just maybe I will find love again and if not, that’s okay, too! My God is faithful!  My God is enough! I am one blessed girl that has learned that trusting God does not always mean our marriages will be saved or our journey will look like what we had desired or even prayed for. 

What about you?  Has your life taken you on an unintended journey?  Have there been gut-wrenching prayers that seemed to go unnoticed and unanswered?  Sweet sister, God has heard every single one!  You and I can be fully confident that our loving and gracious Father is creating beauty from our ashes, purpose from our pain and preparing us for our eternal ever after!  So be it, Lord!

Hardened Hearts and Those Who Love Them

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What do you do when your loved one’s heart seems to be hardening towards God and towards you? Maybe, your marriage was previously redeemed from brokenness and betrayal but now you are seeing red flags that indicate things may be going south again.  How do you relate to your spouse without being consumed with trying to rescue them and save your marriage in the process? It’s tough!  The following is just some thoughts with regards to what I have concluded from my own journey.

WAIT for the leading of the Holy Spirit…
Sometimes it is more HURTFUL than USEFUL to try to speak TRUTH and have an intimate conversation or confrontation with someone you love who’s heart is hardened. This is especially true if you are hoping for a certain response that would give you some indication that their heart is softening.   Please don’t tell me I am the only one who has done this??  You want hope.  You want to see a glimmer of evidence that it’s not as bad as you think it is.  You do not want to get hurt again by the same destructive patterns that you have experienced in the past.  Without being led by the Holy Spirit, you are setting yourself up for discouragement and even despair.   Many times they will care more about giving you their opinions than taking into account your feelings.  Friend, when God is leading you, He will give you peace no matter the outcome of the conversation. You will be able to share your heart and then be assured that you have did what He laid upon your heart and can trust Him for the future outcome.

Even though your deepest desire is to see them grow towards Christ and your heart is broken by their unloving/selfish attitude and choices, your best response is to LOVE them AS THEY ARE (as Christ has loved you) and continue to PRAY for them. Unfortunately, you can’t expect them to receive truth from you if they are actively running from THE ONE who IS TRUTH.  YOU can’t change them, fix them, or make their choices for them.  I understand how incredibly hard this is, especially in marriage.

The truth is, true love gives freedom not control, manipulation or punishment. The choices they are making may lead to costly consequences and even the demise of your marriage but that is their choice to make.  Subsequently,  these consequences may be the very thing God uses to draw them back to Him.

Friend, until there is a Divine heart change, your words may only push them farther away. Be very careful and pray for God’s wisdom. He will lead you as to when to speak and what to speak and what actions to take, if necessary.  Until then, avoid hurtful conversations and simply guard your own heart and leave theirs to God.  This is where “let go and let God” becomes more than just a good quote but love in action.

May you find comfort in KNOWING God hears your prayers! In ONE sudden moment HIS LOVE can change even the hardest of hearts! HE is able! TRUST Him! BELIEVE He is working beyond what you see! My hope is that one day you will find that it is truly a BEAUTIFUL thing to witness the transforming power of God’s amazing grace as YOU have a front row seat!

No matter what, you can be assured that just as HE is working in their heart, he is working in YOUR heart, as well. You can trust God to help you handle the outcome even if it is not the desired outcome your heart longs for.  Continually surrendering our loved ones to JESUS is not easy but painfully stretches our faith towards maturity that wasn’t there before. Though it may be hard to see now, your growth in Christ is priceless and purposeful. Embrace it and never stop believing! Our God is FAITHFUL!

God, your God will cut away the thick calluses on your hearts and your children’s hearts freeing you to love God, your God with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.
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“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Pr. 18:2).

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.
Eph 1:17

Don’t waste your breath on a rebel. He will despise the wisest advice. Proverbs 23:9

And I (God) will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires—and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love.
Ezekiel 36:26

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Embrace YOUR Place

Questions to ponder….Is Jesus ENOUGH for you?  Can you simply TRUST HIM and be at peace?  Can you just be content right now, right where your at, in THIS place, EVEN IF nothing changes this side of heaven?  Will you BELIEVE his WORD is true for YOU!!

So many times we say we trust and we say we believe.  We sing about God’s faithfulness and declare that HE IS ABLE and yet we walk around FULL of worry, fear, anxiety, doubt, and discouragement. That is NOT the fruit of trusting and believing!!

SO let me ask…What if what you are praying for does not come to pass this side of heaven?  OR what if the thing that you fear happening actually happens…. (the things we worry about usually don’t occur but just go there with me for a moment).  What then?  Can you trust that GOD is STILL in control? Will you believe that HIS love for YOU never changes even though your circumstances do?  Will you trust HIS ways when you can’t always understand?

Instead of trying to pray away your difficult season, embrace YOUR place! Open your eyes and your heart to what God may be trying to teach you. Challenges can be blessings in disguise because they are opportunities for growth and teachable moments that would have otherwise been missed! SOME things simply can’t be taught by books or sermons but by REAL life, pain in the gut, keep breathing, keep moving, keep holding onto Jesus kind of days!

Consider this…. God has already demonstrated how extravagantly He loves YOU by sending Jesus to REDEEM you!  However, HE didn’t stop there…He then gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit to fill you with ALL that you would need in order to live out the God-given plans and purposes HE has ordained specifically for YOU!  If  HE never answered another prayer, is THAT enough?

This journey is NOT an easy one but it IS a temporary one!!  Don’t wait for things or people to change to embrace the LIFE, JOY and PEACE that is yours.  You go, you grow, you shine brightly right where you are!! IN Christ, no matter what kind of mess surrounds you there are mercies to uphold you!! WHATEVER you may be facing, it is only a small chapter of a much BIGGER story that goes way beyond the here and now.

Friend, EMBRACE YOUR PLACE in Christ! This very day is a gift and God has a PURPOSE in giving it to YOU!!   Yes, even if it IS a tough day, a painful day, or a bad hair day…our Jesus is ENOUGH!


..in Him you have been made complete…Colossians 2:10

Believe!

Sister, do you desire righteousness to be credited to you as it was with Abraham?

Can I encourage you for a moment?  Today and everyday choose to BELIEVE God’s Word in spite of how you feel or what is coming against you.  Respond to life with belief in God’s promises as your anchor.  This means that no matter what you see before you, what unforeseen or unintended circumstance is staring you in the face, no matter what has broken your heart, you will BELIEVE God and walk in confidence knowing that He is the ultimate promise keeper!  I KNOW this is NOT easy but GROWTH never is! Be brave and do it any way and experience the peace and faithfulness of our God!

Will you be a woman of FAITH and COURAGE and pray this prayer with me?

Lord, Help me to continually BELIEVE as Abraham believed and GROW strong and be empowered by FAITH as I praise and give glory to YOU!  May I be fully satisfied and assured that YOU ARE ABLE to keep your Word and to do what you have promised. Lord, help me to embrace these growing pains as I surrender my mess and tenaciously choose to BELIEVE your Word above all!!!

Romans 4:20-24

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.  That is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God).  But the words, it was credited to him were written not for his sake alone, but they were written for our sakes too.  Righteousness will be granted and credited to us also who believe in (trust in, adhere to, and rely on) God, Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Just be Held

And the vessel that He made of clay, was broken in the hand of the potter, so he returned, and made it another vessel…Jeremiah 18:4

I have read this scripture many times focusing on how God is the potter and we are the clay.  Meditating on the profound encouragement that comes from surrendering our lives on the potter’s wheel,  knowing that He will mold us,  flaws and all,  into what He  has created and purposed for us to be.

However, this season of my life I noticed something that jumped off the page at me. “And the vessel that He made of clay was BROKEN in the hand of the Potter..”  There it was, it stung but with such sweet and intimate comfort.  Why? Because I was the broken vessel. Yet, HE was holding me, His broken daughter. Oh, how I so needed this.  So simple, yet so comforting. I cried, but this time it was with tears of undone abandon.  In that moment, I knew He was with me, HOLDING me, and ministering to my broken self beyond what I could even comprehend.

So dear sister,  no matter what has left you broken, you can be assured that you, too, are being tenderly HELD by the loving Potter, Himself! He created you! He is your Redeemer! He will not reject you, nor toss you aside. Your brokenness is no match for His expertise in making all things new! He has a plan to redeem you and take your brokenness and create beauty that wasn’t there before! Believe it! Our God is faithful!

Grace

swan-bird-animal-water-67287.jpegPsalm 130:3-4  If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Everyday I fall short, but so thankful that God NEVER nor will He EVER give up on me! His love and grace is such a beautiful gift! It’s a gift for ALL of us that we get to open every day! Just because we fail and falter does not mean we are disqualified from the plans and purposes He has for us. Thank you, Jesus!!! No, His forgiveness enables us to rise up from our mess, our mistakes, our failures and move forward to do what He has called us to do!! Receive His gift to you today with JOY AND re-gift it to others! Our God is GREAT!

New Year, New You!

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Sometimes, in the midst of the chaos, the challenges, the tears, and the disappointments of life, we can lose sight of who we are and more importantly, whose we are.
As we begin this new year, can I remind you that you are so very precious! No matter what you have been through, no matter what you are dealing with at this very moment…..God loves YOU! You are HIS beloved, beautiful daughter. Believe it, my dear sister.  This means you do not have to rely on your husband, your mom, your dad, or your best friend to validate who you are.  Christ has already done that!  His love letter to you declares that you are dearly loved (Eph 5:1).  He has clothed you in strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).  You wear His robe of righteousness (Is 61:10). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Your worth is far more than that of rubies.  (Prov 31:10)
The enemy of our souls wants us to believe the lies that we have spoken about ourselves or that others have spoken over us so that we will not fulfill the purposes God has for us.  He is out to completely destroy our influence upon the Kingdom of God. We need to train our ears to hear the Spirit of God more than the voice of the enemy or even our own.
My dear sister, don’t waste another moment, another year, allowing the enemy to keep you from your GOD given destiny.  Expose the lies that you have believed and replace them with God’s TRUTH.
Your worth is NOT based on what others think of you, on what your husband does or doesn’t do.  Your value, worth, and identity is based on GOD’s TRUTH.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, what is that ONE thing that you can focus on that can revolutionize your daily walk? I believe it starts with  a revelation knowledge of how very much God loves you! This knowledge must get from your head to your heart. Once that is settled, your relationship with Jesus will deepen…you will face every situation with an underlying peace that God is in control.  You will be confident  that no matter what happens, Your Father God is with you and will turn ALL things together for good.  Your beauty will be that of a woman full of God’s Glory and grace.  You will love others with the love that He has given you. His light in you will cast away the shadows that may surround others that God places in your path.
I pray that as daughters of the KING of KINGS,  we will be so deeply secure in His love that NOTHING will move us.
Girlfriends, let’s take back our God given strength and dignity that the enemy has stolen and move forward  into the plans and purposes that God has for each one of us.
Blessings to you, beautiful one, in 2018!